what is a vpn

What Is a VPN: The Ultimate Guide to Virtual Private Networks

This is an ultimate guide on what a VPN is. This ultimate guide will cover everything you need to know about Virtual Private Networks (VPNs). So if you want to understand how VPNs work and use it in the long run, this is going to be your only guide.

Just briefly, this post wills strive to cover the following areas:

  1. What is a VPN?
  2. What is a VPN kill switch?
  3. What does a Virtual Private Network hide?
  4. Types of VPN
  5. Proxy vs. VPN
  6. Are VPNs legal?
  7. Are VPNs worth it?
  8. How to use a Virtual Private Network
  9. How do I get a VPN?

Let’s cut to the chase.

What is a VPN? 

So what is a VPN? A VPN refers to a private network that transmits and encrypts your data while traveling on the internet. A VPN allows you to browse the internet without your identity being monitored privately. You can also use a VPN to bypass geo-restricted websites across the world. You can finally use a VPN on your laptop, desktop, Android phone, iPad, or iPhone.

What Is a VPN Kill Switch? 

But what is a VPN kill switch? A VPN kill switch is responsible for monitoring your connection while using the VPN. A Virtual Private Network kill switch will block you from accessing the internet any moment your VPN connection drops, to protect your identity.

What Does a VPN Hide? 

Privacy on the internet has been overlooked over recent years, and thanks to technology. People can now rely on Virtual Private Networks tools to access the internet and protect their identity.

You have probably heard about VPNs, and maybe wondering what could be a VPN hiding. In this section, I’ll be walking you through what a Virtual Private Network will hide and how that will be important when surfing the internet.

1. Internet Traffic

A Virtual Private Network is responsible for creating a safe virtual sieve that filters the information that passes through it. With just some clicks, you can hide your internet traffic identity from ISPs, hackers, and other prying eyes. It is also important to note that there are a couple of Virtual Private Network encryption standards, the most common one being AES-256.

2. Geolocation

Virtual Private Networks also help users to access restricted government sites, geo-restricted content from across the globe. All you have to do is connect to one of the servers, and your real IP will be hidden from the prying eyes. In most cases, when using a Virtual Private Network, the location won’t matter unless you come from countries that forbid Virtual Private Network usage like China.

3. Search History

Nearly everyone wants privacy when it comes to their search history. While you may think that you are the only one who can view your search history, that’s not the case.

Marketers, cyber criminals, WiFi owners, or even ISPs can access your browsing history. Even worse, in countries such as the United States, it is legal for ISPs to sell your browsing history.

However, you can still hide your browsing history by using a Virtual Private Network. All you have to do is to connect to one of the Virtual Private Networks.

4. Unwanted Ads

I’m sure you have come across these annoying ads that are all over the internet. They cause discomfort and how you wish you could eliminate them. Fortunately, you can.

You can use a Virtual Private Network when browsing the internet to stop marketers or advertisers from showing you many advertisements while you read something or shop around the internet.

A Virtual Private Network will be capable of hiding your IP, which will help hide your online identity, so marketers can’t discover your shopping or browsing habits.

5. P2P Traffic

We all know that peer to peer (P2P) sharing is a debate. For instance, P2P sharing is legal in some countries like Switzerland, but illegal in some. Most states prohibit P2P sharing because of one reason – piracy.

Sadly, there’s nobody who can tell, at each point that a file shared is either pirated or not. In other words, P2P file-sharing isn’t illegal, but piracy is. This leaves you with only one option – to use a Virtual Private Network.

6. Social Media Identity

It’s no brainer that we are living in a social media era. The social platforms are no longer for the Millenials – even the old are lurking around on social platforms.

However, we forget that social media, forums, and blogs are no longer safe. Using a nickname will not guarantee you the privacy, and the opinions you put on these platforms could cost you.

For example, a 23-year old woman was once arrested and sentenced to 6-year imprisonment for reposting memes. Sounds funny, but the reality is that anyone else could land in this mess. Therefore, it is recommended that you use a VPN to mask your online activities and give the prying eyes zero chances of monitoring you.

7. Online Spending Habits

Your online spending habit tells a lot about you, and that could be dangerous. First, it tells marketers what you love shopping for, and this gives them the freedom and an idea to pitch their products and services to you. However, if you use a Virtual Private Network, you will deny marketers the chance to know your IP; hence they will not trace your online spending habits.

8. Online Activities

Most people today prefer to browse the internet using their smartphones. Unfortunately, this comes with many risks – equal to when you use a desktop or a laptop. The good news, though, is that you can use mobile VPNs to hide your IP and keep your online activities safe from the prying eyes.

9. Activities On WiFi

There’s no doubt that using the office WiFi can be tempting and not easy to resist. I know the feeling, and in most cases, you will want to surf the internet. However, your boss can always see what you do on the internet, which can cost you as an employee. With a Virtual Private Network, you can stop your boss and any other prying eyes from viewing your online WiFi activities.

Types of Vpn

Now that you understand what a VPN is and what it can help you hide, let’s now look at VPN types and types of VPN protocols, shall we?

1. Remote Access VPN

Remote Access Virtual Private Network allows you to connect to a private network and access everything remotely. The connection is private and safe for every user, so you don’t need to worry about your privacy. For example, you will use a Remote Access VPN to access your company’s files privately when you are away from the workstation.

2. Site to Site VPN

A site-to-site VPN can also refer to a router-to-router VPN. This type of Virtual Private Network is always used in large companies that have different branches in different locations. There are two subcategories of site-to-site Virtual Private Networks, namely:

  • Intranet-based VPN: This happens when many offices are connected through site-to-site VPN.
  • Extranet-based VPN: This occurs when a company uses a site-to-site VPN to connect its company to another.

In a nutshell, site-to-site Virtual Private Network enables offices at distant locations to connect safely without their online activities being exposed to the prying eyes. It is also essential to note that there are two routers involved in a site-to-site VPN – the VPN client and the VPN server.

Types of VPN Protocols

1. Internet Protocol Security (IPSec)

Internet Protocol Security, often referred to as IPSec, enhances full protection of internet connection across an IP network. IPSec offers security to Internet Protocol connection by encrypting each data packet while verifying the connection session.

IPSec operates in two modes:

  • Transport mode
  • Tunneling mode

Transport mode encrypts the information in the data packet while the tunneling mode encrypts the entire data packet. Also, it can be used with a variety of security protocols to enhance the security system.

2. Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP)

This VPN protocol is often incorporated with another security protocol like IPSec to develop an excellent VPN connection. When combined, a tunnel is formed between two L2TP connection points while the IPSec protocol encrypts the data, making sure to secure communication between the tunnel.

3. Point–to–Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP)

Point-to-point Tunneling Protocol forms a tunnel and protects the data packet. This Virtual Private Network protocol is often used to encrypt the information between the connections. Because it’s a renowned protocol in the VPN industry, PPTP offers Mac, Linux, and Windows compatibility.

4. SSL and TLS

Secure Socket Layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TLS) establish a VPN connection at the web browser, which serves as the client. Once the connection is established, the user is limited to specific applications instead of the whole network. Online stores mostly prefer SSL and TLS protocols since web browsers can easily switch them without user action. Often, web browsers come integrated with SSL and TLS protocols and take the “https” format at the beginning of the URL.

5. OpenVPN

Essentially, OpenVPN is used to generate Site-to-Site and Point-to-Point connections. It uses a traditional security protocol built on SSL and TLS protocol.

6. Secure Shell (SSH)

Secure Shell establishes the Virtual Private Network tunnel, which enhances data transfer while making sure to encrypt the tunnel. Often, SSH connections are established by SSH clients, and data is transferred from a standard port to the remote server via the encrypted tunnel.

Proxy vs. VPN

You’ve probably heard about proxies and Virtual Private Network, but how are they different, or how can you differentiate them? In this section, we will discuss how a proxy and a VPN differs. Here we go:

1. VPNs help in encrypting your information

One of the advantages that a VPN has over a proxy is that it will help you encrypt your data while surfing the internet. Encrypting your data means that government institutions, hackers, marketers, and any other prying eyes won’t see what you do online.

For example, if you access your online banking application using a Virtual Private Network, hackers won’t be able to read your bank account and even have a chance to tamper with it. Likewise, if you purchase anything online using your credit card via a VPN, you will be safe from hackers who might want to retrieve your credit card information.

2. VPN offers privacy to online users 

If privacy is at the top of your priorities, you need to use a Virtual Private Network (and with a no-logs policy, for that matter) to access the internet. No-logs policy means your VPN service provider has pledged that they won’t track or use your information while you browse the internet using their Virtual Private Network.

3. Free proxies are slower

Sure, both VPN and proxy servers can slow down your browsing activity, depending on how many people use the VPN service. However, free proxy connections can be even slower and less secure as compared to paid connections.

4. A VPN can be costly

As an internet user, you can either connect to a free VPN or a paid VPN service. However, many techies argue that it would help if you used a paid Virtual Private Network service because they are more secure and reliable. Most free VPNs use a single Virtual Private Network connection, also referred to as point-to-point tunnelling (PTTP).

Is there a need to have a proxy if you have a VPN? 

So do you need a proxy if you already have a Virtual Private Network? No, you don’t need a proxy if you already have a VPN because a VPN also hides your IP address just like a proxy does. The only difference is that a Virtual Private Network encrypts your data while a proxy does not.

Are VPNs Legal – How Safe Are VPNs? 

Are VPNs legal? This is a million-dollar question, and to be precise, Virtual Private Networks are legit. Originally, VPNs were used to establish a secure connection for organizations and big businesses. However, they can still be used in running illegal activities, which often tampers with their reputation, making it illegal in some countries. So let’s go deeper and see where VPNs are allowed.

While choosing the right Virtual Private Network is a daunting prospect, it would first help if you considered its legibility. Most people will want to know whether or not VPNs are legal, and given the implications of breaking the law – it would be best if you understand it well. However, depending on your country, the answer to this question will vary mostly because some countries like China and Russia prohibit Virtual Private Networks. Fortunately, VPNs are still allowed in some states.

So before we go in-depth into VPNs’ legality, it’s worth noting that while VPNs are considered legal, running illegal activities with them isn’t permitted. If you intend to run an unlawful activity with a Vpn, the chances are that you’ll suffer prosecution under your country’s laws. While a Virtual Private Network can enhance your anonymity online, running illegal businesses such as selling drugs, copyright materials, among other activities, can still impose you on the consequences of breaking the law.

Are VPNs Worth It – Benefits of Virtual Private Networks

VPNs’ existence came to pass after several users’ requests to secure their online activities while anonymously staying online. Besides, this technology provides access to geo-restricted sites to access content from any part of the world.

So, in short, Virtual Private Networks are a secure solution for internet users to send and receive data while protecting their online privacy. The best of all is that it can surpass geo-restrictions by providing you with internet freedom that’s up to your needs.

And it’s no longer secret that VPNs have been developed to offer security needs when it comes to sending and receiving encrypted data over the Internet. However, there are tons of benefits that come with Virtual Private Networks:

  1. Enhanced security – Using a VPN means that you will browse the Internet with more security. That means that your data will be encrypted, thus protecting you from prying eyes.
  2. Remote control – You can access information remotely without having to be at the physical location. For example, you can access your office files privately and remotely from home.
  3. Peer-to-peer file sharing (P2P) – You can use VPNs to share P2P files
  4. Online anonymity – If you choose to use a Virtual Private Network, all your browsing activities and identity will be hidden from the face of prying eyes.
  5. Unblock websites & filters – With the use of a VPN, you can bypass geo-restricted websites and access content at your home’s comfort.
  6. Change the IP address – Using a website, you can easily change your IP address to any that you want.
  7. Better performance – You can always increase the efficiency and bandwidth of your network if you are using a Virtual Private Network.
  8. Reduce costs – You will need close to no maintenance fees after setting a VPN service either on your smartphone, desktop, or laptop.

How to Use a Vpn

1. Turn on your computer and connect to the Internet

When working from home, the VPN will automatically connect. However, you’ll need to manually establish a connection if you’re using it from a location you haven’t connected to before.

If you don’t have a VPN connection yet, make sure to close any sensitive applications like email until you secure a connection. Also, refrain from connecting to public Wi-Fi to protect your online activities.

2. Decide between a paid VPN and free VPN Software

VPNs are available in both paid and free versions, which both have advantages. If you only want to access Netflix or any other geo-restricted site, a full-scale VPN isn’t necessary. You may also want to check out the free version if you only intend to use the VPN to protect your social login data. However, you’ll need a paid version if you’re planning to hide all your online government surveillance activities. With paid versions, disallowing data trackers from advertising agencies is a no brainer.

3. Download your desired VPN

Head on to the website of your VPN choice. Click on the download button or the navigation bar link, depending on what’s provided for you. Using the outlined procedure, download the desired version for your operating system.

4. Install your VPN Software

Once you’ve downloaded your desired version to your PC, find the downloaded file. Please open it and follow the outlined procedure to install and launch. Fortunately, VPNs like RynVPN will let you start automatically without creating an account. If prompted to create an account, use your email address to sign up.

When launching a VPN on a Mac device, drag the .dmg file to your Applications folder. If you’ve protected your computer using a password, then a password input is necessary upon the initial launch.

Similarly, when operating on Windows, run the .exe file and proceed with the installation guide. Upon installing your VPN, start the application from your Start menu.

On a smartphone, start the application from your home screen. You’ll be prompted to log in with your existing account or create a new one if you don’t have one.

5. Read the terms of use 

Understanding the terms of use is mandatory for any user. Often, free VPNs will let you install third-party applications or even restrict your data. So make sure you’re well-knowledgeable about the VPN, what it offers, and the user prompts.

How Do I Get a Vpn? 

Factors to Consider When Choosing a VPN

By now, you should have known what a VPN is and it’s benefits. Maybe you are still stranded on how to choose a VPN service for your online activities. This section will focus on some of the factors you need to consider when choosing a VPN service. Let’s dive in.

1. Speed

Even if there are a couple of factors that affect your internet connection’s speed, we can’t deny that reputable VPN services offer reasonable rates. Therefore, look for a VPN service that gives you different configuration options always to have uninterrupted and fast speeds.

2. Security

This is one of the most critical things people look at when choosing a VPN service. Most, if not all, people prioritize their privacy when going for a premium VPN. That said, you should strive to look for a VPN service that guarantees your security, such as the ones with no-logs policy, anonymity policies, among others.

3. Accessibility

A good VPN service should be able to perform the purpose you need it for. For example, if you purchased a VPN service to bypass geo-restricted content, it should bypass the restriction. Pay attention to only those VPN services that can bypass the restrictions you intended to unblock.

4. Reliable Encryption

Your privacy is precious, and that’s probably why you are using a VPN. A good VPN service will do as much as possible to ensure that it provides you with the most reliable encryption. Additionally, an excellent VPN service should send your internet traffic through a couple of servers and not just one.

5. Ease of Use

When going for a VPN service, you should aim for a VPN service that is easy to use and doesn’t require you to possess any techie skills. If you come across any VPN service that requires you to have any techie skills, then it’s time to check out for an alternative.

6. Versatility

One of the most critical factors you should check out for is the versatility of the VPN service you want to purchase. Can you use the VPN service across multiple platforms? Can you use the VPN on your smartphone, desktop, laptop, iPhone, iPad, or tablet? Any VPN that can’t offer you these options isn’t worth your time.

7. P2P Functionality

As we said, P2P file sharing is legal, but there are a couple of countries that do not allow P2P file sharing. In this case, you will need to use a Virtual Private Network to use this service. One critical feature you want to look out for in any VPN service is whether or not it allows or supports P2P file sharing.

8. Tech Support

While I had earlier said that you don’t need any techie skills to use a VPN, you will, at some point, need to ask the support team a few questions, and it would be best to get a quick and an accurate answer. Therefore, before choosing a VPN service, make sure that they have a swift and friendly tech support team.

10. Price

This is a no brainer. Everybody will look at the price before wagging their money on any VPN service. While price shouldn’t make you compromise on quality, you should at least try and compare different VPN services to see the market price before purchasing.

Bottom Line 

So you know everything about Virtual Private Networks – from what is a VPN to the benefits to whether or not using a VPN is legal. Using a VPN is essential, especially if you travel from country to country or you need to communicate with friends and relatives from time to time.

Luckily, we offer excellent and reliable VPN services you can use to do whatever online activity. Whether you want to bypass geo-restricted content from streaming sites like Netflix or share P2P files with your friends, RynVPN has got you covered.

Our plans are quite affordable, and you can never miss a package no matter how limited your budget is. We also provide Google Play and App Store downloads, which means you can download and use our VPN service from your smartphone.

Have any inquiries you want to make? Leave us a message or leave a comment, and we will do our best to respond to your query.

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