What is a VPN and How does a VPN work?

VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. But that probably you know already. And chances are that you have also used one. But do you know what it is and how it works? If not, this article is for you.

The basic task of a VPN is to establish a secure connection to another network over the internet. But why do you need a secure connection? The answer could be different for different generations. If you ask millennials about the necessity of internet privacy, they will tell you that they simply need to access all the sites they want, regardless of the region-restrictions. And to the business-people and professionals, it’s simply a matter of security so that their important financial information remains protected and hacker-free. Whatever the necessity is, a VPN serves both the generations with a perfect solution. Now let’s get down to the section where we learn how does a VPN work and how to use a VPN.

But before knowing about VPN, we need to learn a little about how internet browsing works. The technicality might be a bit complex for a non-technical guy, so I’m going to describe it as easy as possible. You see, when you take the service of an Internet Service Provider (ISP), they will assign an Internet Protocol (IP) address to each of your devices. Have a look at the image below.

As you can see, my current device is using an IP address of When you try to access a website, say YouTube, your device will try to connect to YouTube’s server via this address.

Now, the problem with these IP addresses are that these are traceable and easily accessible. When you are browsing from your home or office, where you know the line doesn’t have any threat from the hackers, it’s fine. But what about public networks? Let’s say you are at a coffee shop and your phone blings. There’s a notification on the screen saying your bank account has received a payment of $2000. And now you want to check your total balance sitting right there. You log on to your bank account and take a quick look. If a hacker is using the same network as you are, he will have easy access to your bank credentials. And that’s a serious threat. How can a VPN protect you in such cases?

When you use a VPN, it changes your IP address and location, making the connection totally private. See the image below.

Can you see my new IP address? Have you noticed how my current IP address is changed to The location is also changed to LA, California. So what’s the advantage of these changes? And how VPN works technically?

When you connect to a virtual private network, it creates a tunnel for your secure browsing. Whatever information you are sending via that tunnel gets encrypted. In simple terms, it’s turned into ‘gibberish’ which becomes too tough for the hackers to access and decode the information. The tunnel then carries the encrypted information to a VPN host server, located in some other region, and then transmits the information from that server to the website’s server that you are trying to access.

Let’s assume that you are based in China and you want to access YouTube which is banned in your region. So you open a virtual network, select your region as Australia, create the connection, and then access YouTube which is based in the US. What your browser will do is, it will send the information to Australia’s server and from there the information will hit the US server. The US server will identify that the request is coming in from Australia where the site is accessible and send the required information back to that server. Then the VPN host server will forward it to your device and voila! This way, you can access any site from anywhere in the world and your identity remains anonymous. And because of the encryption, your information doesn’t get compromised along the way. Pretty cool, right?

A quality VPN service can do a lot more than just hiding your real IP address. And you should be careful while choosing the right VPN service for yourself. Here is a list of features that you should keep in mind before selecting a VPN:

1. Encryption system – All the VPN services work with encryption technology but since this is the only thing that is preventing your information from theft, you must look for the strength of encryption. The safest one to choose is the one using military-grade encryption system. There is no more secured system beyond that so this one is the ultimate solution for you.

2. Server locations – VPNs with worldwide server locations are better than those offering limited options. Because you don’t want to browse the internet privately using the same server every day. It’s better to pick the service that provides you with a variety of servers from various locations worldwide.

3. Multiple device support – You won’t use VPN on one single device all the time. You may use your PC/laptop, phone, and tab but if the service doesn’t support the use of multiple devices, you will have limited options. So go for the services that is available for a variety of devices and platforms.

4. Unlimited data transmission – Connections with limited amount of data transmission is a big problem. You may need to use 1 TB of bandwidth in one month and 10 GB in the next. But if you are restricted in your use of data, it will put an extra pressure on you. So choose the one with unlimited data transmission option.

5. Firewall – Though all the VPN services are encrypted, having a firewall in place gives you an added layer of security. So don’t hesitate to go for the one that includes a firewall.

Whether you are a hardcore business professional or just a young chap looking to access some region-restricted content, a VPN is the only service that can help you. But be very careful while choosing a FREE VPN SERVICE as there may be security risks associated with it. Subscribing a premium service will always provide you the best value in the long run.