vpn what does it mean

VPN What does it mean? Why Should I Use a VPN?

VPN What does it mean? The role of VPN is not just to allow you to endlessly browse programs from specific countries/regions on different streaming services but also to provide anonymity when browsing on public Wi-Fi, bypass regional restrictions on websites, and encrypt your online activities.

Scenario: You’re about to watch the latest season of your favorite show on Netflix, but what’s this? It’s available in every country/region except yours? Shocking and frustrating. But don’t worry, this is where a Virtual Private Network (VPN) comes in handy.

Due to its significant rise in popularity over the years, this almost essential service is as easy to use as clicking a button. Essentially, using a VPN means no hacker threats, no government surveillance of your activities, and no issues accessing the websites of your choice, even in countries with strict internet censorship like the UAE, Cuba, or China.

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) can enhance your online privacy by concealing your identity, allowing you to browse the internet securely and anonymously. Fortunately, you don’t need to be a tech expert to set it up. The process is quite simple, and below, we will detail how to set up a VPN on various devices and what a VPN is.

Our top recommendation in the industry is NordVPN, which offers access to the most popular streaming services, security and privacy, the widest server network on the list, multiple servers in high-traffic countries/regions like the United States, and the ability to access geo-restricted content during your travels. They don’t log any personal information, and with NordVPN’s 30-day money-back guarantee, you can use it completely risk-free. If you don’t like it, you can easily get a refund.

If you’re looking to save money, we recommend Surfshark. for less than $2.50 per month, you’ll have unlimited data and simultaneous connections, rock-solid security, and in-depth features that free VPNs don’t have. Access is fast and all major streaming sites are unlocked. Surfshark is the best value for money.

How to get a free VPN for 30 days:
If you need a VPN for a short period of time while traveling abroad, get our top-ranked VPN for free. NordVPN offers a 30-day money back guarantee, which is real. You’ll need to pay upfront to use the subscription, but the subscription allows full access for 30 days. If you don’t like it you can cancel at any time and get a full refund, so you can try it with confidence.

VPN What does it mean? Four Reasons to Use VPN:

  1. Protect yourself from online identity theft when using public Wi-Fi internet connections.
  2. Maintain your personal privacy by preventing others from accessing your online activities, location, or identity.
  3. Access content that is only available in other countries/regions due to geographic restrictions, such as watching Hulu or BBC TV from outside the United States or the UK. We believe consumers should have the right to purchase overseas products and content without regional limitations.
  4. Bypass bandwidth throttling, where your Internet Service Provider (ISP) detects and prioritizes certain types of internet traffic (e.g., torrent downloads or streaming videos), slowing down your connection. Activating a VPN will prevent your ISP from detecting the type of information being transmitted, allowing you to restore normal speeds.

Why Hide Your IP Address?

Many online services know where you’re connecting from when you’re on the internet and closely monitor you from that point onwards. While this can be convenient for online shopping, social network posts, or web browsing, you should have the right to opt out of this tracking when needed. There are many other reasons to hide your IP address, including:

  • Encrypting data transmitted over public wireless networks.
  • Shopping online from overseas to avoid location-based price increases.
  • Preventing anyone from tracking your web browsing.
  • Avoiding digital footprints of your identity, location, and online activities.
  • Bypassing IP address bans or blacklists.
  • In some countries, bypassing censorship filters and government surveillance, which could risk your job, freedom, or even your life. VPN can help you communicate with the rest of the world in an untraceable manner.

Further reading:
How to iOS VPN Settings on your iPhone
Top 3 VPN iOS Best for iPhone(iOS 16 & Older)
The Best VPN Korea server
Best Japan VPN for Watching Japanese Netflix
Top 3 Best VPN in Hong Kong|fast and secure

How Does it Work and What Are VPN Functions? How to Protect Your Online Identity

What Are VPN Functions? When you use the internet, any data you send or request from any server (e.g., when you Google search) and your request, IP address (e.g., from your laptop or mobile device), and the target IP address (e.g., Google) initially reach your Internet Service Provider (ISP).

Your ISP monitors all your activities and then forwards your request to the target IP address and retrieves information in the same way. All your information is transmitted through an intermediary (your ISP). They have all your internet usage history and how you use the internet.

However, when you use a VPN, things change. Every time you send any request to any website or server, it first goes to a VPN server instead of directly connecting to the server. There, all your requests and information are encrypted and then sent to the website you want.

Your ISP still monitors things, but if you use a VPN, it automatically changes the destination IP address to another IP address and encrypts the destination IP address. As a result, your ISP can’t read it and assumes that all your requests are sent to the IP address of the VPN. It forwards all your requests to the VPN.

When your request or information reaches your VPN, it is decrypted and forwarded to the website you want to access. The website or server receives the VPN request and assumes that it comes from the VPN server, allowing VPN access to the site without letting your ISP know.

Similarly, when you download a file, all traffic or information flows from the web server to the VPN. VNP encrypts all information and then forwards it to your ISP. Since the information is encrypted, your ISP still doesn’t know what’s happening.

Finally, the information is forwarded to your laptop or mobile device. When it arrives at your device, it is decrypted, and you can view websites that others can access.

What VPN Can’t Do

Despite the talk about how VPNs protect your identity and keep you safe while browsing, it’s important to note what VPNs cannot do:

  1. They won’t protect your home network connection. You still need to ensure your home router or mesh network is securely connected to the internet, with encryption turned on (WPA2 settings are the best, but the latest and best settings are WPA3), and use strong passwords to prevent others from accessing your network, using up your data traffic, or potentially accessing your private information.
  2. They won’t protect your computer from malware. VPNs cannot replace proper antivirus software installed and configured on your computer. Always keep this feature enabled and up to date. While some VPN services include antivirus checks in their feature lists, it should be seen as an additional level of protection and not relied upon for general security.

How to Set Up VPN on Windows Using VPN Software

This is the easiest way to set up a VPN on Windows to date, with ready-made VPN client software designed specifically for running on Windows 10 computers and typically backward compatible with older computers running Windows 8.1 or Windows 7. To install such VPN software, follow these steps:

Create a VPN Account First:

  • Visit the official website of NordVPN, where you’ll find a menu on the right side of the screen.
  • Click on it and select “Pricing.” The website will redirect you to NordVPN’s subscription plans page. Choose a subscription plan that suits your needs.
  • Register your details on the pop-up portal, input your email address, and add a password.
  • Choose your preferred payment method.
  • NordVPN will send a confirmation email to your email address. Confirm and enjoy your NordVPN subscription.
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Download the Windows VPN Software from the Provider’s Website:

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Locate the downloaded file (it may be in your “Downloads” folder, but it could be in another location) and double-click the .exe file to start installing the VPN on your computer.

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Agree to install any necessary components. The content you need to install depends on your VPN provider but may include TAP drivers, antivirus software, and more.

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Double-click the VPN icon on your desktop and then log in with the username/password you chose when subscribing. After logging in, you can connect to servers in the country/region of your choice and start using the VPN.

Recommended VPN Rankings for October 2023

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1. NordVPN – The most secure VPN available

For: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux | Simultaneous Connections: 6 | Streaming Sites: Netflix, iPlayer, YouTube, Amazon, Hulu | Number of Servers: 5,600 | Server Locations: 60+ | >>Go to the NordVPN website.

NordVPN is one of the fastest VPNs globally, boasting a massive network with over 5,400 servers in 60+ countries/regions, delivering impressive connection speeds in the US, Hong Kong, and elsewhere. NordVPN offers reliable, high-speed connections that make it easy to access major streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime, or Hulu from anywhere in the world. Your choice of server doesn’t seem to matter, as the connection speed remains consistent, and in some cases, it even improves.

NordVPN combines top-notch speed with exceptional security. It employs AES 256-bit encryption, Perfect Forward Secrecy, and two secure protocols, OpenVPN UDP/TCP and IKEv2/IPsec. It also features CyberSec, which blocks ads and protects you from malware, as well as app-specific kill switches and split tunneling.

NordVPN provides various security protocol options. This means that for all the incredible speed it offers, it’s just as easy to click a button and achieve lightning-fast VPN speeds.

NordVPN offers numerous features to enhance your privacy, including protection against DNS, WebRTC, IPv6, and port forwarding leaks, Tor over VPN, and double-hop. The service adheres to a strict zero-logs policy and accepts various cryptocurrencies, allowing you to register almost anonymously.

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NordVPN has apps for Linux, macOS, Windows, Android, and iOS, and it can be manually configured to work with selected routers. NordVPN allows up to six simultaneous connections, enabling you to protect most of your devices. All subscription plans come with a 30-day risk-free refund guarantee.

I’ve tested this to make sure you can indeed get your money back. Initially, the support team tried to extend my trial period, but when I told them I wasn’t interested in an extension, they promptly initiated the refund process. I got my money back within 4 business days. Make sure you buy NordVPN and get another 3 months free >>

How to use NordVPN VPN

To use NordVPN, perform the following simple steps:

  1. Go to the NordVPN website and sign up for a subscription.
  2. Download the NordVPN app for the device you want to use.
  3. Enter your login password in the app.
  4. Enable the Obfuscation Server by going to: Settings > Show Advanced Settings > Obfuscation Server (toggle it on).
  5. Now, connect to one of the obfuscation servers by clicking on the “Servers” tab, and then click to automatically connect to the fastest VPN server, or manually select the server location.
  6. Use NordVPN and unlock all online content.

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2. Surfshark – Recommend the cheapest VPN

For: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux | Simultaneous Connections: Unlimited | Streaming Sites: Netflix, iPlayer, YouTube, Amazon, Hulu | Number of Servers: 1,700+ | Server Locations: 100+ | >>Go to the official Surfshark website.

Surfshark is often referred to as the “King of the Internet Ocean” because it supports the most devices – unlimited. Whether you’re a five-person family with three devices each, all streaming Netflix or Hulu, or a company with rows of PCs, Surfshark supports simultaneous connections and is one of the cheapest options on this list.

Surfshark achieves all of this with high-security protocols and speeds that VPN users might request, so whether you want to watch Netflix, NPO, or AT5, there are no issues. Surfshark uses unbreakable 256-bit encryption and DNS and IPv6 protection to prevent anyone from trying to obtain your real IP address.

If that’s not enough, it has an automatic kill switch for when your VPN drops, a MultiHop mode that routes your data through two different VPN servers, CleanWeb (an integrated ad and malware blocker), and several other nice security features.

It’s also one of the most security-focused VPNs on the market, with its own anti-censorship NoBorders mode, as well as tracker blocking and built-in leak protection. Surfshark follows a strict zero-logs policy and accepts various cryptocurrencies, allowing for near-anonymous registration.

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Surfshark has its own apps for Linux, macOS, Windows, Android, and iOS. It can also be manually configured to work with selected routers. For those new to VPNs, don’t worry, because it also offers easy one-click quick connections on a user-friendly interface.

Surfshark boasts an impressive network consisting of over 3,200 servers spread across 100+ countries/regions. If you need assistance, you can contact the support team through email and live chat 24/7. Surfshark is the best low-cost option – it’s fast, reliable, and comes with a 30-day refund guarantee.

You can personally try Surfshark with a 30-day money-back guarantee, and its plans start as low as $2.30. Requesting a refund is easy using Surfshark’s live chat feature. While the support team asked me why I wanted to cancel initially, they promptly processed my request, and I had my money back in under 4 days! Make sure you buy Surfshark and get 3 months of service for free>>

How to Download and Install Surfshark

To use Surfshark VPN, perform the following simple steps:

  1. Go to the Surfshark website and sign up for a subscription.
  2. Download the Surfshark app for the device you want to use.
  3. Enter your login credentials in the VPN app.
  4. Enable the NoBorders feature by going to: Settings > Advanced > NoBorders (toggle on).
  5. After activating the NoBorders feature, you can use the VPN as normal.
  6. Enjoy using Surfshark VPN now.

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3. ExpressVPN – The fastest VPN in the world.

For: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux | Simultaneous Connections: 5 | Streaming Sites: Netflix, iPlayer, YouTube, Amazon, Hulu | Number of Servers: 3,000+ | Server Locations: 160 | >>Go to the official ExpressVPN website.

ExpressVPN is a secure and reliable service with over 3,000 servers in more than 94 countries/regions worldwide. Its lightning-fast servers, coupled with incredible accessibility for users, make it a VPN service that never disappoints.

This VPN is an ideal choice for streaming, effortlessly bypassing regional restrictions on services like Netflix Netherlands and NPO Start. Its speeds are fast enough for uninterrupted streaming of real-time high-definition videos.

ExpressVPN offers various security protocols, including OpenVPN, L2TP/IPsec, IKEv2, and its proprietary Lightway protocol. What’s even better is that it employs 256-bit AES encryption, nearly impossible to break, along with a strict no-logs policy and Perfect Forward Secrecy, ensuring that your encrypted data will never be captured and decrypted in the future, eliminating any security concerns.

And is all of this happening at lightning speed? In fact, the new Lightway security protocol makes it even faster, making online multiplayer gaming hassle-free. All of this can be achieved with a one-click connection to the fastest server.

ExpressVPN provides easy connectivity for those who want anonymity, along with features like DNS leak prevention, split tunneling, kill switches, and more. It’s compatible with nearly all devices, including laptops, web browsers, smart hubs, game consoles, and pretty much any device you can think of.

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While ExpressVPN may not be the cheapest option for its support of five devices, it can also be used on routers, meaning you can connect all these devices and still be secure through a single connection.

ExpressVPN doesn’t log any personal identity information, but if you want to register almost completely anonymously, you can use Bitcoin as a payment method. If you encounter any issues, customer support is available via 24/7 live chat. ExpressVPN is fast, secure, prioritizes your privacy, and offers a 30-day refund guarantee.

When I personally tested ExpressVPN’s refund process, the support representative responded to my request in less than a minute via 24/7 live chat. I wasn’t even asked to reconsider or troubleshoot the issue. In fact, my request was processed immediately, and most importantly, I had my money back in less than 5 days! Make sure you get another 3 months free with your ExpressVPN purchase>>

How to set up ExpressVPN VPN

To use ExpressVPN, simply perform the following steps:

  1. Go to the ExpressVPN website and sign up for a subscription.
  2. Log in to your account and download the software for the device you want to use the VPN for.
  3. Open the ExpressVPN app and enter the activation code (from your account page).
  4. Now, connect to one of the nearest servers and use the internet normally.
  5. Instantly use ExpressVPN and unlock all your online content.

What to Look for in a VPN Provider:

  • Wide support through numerous servers in different countries.
  • Unlimited data transfer without paying extra data usage fees.
  • Unlimited reconnects, allowing you to connect an unlimited number of times.
  • Virtual location selection, allowing you to choose specific virtual locations like the US or UK.
  • Deep packet inspection protection to prevent third parties (such as governments, hackers, ISPs) from identifying VPN data in transit.
  • Multi-platform support, with applications and software for operating systems across computers and mobile devices, including Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, Android, and Windows mobile.
  • Privacy policy: Does the provider log and store any personal identity information about you? They may track the number of connections to their servers and when they occur for load balancing and maintenance purposes, but they shouldn’t keep logs of who you are and what you connect to. Carefully review the provider’s privacy policy.

In today’s competitive market, easy cancellation has become particularly important, as new users are often offered substantial discounts. Joining a VPN service is usually very easy, but some services make signing up easier than opting out. To cancel some services, you may need to cancel separately through PayPal, send an email directly to the VPN service, or even submit a support request.

Ideally, VPN services should offer options to purchase on a one-time or fixed-time (e.g., one year) basis without requiring subscription activation. While not many do this, some allow you to cancel (terminate) your subscription through the user management area on their website.

What Is a VPN? In Conclusion:

You need a VPN because it hides your identity and online activities from your internet service provider, the government, and the websites you visit, ensuring better online privacy and security. Additionally, a virtual private network helps bypass censorship and geo-blocks to ensure more internet freedom, no matter where you are.

In most cases, VPN usage is safe and legal, but sometimes certain websites and apps may not be accessible through a VPN connection. Moreover, some countries prohibit the use of virtual private networks, and if caught using one, you could face trouble.

At the same time, exercise caution when choosing a VPN, as there are many unscrupulous companies masquerading as service providers that compromise your privacy. Therefore, thorough research before signing up for any virtual private network is crucial.

If you want comprehensive protection for your online activities, we recommend trying NordVPN. It offers outstanding security features, is very user-friendly, and can unlock popular streaming platforms. Regardless of your location, NordVPN provides lightning-fast speeds and allows you to browse the internet anonymously.

NordVPN boasts over 5,600 servers in more than 60 countries/regions, making it perfect for unblocking geographically restricted content and websites. Plus, it comes with a 30-day risk-free refund guarantee, so you can test it with no financial risk.

If you’re looking to save money, we recommend Surfshark. for less than $2.50 per month, you’ll have unlimited data and simultaneous connections, rock-solid security, and in-depth features that free VPNs don’t have. Access is fast and all major streaming sites are unlocked. Surfshark is the best value for money.

How to get a free VPN for 30 days:
If you need a VPN for a short period of time while traveling abroad, get our top-ranked VPN for free. NordVPN offers a 30-day money back guarantee, which is real. You’ll need to pay upfront to use the subscription, but the subscription allows full access for 30 days. If you don’t like it you can cancel at any time and get a full refund, so you can try it with confidence.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does a VPN work?

A VPN creates an encrypted tunnel between your computer and an endpoint server, providing you with a new IP address (in another country/region, if you wish) and ensuring that your internet traffic cannot be decrypted by your ISP or local network administrator.

What can you do with VPN services?

The primary reasons people use VPNs are to gain added privacy and security by encrypting the traffic to and from their PC or network, perform geo-shifting to access overseas versions of websites blocked due to geographical restrictions, and bypass network or country-level blockages of specific domains or IP addresses.

Many businesses also operate their own VPNs to allow employees to securely connect to the office network from anywhere. You can even run your own OpenVPN or WireGuard server to create your VPN endpoints.

What are the benefits of using a VPN?

The most apparent reason for using a VPN is privacy. If all your data is sent directly from your device to remote servers via an encrypted link, your ISP, those snooping on your local network, or anyone else can’t monitor your activities in a not-so-friendly country. This is why VPNs are widely used by everyone from journalists and human rights activists to movie pirates. If you’re not detected doing something, you won’t get into trouble.

One of the most popular uses of VPN services is likely their ability to virtually jump to different countries/regions to watch their local streaming TV services. Consumer VPNs often promise not to keep user-identifying activity logs, and their headquarters are typically in countries/regions that don’t require logging of traffic data.

Logged VPN vs. No-Logs VPN – What’s the Difference?

“No-logs” VPNs do not keep records of user data, most importantly, your source and exit IP addresses. Due to consumer pressure, most major VPN providers do not retain this data, though some providers do log non-identifying connection timestamps, bandwidth consumption, and other network traffic data.

The safest approach is to use services with RAM disk servers, where all server data is stored in volatile memory, which gets wiped in case of a power outage. VPN providers using RAM disk servers include NordVPN, among others.

Not all VPN providers’ logging policies are equally trustworthy, as evidenced by PureVPN’s subsequent change in policy and IPVanish’s change of ownership, both of which handed over data they shouldn’t even have been logging in court cases.

Court cases have also shown that some VPN providers indeed have no logs to surrender, including Private Internet Access (now under new ownership). NordVPN and others have undergone independent audits to provide evidence of their no-logs status, and PureVPN has undergone a no-logs audit attempting to categorize their image.

Is VPN secure?

Nothing online is entirely secure, but we hope all VPNs we recommend remain transparent about any security issues they encounter. However, this doesn’t apply to all VPNs; some free mobile VPNs have been found to have significant security issues, including actively monitoring users.

Even with trustworthy VPN providers, an encrypted internet connection doesn’t mean your activities are secret. If you’re logging into your Google or Facebook accounts, they still retain records of everything you do, even if your ISP can’t. VPNs are useful tools for protecting online privacy, but they’re not ironclad guarantees. VPN services are, in practice, internet service providers just like any other, with many of the same potential violations and vulnerabilities.

Does a VPN slow down my internet connection?

It’s possible, and it can be more pronounced on the fastest internet connections (but with a smaller impact on internet use). The internet connection speed we tested was around 787 Mbps, with the fastest VPN connections rarely exceeding 300 Mbps. The average throughput in the UK is 194 Mbps. However, for most practical purposes, this is still very fast.

The most common speed bottleneck is your internet connection. On slower home ADSL connections, non-VPN download speeds were 577 Kbps, while the average download speed when connected through NordVPN to the same server was 551 Kbps, with much less impact on performance.

In some cases, using a VPN can even improve the performance of slower connections, especially on 4G and when communicating with servers located in distant countries/regions. However, please note the additional battery consumption on mobile devices.

How is a VPN different from a proxy service?

A proxy routes internet traffic for specific applications (e.g., web browsers) through designated endpoint servers, whereas a VPN reroutes all internet traffic to and from your PC through endpoints. However, specific applications or addresses may have exceptions if split tunneling is supported.

Is setting up a VPN client difficult?

On a typical personal computer or smartphone, it’s quite easy. You just need to download the client, log in, choose the endpoint country/region, and connect. Less common use cases require more technical knowledge but aren’t overly complicated. Some VPN services support Linux only through OpenVPN configuration files, but they provide clear instructions on how to use them, and configuring supported routers to use them is similarly well-documented. Make sure your VPN supports all the systems you want to use before purchasing.

What does a VPN hide?

A VPN hides your network traffic, both incoming and outgoing, and conceals your original IP address.

Are there any limitations to using a VPN?

Companies like Netflix and the BBC have been playing a cat-and-mouse game to block VPN endpoint addresses, so only a few VPNs can reliably meet the needs of video stream region shifting. Similarly, full torrent downloads with SOCKS5 proxies are a niche feature among VPNs. Recently, services like Netflix have allowed some questionable VPN users to connect to their sites in any region but only display local catalogs. Our testing checks for region-specific content to accurately assess a VPN service’s streaming capability.

On a desktop computer, you can comfortably perform everyday internet use through a connected VPN, although you may need to reconnect the VPN if you lose connection to your ISP or Wi-Fi network. However, using a VPN on mobile devices increases battery consumption. Not all VPNs can prevent all data leaks, such as through IPv6, WebRTC, or even outdated or misconfigured VPN protocols.