A Beginners Guide to VPN Use


Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

If you’re an internet user, you’re probably aware and concerned about your cybersecurity and safety. The internet has given you access to almost everything on it, but almost everything might also have access to your information.

Whether you’re using a computer, laptop, cell phone, video game, or a home device like a smart TV, your device connects to the internet through a router that directs you to a remote server. When you connect to the internet, your device makes a data request to a server from which you receive information. The flow of data from your device to the internet is usually not encrypted, which means you’re vulnerable to hackers.

When you use a VPN, your data requests are first sent to intermediary servers belonging to the VPN providers before proceeding to their intended address. Once at the intermediary servers, your data is encrypted before it’s forwarded to its destination. Usually, a VPN will give you a new IP address that can’t be easily traced back to you.

This guide will help you know what is a VPN and its use.

What Is a VPN?

A Virtual Private Network, also known as VPN, is a network of private servers that encrypt your traffic and data as you use the internet. Without a VPN, anyone could intercept traffic on your router. They could see what you’re up to on the internet if they knew how to do so. In other words, without a VPN, your identity and privacy are compromised.

Simply put, a VPN is a network of servers situated around the world. A VPN company usually owns numerous servers around the globe and maintains them. When you’re subscribed to a VPN, the provider gives you an option to route your Internet traffic via any of their servers. This protects you by giving a false impression of where you’re using the internet from. If you want to explore VPNs, sites like inVPN, and others like it, have many reviews and comparisons that can give you a better idea.

SEE ALSO: What Is A VPN and Do I Need One?

What Does a VPN Do?

Every Internet user is connected through an IP address. IP stands for “Internet Protocol,” which is a set of rules governing data format on the internet or local network. An IP address is an address that recognizes a device on a network. When you’re connected to the internet, your IP address shows your location and other information to do with your device. This could leave you vulnerable to abuse by third parties, including hackers.

As highlighted earlier, if you’re on the internet, it’s very easy for third parties to see what you’re up to. A VPN, however, obscures your identity and makes it difficult for third parties to access your data.

Look at it this way; a VPN protects you by masking the location of your internet traffic. Suppose you’re driving to work, and you suddenly notice there are drones tracking your movements. No matter where you run, the drones can see you. They know your home, your office, or whichever place you visit. The only way to escape them is by masking your movements. If you get into a tunnel, for example, you could lose the drones and because they’ll not have eyes on you. They won’t know which exit you used.

The same applies to VPN use. When you’re connected to the internet, your internet traffic is constantly under surveillance. This leaves you exposed and at the mercy of third parties. To rest assured that no one can easily watch you, you could use a VPN. A VPN will mask your location, a bit like a tunnel would, making it difficult for anyone to know your identity and location. With a VPN, your data could appear as if it’s coming from Canada and headed to India when in fact, you could be in Australia and receiving data from England.

When you’re connected to the internet via a VPN, your data goes through random or dedicated servers. There it gets an IP address other than your own. When third parties see your traffic, they can’t trace it back to you because the IP address isn’t your actual location.

Masking your IP this way means it’s harder for third parties to track your data traffic and figure out your identity and location. Some sites block out specific locations, but you can access the sites thanks to VPN. In countries where internet censorship is a norm, VPN is the answer.

How VPN Protects Your Identity?

As mentioned earlier, VPN protects your identity on the internet, and here’s how:


Every VPN provider helps protect your data through data encryption. Data encryption is a way of translating data into a form that third parties can’t read. To be able to access encrypted data, one needs an encryption key. Encrypted data is known as ciphertext and unencrypted data is known as plaintext. Encryption is used as an organization across the globe. It’s one of the most effective methods for data security.

Some VPN providers offer zero-access encryption, in which they don’t retain a copy of your encryption key. So, they’ve no access to your data whatsoever. Encryption is important to the operations of VPNs because it protects data between routers and the destination servers. If data is intercepted between the two places, third parties will only see scrambled data, which is meaningless to them.

IP Addresses

As also discussed earlier, an IP address shows your device, location, and destination server. It’s, however, also linked to your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and your country of origin. VPN can, nonetheless, mask your IP address by using one of its many surveys across the world.

VPN Protocols

VPN protocols decide how data is transmitted through a connection. They’ve different specifications which are based on circumstances. For example, some protocols focus on data throughout speed, while others prioritize data encryption.

Whenever you connect to the internet, you use a protocol, which determines the security of devices on a network. You may perhaps recognize HTTP as the most common protocol since it’s at the start of every website address. HTTP regulates the fetching of data, such as HTML documents. It’s the starting point of any data exchange on the internet.

Similarly, VPN protocols communicate to a server and determine how data should be routed through that connection. There’re many available VPN protocols, which you could choose from including:

  • IPSec: Internet Protocol Security
  • 2TP: Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol
  • PPTP: Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol
  • SSL: Secure Sockets Layer
  • TLS: Transport Layer Security
  • OpenVPN

How to Get A VPN?

Depending on why you need one, there are many options for a VPN. You may want to use a VPN for personal reasons like online anonymity or access to geo-blocked sites. You may also need a VPN for protecting your business’s internet use. Whatever your reason, they’re paid and free VPN services available on the internet.

Free VPNs usually have limited functions, but they do get the job of hiding your IP. Free versions also come with ads, and they’re usually limited to one device per subscription. Free VPN can be useful if you occasionally use public Wi-Fi like in restaurants.

If you need more VPN protection with better functionality, you may want to get a paid VPN. Paid VPN usually gives more data protection, better efficiency, reliability, and value for money. You should always check out reviews before deciding on the VPN network that works for you.

Once you’ve picked the right service, setting up your VPN should be easy. The first step is to download the VPN app from the VPN provider’s website. Once it’s downloaded, you simply install it on your devices. The instructions provided usually are straightforward and easy to follow. Once installed, you can now select a server of your choice and connect to it.

How Do You Use a VPN?

It’s as easy as ABC. As most VPN developers have created user-friendly apps, you won’t face many challenges. If you have the VPN app installed, you just run it on your device, select a server, and you’re good to go. Some VPN apps even have auto-run features which will find the best servers for you and automatically connect to them.

The first time you use the app will usually require you to enter your login credentials; otherwise, after that, you just click or tap and go. If you’re using it from a browser, you’ll need to log in using your account credentials.

Is VPN Worth It?

From what you now know about VPN, its importance should be obvious. As long as information and communication technology continues to grow, VPN will remain vital for your security. Cybercrime is on the increase, and you’ll never know when you’ll fall victim to it.

The best VPN will come at a cost but depending on how you feel about your data and personal information, the cost is worth it. Besides providing an excellent option for your online security and privacy, VPN comes with other benefits. VPN can give you access to sites that discriminate based on territory.

Not all VPNs are equal. However, some have bad reputations for not offering value for money. Before you pick a VPN, it’s recommended to do your research by reading reviews online and checking out the features offered by each.