What is a VPN? What is a VPN used for? Welcome to the complete guide “VPN for Dummies.” This guide will teach you everything you need to know about a VPN.
What is a VPN ?
VPN is an acronym for
Virtual Private Network. So what is it? When you go online from home, you connect your computer o phone to your WiFi or cable to your Modem/Router. (Modem/Router, that device you got from your internet company to connect to the internet.) When you connect to the internet in such a way, it’s called a
Direct Connection. Now, what is all that noise about a VPN?
You are not connecting directly to the internet when you use a VPN. Instead, you are connecting to a secure server first. All your internet traffic will flow to and from this server first and then to you. A VPN is encryption all the traffic to and from you so nobody can. Why do you need it? A VPN obscures your online identity. It allows you to browse the internet safely, securely, and anonymously.
Why should you use a VPN ?
So now you know the basics of a VPN. However, why should you use it? I will be sure to outline several reasons why you want to use it. Please keep reading because a VPN might be even safe you money. (And that is something we all like)
A VPN gives you secure access to the internet because it can hide a lot of information. So let’s dive in. Every device on the internet has a unique address. It’s the same as your home address. It allows you to receive information just like receiving mail at your home.
However, you also are using this address for sending information. When you visit a website, you send a request to the internet with ‘Give me this website.’ And in that request, there is, of course, one you also need to address. This, of course, so that the internet knows where to return it. Just like with your mail. This is exactly like with your mail, the well-known ‘Return to sender.’ This address is called an IP address.
So why do you want a VPN? Without a VPN, you go online without any protection. You are shouting your home address into the world. It’s almost like you are inviting everybody in the world into your home. Please come in, look what I do, look what I have. Everything you do, visit, and search for is up for grabs. I think you should read on and I will give you a more in-depth explanation about this.
Privacy & Location
Your IP address is also linked to your location. So anyone who has your IP address can see what you have searched for and from where you did it.searched for and
When using a VPN, you make a secure connection to a server from a VPN provider. So the IP address visible to the outside internet is not yours. It’s the public IP address of the VPN server. And your IP address stays safe. This gives some online privacy. You can search the web anonymously without fear having your search history collected and sold to third parties.
Disclaimer: Please be aware that if somebody has physical access to your computer or you are on a computer from work or school, they could still access your search history.
Privacy & Government
Websites and browsers are constantly keeping track of everything you do online. You’ll need to keep your browsing history private. In 2013, Edward Snowden revealed that Verizon, an American Internet Service Provider, had been selling the data of its users to the NSA. This data included phone data and internet data. Several countries are putting more and more protection in place for their citizens. However, if you are still worried that your government is collecting all your data, a VPN might be a good investment.
Privacy & Online Offers
Let me explain when you want to book a vacation and are visiting sites to find a hotel or flight. These sites have been denying that they are driving up the prices. But they are doing some nice marketing tricks to pull you in. I will not go into the discussion if or not booking websites drive up prices. But here is one that can be easily observed when visiting booking websites and not using a VPN.
Booking sites collect your browsing information; with your IP address, they can collect your previous search information. I will explain how combining all the information can show you suggestions on where to go and similar destinations to what you searched for on another site. So far, this sounds entirely innocent. However, here’s the rub. They also collect information on how often you visit and how long you have looked at something. Well, what’s that worth? It’s easy. Have you ever seen that label on a booking site?
Now # left or
Only # room available? That is what there are doing with some of the information they collected.
When people are presented with a limited amount available, they are more likely to buy something because they want to take advantage of it. This is marketing 101. Please do not fall for it. With a VPN, your IP number constantly changes. Therefore it’s harder for the booking sites to present you with those options.
The longer you look at a particular option, the more these sites will present you with deals. For example, “Only x rooms left.” This is to draw you in. When using a VPN, these options will reset. Secondly, using a private browser window will also help you counter these practices.
Also, the COVID-19 pandemic has been screwing over those algorithms. An interesting side note; when I was looking for a hotel recently, I had somebody in the area check out the hotel. And they confirmed that the hotel was at less than 10% capacity, including future reservations. The booking site was showing me
Only 1 room available sounds quite dubious.
Privacy From the Apps You Use
Another example is that recently my girlfriend sent me a link to a dress she wanted to buy and asked if I liked it. So I opened it without having my VPN on. (Yeah, stupid me) I looked at it and said to her I liked it. Several minutes later, on Facebook and Instagram, all my advertisements changed to female products, skin case, dresses, and even lingerie. (Don’t believe me, go test it out yourself) I visited the link, and when I visited Facebook and Instagram with the same computer, Facebook collected my previous browsing history and then decided it was appropriate to show me similar content. Very annoying.
A VPN can protect you against this. Companies collect your information and then sell it to advertisers. And it’s not only websites that are doing it. Even your internet service provider can do it. That is the only way to be sure. Please read through their
Terms of Service and
We talked about location in the previous security section. When using a VPN, it can mask your location. However, this can also be used as an advantage. By using a VPN, your IP addresses change. This is like moving to a different country. Selecting where to connect is possible with the provider I use. NordVPN.
You can access content ordinarily unavailable from your location by changing your location. For example, you want to see video streaming content from a particular country. Or when some websites give you the annoying message, “This content is not available in your area.” With a VPN, you can circumvent this and watch what you want.
Disclaimer: I am not promoting this. I am only stating that with a VPN, it’s technically possible. Content from other countries can not be available to you due to regulations or contractual terms.
Security In Public Spaces
Here is where it gets interesting. When accessing the internet from a public space, like a coffee shop, bar, or the airport. Everything is shared, which means that public access points are the worst regarding privacy and security. When using a public hotspot, you are often presented with a login page of some kind, where you can click on a button to agree to the fine print and get online. Nobody ever reads those things; after all, the only thing you want is to go online. Public internet access is the worst regarding your privacy and security. Some of those policies even have clear statements that they reserve the right to sell your data to third parties by using the access point.
Everything you do online is monitored when you want to connect to public WiFi. They can trace it back to your computer or phone and know exactly who you are.
When you want to be secure when connecting to the internet from public WiFi, you must use a VPN. There is no workaround or some secret trick. The only option is to use a VPN.
Secure Multiple Devices
When people speak about a VPN, most of the time, the use of a computer is assumed. However, some VPN providers do not only provide a VPN for your computer. I use NordVPN, and they allow six devices for a single subscription. With NordVPN, you can secure your laptop, Tablet, and phone. Even for multiple users in the same household. Setting up a VPN on a mobile device is very easy. NordVPN even comes with an app for Android and iPhone. So setting up a VPN is just a matter of opening an app and clicking a button. Security has never been more accessible.
Getting Discounts With A VPN
Who doesn’t love discounts when you do online shopping? What a lot of people need to realize is that prices differ regarding the location where you are. Take the cost of food; they differ from Europe to the United States to Asia. When it comes to online shopping, this is the same. Prices are indexed around the world to the local income in the area.
When using a VPN, you can connect to a different region, and in many cases, you can use locally indexed prices. When it comes to paying online, this can save you a lot of money.
Disclaimer: I’d like to let you know that this does not always work; more and more websites now a day put in safeguards against this behavior; for example, you must use a local bank account when checking out your basket so that they can confirm the region.
I use NordVPN, and I can offer you a discount for getting a VPN. Please click on the link below to get a significant deal. Click here to claim your discount.
Disclaimer: I am a affiliate of NordVPN.
This helps you understand a VPN and why you should need one. Please feel free to leave a comment and subscribe. You can also send me an email with suggestions for topics.