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A Primer on VPNs and How They Work

Published on 12 February 14
Some jargon is there for a reason, other jargon is just there to make I.T technicians seem like Godâs gift to the world. A VPN is basically computer speak for a secure connection. VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. You could think of this as being your own personal highway through the internet surrounded by 12 ft high walls that only you and other people you choose are allowed to drive on.

A Quick Primer on VPNs and How They Operate

A VPN is something that can be hugely beneficial, but it is something that you wonât know you need until you know about it. Kind of like when you buy a new computer and make the switch to Apple, Microsoft, Linux etc and didnât know what you were missing until you tried it. If you have ever been the victim of an internet scam or been hacked, you will know that a VPN is for you.

An Overview of a What a VPN Does

A VPN is a secure connection made between a network of computers (usually over the internet). This means that if you had a business with staff in Tehran, Bangkok and Bangalore, you could establish a VPN and then you can all securely share data without it ever being intercepted by anybody, even if you are using a dodgy WiFI hotspot in a run down cafe. The data is always sent from computer to computer heavily encrypted so that even if somebody did get a hold of it, it would look like something Sherlock Holmes could never crack in a thousand years.

A VPN could be likened to travelling between different planets on a secure super tunnel in a rocketship - you are travelling through a vast and dangerous place (the internet), but you are safe from any intruders, thieves and hackers. If you have friends on other planets (computers) that you want to share data and other sensitive material with, you can build tunnels (a VPN) to their planets.

What a VPN Requires

A VPN does not have a set standard or procedure for setting up. It is entirely up to you to decide what you want your VPN to do. There are a huge amount of different reasons you may want a VPN, here are just a few of them:

1. You want to use WiFi hot spots securely and safely while you are travelling
2. You want to be able to share data securely and safely with your friends, co workers or business partners no matter where you are in the world
3. You play games online and want to set up a connection so you can all link together and play at high speed
4. You have remote workers and want to ensure they are spending time working productively, not waiting on massive downloads
5. You want to browse anything online and not have anybody ever know about it
You want to keep data such as bank accounts, passwords and other valuable information safe

Exactly How a VPN Works

Because there are no exact set standards or programs for a VPN, it is hard to teach somebody what they require in a VPN or how it will work for them until their needs are understood. The needs for a business will be far different than two businessmen who are partners but live on opposite sides of the world.

Businesses used to lease lines from their internet service provider (ISP) before VPNs were common place. The ISP used to charge a fortune for these, and although they were good, new technology has started to render these out of date for most business and personal requirements. In saying that, there are some basic steps that all VPNs require to function.

A device that is always online. The VPN will fail if you do not have a device that is always online as all computers on the VPN will need to go through this to send information. This leads nicely into the next vital requirement.

A strong ISP. If you have an ISP that provides you with internet access 99% of the time, you will run into many headaches. Donât scrimp when choosing your ISP - the uptime needs to be at least 99.9%.
A VPN capable router. A router is a low cost item and are often given away by ISPs as a free giveaway when you sign up for a contract. Often it is better to throw this away and buy a decent router. This will be a minimal cost, however it is often the weak link in the chain in a good VPN.

What Do You Need Your VPN For?

After all this, you have to decide what you want your VPN for. If you are just an individual with a laptop and want to securely access your desktop PC at work, there are plenty of free and very low cost options out there. These are incredibly easy to setup and very safe.

If you are operating a business with 10+ staff, it would be wise to shell out the comparatively small amount of money to get a decent VPN set up. It is like insurance - you wouldnât go a year without insuring your car or building. Why would you take your chances with bank account passwords, insider knowledge emails and valuable business data?

Author Bio - Thomas McKinsey, the author of this article writes on behalf of Best VPN solution, a famous VPN service provider review site featuring popular VPN reviews including VyprVPN review. If youâre looking to save time searching hours online for a good VPN service provider, check out their IPVanish VPN review among the other highly recommended service providers at their website today.

This blog is listed under Networks & IT Infrastructure Community

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