How Does a VPN Work and Why Do I Need One?

Today, it has become easy for every Internet user to use a VPN. While it is easy to understand what a VPN is for, not everyone knows how it works.

We enlighten you today on this point and more.

What does a VPN allow?

First of all, before we can explain how a VPN works, it is important to take stock of its usefulness. Indeed, they allow you to do many things and we will list everything that is offered to you by Virtual Private Networks.

First of all, when you browse the Internet, you are identifiable by your IP address. Thanks to the latter, it is possible to trace it back to you. It is in a way your physical address a bit like your home address. Thanks to a VPN: you can then hide this address.

While surfing on the internet, the websites you use can then know your IP address easily. They get a more or less exact location easily by the way. The authorities can also, in case of a problem, ask your internet service provider which individual is hiding behind an IP address.

Your IP address allowing to identify you, you understand that nobody is really anonymous on the Internet. Thanks to a VPN you can hide your IP address. Thus, services and websites can no longer know from which territory you connect and even who you really are. You then become anonymous.

That’s not all, a VPN encrypts all the data that circulates between you and the web server. As a result, no one can intercept the information that circulates there and retrieve it for malicious purposes. This is the risk on some public WiFi networks in particular. Securing your connection through these services is therefore possible.

Other functionalities: bypassing geographic blocks. On Netflix, it is impossible to access foreign catalogs from United States. However, they sometimes have many more films and series that are not available in some countries.

Thanks to a VPN: it is possible to connect to a server located in the United States, for example, and then take advantage of the American catalog. Netflix will indeed believe that you are connecting from the other side of the Atlantic.

A VPN therefore has many interests and it can correspond to various uses. To better understand how it works, it is essential to have a vision of all the possibilities it can offer.

How does a VPN work?

We will concretely explain how a VPN works from a technical point of view. Indeed, on the user side it is most of the time very simple. All you have to do is choose a server and click on a connection button. Behind, it is still a little more complex.

First of all, a VPN is an encrypted virtual private network. It is located between your computer (or any other device connected to the internet) and the destination server (which can be a website for example).

When you want to access a web page, the VPN will then isolate the information that circulates between your computer and its server. All this is secured and encrypted so that no one can know the information circulating on it.

At the output, the VPN server will then communicate with the web server. In the eyes of the web server, this data is anonymous, because the websites cannot know that it is you who is trying to access these contents. For them, it is the VPN server that accesses it directly. The site cannot even know your IP address.

In this tunnel: everything is encrypted and you are therefore protected from malicious attacks that may then possibly target you. Only the VPN server is able at this moment to trace back to you, that’s why you have to be careful when choosing your provider.

It is important to specify that this does not necessarily protect you from attacks. Nevertheless, if a hacker manages to recover your connection data, these are encrypted. It is impossible for him to read their contents.

Some VPNs also offer double security with double encryption. Your data then passes through two differently encrypted tunnels consecutively. It then becomes even more difficult to trace it back to you, even if the data in one of the two tunnels is decrypted.

Also note that when you use a VPN, even your operator (Internet Service Provider) cannot know what you are accessing. In the eyes of the latter, you are simply surfing on your VPN server.

What is the difference between different VPN providers?

On the market today, there are several hundred serious VPN providers. Some are paid, some are free and some are based on a freemium model. Sometimes they are all very different and we will explain why.

Paid VPNs are the best known. We can mention market leaders like NordVPN or ExpressVPN. Their seriousness is no longer to be proven and the quality of their services is exemplary. They offer a large number of servers and an efficient customer service. So you can trust them with your eyes closed, as long as you get your hands on their wallet.

As far as Freemium VPNs are concerned, they are based on a slightly different business model. They offer free access to their services, but these services are restricted. To take full advantage of them, you have to pay for them. This model still allows these services to be profitable and not have to sell your data to exist.

The last category concerns free VPNs. The biggest advantage, of course, is that the user doesn’t have to spend a single cent to use the services. However, you knew that nothing is ever free. Running VPN servers is a real cost.

The problem with this free service is that to be profitable, these VPNs sometimes resell users’ data to advertising agencies. From a privacy point of view, it is obvious that this is not what is best. Other free services opt for advertising instead.

So there are big differences among some VPN providers, beyond the features that may vary from one service to another. Just make sure you also pay attention to the location of the VPN (it is obvious that for a service based in China, it will be more complicated to trust it than another one based in Switzerland).

Which VPN to choose?

To choose your VPN, it is important to take into account several criteria. They all work in the same way in general even if the type of encryption may vary from one to another. In general, the AES-256 encryption is used.

Then, you obviously need to check which services respect your privacy or not. Some VPNs will not hesitate to communicate your data to the justice in case of request from them for example and others are located in countries where censorship is required such as China. It is therefore difficult to trust these third parties.

Each VPN can offer different speeds, servers located in various locations around the world or a double encryption system. It is also in relation to all these small features that your choice must be made.

It is important to read the general conditions of use of these services. So yes, it is not obvious and always understandable, especially since reading these long paragraphs is very long, but it allows you to know precisely what these VPNs do with your data.

When you use them: all your data circulates in the encrypted tunnel of these services, so it is important to know what can be done with your data.

It is obvious that from a security and privacy point of view, we naturally recommend paying VPNs. They are often more powerful and also offer you a greater respect for your privacy.

Please note that in reality, a free and paid VPN works in the same way. Most of the time, the encryption is also the same, even if the technical teams of the services with a subscription are better able to react quickly in case of a breach for example.

As you will have understood, the functioning of a VPN is in fact rather simple. Regardless of the service you use, it is generally the same, even if the type of encryption used may vary.