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What is a VPN and why are they useful?

What is a VPN and why are they useful?

You might have heard of VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) before, but what is a VPN, and why are they useful?

Unless you use a VPN service yourself you may be unfamiliar. We’re here to clear the confusion.

What is a Private Network?

You’ve likely already got a private network at home.

This is when devices attached to your network, and the connection it has to the internet, can only be accessed by someone with your Wi-Fi password or someone who is plugged in directly with a network/ethernet cable.

So what is a VPN?

With a VPN, instead of using your local network, you can remotely access a server based elsewhere to act as your ‘router’ and connect you to another network.

What’s the benefit of this? You can connect to a network anywhere on the planet, no matter where you are. This gives you access to all devices attached to that network and allows access to the internet via that network.

What is the practical use of a VPN?

VPN services have come under the public eye recently, because they offer access to international streaming services, such as US Netflix. What puposes do they really serve?

VPNs instead of Proxy Servers

If you’re accessing a service using a VPN server based internationally, as far as Netflix can see, your device is connecting from that location.

So, if content is exclusive to certain countries, (the US for example) then there’s an obvious incentive to connect via a US-based VPN.

VPNs differ to Proxy servers because they offer a more secure, private connection.

Privacy Protection

Another bonus of VPNs is that they allow anonymity online.

A common example of this is the Tor anonymous project.  If you want to bypass state censorship, this is particularly useful. More commonly, Tor is used by those that don’t want internet activity monitored by advertisers, ISPs, or anyone else.

It also allows people to access the Dark Web. It’s debatable whether that’s a good thing or not.

Remote Working

If you’re working from home and need to access your work network then a VPN is an easy, secure way to do so.  Just as though they are plugged in directly, VPNs create a secure link between your remote workers and business network.

What are the issues with VPNs?

We’ve looked at the pros of using VPNs, but what are the drawbacks?

Connection Speed

Your VPN connection speeds can suffer if your own internet connection isn’t super speedy.  This is because every packet of data is encrypted. When trying to stream videos or play games online, this can be a problem.

Legality

Think again if you plan to use a VPN service to watch international versions of Netflix. As VPN usage is being clamped-down, your usage may be blocked. The important thing to remember: using VPNs is legal, but hiding behind a VPN to perform illegal activities isn’t.

Business use of VPNs

If you want to utilise VPN connections for your business, then we can help. We’ll review your requirements for free.

Whatever you need help with, simply contact us or speak to an advisor on 0208 232 1190.