VPN: What is a VPN and how it work?

You may have heard of VPNs, and you may have used them. But do you know how a VPN works?

By AoxVPN Team 02/02/2023 . 5:05 min read

A VPN protects your personal data and privacy online. Read our ultimate guide to VPNs and discover what a VPN does, how VPNs work, and how they protect you. Learn the practical meaning of a VPN, and strengthen your privacy right now by downloading a powerful and lightning-fast VPN app.

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What is a VPN?

A VPN, which stands for virtual private network, is a service that establishes a secure and private connection to the internet. A VPN creates an encrypted tunnel to protect your personal data and communications, hide your IP address, and let you safely use public Wi-Fi networks.

VPN services also help you bypass censorship, get around content blocks, and unlock website restrictions. By encrypting your internet traffic, VPNs hide your IP address and physical location, so that no one can tell who you are, where you are, or what you’re doing online. That’s why VPN means virtual private network — it’s an on-demand, private tunnel through the internet.

Strictly speaking, the VPN meaning refers only to the private network connection itself — the actual software app that manages your device’s VPN connection is technically called a VPN client — but the two cybersecurity terms are often used interchangeably. Most operating systems include VPN clients, but many VPN providers create their own clients that make using a VPN more convenient.

This comprehensive guide to VPNs will explain exactly how a virtual private network works and why you should use one. You’ll also learn how to choose a VPN service depending on your connection needs. VPNs aren’t just for desktops or laptops — you can set up a VPN on your iPhone, iPad, or Android phone, too.

What does VPN stand for?

VPN stands for virtual private network.

  • A VPN is virtual because it creates a digital tunnel — there isn’t a physical cable that reaches from your device directly to the VPN server.
  • A VPN is private because it encrypts your data and hides your IP address.
  • A VPN is a network because it creates a connection between multiple computers — your device and the VPN server.

What does a VPN do?

VPNs hide your IP address behind a different IP address (often in another part of the world) provided by the VPN server. VPNs work by adding a layer of encryption to the data that passes through your internet connection. There are many benefits of using a VPN — VPNs let you:

  • Encrypt your internet connection.
  • Secure your data over public Wi-Fi networks.
  • Stream freely and get around location-based content blocks.
  • Access blocked websites.
  • Avoid internet censorship. *Evade ISP tracking.
  • Prevent price discrimination.

Not only does a VPN connection encrypt your browsing and other web traffic; it can give you access to a freer internet by letting you configure your settings to alter your virtual online location. This combination of security and flexibility makes VPNs extremely versatile. Some people even use a VPN for gaming.

Encrypt your internet connection

VPNs establish a secure connection to the internet by encrypting all your online traffic and routing it through a point-to-point connection between your device and the VPN server. Establishing an encrypted, private network is exactly what a VPN connection does — and this encrypted layer offers an array of security, privacy, and performance benefits.

When you’re hooked up to an encrypted VPN network, not only is all your internet data shielded from hackers and their sniffers, but your true location and identity remain hidden from your internet service provider (ISP), the government, marketers, or anyone else who may be snooping on your local network.

Secure data transfer

If you log into your bank account, check your email, or use social media over an unsecured connection, hackers may be lurking, waiting to snap up your login credentials. And any messages you send or personal data you transmit can be intercepted and used for blackmail or identity theft.

Because a VPN connection encrypts your communication with its server, anyone trying to eavesdrop on the network will see only gibberish. That’s a big part of what VPN protection is: ensuring that no one can access your data. In fact, the original purpose of VPN technology was to connect remote workers with corporate networks, so that sensitive information could be shared safely.

Securing your data with a VPN is particularly important for staying safe on free public Wi-Fi networks. Despite their convenience, there are many risks of public Wi-Fi, since anyone can hop onto an unsecured Wi-Fi network, and there’s no way to know exactly who’s connected at any given time (or what they’re doing). It’s all too easy for a hacker to sit on a public Wi-Fi network and intercept all the traffic flowing across it.

Stream from anywhere

Due to licensing restrictions, streaming platforms feature different content libraries in different countries around the world — this is known as geo-blocking. If you’re traveling abroad and want to keep up with your favorite shows from home, you may find that they’re unavailable in your current location.

A VPN lets you bypass location-based content blocks when watching TV online by letting you connect to the best server location to suit your needs. If you’re traveling and pick your home country from the server list, you’ll be able to access all the content you normally would. And you can even equip your mobile device with a VPN, meaning you can truly stream from anywhere, as well as prevent phone tracking.

Access blocked websites

You may find that certain websites are blocked for certain reasons or because you’re in a particular location — such as while you’re at school or at work. VPNs get you around content blocks so you can access blocked websites, even if you’re somewhere that restricts access to certain sites.

Why you should use a VPN

VPNs offer the best protection against online snoops and hackers, and you should use one if you want to browse privately and securely. As well as encrypting your internet traffic, and keeping your online activity hidden, a VPN prevents anyone from finding your IP address by showing the public internet the IP address of the VPN server you’re using instead of your own.

Your public IP address links your device to your ISP as well as to your geographic location, which enables geo-blocking, censorship, price-discrimination, and other content restrictions. Pair that IP masking with encryption, and a VPN helps keep your online activities fully private from ISPs, hackers, and government surveillance.

Protect your privacy with a trust AoxVPN

AoxVPN Secure VPN keeps your data safe with 256-bit AES encryption — the same military-grade encryption that banks and governments use. Our lightning-fast servers located around the world will get you the content you crave while hiding your identity behind a shared IP address, making it almost impossible for anyone to link your activity back to you.

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