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Virtual Private Network (VPN) Explained

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) is a network of servers that help users maintain their privacy and security online. Typically, robust communication protocols and encryption are used

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) is a network of servers that help users maintain their privacy and security online. Typically, robust communication protocols and encryption are used to connect between servers and its users.

VPN in deconstructed terms can be seen as:

  • Virtual – Connections created exist only in cyberspace.
  • Private – Servers involved are all private and not open to everyone.
  • Network – Various devices are being linked together.

How VPNs Actually Work?

In simple terms, a VPN service connects your device to a secure server at a location of your choice (as long as the service you are using has a server there). From there, your connection is routed on to whichever website you are heading for.

The connection between your computer and the server you connect to is encrypted. This helps safeguard any data that is being sent or received from your device to the VPN server. This segment is the security portion of the VPN.

Aside from that, using a VPN server also means you borrow a temporary IP Address. The IP is what is used to identify each device that’s connected to a network. The temporary IP is what any website you’re connecting to sees. Because of this, your real IP remains hidden.

Some websites don’t like users who use VPN connections. While they can’t usually tell who those are, a red flag may be multiple users all originating from the same IP address. That’s why the best VPN service providers regularly update their IP addresses to avoid getting blacklisted.

Key VPN Features to Know

Although the core features of VPNs are mainly fixed, many VPNs today come with extras. As add-ons, each of those features has the potential to impact some part of our devices and our safety on the Internet – VPN encryption taking up a high amount of processing power, for example. 

Because of that, learning more about the bits and pieces that make up a VPN service can be extremely beneficial.

Kill Switch

Kill Switch is a special mechanism in VPN application that auto-disconnects your device from the Internet whenever it detects any disruptions in connection.

A Kill Switch is designed to prevent your IP, location and online activities from any accidental exposure at all times. Once the Kill Switch is activated, you won’t be able to browse, stream, or download anything. Since your entire Internet connection is shut down, your real IP remains protected, your privacy stays intact and the security of the connection will not be compromised.

More: Different types of VPN kill switches

Split Tunneling

Split Tunneling is an advanced feature that helps manage the flow of data on your device, allowing you the choice of what exactly gets routed through the VPN service.

The remainder goes through a separate tunnel on the open network. The primary objective of split tunneling is to increase speed of your VPN connection without jeopardizing the security of your sensitive data.

More: The three approaches to Split Tunneling

Double VPN

Double VPN works by having your data travel through one VPN server and then routed through another before heading to its final destination.

When you use a double VPN, your data is encrypted and passed through a VPN server twice to add an extra layer of security to your connection. The core benefits of double VPN are a further boost in security and anonymity. Since all your data is protected with an extra layer of encryption, this makes it twice as hard for hackers to crack.

More: When do you need a Double VPN

How To Choose A VPN

Just because a VPN is labelled the best, doesn’t mean it is the best at what you need it for. For example if you are new to VPN, choosing a budget-friendly VPN with long trial period is highly recommended. Offering at $1.99/mo and 45-days risk-free trial, this is where CyberGhost comes top.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at specific areas of VPNs you should consider when choosing one.


From Encryption protocols to built in security features of client software, VPNs today offer security on many levels. However, the most critical is the security and integrity of the connection it maintains between you and the Internet though.

For best security, choose a VPN with high grade encryption and offers additional security features such as Double VPN and auto Kill Switch.


The best VPNs typically offer users a “No Logging” service. This means that they will not keep records of any of your activities online. However, some do break their word. If you happen to be relying on your VPN to keep you anonymous, this can be a major issue.

Also keep an eye on the country in which the provider registers its business when choosing a VPN. Many VPN providers state that they do not log user activity, but some countries have mandatory data retention laws and share surveillance data with their allies (i.e.. 5 Eyes, 9 Eyes, 14 Eyes Alliances). We recommend users to go with a VPN provider that is based in a country without mandatory data retention law. Examples of locations such as this are Panama (NordVPN) and the British Virgin Islands (ExpressVPN).

Connection Speed

Three primary factors dictate the speed of your VPN connection: Server capability, server locations, and connection protocols.

As a rule of thumb, pick a VPN with a good spread of server locations and multiple connetion protocols. Take ExpressVPN for example, the provider has over 3,000 servers spread across 94 countries. The extensive network offers users from almost any country amazingly fast access points.


Do you wish to watch a news video on BBC iPlayer? Perhaps you’re in Japan and want to catch up on some streamed releases on the US version of Netflix? If you do, you’ll be out of luck since lots of services restrict content by region.

If you want to unleash the full power of streaming subscriptions, choose a VPN provider that explicitly states it works with those services.

Best VPN for online streaming

P2P & Torrenting Support

Torrenting is always risky since it essentially occupies a grey area of online activities. While it is not generally illegal in most places, copyright infringement is. You will never be sure if your downloaded files are something that might get you into trouble with the authorities.

Using a VPN will help make torrenting a lot safer. It hides your real IP making you anonymous and encrypts all your data. Because all your traffic heads to the VPN server first, ISPs cannot track and will not know what you have been doing.

Because file sharing is often bandwidth intensive, some VPN service providers totally forbid P2P usage or limit P2P to certain servers. In case you plan to do torrenting frequently with your VPN,  make sure you check before buying in to one.


Typically a good VPN supports mainstream operating systems, mobile devices, and other “smart” devices. This usually include different versions of MacOS, Windows, Android devices, as well as popular smart TVs and routers.

However if you’re using a less popular platform, you may find yourself in a situation where your VPN simply doesn’t support it. For example not all VPNs – even the very popular ones like IP Vanish, does not offer an usable Linux app.

Always be aware of limitations a VPN service provider has before you sign up for an extended contract. At the very least, ensure the devices you currently use are supported.

Make Use of Our VPN Reviews

Different VPN suits different varieties of use cases. We recognize this need for flexibility and want to help you identify the best solution that fits your unique use for a VPN. Not only do we examine the capabilities of VPNs themselves, but also explore various usage scenarios.

Whether you want to pay less monthly fees or connect to unlimited devices or the most secured connection, the right VPN is out there. 

Listed below are the VPN services we have reviewed in the past.

VPN Gate Review

Jerry Low

TunnelBear Review

Helen Chan

VyprVPN Review

Helen Chan

Windscribe Review

Helen Chan

Turbo VPN Review

Helen Chan

UltraVPN Review

Helen Chan

AtlasVPN Review

Timothy Shim

CyberGhost Review

Timothy Shim

Surfshark Review

Helen Chan

IPVanish Review

Jerry Low

NordVPN Review

Helen Chan

ExpressVPN Review

Helen Chan

Jerry Low

Jerry Low is the founder of HideandSeek.online and a long time proponent of web technologies. His curiosity of all things connected have led him from field to field, the latest of which is digital privacy and security. This site is where he shares some of his findings.
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