What is a VPN connection, what it is and what advantages?

VPN connections are by no means a new invention, but only now are beginning to get traction among the general public. While traditionally use was more common in the business environment, the versatility of these connections and multiple uses make them increasingly popular.

However, what is a VPN and what are the advantages you? Precisely the versatility that we talked about is the same one that creates occasional confusion about because increasingly it relates to VPN connections with “evil” (with great quotes), as some of its applications include jumping geographical locks, greater anonymity on the Net or even blocking advertising.

What is a VPN?

Let’s start with the basics. VPN stands for Virtual Private Network, or VPN , unlike computer more cryptic words such as DNS or HTTP , do give us clues fairly accurate what they are.

The key word here is virtual; it is this property that generates the need for VPN itself, as well as enabling VPN connections offer multiple applications to be discussed later.

To connect to the Internet, your mobile phone, PC, TV and other devices generally communicate with the router or modem that connects your home to your ISP, either via cable or wirelessly. The components are different if you are using the data connection of your mobile (which includes its own modem and talk to the phone antenna) but the essence is the same: your device connects to another, which connects to the Internet.

Most often, you do not have one, but several devices connected to the same router: phones, computers, consoles … In this case each will be assigned a local IP address, which is not visible from the Internet. This is a local network, a set of connected so that they can share files and printers without going through Internet devices.

VPN connection

Image Source: Google Image

A VPN connection allowing you to create a local network without requiring that its members are physically connected to each other, but through the Internet. We were talking earlier about the “virtual” component. You get the advantages of the local network (and any extra), with greater flexibility since the connection is via the Internet and may for example be a side of the world to the other.

However, it is another peculiarity of the VPN connections that is becoming so fashionable today: the data tunnels. Normally Internet while using your device comes in contact with your ISP, which is connecting with various web services to offer, such as YouTube videos.

When you connect to a VPN connection, this changes. All your network traffic continues to go from your device to your ISP, but then goes straight to the VPN server, from where it will depart the destination. Ideally the connection is encrypted, so that your ISP does not really know what you are accessing. For practical purposes, your IP address is the VPN server: in many ways it is as if you were physically there, connecting to the Internet.

What are they for VPN connections?

Surely with the above explanations and you have imagined a few situations where VPN connections might be useful. It is an open secret that is especially important in the corporate environment, but their uses not just far from there. These are the main uses of VPN connections.

1. Telecommuting

The most obvious use of a VPN connection is interconnectivity networks that are not physically connected, as in the case of workers who are at that time out of the office or companies with branches in several cities that need access to a single private network.

From the point of view of security, allow indiscriminate access to the home network of a company from the Internet is nothing short of crazy. Although access is password protected, it could be captured in a WiFi public or spotted by a malicious observer access.

By contrast, the risk decreases if the employee and the company are connected by a VPN connection. Access is protected, encrypted connection is expected and the worker has the same access as if you were there in person.

2. Avoid censorship and locks geographical content

With the height of Internet and picaresque both content providers and users, they have been popularizing other more recreational uses of VPN connections, many of them related to a simple concept: falsify where you are.

By connecting with VPN, your device communicates with the VPN server, and it is this that speaks with Internet. If you are in China and the VPN server is in the US, usually web servers will believe you’re sailing from this country, leaving access only the content available there, as it could be Netflix.

Similarly, the same logic can be used to access content that they were censored or blocked in your country, but not where the VPN server is located. This is how millions of Chinese citizens are able to connect to Facebook and 3,000 other sites blocked in the country.

3. Extra Security Layer

Although not strictly necessary, it is common for VPN connections are accompanied by an encryption of packets transmitted with them, so it is normal to hear the recommendation that, if you need to connect to an access point public Wi-Fi at least you use it you connect with a VPN.

Log into your bank account while you are connected to a public WiFi network that you do not trust probably not the best idea in the world, it is relatively easy for a thief to capture packets unencrypted and gain your user accounts. This is where the extra layer of security you can get through a VPN connection comes in , as packets would be sent encrypted, so anyone who is listening probably could not do anything with them.

However, no fine print on this, because while you are distrusting public Wi-Fi, you’re putting all your faith in the VPN server, which can equally capture all your traffic, keep records of what you do or even sell your bandwidth to the highest bidder. A VPN is as safe and useful as your provider is. If you do not trust your VPN, do not use it, because instead of having an extra layer of security, you have the enemy at home and looking absolutely everything you do online.

4. P2P Downloads

Another common use for VPN connections is in the P2P downloads, which in these times is generally synonymous with downloaded from BitTorrent. Before you put a patch me in the eye, a wooden leg and make me walk the plank, VPN connections also have uses in P2P download if you get down completely legal torrents.

Unfortunately it is becoming common time Internet providers decide to snoop on how to send and receive zeros and ones on the Web, and although they love to visit normal web pages, we download not make them so funny: too much traffic , and also probably you’re downloading something illegal.

Some providers completely block P2P downloads, while others simply boycotting to malfunction and give up for yourself. Just as you can use a VPN connection to avoid censorship in your country, you can also sometimes prevent your ISP boycott your P2P downloads.

You may also like to read another article on Lab-Soft: All you need to know to create a website with CMS

Advantages of VPN connections

Now that we know what a VPN connection and what it does, it’s time to summarize a list of the advantages and disadvantages that you involves the use of this technology. First, the positive part:

  • It works in all applications, for routing all Internet traffic, unlike proxy servers, you can only use the web browser and a handful of more applications that let you configure advanced connection.
  • It connects and disconnects easily. Once configured, you can enable and disable the connection to your whim.
  • Additional security in WiFi hotspots, as long as the connection is encrypted access, clear
  • Falsify your location, as we have seen in the previous section, a VPN connection is an effective way to avoid censorship or access content limited to a certain region.
  • Your ISP may not know what you do on the Internet. Do not you feel that your Internet provider know that you spend hours watching videos of kittens on YouTube? With a VPN will not know that you do, but be careful, that if you know the company that manages the VPN.

Things you should consider

So far all very nice, use VPN connections seems full of advantages: security, enhanced privacy, jump geographical blocks … Before you buy sets a VPN service or sign up for a free one, there are a few sections you should consider:

  • The price. Although there are free VPN services obviously cannot expect much from them, because they are often very limited, will be very slow or are not very reliable. There are some exceptions, however.
  • The speed suffers. The difference between directly connected to the Internet or your data trace a route across half the world can be overwhelming. If your VPN server is far away, you will experience high latency when surfing the net. In addition to latency, it is normal download speed and maximum rise may be limited.
  • Your security is not foolproof. This we have said several times, but it never hurts to repeat it. Just because the connection icon has a padlock does not mean that the connection is secure, especially if we are talking about VPN connections based on the PPTP protocol.
  • You cannot always falsify your location. Especially in mobile, more and more technologies for which it can triangulate your location and approximate beyond your IP address.
  • They do not provide anonymity. Using a VPN does not mean that navigation is anonymous. The winning combination for greater anonymity, if we ignore Edward Snowden, is to use both a VPN and Tor connection.

Use third-party VPN … or create your own server

As normal and quick to start to savor the advantages of VPN connections is recorded in one of the many companies that offer VPN services. You pay a monthly fee that can range from a few dollars to more than 10 dollars and get credentials to log on to their service and often own official VPN client that you makes things much easier.

However, if you want a total and absolute control of your connection or not you trust anyone, you can follow the philosophy of “if you want something done right, you must do it yourself.” The problem with this is that it is rare that you have access to a PC in another country with which you can enjoy some of the advantages mentioned before (avoid censorship, geographic blocks).

There are some exceptions, such as trotting-worlds who travel frequently and installing a VPN on your PC at home find they can still access their files wherever they are, also enjoying the services were only available in their country, such as Netflix or Spotify.

If you want to create your own VPN server, whether it is in one of your Windows PC as a remote server under your control, OpenVPN is probably your best option.

Connecting to a VPN server

Today every operating system in its more or less current version allows you to connect to a VPN connection without installing anything extra. All you need is the data access provider VPN (or your company, if applicable) as the server address, type of VPN and your user credentials.

In Windows

In Windows, you can connect to a VPN network without installing anything additional from there by Windows XP, but support for different types of encryption is the older the more basic is your version of Windows.

To connect to a VPN in Windows 7, follow these steps:

  • Open Center Network and Sharing
  • Click Create a new connection.
  • Choose Connect to a network
  • Fill in the server information, type of VPN and your user credentials

In Windows 10, you can also use the following mode with Modern Interface:

  • Open the options PC
  • Go to Network and Internet
  • Opens paragraph VPN
  • Click Add a VPN connection
  • Fill in the server information, type of VPN and user credentials

In Mac

Support for VPN connections could not miss on Mac OSX. To connect to a VPN connection on your Mac, follow these steps:

  • Open System Preferences and click Network
  • Click Add (+) at the bottom of the list of services to networks
  • Select VPN in the dropdown menu interface
  • Fill the other settings as the connection type and authentication settings

In Linux

To connect to a VPN server from Linux you need to have installed the packagenetwork-manager-vpnc , which for example is not installed by default in Ubuntu. To install it you can resort to the manager of your distribution specific software or command line: $ Sudo apt-get install network-manager-vpnc

Then follow these steps:

  • In Ubuntu, click on the network icon (the two arrows) on the top bar
  • Choose VPN Connections – Configure VPN drop – down menu
  • Click add (or import, if you have a configuration file)
  • Follow the instructions on screen to fill the remaining information as the encryption type and your user credentials.

In Android

Android also has its own VPN client, although the way to access it may vary slightly depending on the version of Android you have installed and changes the menus you have made your manufacturer. Generally, you will find here:

  • Go to Settings
  • Open section Wireless networks, network connections or similar
  • Generally, VPN connections are in section other or more networks.
  • Toca in paragraph VPN and click the Plus (+) button to create the connection
  • Fill in the name, type of VPN, encryption and server address

In iOS

In iOS, the process is somewhat easier. To connect to a VPN server from your iPhone or iPad, follow these steps:

  • Open the Settings
  • Go to the section General
  • Make scroll to reach the section VPN
  • Tap Add VPN Configuration
  • Select the tab for the type of VPN of your server, and fill in the data server and user name

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