VPN explanation, what is a VPN and why do you use it?

Using a VPN is becoming increasingly popular. This is mainly due to the fact that people are increasingly aware of their privacy on the internet. Using a VPN online helps enormously if you want to protect your privacy.

Another reason is that you want to view content (usually videos) that would normally be blocked at a certain location. With a VPN you can watch Ziggo Go abroad for example . Yet another popular reason to use a VPN online is that it offers protection against malicious hackers.

On this page you will find detailed information about how a VPN works and what you can do with it. But first an overview for the people who are simply looking for a good VPN connection. Below you can see our top 4 favorite VPN services.

But what exactly is a VPN connection and what can it all be used for? On this page we will explain what a VPN is, how it works and how this solution is used for different purposes. The explanation of VPN connections is explained on the basis of the following topics:

What is a VPN?

A VPN is a virtual private network between which data can be exchanged in a secure manner. The abbreviation VPN means “virtual private network”. A VPN connection is a network made secure by encryption that is linked to each other via the internet. This encryption is done between the user’s device (s) and the VPN server.

These secure connections are designed to allow external computers, for example for people working outside the office, to connect to local networks, for example in the office. These local networks are often corporate networks or computer networks within educational organizations. Because the VPN connection is encrypted, people can send data to these networks in a secure manner. Naturally, information stored on a server within such a network can also be viewed securely.

Nowadays, VPN is used to create more online privacy, to circumvent geographic blockades and to protect against hackers. This is done by subscribing to a VPN service that gives access to the different VPN servers of that VPN service. Then all internet traffic is routed via that VPN server.

To clarify the story above, we show below schematically how a VPN network works.

Easy via VPN provider

The easiest way to use a VPN connection is by taking out a subscription with a company that offers VPN connections, a so-called VPN provider. There are many different VPN providers that offer VPN connections for a fee to VPN servers around the world. These parties enable you to opt for a VPN connection when you think it is necessary. If you use the internet via a VPN, you use the internet in a more secure way.

We have extensively tested various VPN services and have written a comprehensive review of all VPN services tested . Below you will find at least the top 3 with the best VPN services we believe.

ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN is a pricey VPN service compared to the other services. But in exchange for this price you really get a phenomenal service. The connections are really good and and fast. In addition, the software works great for all devices such as iPhone, Android, PC and Mac laptops and computers.

In addition, security and privacy are really good with this service. The best encryption is used and no logs are kept from users.

Promotion: 3 months free with an annual subscription on ExpressVPN!

* Only valid via the links on our website. During the ordering of an annual subscription you will see this promotion on the ExpressVPN website.

CyberGhost VPN

CyberGhost VPN is a service that has really improved a lot in recent times. More servers have been added and the speed has improved enormously. The stability of the connections is really excellent.

CyberGhost has developed software for all known operating systems; Windows, iOS, MacOS and Android. All this software is very good and easy to use. In addition, you will find comprehensive manuals for installing CyberGhost on a variety of devices including a Raspberry Pi and various routers on the website.

And to top it all off, this is also the cheapest premium VPN available. If you are looking for a very good affordable VPN, then you are at the right place at CyberGhost!

NordVPN

NordVPN is a large VPN service that has been active for many years. In these years they have not sat still, which is clearly visible in the software and its functionalities. This way you will find good and easy-to-use software for all known operating systems. Even for the slightly more exotic equipment there is support. For example, on the website you will find a detailed explanation and accompanying files on how to get a NordVPN connection active on a DD-WRT router.

The NordVPN connections have proven to be really stable and fast in our tests. Something that is obviously very important when using a VPN connection. Certainly when you are looking for a good torrent VPN, for example.

NordVPN is known for the high level of privacy that they guarantee. It is therefore one of the favorite VPN services for those who  want to surf and download anonymously . This is partly due to the possibility of Tor over VPN and VPN over VPN. But also the good kill switch function and the fact that the VPN service is located in Panama confirms the image of a reliable VPN service. 

How does VPN work?

A server and a client are required to set up a virtual private network. In most cases you will only be a client in the VPN network. This is the case, for example, when you want / need to make a connection with the network of your company or your educational institution. Even when you use a paid online VPN service, the server is of course already available.

As a client, you must log in to the server. This is to ensure that only people with the correct rights can use the VPN connection. This logging in can be done in different ways. Depending on what the manager wants. Logging in is possible with a login name and password combination. But it is also possible with a password in combination with a certificate and other methods.

If the login is successful, a secure tunnel will be created. This tunnel ensures that all data that is sent and received is encrypted so that only the sender and receiver can see what exactly is being sent. It is also called a VPN tunnel.

If you want to install a VPN server yourself, that is also perfectly possible. The software you need for that is free to download and there is always a detailed description. A VPN server can be installed on many different devices. Consider, for example, certain routers, the Raspberry Pi, computer that is always on, NAS station and so on. Installing a VPN server at home is useful, for example, when you want to safely access your own home network from outside. If you want to do this, you are responsible for the correct configuration of both the VPN servers and the VPN client.

If you want to know more about this, you can read our page explaining how a VPN works .

What does a VPN do then?

This above has simply said 3 advantages:

  • Online privacy: nobody will be able to see your data that you send and receive via your internet connection. You only send and receive encrypted data. If someone (for example a hacker) is eavesdropping on you, that person will only come across encrypted data that they can’t use. Your internet provider also no longer has any insight into which websites you visit or which online services you use. Advertising companies can no longer follow you well and therefore cannot build a profile of you.
  • Safer online: because all data between your device and the VPN server is encrypted, hackers are unable to view and use data that you send via the air. Wifi networks are known for being easy to hack, mainly with a so-called man in the middle attack. If you want more information here, you can look at our page about using secure WiFi networks .
  • Bypass blockades:   Another big advantage is that you should be able to bypass geographic blockades online. For example, you can watch FOX sports abroad just watch. You can also visit websites in countries where this is actually not possible, for example in China where internet censorship prevails, with a VPN.

VPN protocols

VPN connections are therefore set up through a virtual point-to-point connection. This is done by using a virtually secured tunnel and encrypting the data that is sent in most protocols. There are different ways how the tunnel can be set up. The most commonly used ways, the protocols, will be discussed below.

OpenVPN

OpenVPN is an open-source VPN solution. It therefore stands for “open source virtual private network”. This technique uses the proven OpenSSL. This means that all encryption options that OpenSSL offers can also be used for the OpenVPN connection. The AES encryption is often seen as the strongest.

Certificates are used to establish the connection. In this way the VPN server and client know how the data must be encrypted and decrypted. In a VPN connection this is called “encrypt” and “decrypt” respectively.

Because OpenVPN can work on different ports and that you can choose for both TCP / IP and UDP, it can often be used. Even when the network you use or the country where you are trying to block the use of VPNs.

OpenVPN is known as 1 the safest solution to set up a VPN connection. In addition, due to its open source nature, it is available for many different platforms. This means that we also recommend OpenVPN where possible.

IPSec / L2TP

This is in fact a combination of 2 protocols. IPsec takes care of the encryption and L2TP takes care of the tunnel that needs to be set up. This is also the reason that the protocols are often used in combination with each other.

IPSec always uses UDP port 500. In practice, this means that it is easy to block.

IPSec can be called safe. This is partly due to the many encryption methods that are supported with reliable authentication. In addition, it is installed as standard on many devices. All this also makes it a widely used protocol.

PPTP

PPTP is a protocol that was often used in the past. Due to security leaks found, we strongly advise against this protocol. It stands for point to point tunneling. And this is all it does, it only sets up a tunnel. In addition, the tunnel that is being set up by today’s standards is of poor quality. It has been proven several times that the encryption is relatively easy to crack.

The connection over the network is over secure tunnel in the PPTP protocol, which is therefore not very secure. Encrypted data is sent through this tunnel, the strength of which is also not that great.

Softether

Softether is a relatively new VPN protocol. Just like OpenVPN, it is open source and therefore free to use and adapt to your own convenience.

The advantage over OpenVPN is that it appears to be faster and more stable than OpenVPN. Softether is relatively new and still has to prove itself. So far, this protocol looks promising.

What is a VPN connection used for?

VPN networks are used for a wide range of applications. Below you will find the usefulness under the relevant headings for the situation in question.

Companies and other institutions

For companies it is desirable that employees can access the company network if they are not physically present within the company. This way important files that are stored within the company are always available. And this of course over the secure VPN connection. A VPN is therefore a protection of the data that is sent and received.

In addition, services that run on the network can be used, such as the CRM system, calendars and other services.

A VPN connection is also often established between universities and other educational institutions in order to exchange information effectively. In this way, students and professors can exchange information easily and securely.

Safe on public networks

When you are logged in to a public (WiFi) network, it is relatively easy for a third party to monitor your network. With a VPN connection, this danger has completely disappeared. Because the data that you send and receive via a VPN connection is encrypted, malicious parties who intercept your data only see encrypted data. This can, for example, be highly desirable if you want to send sensitive data via a public network.

Bypass censorship and geographical blockades

When you use a VPN connection to access the internet, the internet thinks that you use the internet directly from the IP address of the VPN server. For example, you can create the impression that you are in America while you are physically in the UK. If you connect to a server in America with your computer, telephone or other device, it looks like you are in America. This has the advantage that you can watch geographically blocked content that can only be seen in America in the UK. Ideal for example to watch the American Netflix .

Of course it works the other way around. For example, it is impossible to watch a lot of internet television from the UK abroad. Consider, for example, RTL XL and NPO missed that cannot be viewed due to geographical restrictions. With a VPN you can bypass these blockades and you can, for example, just watch Videoland abroad .

choose server location

Another advantage is that you can bypass censorship applied in certain countries. In China, for example, many websites have been blocked. In Turkey, for example, it often happens that access to certain websites and services such as Twitter is blocked. These blockages can be avoided with a VPN connection.

Commercial VPN services are often used to bypass censorship and geographical blockades. These offer the use of their VPN servers in a subscription form.

More anonymous on the internet with an online VPN

Many people also simply have the need to be more anonymous on the internet. The fact that advertising networks are trying to build a profile of yours is enough for some people to purchase a VPN service. In fact, you hide your own IP  when using a VPN.

In addition, many people also want to deny the government or internet provider they use the insight into their data. A commercial VPN solution also offers a good option for this.

How do you use a VPN network

To log in to a VPN network you need a client (software) that connects to the VPN server. In most operating systems there is standard support for a number of vpn protocols. In addition, the various VPN protocols release free client software that you can use to connect to a VPN server.

To actually log into the online VPN network you need a VPN account. The authority or company that gives you access to the VPN servers will provide the required login details for your VPN account. In addition, in 9 out of 10 cases they will also give a clear explanation of how exactly you can connect to their VPN server. This explanation makes clear which settings you must set.

Most mobile devices also offer support for connection to a VPN network. This standard support is usually not used. The different vpn providers actually always develop their own app, for example for the iPad , which works much easier than the built-in support on your device. If you come across a VPN app in the app stores, it is most likely an app for using VPN connections.

OpenVPN has the broadest support for different operating systems. For example, OpenVPN even has support to set up a DD-WRT router as a VPN client . You can use this to connect your entire home network to a VPN network, for example. There are also other routers that already have standard support to make a VPN connection, which you can find on the VPN router page .

What is a VPN service?

These are companies that make VPN servers available to their customers for a fee. With this you can easily set up and use a VPN connection. The rise of commercial VPN services has been on the rise lately. These VPN services are parties that make different servers (often a whole range) available to use the internet via the servers.

The main reason for using such services is often for privacy reasons. This way the connection is always secured so that other parties cannot see what you are doing on the internet. In addition, the services are also often used to view content with geographical blockades. We have a special page where we compare reviews of all known VPN services. You can also click directly to the reviews of the various VPN providers.

Moreover, a commercial online VPN service usually also has easy-to-use software for various operating systems. For example, it is very easy to connect your iPad to a VPN in this way with the help of an app.