A VPN or Virtual Private Network is a software tool that creates a secure connection to a different network via the internet. It gives additional protection to both private and public networks and is often used for security reasons. A majority of organizations use VPNs to safeguard sensitive data. Individuals may use VPNs to access region-restricted websites, to shield their browsing history on public WiFi connections, and more. With the numerous services offered by VPNs, you may be wondering: what does a VPN hide?
In its essence, a VPN helps connect a PC, smartphone, or any other internet accessing device to another computer somewhere on the internet. It is then possible to browse the internet using that computer’s internet connection, which acts as a layer of security. The presence of this proxy prevents anyone on the internet from obtaining information about you and your online activities.
What does a VPN Hide?
IP or Internet Protocol is the label that is assigned to each computer that is connected to a computer network. For instance, when you make a download request on a website, the website must know the exact computer that is requesting the download. The IP acts as a sort of identification that helps the server understand where to send the download files exactly.
A VPN can help hide the actual IP address and make it seem as if you are accessing a website using a different IP address. Doing so is extremely useful in protecting personal information and preventing its misuse. Usually, when you browse the internet and access a website, the server tries to find out information about your browsing habits, favorite sites, and so on and attaches it to your IP address. They then sell this information to numerous advertising companies that target you with custom ads based on your interests and habits.
The IP address contains information about the location from where you are browsing. If you want to access content that is only available in certain regions, you will need an IP address pertaining to that region. The content may be a YouTube video only available in Germany, while you are located in the United States. A VPN can help you connect to a German server, while hiding your true location, and enable you to view the video.
VPNs are also useful for watching movies and shows that are region restricted on Netflix and other streaming platforms. Just change the server to a country where a particular movie or show is available, and once you log in to your Netflix account, it will be available.
Even after deleting browser history and cookies, it is quite easy for numerous parties to look into your web activities. This includes your internet service provider (ISP), advertisers, and search engines. These entities create a profile that is linked to the IP address and have access to all the websites that you have visited (even in incognito mode). A VPN can protect you from the prying eyes of these parties and give you complete privacy.
The MAC or Media Access Control Address is a unique code given to each physical device, and cannot be changed. The newer version of IP, known as IPv6 is sometimes generated using a device’s MAC address, making it possible for websites and other parties to extract this information. The information can be used to track your location and even disrupt internet access, although it is incredibly difficult to do. Hiding your MAC address, however, is not something a VPN can do. It is possible to use a spoof MAC address on Windows and Mac OS without the use of a VPN.
It is nearly impossible for advertisers and websites to find out what you are downloading at the moment. Your ISP, however, can keep a record of your downloads. A VPN can prevent the ISP from logging all your downloads and keeping track of your download history. Torrent downloads too cannot be tracked while using a VPN.
With browser history, IP address, and location-based data completely hidden, your VPN will eliminate the occurrence of targeted ads. Combined with an effective ad-blocker, unwanted ads and pop-ups will be a thing of the past!
Related: 8 VPN’s that don’t Keep Logs
Does a VPN Hide Your Devices at Home
The only way to ensure complete security is if you use a VPN on each internet-accessible device. In a home WiFi network where multiple devices are connected, one device cannot view the activities of the other devices. With most VPNs, each device has its own private connection. As a result, another device connected to the network cannot track it by any means. This, however, does not mean that each device will not
recognize the others in the network You will still be able to play YouTube videos on your television using your mobile and share files easily.
Two Great VPN Choices
Launched in 2012, NordVPN is one of the world’s most popular VPN service providers. With more than 5,000 IP addresses and over 5,500 servers located in 62 countries across the globe, NordVPN offers excellent service and prices. Its major attraction is the presence of six simultaneous connections, while the competition offers 5 or lesser. This means that you can connect 6 devices at the same time through the VPN service. There is also an option of a dedicated IP and a ‘kill switch’ feature that many users look for. Additionally, NordVPN does not keep any logs of user information, ensuring increased protection even in the off-chance that there is a security breach.
VPN boasts of more than 160 server locations across 94 countries, making it an incredibly resourceful VPN service. It also has more than 30,000 IP addresses and can thus serve more concurrent users at a time. ExpressVPN uses its TrustedServer technology to avoid having to log in any information regarding the online activities of its users. Like many other VPN services, it also features the ‘kill switch’ that protects against at leakage in case of a connection failure. Operating since 2009, ExpressVPN is one of the most trusted, fastest, and reliable VPN service providers on the market.
VPNs undoubtedly offer a host of benefits that can shield your personal information from internet companies, service providers, and marketers. With internet advertising reaching an all-time high, subscribing to a prominent VPN service has never been cheaper or more useful!