What is a Virtual Private Network? A brief guide to VPNs

VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. More and more people are using VPNs in Taiwan and all around the world. The people know just how important it is to use a VPN these days. But there are still lots of people who don’t know what a VPN is, what it does, how it works, and why it is so important. If that’s you, then don’t worry. In this article, we will tell you everything you need to know about VPNs and why they are now an essential online security and privacy tool.

What is a Virtual Private Network (VPN)?

A VPN is an online security and privacy tool. It keeps everything you do online safe from hackers, Government spies, and anyone who wants to snoop on what you do on the internet. It might sound complicated and technical, but a VPN is actually very simple to use. Just sign up for a VPN, download the software, connect to a server, and everything you do online will be protected by encryption and virtually anonymous too.

What is encryption?

Encryption is an online security tool which encodes online data to make it impossible for others to read. When you are online, most of what you do isn’t encrypted and can therefore easily be hacked into. But a VPN encrypts everything you do online, which means that your online data is always safe.

How does a VPN make you secure online?

A VPN works by sending all of your online data down a virtual tunnel and through an external server before it goes to the website you want to visit. This virtual tunnel is encrypted which means that all of your data is encoded and secure. Nothing sent down this tunnel can be seen by hackers, government spies, or anyone else. So, when you use a VPN everything you do online is safe.

How does a VPN make me anonymous online?

The other feature of a VPN is to make all users virtually anonymous online. It does this by changing the IP Address attached to your online activity. An IP Address is a small bit of computer code that is stamped on all your internet data. It tells websites you visit exactly where you are connecting to the internet from. But if you use a VPN, the IP Address on your data is changed. When you data passes though a VPN server, it is stamped with the IP Address of that server. And because the best VPNs do not keep records of what you are doing, and there are lots of people using that same server, it becomes almost impossible to link your online activity back to you. In other words, you are using the internet virtually anonymously.

Does a VPN affect my internet speeds?

Some people may have read that using a VPN can slow your internet connection down. It is true that some free VPNs, which have lots of users and old equipment, can slow internet connections. But the best VPNs use state-of-the-art technology and shouldn’t affect your speed at all. If you use a good VPN, your internet connection should still be as fast as usual.

Should I use a VPN all the time?

It depends. Every time you use the internet, you are vulnerable to hackers or government spies. So if it is possible to always use a VPN, it is a good idea. That way, you know you are always safe online.

There are a few occasions when you don’t need to. Most websites now use the HTTPS protocol (the letters at the start of a web address). This means that website encrypts users when they are connected to its site. But it doesn’t encrypt your data all the time like a VPN.

And there are some times when using a VPN is vital. For example, public Wi-Fi networks are very insecure and should never be used without a VPN to protect you. It is also a good idea to use one when downloading or streaming anything.

What are the other benefits of using a VPN?

As well making everything you do online private and secure, there are a number of other benefits of using a VPN. These include:

  • Accessing geo-restricted content
  • Streaming and downloading content safely
  • Evading online censorship

Using a free VPN will be ok won’t it?

No. Free VPNs are much less secure than paid-for VPNs. Running a VPN can be expensive and providers have to cover costs. The best do this by charging a small monthly or annual subscription. Free VPNs do not do this, so they have to make money in other ways.

Some will use advertising and you will find both your VPN and your browser showing a lot more annoying adverts, including pop-ups. Others make money by selling the online data of their users. This defeats the object of using a VPN because instead of protecting your online data, they are selling not to anyone willing to pay. It is therefore never advisable to use a free VPN if you want to keep your online data private and secure.

Aren’t VPNs are very expensive?

No they aren’t. If you only sign up on a monthly contract, they can seem expensive, with prices of US$10 (NT$300) a month the average. But if you sign up for longer, they become very cheap. An annual VPN subscription can bring this monthly price down to around US$2-3 (NT$50-100). For the benefits that a VPN offers, this is a very small price to pay. We also often have special prices and promotions from all the best VPNs on this site. So, if you want to get the best possible deal, keep a close eye on our Facebook page and LINE group.

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