What Is a VPN And Why Do You Need One?

Reading time: 21 min read
Jalluri Sirisha
Written by
Jalluri Sirisha

Updated · Oct 04, 2023

Jalluri Sirisha
Computer Networks Expert, VPN Expert | Joined June 2023 | LinkedIn
Jalluri Sirisha

Sirisha is a networking enthusiast with a bachelor's degree in computer science and engineering. She... | See full bio

Lorie Tonogbanua
Edited by
Lorie Tonogbanua


Lorie Tonogbanua
Joined June 2023 | LinkedIn
Lorie Tonogbanua

Lorie is an English Language and Literature graduate passionate about writing, research, and learnin... | See full bio

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Cyberattacks are on the rise. The trends show that the global cost of online crime will reach $10.5 trillion annually by 2025. 

Over privacy and security concerns, a Virtual Private Network (VPN) has emerged as a powerful tool to safeguard internet users. A VPN hides your IP address, encrypts your internet traffic, and routes it through a secure server.  

In this article, you will learn what a VPN is, why you need one, its pros and cons, and the best VPN providers. Let’s start. 

🔑Key Takeaways:

  • A VPN is a powerful tool that can safeguard internet users by hiding IP addresses, encrypting internet traffic, and routing it to a secure server. 
  • Choose a VPN that utilizes a protocol that best fits your needs, considering factors like speed, security, and compatibility. 
  • VPNs are useful for streaming, bypassing geo-restricted websites and content, securing online privacy and security, and much more. 
  • Understanding the limitations and disadvantages of VPNs before deciding which provider to use is ideal.
  • There are numerous top-rated VPN providers, but some perform better in speed, safety, security, and additional features. 

Cracking the VPN Code: Understanding Virtual Private Networks

A VPN is a service that establishes a secure tunnel between your device and a remote server operated by the VPN provider. It runs in the background while you use the internet, ensuring your safety and privacy.

It’s like having a bodyguard who is always on duty, whether you are at home, at work, or on public WiFi.

When you connect to a VPN, your internet traffic is encrypted and routed through the VPN server before reaching its destination.

A VPN hides your IP address from corporations, government agencies, and hackers. It can also pretend that you are logging in from elsewhere, allowing you to access geo-restricted services. 

This is what a typical VPN network process looks like. 

VPN processImage source: Techjury 

Here are some additional details on how VPNs work:

  1. Tunneling

The core functionality of a VPN lies in its ability to create a secure pathway known as a VPN tunnel. VPNs encrypt your internet traffic, protecting it from public threats. 

The tunneling process ensures that data sent and received between your device and the VPN server remains encrypted and protected from unauthorized access. 

  1. Encryption

Encryption is a crucial aspect of VPNs. It ensures the data transmitted through the VPN tunnel is encoded so only the intended recipient can decipher.

Even if someone intercepts the data while in transit, they won’t understand its contents without the encryption key. 

VPNs use common encryption methods, including AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) with various lengths. VPNs may use 128-bit or 256-bit encryption.

The higher the bit length, the more secure the encryption, but it may also slightly impact performance. 


👍 Helpful Article: Techjury has a detailed article on VPN encryption. Check out our article on what VPN Encryption is and how it works.

  1. IP Masking

Connecting to a VPN server hides your device’s original IP address. This is also known as IP Masking or IP address spoofing. It keeps websites, advertisers, and others from tracking your geolocation or IP address. 

By using the IP address of the VPN server, it appears your internet traffic originates from that location, adding an extra layer of anonymity and privacy. 

VPNs hide your IP address and the following:

A VPN Hides

With VPN


IP Address 






Browsing habits



Internet traffic 



The email you registered with 



Your purchase credit card information 



Googling while logged in to your Google account 



Information provided on social media 



Targeted ads


Very frequent

Your downloads



Learn more about VPNs, their benefits, the criteria for choosing one, their risks, and limitations in the following sections. 

Types of Virtual Private Network Protocols

VPN protocols are the rules and guidelines a VPN service uses to secure and anonymize your connection. It is like a secret language that protects your communications.

The best VPN protocol depends on your specific needs – it can’t be one size fits all. When choosing a VPN provider, look at the VPN protocol included in their features and decide which one fits your needs.

Here are the six types of VPN protocols: 


OpenVPN is considered one of the most secure and popular among VPN providers. It uses the SSL/TSL protocol to secure connections. OpenVPN is an open-source protocol; anyone can view the code and check its vulnerabilities.

One of the significant strengths of OpenVPN is that it is configurable and offers a nice balance between security and speed.

OpenVPN is also regarded as competent at bypassing most firewalls. However, one of the issues with the OpenVPN protocol is that it is the most complex to set up.

This protocol works well on various devices, including computers and smartphones. It supports Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Linux, and BSD. 


👍 Helpful Article: You can check out Techjury’s in-depth but beginner-friendly review on OpenVPN to learn more about this open-source protocol. 

SSTP (Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol)

SSTP, or Secure Sockets Tunneling Protocol, ensures internet communication privacy, authentication, and data integrity. It uses SSL/TLS (Secure Socket Layer/Transport Layer Security) for encryption, the same technology used for HTTPS websites.

SSTP can easily pass through firewalls and Network Address Translation (NAT) devices, making it suitable for use in restrictive network environments. 

Microsoft introduced SSTP, making it primarily associated with the Windows operating system.


IKev2 (Internet Key Exchange Version 2) is an effective protocol often used with IPSec (Internet Protocol Security). It uses 256-bit encryption and provides a fast connection.

The IKev2 protocol is best for streaming, gaming, and mobile devices because it allows switching from mobile data to Wi-Fi without interrupting the VPN connection.


👍 Helpful Article: Check out our article about the best VPN protocols for a deeper understanding of their usage.

L2TP (Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol)

L2TP is a VPN tunneling protocol that establishes a connection between you and the VPN server but does not provide encryption or authentication. It uses other IPSec tools to encrypt your traffic and make it secure and private. 

With proper encryption and authentication, L2TP/IPSec can be a secure option. It is a popular choice for site-to-site setup, especially when high security is required. L2TP/IPSec is best used to shop online or do banking transactions securely.

Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol

The point-to-point tunneling protocol (PPTP) was created to tunnel dial-up traffic. It uses weak encryption protocols, has numerous security flaws, and frequently encounters firewall blocking. It is best recommended for streaming purposes only.

PPTP is popular among users who want to set up a VPN to access geo-blocked content because it is fast but provides minimal security.

This protocol is simple to use and set up since it is highly compatible with the major operating systems. PPTP has become the absolute minimum for tuning and encryption.


Wireguard was originally created for Linux, but now it is available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android. It is open-source, meaning anyone can look into its code, making it easier to deploy, audit, and debug.

Wireguard is best used when speed is a priority, like gaming, streaming, and downloading large files. 

Here’s a table summary of the six types of protocols for quick reference: 

Protocol Name




Connectivity speed 

Good for


256-bit encryption






256-bit encryption 




Bypassing Firewalls

IKEv2 / IPSec

256-bit encryption 


Very good 


Best for mobile devices 


256-bit encryption 




Protecting your data


128-bit encryption 




Unblocking streams


256-bit encryption


Very good 

Very fast

Online gaming

Learn about the benefits of using a VPN in the next section.   

Benefits of Using a VPN

11 Benefits of using a VPN

Whether you need a VPN or not mostly depends on the specific tasks you intend to do online. Some may even argue that VPN's privacy benefits are necessary in today's online world and not something optional.

Whatever the case, you will most likely enjoy the following benefits if you decide to use a VPN: 

1. Enhanced Online Security 

VPNs offer enhanced online security by encrypting your internet traffic and creating a secure tunnel between your device and the VPN server.

The encryption ensures that your data remains safe from potential hackers, cybercriminals, or other malicious entities attempting to manipulate your online communication. 

2. Provides Privacy and Anonymity

When you connect to a VPN, your real IP address is masked, and you appear to be using the IP address of the VPN server.

This adds anonymity to your online presence, preventing websites and services from tracking you. 

3. Access Blocked Content or Geo-Restricted Contents 

VPNs allow you to access websites, services, and content that may be blocked or restricted in your region. It changes your IP address, which helps bypass geographical restrictions and censorship.

You browse foreign websites like a local resident by connecting to a VPN server from another country. 

4. Prevent Companies from Tracking You 

Ad networks constantly collect information about your online activity. Tracking information lets companies show you ads that are more relevant to you based on your recent activities.

By encrypting your data using a VPN, these companies will have less influence over what you see online. Additionally, you can prevent ad networks from selling your activity information to third-party companies.

5. Offers Fast and Safe Streaming

A VPN offers fast and safe streaming of online content. Many VPN providers provide optimized servers for streaming, which can enhance your streaming experience. 

These servers are designed to handle high-bandwidth activities like video streaming, ensuring a smoother and buffer-free viewing experience.

6. Provides Secure Browsing in Public Networks 

Public Wi-Fi can be handy on the go, but sadly, it is unsafe as it can make you vulnerable to cyberattacks.

Other users or hackers using the same public Wi-Fi can easily tap into your data and personal information.

With a VPN, you can safely navigate the web using public Wi-Fi. A hacker will only see the encrypted data but cannot crack its content even if they eavesdrop on your traffic data.

7. Overcome Online Censorship

Governments, ISPs, or other entities restrict access to certain websites, content, or services for political or economic reasons – also known as online censorship.

With a VPN, users can overcome online censorship while staying safe from the prying eyes of governments and ISPs. 

8. Prevent Bandwidth and Data Throttling

Bandwidth throttling occurs when your ISP intentionally slows down your internet speed. There are legitimate reasons for this, like managing online congestion or setting limitations for users with data caps.

In some cases, ISPs throttle specific IPs based on the websites they visit. A rock-solid VPN will assign you an IP address and encrypt your traffic, preventing your ISP from seeing what you do online. 


👍 Helpful Article: Techjury has a related article that can tell you if your ISP is throttling your internet speed. Check out our article about how to know if your ISP is throttling your internet.

9. Enhance Online Gaming

Using a VPN while gaming can have several benefits. A VPN can protect you from DDoS attacks or angry players trying to get access to your home network.

The geolocation capabilities of a VPN also allow you to choose a server from different locations, which could improve your connection speeds compared to a normal connectivity. 

Furthermore, some gaming titles may be available only in certain countries. You can access such games by selecting the game's server location using a VPN. 

10. Get Secure Access to Your Computer Network

With more people working online, company and customer information is at high risk of being exposed and stolen. With a remote access VPN, employees can safely connect to a company's internal network from anywhere. 

11. Provides Access Control

With a VPN, businesses can decide who gets to see private information. This security protocol necessitates multifactor authentication, which keeps networks safe from unauthorized users and outside attacks. 


👍Helpful Article: Check Techjury’s article on the benefits and disadvantages of VPN use for a more in-depth discussion.

After learning the benefits of VPNs, you will discover what factors to consider when selecting a VPN provider in the following section.

Factors to Consider for Choosing the Perfect VPN

15 factors to consider for choosing a VPN

It’s important to recognize that not all VPNs are created equal. Each VPN service has varying features, capabilities, and limitations.

Free VPNs offer basic functionality, but paid VPNs offer more features and benefits. To ensure that you select the VPN that best suits your needs, consider the following factors: 

1. Security and Privacy Features 

A VPN's main purpose is online security and privacy, so choose a VPN with AES-256 encryption – anything below 256-bit will be considered below the industry standard.

2. Connection Speed and Performance 

While security and privacy are crucial, you don't want a slow VPN with poor performance. Choose a VPN with optimized gaming, streaming, and downloading servers on top of strong encryption. 

These optimized servers are built to handle data-intensive tasks while also providing faster connection speeds. 

3. Compatibility with Devices and Operating Systems 

When selecting a VPN, consider the devices you frequently use and ensure that the provider supports all major operating systems.

Also, opt for VPNs that allow multiple devices to connect simultaneously, enabling protection for all your devices with a single subscription. With this, you can quickly secure all of your household's devices without spending much.


🎉Fun Fact: Over 50% of VPN smartphone users use iOS devices. Check out our article on interesting VPN statistics you need to know in 2023 for more interesting facts.

4. Pricing and Subscription Options

Consider your budget and carefully compare different VPNs' pricing and subscription plans. Some VPN providers offer free plans but may have limited features and server locations. 

Paid VPNs have added features, different server locations, and faster speeds. Check if their prices are within your budget and if their offers fit your needs. 

It is critical not to sacrifice quality and security to save money. Instead, look for VPNs with reasonable prices and flexible plans.

5. User-Friendly Interface and Device Compatibility

Ease of use is ideal for users who are not tech-savvy but need cyber protection. Look for VPNs with intuitive, easy-to-use apps for all your devices.

A VPN app should be simple to set up and only take a few seconds to connect to a VPN server. The interface must also include buttons for torrents (P2P), optimized servers, and customer support.

6. Server Locations and Coverage

You need to consider two things regarding servers: the number available and their locations.

When a VPN provider has more servers, the more options users can connect, the less likely they get crowded. 

Also, look for VPN providers with servers in the country you want to access, so it will be easier to bypass geo-restrictions. 


🎉Fun Fact: Connecting to a VPN service in Iceland is always a good idea, especially if you are in Europe or North America. Check out our article on the fastest and safest VPN server countries to connect through

7. Customer Support and Reliability

The qualities of a VPN provider don’t end with the benefits they provide. Knowing that your questions will be answered is equally important, especially if you are not well-versed in how VPN works.

An easy-to-reach and helpful customer support team will improve your user experience.  

8. Logging Policy  

A VPN logging policy refers to the data collected and stored by providers about their users’ activities. Here are some possibilities for a VPN’s logging policy: 

No-logs policy - A no-logs VPN doesn’t collect any records of your online activity. A VPN with a no-logging policy is a must, as it does not share your data with others, making it safer to use.

Connection logs - Some VPN providers keep your connection logs. They record your session but not your activity. Connection logs can include: 

  • Bandwidth usage,
  • Dates and times of connection, 
  • Originating IP address, 
  • VPN server address

These logs are kept for troubleshooting and optimizing network performance.

The following are the information types that VPNs should and should not be logging:

Anonymous or aggravated data

Some VPN providers collect aggravated logs. This means they collect information that is impossible to link to a specific user.

Activity logs 

Logging your activity data is considered the most intrusive type of logging a VPN provider can do.

This type of logging includes the actual content of your encrypted VPN session, including browsing history, file downloads, app usage, and many more. Remember that a reputable VPN doesn’t do this type of logging.  


🎉Fun fact: There are a lot of myths surrounding VPNs, and one of them is that VPNs “don’t collect data.” Paid VPNs do collect non-identifiable data as part of their service improvement analytics. Check out Techjury’s article about the debunked and explained VPN myths to learn more.

9. Optional Features

A robust VPN service usually has various additional features such as:

  • Ad blockers 
  • Split tunneling 
  • Double VPN 
  • Kill switch 
  • Unlimited simultaneous connections 
  • Threat protection 
  • Meshnet 
  • Allows torrenting

You can usually see if a provider has any of these features in their service offer or pricing page.

10. Supported VPN Protocols 

VPN protocols are the core technology that dictates how data is routed to the VPN server.

Some protocols are made to make you safer, so they use a lot of encryption, which could slow down data delivery. Others use encryption that is not as complicated to send data faster, making online traffic less safe.

Choose a VPN with multiple protocols for more flexibility. The VPN app should also allow you to switch protocols depending on the task, like when speed is more important than security or vice versa.

11. Money Back Guarantee 

If you are unhappy with the VPN's services, it is good if the provider makes it easy to get a refund.

A money-back guarantee allows you to thoroughly test a VPN service and see if it meets your needs and expectations without risking your money.

This feature also shows how confident the VPN provider is with its service and how they value customer satisfaction.

12. DNS Leak Protection 

DNS (Domain Name System) leaks can compromise your online privacy by potentially exposing the websites you visit, even if you’re using a VPN.

Leaks happen when DNS requests bypass the VPN app, thus defeating the service’s purpose of privacy. For this reason, you should opt for a VPN provider with leak protection for all major operating systems.

13. Kill Switch

Your secure VPN connection can be disrupted for various reasons. Even a momentary VPN connection failure can reveal information including:

  • Your location 
  • IP address
  • DNS traffic 
  • IP traffic 
  • WebRTC Traffic 

Without a VPN kill switch, your data will continue to flow over a direct, unimpeded link. When the VPN connection is disrupted, a kill switch should kick in to prevent data from being transmitted over the internet.

Risks and Limitations of VPNs

While VPNs offer numerous benefits, they also have potential risks and limitations. Reduced speed comes to mind first, but there are a lot more that you should be aware of.

Here are some significant risks and limitations associated with using VPNs:


👍Helpful Article: If you are wondering whether you need a VPN at home, Techjury has an article on the subject – check it out to help decide whether you need a VPN at home or not.

1. Reduced Internet Speed

The encryption process for your traffic data prolongs your online transactions, which affects your overall internet speed.

A VPN’s effect on your internet speed may depend on the provider, server location, and your base speed subscription. For example, a base speed of 5 to 10 Mbps will only worsen if you use a VPN.

2. VPNs are Not Free

While there are some free VPNs, quality providers cost money. Free VPNs often have limitations, like restricted server locations, lower connection speeds, and data usage caps. 

Free VPN providers may also rely on ads or sell user data to generate revenue, thus compromising your privacy. 

3. Some Countries Ban or Restrict VPN Usage

The legality and regularity of the environment surrounding VPN usage differ for each country. While most countries allow the use of VPNs, some do not.

Since VPNs can bypass government censorship, totalitarian and highly state-policed countries have made VPNs illegal. These countries are:

  • North Korea
  • Belarus
  • Myanmar
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Turkey
  • Pakistan
  • Turkmenistan

Furthermore, some countries place restrictions on the use of VPNs. Some allow government-approved VPNs, while others require VPN providers to hand over customer data. Such countries are:

  • Oman
  • Qatar
  • Egypt
  • United Arab Emirates 
  • Venezuela 
  • Uganda
  • China
  • Russia

5. False Sense of Security

Not all VPN services encrypt data equally. If you are using a free or inferior VPN, their level of encryption could be low to zero, leaving you exposed online.

It would also help to exercise caution when navigating links, even when using a premium VPN. Your system may be compromised if you are duped into clicking on malicious content or visiting phishing websites.

Remember that VPNs are not equal to antivirus or anti-malware, though some providers integrate them as added features. Even with these integrations, VPNs can’t protect you from all types of malware.

On top of using  a VPN, bolster your online security by creating strong passwords, using antivirus software, and avoiding public Wi-Fi.

6. Some Providers Keep VPN Logs

When using a VPN, all your data travels to its server and is encrypted to protect your online privacy. 

While this ensures that no one can track you online, you are essentially handing over your data to the VPN provider. That is why choosing a reputable VPN provider is crucial.

7. Most VPNs Can't Bypass Streaming Blocks

Streaming services have become aggressive and effective in placing anti-VPN mechanisms. This also means that many VPN providers are unsuccessful in unblocking highly sophisticated streaming sites.

Given that, it is vital to check the capability of a VPN in unblocking popular streaming platforms. It is best to read VPN reviews before deciding on a service for your streaming needs.

8. Dropped Connection

Even the best VPN service providers may experience connection failures from time to time. Dropping your VPN connection is different from losing your internet connectivity.

The incident will reveal your true IP address, and your ISP will start seeing the websites you visit. If the website you visit violates your ISP's terms of service, they may terminate your account indefinitely. That’s why you should always choose a VPN with a kill switch.

9. VPN Increases Mobile Data Consumption

A VPN increases bandwidth usage by encrypting data and hiding traffic from unwanted tracking. This means that mobile VPN users consume cellular data faster than normal connections.

If you are consistently using a VPN on your phone, it will be helpful if you subscribe to an unlimited data plan.

Top VPN Recommendation - Unleash Online Protection

With countless options available, it can be challenging to decide which one to pick. To help you decide, here are some of the top VPN recommendations you can choose from:


👍Helpful Article: Techjury has a lot of VPN reviews for different VPN providers. Look through our  VPN reviews section.




  • Stable connection speeds
  • Extensive server network
  • Built-in antivirus tools
  • User-friendly
  • Expensive
  • Only six concurrent connections

NordVPN is an industry-leading VPN. For most users, NordVPN has everything they want in a VPN for PCs or other devices. It is secure, good for streaming, and has added features.

It supports P2P sharing and offers a second layer of encryption called double VPN. NordVPN also has a stable connection with barely any latency, suitable for anyone who requires a fast VPN for streaming or gaming.  




  • Fast and reliable connection
  • Works on many platforms
  • Transparent privacy policy
  • Torrent-friendly
  • More expensive than many competitors
  • Only five simultaneous connections

ExpressVPN is a highly rated VPN for streaming and gaming. It is secure, fast, and has excellent customer support.  

Moreover, ExpressVPN offers additional security features like a VPN kill switch. You can also torrent on ExpressVPN without restrictions.

ExpressVPN has VPN apps for all devices  that you can download. Moreover, it is also available as a VPN Chrome extension. 

If you intend to use a VPN to unblock streaming services, ExpressVPN is one of the best options.

Perfect Privacy VPN



  • Multi-hop VPN chains 
  • Unlimited connections and zero logs
  • Obfuscation support (Stealth VPN)
  • Customizable firewall and port-forwarding
  • TrackStop blocks ads, trackers, malware, and more.
  • Expensive
  • Does not work well with streaming sites, such as Netflix and Disney Plus
  • No iOS VPN app

Perfect Privacy VPN is a decent VPN provider. It has very strong security features, maintains fast speeds on nearby servers, and works really well in restrictive countries. It also allows unlimited concurring connections – a big plus as a budget-friendly VPN. 

Moreover, Perfect Privacy VPN offers advanced security features like full leak protection, RAM-only servers, and perfect forward secrecy. It also includes additional security features such as TrackStop and Stealth VPN. 

Here’s a summary of the pricing and features of the above VPN providers:



Express VPN

Perfect Privacy VPN

Simultaneous connections 


8 or unlimited with router app


Kill switch 



$12.99/month or $3.19/month for a two-year plan

$12.95/month or $6.67/month for a one-year plan

$12.99/month or $8.95/month for a two-year plan


Billing data

Some connection logs

No log

Number of servers 




Number of countries 








VPN protocols 

OpenVPN, Nordlynx, IKEv2/IPsec


OpenVPN, IPsec, SSH2 HTTP proxies SOCKS5 proxies

Available on mobile 




Money back guarantee 

30 days 

30 days 

7 days 

Final Thoughts

As this article suggests, a VPN is not a “cure-all” solution, but it is definitely one of the best for its purpose. It is helpful to know the benefits and limitations of VPNs, so you can adjust accordingly based on your intended use case.

Also, be very careful when choosing a VPN.  As a rule of thumb, free VPNs are either extremely limited or unsecure. This is not to say that paid VPNs are foolproof. Thus, you should research VPN services before signing up for any of them.


Does a VPN provide complete anonymity?

VPNs don't provide complete anonymity, but they can help improve your privacy. A VPN can hide the contents of your web traffic and make it harder for others to track you online. 

What is an IP address, and why can anyone see it?

An internet protocol (IP) is a digital label that allows networks to communicate with one another. Your IP address is displayed in internet data without a VPN, allowing websites to collect information about you.  

How do I test if a VPN is working on my device?

The easiest way to check whether your VPN works is by performing a DNS leak check. Turn off the VPN and test your IP. After that, test again with a VPN. If your VPN works, your IP addresses should be different.

Should I leave a VPN on at all times?

Yes, you should always leave your VPN on to remain anonymous and private online. You can temporarily turn it off if you are accessing websites that don't allow VPNs.


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