VPN Frequently Asked Questions

Choosing a VPN might be a very technical decision, however that doesn’t mean it has to be difficult! Our experts spend their days helping customers form all over the world make the best choice when it comes to their online privacy and below are some of the more common questions around VPN services.

Should you have any further queries, please do reach out and we will make sure to get back to you as soon as possible!

 

Last Updated: 12 April 2018

Frequently Asked Questions

VPN is the acronym for Virtual Private Network, meaning a secure tunnel between two or more devices. When connecting to a VPN, it gives you encrypted connection to the internet.

A VPN will enable you to hide your online activity from hackers, snoopers and ISP’s, whilst simultaneously giving you the option to unblock location blocked restrictions.

VPN is perfectly legal and has been used by businesses for years. Users are simply gaining an extra layer of security to their existing internet connection and protection of their privacy.

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A VPN is a multi-purpose tool which offers different benefits such as:

  • Protecting confidential information (e.g. e-banking credentials, social media passwords), crucial when browsing using public WiFi.
  • Hiding true IP address and surfing the web with complete privacy.
  • Unblocking and accessing websites/content and social media platforms that are not available in certain countries (e.g. Netflix, BBC iPlayer, YouTube and Twitter) or accessing sites blocked by certain ISP’s, Employers or Institutions .
  • Streaming and downloading anything securely, anonymously and with no limitations. In some countries, downloading certain torrents is restricted. A VPN service encrypts the transmitted data, so your ISP (internet service provider) cannot monitor what you are downloading, therefore protecting you from detection.

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There are dozens of VPN providers on the market, with each one having their own specific strengths and catering for different needs. It is important to consider the following aspects before deciding which provider is the right one for you:

  • Price – Most VPN’s offer money back guarantees so its always most effective to buy the 2 or 3 year plan as you can always cancel within 7, 30 or 45 days (depending on the VPN provider) if you aren’t happy
  • Privacy – Your privacy is important, protect your activity from your ISP, authorities or any other unwanted snoopers
  • Speed – Connecting to a VPN adds another layer to your internet connection. Its important to choose a VPN that will have minimal effect on your internet speed for downloading, streaming or browsing.
  • Balance of features – Most VPN’s will offer a simply plug and play style setup for speed and ease. If you’re looking to get more technical many VPN’s have a host of features to protect your privacy and enhance your security.
  • Server location – If you’re looking to hide your online activity you’ll want to choose a server in the country you are located. This will reduce the chance of any drop off in speed. If you’re looking to access georestricted content, e.g. BBC iPlayer you’ll need to choose a location where those location restrictions are not in effect, e.g. UK
  • Number of simultaneous connections – Want to watch on your iPad, Android Phone and Computer all at the same time? Take note of the number of simultaneous connections you can have within the same single subscription.
  • Customer support – Most VPN’s are very easy to set up in a few minutes, but its great to know if you have any problems, these will be dealt with in minutes by professional support staff.

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Follow these four easy steps that can applied on all and any VPN service:

  1. Sign up for a VPN service.
  2. Download your VPN and launch the application on your device(s).
  3. Select a server to connect to. The service will either display a map or list of countries that you can choose from to connect. The location of the server that you connect to is then your virtual location, meaning the internet thinks you are in that location right now. For example, if you want to watch BBC iPlayer, you will need a UK-based server.
  4. Use the internet and your apps with complete confidence that your privacy and security are protected.

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VPN is available for almost all computer-type devices, including desktops, laptops, smart phones, and tablets. Almost every VPN provider fully supports Mac OS, Windows, Android and iPhone platforms, as well as Linux and Chrome OS. However, support for Blackberry OS and Windows Mobile devices may be a little bit harder to find.

You can also sign in to most VPN’s on multiple devices at the same time, meaning you can stream on your tablet whilst downloading on your laptop and shopping on your phone all at the same time.

Watch out for free VPN’s however as often they usually will only allow connection through one device at a time.

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Due to different licencing agreements in different countries, TV streaming sites like Netflix will have different content for viewers in USA than they will for viewers in UK, Australia or any other country in the world.

For example, the critically acclaimed Emmy award winning drama Dexter is not available on Netflix USA but is available on Netflix UK. With a simple click of the mouse you can set your VPN location to UK and get access to all 8 seasons.

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Anyone can use VPN, but there are typically three types of users:

  1. Users who protect their personal data when using public Wi-Fi, including business travellers who regularly transmit sensitive information from remote locations.
  2. Users who want to unblock websites in areas that cannot be accessed elsewhere.
  3. Users who want to hide their information from their ISP or government, this includes downloading torrents.

 

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As a customer of VPN, all your online activity will be routed through the VPN’s servers. The data this activity generates is commonly known as VPN Logs. Different VPN providers will have different policy for logging and record different information of your usage. If looking for ultimate privacy it’s wise to select a VPN that collects limited information or better yet, no logging at all. Bear in mind, that even when logs are recorded, with some VPN’s this often isn’t trackable to individual users.

There are three main different types of VPN logs to be aware of:

  • Usage (browsing) logs which store online activity, such as browsing history, times, IP addresses etc. If privacy is your main decision for scouting a VPN provider, we suggest avoiding any VPN that collects usage data.
  • Connection logs include storing dates, times, connection data, and on occasion, IP addresses. This data usually optimizes and deals with user problems or terms of use issues i.e. torrenting and illegal activities.
  • No logs are the most desirable, because it means the VPN provider does not store any data nor can they view any of their customers’ activities.

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Although most people are aware that they should be using a VPN while torrenting, not everyone does, even though it is a must!

Here’s three reasons for using a VPN when torrenting/downloading:

  1. Hiding your IP address for privacy and to access geo specific content.
  2. Prevent being watched or logged by government servers, scammers/hackers, and large media companies who are looking to advertise their services/products etc

 

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All VPN protocols have the same purpose: to encrypt your traffic and hide you behind their service. However, depending on your intention some protocols are better than others, for example, a couple protocols offer much faster speed and media streaming. Here is a list of VPN protocols:

  • IKEv2/IPSec
  • SoftEther
  • PPTP
  • L2TP/IPSec
  • OpenVPNTCP
  • OpenVPNUDP
  • SSTP

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Yes, if you sign up for a VPN service that allows you to establish multiple connections through your VPN. However, there will be some services that only allows you to connect through one device.

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With an IP leak test. This test is done via a web browser, and if the VPN is functioning correctly, then your local IP address (or public IP address) will be hidden and not be displayed. The leak test confirms if privacy is being maintained.

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Corporate VPN, also known as remote access VPN, is a method which allows off-campus employees to connect to the private corporate intranet in a secure fashion.

There are two essential factors of a corporate VPN. The first is the remote access server (RAS), which is the server that a user connects with over the internet to access the corporate network. The second factor is the VPN client software, which establishes the connection to the RAS and ensures privacy throughout the encryption process.

For larger businesses with several campus locations (multiple local area networks), an even more robust solution is needed. This is site-to-site VPN, which facilitates employees from different locations to securely share corporate resources.

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This is the more familiar VPN, where the user is connected to the private network via encrypted tunnel, which is known as a VPN tunnel. The data transferred via the tunnel is encrypted to keep it private and prevent it from being hijacked.

To send and receive data over the internet requires it to be divided up into packets. As a way of keeping each data packet secure, it gets wrapped in an outer packet which is encrypted through a process known as encapsulation, thus forming the basis of the VPN tunnel. Upon arrival at the VPN server, the outer pocket is removed (to access the inner pocket) and this requires a decryption process.

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As a VPN adds an extra layer to your browsing, it’s possible this will have an impact on the speed of your online activity. Depending on the VPN provider this drop in speed can range from virtually undetectable to really slowing down your connection. It’s important to select a VPN with locations in many countries and a reputation for speed as this will have the least impact on your online activity.

VPN’s can slow down your connection due to three main reasons:

  1. The encryption process.
  2. The transmission to the VPN server which is geographically further away (often in another county).
  3. The decryption process.

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Yes. While using two VPNs at the same time will give you more security, it can significantly affect your speed (slow it down). Using two VPNs is like doubly encrypting your traffic i.e. a tunnel inside a tunnel.

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A proxy (or proxy server) is a computer that acts as a gateway between a local network (i.e. a computer in a company) and a larger-scale network (i.e. the internet). By connecting through one of the proxy servers, your computer sends your requests to the server which then processes your request and returns what you wanted.

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A VPN is much more secure than a proxy. This is because VPNs completely encrypt all aspects of your connection with the internet, whereas a proxy simply acts as a go-between for a request to connect to a website.

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IP addresses come from your ISP, as well as your internet connection. Smart devices also use an IP address when you are browsing the web or using an app.

Due to the following reasons, public IP addresses do tend to bother some people:

  • IP addresses identify where you are in the world (down to the street level).
  • It can be used by websites to block you from accessing their content.
  • Your name and home address is tied to your IP address, because you’re paying for an internet connection at a specific location

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When you connect to a VPN you are assigned an IP by the server you connect to, for example, if you’re connected to a server in America, your new IP will reflect that. If the VPN provider has servers in multiple locations, you will have the option to choose which server you want to go through, which in turn controls the IP that you are assigned.

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Yes. Your ISP will see that there was an encrypted connection between your computer and another server, but they will not be able to see or know what information was passed along that connection.

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No. While VPN providers generally keep track of the volume of data that is passed along your connection with their services, they cannot see the information itself.

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If you’re connected to a VPN your data is protected, however if the connection fails any subsequent data will be available to your ISP and your privacy goes out of the window.

As it’s very unlikely you’ll notice if the VPN accidently disconnects, some VPN providers include a kill switch. This means in the event of a drop in connection your entire internet connection will be suspended. You can then reconnect the VPN, or close the software and continue surfing the internet without VPN protection. Either way, you will be in full knowledge and control of whether you are browsing securely.

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