What is a VPN and how does it work? Which are the best VPNs?

A VPN is a service that allows its users to surf the Internet safely and anonymously. Read how it works and which VPNs are the best!

the best VPN

VPNs are currently a trend not only within large companies, but also among ordinary people.

Thanks to them, it is finally possible to visit websites, surf the Internet or watch unavailable content safely, anonymously and from the comfort of home (or from any place).

In the following lines, we will first explain what a VPN is and how it works, and then we will look at the most popular VPN services in the world.

What is a VPN?

VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a security service that allows its users to use the Internet, visit websites or use TV platforms anonymously and without providing sensitive data.

In the past, VPN was mainly used in companies, when employees could securely connect to the company network from any location.

Nowadays, VPN is already a common and popular security policy even in ordinary households, which guarantees people a certain degree of privacy and protection.

There are countless VPN providers on the market, each of which brings with it a number of advantages that can appeal to potential customers.

Now let’s take a look at how a VPN works.

How does a VPN work?

The principle is basically simple – the VPN hides the user’s IP address before connecting to the Internet and uses one of its own instead, which ensures the user’s anonymity.

An IP address is basically a unique code that is assigned to any device connected to the Internet – an IP address as such is assigned by an Internet provider.

Thanks to the IP address, it is thus possible to identify any user (or his device) together with where the user connected to the Internet, as well as data about the Internet provider.

However, with an IP address comes the risk of privacy violation – many websites store these IP addresses together with information about them in their database, due to which the user loses a certain degree of anonymity.

VPN services eliminate this problem, as when connecting to a VPN, the IP address of the VPN server is provided to third parties (such as websites) and not the user’s address – this guarantees that no personal data is provided to anyone on the Internet.

What benefits does a VPN bring?

With its security, VPN brings several very valuable advantages to users:

  • Hidden IP address – VPN services provide their customers with a certain degree of anonymity, as they show their own IP addresses to the rest of the world or third parties on the Internet. This guarantees higher security without the risk of providing personal data about the user.
  • Content encryption – high-quality VPNs also provide encryption of data about users and their activities on the Internet. Encryption is basically turning readable text into a bunch of (at first glance) random characters and numbers that are simply impossible to decode. Thanks to this, users of VPN services can calmly use the Internet without anyone seeing what they were looking at or what they were doing on websites. This aspect of VPN services is especially important when connecting to the Internet from a place that you do not know or that is not sufficiently secure (e.g. public WiFi in a cafe), as data that could be seen anywhere will not make any sense.
  • Access to censored content – In various cases, a VPN can enable the user to access pages or internet content that he or she would normally not be able to access with their own IP address. Some websites or platforms (such as YouTube or Netflix) provide certain content, videos, etc., only to users in specific regions and countries. VPNs circumvent this problem as it is possible to use different IP addresses with them, to which different geographical locations are also linked, and thus the user can access content that would otherwise be blocked or simply inaccessible.

Note: Although VPN services are clearly a big plus for practically anyone, it must be noted that in certain cases they also bring with them a few disadvantages:
1. Slower connection – depending on the VPN service provider, web pages may load significantly slower. Although this may not always be the case with popular (and paid) VPN services, cheap or free VPNs can limit your internet speed
2. Illegal access to content – some countries prohibit using VPN services in their country or accessing blocked content using VPN.

How to choose a VPN?

Choosing the right VPN service depends on several factors (including your personal preferences).

Most of the standard VPNs are pretty much the same in their services, but there are a few differences between them that you can consider when making your choice:

  • Security level – the basic component of any good VPN service is its level of security. If you need a VPN mainly for increased anonymity on the Internet, you should look into whether and in what way the VPN processes your personal data. In this regard, you should look, for example, at the storage of data about you, or whether the VPN stores any data at all, the history of your activity, etc. (the so-called “no log policy”). A good VPN service usually does not store any data about its users, so it is impossible to misuse any information about you and your activities. In addition, you should also look at the level of security (ie whether the VPN provides protection protocols such as SSL, TLS, PPTP, Kill Switch, etc.)
  • Device compatibility – although usually VPN services are compatible with most standard devices and operating systems, be sure to check what real devices the VPN covers. Some VPNs focus only on devices with Windows, Mac OS or Android and iOS operating systems.
  • Number of IP addresses and servers – if you need a VPN for streaming services or content on the Internet that is limited to certain regions, be sure to check how many and what IP addresses the VPN service offers. In this regard, this is probably the most important factor that will weigh when choosing.
  • Connection speed – while surfing speed or streaming speed isn’t usually an issue with paid VPNs, you may run into a few loading speed issues with free VPNs. If the speed of the Internet connection is important to you, you should check the limits of the VPN service in this regard as well.

The most popular VPN services

1. NordVPN

NordVPN logo

If you have at least some knowledge of VPN services, you’ve definitely heard of NordVPN.

NordVPN was founded back in 2012 and has been offering a private and secure internet connection to millions of customers around the country ever since.

The main advantages of this service are hiding the IP addresses of its users and providing content on streaming services that would otherwise be inaccessible to many people.

In addition, NordVPN can also remove ads that usually pop up to users anywhere on the Internet, as well as partially prevent malware from accessing users’ devices.

In addition to optimal speed for surfing the Internet and watching content on streaming platforms, NordVPN offers its services for all popular types of devices and operating systems – from Windows and MacOS to computers, phones, smart TVs, etc.

In the case of questions about security and anonymity, NordVPN follows a “No Log Policy” – the service does not store or provide anyone with any data about you.

Although it is a paid service, NordVPN offers its customers a 30-day money-back guarantee in case of dissatisfaction.

NordVPN has over 5,000 fast VPN servers in 60 countries.

The company NordVPN also offers another product for online security – NordPass.

NordPass is a password manager with a range of features to ensure your passwords are as secure as possible. It has an easy-to-use interface. It keeps your passwords, credit cards and personal information safe.

2. Surfshark

Surfshark logo

Surfshark is an excellent choice for those looking for a quality VPN with a good price-performance ratio.

Surfshark offers for a relatively cheap price a good and fast Internet connection suitable for both normal user surfing and hardcore streaming, along with excellent user protection, AES-256 encryption, as well as the so-called kill-switch.

One of the advantages of this VPN service is the wide range of devices that Surfshark covers with its applications – in addition, it can also be used as a browser extension for Chrome and Firefox.

In terms of VPN server quantity and availability, Surfshark offers 3200 server locations in 10 countries.

In addition to its monthly and annual subscription packages, Surfshark also offers its customers a 30-day money back guarantee.

3. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN logo

ExpressVPN is one of the most popular and oldest VPN services in the world, having started its existence back in 2009.

It currently provides its 94 server locations to millions of people around the world.

The main advantages of ExpressVPN is the unblocking of Internet content that would otherwise be inaccessible to you – thanks to this, you can watch video content from services such as Netflix, BBC Player or even Disney+ and HBO, which is only bound for the given locations.

In addition, this VPN provider protects its users from advertisements from companies such as Facebook or Google and thus protects your internet privacy.

Compatibility with operating systems such as Windows, MacOS, Android or even Linux is a matter of course – in the case of devices, it can also be used on routers or AppleTV.

One of the important pluses of ExpressVPN is that it does not store any personal data about its users – thanks to this, every customer can surf the Internet anonymously and safely without any worries.

Although ExpressVPN is a paid service, it offers its potential customers a 30-day free version of its services.

4. CyberGhost

CyberGhost logo

CyberGhost is another well-known VPN service that stands out among popular VPNs.

It has established its positive reputation thanks to the privacy and anonymity of its users, great streaming performance and fast internet connection.

This VPN service owns more than 7,800 servers across 91 countries , making it one of the largest server networks in its industry.

Applications from CyberGhost can be used not only for surfing the Internet, but also for streaming services such as Netflix or Disney+.
One minor negative of this VPN service is the limited number of devices – only 7 devices can be connected to CyberGhost at the same time.

But on the other hand, it compensates with AES 256 encryption, No Log Policy and Kill Switch, which guarantees its customers excellent security, privacy and anonymity on the Internet.

CyberGhost offers its users monthly, annual and bi-annual subscription packages, along with a 45-day money-back guarantee (on certain prepaid packages).

5. Private Internet Access

Private Internet Access logo

Private Internet Access , like other VPN giants, has been with us for a very, very long time.

This VPN service boasts thousands of servers in over 83 countries, making it one of the top VPN service providers.

A good internet connection speed is a matter of course within this VPN – it can be used both for classic surfing and for downloading a large amount of data, or for streaming services such as Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon Prime, thanks to which you can have normally unavailable content right at your fingertips.

If compatible, Private Internet Access works on all common home devices and operating systems (Windows, MacOS, Android, Linux and iOS).

Ultimately, this VPN service can be considered “good-to-go” for practically anyone – the service supports No Log Police, AES 256 encryption as well as Kill Switch and IP Leak protection.

Although it is not exactly the cheapest VPN service, it is definitely worth at least trying it.

Private Internet Access offers its customers a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can avoid unnecessary financial risk.

6. ProtonVPN

ProtonVPN logo

ProtonVPN is one of the more prestigious VPN services that has its roots in Switzerland.

It has dominated the top VPNs since 2017 thanks to its fast internet speed and great security services.

In addition to supporting streaming services such as Disney+ or Netflix, ProtonVPN also offers its users a high level of privacy while surfing the Internet and “torrenting” support on most of its servers.

However, one of its small minuses is the price of this service – ProtonVPN offers slightly more expensive packages compared to giants like ExpressVPN, despite the fact that it has just over 1,000 servers in over 50 countries around the world.

On the other hand, it provides its users with a high security standard that mainstream VPN services simply do not have.
In the end, we can evaluate ProtonVPN as a great VPN service that can appeal to a select group of people who are willing to pay a little extra for a higher level of security and anonymity on the Internet.

7. IPVanish

IPVanish logo

IPVanish is a very interesting alternative to popular VPN services thanks to its “user-friendly” interface, which is not only fun but also easy to use for absolute beginners.

This VPN service offers an interface that is fun and offers explanations of how the VPN service (as a program) works.
As a platform, it focuses primarily on users who simply want to enjoy streaming services such as Netflix
Other interesting features of this VPN service include a higher level of anonymity and the possibility of using one account on multiple devices.

IPVanish offers an annual payment plan with a 30-day money-back guarantee. In addition, it is possible to try this VPN service for 7 days for free.

It is also interesting that IPVanish offers the option of payment in the form of cryptocurrencies – which some customers may greatly appreciate.

The best free VPN

Although there are also a large number of free VPN services, it is necessary to be aware of several disadvantages and risks that they can bring with them.
When choosing a free VPN, you should look at:

  • Amount of data – most free VPNs offer a limited amount of data that you can use while surfing the Internet. After a minute of this data, you will either have to wait a month for recovery or switch to a paid version of the VPN service.
  • Security and anonymity – free VPNs may not offer as high a level of security as paid versions. Based on this, you should always make sure whether and what data the VPN service collects about you.
  • Speed – the speed of loading web pages or streaming is usually limited with free VPN services.
  • Streaming service – free VPNs do not always have the option to watch Netflix or other streaming services within their packages.
    Now let’s take a look at 3 popular VPNs that are free.

1. Privado VPN

Privado VPN logo

PrivadoVPN offers 10GB of data per month as part of its free package – enough to view your daily visited sites.

One of the nicer things about this free VPN service is that you don’t have to keep clicking on CAPTCHAs when you’re surfing Google or clicking on sites.

Among the downsides of Privado VPN is its speed – compared to mainstream VPN services, it lags a bit in download speed.

2. Hide.me

Hide.me logo

As a VPN service, Hide.me offers a large number of settings and utilities that the user can literally “play with”

This VPN also includes security features such as “kill switch”, “split tunneling” and “stealth guard”.

As it is a free VPN, it offers its users only 10GB of data per month.

3. Hotspot Shield

Hotspot Shield logo

Hotspot Shield is another free VPN that is especially worthwhile for users who need to access the internet anonymously and securely from time to time.

As part of its free package, Hotspot Shield offers 500MB of data per day , good page loading speed and a “user-friendly” application.

One small minus of this VPN is the blocking of streaming – Hotspot Shield does not allow watching Netflix, HBO or other streaming services in its free version.

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