The Complete VPN Q&A: The Most Asked Questions From Our Readers

article by Rachel Carr
June 09, 2020
VPNs are a useful piece of technology for use for a number of different reasons, but to those who are not technologically savvy, they can also be a bit intimidating.

In this article, we look to explain everything there is to know about the world of VPNs and how they can help you stay safe online. With everyone spending more and more time online these days through smartphones, laptops as well as the traditional desktop computer, it is essential that we protect ourselves against online attack – and a VPN is a great way to do just that. Here, we detail exactly why that is.

1. What Is VPN?

Knowing exactly what is VPN technology or VPN software is a key way of fully comprehending how a VPN can help you or your business stay safe and secure while using the internet.

In short, the answer to what is VPN technology is that it is a form of digital tunnel that encodes your data when you are transferring it from your device to the site you are trying to access or to the email address you are contacting. This is possible through what is known as a VPN tunnel, which also works to protect you by providing you with a new temporary IP address to hide behind.

2. How Does VPN Work?

VPNs work in a multi-faceted approach to keeping you safe whilst online, which can sometimes cause confusion when trying to learn the answer to how does VPN work? Users connect to a new server over a VPN tunnel which secures them by giving them a new IP address. This helps protect people as it masks their true location as their computer’s actual IP address is kept hidden.

Secondly, the data that is transferred to the intermediary server, and then on from the intermediary server to the final destination is encrypted. This encrypted data can only be read by the people for which it was intended. A piece of VPN software gives people an encryption key so that they can read the data that is sent to them. When using the right VPN software by the best brands, this will happen almost seamlessly. Users’ online experiences are not affected for the worse through the use of an efficient VPN.

3. How Does A VPN Protect You?

Now that you understand what is VPN technology and that encryption is key to realizing how does VPN work, it is easier to see and comprehend how does a VPN protect you. The technology surrounding VPNs work in a number of ways to protect users.

Firstly, by giving users a new IP address, they are protected in that their location is hidden. Secondly, by encrypting data over a tunnel to a new server, with that new IP address, the data that a user transmits is secured as prying eyes cannot read it without an encryption key – that the VPN would provide the right people with. The result is that using VPN technology even makes it possible to use Public Wifi networks without fear of having your information read by others.

4. How Safe Is VPN?

Whenever people are unsure of technology, and with respect to understanding what a VPN is or how a VPN works with encryption, they will naturally question how safe is VPN technology.

In short, a VPN makes you very very safe while online, particularly if you use a VPN provider that offers a wide range of security features. Brands such as ExpressVPN and Surfshark all employ the use of Kill switches, no logs policies and stringent, military-grade encryption techniques to ensure that you are kept as safe as possible.

However, as with anything in the technological world, it can never guarantee that users are 100% safe 100% of the time. There are simply too many hackers out there trying to be the one that manages to breach a VPN’s security measures. Without a doubt though, you are much safer using a VPN than you are not using one at all. To be extra especially safe and secure with an internet connection, it is a good idea to employ other security techniques too to make it even more difficult to hack into your networks.

5. What Is A VPN Tunnel?

Knowing what is a VPN tunnel, is crucial to grasp if you want to fully understand what a VPN is and how it works through encryption. It is the tunneling and encryption that VPNs use that enable users to unblock websites that are blocked due to geographical reasons, but also it is that tunneling and encryption that allows users to uphold their privacy while online.

In short, a VPN tunnel is simply the link between you, your VPN provider’s server, and the destination you are trying to reach. That link is the encrypted part and the server is the entity that provides you with a new IP address.

6. Can ISP See VPN?

For many people who are wondering can ISP see VPN users, they will be happy to know that one of the major benefits of using a VPN is the fact that your ISP cannot see your VPN and therefore any of the data that you are transmitting over it. What they can do, however, as technology develops, is to recognize when data is being sent over an encrypted tunnel to a server that has been identified as a VPN provider.

Additionally, while VPNs are one of the best methods of protecting yourself online, they are not infallible either. That means that from time to time, IP address leaks can occur. This means that even under the guise of a VPN, there have been instances where a user’s original IP address has been exposed. This then gives ISPs the ability to see your VPN too.

7. How to Setup a VPN?

Learning how to set up a VPN is essential to ensure that it can provide you with all the protection it should. It can vary from provider to provider, but there are some basic principles that will run across all – as well as setting up a VPN across different types of devices and different types of operating software.

One of the easiest ways to set up your computer, iPad, tablet, or mobile devices is to download your chosen provider’s app through your app store. Once you’ve installed the app, you need to launch it and follow whatever directions your specific software suggests from there. At some point, you will be asked to choose what country you want your server to be in. It is key to choose a country that answers your needs. For example, if you want to watch US Netflix libraries, you need to choose a server from the US too. Once you’ve connected to that server, you’ll be up and running.

At times, there isn’t always a dedicated app for your device. In those cases, you will need to set up your VPN manually. To do so, you will need to decide which protocol you want to employ – the majority of people choose OpenVPN thanks to its strong security levels. It is also possible to set up your own VPN server which demands a great deal of technological know-how and won’t come with all the included features that a product off the shelf does – like kill switches or military-grade encryption for example.

8. What Is VPN Used For?

People use VPNs for a variety of different purposes, which can make it hard to answer succinctly what is VPN used for. As, not only does it provide users with an excellent level of security while online, it can also be used to bypass censorship laws around the world and unblock geo-restricted sites. VPNs can also protect you whilst out and about when you are traveling or working remotely over an unknown network.

The result is that VPNs can be used to protect mobile devices as well as desktop computers and laptops – whether they are run by Microsoft, Apple, or Linux operating systems. They can be the perfect solution for those that want to stream videos when abroad in countries that block certain video libraries from use. They can also allow users to game safely and securely, regardless of their location. Plus people who are a fan of torrenting can also make use of a VPN and the additional level of security that establishing a virtual private network can provide.

Depending on your usage, certain VPN providers are more suitable than others. For instance, there are some VPNs that work better if you want to stream TV through your Android device, while other VPN providers are great for those that like to use Kodi.

9. Do I Need A VPN?

Anyone who uses an internet connection can benefit from using a VPN to protect themselves whilst online. So if you are wondering, do I need a VPN? Then the answer is yes. The alternative is to simply leave yourself vulnerable to online attacks from hackers and criminals who are trying to get hold of your sensitive information and financial data to help them commit fraud.

Plus, with the added benefits of ensuring that you can access any site that you want to privately, whenever you are in the world, it means you can stream from video libraries, torrent, and bypass censorship laws when required. It also protects your data from becoming a commodity that can be sold from business to business – for whatever reason they want. It helps you keep control of what information regarding you and your household is available online.

10. How To Connect To VPN?

Connecting to a VPN should not be a difficult task – even for those that do not take to digital technology naturally or those who haven’t used VPNs before. The reason being is that the best VPN providers out there are excellent at making their software intuitive and straightforward to use. However, connecting to a VPN does depend on each and every VPN provider. While the similarities between them are vast, each and everyone will have a slightly different way to connect or establish a VPN with their software. Bearing this in mind, it is best to use the extensive FAQs and step by step guides that VPN providers publish on their websites.

While some VPN providers may have a less thorough guide or how-to section, even the free VPNs will provide users with the information they need to establish a VPN quickly and easily. Once users have done so a handful of times, it will become second nature to them – while other VPN services establish a VPN connection automatically.

11. How Much Does A VPN Cost?

Knowing how much does a VPN cost can be a key driver in choosing which provider to go with, if you go with one at all. As with most products available on the market, VPNs can vary greatly in price – though it does not always necessarily follow that the cheapest ones are the worst, and the most expensive ones are the best.

In fact, there are some good free VPNs available, though we would never recommend a free VPN provider as they can often have some shortcomings when it comes to data logging. In short, you can pay up to around $10 a month for a VPN subscription, but many of the best providers offer significant discounts for those who sign up for annual subscription plans. Two of our favorites, Surfshark and ExpressVPN, do just that. And you can check out our comprehensive reviews of both here and here.

12. Does a VPN Use Data?

If you’re looking to continue using your capped data plan without having to up your subscription, you could well be asking does a VPN use data? Well, in short, yes it does. It can be tempting to think that simply because your ISP does not know what you are up to when you transmit data over through a VPN tunnel, as a consequence your ISP does not know how much data you are using. This is not the case sadly.

For, while some ISPs won’t throttle your data when you are using a VPN, an ISP will still know how much data you are using because that data has to be transferred through your ISP’s gateway. The reason that they may not throttle your data when you are using a VPN is because ISP companies do not always throttle data simply because you have reached your cap. Instead, they can throttle data when you are using data-rich sites like YouTube or Netflix in an effort to get you to upgrade to another of their better, more expensive services.

In fact, a VPN could actually increase your data usage. That is because it is thought that a VPN can increase a person’s data amounts on average by about 10%. The increased data comes from the encryption process – an encrypted file or document takes up more space than a plain vanilla file, so your data usage increases.

13. How To Get Free VPN?

There are a number of ways to answer how to get free VPN services – some methods will suit some, while another method would be better for other users. Some people find it workable to make use of the money-back guarantee that the majority of reliable and reputable VPN providers offer when customers sign up. This means that every 30 days to two months, you will need to cancel your subscription and ask for your money back, while signing up for another VPN provider’s plans so as to maintain your VPN protection at all times.

The other option is to use a free VPN service which does not require payment each month. However, while there are some great plus points to using a free VPN – if the alternative is not using one at all – we would always recommend using a reputable Vpaid for VPN provider if possible. The reason being is that free VPN providers don’t always offer particularly good connectivity as well as having less stringent approaches to security measures. Additionally, they maintain logs that make it difficult for users to remain totally anonymous.

14. How To Change VPN Service?

Once you have signed up to a VPN provider, they are not always exactly how you imagined they would be so you can wonder how to change VPN service. The good news is if you have chosen a reputable VPN provider in the first place, changing your subscription plan should be easy enough. However, before you sign up for any subscription plan, we recommend that you make use of any money-back guarantees. That way, you can use the VPN for as long as the trial period lasts, ordinarily around 30 days, and you can get your money back with no questions asked.

If you are looking to cancel subscription plans because you can no longer afford the subscription fees of a paid-for plan, there are a number of free services out there too that you can change to or from whenever you want. While we would never recommend a free VPN service over a paid-for provider that we rate, they do at least provide you with some security over nothing at all. If you are going to use a free VPN service, some are better than others, so make sure you sign up for one that can hold its own in comparison to its peers.

15. Is My VPN Working? How Do I Know?

If you are new to the world of VPNs, you could end up asking yourself is my VPN working? How do I know? It’s good to know this right from the start as it ensures that you are using your VPN correctly and it is functioning as it should so that you are gaining maximum protection from it at all times.

One of the ways that you can test whether your VPN is working is to see whether your IP address is actually hidden when you are connected to the internet. There are many sites that can help you find this out like What Is My IP address. If it is different from what your actual IP address is, then it is working. If it is the same, then your IP address could have been leaked in some way and you need to address what the issue is either with your VPN provider or ensuring that you are using your VPN software correctly.

16. Is VPN Illegal?

Answering whether is VPN illegal or not is a difficult question to offer a clear cut resolution on. The reason being is that while VPNs in the main are legal to use in the countries around the world, what you use then may be illegal and you may well be charged with crimes in that way. Arguably, it is a VPN that can allow people the means to commit those crimes which is why a grey area starts to transpire when answering is VPN illegal or not.

For example, in countries like Russia, VPNs are legal to use, but there are so many sites that are blacklisted by the government there, that if you access one of those sites, you will be committing a crime. The same can be said of using a VPN in the UAE – you may access sites that the government has censored there, and as such you are liable to be charged as the UAE government sees fit should you be caught accessing them.

17. How To Install VPN On Router?

Increasingly, more of us may benefit from knowing how to install VPN on router as the likelihood of us all having more than one device that connects to our router is high. Given that most individuals themselves will have a computer as well as a mobile device – on the most basic level – it is not uncommon for some households to have a handful of mobile devices, laptops, tablets and desktop computers all connected to the same router.

Therefore, using a VPN that is set up on the same router is an effective way of spreading the benefits of a VPN across every device with ease. Luckily, there are now routers that come with VPNs installed as standard. While some are still not great for a seamless user experience, if you choose one of the best routers on the market you will find that your router provides all users the same protection and connectivity speeds that you would enjoy without a VPN established.

18. What Is Onion Over VPN?

Onion or TOR browsers are a means of accessing the internet in a totally anonymous way. It works through the use of an incredibly wide range of servers that allow its users to communicate in a wholly private way. It is a free piece of technology to use and was originally designed and established by the US authorities, particularly the US Navy. It was developed with the intention of keeping users’ information private at a time when digital information was becoming more and more of a precious commodity.

So what is onion over VPN? It works by encrypting data and sending it to the TOR network servers – so in some respects, it has two large similarities to VPN software in that it uses encryption and the use of other servers. However, one big drawback is that TOR network servers are not fast as VPN providers are and so if you use it, you are likely to experience an incredibly slow internet browsing session. That being said, it is free to use, whereas most VPN services that are worth recommending charge a monthly subscription fee. While that fee is often not very much – only usually a few dollars per month – it’s not always in someone’s budget.


19. Can A VPN Be Traced?


Given that a VPN masks your IP address and keeps your online activity private, can a VPN be traced? Unfortunately, the answer is still yes. It can be incredibly tempting to think that simply because a VPN is so good at protecting your data through encryption amongst other methods, that also any data you send or transmit cannot be tracked back to you.

While it most definitely makes tracking you infinitely more difficult, it doesn’t make it impossible. The reason being is that data breaches can and do happen. Your IP can be leaked from your VPN provider – even though they are obviously doing their best for that never to happen. Secondly, your IP address isn’t always the only thing that can identify you on the internet. Some of the best hackers and cyber technicians within government authorities will be able to find other identifiers that can be used to trace you.

Additionally, your VPN provider will be able to see your IP address. This means there is another entity that can be breached to find out your true identity and track you. Even if your provider doesn’t accidentally leak your IP address, its owners can still be compromised in some way.

Finally, hackers can infect your computer or network with malware. That malware can go on to leak your identity to them and others.

20. What Is VPN Hub?

There are several types of VPN on the market from so many different providers – so what is VPN Hub? VPNHub is a new way to browse the internet in a secure and private way. It’s a new provider that has been created by the makers of Pornhub. It works just as other established VPN providers do – it allows users to encrypt their data while it is being transmitted and gives them the illusion of a new IP address other than their own. There is both a free and paid-for version.

The subscription plans mean that users can enjoy their usage without advertisements, as well as providing customers with faster connection speeds and more servers to choose from in a larger number of countries. Importantly, the paid-for subscription service is usable on desktop computers, whereas the free version is only available on Android or iOS.

The Complete VPN Q&A – The Bottom Line

Knowing and understanding VPNs inside out is key to ensuring that you are using them correctly so that you are gaining optimum protection from them at all times. Additionally, it also ensures that you have signed up to a reputable brand like ExpressVPN or Surfshark, which are providers that can give you a service that is efficient and effective. While some parts of the VPN world are incredibly technical, at least having a vague understanding of them will help you employ the use of them even more productively.