VPN or Virtual Private Networks are privacy & security tools designed to protect online communications, file transfers and routine browsing. Primarily VPN were meant to secure travelling corporate employees, regional offices and corporate servers creating a secure personalized network.

Today VPN have become more than just privacy tools, from being employed for bypassing geo-restrictions on Netflix to connecting through different servers for online gaming. The applications of VPN are vast on the modern web including:

  1. Security on public WI-FI,
  2. Avoiding geo-restrictions,
  3. Downloading torrents anonymously,
  4. Managing IP cameras securely from remote locations,
  5. Bypassing ISP throttling,
  6. Securing mobile devices & routers,
  7. Connecting through different regional servers for gaming, and much more.

Now, the question that most beginners and even intermediate VPN users ask is just what is this connecting through VPN servers in different regions? To answer the question let’s take a look at how you look without a VPN and how a VPN works for you:

understanding vpn tunnels

If you notice in the diagram above there is no security over your network connection with your online activities and data exposed to the entire internet. Any entity with the right set of tools & knowledge which includes government surveillance agencies (like the NSA, GCHQ etc.), your ISP (Verizon, AT&T etc.), cybercriminals and hackers and 3rd party marketers can spy on your online activities, retain your data and influence what you see online.

what is vpn tunnels?

With a VPN in place you are completely secure courtesy of the encrypted VPN tunnel. Your device creates a secure connection with a remote VPN server and the VPN server then communicates all requests on your behalf. If you notice in the diagram above, the two way arrows with the secure sign indicate the VPN tunnel.All your traffic & information flows though this VPN tunnel, safe from all snooping entities.


What is a VPN Tunnel?


Every timeyou connect your VPN service, the VPN will create a tunnel between your device(s) and the relevant VPN server. This VPN tunnel is indicated by the two way arrow with the red outline in figure 2 above. VPN services employ what are known as tunneling protocols to create this secure & encrypted tunnel between the user and the VPN server.

VPN tunnels are primarily created by VPN services to ensure that no one can snoop into your connectionwith a friend, a website ora server. The VPN tunnel hides all your traffic & data in addition to encrypting all data packets flowing out of your device(s).


Why we need to use VPN tunnel?


Usually VPN beginners question, why exactly do we need to use a VPN tunnel?

Consider you are working in the UK and want to connect to your head office database in USA. The information that you will access is highly sensitive and can lead to substantial losses if stolen. A VPN Tunnel in this case will ensure no one can spy on your network and even get a hint of the of what is being transferred between you and the head office server.

Once behind the secure VPN tunnel all your online activities will be hidden from the internet while all data going out will be encrypted into alpha-numeric code making it unreadable for anyone even if they manage to infiltrate your network.

An easier example is considering the VPN tunnel as Harry Potter’s cloak of invisibility. Once Harry would be under the cloak no one could see or hear him. Similarly, a VPN tunnel plays the same role for a VPN user when online.


How to Setup a VPN Tunnel


A VPN or VPN tunnel can be setup in two way, either install the VPN provider’s app or manually setup the connection. Today most premium VPN providers offer leading edge apps for both mobile and desktop devices, allowing subscribers to connect in no more than 3 clicks.

If you wish to setup a VPN tunnel manually on Windows, here is what to do:

  1. Sign up to a VPN service
  2. Go to the Control Panel >Network & Sharing Center
  3. From the 4 options listed select “Setup a new connection or network”
  4. A new window will pop open, select “Connect to a workplace”
  5. Then choose “No, create a new connection” and click Next
  6. Now click on “Use My Internet Connection”
  7. In the next step you will require the “VPN server address” you wish to connect through you’re your provider for this address), give your VPN a name in the second box then click Next
  8. In the next step fill out your VPN Username & Password (ask your VPN provider for these credentials),leave the Domain Name field empty
  9. Once the credentials are filled in click connect, your Windows PC will create the VPN tunnel with the server

An easier example is considering the VPN tunnel as Harry Potter’s cloak of invisibility. Once Harry would be under the cloak no one could see or hear him. Similarly, a VPN tunnel plays the same role for a VPN user when online.


In a Nutshell


We hope you found our blog informative and gave you a basic idea about VPN tunnels. Stay tuned for more including the best tunneling protocols andproviders that offer the most robust VPN tunneling apps. If you wish to send us feedback or know more simply leave us a message below or tweet to us @VPNBest.

Ameer Abbas

Ameer Abbas is a senior editor and a most viewed writer on Quora in Internet Privacy, Cyber Security, VPN and Torrents. He has continued work as a privacy advocate with Best VPN Provider and is working towards becoming an established privacy & security author online. Ameer takes a keen interest in technology, geo-political affairs and international cyber laws. Ameer loves outdoor sports including cricket, swimming, athletics, and football.
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