What is a VPN? Everything you need to know

someone connecting to a VPN on their phone

VPNs have become very popular in recent years but you might be wondering why people use them and whether you need one yourself.

Here, we break down all the key information so you can better understand what VPNs actually do and decide if it’s time to get onboard!

What is a VPN?

VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. It’s basically a privacy tool that helps keep your info and location safe and secure when browsing the internet.

Using a VPN generally means your browsing history is private and your location is untrackable.

How does a VPN work?

When you use a VPN, your real IP (Internet Protocol) address is hidden. An IP address is the unique code given to each internet device, which is used when sending data to and from that device. Certain pieces of information can also be determined from your IP address, such as your service provider and your location.

So, hiding your IP address means that your browsing history, location information and service provider will remain private and untrackable.

Who uses VPNs?

Both individuals and companies use VPNs for different reasons.

For example, some people use VPNs when connecting to public Wi-Fi networks because it ensures their private data stays safe if the network is unsecure. Others use VPNs to change their location, typically so they can access media content that’s unavailable in their region. Most major VPN providers make it quite easy to choose which country you wish to appear in, and offer dozens of locales.

VPNs can also be handy when shopping for the best bargains online. This works because some online retailers and services offer different prices based on the shopper’s location. This is especially true when it comes to booking flights, where the user is essentially browsing prices from a ‘hidden’ location.

Companies can use VPNs in a similar way - to secure connections and protect private data. When a company uses a VPN, it can also allow employees who work remotely to access the organisation's internal network from anywhere, while their data remains encrypted and protected.

For companies who have offices in different countries, VPNs can give access to one central corporate network and this allows employees to share resources.

When should you use a VPN?

If you’re worried about your private data being accessed, a VPN can add more protection when you use the internet. You might also use a VPN to try and find a better price when shopping online.

Here are 5 of the most popular VPNs to get you started

When you use a VPN, your internet speed will only be as good as your connection, so it helps to have a reliable and fast network. If you’re considering upgrading your plan, check out these NBN plans below!