VPN for Dummies: An Ultimate Beginner’s Guide

how does vpn work

VPN is not just a buzzword or a technology. It’s a way to keep yourself and your crucial data safe from many hidden and deadly online hazards. Sometimes, you won’t even be able to realize that you’ve become prey to the virtual world’s vulnerability if there isn’t enough protection.

If you haven’t realized the power of a VPN and have no idea how it works, this post is just the right thing to refer to as VPN explained for dummies in the simplest ever format. So, let’s get started.

You will find these articles helpful:

What is VPN in Simple Terms?

While understanding VPN for dummies, your first question must be – ‘What is a VPN?’

Well, here is your answer:

VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. It is an advanced technology designed to encrypt the traffic between end-user devices and the server. This added encryption makes the online world safer than ever.

That was a brief VPN definition for dummies. Now, let’s discuss its working abilities in detail.

What exactly does a VPN do?

Here are some of the critical tasks that a VPN performs:

  • Accessing geo-restricted content

Due to copyright acts, not every media content, website, or online portal is accessible everywhere. Using a VPN, it’s easy to connect to servers in different countries and circumvent all geographical restrictions.

  • Connect to the public Wi-Fi securely

Who doesn’t want to use public Wi-Fi? But it’s not safe, as hackers hunt down their prey efficiently there. Using a VPN, one can add a double dose of security to the public VPN and stay out of the reach of internet goons.

  • Stream and torrent safely

VPN hides the actual IP address of the user and allows them to stream and download torrents without getting haunted by the fear of coming under the radar of government agencies.

  • Keeping online privacy intact

VPN lets you browse the internet anonymously and prevents others from keeping an eye on your online presence. Also, some of the best VPN services have a zero-log policy and don’t track online activities.

How does a VPN work?

Now that you know a VPN’s meaning and purpose, it’s time to figure out how it works. There are three main components of a VPN:

  1. Tunnel, wherein traffic is divided into packets and is encrypted with proper security protocols.
  2. Encryption ensures that secret packages only reach the targeted receivers.
  3. Server allows one to get connected to the internet and browser.

A VPN creates a secure tunnel using encryption and places it between the server and the end user. Each traffic has to pass through this tunnel to get connected.

How safe is it to use a VPN?

Using a VPN safely depends on multiple factors. For instance, a free VPN is unsafe because it does not provide sufficient protection.

If a VPN belongs to Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, and Fourteen Eyes country members, attaining complete anonymity is unsure. Such VPNs log Traffic and online activities.

Is VPN use legal?

What is VPN for Dummies? A guide to understanding and using it, isn’t it? However, mostly, you first want to confirm whether it is legally allowed. After all, you might not want to learn something that drags you into trouble, even if it has many advantages.

We know this is a burning question; everyone wants to know the exact truth. But, honestly, the legalities involved in using a VPN depend on certain factors. For instance: the country’s laws. Some countries like China, Iran, and Russia have banned VPN use, and you can be in a severe mess while getting caught red-handed. 

Also, how a VPN is used decides the legal status. If you attempt a crime like accessing copyright material, stealing information, posting threatening content, hacking data, and the like, you’re in legal trouble. If your country allows VPN usage and you’re not committing any crime, then using VPN is perfectly safe.

Why do I need a VPN?

VPN has become a need of the hour as it keeps online presence safe and hidden. Also, accessing restricted content is possible.

How is a VPN different from a proxy/DNS/Tor/firewall?

Although these terms may sound different, they are very similar in terms of modus operandi. That’s why understanding the critical difference between these terms is crucial when explaining VPN for dummies.

Proxy and VPN both mask IP addresses and hide end-users’ exact location details. However, a VPN makes the traffic secure with added security protocols, which are not valid with proxy servers.

DNS is a setting that lets an end-user choose which kind of content will pass through the server. It lacks security protocols and encryption.

A firewall is a barrier designed to analyze the data packets from the internet and keep virus attacks and malware at bay. It’s a great addition to a VPN, but it can’t protect the device alone.

Tor is a dedicated browser that hides the end user’s IP address. It hides the online presence but fails to offer enough security. A VPN does both of these jobs perfectly.

What is the difference between a VPN app, a VPN plugin, and a VPN browser?

VPN apps are designed for devices like Android & iOS phones, routers, and gaming consoles. They protect all kinds of internet traffic passing through these devices.

VPN browsers and plugins work with the browsers and protect only the browser traffic. The rest of the traffic passed through the same device is still exposed to internet vulnerabilities.

Leading VPNs, such as Express VPN, CyberGhost VPN, and Nord VPN, offer professionally designed apps and browser extensions that are easy to use.

What to look for when choosing a VPN?

Though a VPN is here to make the online place safer than ever for its users, all of this will only happen if it’s the best of the breed. Here are some of the tips to keep in mind to pick the best VPN:

  • Always double-check the server network and location of servers before deciding on the final VPN. The more extensive the server network, the better the delivery will be.
  • A VPN, backed with ample security protocols, is a wise choice. Ensure that one VPN you’re picking features IKEv2 and OpenVPN support. Outdated protocols like LT2P are of no use.
  • A kill switch is another crucial factor to consider while buying a VPN, as this feature ensures safety in case of a sudden VPN failure.
  • A VPN with a strict zero-log policy ensures that an end-user’s information is not compromised.
  • The country of origin of the VPN also matters as some countries require ISP providers to keep records of online logs. So, it’s wise to avoid VPNs that belong to Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, and Fourteen Eyes countries.
  • Even though using a VPN is easy, there are times when one needs customer support. So, don’t ignore this aspect as well.
  • Money-back guarantee trials are another critical factor to watch while selecting a VPN. Having ultimate peace of mind is a sure thing with these two facilities.

Where can I get a VPN?

Visit Express VPN, Nord VPN, and CyberGhost VPN websites. These are some of the best VPN providers. They offer a wide range of subscriptions to the end-users.

VPN Setup For Dummies: How to start using a VPN?

Now that tit and bit of VPN is an explainer for dummies, let’s gather the information about its usage step. We’re going to explain them using NordVPN. This VPN offers highly usable and feature-rich apps for all the leading devices and platforms. Here are the steps to follow.

Step 1 – Visit the official Nord VPN website and create an account using a valid email address.

Step 2 – Select the correct subscription and make the payments.

Step 3 – Download the app, as per your device, from the app store or Play store, complete the setup, and log in using the same credentials.

Step 4 – Click on the “Quick Connect” icon and select the server of your choice. Start browsing the internet the way you want.

Following the abovementioned steps, setting up a VPN for dummies is as easy as a flipping pancake.


A VPN is one of the best ways to stay safe while browsing the internet. If you haven’t tried it till now, then it’s high time to do that as the incidence of cyber-attacks increases with each passing day, and you could be the next victim.

Deploying a VPN at your service is easy and doesn’t require tech-savvy skills. The above guide has explained what a VPN is for dummies in detail. So, give it a chance and enjoy a secure online presence.


You probably don’t have time to learn all the details about VPN services, but you want to know which one is the best for you. Here are six trustworthy VPNs I can recommend to you, depending on the scope of use of each of them.

For more information, see our picks for the best VPNs here.


Does a VPN make you 100% anonymous?

Complete IP address masking is a sure thing with the right kind of VPN. But, it’s not 100% in most cases, as the end user’s ISP is bound to track the online activities.

Does a VPN help with streaming?
Does a VPN help with torrenting?
How does VPN tunneling work?


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