VPN stands for "virtual private network". This means that a closed and secure network is created in a virtual way. In practice, this means that a public network is used to create a closed network. In practice this means that (actually always) the internet is used to create a closed network between computers. Exactly how this is done can be found in this article about the operation of a VPN. We have also written a page with more general information about what a VPN is. When you use the internet through a VPN connection, all your data will be through a VPN server. The VPN server is the computer you use to establish a secure connection with. This VPN server functions as a sort of gateway. On one side of your device and on the other side of the VPN server you will find the internet services you want to use. For example, websites, apps, mail applications, etc. When you go to a website, for example nu.nl, this request from your browser will first be sent to the VPN server. An extra essential part of the operation of a VPN connection is that the data between your device and the VPN server is encrypted. This ensures that no one can see the data sent and received between your device and the VPN server, as this data is encrypted. Another feature of VPN connections from commercial providers in particular is that many users use the same VPN server at the same time. In addition, most VPN providers do not keep track of user logs. They do not store or keep track of what the users of VPN service do online. This makes it difficult for companies and agencies to find out which user is sending and receiving which data. The encrypted data also goes through a so-called tunnel. This tunnel is in fact a secure connection through which the data is sent, this is actually the first layer of security. As an extra layer of security, the data that goes through the VPN tunnel is encrypted, a VPN connection is like a tunnel that is created in an existing internet connection. By creating a tunnel the data becomes invisible to third parties. This works because the tunnel is in fact a stream of encrypted data. This data cannot be viewed without the correct key. The key to decrypt the data and thus see it is only known by the parties who are actually allowed to see the data; the VPN server and the VPN client (the device on which you use the VPN connection). The data in the tunnel is also encrypted, so there are usually 2 layers of encryption. This makes the security of the data stream virtually unbreakable. When someone on your public wifi network, or your internet provider is watching your data traffic they will only see encrypted data they can't use. On the VPN server the data is only decrypted again. A VPN connection can be set up on a range of different hardware and software. Depending on the protocol used by the VPN server there is support for certain operating systems. For example, for OpenVPN protocol there is a free client available for many different operating systems. In addition, commercial VPN providers always release software for the different operating systems. For which operating systems the VPN services release software may differ. In the vast majority of cases, a VPN client is developed for Windows, Mac OS X, Android and iPhone that can easily connect to a VPN server of the VPN service in question. For Windows and Mac OS X, there is broad support for different VPN protocols
. For example, Windows already has 4 protocols that are supported by the operating system and the various VPN services have all developed a VPN software client for Windows. With the installation of the VPN software you also get support for the protocols that the VPN service offers and that are not integrated on Windows by default. This works simply by installing the software on your PC or laptop and filling in your login details. Then you can choose a server and connect to the VPN connection.iOS and Android also have a VPN functionality built in from the base. Most VPN services have developed an app for both iOS and Android. With such a VPN app it is possible to choose a VPN server and then connect to it. There is a lot of difference in the quality for the smartphones of the different VPN services. On our VPN pages for Android and iPhone respectively, you can find what we think are the best VPN services for these smartphones. After installation you can simply log in with your user data and use all available VPN servers. For Windows Mobile support is a lot worse. However, with the standard VPN support on Windows Mobile you can of course connect to the VPN server you have logged in from. For a router the VPN services don't really have any apps, this may have something to do with the fact that routers are more or less unable to install extra apps. Still there are solutions to connect your router to a VPN server of your choice, as there are routers where VPN connection support is built into the firmware by default. An overview of these routers can be found on our VPN router page. You will need to enter the correct settings such as server address, port and procol. This information can be found on the website of most VPN providers. Another option is to install the alternative firmware DD-WRT on your router, this is only possible on suitable routers. Once your router is connected to a VPN server, all devices that use the Internet through that router will use the VPN tunnel. All Internet traffic from your network will pass through the VPN connection that you have set up on your router, but the well-known Apple TV and Chromecast do not allow VPN connection to a VPN server by default. Nor is it possible to install an app on such a device. This also applies to other media boxes such as Amazon Fire tv stick and Roku. Still it is very interesting to get a VPN working on such a device. This allows you to bypass geographical blockages. For example, you can watch the American Netflix in the Netherlands when the Chromecast or Apple TV is connected to a VPN server in America, but how do you get that working? You can do this by configuring the router your Chromecast or Apple TV is connected to as a VPN client and having it connected to an American VPN server. When the router is connected to a VPN server all internet traffic in that network will go through the VPN connection of the router. Actually, making a VPN connection work is very simple for the user. With the following steps you can achieve this: A VPN actually works very easily with the software that is available for the different operating systems.