What is VPN and do you need one?

What does a VPN do?

VPNs have several crucial functions that improve users’ online security and privacy. They can hide a user's IP address, making it difficult for third parties to find out where the user is located and helping to disguise their identity online. VPNs also create a point-to-point tunnel from a user's computer to a remote server. This allows data to be encrypted and transmitted securely.

How does a VPN work?

VPN providers own remote servers all over the world. This means that no matter where a user is located, they can connect to the internet privately and anonymously. VPNs work by masking the user’s IP address so that when they access the internet, the VPN shows as the source of their data, rather than their location. 

As the VPN also encrypts all of the information in the point-to-point tunnel (the user’s online activity and data), if unwelcome third parties do access it, it is completely unusable. 

Below is a summary of the key steps followed when using a VPN:

  1. Connect to the chosen VPN
  2. Confidential data is encrypted
  3. The VPN creates a digital tunnel for the data to pass through securely
  4. The VPN encapsulates the data for added protection
  5. The data is decrypted once it arrives at its endpoint

Do I need a VPN?

Using a VPN is not essential, but it does provide extra online security, which may be beneficial for particular purposes and individuals. We recommend using a VPN if you need:

Increased privacy - A VPN prevents websites and third parties from tracking your activity online and finding your location

Enhanced security - Using a VPN ensures any data you transmit online is secure and encrypted

To work from home - VPNs can be invaluable in protecting company data if you work from home and need to access company resources regularly

To bypass geographical restrictions - Your ‘online’ location, when connected to a VPN, is set to where the VPN is. This means that you can still access content that may be blocked in the region where you’re physically located, by connecting to a VPN elsewhere. 

To avoid censorship - In certain regions, internet censorship is used to prevent citizens from accessing certain sites and data, using a VPN can circumnavigate these restrictions

Benefits of a VPN

A VPN can bring a wealth of benefits to your online experience. Firstly, you will have greater online freedom - this is especially important when accessing information that may be unavailable in your geographical location. You can also be confident that your online data and browsing history are secure and cannot be accessed by third parties.

With a VPN, your location and IP address are masked. This ensures that any malicious third parties or internet users are unable to track you, providing an extra layer of security. In addition, VPNs can help to bypass government restrictions, surveillance or censorship, allowing you to access the content you want, wherever you may be.

Common types of VPN

There are several different types of VPNs that can be used depending on your circumstances. The most commonly used VPNs include:

Remote access VPNs - Used when connecting to a server remotely, e.g. for employees working from home

Site-to-site VPNs - Generally used by businesses that have multiple locations, e.g. for branch employees accessing head office servers

Cloud VPNs - For users who are connecting to cloud based services

Mobile VPNs - For mobile users

What should I look for in a VPN?

The wide range of available VPNs can make it difficult to know which one to choose. Rather than picking the first VPN you find, it is important to consider the following factors:

  • Speed - Look at how each VPN will impact your internet connection speed as some will affect your internet usage. Choosing an option with high-speed servers can combat this
  • Security - Not all VPNs will have the same level of security. Depending on the sensitivity of the data you are transmitting, it may be worth considering a higher security VPN
  • Compatibility with your devices - Ensure your VPN is compatible with the devices you use e.g. Mac, iOS, Android or Windows PC
  • Compatibility with software - It is also worth checking that the VPN you pick is compatible with your software, especially for programs that check-in online regularly
  • Pricing - Some VPNs are free, but this can mean they are less effective. It may be tempting to pick the cheapest option but if the VPN doesn't meet your requirements, it isn't worth the investment
  • Server network - If you are using a VPN to access websites or content in a specific geographical region, ensure you choose one that has servers in the right area
  • User interface - If you are new to using VPNs, choosing one that has a user-friendly interface can help simplify set up and operation
  • Customer support - Once you have chosen your VPN, you may need assistance with issues or questions. A VPN provider that has responsive and helpful customer support can be vital
  • Features - Some VPNs may include additional features like an Adblocker, or be bundled with other security systems
  • Type - The different types of VPN offer different levels of security in their features. Ensure that you choose the VPN type that best aligns with your security and networking needs. 
  • Provider - Choose a reputable provider that you can trust. This may mean a higher cost, but you’ll have the reassurance of a certain high-quality level of security and user experience 

ESET Home Security Ultimate is our latest solution package that includes unlimited VPN, along with Password Manager, Parental Controls and state-of-the-art online security and privacy. To view all available features and purchasing options, click here


What does VPN stand for?

VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. This means when you are online, you can access a network that is secure and private to protect your data and location.

Does a VPN keep you safe from viruses?

While VPNs offer excellent security for your online data, they do not directly protect against viruses. However, using a VPN does mean that you are less likely to be infected by a virus. This is because the VPN can make it difficult for malware to complete the tasks it is programmed to run. In addition, some VPN providers offer features such as Adblock, which can stop ads from transmitting viruses and malware to your computer.

What is the best VPN for Android?

ESET VPN, included in our ESET Ultimate Security Solution, is ideally suited to Android devices, offering comprehensive online protection. With features like data encryption, IP address masking, and privacy when using public networks, you’ll be able to take full advantage of all of the benefits a VPN has to offer, as well as the other robust Ultimate security features.  

What is the best VPN for iPhone?

While there are a wide range of different VPN providers, if you are looking for a brand you already know and trust, our VPN for iPhone is a great choice. Enjoy the freedom to access content from around the world while ensuring your data stays confidential and secure. With unlimited bandwidth in the ESET Ultimate Security Solution package, you can browse freely, without restrictions and decreased network performance.