VPN What is it?

I would like someone to explain to me in simplistic terms what is the "VPN"?.  Do I need it and if so what is the easiest app and method  to set up and is it Free?
Basem KhawajaClinical PharmacistAsked:
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Dave BaldwinFixer of ProblemsCommented:
VPN is Virtual Private Network.  VPNs are used to access web sites from a location that is not your own by providing a relay system thru their servers.  VPNs usually hide your IP address and the target site sees their IP address.  Many of use it to test access to our websites from other countries.

There are free VPN connections on the web but you don't set it up, you just connect your browser to their page and they relay your requests to other sites.  They tend to be a bit slow.  I use a paid VPN which is much faster and they have their own servers all around the world.
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McKnifeCommented:
If you need a definition, go to Wikipedia.
If you need it? Sorry, how should we know?

I use a VPN to connect to my company's network when I am working from my home - that is what it is usually used for in my opinion: to cross an untrusted network (internet) in a secure way.
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Jonnathan PopeCommented:
VPN is used in a variety of ways and methods but what it essentially does is create an encrypted and private connection between your PC or session and a specific end point. They call it a "tunnelling" protocol.

One use for VPN is to help you to connect privately and securely to your company network over the public Internet infrastructure. This is being slowly replaced by newer technologies such as Direct Access.

There is also VPN to get you to connect to an endpoint elsewhere in the world as per whatever service you signed up for. This is most often used for privacy reasons or to bypass geo restrictions on some services.

As a consumer, VPN is usually easy to use. As a system administrator, there are many ways to create it with varying complexity.
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Basem KhawajaClinical PharmacistAuthor Commented:
Mcknife:
"If you need a definition, go to Wikipedia.
If you need it? Sorry, how should we know?"

I am not an expert like you if I knew the answer to my question I would not had posted it. So try to be more understanding toward other people. If I just wanted a definition I could have just searched for it using a dictionary or Google. The reason I asked the question because I am still not having a clear understanding to what is it? As far as whether I needed it also if I was asking do I need an anti-virus and a firewall I would have expected to have gotten an answer as yes you do not "How should we know"? Thank you anyway.

1.I am still confused about VPN. So I only use my PC at home . Not accessing any company computer or other computer. I have Webroot Secureanywhere{AV, Firewall, Anti-Spyware, Anti-Malware} is that not enough?

2.What protection does the VPN offer that my security system does not?

3.If I get a paid VPN is it better than a free one?
4.Does it slow down the speed?

Please answer all my FOUR questions. Thank you.
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Joe Winograd, Fellow&MVEDeveloperCommented:
Hi Basem,
First, let me say that I am not a VPN expert...more generally, I am not a networking expert. With those caveats, however, I think I know enough to answer your questions, but will happily defer to an EE member who is knowledgeable in this area.

> 1. So I only use my PC at home. Not accessing any company computer or other computer.

Then you likely don't need a VPN. The primary purpose of a VPN is to allow a remote user to access an internal company network (i.e., a private network) across the public Internet, while maintaining the security of the private network.

> 2. What protection does the VPN offer that my security system does not?

In your case, none...because you are not remotely (in your own words) "accessing any company computer or other computer".

> 3. If I get a paid VPN is it better than a free one?

I don't know for sure. As a pure hip-shot, I'd say there are likely some free ones that are better than some paid ones, and vice versa, but the more relevant point is that you don't need one. VPNs are typically used by organizations to provide their employees with secure remote access to their computer resources. Based on your comments, that doesn't apply to you.

> 4. Does it slow down the speed?

VPNs can impact performance in a variety of ways, but the good news is that you don't need one. :)

Regards, Joe
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McKnifeCommented:
"So try to be more understanding toward other people. If I just wanted a definition I could have just searched for it using a dictionary or Google. The reason I asked the question because I am still not having a clear understanding to what is it?" - Please take it easy. You asked without offering the slightest bit of context. It's hard to give you a better answer but to point to a definition (best found at Wikipedia) and to give you a short idea of what I use it for, personally, which is what I did. That is no lack of understanding, no.

VPN is a technique used for several occasions (see definition), and if you happen to use one of those, you should use a VPN. It is not some basic thing like a firewall which anyone should have, no. So if you are not connecting to other secured networks crossing an unsecured network (internet), then no, you don't need a VPN.
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Jonnathan PopeCommented:
So for example...

If you need to access a network drive on a file server in your company from home, you would use a VPN connection configured by your company IT Administrator to do this.  

If you need to trick some online service into thinking you are browsing from Netherlands when in actual fact you are in the US, you could also use a VPN service for this (Although some online services have some measures against this).

If you are in a country that restricts some communication to the outside world, VPN may perhaps work here too.  But know that you are probably breaking some local law here.

If you're just very privacy conscious over your web browsing activity, a VPN may help too.  But this is just one of many measures and is not fool proof.  

Some companies use site-to-site VPNs to connect their distant offices together as well.

I suppose basically all you are doing is redirecting your computer network traffic and making it "think" it is on some other remote network instead.  It does this by "tunneling" all your network traffic through public/outside infrastructure to another remote network so that you appear as though you are connected to that remote network instead.  All communication between your PC and the VPN endpoint is securely encapsulated by the tunneling protocol that makes up the VPN service.  

People who see your traffic generated on the other end won't know where you are truly from, at least in theory (Although I believe the VPN provider itself can keep logs of your activity).

So as you can see - VPN is just a technology or protocol which is used in a variety of ways.  You get public VPN services and private VPN services.  The public ones just relay your traffic to some distant end point they control - so you have to trust them of course.
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Basem KhawajaClinical PharmacistAuthor Commented:
Thank you everyone. God bless you all.
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