- VPNs can help you tackle a lot of challenges regarding your online privacy and the security of your connection, but do you know how it works?
- Your VPN is able to change your IP address, but can also modify your DNS and apparent location, so it seems you're in a whole different region.
- Check out our best VPNs that can help you spoof your IP easily.
- Visit our VPN Hub if you want to discover more tools and guides on preserving your privacy.
There’s a lot of misconception floating around when it comes to VPNs. Some people think that VPNs are used to spy on them, when in fact they do the opposite (keeps spies at bay).
Some others strongly believe that VPNs can slow down their Internet speed. While that’s not entirely untrue, a VPN can help you achieve faster Internet speed, especially if you have an abusive ISP that throttles your bandwidth.
All in all, people just assume facts without actually knowing how a VPN works.
VPN encrypts your traffic
Your default, public Internet connection is visible to your ISP most of the time. That means that your ISP knows everything you do online: which website you visit, what files you download, which movie you just saw, you get the picture.
But there are some things that your ISP can’t see. This includes emails, and generally everything you post on HTTPS-encrypted websites.
So, your ISP can still see that you’ve visited an HTTPS website, but can’t grab your username, password, or messages you’ve posted there.
Therefore, your ISP doesn’t get to see encrypted data, we’ve established that.
What a VPN does is take your regular, visible traffic and encrypt it, turning it invisible for ISPs. Thus, as long as your VPN doesn’t leak any encrypted data, your ISP can no longer see what you’re doing.
How does a VPN work?
A VPN takes your traffic and routes it through its own infrastructure. Let’s say you’re using a VPN on your desktop computer. Thus, the access point, in this case, is the VPN client.
You make a request to an online service (website, online game, mail server), which the VPN client retrieves and encrypts, pushing it forward through a secure, encrypted tunnel.
The request travels through the tunnel and reaches the VPN server, which decrypts it, and pushes it further to its destination. The service then generates a response and sends it back.
The response reaches the VPN server, gets decrypted, goes through the secure tunnel, reaches the client where it gets encrypted once again, and finally, it reaches you.
Throughout the connection, your data stays encrypted. The only two points where it’s not subject to encryption are your PC and the destination service.
And since your ISP can’t access either of those directly (hopefully), it can’t see what you’re doing.
Can VPN change your IP address?
While you’re connected to a VPN server, your online identity changes. Every online entity you interact with will think that the originating point of your requests is the VPN server.
This entails that your public IP address is replaced by the server’s address so that it seems that all the requests were coming from the server.
But your IP address isn’t the only thing that a VPN can change/mask.
For instance, a (good) VPN also changes your DNS and location. This can come in quite handy, especially if you’re looking for ways to bypass geoblocking.
How to change your IP address with VPN?
- Check your public IP address on any IP detection website
- Download Private Internet Access
- Install it on your computer
- Run it and log into your account
- Connect to a server of your choice (location not important)
- Check out your new IP address (many VPNs display it in the main window)
Kape Technologies’ Private Internet Access can provide you with a quick, uncomplicated way to change (or rather hide) your IP. All you have to do is connect to any server it provides you with and you’re set.
Private Internet Access
Want to mask your public IP? PIA can help you with that.
More so, the main window lets you see your old IP address and your new one. Therefore, you don’t even need an IP checker to learn your new address. Unless you don’t trust the client and want to see for yourself.
Aside from masking your public IP address, PIA can also help you fight packet loss, and reduce in-game ping. However, these fixes will only work if your ISP throttles your bandwidth and hasn’t figured out a way to block your VPN.
VPNs are the easiest way to change your IP address
All things considered, it’s safe to say that there’s nothing complicated with changing your IP address with a VPN. You just launch it, connect to a random server, and let the VPN take care of everything.
However, note that while using a VPN, your IP address isn’t the only one that changes. A VPN can also mask your DNS, change your NAT type and assign you a different virtual location, depending on the server you chose.
Frequently Asked Questions
No, you’ll still have your original public IP address, but it won’t be visible to online services. Other websites and servers will see your request as coming from the VPN server’s IP address.
Your ISP (for instance) can definitely see that you’re using a VPN, but it can’t track your activity.
Yes, a VPN can change your location. If you’re using a VPN and connect to a server in another country, your apparent location will be changed to match the server’s.