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What is a VPN and how does it work?

VPN (virtual private network) is a technology that encrypts your internet traffic on unsecured networks to protect your online identity, hide your IP address, and shield your online data from third parties. VPNs use real-time encryption and send your internet data through a secure virtual tunnel to minimize the possibility of anyone tracking what you do online.

How does it work? When you connect to a VPN service, it authenticates your client with a VPN server and applies an encryption protocol to all your internet data. The VPN service then creates an encrypted “tunnel” over the internet. That secures the data traveling between you and your destination.

What can a VPN offer me?

VPN offers you privacy, security, and peace of mind. When you use NordVPN, cybercriminals, your ISP, and regular snoopers have a hard time tracking your actions online. It gives you a layer of protection that no other online security tools are able to provide. With a new IP and virtual location, you become much harder to track and able to enjoy online privacy.

With NordVPN, you can use the internet the way it was supposed to be — open and accessible to everyone. And you’ll be sure your data stays safe while you wander around.

Use NordVPN and enjoy all the benefits

Extra protection 24/7

A wide network of servers

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But don't just take our word for it

Is NordVPN the best VPN service for privacy? Let’s ask our users and tech experts.

PewDiePie
PewDiePie111M subscribers
Опширније
''Browse the internet safely, but most importantly, freely. A VPN is one of those things that are just good to have. I recommend NordVPN.''
CaseyNeistat
CaseyNeistat12M subscribers
Опширније
''NordVPN is a very good VPN, they’re very highly regarded in the industry. I’ve been using it for 3 years, it’s not problematic, I use it on my iPhone, my Android, my Mac laptop.''
Philip DeFranco
Philip DeFranco6M subscribers
Опширније
''I’ve been a NordVPN customer for years, and if you still haven’t checked it out you’re missing out on the peace of mind one gets when securing your personal data and internet activity.''

Download the best VPN software for all your devices

NordVPN offers user-friendly VPN software for all major operating systems.

Windows

MacOS

Linux

Android

IOS

Chrome

Firefox

Edge

Android TV

Other

Frequently asked questions

No. Using free VPNs is the same as giving your information away to a stranger online. Free virtual private network providers have to maintain an infrastructure to keep their service running, so they need to make money somehow. Since you’re not paying for their service, they may collect your data and sell it to advertisers, use your device as an exit node for paying users, or even add your computer to a botnet network. It will also most likely won’t work well – the VPN connection is usually unstable and slow, internet data is left unencrypted, and your IP address and location aren’t sufficiently hidden.

The best VPN providers with zero-knowledge architecture will respect your privacy and protect your data. So instead of risking your data, find a reliable VPN service. Most providers offer yearly plans that cost $40.00-$70.00, but a lot of them also have two-year subscriptions that go for $60.00-$80.00. Still not sure? You can try NordVPN risk-free with our 30-day money-back guarantee.

Using a virtual private network is legal in most countries, including Australia, Canada, the UK, Germany, and the US. A few have banned them altogether, and some have strict laws in place to regulate how VPN clients are used. These laws are usually there to ensure the government can track its citizens’ actions online, but the best VPN service providers can bypass these restrictions.

If you plan to travel to a country with government censorship and wish to keep your connection with home, we suggest downloading the NordVPN app and getting your subscription before you set off.

Getting started with NordVPN will take only a few minutes:

  • Pick the subscription plan that suits you best and sign up for your account;
  • Download a VPN app to your device;
  • Open the app, log in, and click “Quick Connect.”


That’s it, you’re all set up. If you need help, check out our tutorials on how to install NordVPN on all your devices.

There’s not much to it for a casual user: you install the app, log in, press “Quick Connect,” and that’s it — your connections are encrypted. But there’s a lot more going on behind the scenes.

  1. Your device connects to a VPN service.
  2. The VPN service authenticates your client with a VPN server.
  3. The VPN server encrypts the data you send and receive.
  4. The VPN server creates a secure encrypted tunnel for your data to travel through.
  5. Once the data arrives at the server, it decrypts it and sends it to your desired destination.

You should consider a few factors when choosing a VPN — speed and security are the most important ones. Check what protocols the VPN provider offers and how many servers it has. The more servers there are, the faster your connections will be. Pay attention to their locations as well – your device will connect faster to a server that’s closer, so a large selection of countries is essential.

When it comes to security, you should once again pay attention to the VPN protocols the provider offers – some are faster, while others are safer. Next, make sure they use modern encryption algorithms to protect your data. Additional security features are also important since they help you protect your online privacy – look for a kill-switch, double VPN, and obfuscated servers. And lastly, always opt for a provider that has a zero-logs policy.

There are, but not many – the benefits usually outweigh the drawbacks.

The main drawback of using a VPN is a slower internet connection. After all, your device has to connect to a VPN server before traveling to your desired website. This little detour naturally takes at least some time. That’s why you have to look for a VPN service that offers the best speeds. For example, if you choose NordVPN’s NordLynx protocol, you’ll hardly notice any difference at all – it’s been proven to be the fastest one on the market.