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A Virtual Private Network (or VPN) is a group of computers that are connected to their own network somewhere on the Internet. While this might sound like tech-speak to the uninitiated, it is perhaps easier to understand what a VPN is by the tasks that it fulfils. And that is that it ensures that all information you send and receive is encrypted and cannot be intercepted.
A VPN serves a number of purposes. Firstly, a VPN ensures that your data is encrypted and cannot be intercepted by a third party. This goes for the data you search for and receive and the data that you send. This is especially important if you want absolute privacy online. And you want to eliminate the chance of your communications being eaves-dropped on by someone you don’t know.
Secondly, a VPN allows you to disguise your true location in the world. It does this by hiding your computer’s true IP address. Just like your real-life mail letter box, so your computer has an address (called an IP address) that differentiates your computer from everybody else’s on the Internet.
Masking your IP address also allows you to pretend to be somewhere else in the world. This is especially handy if you are trying to access location-restricted content. Take the BBC’s iPlayer platform as an example. To access iPlayer you need to be in the UK. However, even if you are in the US, as long as you set your VPN to the UK, you will be able to bypass the BBC’s location-restrictions.