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What Is a VPN?

A VPN, or “virtual private network,” is a cybersecurity tool that creates a private and encrypted connection for internet traffic to and from your device by routing it through a remote server. This encrypted connection, often referred to as a “tunnel,” keeps your online activities private and prevents outsiders from intercepting your data.

Routing your internet traffic connection through a VPN server also masks your IP address, the numerical label that identifies your individual device when you connect to a network. Your IP address can be used to track you across the Internet and provide information about your general location.

When your traffic routes through a remote VPN server, the websites you visit won’t see your real IP address – they’ll see that server’s IP address instead. This makes your online actions mostly untraceable back to you.

Not sure where to start? These guides answer common questions about how VPNs work, how to choose the best one for your needs, and more:

At the end of the day, the best VPN for you will depend on a variety of factors, including security, speed, server locations, price, and the providers’ privacy practices.  Will you be using your VPN for high-bandwidth activities, or across multiple devices? Is digital privacy a concern to you? Select a service with a strong reputation that balances those factors with reliable performance.

Did you know that DuckDuckGo offers an anonymous VPN? We built it for speed, simplicity, and security – with a strict no-logging policy. It’s part of Privacy Pro, our 3-in-1 privacy subscription service. Learn more about the DuckDuckGo VPN here.

Prior versions on GitHub.