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What is a VPN? Everything a Small Business Owner Needs to Know

What is a VPN? Everything a Small Business Owner Needs to Know

Running a business today almost certainly means having a digital presence, and being connected to the Internet. While the benefits of this transformation are many, the security issues are still a daily challenge, with many solutions in the market place to address them. One of them is VPN, or Virtual Private Network.

Even if you don’t know anything or much about it, you should seriously consider having a VPN, because it can be as important as your Internet connection, if not now then in the future.

What is a VPN?

A VPN is a group of computers networked together over a public network like the internet. And these connected computers are a virtual version of a secure, physical network. They are linked together so they can share information by securing internet traffic with encrypted connection over networks that are less secure.

Essentially, a VPN ensures the level of security to systems that are connected is appropriate if/when the existing network infrastructure alone is not capable of providing it.

Why Should You Use a VPN?

Businesses small and large use VPNs so they can connect securely to a remote network through the internet. Having a VPN lets your employees access your company’s resources, such as files, apps, printers and more, on your office network securely. You can also set up a VPN for your home network, so you can access it when you are away.

Additionally, a VPN can be used to connect multiple networks, protect your online privacy with an encrypted VPN when you are using WiFi or other public networks, and bypass geoblocking or regional restrictions if you are outside of your country.

So a VPN encrypts the information you send and receive, and hides your physical location, identity and web history while protecting the privacy of your web experience.

Using a VPN Provider

If you don’t want to go through the process of setting up your own VPN, you can use a VPN provider. There are many vendors out there so find the company best suited for your needs.

Most providers have a free tier, which is supported with ads while you are connected. Even though they do provide a secure connection, they might log your activities to deliver contextual ads. The free version may also have a limit on data, with allowances varying from 500MB to 10GB or even unlimited in some instances.

If you are using the VPN for your business, it is best to go with a paid service. The subscription models vary greatly in price, starting as low as $6 going all the way up to $60 per month. The more expensive providers have more servers in more countries with tens of thousands of IP addresses.



When you choose a provider, make sure they list the connection protocols they use and thoroughly go through the privacy policy and terms of service. If they log whatever you’re doing online and collect data, find another company. Also check how many connections are supported at the same time, if it is for your small business, make sure you don’t get a single use only plan.

As for the price, the old adage definitely applies, you will get what you pay for. Read any offers that sound too good to be true carefully, especially the small print.  Most companies have a free trial, and if you like the service, the best option is to pay an annual contract.

Creating Your Own VPN

You create a VPN by establishing a virtual point-to-point connection using different types of protocols to tunnel the traffic. These are the most popular protocols:

Pros and Cons for Using a VPN

The benefits of VPN are well established as one of the best and safest way to link together users across distances. It is part of the overall strategy for organizations to securely use the internet to connect remote offices and staff to the main company network, but this doesn’t mean it is for everybody. Here are some pros and cons to help make a more informed decision:



Pros

Cons

Bottom Line

At the end of the day, VPN is a proven technology for secure communications between distributed users. Whether you are a single operator or a small business with many employees, you can use it as an affordable alternative to WAN. With the right VPN service provider or one that you create, your business can have a secure network your employees can use to communicate and access company resources no matter where they are.

VPN [2] Photo via Shutterstock