What does a VPN hide and what does a VPN not hide? Can you browse the Internet 100% anonymously when you go online using a VPN? Or will your employer, Internet service provider, or government, still be able to see what websites you visit?
If you are new to the world of online privacy, understanding what a VPN can and can’t do can seem confusing. Here, we’ll, therefore, look at everything you need to know.
What Does a VPN Hide About Your Online Identity?
Everybody has different reasons for using virtual private networks. For some, privacy isn’t a priority at all. Instead, they use VPNs to benefit from superior online security.
Here, though, we’ll look at what a VPN can and can’t do, specifically in terms of privacy protection.
A VPN Can Hide Your Physical IP Address and Location
Every device that connects to the Internet has a physical IP address. This is an address that is built-in to devices by product manufacturers.
When connecting to the Internet without a VPN, your ISP (and any websites you visit) can see the IP address of your Internet router. Many websites also keep records of IP address details, with the aim of matching records with your real-world identity.
- When you go online without a VPN, websites can see your router IP address, and your Internet service provider details.
- Coupling your router IP address with your ISP information, allows websites to identify your country of residence. (Where you are connecting to the Internet from.)
- If connecting to the Internet directly (without a router) websites can see the IP address of your computer itself.
In most cases, IP and ISP details are enough to allow anyone with access to this information to pinpoint your approximate location. (Generally, this means the street or area where you live, not your exact address.)
Thankfully, when you use a VPN, websites you visit are unable to see either your router IP address or ISP information. The VPN we recommend to handle this for you is PureVPN, we have done a full PureVPN review and came to the conclusion it is the best overall VPN.
VPNs Can Hide Your Web Browsing Information
VPN services can hide IP address details by routing your connection to the Internet through private servers. While routing your connection, VPN client software also encrypts all of the information that your device sends across the
By encrypting all data that devices send and receive online, Internet service providers are unable to track your online activity or past web browsing history.
- When using a VPN, your ISP can not see what websites you visit.
- VPN encryption makes it impossible for ISPs to see when users are downloading, torrenting, or streaming content online.
- As well as preventing ISPs from tracking you online, VPNs prevent individual websites from tracking your online activities.
What Can a VPN Not Hide?
Using a reputable VPN is an easy and effective way to completely hide your IP address and browsing habits from ISPs. However, there are limits to what a VPN can hide.
If you use your real identity to log in to online services like Google, platforms will still be able to monitor your online activity. It is important to be aware of this, as search engines like Google do keep records of logged-in user web searches.
It is also worth keeping in mind that some employers use special tools to monitor the online activity of employees on company workstations.
- Employers and some private networks use network sniffers to monitor workstation downloads.
- Some employers use software tools that take automatic screenshots of computer displays to track what websites employees visit.
- Many employers will know that you are attempting to use a VPN, even when they are unable to track what you do when browsing anonymously.
Do VPNs Really Work to Keep User Identities Private?
When a VPN is put to use responsibly, it is possible to completely anonymize your online identity. However, to do so, VPNs are best-made use of on private computers. Using a VPN on a work PC or a device you share with others can be risky.
If you really care about your online privacy, it is also important not to use existing accounts for services like Gmail. At the very least, you should set up alternative accounts with email providers, that use strong aliases that can’t be matched with your real identity.
If you are looking at hiding these from others sign up with PureVPN and get started right away, stop people from seeing the things above!
Online freelancer, owner of Shielded VPN and long time website creator and designer. Happily married man and father of two amazing boys.