VPN Terms

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VPN Terms Every User Should Know

Anyone who is interested in a VPN will inevitably come across a number of technical terms. This guide brings light into the darkness and explains the most important ones.

A VPN (virtual private network) is essential if you want to be safer and more anonymous online. Thanks to a VPN, you can also take out subscription services such as YouTube Premium and Netflix more cheaply or get streaming content from abroad.

If you are looking for a VPN or want to optimize your existing service, you will come across a number of technical terms. To help you find your way around, we have put together the most important terms and functions related to VPN that you should definitely know.

Custom DNS

DNS, or Domain Name System, is a process used to translate web addresses into numerical IP addresses. Normally, a VPN service manages DNS independently and without the user having to do anything. However, Custom DNS is an advanced feature that allows the user to specify a DNS server while connected to the VPN.

There are a number of reasons why you might want to change your DNS settings. The most common include increasing surfing speeds and circumventing website censorship restrictions imposed by providers or states.

The use cases for a custom DNS are very specific and the average VPN user probably won’t get much benefit from changing the DNS settings. However, if you are a tech-savvy user, then adjusting your DNS when using a VPN can provide certain benefits.

Dedicated IP address

A dedicated IP address is a premium additional feature that many VPN services such as NordVPN or Surfshark offer their users. If you choose a dedicated IP, the VPN will provide you with a static IP address that is unique to you but still hides your true home IP address while you are connected.

This costs additional money, but a dedicated IP also has many advantages. It can unblock streaming services more easily since it is unlikely to be blacklisted as a VPN server. Additionally, many additional checks such as CAPTCHAS can be bypassed when logging into your accounts because you will not be mistaken for a bot.

DNS leak

As mentioned earlier, the Domain Name System (DNS) translates a web address into a numeric IP address. This process is typically handled by your Internet Service Provider (ISP). Unfortunately, this also means that the provider can track every website you visit.

When you use a VPN, the DNS translation process is handled through the VPN and not your ISP. Here’s how a VPN can help keep your online activities private. However, while you are connected to a VPN, there is a possibility that your DNS will be revealed and your web browsing and IP address will be exposed.

This often happens when a VPN is not configured correctly or when the VPN connection drops. During our review process, we rigorously test every VPN service for DNS leaks.


This is a process that keeps your data securely hidden by converting it into an indecipherable digital code. Once the encrypted data reaches its destination, it is decrypted using a cipher. Most data sent over the Internet is not encrypted, making it vulnerable to cyber threats and prying eyes.

A VPN not only obscures your actual connection, but it also encrypts your data as it travels between servers. There are many different types of encryption, but VPNs mostly use AES-256, which is the industry standard due to its “military-grade” encryption strength.

Five Eyes

Five Eyes is an international intelligence agreement for the exchange of signals. Members include the USA, Canada, Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand. There are also other international agreements such as Nine Eyes and 14 Eyes.

If a VPN is headquartered in one of these countries, it may be subject to data sharing laws. This can endanger the user’s privacy. So if you are concerned about your anonymity when using a VPN, you should look for a VPN that is based in a country that does not fall under the jurisdiction of these alliances.


Geo-blocking means restricting access to online content based on the user’s IP address. Most often, this happens on a streaming platform like Netflix or Amazon Prime Video that blocks content in a specific country.

A VPN is one of the best ways to get around these restrictions. This means you can always access the content you paid for, no matter what country you are in. A VPN’s ability to access this geo-blocked content is an important factor to consider when looking for a good VPN service.

Kill Switch

A kill switch, often included in VPNs, cuts off your Internet access if you lose connection to your VPN for any reason. This prevents your data or internet traffic from becoming visible to others if the connection drops unexpectedly. A kill switch is therefore an essential feature in any good VPN.


Either an ISP or a VPN service such as NordVPN or Surfshark maintains various logs and records of user activity. In general, there are two types of logs stored by VPNs: connection logs and usage logs.

The connection logs are typically only retained for shorter periods of time and allow VPNs to monitor and evaluate server utilization and maintenance needs. They are usually anonymous and only contain data about the type of connection, the duration of the connection and the device used to establish the connection.

The usage logs are the part that users should worry about. Most reputable VPNs claim that they adhere to strict “no-log” policies. This is to guarantee that they do not create usage logs.

This type of data may include personally identifiable information, such as a user’s home IP address and detailed information about their Internet traffic. When choosing a VPN, look for the no-log policy as well as independent security audits that also back up this claim.


Multi-hop is a fairly new feature for most VPN services and you will still find many that do not offer this feature. This feature allows users to route their traffic through two or more VPN servers instead of just the default server. The aim is to further obscure the user’s true IP address and add an additional layer of security to the VPN connection.

Each additional VPN server you are routed through is likely to slow down your connection speed even further. This makes multi-hop an excellent option for basic browsing activities, but may limit your ability to game or stream HD videos.

P2P (Peer to Peer)

This term refers to a file sharing network where two or more parties can exchange files with each other. Instead of via a central server, data transfers take place directly via the respective computers. The most common form of P2P sharing is torrenting, which occurs over the BitTorrent network.

Be aware that depending on the type of files you download, you may be violating an ISP’s terms of service and your Internet connection could be throttled or even terminated. Many VPNs these days support P2P exchanges. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you always use a VPN when downloading via torrents.