What Is A VPN Server & How Does It Work

What Is A VPN Server & How Does It Work? (Guide for 2024)

Published on: March 24, 2023
Last Updated: March 24, 2023

What Is A VPN Server & How Does It Work? (Guide for 2024)

Published on: March 24, 2023
Last Updated: March 24, 2023


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VPNs are an integral part of cybersecurity. Yet there are a lot of moving parts that can be difficult to understand.

For example, what is a VPN server?

Let’s find out.

What Is a VPN Server and How Does It Work?

A VPN server is an intermediary between the VPN user (or device) and the internet;

Traffic between the VPN user and the VPN server is encrypted, meaning that no 3rd party or even the VPN provider can see the user’s activities and data transfered;

There are several different encryption protocols with IKEv2/IPSec, Wireguard and OpenVPN being the most popular ones.

As with different specialty servers, VPN protocols have different use cases and differ in terms of security, stability, speed and other;

When user’s traffic is routed through a VPN server, websites see server’s IP address, hiding user’s virtual location and making them anonymous in this sense;

A user can often choose a VPN server from various countries, this way allowing them to see content, which is blocked in their own location or available in only a few others;

In some cases VPN servers can increase internet speeds. For example, this includes speed throttling by the ISP during online gaming;

Most VPN providers offer thousands of servers throughout the world;

Users usually do not need to install any additional software to connect to a VPN server.

Instead, a user can choose a preferred country and server after Installing a VPN client and logging in.

Categories of Servers

There are different categories of VPN servers that are good for different use cases;

  • Standard servers encrypt user traffic and replace their IP address — the most commonly used category;
  • Double VPN servers encrypt and send user traffic through two servers, adding an extra layer of security. Recommended for political activists, journalists working in hot spots etc.;
  • Onion Over VPN works as a standard server, however, traffic is also then routed through the Onion network as well, again, adding an extra layer of security;
  • Obfuscated servers “hide” the fact that a person is using a VPN, which can otherwise be identified. These servers work even in countries where VPNs are heavily restricted and allow to bypass such restrictions as firewalls;
  • P2P (Peer-to-Peer) servers are optimized for fast and secure file sharing;
  • Dedicated IPs are not servers per se, but rather individual IPs that do what regular servers do: encrypt traffic and hide user’s real identity. Dedicated IPs are usually not available to all clients of a VPN provider, but rather one person or a small group of people that buy them.

How to Choose a VPN Server

Choosing a server location or category depends entirely on user’s needs;

As for most users standard servers suffice, some cases require specialty servers described in the “Categories of servers” section;

Most VPN providers automatically select the fastest server in a selected country (this depends on how many users are connected to the same server at a given time);

If a user wants to simply encrypt their traffic and hide their IP, it is almost always the best choice to select a server from the same or neighboring country, as geographical proximity is important.

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NordVPN also offers specialty servers, which are Onion over VPN, P2P, Obfuscated and Double VPN servers;

Users can also get Dedicated IPs that only they would use from such locations as France, the Netherlands, Germany, the UK and the US;

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NordVPN website has a knowledge base that contains in-depth explanations about available specialty servers, encryption protocols, server use cases and other FAQs;

The NordVPN app automatically chooses the fastest server in a selected country.

Mac users can also use the Presets function, which allows them to choose from or create their own presets, which contain pre-selected protocol, specialty server/country, optional extra protection with CyberSec and up to 6 websites that will be instantly launched from the app;

If there’s any issues with NordVPN servers or anything else, there’s a 24/7 customer support team that will help you out;

NordVPN is a twice audited no-logs service to ensure our users their online activities remain confidential, so your activity will be private on all devices;

It’s a continuously updated service, rolling out updates every few months with crucial security updates for reliable user online safety.

To Conclude

Now you know what a VPN server is, what it does and why they are such an important part of a VPN service.

Make sure you choose a VPN with a wide variety of server locations for maximum reliability.

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Written by Trevor Cooke

Trevor Cooke is an accomplished technology writer with a particular focus on privacy and security. He specializes in topics such as VPNs, encryption, and online anonymity. His articles have been published in a variety of respected technology publications, and he is known for his ability to explain complex technical concepts in a clear and accessible manner.

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