What is VPN on iPhone and Why Do You Need It?

Privacy has become a vital component of our digital lives and as a result, there has been a lot of discussion about digital privacy in recent years. As our personal devices have evolved over time, especially portable ones like mobiles, tablets, and notebooks, they have started to carry more and more of our important and sensitive data such as private photos, passwords, emails, financial data, etc. It has become critically important to safeguard this data as we go about our lives, and one of the words that is often thrown around in these privacy-focused discussions is “VPN”. What is this “VPN” and why exactly do you need it for your privacy? Let us explain.

What is VPN?

VPN stands for “Virtual Private Network” and it is a private and secure connection between two devices connected over a network, most commonly the internet. Think of it as a secured & encrypted tunnel between two devices, such that the communication between these two devices cannot be intercepted by anyone outside the tunnel. This enables the two devices to send and receive private or confidential data and information between each other.

In very simple terms, it is kind of like connecting to a website over https (SSL) wherein all the traffic between you and the website is encrypted & secure. A VPN secures and projects ALL network traffic between your device (client) and the VPN server, which includes websites as well as apps.

VPNs have been traditionally used by businesses and enterprises for their internal communication & data transfer requirements, such as giving employees the ability to access company data securely from their home networks. However, in recent times, VPNs have become more common with many internet users as well. Today, having a VPN on your iPhone has several advantages and benefits — not only do you get an additional layer of privacy, but you can also access geo-restricted websites, bypass censorship, and secure your data whilst on public Wi-Fi networks.

How Does VPN on iPhone Work?

When you download and set up a VPN app for iPhone such as Documents by Readdle with its new VPN feature, it creates a special VPN configuration profile that is installed in your iPhone’s settings. Once installed, you will be able to enable/disable the VPN session directly from the app and also manually select the VPN server country to which you want to connect to. With a single tap, you can enable VPN on your iPhone using the Documents app. Even if you leave the app, the VPN connection stays active and protects & secures all your data.

When the VPN feature is turned ON, all the network traffic to and from your iPhone will be relayed through the VPN server through a secure & encrypted connection. The iPhone & the server will behave as if they’re on the same local network.

  1. When you open a website in the browser, or use any app that uses the internet, the request first goes out to the VPN server.
  2. The VPN server forwards this request to the respective website or URL endpoint.
  3. Any response sent from the website/URL is received by the VPN server and relayed back to your iPhone over the same secure VPN connection.

Effectively, instead of the communication happening as iPhone → Internet over an insecure channel, it happens as iPhone → VPN Server → Internet where the 'iPhone → VPN Server' communication is safeguarded as follows:

[via @freepik]

To fully understand how VPN works on your iPhone, let’s take a look at a couple of real-world examples:

A. Hide Browsing Activity on Public Wi-Fi or Local ISPs

One of the most popular uses of VPN is its ability to secure and hide your browsing activity from your local ISP network or when you’re on unsecured Public Wi-Fi networks, such as airports or cafés. Most of these public Wi-Fi networks are offered for Free and in return, snoop on customers' privacy by reading their browsing habits, ecommerce purchases, social media activity, etc. In order to safeguard yourself and your data from such ISPs and networks, you can enable VPN on your iPhone.

Once VPN is enabled, your iPhone creates a secure and encrypted tunnel to the fortified VPN servers and all traffic between the two is kept hidden from the local ISPs and Public Wi-Fi networks. As the connection is encrypted, they are unable to intercept any data or invade your privacy.

B. Accessing Geo-Restricted Websites

Let’s say you are currently vacationing in Europe and want to watch some of your favorite shows from Hulu US on your iPhone. If you directly access the Hulu website, you might either see an error or not have access to the same catalogue.

With the help of a VPN app for iPhone, you can create a secure VPN connection between your iPhone and a VPN server physically located in the US. By doing this, you will be able to access Hulu as if you’re also in the US. The VPN server relays all the traffic between your iPhone and Hulu servers. As far as Hulu’s servers are concerned, you are in the US.

How to Set Up VPN on iPhone?

Here are some of the notable advantages of using a VPN on iPhone:

What are the Benefits of a VPN and Why do I Need a VPN on my iPhone?

  1. Remotely Connect to the Office Network — You can use the VPN technology to remotely access private & confidential data stored on the office network from anywhere in the world. You can set up a VPN server on the local office network and connect to this server over VPN. Most modern offices today, including Readdle, require their employees to be on VPN in order to access critical data. This also prevents the chances of unauthorized access to company data.
  2. Access Geo-Restricted Websites — This is one of the most popular use-cases of a VPN today. Most VPN apps, including the new Documents app, give you access to multiple VPN servers all over the world, allowing you to manually choose the desired location if needed. This way, you can choose to browse geo-restricted or region-depended versions of websites from anywhere in the world. 
  3. Hide Browsing Activity on Public Wi-Fi or Local ISPs — As detailed in the example above, a VPN helps you secure all your browsing activity on your devices when you’re connected to public Wi-Fi networks at airports or cafés or have an unethical local ISP.
  4. Bypass Network Speed Throttling — Some local or major ISPs in many places around the world choose to throttle speeds of some websites or services. You can hop onto a VPN connection to bypass this limitation, as the VPN tunnel makes it nearly impossible for the ISP to detect what’s happening between your device and the VPN server, and thus, makes it impossible to selectively throttle speeds.
  5. Testing Website or Apps — A VPN connection helps you test how your website is available to users in different countries across the globe. You can troubleshoot any loading or speed issues with your website or app, and get them fixed with ease by simulating network access over VPN.
  6. Remotely Connecting to the Home Network — Similar to how you can connect to your office network to access data, you can set up a VPN server at home and connect to it remotely to access your private data stored on the home network, such as photos, videos, or movies & TV Shows. Most modern routers come with VPN software built into them.
  7. Bypass Local Censorship Laws — If you live in a country that has implemented censorship to block or restrict access to certain websites or services, you can, theoretically, use a VPN to bypass these restrictions. That said, going against local laws is not something that we recommend.

Which is the Best VPN for iPhone?

There’s no shortage of VPN services in the market today. There are numerous free & paid VPN websites and services that offer a wide range of features and claim to protect your digital privacy and secure your data. Unfortunately, many of these VPN services are fly-by-night and there have been several instances where VPN providers have leaked critical data belonging to users. That’s why it is very important to choose a good VPN app that respects your privacy and values your data. Running a VPN server isn’t cheap, so if any VPN app claims to offer access to multiple VPN servers for a nominal monthly fee, it’s best to stay away from them. You need a VPN app that offers a great set of features, easy-to-use interface and a choice of VPN servers spread across the globe. 

That’s why Documents is the Best VPN app for iPhone. Documents is the super app for file actions on your iOS devices and now comes with a powerful VPN feature that makes your internet life easier, faster, and safer. You can choose from VPN servers in 27 countries, and get ultra-fast speeds. The VPN feature works even when you’re not using the app, so you’ll always stay safe. The Documents app is now much more than just a file manager for iOS and comes with an outstanding set of features to help you work with all kinds of files on your device.

Get Documents for Free and start enjoying the benefits of VPN on your iPhone.

Preshit Deorukhkar Preshit Deorukhkar

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