VPN Vocabulary

If you’ve stumbled upon our best VPN service reviews accidentally, you may still be in the right place ­ you just have some questions we can help answer. If you have a computer, or use one frequently, or even not so frequently, you should consider using a virtual private network. For more on VPNs and what they do, click here.

For a quick lesson in all the technology terms surrounding VPNs and the benefits of using the best VPNs, you can find a breakdown of the most popular terms below.

VPN


Android

Open source operating system for smart phones and tablets. Examples include Samsung Galaxy phones, Nexus, Nexus phones. If your phone or tablet has a Google Play store app, it’s an Android device. Find more at Android Central.


Bit Torrent, BitTorrent, or BT

A protocol (see definition below) that allows users to share files via a peer-to-peer network. Shared connections allow for more storage space and faster download speeds. Find more at BitTorrent’s Help Center.


Client

A software application that communicates with a server to distribute information, provide a digital service, or execute a task. Find more at PC Mag.


Data Retention

Storage of an individual or group’s data to comply with government policies or business record use. Find more at Wikipedia.


DNS or Domain Name Servers

A phone book for the Internet. A directory of virtual addresses, or IP addresses (think 0.0.0.0). Find more at How-To Geek.


DNS Leak

A specific type of security vulnerability. A DNS leak can show your IP address to the public without your knowledge. Find out more at DNS Leak Test.


Dynamic IP

An address associated with your computer, or the network you’re connected to, that changes on occasion. Find out more at NoIP.


Encryption or Encrypted

A way to secure your data. Information is ciphered, or scrambled, so it is not easily read or translated. Find out more at Webopedia.


Expat or Expatriate

Someone who leaves their home country to live abroad. Find out more at ExpatInfoDesk.


Facial Recognition Software

A type of “biometric” software program that compares facial features to identify individuals. Controversial currently due to the Australian government’s proposed counter-terrorism efforts and opponents concerned with online privacy. Find out more at WhatIs.


HTTP and HTTPS

HTTP, or Hypertext Transfer Protocol, is a way to send and receive information via the Internet. HTTPS, or Secure HTTP, secures the same information using a server to limit or prevent access. Find out more at WiseGeek.


Identity Theft

Fraud or illegally obtaining personal documents such as government IDs (Social Security cards, passports), credit card information, utility or bank account information. Find out more at NerdWallet.


iOS

Apple’s operating system for their mobile devices (iPhones) and tablets (iPads) – also includes Apple TVs and certain iPods. Find out more at AppleToolBox.


IP Address

A way to identify your computer connection via a uniquely assigned number, typically assigned by the subscriber’s ISP. This is how information you seek on the web finds you – similar to how the mailman finds your street address to drop off mail. Find out more at All About Cookies.


ISP or Internet Service Provider

A company that provides internet access, typically for a monthly charge. Examples include AT&T, Comcast and CenturyLink. Find more at TechTerms.


Logging or Logs

Records of online history and activity saved by a company for business archival use or government cooperative efforts. Find out more at Lifehacker.


OpenVPN or Open VPN

Open source software that securely connects servers to the Internet. Find out more at FlashRouters.


OS X

Apple’s operating system for Mac desktop and laptop computers. Find out more at OS X Daily.


Protocol

For techies, protocol is a way to access data and the standards that define the access. HTTP, for example, is a type of protocol that transmits data over the Internet. Find out more at Computer Hope.


Proxy

A computer that acts as a central location, or hub, where Internet requests are processed. When searching on Google, for example, your search term, once entered would go to the proxy/ connected server, which processes your request and returns the results. Find out more at What Is My IP.


PPTP or Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol

A method for encrypting information via a VPN. This is the most popular protocol and is supported by a majority of devices, known for easy setup and faster connection speeds. Find out more at Make Tech Easier.


Server

A network computer, one without an operator, that distributes online traffic to the appropriate location. Servers can hold shared digital files, connect to a printer or other Internet enabled device, or assist in securing your identity via a VPN. Find out more at cnet.

Static IP

An address associated with your computer, or the network you’re connected to, that does not change. Find out more atFind out more at StrongVPN.


Streaming

A method of viewing or listening to content in real time. Typically faster than downloading a file (and less intensive use of the storage space available on a personal computer), streaming is popular due to services like Netflix and Hulu. Find out more at BBC Web Wise.


Throttling

The process of controlling a site or user’s speed (typically by decreasing it) to certain websites or with specific protocols. The more an individual pays typically, the more speed, or bandwidth, they have. Some ISPs are known to interfere with user speed due to geolocation or excessive use. Find out more at Ars Technica.


Torrent or Torrenting

A computer file and traffic system that contains the location of smaller pieces of files shared across a network of multiple computers. Torrenting is a popular method of sharing content online. Find out more at Guiding Tech.


VOIP or Voice over Internet protocol

An alternative to a traditional phone line, where technology allows voice transmissions via the Internet. Find out more at Business News Daily.


VPN or Virtual Private Network

A single server or group of servers that allow remote users to connect securely and privately. While often used by big companies to allow remote employees to connect as if they were in the office, VPNs are now used by individuals seeking to protect their data. Find out more at Tom’s Hardware.


Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi is short for Wireless Fidelity, but it is essentially a wireless Internet connection. You most likely have a WiFi connection at home, or may see them in restaurants, coffee shops, airports and the like. Find out more at Explain That Stuff.