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Definition: VPN service

A third-party provider that offers virtual private network (VPN) services for businesses and consumers. Providing anonymity and privacy, all requests go to the VPN server first, and all responses come back through the server. A major feature is the number of devices that can access the VPN servers simultaneously. For example, several family members may be using computers, tablets and phones at the same time.

There Is a Delay
Another important feature is the delay introduced by the service because the data must go through the VPN provider's server. The more servers the provider has, the less likely a user will perceive any slowdown. It also depends on the connection speed to the user's ISP and the ISP's performance.

Unblocking Restrictions
Providers have servers in many countries, and by selecting a foreign server, users may be able to access websites they otherwise could not. By selecting a server in another country, they are actually spoofing their location, which may allow access to different media; for example, from the U.S. to England. See VPN and anonymous Web browsing.

Anonymity and Privacy
The website only sees the IP address of the VPN server and not that of the user. Depending on the service, the data may be encrypted all the way to its destination or just from the user to the VPN server.