What is a VPN Tunnel and How Does It Work?

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a modern technology developed to meet the needs of the digital era. It offers protection and privacy by encoding your internet data, thus keeping your online activities confidential.

By directing your internet traffic through an encrypted tunnel to a remote VPN server located anywhere in the world, a VPN creates a secure and coded connection between your device and the internet. The encryption provides a high level of security, making it extremely challenging for any unauthorized person or third party to intercept or access your online data.

What is Tunneling?

Tunneling is a method that allows one type of computer network traffic to be sent over another type of network. Here’s what’s it all about:

  • It’s like putting a package inside another package to send it to a destination that wouldn’t accept the original package.
  • In tunneling, the original network traffic is encapsulated inside another network packet that can be sent through the network.
  • This allows the traffic to reach its destination safely and securely, even if the network it’s passing through is not configured to support the original traffic.
  • Tunneling is commonly used in VPNs to create private and secure connections over the internet.

What is VPN Tunneling and How Does it  Work

A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a secure and private connection between two devices or networks over the internet. VPN tunneling is a key feature that enables this type of connection by creating a secure, encrypted tunnel through which data can travel between the two devices or networks. Here’s what you need to know:

  • A VPN tunnel is an encrypted connection established between a device and a remote VPN server. It allows for secure and private communication between the device and the internet.
  • VPN tunnels protect your online activities from prying eyes by encrypting your data and routing it through a secure tunnel. This creates a secure and private connection that protects your online activities from hackers, government surveillance, and other threats.
  • The encryption of a VPN tunnel is achieved through a process called tunneling. When you connect to a VPN server, your device establishes a secure connection, which creates a virtual tunnel between your device and the VPN server. This tunnel encapsulates your internet traffic, making it impossible for anyone to intercept or access it.
  • Furthermore, the tunnel ensures that your online activities remain private by masking your IP address. This makes it challenging for anyone to track your online activities, as your internet traffic is routed through the VPN server, making it appear as if it is originating from the server’s location rather than your device’s actual location.
  • The security provided by a VPN tunnel is essential for various reasons. For example, if you frequently use public Wi-Fi networks, you are at high risk of cyber attacks, such as man-in-the-middle attacks, where hackers intercept and steal your data. Using a VPN tunnel protects your data from such attacks by encrypting your traffic and keeping it private.
  • Another crucial benefit of a VPN tunnel is the ability to bypass geographical restrictions. With a VPN, you can access content that may be restricted in your location. By routing your traffic through a VPN server located in a different country, you can bypass geo-restrictions and access content that would otherwise be unavailable in your location.

The Common Protocols Used in VPN Tunneling

In the context of networking, a protocol is a set of rules and procedures that govern the way in which devices communicate and exchange data with each other over a network. Protocols define how data is transmitted, received, and interpreted, ensuring that devices can communicate effectively with each other regardless of differences in hardware or software.

There are several protocols used in a VPN tunnel for the safety and security of the VPN connection. These protocols vary as per their encryption level. Some of the common protocols used in a VPN tunnel are as follows:

1. PPTP (Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol): One of the first VPN protocols and easy to configure, but lacks in security as it cannot authenticate the data source.

2. L2TP (Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol) / IPSec (Internet Protocol Security): L2TP creates a secure tunnel, while IPSec encrypts and authenticates data within the tunnel, offering strong AES-256-bit encryption.

3. SSTP (Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol): A Windows protocol offering high security and encryption using SSL/TLS certificates for authentication and SSL keys for encryption.

4. IKEv2 (Internet Key Exchange version 2): A widely used VPN protocol, particularly for mobile devices, with an automatic reconnection feature, using L2TP and IPSec for security and encryption.

5. WireGuard: A new, open-source VPN protocol known for its simplicity and speed, using publicly available cryptography packages.

6. OpenVPN: A highly popular and secure VPN protocol that employs AES-256-bit key encryption, 2048-bit RSA authentication, and a 160-bit SHA1 hash method to protect data, with both TCP and UDP types.

What is Split tunneling?

There are several VPN providers that offer the feature of Split tunneling on their applications. Split tunneling is a feature that allows you to separate out the traffic you want to pass through the VPN tunnel and the traffic you want to pass through your ISP tunnel.

This means that users can access both local and remote resources simultaneously, and can prioritize the traffic that they want to secure and encrypt over the VPN.

Split tunneling can provide benefits such as improved performance and reduced bandwidth usage, but it can also introduce security risks if not configured correctly.

Which tunneling protocol should be preferred?

There is no single “best” tunneling protocol as different protocols have different strengths and weaknesses depending on the specific use case and requirements.

For example,

  • PPTP is fast and easy to set up but lacks security.
  • L2TP/IPSec provides strong encryption and authentication but can be slower than other protocols.
  • SSTP is highly secure but is only available on Windows.
  • IKEv2 is fast and reliable, but may not be as widely supported as other protocols.
  • WireGuard is fast and simple but is a relatively new protocol.
  • OpenVPN is highly customizable and widely used but can be complex to set up and configure.

It’s important to consider the specific needs and limitations of your network and choose the protocol that best suits those requirements.

VPN providers That Support Split Tunneling Feature

There are several VPN vendors that provide a split tunnel feature, which allows you to route some traffic through the VPN while allowing other traffic to bypass the VPN and go directly to the internet. Some popular VPN vendors that offer this feature include:


ExpressVPN is one of the major VPN service providers in the VPN industry and is recommended the most. ExpressVPN is a bit more expensive than the other VPN provider but it possesses certain features and connection quality that is unmatchable.


  • It contains more than 3000+ servers in 94 countries.
  • High-Speed Lightway Protocol- an expression-customized protocol
  • Proves to be the one providing fast speed while streaming.
  • Privacy with AES256  Encryption
  • 30 days Money back guarantee
  • P2P and Split Tunneling Feature
  • 5 simultaneous connections at a time
  • Kill Switch
  • MediaStreamer – a streaming-specific feature for non-vpn-supported devices.
  • 24/ Support


  • 1 Month Plan: $10.95
  • 6 Months Plan: $59.95
  • 12 Months Plan: $99.95


NordVPN is also considered one of the most popular VPN providers in the VPN industry. It’s a bit cheaper than ExpressVPN and provides good quality of connection and speed. Some of the features of NordVPN are mentioned below:


  • It contains more than 5300+ servers in 60 countries.
  • High-Speed NordLynx Protocol- a Nordvpn customized wire guard protocol- proves to be the one providing fast speed while streaming.
  • Privacy with AES256  Encryption
  • Automatic Kill Switch, P2P sharing, dedicated IP and DNS leak protection
  • 6 simultaneous connections at a time
  • Zero log policy
  • 30 days Money back guarantee
  • 24/7 Support
  • Built-in Malware blocker
  • Privacy with AES256  Encryption


  • 1 Month Plan: $11.99
  • 12 Months Plan: $4.99 per month
  • 24 Months Plan: $3.99 per month


Surfshark is also counted as one of the best VPN service providers. The key main features of Surf shark include


  • It contains more than 3200+ servers in 99+ countries.
  • Supports protocols like WireGuard, and OpenVPN.
  • Internet Kill Switch and DNS leak protection
  • Diskless (RAM-based) servers & Double VPN
  • Unlimited simultaneous connections
  • Zero log policy
  • Privacy with AES256  Encryption
  • 24/7 Support


  • 1 Month Plan: $12.95
  • 12 Months Plan: $3.99 per month
  • 24 Months Plan: $2.30 per month


1. What are some of the most common VPN protocols?

Some of the most common VPN protocols are OpenVPN(TCP and UDP), SSTP, IKEv2, Wire Gurad, etc.

2. Is VPN tunneling illegal?

No, VPN tunneling is not illegal in most countries. Using a VPN to encrypt your internet traffic and protect your online privacy is generally considered legal. However, there may be some countries that restrict or ban the use of VPNs, so it’s important to check the laws and regulations in your specific location. Additionally, it’s important to use a VPN for legal purposes only and not to engage in any illegal activities while using a VPN.

3. How to use a VPN split tunneling feature?

To set up a VPN tunnel, you need to choose a VPN provider, install their software on your device, launch the software, log in, select a VPN server location and protocol, and connect to the VPN, from the settings of the App you can access your split tunneling feature or there can be another way to access it. The specific steps may vary depending on your VPN provider and device.

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