What is a VPN Server?

VPNs are powerful tools that provide an extra layer of security and privacy when you browse the internet. They create a private network from a public internet connection, masking your IP address and making your online actions virtually untraceable. But at the heart of this technology lies a critical component: the VPN server.

Years of experience have shown us that VPN servers aren't simply hunks of metal that pass data around. Our extensive testing of VPN services indicates that VPN servers play a more significant role than many assume.

Here, we will delve deeper into the concept of a VPN server, its role, and its importance in protecting your internet security. 

What is a VPN Server?

VPN Server Locations
Most VPNs will offer a range of servers across the globe.

A VPN server is a physical or virtual device that enables a secure connection between your device and the internet. When you connect to a VPN server, your internet traffic is routed through it. This process helps ensure that your data remains secure and private.

How a VPN Server Works

When you initiate a VPN connection, the VPN server assigns you a new IP address and establishes a secure tunnel for your data. As you browse the internet, your data travels through this tunnel, where it's encrypted before it leaves your device. 

When your encrypted data reaches the VPN server, it's decrypted and sent to the internet. The server then receives the data from the internet, encrypts it, and sends it back to your device through the secure tunnel. 

This continuous encryption and decryption process ensures your online activities remain private and secure.

The Role of a VPN Server

The primary role of a VPN server is to encrypt your internet data. Connecting to a VPN server creates a secure tunnel between your device and the server. All the data that passes through this tunnel is encrypted, making it meaningless for anyone to steal it.

Another critical function of a VPN server is to mask your IP address. When you connect to a VPN server, it replaces your original IP address with its own. This process, known as IP masking, helps to protect your identity online. It makes it appear your internet traffic is coming from the VPN server's location, not yours.

Types of VPN Server

The term “VPN servers” can be pretty generic. However, many top-tier VPN services build specific server types to streamline and enhance customer experience. The servers are designed to cater to specific needs and use cases in these cases. 

This section will explore five unique types of VPN servers;

  • RAM-only servers.
  • Obfuscated servers.
  • Multihop servers.
  • Streaming-optimized servers.
  • P2P-optimized servers.

RAM-Only Servers

RAM-only servers are a significant advancement in the realm of VPN technology. Traditional VPN servers store data on physical hard drives, which, although encrypted, could be accessed. On the other hand, RAM-only servers store all information in volatile memory

Every time the server restarts, it completely wipes all data. By ensuring user data is never written to a physical disk or stored long-term, this feature significantly enhances security and privacy. It effectively prevents extended storage of user data.

RAM-only servers are an excellent choice for users who prioritize privacy and wish to leave no trace of their online activities. 

Obfuscated Servers

Obfuscated servers come into play in regions or networks where VPN usage is restricted or blocked. These servers have the unique ability to mask VPN traffic, making it appear like regular internet traffic. 

This camouflage allows users to bypass VPN blocks and internet censorship, providing unrestricted internet access. Obfuscated servers cloak your VPN usage, making these servers particularly useful for users in countries with strict internet restrictions or those needing to bypass network firewalls.

Multihop Servers

Double VPN servers, or Multihop servers, offer enhanced security by routing your Internet traffic through two or more VPN servers. This process first encrypts your data at one server, then forwards it to a second server where it gets decrypted before being sent to the internet.

This double-hop can slow down your connection due to the extra encryption and decryption step, but it significantly enhances your online privacy and security. Multihop servers are ideal for users who prioritize security and don't mind a potential reduction in speed.

Streaming-Optimized Servers

Fans of streaming services like Netflix or Hulu will be the ones most keen on VPNs that offer streaming-optimized servers. These VPN servers are engineered to provide the best possible performance for streaming video content. 

They offer fast, reliable connections and are typically located in countries with robust internet infrastructure. Most streaming-optimized servers can easily handle the high bandwidth required for streaming high-definition or 4K content. 

Streaming-optimized servers also often feature technology to bypass geo-restrictions, allowing users to access content from different regions. If you're an avid streamer aiming for uninterrupted content enjoyment, streaming-optimized servers are your ideal choice to avoid buffering or lag.

P2P-Optimized Servers

For those who torrent daily, P2P-optimized servers can be a boon. These servers can handle large amounts of data and offer fast download and upload speeds, making them ideal for sharing files. 

P2P-optimized servers also prioritize security to protect users during file-sharing activities, often using high-level encryption and secure tunneling protocols. If you frequently engage in P2P file sharing or torrenting, these servers will provide the necessary speed and security.

How a VPN Server Protects Your Privacy

A VPN server is not just a conduit for your internet traffic; it's a fortress that shields your online activities from prying eyes. It handles multiple security mechanisms, including data encryption, IP masking, and measures to prevent data leaks. 

Data Encryption: The First Line of Defense

The primary function of a VPN server in protecting your privacy is data encryption. Connecting to a VPN server establishes a secure tunnel between your device and the server. All data that passes through this tunnel is encrypted.

Encryption converts data into complex code that can only be deciphered by the VPN server. This encryption process ensures that even if a cybercriminal intercepts your data, they won't be able to understand or use it.

IP Masking: Concealing Your Online Identity

Another crucial privacy protection feature of a VPN server is IP masking. When you connect to a VPN server, it replaces your original IP address with its own. This process makes it appear your internet traffic is coming from the VPN server's location, not your actual location. 

By masking your IP address, a VPN server helps to conceal your online identity and protect your privacy.

Preventing Data Leaks: Ensuring Complete Privacy

VPN servers also play a vital role in preventing data leaks. Even with encryption and IP masking, there's a risk that your data could leak due to sudden connection drops or software glitches. 

Many VPN servers have kill switches and DNS leak protection to prevent such incidents. If your VPN connection drops, a kill switch automatically disconnects your device from the internet. Meanwhile, DNS leak protection actively ensures that your DNS requests securely route through the VPN server.

VPN Server and VPN Protocols

VPN servers and VPN protocols play integral roles in ensuring a secure, reliable, and fast connection. However, it's essential to understand that not all VPN servers can handle every VPN protocol. 

A Brief Overview of VPN Protocols

VPN protocols dictates how your device connects to a VPN server. They dictate how data is transmitted and secured. Standard VPN protocols include OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPSec, L2TP/IPSec, PPTP, and newer ones like WireGuard.

OpenVPN, known for its high security and versatility, is popular among various protocols. Conversely, WireGuard distinguishes itself through its speed and the use of modern cryptographic techniques.

VPN Server Compatibility with Protocols

While it might seem like you can pick a protocol based on your needs and use it with any VPN server, that's only sometimes the case. Not all VPN servers are configured to support every protocol. The server's hardware, software, and configuration determine which protocols it can handle. 

For example, some servers might lack the software necessary to support newer protocols like WireGuard. Others might be configured to only accept connections via certain protocols for security reasons.

This compatibility isn't generally a problem for users, though. For your convenience, most reputable VPN brands will handle compatibility issues seamlessly, routing your requests to VPN servers that best fit your needs in your desired location.

Recommended VPNs With The Best VPN Servers

Several well-known VPN brands that offer servers capable of handling multiple roles are NordVPN, Surfshark, and ExpressVPN. While they may use different terminologies, it's clear that they offer varying specialized focus areas.


NordVPN is a leading VPN provider known for its robust security features and extensive server network. It boasts over 5400 servers in 59 countries worldwide. NordVPN offers different types of servers tailored to specific needs:

  • Double VPN servers: These servers route your traffic through two servers instead of one for an extra layer of security.
  • Obfuscated servers: These are designed to bypass internet restrictions in heavily censored countries.
  • P2P servers: These are optimized for P2P file sharing.
  • Onion Over VPN servers: These unique servers allow you to access the Onion network while using a VPN server.
  • Dedicated IP servers: These servers provide a personal IP address only you use.
  • RAM-only servers: These servers store all information in RAM, which is wiped clean with every reboot, ensuring no data is ever stored on hard drives.


Surfshark is a fast-growing VPN service that has gained a reputation for its robust security features, user-friendly interface, and competitive pricing. With a network of over 3200 servers, Surfshark ensures excellent global coverage. Its VPN server types include;

  • MultiHop servers: These servers route your traffic through two different servers in separate countries, adding an extra layer of security.
  • NoBorders mode servers: These servers are designed to work in regions with heavy internet restrictions.
  • RAM-only servers: Surfshark uses RAM-only servers, meaning no data is ever written to a hard drive.


ExpressVPN is a premium VPN service known for its superior speed, robust security, and excellent customer support. With a vast network of over 3,000 servers in 94 countries, ExpressVPN offers one of the most stable server networks in the VPN industry. Their VPN servers include;

  • Virtual server locations: These allow you to connect to a country's VPN server even when the server is physically located in another country.
  • Dynamic servers: These servers automatically change their IP addresses regularly, making it harder for services to block them.
  • Trusted servers: ExpressVPN was one of the first providers to convert their entire network to RAM-only servers.

Final Thoughts: Power and Functionality of a VPN Server

Understanding the role and function of a VPN server is crucial in today's digital age. A VPN server not only helps to secure your online activities but also provides the freedom to access content from around the world, unrestricted by geographical boundaries. 

The variety of VPN servers cater to diverse user needs, from standard servers to specialized ones like streaming-optimized or RAM-only servers. By encrypting data, masking IP addresses, and preventing data leaks, VPN servers offer a robust shield against online threats. 

As we continue to spend more of our lives online, the importance of VPN servers in maintaining our digital privacy and security cannot be overstated.

Timothy Shim

Tim is a former tech journalist turned web technology junkie. He spends his time exploring the best in digital privacy and security tools. Meanwhile, experiments with SEO continue to increase his blood pressure. ( Contact Tim on Linkedin )

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