Common terms used in the VPN world

In this article, you will find explanations of commonly used technical terms about VPNs.

We will be looking at the following terms:

  1. Client/server
  2. DNS
  3. DNS leaks
  4. Encryption
  5. IP (Internet Protocol) leak
  6. IPv4
  7. IPv6
  8. ISP
  9. WebRTC
  10. Leaks
  11. Logs
  12. Obfuscation
  13. Ping (latency)
  14. Protocol
  15. Ram-only server


These terms describe how network communications work. To make it simple, the client requests information, and the server provides it. For example, you open Surfshark app and connect to the US Dallas server. In this case, Surfshark app represents the client asking for information, and the server in Dallas provides you with the requested information.

DNS (Domain Name System)

You may not have noticed, but you use various DNS servers daily. The DNS server translates the domain name (e.g., to an IP address (e.g., It's like a phone book where all names (website domains) and numbers (IP addresses) are stored.

DNS leaks

If your VPN is misconfigured or something interferes with a VPN connection, you may experience a DNS leak that exposes your real location to your visited websites.


Encryption is a way to encode information. At Surfshark, encryption encodes (encrypts) all information your device sends or receives. If the information is encrypted, it becomes unreadable for everyone else except you.

IP (Internet Protocol) leak

IP leak happens when your real Internet Protocol (IP) address is unintentionally revealed or "leaked" to the internet, potentially compromising your online privacy and anonymity. If your VPN has misconfigured settings or technical issues, that can sometimes result in your actual IP address being exposed.


IPv4, or Internet Protocol version 4, is a fundamental protocol that serves as the foundation for communication over the Internet and most local area networks. Due to the exponential growth of internet users, IPv4 is no longer sustainable since it only allows 4 billion IP addresses.


IPv6 is the newest version of IPv4. It was developed to address the limitations of its predecessor and to meet the growing demand for IP addresses as the number of Internet-connected devices expanded.


Internet service provider, a.k.a. ISP, is an organization that provides you with an internet connection.


WebRTC stands for Web-Real Time Communication. As the name suggests, this technology allows for real-time communication between browsers without requiring an intermediate server (after the connection has been already established).


If your IP address, DNS address, or WebRTC addresses are still visible after connecting to a VPN, that's a leak. You can find ways to check for leaks in our guide on how to ensure that Surfshark VPN is working.


In general, there are two kinds of logs: usage logs that include visited websites, and connection logs that contain connection times, data usage, users’ real IP address, and an IP address assigned by a VPN. Some VPN providers don't keep any logs of your VPN activity except the information needed for billing and troubleshooting. Surfshark is one of them.


Servers at Surfshark use this technology to hide the fact that you're using a VPN. It makes your online activities look like regular traffic while connected to a VPN.

Ping (latency)

The ping is useful for checking if the server is accessible and how long it takes to respond. Simply put, by pinging the server (website name or IP address), you send a request to it and wait for an answer. If you receive a response, that means the server is available. Usually, the faster the server responds, the smoother internet connection you will have.


It's a set of rules that determines how your information will be divided into pieces and sent from/to your device. For example, the OpenVPN (UDP) protocol divides your information into tiny packs of bytes and sends it to the server in random order. OpenVPN (TCP) will also split all the data into pieces, but it assigns a number to each information pack and sends it in a strict order. Changing the protocol on your Surfshark app might improve the connection speed and stability. 

Ram-only server

Ram-only server is a type of server that runs on volatile (RAM) memory. That means that any information that would usually be on the hard drive is wiped off automatically whenever a server is turned off.




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