Common terms used in the VPN world

If you're starting out using a VPN, you will notice that many specific terms are used here. Some might be new to you, so we will cover the most common VPN terminology in this article to help you get a better view.

Client/server. This terminology describes how network communications work. To make it simple - the client is always requesting information, and the server provides the requested information. For example, if you connect to the US Dallas server, your Surfshark app is the client (asking for information), and the server in Dallas provides you with the requested information.

DNS (Domain Name System). This term is used pretty often. You may not have noticed, but you use various DNS servers every day. Basically, the DNS server translates the domain name ( to an IP address ( 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. Encryption is a way to encode information. At Surfshark, encryption encodes (encrypts) all information that your device sends or receives. If the information is encrypted, it becomes unreadable for everyone else except you.

IP (Internet Protocol) leak. If a VPN is not configured correctly, your real IP address might slip out. 

IPv4. It's the original design of the internet protocol address. Due to the exponential growth of internet users, IPv4 is no longer sustainable, since it only allows a total of 4 billion IP addresses.

IPv6. Due to the lack of IP addresses that IPv4 can provide, IPv6 was introduced. It's the modern version of the original IPv4.

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

Leaks. If your IP address, DNS address, or WebRTC addresses are still visible after connecting to a VPN, that's called a leak. Here you can check if you have leaks.

Logs. 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 keep no logs of your VPN activity, except information needed for billing and troubleshooting. Surfshark is one of them.

Obfuscation. Servers at Surfshark use this technology that allows hiding 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 method is useful for checking if the server is accessible and how long it takes to respond. To put it simply - 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 that the server is available. Usually, the faster the server responds, the smoother internet connection you will have.

Protocol. 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 pack of information and sends it in a strict order. Changing the protocol on your Surfshark app might improve the connection speed and stability. 

Ram-only server. This 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.

WebRTC. 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)



You may also be interested in:

  1. How to get started?
  2. How to make sure if my connection was successful?
  3. How to set up a VPN-protected Wi-Fi hotspot using Windows?
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