Information to be transferred through a virtual private network is never sent as an entire block of information. This would increase communications problems on the Internet, increase the possibility of information becoming lost, and also make that information available for others to trap and access in route. Instead, the data being transferred is broken down into packets, which are then sent through the Internet.
A packet of information consists of a block of user information (called the payload) wrapped in the necessary control information used by the packet preparation and reception software. A checksum is used instead of standard parity checking to insure the accuracy of data transmission. Additional information about the sender and receiver, packeting protocol used, information priority, and how that packet is to be re-assembled at its destination.
Individual packets may travel through the Internet by different routes; all of them arriving at the destination to be reassembled, stripped of the control information, and presented to the receiving computer as if it had just been handed-off through internal communications. Even if information is lost or corrupted in transit, it doesn’t cause a problem for the users. Control software automatically recognizes the problem as the data is being reassembled and requests that the missing or corrupted information be resent.
There are a number of different packeting protocols and programs available for use by your company. As with any other software choice, there are tradeoffs in deciding which one to use. Your Information Technology department is best able to sort through all the differences in these programs and protocols to determine which would provide the best service for your company’s needs.
It is this packeting capability that makes it possible to utilize public communications networks, such as the Internet to create a virtual private network. Otherwise, the sheer volume of information sent as a single block from a company’s remote location to their main office might be enough to disrupt overall communications on part of the Internet.