Netizens now have a growing concern for their privacy online, and many thus, use a VPN for private browsing. But what is a VPN connection? VPN stands for a Virtual Private Network. When you connect to a VPN, you are on a new network, a secured one, within the Internet.
Upon the connection, all your browsing data passes through the VPN server which encrypts it before sending it to you.
Whatever website you access on the Internet, sees the VPN server’s IP address and not yours. And the encryption makes sure the data exchange between you and the VPN server remains private.
And what are VPNs used for? Well, to start with, it can keep you safe from any surveillance by the ISP or hacker. They can see the data packets but not what is getting transferred. A VPN can save you from logging of your browsing activities with public Wi-Fi.
Setting up a VPN on your device is easy. It’s a process similar to how you set up your home Wi-Fi network (minus the physical movements).
Many VPN providers like ExpressVPN and NordVPN have apps customized for different devices to simplify the setup process. And it gives you an extra layer of security and also privacy.
Here goes the list of top reasons to use a VPN.
Avoiding the eyes of ISP
Your Internet Service Provider controls your Internet. It knows what you do online and can block your access to certain websites.
With a VPN service, you can avoid government surveillance and bypass any block placed by them. The VPN servers encrypt everything passing through them and keeps you safe from your government.
ISPs also throttle your speed based on what you are viewing. And with a VPN in place, it can’t do it anymore.
Browsing with a public Wi-Fi
Many don’t know that the Wi-Fi hotspots at public places or hotels aren’t safe for your privacy. Everyone loves things for free, and an open Wi-Fi tempts one for a quick browse.
The network administrator there has access to your data upon connection, you know? The public Wi-Fi networks are insecure, and hundreds of users connected to the same should be a cause for concern.
With an encrypted VPN, you can be sure your log-ins are safe and the emails and social media posts not getting broadcasted to others. A little investment on a VPN is a must for frequent travellers.
Keeping you safe from trackers
Didn’t you ever notice that your search for a car’s specification gets you advertisements from vehicle-related websites?
Well, the search engines store the searches performed and used it for targeted ads. With the help of your searches, Google or others can know much about you. You don’t want your “ways of suicide” and “anger management” searches getting logged, right?
So, for more private browsing experience, than the one offered by the browser’s incognito, you need a VPN. Incognito keeps the devices free of cookies but doesn’t hide the IP address.
Safe P2P downloads
The complete series of Breaking Bad you downloaded through BitTorrent is illegal. You know that, right? And because of such activities, the government keeps a close watch on downloads through this P2P protocol.
But there are many legitimate uses too. Linux is a well-known example which allows users to get the software through torrents.
Many online games use the P2P protocol to transfer data to-and-fro between the users worldwide. Now, do you see how much data you are sending to different users? So, connecting to a VPN is what you need for private torrenting.
For researchers and journalists, it’s in their best interest to keep their online activity private. You don’t want your competitors to know what about your market research.
A secure VPN is the tool to protect your identity. Someone reporting a sensitive thing should remain hidden, and a VPN won’t let your data traced back to you.
Your data is encrypted and your activity private.
Get past geo-blocking
Although not a primary use, many users get VPN to bypass geo-blocking. When you connect to a VPN server located in another country, say the US, you get an IP address of that country.
Now, all the services blocked outside the US territories are accessible to you, without going to America. You can then enjoy the live streaming of your favourite US channels online.
Watch live sport
There are times when you don’t get to watch few or all the matches of your favourite international team because of regional restrictions or match blackouts. But with a VPN you can be sure you can watch live sport matches without any limitation.
It helps you get past the region restriction, and thus the live stream.
Watch Netflix US
Believe it or not, but the US version of Netflix has lot more content than what Netflix shows here. But not everything is available because of the license agreements.
You can, thus, bypass this geographical restriction by connecting to a US VPN server and get US Netflix without much hassle. Your device receives a US IP, and Netflix thinks you are a US resident.
Not only Netflix, but you can also watch the complete catalogue of other content providers like Hulu or HBO Now. And you can use the same trick to watch BBC iPlayer after connecting to a server in the UK.
Save money on flight tickets
If you keep searching for a particular route, you will get to see ticket prices increasing. And therefore, it is advisable to use your browser’s incognito mode to keep the browser free of the search cookies.
But do you know you can save money on plane flights with a VPN? An international airline may show different prices based on the country you live in.
So, you can check the prices after connecting to a server in low-earning countries and may see a significant decrease in the rates.
There are other benefits too, but if you think you can get anonymous with a VPN, it’s not true. You get privacy with a VPN but not anonymity; the VPN providers know what you are doing.
They don’t keep any logs, however. But if someone really wants to, they can connect the scattered dots and reach you.