While VPN technology has been around for decades, it’s only in recent years it’s become so increasingly popular.
And for good reason: public awareness of issues like cybercrime and government surveillance is at an all-time high. Furthermore, acting as a secure middleman between the user and such threats to our online privacy are 2 of the 10 things you can do with a VPN.
Here’s our list in detail:
1. Avoid ISP and Government Surveillance
One of the trade-offs every ISP demands from their customers is the ability to log your data.
Back in the day, they were required to get your express consent before being allowed to sell this data to anyone. But as of 2016, they can do so without even telling you.
Likewise, government agencies around the world have been working together to make sure they’re tracking what everyone does online… and companies like your ISP, Apple, Microsoft, and Google (to name a few) help them.
A VPN isn’t going to completely stop them either. However, because a VPN will route your online traffic through their own servers as well as encrypt the data, it becomes much more difficult for your ISP and government agencies to effectively track you.
2. Frustrate the Cybercriminals
By tracking your IP address, cybercriminals can build up a database of your online habits so they can launch phishing attacks that redirect you to clone website for data harvesting.
However, your IP address can also be used to identify your home network – which they’ll also target to gain easier access to all your online data.
A robust firewall installed onto your router and secure network passwords are your main lines of defense here. However, by routing your online traffic through a secure tunneling protocol, a VPN will also make it much harder for cybercriminals to track you and identify your home network!
3. Protect Your Company Data
Your personal information isn’t the only data cybercriminals are after. In fact, it’s company data breaches that make the headlines more often than not.
But it isn’t just big companies. Cybercriminals tend to target smaller businesses because they present softer targets – smaller budgets mean less robust cybersecurity, both in theory and (unfortunately) practice.
Implementing a business VPN all your employees can use while on the premises helps to protect your business’s private data.
4. Prevent VOIP Eavesdropping
VOIP, or Voice Over IP, is an online communications protocol. Programs like Skype and Discord use VOIP, but there’s also a ton of other VOIP software available. Call centers, for example, often use VOIP instead of traditional phones.
Here’s the problem… that VOIP connection is vulnerable to eavesdroppers. Sure, it’s difficult to do, but it’s not impossible.
A VPN will encrypt the VOIP connection, which makes it next to impossible to eavesdrop!
5. Safely Use Public WiFi
When you connect to public WiFi and log into just about anything, you can be almost 100% certain there’s a cybercriminal somewhere whose database is getting updated. Worse, you might not be connecting to the actual WiFi at all, but straight onto a fake network they’ve set-up!
This is why so many experts warn people against using public WiFi at all. But of course, it’s convenient – and in a pinch, might even be absolutely necessary.
Using a VPN allows you to enjoy that convenience safely. Even if someone does manage to snoop on what you’re doing, the encryption ensures all they see is gibberish!
6. Stream Content in Comfort
There are two major complaints users have when it comes to online streaming: buffering and content not being available in your location.
Buffering is caused when your connection speed can’t keep up with the media playback speed. Alternatively, the streaming quality is automatically dropped. This happens because your ISP is throttling your connection to those specific online platforms.
A VPN is the most reliable way to prevent this. The powerful encryption standards being used stops your ISP from seeing your online traffic, so they can’t use their sneaky work-around to get away with delivering a much slower connection speed than you’re paying for!
7. Bypass Streaming Geo-Restrictions
Because you can choose the VPN server location you connect to, you can easily bypass geo-location blocks to stream content that otherwise isn’t available in your country. The reasons for these blocks are related to copyright laws and distribution rights.
Bear in mind, however, you’ll need a streaming-friendly VPN for this and the previous point. Check out our recommendations for the Best Netflix VPNs and Best BBC iPlayer VPNs to get started!
8. Torrent Safely
Another major complaint with online streaming is the fact there are so many different platforms available… and they all feature exclusive content. This is one of the many reasons torrenting has become so popular again.
Torrenting itself is perfectly legal if you’re using a P2P connection to upload and download files you or the other party has copyrights for, or which are in the public domain.
Unfortunately, ISPs tend to throttle torrentors the same way they throttle streaming. And law agencies tend to take a blanket approach by targeting all torrenting activity.
Whatever you’re using a P2P connection for, a torrenting VPN protects you from this unwanted attention. And as an extra bonus, it also protects you from torrent trackers selling your data to the highest bidder!
9. Bypass Other Geo-Restrictions
We’ve already touched on how streaming platforms limit the content you’re able to view based on your geographical location.
But did you know other websites are doing the same thing?
Not only that, but many websites adjust their pricing based on your location! This ranges from online service subscriptions to airline tickets and much, much more.
In the same way a VPN allows you to bypass streaming geo-location blocks, it also helps you shop around for the best prices. This is also particularly important when it comes to doing business from abroad.
10. Get Around Government Censorship
A third way geo-restrictions come into play is with government censorship. The most obvious example is the Great Firewall of China, which stops anyone in the country from accessing online resources like YouTube, WhatsApp, and Skype.
By using a VPN, you can connect to a server outside of your own country – and therefore access important information – or even just stay in touch with friends and family while traveling abroad.
No matter your reason for using a VPN (and as you can see, there are many!), we feel it’s important for everyone to know the technology exists and is available.
You can use our unique comparison tool to compare the best VPN deals to fit your needs and budget!