Using a VPN has many benefits, from letting you stream more TV to keeping you safe from snoops and hackers.
With rampant news reports of data breaches, internet censorship, credit card and banking fraud, identity theft, blanket government surveillance, and unauthorized sharing of personal photos and information, many internet users are turning to virtual private networks (VPNs) to protect themselves. A VPN is a valuable tool that encrypts internet access when users are at home, or if they are using a publicly accessible network like a WiFi hotspot at an airport or at school.
A VPN can prevent others from hacking your accounts, spying on your internet use, stealing credit card numbers, passwords, and other personal information—even if you are using a public WiFi connection (a notoriously easy target for criminal hackers). A VPN will also allow you to access geo-restricted TV channels/sites from anywhere in the world, and prevent your Internet Service Provider (ISP) from tracking and selling your user data.
Top Reasons To Use A VPN
A good VPN will give you several fantastic benefits. Some of the best ones are:
Safe public WiFi use
Free public WiFi is available in many places these days, but do you really know what you’re getting? It’s all too easy to fall into a phishing scam (a fake WiFi connection put up by a hacker), or for snoops to view your data history, email, passwords, credit card numbers, and other personal information. Your device can also become infected with malware through public WiFi—unless you’re connecting through a VPN.
Worldwide access to TV sites, apps, and streaming services
Many of the most popular TV channels/sites block users that are outside a certain location. For example, if you want to watch all the great free TV on the BBC, but you’re outside the UK, you’ll get blocked when you visit the BBC’s site. Or, if you’re a US expat wanting to stream some NFL football, you’ll run into geo-blocks on sites and services. With a VPN, however, you bypass location restrictions on TV sites, apps, and streaming services. This opens up a whole new world of TV options. The amount of high quality TV and sports that’s accessible with a VPN is truly astounding!
No IP tracking
Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and search engines routinely track what internet users do online in order to target their advertising. They use search engines, apps, and browsers, along with potential access to information in customers’ email accounts. If you’re using a VPN, all these parties can see is the VPN server’s IP address—not your own—and that address is shared by many others so is all but impossible to match to a particular user.
A much larger Netflix/Amazon library
Netflix and Amazon offer users in different countries access to different selections of TV shows and movies. Some countries get a much larger Netflix/Amazon library than others. Even if you live in a country with a large selection, wouldn’t it be nice to get access to all the shows and movies available to users in other regions too? With a VPN you can do just that. By switching your virtual location you can unblock Netflix and Amazon in regions all around the world, dramatically expanding your viewing options.
Better online gaming
Although you may have heard that using a VPN for gaming can slow down your performance, there are some good reasons to consider using one anyway. VPN use will keep your personal account credentials and payment information secure, and can also let you bypass geographical restrictions by making you appear to be in another country. It offers better protection against DDoS attacks (Distributed Denial of Service—meaning rivals try to overwhelm your service with traffic and bump you from the game). And about that speed—using a VPN may actually give you access to a faster server, since it’s their business to support the best and fastest connections possible.
Anonymous torrenting and streaming
If you use torrenting sites, or the popular platform Kodi to stream free TV, you need to take steps to stay private and secure. A VPN will keep you safe and anonymous, so you don’t run into any trouble with copyright trolls.
Besides email, many internet users communicate with family and friends via Skype, Snapchat, Instagram, WhatsApp, and the like. Not all online communication platforms are encrypted, which may allow messages and pictures to be intercepted and viewed by snoops. Accessing these services through a VPN, which encrypts everything, gives a much higher level of privacy and security.
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) allows phone calls to be routed over the internet, rather than over traditional phone lines. Although the obvious benefit is low or no cost to the user, VoIP communication is notoriously easy for hackers to intercept and analyze. VPN encryption of VoIP calls makes this much more difficult. Plus, you can avoid fees on international calls by using a VPN to appear to be in the same country as the person you’re calling.
Avoidance of government internet censorship
Depending on your location, you may need to rely on a VPN to get past government bans, restrictions, or surveillance of your internet usage. Countries currently severely regulating the internet include Bahrain, Belarus, China, Cuba, Ethiopia, India, Iran, North Korea, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. In addition, surveillance is routinely practiced by Australia, Egypt, France, Malaysia, South Korea, Turkey, and others. If you live in, or are traveling to, one of these countries, you will need a VPN to freely access the internet and maximize your privacy.
The best local price
Businesses routinely adjust their pricing to attract local customers in a competitive market—but internet customers will pay a higher rate for the same product. By choosing a VPN server that is close to where an online shopping site is physically located, you will be able to benefit by viewing and paying the best “local” price.
A way to bypass work, school, or library restrictions
Schools and libraries often have security censorship in place on their internet networks, blocking sites that they deem inappropriate in an attempt to protect users (or prevent time theft), and offering only a filtered version of the internet. Using a VPN allows you to access the full internet even from these locales.
There are situations when you might want to do internet research without your history being visible to others—for example, if you are using a work computer or network to research available jobs at a competitor’s workplace. If you go through a VPN, the only information that would be visible to anyone checking up on you is the IP address of the VPN server—not the specific sites you visited. And you have the option of choosing a server that is geographically distant from your location, or that of your job search, as well.
Control of your own internet usage
To keep your online activities private, a VPN is an essential tool in this day and age. Email, cloud storage, online banking, credit card purchases, passwords, social media—all have the potential to be hacked. A good VPN with a no-logs policy and stellar encryption goes a long way toward ensuring your safety and privacy, and lets you use the internet without letting the internet use you.
Best VPNs 2018
While NordVPN is our favorite, ExpressVPN and IPVanish are popular as well. Here’s a brief comparison of these top VPN services.
|#1|| Total privacy & security
Unblock ALL sites & apps
Unlimited bandwidth & fastest speeds
Apps for all devices
Perfect for beginners
30-day money-back guarantee