“Why should I use a VPN?”
If you have ever asked that question before, then you’re certainly not alone. You’ve heard of a VPN and have seen an ad for one, but what exactly can it do to benefit you?
VPNs strive to give their users the security and privacy that they need when browsing the internet. To be more specific, a VPN gives you the opportunity to hide your IP Address and allow you to safely use public wi-fi. Furthermore, VPNs help save you money and even widen your general reach when it comes to internet media.
This article lists down 7 reasons why you should be using a VPN:
1. Keep Your Online Activity Fully Anonymous
Let’s first talk about privacy and keeping an anonymous profile when you’re on the internet.
VPNs use tunneling protocols to help keep your activities hidden online. Why is this good?
- Protect yourself from government surveillance.
- Prevent ISPs from selling your data and throttling your bandwidth.
- Prevents Hackers from stealing your data.
First of all, if you live in a country that keeps a close eye on the online activity of its people, then you’re not safe. These countries poke their heads into everyone’s business and, in turn, your right to privacy is completely thrown out the window.
To give you perspective, this act of surveillance is comparable to a person following and logging your every move. They write down what you do, where you’re going, who you’re meeting, and the time it took for you to do it all. It’s a scary thought.
Using a VPN gives you a secure tunnel to browse the internet, effectively closing all malicious intent to track your movement.
The same goes for your ISPs. ISP stands for internet service provider and these guys have hold of your online data logs. What do they do with said data? They sell them to third parties, usually advertising companies.
Now, getting a VPN doesn’t prevent your ISP from getting your data but it does scramble it. Thanks to this, they no longer have the ability to sell it so ad agencies and other third-party companies.
2. Unblock Restricted Websites
“This site can’t be reached”
Does that line seem a bit too familiar? You may think that it’s a problem with your internet connection or the website’s servers, but it might not always be the case.
Restricted websites are a thing and they’re too commonplace not to be ignored. This often happens based on your country and trying to undo it without a VPN is quite difficult. Some examples include Belgium that implemented an anti-privacy law forcing ISPs to restrict torrent sites.
Commonly blocked websites include:
- Torrent Websites
- Porn Sites
- Social Media Sites
- Gambling Sites
Do note that blocked websites are done by your local ISPs who have been pressured by the government.
So, how does a VPN help you access restricted websites? It uses its encryption and tunneling protocols to hide your identity. This includes your location.
VPNs do give you the option to change server location which helps further your access to a lot more websites that’s normally blocked in your country. The amount of servers you can switch to depends on your VPN provider. Certain VPN services offer a server count below a hundred to a number well above a thousand.
Once activated and connected to a VPN, your access will have zero limitations to said website.
3. Stream Geo-restricted Media (Netflix/Hulu)
Netflix is available in 190 countries. There are only 3 – 4 countries that don’t allow it. However, for those that can stream the service, you don’t really about think a VPN while using it, right? Well, not quite.
You see, Netflix blocks certain content from its users based on their region. For example, “The Office” is a show available on Netflix if you’re in the right country or region. Unfortunately for those located in Southeast Asia, the show is blocked and won’t appear in the app.
The same goes for a number of movies. Although some are made available after a waiting period, it still sucks that you’re not getting the same amount of content as others would outside your region.
VPNs fix this by using a different server location. As mentioned in the previous entry, a VPN provider can give you the option to switch different server locations.
This is where it gets tricky.
Netflix won’t work if you’re using certain VPNs. Note that I say “certain” as there are a number of VPN providers that unblocks Netflix.
Make sure to pick a VPN provider that also provides fast server speeds to stream uninterrupted. Thankfully, there are plenty of those for you to choose from.
4. Save Money Online (Car Rental / Plane Tickets)
Did you know that you can save money when using a VPN? It’ll surprise you as to the amount of money that you’re needlessly paying for plane tickets, hotel rooms, and car rentals.
For more context, buying a ticket online or booking a hotel room online will cost you more depending on where you are in the world. This is because of tracking cookies used by websites to track your previous movement and even your own zip code to judge regional spending patterns.
These cookies look at what places you want to travel to or which hotels you want to stay in. In doing so, they can raise the price on the ticket or room you’re interested in. If you’re the type to travel frequently or often spend money online, then I advise that you do with a VPN in the background.
As an example, renting a car in the United States through a US server is much cheaper than the ones outside of it. A VPN gives you the benefit of using a US based location which denies the tax and dynamic implemented.
- Plane tickets
- Hotel rooms
- Car rentals
- Online Games
5. Change (or Hide) Your IP Address
Your IP Address is the name of your system that establishes a connection with other networks. It plays a big part in your ability to browse and surf the internet. The only problem, however, is that a vulnerable IP address open to the public can be accessed by hackers.
To reduce the risk of getting hacked, the best answer is to change or hide your IP address. Now, there are numerous ways that you can do this which includes the use of a proxy or TOR. These methods have their own benefits and drawbacks.
However, the easiest and most effective way of protecting your IP Address is through a VPN. VPNs use a private tunnel to hide your IP Address and give it a new name. Your traffic will go through this different address but your original one remains connected to the VPN. You’re basically changing and hiding your IP Address at the same time.
When choosing a VPN, be wary of what you’re picking because certain VPN providers have flawed systems. A number of these services leak your IP address which defeats the very purpose of getting a VPN in the first place. Make sure that you’re going for a VPN provider with a reputable background.
6. Be Safe on Public Wi-Fi
Using public wi-fi is like walking naked through a forest at night. You have no idea of the danger that stalks your every move before it finally pounces exploits your vulnerability.
Public wi-fi is mostly unprotected and holds no encryption. Connecting to it broadcasts your system to hackers who can use the unprotected tunnel as a way to gain access to it. Said hackers can then take a peek at what you’re doing and may even distribute malware without you noticing it.
This makes the problem a lot worse because public wi-fi is available at almost any coffee shop, airport, hotel, restaurant, and more.
If you want to remain safe and still use public wi-fi, then use a VPN. How does it protect you?
- Anonymous Browsing – hackers won’t be able to find you if you’re under the cover of a VPN.
- Encrypted – in the unlikely situation that hackers do find you, they won’t be able to access your situation that easily. A number of VPNs use military-grade encryption to protect you from these types of hacking.
When you’re looking for a VPN, consider the types of tunneling protocol and encryption that it uses. Lookout for protocols such as “OpenVPN”, “IPSec”, and “IKEv2”. These protocols provide Fort Knox-level of protection.
7. Torrent Safely
For the past few years, torrenting sites and the act of torrenting has been shunned by a number of governments. Not only that but said governments are constantly breathing down the necks of ISPs pressuring them to block torrenting sites. This is why torrenting plays a big part in judging the overall quality of a VPN.
First of all, if torrenting is available in your region, then the next thing you have to worry about is safety. Safe torrenting is a hard thing to come by since the connections you make with these sites are usually vulnerable to attacks.
For a short summary, the individual who placed the torrent link can see the number of networks connected to the given link. From here, he/she can see which ones are vulnerable and may distribute malware to it.
The concept of “safe torrenting” can be found if you’re using a VPN. VPNs use tunneling protocols to keep your connection secure and hidden from attacks. Furthermore, the level of encryption protects your data from being tracked by these torrenting links.
Of course, not every VPN provider will allow its user to torrent. That’s why it’s important for you to find the right VPN to pick. Thankfully, these types of VPNs are easily found thanks to ratings and reviews made by a number of sources.
There Are Some Limitations…
Of course, a VPN is not perfect. Currently, even the best VPN providers are still bogged down by a couple of problems.
The biggest drawback from using a VPN is its reduced speed. That’s right, VPNs do reduce the overall speed of your internet and it varies from one brand to another. You can expect connections speeds that are 10% – 20% slower for high-quality VPNs. Worst case scenario, a VPN may severely reduce your speed below 50%.
Is there a way to counter this? Not quite. You can try contacting a VPN’s support team in order to solve this problem but even then the improvement is not as drastic as you would want it to be.
The second drawback from using a VPN is the captcha issues you’ll go through. First of all, Captchas are Google’s way of keeping out automated requests done by bots or scripts.
Here’s the problem, when using a VPN, your IP Address goes through the VPN’s server. Chances are, you’re not the only on that server. For Google, it’ll feel like a hundred users are using the same address which causes to use a Captcha to verify the user.
How do I get around this? The best answer would be is to use different browsers. Firefox, for example, revolves around private browsing.