Get Cheaper Online Prices, Increase Your Security and Watch Live Sports, Movies and TV Shows Anytime, Anywhere.
What is a VPN?
The convenience of the Internet has come at the expense of our online privacy. Search engines, governments, ISPs, websites, social media apps, advertising agencies and cyber criminals all monitor everything we do online. They track which websites we visit, how long we spend on them, the content we watch, what we search for, the devices we use, our geographic location, etc. In fact if you live in the United States, it is perfectly legal for your internet service provider (ISP) to harvest your data and sell this information to the highest bidder without your knowledge or consent.
How does a VPN work?
A VPN makes you anonymous online by masking your IP address, making your online activities untraceable. It does this by creating a tunnel between your device and the VPN server. The data transferred via the tunnel is encrypted to keep it completely private and prevent it from being intercepted.
You’ll appear to be browsing from the location of the actual VPN server that you connect to at any point in time rather than your actual location, because you’ll assume the IP address of which ever VPN server you’re connected to.
There are a number of compelling reasons why you should use a VPN and we’ve rounded up 17 of the best ones in this article.
1. Take control of your digital life.
VPNs are the most powerful tools for ensuring your anonymity, security and privacy whenever you browse the internet. They protect your online privacy by completely changing your IP address to that of the VPN server so that you’re totally anonymous when you’re online.
This means your location, browsing history, habits and online behavior are completely shielded from being tracked by anyone online including search engines, internet service providers, websites, social media apps, advertising agencies and cybercriminals.
2. Get cheaper online prices.
Websites and services do not treat all visitors the same. What part of the world you’re browsing from plays a very big role in how much you pay for a product or service. When you’re shopping online from more affluent countries, cities or even postal codes and zip codes, prices can be drastically more expensive.
For example, you’ll pay significantly less if you’re trying to buy some cloud storage if you’re shopping online from India than if you are shopping from the United States. In fact, ExpressVPN recently did a study where they found out that if you buy an airplane ticket, the price of exactly the same flight or exactly the same number of people from exactly the same airport is different depending on which country you actually connect from when you try to buy those tickets.
You can also get a cheaper hotel depending on where you’re booking from. Some sites have even been found to charge users more based on whether they’re using a Mac or a PC. With a VPN, you can connect to VPN servers in Mexico, Brazil or India and get access to the best international rates. This means you can actually save money by using your VPN to find better deals while also protecting yourself online.
3. Bypass geo-restricted websites.
How many times have you gone to watch a YouTube video and it says it’s “not available in your country?” And streaming subscription services like Netflix do not broadcast certain shows outside of the U.S. For example, there are nearly 4,000 movie titles available for viewing in the U.S. But in Europe, subscribers have access to roughly 2,500 titles.
With the right VPN, you’ll be able to bypass these types of blocks to access restricted content from popular streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, or HBO GO from any location in the world. In addition, if you’re in the US or anywhere else in the world, you’ll be able to watch shows that are exclusively available on catalogs of the UK, Canada or anywhere else.
If you’re an avid sports fan, a VPN allows you to get access to live streaming sports including Formula 1, NBA, La Liga, English premier league, European Champions League, etc. Your VPN allows you to bypass regional blocks by assigning an IP address of a region where streaming of your favorite sporting events is not blocked.
Note however, that not all VPNs work with Netflix because the streaming service’s tough geoblocks stop many VPNs from accessing the service. But a small group of VPNs developed workaround technology for most streaming services including Netflix and BT.
4. Safely connect to public Wi-Fi hotspots.
Free, public Wi-Fi is very popular with the public and can be found in popular public places like malls, hotel lobbies, coffee shops, trains, etc. They allow you to get access to the internet for free. And according to a recent survey, 82% of users say they connect to any free Wi-Fi that’s available in a public place. The trouble is, these Wi-Fi hotspots are always unsecured connections and are fraught with hazards. According to the Norton Cybersecurity Insights Report, public Wi-Fi is a hacker’s playground for stealing personal information and other sensitive data.
Risks of public Wi-Fi include:
- Malicious hotspots
- Man in the Middle (MitM) attacks
- Snooping and sniffing
- Malware distribution
- Unencrypted networks
The great news is that a VPN with a modern encryption protocol will help protect you and your precious data from all of these types of cyberattacks.
5. Better online gaming.
At first glance, using a VPN to play video games might not make a lot of sense, but there are actually some benefits. First of all, the anonymity means you can keep your financial information safe and secure. Furthermore, lot of gaming content on the internet is geo-restricted, which means they are only available to specific countries or regions.
For example, a Brit can bypass geoblocking and access a UK-based game whilst travelling overseas, even in a country or region where the game is not available. And if a game is released in a country like the US but not yet in Europe, you can set your server location to the US, purchase and play before anyone else can.
6. Escape data-throttling.
Your ISP can slow down your internet connection at peak times or after you’ve used a certain amount of your data. They do this to save money. Limiting speeds allows ISPs to serve more customers without having to increase their network capacity. When your data is throttled, you might notice videos streaming in lower resolution, slow file downloads or excessive lag while gaming.
Commonly throttled websites and traffic types:
- HD video: YouTube, Hulu, Twitch, Nexflix
- Gaming: Fortnite, World of Warcraft, League of Legends
- File sharing: Usenet, BitTorrent
Detecting data throttling is not easy to detect because it occurs at the protocol level. The best way to tell if your ISP is throttling your data is with an Internet Health Test.
Using a VPN can prevent your ISP from throttling your data by encrypting your web traffic. Because your ISP cannot see what services, websites and protocols you’re using, they will be unable to trottle your data.
7. Bypass Internet censorship in China.
Some countries like China restricts locally accessible internet content in one form or another. If you’re planning to visit countries like China or Hong Kong for business or pleasure, it is crucial to get a VPN before you travel. China blocks access to Google, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and many other popular websites. If you find yourself in a country that censors the internet, you will also be subject to this online censorship. A VPN is an invaluable tool that allows you to access anything on the internet as if you were browsing the web from London or Los Angeles.
However, note that not all VPNs have been able to get around the great China firewall to overcome these censorship and restrictions.
9. Secure messaging.
The potential exists for email messages sent using services like WhatsApp, Skype, and Snapchat to be interpreted and read. With the inherent encryption which offers a higher level of security, a VPN is the best option to transmit messages safely and securely.
10. Avoid malicious DDoS attacks.
According to the Q2 2018 Threat Report, the number of distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks increased in size by 500%. Once a cybercriminal has your IP address, they can DDoS it, making your home connection unstable. However, you can mitigate that risk with a VPN. A VPN shields your IP address by routing your data traffic through remote servers. This protects your internet connection from being a target of a DDoS attack.
11. Download information from the internet safely and anonymously.
A VPN secures the connection between your computer and the internet by creating an encrypted virtual tunnel through which all of your data traffic is sent. This allows you to download information from the internet safely and anonymously.
12. Avoid bandwidth-throttling.
Similar to data throttling, bandwidth throttling occurs when your ISP delibrately slows down your internet connection. Your ISP monitors what sites you visit, and depending on what they see, they might decide to throttle your connection. For example, if you spend a lot ot time on constant 4K streaming or gaming, they limit how much high-speed data you can use per month. So you might notice sluggish speeds towards the end of the month. This can be be very frustrating, especially when you’re live streaming a football match or movie. A VPN hides your online activity from your ISP by encrypting your traffic and therefore, preventing throttling. You can find out if you’re being throttled by running a speed test before and after activating your VPN.
13. Protect your data.
Many times, governments can request your browsing history and other data from your ISP and use the listed IP addresses to track your location. But with a VPN, their information only reaches the VPN server. They cannot track you back to your original IP address. You can also use a VPNs to hide your browsing activity from your internet service providers. In 2017, the US congress made it legal for ISPs to be able to sell the browsing activity of US residents to advertisers without their knowledge or permission.
14. Avoid cybercrime.
The extent of modern online crime means that you have to be wary and alert at every turn. Furthermore, without a VPN, every time you browse the internet, you are vulnerable to hackers, phishing attacks, malware, spyware and other dangerous online threats. Using a VPN service offers an extra layer of protection for your confidential information, financial transactions, etc. Furthermore, it is important to keep in mind that not all VPNs offer reliable protocols, such as OpenVPN or IKEv2/IPsec, or have extra security options like malware or botnet blocking.
15. Enables businesses to share sensitive data online.
A VPN uses strong encryption protocols, which makes it an ideal tool for entrepreneurs to communicate and share sensitive data about their business over the internet. A VPN keeps the data confidential and safe from all prying eyes including cybercriminals, internet service providers and advertising agencies.
16. Stop Google and Facebook tracking
Google have admitted that they store your details – your searches, clicked ads, watched videos, and several other confidential data about you. According to Google, this is done to enhance your search experience. A team of researchers from Microsoft, the University of Pennsylvania, and Carnegie Mellon also revealed a study showing that Google and Facebook keep tabs on your porn viewing habits with trackers and using incognito mode or private browsing does not stop this. The best way to stop this is with a VPN.
17. Enable VoIP
VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol. It is a technology that allows users to talk to anyone, anywhere in the world securely and at a cheaper cost than traditional phone services. Unfortunately, VoIP services in certain countries were restricted or blocked due to government vested interests in telecom services. However, a VoIP VPN allows you to use VOIP by changing your IP address and encrypting your internet traffic. This allows you to unblock VoIP apps without being tracked.
Disadvantages of Using VPN Services
1. Using a VPN might be illegal in your country.
Some countries actually have actually blocked VPNs and other countries that do not have the technology to block VPNs have outlawed VPN services that are not registered in the country.
2. When you connect to a VPN, your internet connection may slow down.
For example, you may be sending your traffic deliberately in the opposite direction to where the services that you need reside. For example, if I’m in Australia, and perhaps I make a connection to a VPN in India, and then I try to access a website that is in Europe, it is going to be slower because it means I have to send the data halfway across the world again to get to that server.