A virtual private network (VPN) is vital to protect yourself from malicious actors and fraudsters. But you may not be aware of other beneficial uses, including things you can do with a VPN that you can’t do without.
In this article, I explore some of the most common VPN uses and some lesser-known reasons to use a VPN. If you take your online privacy seriously, you’re in the right place.
What Can a VPN Do For You?
Whether it’s enhancing an online activity or unlocking parts of the internet you didn’t know existed, a VPN can make browsing safer and more efficient.
1. Protect your online communications
The most obvious reason for using a VPN is to create a secure encrypted tunnel for all your online activities. Different protocols and methods can accomplish this, so find out what’s included with each vendor’s VPN before purchasing. Don’t get into a contract that doesn’t satisfy your needs.
2. Change your IP address
With a VPN, you can mask your internet protocol (IP) address with one routed through a VPN’s servers. Changing your IP has many benefits, including privacy, eliminating location-based streaming, and content restrictions.
3. Change your online location
When using a VPN, you’re routing your traffic through one of the provider’s servers located somewhere else in the world. By doing this, anyone watching your traffic sees that you’re coming from the VPN’s server location and not your real location.
With Surkshark, you can instantly change your location by choosing from over 100 different server locations across the globe.
4. Watch live sports or events from around the world
For many people who love soccer, cricket, rugby, and similar sports, most of the teams they enjoy watching are located in a different country and aren’t offered as a live viewing option from their cable or satellite provider.
With a VPN, you could change your digital location to access geo-restricted content to watch soccer or cricket games live as they occur. Many sports streaming services have strict location policies around their websites. These can be bypassed with a VPN.
5. Protect your identity with encryption
When performing online tasks that require you to enter sensitive information like your Social Security number or credit card details, it’s essential to use a VPN to verify that you’re sending this data through an encrypted tunnel.
Having a VPN in place is the only way to ensure that your information isn’t being captured and manipulated.
Surfshark takes this one step further by providing you with notifications if your personal information is leaked. You can set up alerts for your credit cards, email accounts, passwords, IDs, and more. You’ll also have the option to set up quarterly or annual reports to see how well you’re protecting yourself.
Beyond encryption, arguably the coolest feature of Surfshark is the ability to create an Alternative ID.
With select plans, you can create a completely new online identity and email that’s used while you’re browsing the web. It’s essentially a fake persona that you can use to sign up for services without having to provide your personal information.
6. Increase internet speed and bandwidth
Many internet service providers (ISP) use speed throttling and bandwidth limits on your internet services to control the traffic that flows through their service.
With a VPN, the ISP has a harder time locking down an IP address, allowing your traffic to pass through unfiltered, increasing speed and bandwidth.
7. Protect yourself while traveling
While traveling for work or pleasure, you can relax knowing that you can have a secure connection no matter where you’re headed. Be confident that all your online activity is filtered through your VPN provider, whether at a coffee shop or a hotel’s public Wi-Fi.
8. Block third-party tracking
Most websites allow third parties to monitor or collect data about their visitors, including some without your approval. Most VPNs block these onlookers and only route you to trusted sites.
9. Get mobile protection
VPNs aren’t limited to computers. Having a VPN on your mobile device is the best way to get the most out of your cellphone and plan. Increased performance, access to blocked services, and virus scanning are only some of the features included with a mobile VPN service.
In addition to your desktops, laptops, smartphones, and tablets, Surfshark even has features to ensure your device’s webcam and microphone are secured blocked by unauthorized third-party apps.
10. Unlock blocked content
Depending on your location and the ISP that you use, some online services may be blocked. Some examples include torrenting sites, adult entertainment, gambling, or even streaming services like Netflix.
11. Avoid government censorship
It’s illegal to access certain websites in some countries. Examples include social media platforms and websites known for pirated content. They are blocked by governments. Using a VPN to appear to be in another country can bypass this restriction.
12. Access free communication services
Communication services that offer enhanced security benefits like WhatsApp are free in some countries and blocked in others. Without them, you may be stuck paying for communication services that aren’t secure.
13. Connect to a remote network
A huge VPN feature is its ability to allow you to access other networks remotely. This can be used to work securely from home while accessing your office or to connect to your home office while in the business office.
The main benefit is a strict, two-way tunnel that provides secure, unfettered access. Lastly, suppose you’re attending school at a university. In that case, you can tap its online library of resources and databases that can only be accessed over a secure channel.
14. Prevent traffic policing
Periodically, ISPs gather your online traffic to analyze it to create metrics on sites visited and performance. These metrics are used mainly to help the ISP improve its services. But law enforcement can also request these records to see sites you’ve visited. By using a VPN, you can keep certain eyes away from your activities.
15. Expand online shopping
Many online retailers like Target and Amazon offer their products at different prices in different countries. For example, a smartphone for sale in the United States might be $1,000, but in the United Kingdom, it may be $800, including shipping.
Using a VPN, you can price shop locally and globally to ensure you’re getting the best deal for the items you purchase online.
VPN Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What kind of information does a VPN prevent hackers from seeing?
If you use a VPN, online bad actors can’t see your IP address, physical location, browsing and download activities, and personal information such as credit card numbers and bank accounts.
Is it legal to use a VPN?
In the U.S., Canada, and many European countries, yes. However, some governments, such as those in China, Russia, and India, heavily restrict their use. And North Korea, Iraq, and Belarus ban them entirely.
What hardware is required to install a VPN?
No hardware is required. Today’s software-based VPNs are just a quick download away. Your virtual private network can be running in just a few minutes.
How Do You Choose a VPN?
The best approach is to determine which features you need, the number of devices you have, and your experience level. From there, you’ll be able to better decide which one’s right for you. Check out our full guide to VPNs to learn what we like and don’t like about the top options on the market.