Virtual Private Networks are taking the world by storm, with more people turning to them every day. This is because VPN services are one of the most useful and versatile tools available online.
For newcomers, however, the abundance of techy terminology can make VPNs seem confusing. The good news is that learning what a VPN is – and what it can do – is not particularly tricky. Neither is finding a good one.
A VPN is an online subscription service that works using the software you download onto your device. Market leading VPN services provide software for all platforms, which means you can use VPN apps on tablets, smartphones, laptops, Macs, iPhones, or desktop machines. (Or all of them.)
Once you have downloaded and installed the VPN software onto your devices, you are ready to start taking advantage of the VPN’s features. So, what can a VPN do for you?
Conceal your real IP address
Your IP address is a digital address that is personal to you. It is assigned to you from a pool of IP addresses by your Internet Service Provider (ISP). Your IP address allows the websites you visit to track you. It also allows websites and online services to know where (and who) you are.
This is how geo-restrictions and online censorship are enforced everywhere in the world. And is how particular websites are made unavailable in certain locations. With a VPN, however, you can conceal your real IP address and achieve the following:
- Stop websites tracking your IP address. Websites use many techniques to track internet users, of which tracking IP addresses is only one. However, the IP address is useful because it allows websites to know where you are, and when you return to their site. This can lead to inflated prices, which means that a VPN could save you money!
- Pretend to be in a different location. VPN services provide a list of countries that you can select from. When you connect to one of those server locations, your real IP address is concealed and you take on an IP address in that country instead. This lets you pretend to be overseas – to purchase cheaper flights, for example.
- Access geo-restricted content abroad. Specific services such as the UK’s BBC iPlayer, Netflix US, or Spotify, are not available everywhere in the world. With a VPN you can simply select a location, pretend to be there, and access that nation’s content as if you were actually there.
- Access content from back home on vacation: When you go on vacation the opposite happens, and you aren’t able to use online services from back home. With a VPN, it is possible to connect to a server from back home to access internet banking or other online services while you are away.
- Bypass censorship: Certain countries block access to website content. In China, for example, Facebook, Google, Twitter, and many more sites are blocked. These kinds of blocks happen all over the world and could strike while you are on vacation. Even in the UK, Australia, and the US, ISPs block certain torrenting and streaming websites. With a VPN, you can pretend to be in a different country to bypass any censorship.
- Access more content than ever before: The ability to pretend to be in different countries gives you almost endless internet freedom. As a result, you can unblock online streams of TV stations from all around the world – or watch TV streams of local sports competitions. People who love gaming can also connect to foreign servers to play against opponents in a different country.
Gain digital privacy
In addition to the advantages mentioned above, a VPN provides digital privacy. Nowadays, ISPs and the government track what internet users do online by keeping records of the websites they visit. Communications metadata is also collected, which means that ISPs and the government know who we communicate with and when.
A VPN encrypts all the internet traffic coming and going from your devices – making that data completely secure. By encrypting your data into undecipherable gibberish, ISPs are unable to perform mandatory data retention on behalf of the government. In the US, where ISPs can even sell that data onto third parties for a profit; a VPN stops them in their tracks.
VPN encryption also makes your data safe when you use public WiFi, by stopping hackers from being able to steal passwords, login credentials, sensitive data, and bank account or credit card details. This protects you both against insecurely setup official hotspots, and “evil twin” hotspots set up by hackers.
Get a VPN now!
Around 30% of internet users around the world now use a VPN, and that number increasing every day. People are quickly realizing that the ability to unlock more content – while also gaining complete digital privacy – is a marriage made in heaven. And, because VPNs aren’t expensive they are a tool that everybody can make use of.