VPNs, or Virtual Private Networks, are a form of networking technology that help you use an encrypted, private data connection over the public Internet. In short, using a VPN makes it more difficult to be tracked or monitored online by encrypting data and masking a user’s IP address.
Find out more about what a VPN is (and isn’t).
People all over the world rely on VPNs
But what exactly do people use VPNs for? The short version is, naturally enough, personal discretion and safety. People all over the world rely on VPNs to conceal their online activities from prying eyes. Journalists, activists, and others who face threats because of their online work use them in large numbers.
Yet VPNs aren’t just for the politically active or tech-savvy.
The general public also makes use of VPNs in order to conceal their online activities from inquisitive eyes. Many people are worried that too much information about them is being collected online due to the increase in targeted advertising and data mining. A VPN allows almost anyone to conceal their internet footprint and safeguard sensitive information.
🏆 5 Best-Rated VPNs in 2024
- ExpressVPN — Best overall VPN around. Supports Netflix.
- NordVPN — Privacy-focused VPN that suppports streaming
- PIA VPN — Cheaper than most VPNs.
- Surfshark — Relative newcomer but making in-roads
- IPVanish VPN — Best for tech-savvy users
All things considered, the best VPN in world in 2024 is ExpressVPN. It's perfect for watching streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, and isn't as expensive as you may think. If you're looking for a VPN with speed, then our ExpressVPN speed test results speak for themselves.
What are the benefits of a VPN?
VPNs offer multiple privacy benefits, but they can also be used to bypass geographical restrictions on websites.
Plus, users can hide their real location and gain access to content that is restricted to specific countries or regions such as watching Netflix or streaming.
Some people think that VPNs are only really used by dishonest people who have “something to hide”. This, however, is far from the truth. VPNs are useful for those who care about their privacy and independence in the digital world. They help us stay safe in a world when our online actions might have real-world repercussions and the world is becoming increasingly interconnected.
Here’s 6 Real-Life Uses of VPNs
The use of a virtual private network (VPN) is highly recommended for anyone concerned about their online security and anonymity. Here are some concrete examples of how a VPN can protect your information:
1. Wi-Fi Security in a Public Setting
Free public Wi-Fi has its drawbacks. Using public Wi-Fi at a place like a cafe, library, or airport raises the possibility that your data is being monitored. The best VPNs can shield your online activities from prying eyes by encrypting your connection and masking your IP address.
2. Privacy Concerns with Your ISP
Your ISP can access all of your internet data, even when you’re using your home Wi-Fi. With the rise of ISP-based snooping, this should concern anyone. When you go online, your internet service provider (ISP) keeps track of your activity, which might be sold to marketers or compromised in a data breach. Decent VPNs will mask your IP address so that your ISP cannot see what you do online.
3. Access the Best Savings
Using a VPN can also help you save money by taking advantage of location spoofing capabilities. Many businesses, such as airlines and subscription services, offer the same products or services at different prices in different locations… So, by changing your “location” (virtual) to a place where the products or services are offered at a lower price, you can save money.
For example, if a subscription service offers different prices for different countries, you could use a VPN to make it appear as though you’re browsing from the country with the lowest price. This can help to save money on your subscription fees. Similarly, if an airline offers cheaper tickets for flights originating from a particular country or region, you can use a VPN to make it seem like you are browsing from that location and take advantage of the lower prices!
4. Protection from Spying via Apps
Numerous well-known apps and internet services, including Facebook, have come under fire for their questionable data collection and usage practises. A VPN can shield your online activity from being linked to your IP address and so tracked by websites and programmes. It can help keep your location and browsing history from being tracked, which is a big privacy win.
5. Protection from Government Spying
Governments around the world have access to massive amounts of data, and the precise purpose of this data is not always transparent. Several internet service providers and data aggregation hubs say they do not sell user data to governments, but governments are able to obtain such data anyhow. In the US, for instance, the government has been caught collecting customer information from telecommunications providers without a warrant. You should get a VPN if you have concerns about governmental surveillance.
6. Access… Anywhere!
A VPN literally also allows you to access geo-restricted content from anywhere in the world. As an illustration, a VPN comes in handy when you’re outside of your own nation but still want to watch a specific streaming service. Using VPN servers to impersonate your location, you can access geo-restricted websites and services. And if the worst comes to the worst, you can always use the VPN’s kill switch feature – most VPN companies now provide one.
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Are VPNs legal?
Yes, it is legal to use a VPN in most countries around the world.
However, it’s possible that some countries now consider this a ‘grey area’ such as in India. Check local laws first. If you happen to be based in or visiting a countries such as Russia and China, VPNs are banned or highly regulated there too.
What else can I use a VPN for?
Playing games that have been region-locked to another country, for one.
This is especially helpful for Steam or similar cloud gaming services, whose game library can hugely vary based on your location. In addition, a VPN can help you to bypass censorship in areas where games are banned because of their violent or sexually explicit content, and there’s likely more banned games than you think.
If you want to play games in public areas like cafes or airports, you need take precautions to keep your personal information and device safe. Utilizing a VPN here is a great way to keep your gaming devices safe and secure while using a public Wi-Fi network.
It’s important to take precautions against abusive or unfriendly players when participating in multiplayer gaming. If you accidentally offend someone online, using a VPN can prevent them from discovering your true identity and IP address. And there are loads of weirdos out there now!
Avoid ISP Slowdowns: Certain ISPs may deliberately slow down their network, causing lag or other issues for online gaming, and while these can be avoided by using a different ISP, that’s a pain. You can instead avoid these ISP restrictions (and benefit from a more responsive and stable gaming connection, too) by using gaming VPNs.
Note that using a fast VPN connection will likely overcome a lot of these issues but you’ll still be subject to georestrictions unless you select a VPN provider that has specialized servers.
Frequently Asked Questions
A VPN is a secure and private network that encrypts your internet connection and routes it through a server operated by the VPN provider. This protects your online activity from interception, monitoring, and surveillance.
Using a VPN provides enhanced security and privacy, access to geo-restricted content, and protection from online surveillance and censorship.
To set up a VPN, you need to choose a reputable VPN provider, download their software or app, and connect to one of their servers. From there, you can enjoy a secure and private internet connection.