A VPN, short for Virtual Private Network, is used to extend a private network over a public network and allows computer users to receive data more securely, anonymously and with greater management capabilities over the network. The average VPN user, however, uses VPN software for reasons of security and sometimes anonymity, and to achieve these, they have to choose between the various VPN software that exist out there. But what makes a good VPN? This is just one of the many questions we answer in this article as we explore 10 cool uses of a VPN and, by doing so, also answer the question of “what is the use of a VPN?”
1. Surf The Internet Anonymously
One of the great things about a VPN is that it allows users to surf the internet anonymously by allowing them to hide or mask their IP address, location and other personal information from hackers, governments or even nosy sites. With the massive privacy scandals that have hit the headlines of late, the issue of privacy is an increasingly common concern for most internet users, and a majority have turned to VPN services to ensure some basic expectations of privacy.
The following scenario is not meant to encourage or enlighten anyone, but it would really be embarrassing for anyone to be caught red-handed visiting adult sites, for instance, while using office internet. There was even a scandal involving UK MPs who used parliament facilities i.e. taxpayer-funded internet, to make thousands of requests to porn sites, but if only they had used a VPN, then no one would have known where the requests came from.
2. Visit Restricted Websites And Social Media Sites
Your internet service provider, ISP, can work with governments to censor the sites that you can and cannot visit. In countries with repressive governments like those of China or North Korea, this is the norm, and people in these countries rely heavily on VPN, to circumnavigate the censorship. But censorship can also be enforced even by liberal governments, and if you are the kind that believes in unfettered free speech and freedom of expression, then, a VPN will serve your interests well.
3. Minimize Skype And VOIP Call Charges
If you occasionally make international calls with Skype, then you can use a VPN to mask your IP address so that it appears to be from the same geographical location as the person you are calling. That way, you will be able to enjoy cheaper rates from the service. Sneaky, right?
4. Access Geographically Restricted Content
Sometimes you are surfing the internet and you click on a video, only to see the following message: “Sorry this content is not available in your region”. This often happens to sports lovers who are restricted from viewing sports highlights because they are in the “wrong” geographical region, but with the help of a VPN, one can set their IP address to read like one of the local ones so that they are able to bypass any content restrictions that websites such as the BBC and ESPN like to put.
5. Avoid Potential Prosecution
The internet is mostly a sharing platform, and sometimes the stuff that gets shared is not legal. If you are into this kind of activity, which is downloading movies, software, tutorials and such from torrent sites such as The Pirate Bay, then you surely need a VPN because some government agencies and industry players like the Motion Picture Association of America and the FBI monitor traffic into these sites and may stumble upon your IP address and some of the things that you were able to download. You need a good VPN to protect yourself from discovery, and this is actually a very good use of a VPN because it protects you from prosecution and possible fines.
6. Secure Your Communications
If you are still not sure why use a VPN, here is a good reason why: hackers and other eavesdroppers can easily monitor your conversations over public Wi-Fi or other unsecured networks, and the best way to keep them at bay is to use a VPN that will make it hard for them to guess your IP address. A lot of financial and identity fraud is perpetrated this way when an unsuspecting average internet user innocently accesses public WiFi without any form of security. Just make sure that you are not going to be victimized for lack of a VPN.
7. Shop Conveniently While Abroad
One of the ways that banks are able to avoid financial fraud is to monitor where card transactions take place, and while this is all called for and noble, it can be a cause of great inconvenience, especially when shopping abroad. Banks can flag any purchase as being suspicious and limit your ability to buy or pay for anything if your card is used far from its home base. If this happens, to you, while on your dream holiday, say, in Bali or Paris, you will have to call your bank to explain your situation, and this might take a while, especially if different time zones are involved. A VPN can help avoid all of these problems by hiding information that would otherwise give away your physical location.
8. Stream Videos Without Worrying About Being Slowed Down by Your ISP
Streaming video content uses so much data that sometimes your ISP will want to slow you down by reducing your speed as a way of discouraging you from visiting video streaming sites such as YouTube and Vimeo. A VPN offers a way around this by obscuring the sites that you are visiting from your internet service provider. This also applies to games because some games actually consume a lot of data and your ISP may negatively impact your gaming experience by limiting your bandwidth allocation. Best use a VPN to avoid being a target for data restrictions.
9. Snoop Around
Sometimes you want to visit a site and not leave a digital signature that will identify you to the site owner. This could be a site that you are doing market research on or perhaps one that is run by a rival. A VPN will allow you to do just that without being detected because you can mask your IP address and location. So if you want to snoop around and not get caught, then consider using a VPN.
10. Protect Your Information
Very many activists, whistleblowers, and dissidents use VPN services not only to mask their identities but also to share sensitive and potentially incriminating information over the internet. A VPN allows them to do so because they can assume pseudo identities and avoid detection from the government and authorities.
How to choose a good VPN
Hopefully, this answers the question of “what is the use of a VPN”?
A good VPN is one that allows you to do all the listed things and more. It should also be very secure, such that even if someone else realizes that you are using a VPN, they still cannot circumnavigate it and uncover your identity.
To further answer the question of what makes a good VPN, look at online reviews, what users have to say and test a few VPN apps along the way. You can also look up at this list from Vpnreviewpro.comthat has the top 10 VPN software tools available on the internet. It will help you with choosing the best VPN.