Do I Need a VPN? Here's Why You Most Likely Do

Do I Need a VPN? Here's Why You Most Likely Do

VPNs became really popular even if they've been originally designed for businesses to allow remote employees to connect to the network.

Nowadays, VPNs are used for various purposes such as accessing geo-restricted websites, securing the connection on public WiFi networks, and much more.

If you're wondering if you need a VPN at home, the answer is probably yes.

But let's go over the reasons why anyone can benefit from using a VPN service on a regular basis so you convince yourself.

What is a VPN?

Firstly, let's take a quick look over what a VPN actually is and what it does.

The VPN (Virtual Private Network) reroutes your internet connection to go through a remote server instead of your ISP's server. To the websites you visit, you'll look like you're connecting from somewhere else. The IP address that's visible to the websites is the VPN server's IP, while your real IP address remains hidden from prying eyes.

Besides hiding your location, a great feature of a VPN is that it also encrypts the traffic. If you're not aware of the difference encryption makes for your online security, have a look over our article explaining encryption:

To use a VPN is quite simple and straightforward. You start by registering for a VPN service and downloading their software on your device. From there, you'll choose where you want to connect from. There are usually hundreds of options to chose from with countries and cities located all around the world. Once you pick the server you want to connect to, all your internet traffic will be routed through that server. This includes all your web browsers and applications.

Now let's see what a VPN actually does for you.

Reasons why you need a VPN

Safely using public WiFi networks

Public WiFi networks from coffee shops, airports, venues provide us with the convenience of having internet access everywhere we go. But connecting to public WiFi networks also comes with some security risks that should not be overlooked.

Cybercriminals and hackers love public WiFi spots because their security is weak and they are easy to hack. Not to mention that they are heavily used and this makes for lots of possible victims.

One way your personal information and data can be in danger when you're connecting to a public WiFi is if an attacker manages to compromise the WiFi router, getting access to the network. The attacker will then be able to intercept and modify the data that's being transmitted over the network so your connection is no longer private. If you're using the internet to log in to your accounts or for online shopping, then the attacker will be able to steal your login credentials and even your credit card details.

When you use a VPN over a public WiFi network, things change.

The VPN creates a secure tunnel, encrypting all the information that's exchanged between your device and the internet. Even if an attacker manages to intercept your connection, they won't be able to read the information, meaning your private data is safe and secure.

By using a VPN, you can connect to Facebook, online shop, and transfer money online from public places without risking someone stealing your accounts credentials, personal information, or banking information.

When you're traveling

The first reason to use a VPN while traveling is because you'll probably be using public WiFi networks a lot because using cellular data can get highly expensive.

And, as you've seen above, public WiFi networks are not the best if you're trying to protect your private information an not get hacked.

If you're using a VPN in your travels, then you'll be able to connect to any WiFi spot be it in the airport, bus, coffee shop, hotel, or venue. All while protecting yourself, your private information, and your bank account.

Another reason why you might find it extremely useful to use a VPN while traveling is because you might lose access to certain platforms or websites when traveling.

Some content online is geographically restricted. Meaning that only people from a certain county can access it. These websites know your location based on your IP address. But when you use a VPN, the websites will see the VPN server's IP address instead.

All you have to do when traveling is to connect to a VPN server located in your country and you'll be able to access content available only in your country again.

Also, some services and platforms are restricted in some countries. For example, China has restricted Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. If you're going to travel in a country where the services you regularly use are blocked, make sure you don't go away without setting up a VPN.

Connect to your home network

VPNs were originally created for businesses to allow remote users to connect to the network in a safe way so they can access business' resources.

On the same principle, you can use a VPN so you connect to your home network securely from anywhere. This is especially useful if you travel, or you use to be out a lot and store important files on your computer.

Get privacy and protect yourself online

There's a lot of information entities collect about you when browsing online, and even if this might not sound like a big deal, this information can be misused.

Firstly, the ISP can track everything you do online. And not only this, but they are also able to sell all the information they gather to third-parties making a profit off your data.

Other companies such as Facebook or Google also gather a huge amount of information about users. Their main reason is to help them improve their services, but the thought of a company that knows everything about you isn't too reassuring. Especially because, with enough information, you can create a detailed profile of someone, being able to predict his/her future actions, and knowing how to even model their beliefs.

By using a VPN, your online activity will remain private and third-party entities won't be able to track your moves anymore. Nor can snooping hacker eyes.

Keep in mind that the VPN, although it does hide your identity to a great extent, doesn't make you completely anonymous online. For complete online anonymity, the VPN must be used in conjunction with a browser like Tor.

Find better deals when shopping online

Online shopping has made our lives much easier. We're able to compare prices from different sources, find everything we need, and have the items delivered right in front of our doors.

But did you know that you can find even cheaper prices when shopping if you're using a VPN?

Well, you can. And I'll explain why and how. The prices you see online are most of the times not the same for every user, but they actually change depending on who sees them.

Websites log lots of things about your online activity such as the queries you use for searching, what items you're interested in, and so on. And they decide the price of an item based on the data they collect. The most important aspect of that decision is your location. Usually, users in larger countries will see higher prices compared to those located in smaller countries.

A VPN will allow you to see multiple prices and purchase the desired item at the lowest price.

All you have to do is register for a VPN service and start connecting to servers located in various places around the world. Check the prices with each connection and see which location gives you the best deal.

Using a VPN to find better deals is extremely useful if you're looking to go on vacation. You can find way cheaper flights and hotel rooms.

Besides finding better deals online, by using a VPN you'll also strengthen the security for when you're paying for the purchased items online. Credit card fraud is a common cybercrime increasing in popularity, so you must stay cautious at all times.

Download torrents anonymously

Although downloading torrents has a generally bad reputation because it is seen as an illegal activity, it is actually a very efficient way of transferring files between multiple users. And as long as the downloaded files are not copyrighted, there's nothing illegal about it.

So why hide if it's not illegal?

Even if you're not downloading copyrighted material via torrents, you might still benefit from keeping your identity private.

  • Torrents might have hidden files you're not aware of and they might be copyrighted, turning you into a criminal without intending to do something wrong.
  • Some ISPs (Internet Service Providers) don't like the act of downloading torrents because you're using more bandwidth. In this case, they'll slow down your internet connection and your files will take ages to download.

Using a VPN to download torrents is the most efficient way to keep your activity anonymous. Not even your ISP will be able to tell you're downloading torrents.

A great VPN for downloading torrents also comes with a kill switch. If the connection to the VPN server should drop, the kill switch will stop your device from connecting through the regular internet network so your IP won't be exposed by mistake.

Before choosing a VPN provider, you must first make sure they allow BitTorrent to be used with their services. Many VPN providers don't want to deal with the legal implications of using their services for torrenting. Even though using BitTorrent is not illegal, it is often used for pirating copyrighted material.

Unblock content restricted in your region

A lot of the content online is only available for people in specific countries. While some websites have a good reason for restricting access to those outside the country, in many cases online blocked content can turn out to be pretty frustrating.

A great example in this scenario is Netflix. There are countries where Netflix hasn't been implemented yet. And even if Netflix is available in your country, if you don't live in the US, you won't get the full library of TV shows and movies because they have a dedicated library for each country.

Another example is Freeform, that's only available for the US residents. And the list could go on and on, including geo-restricted YouTube videos.

With a VPN, you can connect from anywhere in the world and bypass these geographical restrictions to watch and access any content you want online.

One thing you should know about using a VPN to access Netflix is that Netflix frowns upon using VPNs and to their best to block VPNs. So most VPNs won't work for unblocking Netflix. Better make sure the VPN service you're choosing works on these types of platforms if this is your main reason behind using a VPN.

Stop ISP throttling

Have you ever noticed your internet speed dropping out of nowhere? Well, that might be the ISP (Internet Service Provider) throttling your connection.

ISPs often deliberately slow down users internet connection speed, that's what we call throttling.

There are a couple of reasons why ISP do this to users the most common being decongesting the network during peak times when lots of users are using the internet, reaching the data limit stipulated in the contract, or preventing large data transfers (such as when torrenting).

ISP throttling is especially frustrating when streaming video content. Have you ever watched a movie on Netflix and the screen got pixelated at some point even if it wasn't like that to start with? Annoying.

By using a VPN, you'll prevent the ISP from throttling your connection. With a VPN, the ISP is not able to see what you do online (downloading torrents, streaming videos), hence you won't give away any signals to make your ISP throttle your network.

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