A virtual private network (VPN) gives you online privacy and anonymity by creating a private network from a public internet connection. VPNs mask your internet protocol (IP) address so your online actions are virtually untraceable.
Most important, VPN services establish secure and encrypted connections to provide greater privacy than even a secured Wi-Fi hotspot.
At its core, a VPN makes you appear to be in a different physical location. They work by diverting your signal through another server, often in another country, utilizing a different IP address in the process. Essentially, this means that you can appear to be on the other side of the world, which has the added bonus of also providing privacy and anonymity while unlocking access to streaming content in that country. Here are 7 things you can do with a VPN.
Avoid Bandwidth Throttling
Bandwidth throttling is the intentional slowing or speeding of an internet service by an Internet service provider (ISP). It is a reactive measure employed in communication networks to regulate network traffic and minimize bandwidth congestion.
Bandwidth throttling can occur at different locations on the network. On a local area network (LAN), a system administrator (“sysadmin”) may employ bandwidth throttling to help limit network congestion and server crashes.
On a broader level, the Internet service provider may use bandwidth throttling to help reduce a user’s usage of bandwidth that is supplied to the local network. Bandwidth throttling is also used as a measurement of data rate on Internet speed test websites.
Throttling can be used to actively limit a user’s upload and download rates on programs such as video streaming, BitTorrent protocols, and other file sharing applications, as well as even out the usage of the total bandwidth supplied across all users on the network. Bandwidth throttling is also often used in Internet applications, in order to spread a load over a wider network to reduce local network congestion, or over a number of servers to avoid overloading individual ones, and so reduce their risk of the system crashing, and gain additional revenue by giving users an incentive to use more expensive tiered pricing schemes, where bandwidth is not throttled.
Access Geo-Blocked Website
A VPN helps you access websites and services that may be blocked in your destination. There are two main reasons for geo-blocks and site restrictions abroad:
- Government surveillance: Less democratic countries are known for heavily censoring their citizens and banning websites. If you happen to be in any of them, chances are you won’t be able to access popular social media sites; like Facebook, Twitter, Netflix and other popular websites that are normally available where you live.
- Copyright infringements: Sometimes, websites may be blocked due to copyright agreements that are issued on a country-by-country basis. For example, BBC iPlayer is exclusively available to UK residents, and won’t work from any other country. Unless, you use a VPN to spoof your location: For example, to get access to BBC iPlayer or Facebook while you’re abroad, simply use your VPN to connect to a server in the UK. NordVPN has 5000+ servers in 59 countries.
Save Money On Flight Tickets, Hotels, And Car Rentals
Did you know that a VPN can help you to book a cheaper vacation? By leveraging currencies and points of sale, you can get the best deals and cheapest rates for your next vacation.
Clearing your browser cookies or browsing in incognito mode may help you avoid flight rates, which increase based on your searches. But that’s not enough these days, as prices may vary in different countries.
The trick is to make it appear as if you’re browsing from a country where the prices are lower. Your IP address reveals your geographical location, what you need to do is hide it. A VPN can hide your IP address with one click. For instance, if the tickets to your desired destination cost less when booked via a French website rather than a U.K one, simply pick a server in France. which makes the internet think you’re a French user.
Download And Upload Files Securely
P2P (Peer-to-Peer) file-sharing has a number of legitimate reasons, such as distributing open-source software, public domain videos, or simply sharing large sets of data across the network. However, many ISPs are not thrilled about their customers engaging in P2P activities; which can result in slow connection speeds, limited bandwidth – or even restricted access to file-sharing websites.
But your ISP isn’t the only bad guy here. All users on the same network can see each other’s IP addresses. This could impose a serious security threat, opening a door to cybercriminals, with dire consequences.
Secure Public Wi-Fi Abroad
How many times have you heard and ignored the warning: “Think twice before using public Wi-Fi?” Well, you know what? With a VPN encrypting your online traffic, you can confidently connect to any public Wi-Fi hotspot in a hotel, train, airport, or your favorite coffee shop.
Public Wi-Fi networks are not secured, and they offer no protection whatsoever, making it ridiculously easy to get hacked. Hackers can intercept an unencrypted Wi-Fi connection by using a common Wi-Fi Evil Twin attack. Plus, the risk of getting your payment details stolen is even greater if you shop online, check your work inbox, and regularly make financial transactions.
So to stay on the safe side, use a VPN. An encrypted connection will keep your data safe, and even if a hacker does manage to intercept it, they won’t be able to use it, as encryption masks your data as useless gibberish.
Avoid Price Discrimination When Shopping Online
Imagine getting off a flight and going directly to the closest Starbucks to grab a coffee. At the counter, you discover you are charged five dollars, while the guy before you has just paid four for the same coffee, just because he’s a local. Sounds unfair right? Well, this happens online all the time.
Many online stores display different prices for the same items based on the location a user is browsing from. So, for example, the price for the same handbag could be lower for a German IP address than for a Swedish IP.
But how do they even know this information? Again – it’s your IP address. It reveals the country you’re located in, giving businesses the freedom to decide what search results to show you and what prices to offer.
So if you are about to buy those amazing shoes online or order that new sci-fi book, don’t just yet. First, clear your browser cookies. This will make websites forget you have visited them before. Then launch your VPN app and choose a country that you want to make it look like you’re browsing from. Try switching between different locations to see if the prices are lower.
Keep Your Conversations Secure And Private
It doesn’t matter whether you call your mom or organize a teleconference with your business partners – the possibility that someone may be secretly listening to your private conversations is more real than you think.
Even though VoIP services are becoming more secure and difficult to hack, they aren’t bulletproof. In fact, most of them are quite easy to use for eavesdropping.
What’s more, services like Skype are often blocked in highly-censored countries, so combining VoIP with a VPN is a must, especially if you are traveling or temporarily living abroad.
Not only does a VPN help you bypass geo-blocks and call your friends and family from anywhere in the world, but it also secures your Internet traffic with powerful encryption, preventing snoopers and third parties from monitoring you.