Most VPN services come with pre-installed settings and protocols, making them extremely accessible. There are dozens of reasons why you should use a VPN, but here are our top five.
With the US FCC (Federal Communications Commission) stripping away current net neutrality provisions, there’s never been a better time to arm yourself with a VPN (Virtual Private Network). Using a trustworthy VPN service is a great way to encrypt your online traffic and avoid government censorship, not to mention bypass certain ISP (Internet Service Provider) restrictions.
1. Browse anonymously
When you connect to a secure VPN, you’re able to browse the web with complete anonymity. That’s because a good VPN service will hide your actual location, letting you browse without ever leaving a ‘physical’ trace.
More than that, VPNs also block your ISP from tracking your every move on the internet. Whereas incognito mode simply hides your browsing history from your browser, a VPN lets you hide your traffic from your ISP. Connecting to a VPN server essentially ‘masks’ your location, connecting you to a location in another area, making it difficult for your ISP to see – and therefore block – the sites you’re accessing.
This is especially important if you’re concerned about your internet browsing history. In 2017, the US government gave ISPs the power to package and sell user data. That means everything you do online could become fodder for marketers or insurance companies. If that sounds spooky to you, then using a VPN is a great way to keep your digital life private.
2. Encrypt your network
2017 wasn’t a good year for cybersecurity, and the forecast for 2018 isn’t looking any better. Using a VPN to encrypt your internet connection lets you browse without worrying about exposing your network. This is especially helpful when you’re traveling and find yourself browsing via public Wi-Fi hotspots (in hotels for example).
ExpressVPN, NordVPN, IPVanish, VyprVPN and other top-tier VPN providers use AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) encryption. That means your network is fully encrypted, making it near impossible for anyone to see what you’re doing online, whether you’re browsing on a secure network or an open one.
Better yet, if you set up a VPN on your router, you can encrypt the traffic of all the devices in your house. That way you never have to remember to turn on the VPN each time you boot up your computer or switch on your phone.
This is one of the defining differences between VPNs and proxy services: whereas a proxy only covers a single device’s web traffic, you can hook up your VPN to a router to cover every device in your network. Many small- and medium-sized businesses have begun installing VPNs on their office networks. It’s an upward trend that’s only expected to gain momentum as cybercrime becomes more prevalent.
3. Unblock blacklisted sites
Connecting to a VPN automatically changes your IP address. Sites that may be blocked in your region become readily available, making it possible to access any site and service from virtually anywhere in the world.
You can also use a VPN to download and torrent without having to worry about your ISP zeroing in on your online activity. Most VPNs come with unlimited bandwidth and server switches, which means there are no data caps restricting the amount of content you’re able to access. It also means you can endlessly hop from location to location, which is useful when content is only available in certain areas.
Furthermore, this is a big deal when you’re logging on from censorship-heavy countries like China or Egypt. A VPN provides an important lifeline that keeps you connected with key sites like Facebook, YouTube and Google. Think of a VPN as the ultimate travel tool in this respect.
4. Avoid network throttling
With the net neutrality repeal, ISPs in the US now have more power over how they market their services, which means users can soon expect some sites to load faster – while others may load much, much slower.
In the UK, traffic throttling (or shaping) is an accepted fact that is detailed and documented by most of the country’s big ISPs (Virgin Media, BT, Plusnet).
Fortunately, a VPN service can help reset your online network to its original settings and allow you to browse, stream, and download without having to worry about slow-loading sites.
More than that, it’s a simple and effective way to fight back against the status quo. Privacy advocates say using a VPN to slip through the cracks and browse normally isn’t only recommended, it’s encouraged.
And while it’s entirely possible that Comcast, AT&T and other internet providers could one day ban VPNs, the staggering amount of both business and everyday VPN usage makes this a very unlikely scenario.
5. Find better deals online
This lesser-known VPN trick is a great way to save on flights and hotels. By connecting to a VPN server outside your home region and comparing prices online, you may be able to save a significant amount of money on rentals and airfares.
That’s because most sites (including Kayak and Priceline) actually charge different amounts based on a user’s IP address. Start by checking prices in and around your location.
Then try comparing prices between different cities and, if possible, nearby states. After that, try switching your VPN location to a few different countries and check the same prices. It’s a fairly simple trick, though it’s worth taking the time to do a more wide-ranging search – that way you’ll cast a more expansive net for trying to find the best deals.
Next time you’re looking for cheap flights, try using a VPN to check prices from different countries – just remember to browse in incognito mode and clear your cookies after each visit.