What are the top 5 reasons to use VPN? A lot has been made of VPN in the last couple of years. However, some Internet users still don’t quite understand how VPN works and why they should be using a VPN connection. In this help guide, I will try to explain virtual private networks in simple, easy-to-understand terms. I will also provide you with a list of things VPNs can and cannot do. Here are the best 5 reason as to why you need to use virtual private network.
First of, I will not get too technical in my VPN explanation. Tech-savvy readers might find that some technical info is not included . However, this VPN beginner’s guide is intended for those who need a simple interpretation of what VPN is and how it works.
VPN stands for virtual private network. It does not, by any means, replace the need for an Internet service provider. In other words, you need to be connected to the Internet first before you can use VPN.
Basically, connecting to a VPN server encrypts all of your Internet traffic. That means nobody, not even your ISP can eavesdrop on what you are doing online. At the same time, VPN hides your IP address. I will explain the benefits of these two features later on.
Setting up VPN can be done in two manners. You either manually setup a VPN connection via your PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, or Android‘s network settings or you simple download a VPN app that completes the VPN configuration for you.
The whole setup process does not differ much from connecting to your WiFi network at home. You need the name of the VPN server, a username, and a password. You can get all of these by signing up with a VPN provider. Using a VPN app eliminates the need to manually enter the name of the VPN server.
In short, VPN provides you with an extra layer of privacy and security whenever you go online.
Why Use VPN? Top 5 Reasons
1. Protect Your Online Privacy
Your ISP, copyright trolls, and even hackers can easily track which websites you visit and apps you use. This means your browsing activity can be traced back to your IP address. Using VPNs mainly allows you to mask your IP address. Instead, potential eavesdroppers will only get to see the IP address of the VPN server you are connected to.
2. Bypass Geographic Restrictions
How many times have you tried watching a certain streaming channel online, only to get a geo-location error instead. This is known as geoblocking. It is a phenomenon expats face on a daily basis when traveling abroad. Online VOD channels are only available in certain regions. For instance, you can only watch Hulu in USA. The same applies to BBC iPlayer in UK. Virtual private networks allow you to change your IP address and ultimately get access to geo-restricted channels from around the world. Here’s a list of the best streaming channels you can unblock.
Amazon Instant Video
3. Access ISP Banned Websites
ISPs in most countries now ban citizens from accessing certain sites. China, via its Great Firewall, blocks many popular websites such as Facebook, Google, Twitter, Youtube. In the UK, on the other hand, you are not allowed to visit torrent websites such as The Pirate Bay or KickAss Torrents.
Schools and colleges apply the same concept. Students cannot access certain social websites. In either case, you can use VPN to bypass Internet censorship and access whichever sites you want, when you want.
4. Use Public WiFi Hotspots Safely
Whether you are at a restaurant, airport, college, hospital, or Internet cafe, public WiFi are a convenient way of going online. What you don’t know is that these WiFi hotspots are extremely vulnerable to hacking. Cyber criminals target these network because they are not properly secured. By setting up a virtual private network connection on your laptop or Smartphone before connecting to a public WiFi Hotspot, you prevent hackers from infiltrating your device.
5. Download Torrents Anonymously
In order to download files via P2P software like uTorrent, your IP address has to be added to a torrent swarm. All the users who are sharing the file you are downloading will have their IP address added to that swarm as well. This is simply the way Peer-to-peer protocol works. However, this also means that copyright protection groups can trace all IP address that download torrent files.
By hiding your IP address, a virtual private network allows you download torrents anonymously.
Things VPN Does Not Do
At the end of the day, a virtual private network can only accomplish certain tasks. Read the following list to eradicate any possible confusion as to what you can and cannot achieve using VPNs.
Unblocking certain geo-restricted channels does not eliminate the need for a valid subscription to those channels. In other words, if you use VPN to watch Hulu outside USA, you still need a Hulu subscription to sign in. With that being said, there are still a ton of free streaming channels you can unblock using VPN. BBC iPlayer, ITV, Crackle, Channel 4, Demand 5, CBC, SBS, and TVPlayer are just a few examples.
VPN does not replace the need for an anti-virus program. Harmful viruses or malware can still potentially infect your device.
Using a virtual private network does not provide you with access to other user’s locally stored files.
There is no such things as free VPNs. If you come across a VPN provider that claims to be cost-free, it’s either because they are selling your data to third-parties or because you can only use their service for a certain amount of time.
Best VPN Providers to Use
Virtual private network services are increasing by the number everyday. Some make huge claims about protecting your privacy and removing geoblocks. Not all of these providers stay true to their word, unfortunately. I’ve reviewed quite a lot of them. Here’s some features you should look out for before signing up with a VPN service.
24/7 Live Chat Support: With whatever service or app you use online, you might come across certain incidents where you need the help of an expert. Having helping hand available whenever you need it is crucial.
VPN Applications: Manually setting up a virtual private network is doable. However, it does take some time and know-how. Make sure the VPN provider you choose actually offers applications for your PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, or Android.
Numerous VPN Servers: If it is bypassing geographic restrictions you are after, you need to verify that your VPN service provider offers servers all over the world. This allows you to unblock the largest number of geoblocked channels.
Speed: In some cases, using VPN can drastically decrease your Internet speed. It largely depends the quality of the VPN servers you are using.
No Logs Policy: In terms of privacy, verify that your VPN providers does not keep logs of your browsing activity.
A Refund Policy: Perhaps the most important feature of all. ExpressVPN, for example, offers a 30-day money-back guarantee. If for whatever reason you feel that their service does not meet your needs, you get your money back.
ExpressVPN ticks all of the boxes above. That’s why I’d consider it the best VPN service you can use right now. The following list contains the world’s most used VPN providers.
While I tried to keep the VPN guide above as simple as possible, there are bound to be some points you might feel need more explanation. Feel free to ask any questions you want about why you need VPN in the comment box below. In conclusion, you should always take your online privacy seriously.
Streaming gadgets geek. Interested in every little thing there is to know about bypassing regional restrictions. An avid believer in the right to protect online privacy. Charles has also reviewed plenty of VPN service providers and knows how to separate the good apples from the bad ones.