Why are more and more people around the world using VPN services? There are many different reasons for using them. While some VPN services focus principally on security and privacy, others are more practical and can help you take advantage of great tricks. These include, for example, unblocking the entire catalogue of a streaming service, or the ability to save money on flight tickets and other products by changing your IP address (geographical location).
VPNs and anonymity on the internet
Without a VPN, your location and identity can be easily tracked thanks to your IP address. Your IP address is unique to your internet connection/device. It’s like a postal address that tells people who you are and where you are, linking your online activities to your person.
The VPN hides your IP address and therefore your real location. When you use a VPN, your internet traffic is routed through an encrypted virtual tunnel, and your online activities can only be traced back to the VPN server’s address, but no longer to you (and your real IP address).
Using a VPN ensures that websites, marketers, streaming services, governments and cyber criminals can no longer identify you by your IP address, as they can only see the IP address of the VPN server you’re connected to. Moreover, they will not be able to detect your real location. Connect to a VPN server in Germany and you become a German user for everyone.
So with a VPN, your online activity will no longer be connected to your own IP address. This way, you can browse the internet and engage in any online activity you want without any third party being able to track it.
VPNs and internet security
A VPN encrypts your data traffic with strong encryption protocols that make it impossible to intercept and read your data. Why is this important? Nowadays, there are many third parties (including governments and cybercriminals) who want to listen or look at what you do online.
The security offered by VPNs makes their job much harder. However, we must remember that VPN is not the ultimate solution for all things related to cybercrime. We always recommend combining a quality VPN service with a good antivirus solution to make sure you’re covered in all areas.
VPN and geoblocking
Some online services restrict access to their content in certain regions. This happens with streaming services that only have broadcasting rights in certain countries and not in others.
If you’re on holiday or have moved to another country, you may not be able to watch your usual programmes. A VPN allows you to connect to the internet through servers in your home country, so you can re-watch your favourite show or access blocked websites.
Of course, it also works the other way around. If you want to access websites or streaming services from another country (for example, to watch the US version of Netflix), you can do so using a VPN.
VPN and torrenting
Downloading certain files is illegal in some countries, and downloaders are being tracked and even prosecuted more than ever before.
Of course, we are not advocating any illegal actions. However, we understand that people want privacy and anonymity not only when browsing the internet, but also when uploading and downloading files.
To make sure no one knows what you’re downloading or uploading, you can use a VPN. With encrypted traffic and IP forwarding, VPNs help you download anonymously.
VPNs and censorship
In many countries (such as China, Turkey, Russia, Iran) governments heavily censor the internet. These countries block access to certain internet services and websites. Examples of apps and websites that are often blocked are WhatsApp, Google, Instagram, YouTube, Skype, Spotify and Facebook.
News sites are also often blocked because they are perceived as a threat to local government authorities. In these countries, censorship significantly affects their citizens’ freedom of expression.
There are also online restrictions in some Western countries. For example, many regions block file-download websites because they do not want their citizens to download illegal material.
A VPN can help you bypass censorship and restrictions by allowing you to connect to a server in another country. This way, you can connect to the internet as if you were in another country, and access websites and services that are not available in your own country.
VPN and hackers
Using a public Wi-Fi network, for example at an airport, hotel or cafe, can be risky. Other users on the same network (such as hackers or other cyber criminals) can easily hack into your data and personal information.
Since you don’t want others to have access to, for example, your email credentials, pictures, files, or credit card information, it’s wise to use a VPN connection at these hotspots.
A VPN encrypts all your data so that a hacker can only see the encrypted data and can’t exploit your personal information.
VPN and data collection
Advertising networks such as Facebook, Google and Twitter are constantly collecting information about you. With this information, they can show you tailored ads, but more importantly, they can also sell this information to a third party.
Encrypting your data with a VPN will make it harder for these networks to collect information about you. They will also have less influence on which ads you see.
What’s more, many VPN services offer ad blockers and tracking codes in their products, so you can get rid of annoying ads for good.
Want to start using a VPN right away? We encourage you to try out the VPN services that have excelled in our tests and won our Excellent VPN Service award. The VPN services listed below offer great speeds, strong security, and have a number of other benefits available.
NordVPN TOP PRODUCT
Surfshark VPN TOP PRODUCT
ProtonVPN TOP PRODUCT
ExpressVPN TOP PRODUCT
VPN Guide – Part 1 – What is a VPN
VPN Guide – Part 2 – How a VPN works
VPN Guide – Part 3 – Why use a VPN service (you are here)
VPN Guide – Part 4 – Security of VPN services