That’s all well and good, but what does it really mean from a practical standpoint? What are the real-world benefits of using a good, trustworthy VPN? Glad you asked. Here are 8 reasons why you should use a VPN:
1. Access your favorite streaming video content wherever you are traveling in the world
Thinking of taking a trip outside of the United States? Or wherever your home may be? You may be surprised to discover that some of the content offered through your favorite subscription-based video services is not available in other countries. A VPN allows you to connect to a US-based server (or your equivalent home server) while traveling abroad, so your streaming service thinks you’re still local and lets you watch your favorite shows.
2. Enjoy a secure internet connection in coffee shops and other public places.
Who hasn’t whiled away a few minutes (or hours) online at their favorite coffee shop? We all do it, but public Wi-Fi hotspots are just that: public. You’re sharing that connection with lots of people in the vicinity. Without a secure VPN in place, all the information you send and receive — yes, including passwords and other personal data — is vulnerable to cybercriminals. And, yes, this includes whether you are on a computer or your smart phone.
3. Get a higher level of security for online banking.
You are probably pretty sensitive about keeping your bank account information private. Everyone loves the convenience of online banking these days, but it won’t be so convenient if your identity gets stolen because your internet connection wasn’t entirely secure. A VPN provides an extra layer of security to give you extra peace of mind.
4. Be safe when online shopping in another country.
Online shopping is truly a beautiful thing. In the US and abroad, when you see that “https” or lock icon in your browser, you can be reasonably assured that security protocols are in place to keep your personal data and credit card information encrypted . . . but be on the lookout. Not every site around the world has HTTPS. So don’t take the risk and avoid online sites without HTTPS.
5. Ease your fears about using airport Wi-Fi.
It’s very thoughtful of most airports to supply free public Wi-Fi hotspots to give us all something to do while waiting for our flights. Unfortunately, with so many strangers crammed into one place, it also makes the airport a “hot zone” for identity theft. If you simply must get online work or play accomplished at the airport, then you really ought to get a VPN, too.
6. Unblock social media sites when you're in other countries
Social media sites like Facebook and Instagram are some of the most censored sites around the world. Whether you’re a college student spending a semester abroad or a business traveler who takes frequent trips abroad, a VPN can ensure that you’re keeping up with the latest at home.
7. Stay anonymous when shopping for airfare, hotels, and car rentals.
While you’re shopping around to find the best deal on airfare, a hotel room, or a car rental, those websites are actually tracking your activity. The next time you return, the price on that car rental may have gone up. Use a VPN and a browser with high privacy settings (e.g. anti-tracking on) and you will be truly private online and can do your comparison shopping.
8. You can create a faux LAN to play games.
Remember that computer game that you and your friend used to love playing together — you know, before the developer stopped supporting it and shut down the online servers? Well, with a VPN, you can actually fool your computers into thinking you’re both on same network and play LAN games over the internet. This also works with older game consoles that no longer support online services but can play via LAN, such as the PS2 and original Xbox.
So while we just laid out eight good reasons to use a VPN, let’s face it — all you really need is one. And that one overarching reason is this: A VPN is one of the best tools to protect your identity and data in today’s digital world. Take charge of your own safety (and sanity!), and give yourself the security you deserve.