A VPN (virtual private network, for short) is an extension of a private network over a larger public one, such as the Internet. Once you’re connected to a VPN, you’re able to easily share files across computers that are connected to the network, just as you would over a real local area network. And initially, that’s exactly what VPNs were used for, mainly in order for employees to be able to access files on a company’s intranet from a remote computer.
As the Internet became more advanced, though, this function became rather obsolete, and now VPNs are used for a variety of different purposes, and virtually anyone can use them. Whether you’re at home, at school or the office, there are a number of reasons why you should always browse through a VPN. Here are some of them:
1. Higher Security and Privacy
When your computer or handheld device connects to a VPN server, something really interesting happens; first, your connection receives a new IP address, so to the web, it essentially looks like you’re browsing from the location of your VPN, and not your own. And then your connection is actually encrypted by a secure tunneling protocol, significantly reducing the chances of a third party being able to eavesdrop on your Internet traffic.
Generally, using a VPN makes you more secure and private online. And many VPN providers actually run highly sophisticated anti-virus software on their servers and offer you DDoS protection. This means that you theoretically don’t have to run any anti-malware on your own computer, as you’re already significantly protected by your VPN service.
2. Accessing Blocked Content
Another reason why you should consider using a VPN is the presence of various geo-blocked content on the Internet. Websites such as Pandora, Hulu, Spotify, and Netflix are simply inaccessible from certain areas of the world, and if you happen to be located in one of these areas, there’s simply no way to access these websites conventionally.
One of the easiest ways to get around this is to change your IP address with a VPN. Since websites primarily use your IP address to figure out where you’re browsing from, to the server, it looks like you’re browsing from the location of your VPN. For example, Pandora is accessible only in the United States, Australia, and New Zealand. All you’d have to do to be able to use this music streaming service to connect to a US-based VPN server, and you’re good to go.
3. Safety on Public Networks
Public wireless networks are generally considered to be highly insecure, primarily because of many devices being connected to them at the same time. For this reason, it’s a really bad idea to transmit any sensitive information over a free WiFi network without any kind of protection. Internet banking, online shopping and accessing your PayPal account all fall into this category.
If you have to do this sort of thing over a public network, it’s a good idea to hide behind a VPN while doing it, as it will encrypt your connection and make the whole procedure much more secure.
4. Fool Internet Censorship
If you live in a country where your government is enforcing strict Internet censorship laws and want to be able to browse the net with no restrictions, you might find that you can’t even access some of the most popular websites on the Internet, such as YouTube or Facebook. For example, YouTube is completely banned in countries like Iran, making it impossible for anyone living there to access it with just a web browser.
Fortunately, you can once again use a VPN in order to get around this problem. Simply connect to a VPN server that’s outside your country and start enjoying your uninhibited Internet access. Note that you should always look for servers that are as close to your location as possible when doing this, in order to prevent lag and buffering issues.
P2P (or peer-to-peer) is hands-down the most efficient way to share files with other people online since no centralized server constantly has to be maintained. Contrary to popular belief, torrents are perfectly legal technology in and of themselves. The problem is that they’ve gotten somewhat of a reputation because a lot of people have been using them to share copyrighted material illegally.
While we in no way advocate using torrents illegally, if you’re concerned about your ISP snooping around your torrent history, a VPN can certainly help you out. By encrypting your connection and keeping it private from all potential third parties wanting to eavesdrop on your traffic, there’s virtually no chance that someone will be monitoring your torrents as long as you’re behind a VPN.
This article is written by Thomas Milva. He has been in the business of information security for four years and strongly believes that he picked the best timing for his profession, which he often underlines in his articulate articles. Most of the time, he works from home, and whenever he’s free, he organizes hikes for his dog, his girlfriend and himself. Tom’s home, for the time being, is Baton Rouge.