Virtual private networks hide your internet activity and protect you against hackers. These tools are great for enhancing online privacy, but there are many other interesting VPN uses beyond the obvious security benefits. A VPN can make public Wi-Fi safer, encrypt data on your router, and even improve internet speeds. Read on to learn more about different VPN uses.
A VPN, or virtual private network, establishes a protected network connection and boosts your security online. VPNs mask your IP address and encrypt your data even on public networks.
Advertisers and other third parties are keen to track your browsing habits when you visit websites and access content. A virtual private network can give you greater privacy, using encryption to protect your online identity from your internet service provider and prying eyes. It hides your IP address and creates a secure VPN connection between your device and the rest of the internet.
Here’s how it works. The VPN provider maintains a number of servers in locations around the world. When you use a VPN connection, all the internet traffic to and from your device is routed through one of the VPN servers. Your data moves inside an encrypted tunnel, protecting your data from snoopers and man-in-the-middle attacks. That’s how a VPN connection works on the technical side — but what can you actually do with a VPN?
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Besides keeping you safe in cyberspace, a VPN offers multiple other benefits that may up your network experience. Here are 7 ways to use a VPN, some of which you may not have heard of:
One of the simplest and most important duties of a VPN is to protect your right to privacy. Every individual should be able to communicate and access the free internet without instantly giving up their right to a private online experience. Using a VPN can give you back some control over your data and who gets to see it, log it, and monetize it.
Connecting to public Wi-Fi isn’t always safe, but you can secure your Wi-Fi network with a VPN. A common misconception is that public Wi-Fi requires no additional safety precautions. Surveys show that 81% of Americans use public hotspots regularly, but only 1% use a VPN server to secure their network activity on public Wi-Fi.
If a Wi-Fi connection isn’t encrypted or has been set up by a hacker, connecting to it could expose your browsing activity. A VPN protects you by encrypting your internet connection, limiting the risk of potential malware and getting your details stolen while using public Wi-Fi.
If you are abroad and want to access websites or services you’re used to accessing at home, and they are blocked due to country restrictions, use a VPN. A VPN can help you securely stream your favorite TV shows or sports games from your home country while lying under a thatch umbrella on a sunny beach.
A VPN is also great for remote learning and working, as it allows you to switch locations and access work or university networks/intranet in restricted areas. A VPN will help you access files and websites, secure browsing traffic on public networks, and protect you from third-party invasion and potential malware online.
Imagine getting off a flight and going directly to the closest cafe for a cappuccino. At the counter, you discover that they want to charge you $5, while the guy before you paid $4 for the same coffee just because he’s a local. Sounds unfair, right? Well, this happens online all the time.
According to our research, UK holidaymakers pay up to 97.5% more for bookings. Many online services display different prices for the same items based on the location a user is browsing from. So, for example, the price for the same holiday deal could be lower for a German IP address than for a Swedish IP.
Asking how is this possible? Again – your IP address is the culprit. It reveals the country you’re located in, giving businesses the freedom to decide what search results to show you and what prices to offer.
So if you are about to purchase a monthly plan for your favorite music platform or order that new sci-fi book, don’t just yet. First, clear your browser cookies. This will make websites forget you have visited them before. Then launch your VPN app and choose a country. Try switching between different locations and get the best shopping deals.
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Did you know that a VPN can help you to book a cheaper vacation? You can get the best deals and cheapest rates for your next vacation by leveraging currencies and points of sale.
Clearing your browser cookies or browsing in incognito mode may help you avoid flight rates, which increase based on your searches. But that’s not enough these days, as prices may vary in different countries.
The trick is to make it appear as if you’re browsing from a country where the prices are lower. Your IP address reveals your geographical location; what you need to do is hide it. A VPN can hide your IP address in one click. For instance, if the tickets to your desired destination cost less when booked via a UK website rather than a French one, simply pick a VPN server in the UK.
If you’re doing something online that uses a lot of internet bandwidth — gaming or streaming services, for example — your internet service provider (ISP) might target you with bandwidth throttling tactics.
Bandwidth throttling happens when your ISP attempts to reduce bandwidth congestion and regulate network traffic, directly affecting your internet speed. A VPN connection helps you avoid bandwidth throttling and slow connection speeds.
Internet providers restrict users who consume large amounts of data and deliberately slow them down to offer the same speeds for everyone. A VPN encrypts your online traffic so your ISP can no longer track your online activity. If the ISP restricts the entire network in your area, your data will slow down no matter what you do, but if they’re targeting you specifically because you use a large amount of data, such as streaming or gaming, a VPN can help. Although the amount of used data is still visible to the ISP when using a VPN, you can enjoy your online games without major bandwidth disruptions.
P2P (peer-to-peer) file sharing is a networking technology that allows sharing digital media, such as books, music, software, videos, or large data sets across the network. However, many ISPs are not thrilled about their customers engaging in P2P activities, resulting in slow connection speeds, limited bandwidth, or access to restricted file-sharing websites. But your ISP isn’t the only bad guy here. All users on the same network can see each other’s IP addresses. This could impose a serious security threat, opening the door to cybercriminals.
To keep your personal data secure while using P2P, turn on a VPN. With a VPN, your IP stays hidden, and your online traffic is encrypted so no one can see or intercept it. You will be able to use P2P without your ISP slowing down the connection and stay safe at the same time.
In addition to the usual VPN benefits, NordVPN offers even more VPN features to up your online experience:
Video games have become a popular leisure time activity for many people. And there is a reason for that. It immerses you in a different world, develops relationships between gamers, and lets you explore new horizons together. Multiplayer games create a feeling of belonging and are a good way to unwind yourself. So creating a stable environment for such experiences is crucial.
Having a fast, stable, and secure connection is important when playing online games, and a VPN can help here, especially when you are seeking multiplayer capabilities. NordVPN has a versatile feature called Meshnet, which is perfect for LAN parties. You can use it to form remote encrypted LAN connections (even if you’re not physically in the same location) with your friends and play together over secure private networks.
Email phishing is a widespread cyberattack that uses email as the primary means of deception. An email phishing attack tricks the recipient into clicking on a malicious link, downloading malicious software, or providing personal information to third parties.
A VPN is a primary remedy against such attacks. NordVPN has an additional feature, Threat Protection, that scans your files during download and blocks malware from infecting your device.
Nothing is more annoying than dozens of ads on a website when you simply want a recipe for apple pie. NordVPN and Threat Protection work just like an ad blocker, blocking intrusive ads while you browse and letting you surf the net without annoying interruptions.
While some ads are only intrusive, others may contain malware that could damage your device. Moreover, fewer ads mean fewer internet connection interruptions leading to faster loading times.
Using a private browsing mode only stops trackers when you close your browser. NordVPN’s Threat Protection also works as a tracker blocker as you browse and stop third-party trackers snooping on you around the internet and gathering your personal data.
Malicious actors can gather a lot about you: IPs, addresses, devices, browsers used, time spent on websites, political views, family, food preferences, and other personal information. A tracker block is necessary for gatekeeping your data and protects you from prying eyes.
Many of us store photos, important school or university documents, and large files on our home desktop computers. Need to access them while on holiday? No problem. You can use a VPN to access your computer content at home.
NordVPN has a remote access feature that lets you connect to your devices and local networks from anywhere. Creating such a connection without additional tools may reduce your security. That is when Meshnet comes in handy.
This file-sharing feature lets you share files between multiple connected devices. This peer-to-peer mechanism ensures your files are sent safely without any third party intruding on the exchange. You can safely access your files while traveling or test your web applications on different platforms without leaving your house. And it only takes a few minutes to configure — one, two, and you’ve set up a convenient environment for file-sharing.
Onion Over VPN is another handy feature of NordVPN. It works just like The Onion Router (Tor) but provides the extra security of a VPN tunnel. This easy-to-use feature sends your internet traffic through layers of encryption, making it very difficult to track your online activity. NordVPN safeguards your incoming and outgoing traffic, giving you peace of mind when surfing the web.
Even if you take excellent care of your security in cyberspace, data breaches can still occur. Your sensitive information may unwittingly land on the dark web and cause identity theft. Yet another NordVPN feature, Dark Web Monitor, continuously scans the dark web and will notify you about any exposed personal data so you can take proper action.
Besides the multiple additional VPN benefits, people use VPNs mostly for the following:
And if you are considering between a free VPN and paid VPNs, always go for premium VPN services. Free VPN services might track and collect your data, clutter you with ads, and have very limited functionality.
See for yourselves! Check out the NordVPN reviews to hear more from people worldwide who use NordVPN every day. Take control of your online activities and save money. NordVPN is available for all major operating systems. And you can use it on your laptop and your mobile phone.
NordVPN now offers bundle deals and pairs the VPN service with the password manager NordPass or the encrypted cloud storage NordLocker. Ensure your privacy for one or two years, or get a monthly plan. The good thing is that you can upgrade your VPN plan anytime. And all two-year subscriptions come with three extra months for free!
If we have convinced you and you want to learn how to use a VPN, read our next article.
Online security starts with a click.
Stay safe with the world’s leading VPN