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7 most interesting uses of a VPN

Oct 29, 2020 · 5 min read

7 most interesting uses of a VPN

VPNs are well known and trusted tools for protecting users’ privacy when browsing online. But you're wrong, if you think that's the only thing they're capable of. From getting cheaper flight tickets to streaming your favourite TV series – there are so many things you can do with a VPN.

A Virtual Private Network routes your Internet traffic via a remote VPN server and hides your IP address. That means no one, not even your ISP (internet service provider), can see what you do and where you go online. The only thing visible to anyone trying to snoop on your activities will be the fact that you are using a VPN, and the address of the VPN server you are connected to.

On top of that, all of the data you send and receive is powerfully encrypted, so even if someone manages to intercept your connection, they won’t be able to read it. A VPN also lets you bypass geographical restrictions, avoid bandwidth throttling, and do a bunch of other awesome things that you probably didn’t know were possible.

7 things you can do with a VPN

1. Avoid bandwidth throttling

Can you think of anything more annoying than constant buffering when watching funny Youtube videos or streaming your favorite TV series? Unfortunately, bandwidth throttling can happen to anyone trying to access streaming services, file sharing platforms, and online gaming websites. If there’s anyone to blame, it’s your ISP.

Bandwidth throttling happens when your ISP attempts to reduce bandwidth congestion and regulate network traffic, and it has a direct impact on how fast you can stream and download content online. A VPN helps you avoid bandwidth throttling and slow connection speeds.

woman streaming media content

IPSs 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 that your ISP can no longer see your activity sessions. And if they can’t see it, they can’t control it, right? So, now the secret is out, the solution is simple: open your VPN app, pick a server, and enjoy the Internet without your ISP slowing you down.

2. Access your favorite websites when abroad

A VPN helps you access websites and services that may be blocked in your destination. There are two main reasons for geo-blocks and site-restrictions abroad:

backpacker using laptop on a beach

    1. Government surveillance: Less democratic countries are known for heavily censoring their citizens and banning websites. If you happen to be in any of them, chances are you won’t be able to access popular social media sites; like Facebook, Twitter, Netflix and other popular websites that are normally available where you live.
    2. Copyright infringements: Sometimes, websites may be blocked due to copyright agreements that are issued on a country-by-country basis. For example, BBC iPlayer is exclusively available to UK residents, and won’t work from any other country. Unless, you use a VPN to spoof your location: For example, to get access to BBC iPlayer or Facebook while you’re abroad, simply use your VPN to connect to a server in the UK. NordVPN has 5000+ servers in 59 countries.

Save money on flight tickets, hotels, and car rentals

Did you know that a VPN can help you to book a cheaper vacation? By leveraging currencies and points of sale, you can get the best deals and cheapest rates for your next vacation.

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 French website rather than a U.K one, simply pick a server in France. which makes the internet think you’re a French user.

4. Download and upload files securely

P2P (Peer-to-Peer) file sharing has a number of legitimate reasons, such as distributing open-source software, public domain videos, or simply sharing large sets of data across the network. However, many ISPs are not thrilled about their customers engaging in P2P activities; which can result in slow connection speeds, limited bandwidth – or even restricted access to 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 a door to cybercriminals, with dire consequences.

man working from home

The good news is with a VPN turned on, you can use P2P without your ISP slowing you down and stay safe at the same time. With a VPN, your IP stays hidden and your online traffic is encrypted so that no one can see or intercept it.

5. Secure public Wi-Fi abroad

How many times have you heard and ignored the warning: “Think twice before using public Wi-Fi?” Well, you know what? With a VPN encrypting your online traffic, you can confidently connect to any public Wi-Fi hotspot in a hotel, train, airport or your favorite coffee shop.

female traveller browsing in a shopping mall

Public Wi-Fi networks are not secured, and they offer no protection whatsoever, making it ridiculously easy to get hacked. Hackers can intercept an unencrypted Wi-Fi connection by using a common Wi-Fi Evil Twin attack.Plus, the risk of getting your payment details stolen is even greater if you shop online, check your work inbox, and regularly make financial transactions.

So to stay on the safe side, use a VPN. An encrypted connection will keep your data safe, and even if a hacker does manages to intercept it, they won’t be able to use it, as encryption masks your data as useless gibberish.

6. Avoid price discrimination when shopping online

Imagine getting off a flight and going directly to the closest Starbucks to grab a coffee. At the counter, you discover you are charged five dollars, while the guy before you has just paid four for the same coffee, just because he’s a local. Sounds unfair right? Well this happens online all the time.

Many online stores display different prices for the same items based on the location a user is browsing from. So, for example, the price for the same handbag could be lower for a German IP address than for a Swedish IP.

But how do they even know this information? Again – it’s your IP address. It reveals the country you’re located in, giving giving businesses the freedom to decide what search results to show you and what prices to offer.

happy woman shopping online

So if you are about to buy those amazing shoes online 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 that you want to make it look like you’re browsing from. Try switching between different locations to see if the prices lower.

7. Keep your conversations secure and private

It doesn’t matter whether you call your mom or organize a teleconference with your business partners – the possibility that someone may be secretly listening to your private conversations is more real than you think.

Even though VoIP services are becoming more secure and difficult to hack, they aren’t bulletproof. In fact, most of them are quite easy to use for eavesdropping.

What’s more, services like Skype are often blocked in highly-censored countries, so combining VoIP with a VPN is a must, especially if you are traveling or temporarily living abroad.

man using mobile devices at a coffee shop

Not only does a VPN help you bypass geo-blocks and call your friends and family from anywhere in the world, it also secures your Internet traffic with powerful encryption, preventing snoopers and third-parties from monitoring you.

So, go ahead, get yourself a VPN

By now you should have plenty of reasons to use a VPN. Not only are VPNs great for protecting your privacy, they also give you access to a whole new world of content by unblocking geo-restrictions. Get more from online services, and save some money, it’s a no-brainer.

Keep your online activity private with a NordVPN subscription


Lewis Lambert Fox
Lewis Lambert Fox successVerified author

Lewis is a content writer at NordVPN and a true explorer when it comes to cybersecurity. He’s always on a mission to examine the tech world through the lens of privacy and share his findings and useful tips with blog readers.


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