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11 most interesting uses of a VPN

VPNs can 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.

Lewis Lambert Fox

Lewis Lambert Fox

11 most interesting uses of a VPN

What is a VPN?

A VPN, or virtual private network, is a system for establishing a protected network connection and boosting your security. VPNs mask your IP address and encrypt your data even on public networks.

When you visit websites and access content, advertisers and other third-parties are keen to track your browsing habits. A Virtual Private Network can give you a greater level of privacy, using encryption to protect your online identity from 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. For example, when you're using a VPN app on your mobile device, all the internet traffic to and from the phone is routed through a VPN server. While traveling between the device and the server, your data moves inside an encrypted tunnel, so you're protected from snoopers and man-in-the-middle attacks. That's how a VPN works, on the technical side — but what can you do with a VPN?

What can you do with a VPN

What can you do with a VPN?

You'll be amazed at the things you can do with a virtual private network. When people ask, “What can I do with a VPN?” they often expect to hear one answer: VPNs can encrypt your data. There's a lot more to VPNs than that, though. With premium VPN services offering easy-to-use VPN apps, the possibilities are endless. Indeed, there are so many great things that you can do with a VPN. Here are our top 10 amazing uses for a VPN:

1. Avoid targeted bandwidth throttling

If you’re doing something online that uses a lot of internet bandwidth — gaming or streaming, for example — your ISP might target you with bandwidth throttling tactics.

Bandwidth throttling happens when your ISP attempts to reduce bandwidth congestion and regulate network traffic, and it directly affects 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 that your ISP can no longer see your activity sessions. Obviously 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 of your browsing habits, a VPN can help. So, you will be able to enjoy your online games without major bandwidth disruptions.

2. Access your home network when you're away

A lot of us store our photos, important documents, and large files on our home desktop computer, and most of us will have remote access set up, so we can access these files from anywhere in the world. To keep your precious files safe and secure its best to connect using a VPN, as it encrypts your internet connection.

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3. 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.

VPN for cheaper flights

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.

4. Make public Wi-Fi more secure

Connecting to public Wi-Fi isn’t always safe. 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 getting your payment details stolen while using public Wi-Fi.

5. Protect your mobile devices

VPNs have evolved into easy-to-use apps for smartphones, tablets, Smart TVs, and other mobile devices. With one NordVPN account, you can cover up to six devices, meaning that all your mobile hardware can enjoy the same level of protection. This allows you to create a genuinely secure network in your home. We advise covering all your devices with a VPN, to ensure continuous encryption.

6. Use other useful VPN features

While the core function of a VPN is encryption and IP address protection, premium VPNs also come with a range of other useful features. For example, NordVPN offers a Kill Switch function, ensuring that, in the unlikely event that your VPN stops working, your internet will instantly be cut, preventing unintended data exposure. It also has the Threat Protection function that helps you identify malware-ridden files, stops you from landing on malicious websites, and blocks trackers and intrusive ads on the spot.

7. Access your work or university network abroad

You might not able to access your school, university, or work network/intranet if you're out of the country. With so many of us relocating abroad amidst the pandemic, you might find your location blocked due to some kind of regulation, and unable to get access.

A VPN is great for remote learning and working. Not only will it help secure you from third-parties and cybercriminals online, you'll be able to switch your location and access your usual websites and networks.

8. 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.

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.

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

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9. 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.

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.

10. Protect your right to privacy

As well as all the practical reasons we’ve outlined here, one of the simplest and most important uses for a VPN is as a way to protect your right to privacy. We believe 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.

11. A better gaming experience

When playing online games, having a fast and stable connection is important. As we've discussed, a VPN can help with that. But sometimes rival gamers can try to disrupt your connection with DDoS attacks, flooding your network with artificially inflated traffic. This can slow down your local network or even make it inaccessible to you. To launch a DDoS attack, however, they'll need your IP address, which they won't be able to get since it's protected by your VPN.

NordVPN also has a versatile feature called Meshnet. You can use it to form remote encrypted LAN connections with your friends and play together over secure private networks.

What do people use a VPN for most?

The security benefits of a VPN are apparent. People use VPNs mostly for:

  • Privacy protection.
  • Safeguarding IP information.
  • Securing their data
  • Making their browsing habits private

This tool give people more control over their online presence, and help to preserve the right to online privacy.

Also, we strongly advice you to avoid free VPNs if you wish to have a quality service. A lot of free VPN services might track and collect your data, clutter you with ads and have very limited functionality. Always go for premium VPN services.

Don't just take our word for it

By now you should have plenty of reasons to use a VPN. There are so many cool VPN uses in daily life. But don't just take our word for it, check out the NordVPN reviews to hear more from people around the world who use NordVPN everyday. Get more from the internet, and save money, it’s a no-brainer. NordVPN is available for all the major operating systems. You can use it on your laptop as well as you mobile phone.

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Lewis Lambert Fox
Lewis Lambert Fox Lewis Lambert Fox
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.