5 major advantages of using a VPN

What are the benefits of using a VPN?

We've been talking a lot about Virtual Private Networks (VPN) lately, mostly thanks to eroding privacy and increased restrictions imposed by internet providers and, in some cases, governments. VPNs are becoming increasingly popular, but they still aren't commonplace. If you're on the fence about whether or not you could benefit from a VPN, this list of advantages should help you make up your mind once and for all.

VPNs provide increased privacy while online

Protect yourself!

When you're in public, you wouldn't walk around with your personal information hanging out. The same should be true while you're online; perhaps even more so. It's best to think of the internet as a lawless den where there are hidden eyes watching you at all times. Spooky!

Instead of walking around without any help, why not put on your invisibility cloak? Sure, your foot might poke out now and again, but for the most part, you're hidden. This is analogous to a VPN.

A lot of information can be gleaned from the bits of data left around the web, so why not make that data appear to be coming from the VPN provider instead of you? If you're at all worried about the current state of privacy online, or what might be coming in the future, a VPN can help set your mind at ease.

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VPNs provide enhanced security while online

While there are measures in place to keep you somewhat safe while browsing the internet, they are hardly enough in our current reality. Whether it's hackers, spammers, spoofers, or anyone else who's looking to extort you, a VPN can help keep you secure.

Say you travel a lot and stay in hostels and hotels. The Wi-Fi you connect to without thinking could be set up by someone looking to steal your information. Every day there are high-profile hacks and leaks that make people wonder what they can do to protect themselves.

With a VPN, you generally know where your data is headed, and along the way, you can be sure that it isn't being intercepted thanks to heavy encryption.

Some VPNs provide ad and tracker blocking

Some VPNs, like Private Internet Access, offer a built-in ad, malware, and tracker blocker. While there are plenty of ad-blocking options out there already for your browsers, it's a hassle to configure everything the same way between browsers and between devices.

With an ad and tracker blocker built right into the VPN, you'll see fewer ads in general, and especially fewer targeted ads. Blocking is usually handled at the DNS level where there's a long list of domains associated with ads, trackers, and malware.

Having a VPN do the blocking for you is a huge boon to anyone who hates seeing a week of ads targeted at you because you accidentally typed something embarrassing into Google.

VPNs help you bypass geo restrictions

NordVPN servers

Geographical borders do not only apply to the physical world — they also apply online. Have you ever attempted to watch a video on YouTube, only to see that the uploader hasn't made it accessible in your country? Sometimes you can find an open mirror, but other times you're out of luck.

Not only can a VPN unlock that video you're dying to see, it can also unlock more sensitive, important content. Say you're a journalist working in an oppressive country and you want to know about what's really happening to the government. A VPN will not only hide your activity online, it will also open up avenues of information that were locked up tight.

Because good VPN providers have a wide range of servers all over the world, connecting to a server in the right country (read: one that doesn't block information) should be as easy as clicking a few buttons.

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VPNs allow you to bypass ISP bandwidth throttling

Internet Service Providers (ISP) are in the game to make money, and one way to boost profit is to throttle your internet speed when you're connecting to certain sites, including plenty of streaming services like Netflix. These streaming services do take up a lot of bandwidth, and ISPs want to keep their networks clear. This also usually means you're going to watch your shows load more often than you're going to watch your shows.

A VPN hides your activity online, so your ISP cannot see that you're trying to stream video. You're less likely to have your bandwidth throttled, resulting in a smoother browsing or streaming experience.

There are plenty more reasons why an ISP might be throttling your bandwidth, but one thing remains the same: a VPN should get you around it.