If you’ve been using the Internet for a while, you’ve probably noticed that in the past few years, the term “VPN” has been coming up a lot. Although they’ve existed for a while, it is only now that VPN’s have truly been getting the popularity they deserve. They’re an amazing invention, and in this article, we’ll try to convince you why you and virtually everyone else can benefit from using a VPN.
So what is a VPN anyway? VPN stands for Virtual Private Network, and essentially that’s exactly what it is: It’s a “virtual” network of physical computers, and this network allows the computers to share data among themselves as if they were physically connected inside a local area network. This is originally what VPN’s were designed for. Before the age of flash drives, cloud storage, and ultra-fast Internet connections, LAN was the primary method of sharing files between computers. A problem arises, though, when you simply can’t physically connect two PCs with a LAN cable (one is at home, the other is in your office, for example). If they’re both connected inside a VPN, however, you can share files over the Internet, the same way you’d do it with a LAN connection.
Although that’s primarily what VPNs were meant to do, today they can do so much more. By connecting to a VPN, you get a new IP address right away. Since your IP address is the number-one tool for anyone to learn anything about you online (your location, ISP etc.), you’ve just kept that entire information private – just by connecting to another network.
If you’re still thinking about whether or not you need to use a VPN, here are a number of reasons why we highly recommend that you do:
You Download A Lot of Torrents
Now, it’s a common misconception that torrents are “illegal”. Torrent, or P2P, is just another way of sharing files over the Internet just like HTTP and FTP, which is perfectly legal in and of itself. It’s illegal to share and download copyrighted material, which is another scenario altogether. Unfortunately, ISPs do tend to log your traffic, and chances are that if they see you sharing files over a torrent tracker, they’ll pay more attention to you and log more of your traffic.
If you don’t want people snooping around your Internet connection for whatever reason and want your connection to remain anonymous and private, a VPN is exactly what you need.
You’re Concerned About Security
Today, there are dedicated VPN providers that offer people to connect to their networks and get their connections encrypted by an array of tunneling protocols (such as OpenVPN, PPTP, and SSTP). By doing this, the user receives a whole new level of security and privacy that they didn’t have before. It’s essential that you have some sort of protection online these days because hackers’ tools are becoming more powerful and they’re becoming more knowledgeable. It’s very easy to penetrate and unencrypted connection and obtain sensitive information, and a VPN is by far one of the most effective ways to protect yourself against this.
You Live In A Geo-Blocked Area
There’s been a growing trend of websites geo-blocking certain regions lately, for whatever reason. Geo-blocking means that the website in question cannot be accessed by users in a certain region. You’ve certainly come across the “This video is not available in your region” error message on YouTube, and if you’re situated outside the US or Australia, you probably don’t have access to Pandora, one of the best streaming websites in the world. This can also be solved with a VPN; the way geo-blockades work is that the website identifies the IP address you’re connecting from, and that’s how it “knows” your location. If you’re in a geo-blocked area, you won’t gain access to the site.
If you connect to a VPN server that’s not in a geo-blocked area, however, the website will have no idea where you’re actually connecting from, and will “think” that you’re located where your VPN is located. By doing this, you can access various websites that perhaps you couldn’t in the past, such as Hulu, Netflix, Spotify, Pandora and many more.
You Need Remote Access To Another Computer
Perhaps you’re a student that needs access to some file that’s on a university computer, or an employee of a company that has a no-flash-drive policy (often a case these days). In order to access remote computers from your home PC, you need both your computer and theirs to be connected to the same VPN. This makes file sharing easy and quick, and you won’t get in trouble by trying to dump company data on a flash drive.
As you can see, there are truly a lot of ways in which a VPN can benefit you. There are many both free and paid VPNs out there, and a lot of them are pretty good. Of course, you’ll get a far better service if you pay for it, and if you really want good bang for your buck then a reliable service like ExpressVPN is a good choice. If not, you might want to try a free service like GPass or ProXPN. We do, however, recommend getting a good VPN subscription, because more likely than not, it will last you a lifetime.
Thomas Milva is 28 and is an Information Security Analyst and Web Entrepreneur. He also regularly writes for wefollowtech.com, where he often comments on the latest web trends in his articles.