Why You Should Be Using a VPN
Chances are you’ve heard friends or colleagues talking about VPNs, or maybe you’ve even used one to access work files while away from the office. In essence, a VPN (Virtual Private Network) cloaks and encrypts your activity on the Internet, while also making it appear as if you’re connecting from a different computer, location or country.
While there are some disadvantages to using a VPN – notably a slower connection speed, and any VPN you’d actually want to use won’t be free – there are still a lot of really common scenarios when using a VPN is going to be your best bet.
1. Use Public Wi-Fi With Confidence
Public Wi-Fi hotspots are great: they let you check your email, look up a random fact, scroll through funny GIFs and all sorts of things. The problem, though, is you can’t always trust who else is on the public network.
A VPN will encrypt your data and usage on whatever network you’re currently on, making it safer to type in passwords, do your banking, and online shop at your local coffee house.
2. Prevent Marketers (or Others) from Tracking Your Usage
The truth of the matter is that Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc., know almost everything about everyone, but that doesn’t mean you have to let them know everything about you!
By using a VPN when you search the web, your IP address will be cloaked, meaning that search engines who track usage based upon IP won’t be able to associate any of your searches with you as a person. That said, remember to sign out of GMail before searing for anything scandalous…
3. Watch Your Favorite Shows While Traveling
For TV Junkies, this is a big one: when you’re traveling across the globe, whether for pleasure or for business, chances are you won’t be able to access your favorite streaming services – or your favorite shows on those services – due to country copyright restrictions.
A good VPN service will allow you to VPN into your home country, giving the streaming services the impression that you’re in Great Britain when really you’re on a business trip in Singapore.
4. Use P2P and BitTorrent Without Alarming Your ISP or Government
While it’s true that most P2P and BitTorrent usage still revolves around downloading various kinds of otherwise paid-for media for free, there’s still a lot of legitimately free content that you might want to grab via one of these methods. Unfortunately, some ISPs don’t support torrent downloading in certain regions, and the use of BitTorrent can get you put on a “Watch List” in some countries.
Using a VPN to mask your downloads will help you get the content you need without all the worry.
5. Bypass Censorship
This is a big one: in countries that censor content, block social media, and otherwise try to control what content their citizens and visitors use, a VPN will allow you in most cases to access censored content, which can include everything from news sites to Gmail. [Link to China post]
6. Secure Your VoIP/Skype Conversations
Services like Skype and VoIP (Voice over IP) really have changed the world and have allowed people to do everything from conduct business meetings to connect with relatives halfway across the world.
Unfortunately, these calls are notoriously easy to eavesdrop on. Using a VPN will enable you to keep the inside joke you share with your grandmother every year on her birthday just that: a private, inside joke.
7. Take Control Of Your Privacy
Finally, one of the biggest reasons to use a VPN service is simply to regain control: you should have the right to browse, share and download on the Internet without being watched, tracked or catalogued, whether by governments or private interests. Use a VPN, and begin to take back control.