14 most interesting uses of a VPN

Contents

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What is a VPN?

A VPN, which stands for virtual private network, establishes a digital connection between your computer and a remote server owned by a VPN provider, creating a point-to-point tunnel that encrypts your personal data, masks your IP address, and lets you sidestep website blocks and firewalls on the internet. This ensures that your online experiences are private, protected, and more secure.

By its very definition, a VPN connection is:

  • Virtual because no physical cables are involved in the connection process.
  • Private because through this connection, no one else can see your data or browsing activity.
  • Networked because multiple devices—your computer and the VPN server—work together to maintain an established link.

Now that you know the meaning behind VPN, as well as what VPN stands for, let’s explore the many benefits of a VPN, and why it might be advantageous to use one.

Why should I use a VPN service?

For anyone seeking a safer, freer, and more secure online experience, the benefits of using a VPN are myriad. A VPN protects its users by encrypting their data and masking their IP address, leaving their browsing history and location untraceable. This greater anonymity allows for greater privacy, as well as greater freedom for those who wish to access blocked or region-bound content.

Here are some common reasons as to why you might use a VPN:

Secure your data

Sensitive data like work emails, payment information, and location tagging is constantly being transmitted online. This information is trackable and easy to exploit, especially on a public network, where anyone who has access to the network has potential access your personal data. A VPN connection scrambles your data into code and renders it unreadable to anyone without an encryption key. It hides your browsing activity so that no one else can see it.

Work from home

Today, remote work is more widespread than ever before. With a VPN, remote workers can access company resources over a private connection from anywhere, so long as they are able to get online. This provides employees with a greater sense of flexibility, while also ensuring that company data remains protected and secure, even on a public Wi-Fi network.

Access or stream regional content from anywhere

Some sites and services restrict their media content based on geographic location, which means you may not have access to certain kinds of content. A VPN disguises, or spoofs, the location of your local server so that it appears as if it’s based elsewhere, such as in another country.

Bypass censorship and surveillance

Some regions may not have access to certain sites or services due to government restrictions, censorship, or surveillance. Location spoofing gives these users the ability to circumvent firewalls, view blocked websites, and move freely online.

Prevent ISP and third-party tracking

Internet service providers (ISPs) log and track your browsing history through your device’s unique IP address. This information could potentially be sold to third-party advertisers, given to the government, or left vulnerable in the face a security compromise. By routing to a remote VPN server instead of your ISP’s servers, a VPN masks your IP address, prevents ISP tracking, and keeps your personal data private.

Types of VPN connections

Today, you’ll find a wide variety of VPNs for computers and mobile, both premium and free, available for professional and personal use. Here are some of the most common types:

Name Type Connection method Use case
Remote access VPN (also known as client-to-site VPN) Home Connect to a private network or third-party server via SSL/TSL For remote workers who need access to company files and resources over a private connection, or for users who wish to browse the public Internet over an encrypted connection
Site-to-site VPN Private Network connects to another network via LAN, WAN For large organizations that need to link their internal networks across multiple sites in different locations, while maintaining a secure connection
VPN applications Mobile Connect to a private network via VPN app on mobile or smartphone device For mobile users who wish to take advantage of the benefits of a VPN while on the go, or while experiencing an unstable Internet connection

Remote access VPN (also known as client-to-site VPN)

One of the most widely used types of VPN for the computer, a remote access VPN, gives off-site users the ability to connect to an organization’s network, or a remote server, from their personal device. This can be accomplished by entering your authentication credentials via a login page, which then authorizes you to make the connection through your web browser.

Users may also connect to the VPN through a virtual desktop client or VPN app, which also connects to a network or server after you enter your credentials. A client provides its users with an easy interface to work with, connectivity information, and the ability to toggle between the VPN’s various features.

A remote access VPN can be used for both professional and personal use, which is why it’s one of the most common forms of VPN. It gives remote workers the ability to access company files and resources without having to be in the office, and it safeguards the private data of remote-first companies so that it’s likely to stay private. As for individual users who simply wish to browse the public Internet with increased autonomy and anonymity, a remote access VPN is integral to avoiding content blocks, firewalls, and ISP tracking.

Site-to-site VPN

Large organizations in need of a more robust, custom solution may opt for site-to-site VPNs. A site-to-site VPN is a private, internal network comprised of multiple networks within an organization, which are connected to each other’s local area networks (LANs) through the public Internet. This setup allows users across two separate networks, either within or adjacent to the organization, to share resources with each other while still limiting full access to all their resources, ensuring that communication within the company remains as private and as secure as possible. Due to the scale and complexity of site-to-site VPNs, this type of connection is best suited for enterprise-level companies with departments across multiple locations.

Within site-to-site VPNs, there are two network types:

Intranet

An intranet site-to-site VPN links several sites from the same organization together by way of LAN. This is useful when multiple departments across multiple locations need to collaborate with each other within a closed, private network. Through a site-to-site connection, these departments can securely and efficiently exchange resources with each other.

Extranet

An extranet site-to-site VPN links several sites from different organizations together by way of LAN. An organization that frequently collaborates with third-party suppliers, partners, or business vendors may need the ability to form this network. Organizations may also customize the scope of access between each network, so that only some resources are shared, while others remain private.

Mobile VPN

While long-standing VPN providers typically cater toward desktop users, smartphones have spurred a huge uptick in growth among VPNs for mobile—and for good reason. For smartphone users looking for greater security and protection while on the go, a mobile VPN is a necessity.

Mobile VPNs not only provide the benefits of a traditional VPN, but they also continue to safeguard data when Internet connectivity is spotty or unstable, or when toggling between mobile data and Wi-Fi. So long as the app is running, the VPN connection remains secure, and your device remains protected. Because of the flexibility, a mobile VPN is ideal for users who travel, or for those who don’t have access to a reliable internet connection.

How does a VPN work?

So how does a VPN protect you? Let’s look under the hood and see how things work.

Protocol name Encryption Routing Use case
OpenVPN 256-bit AES encryption using OpenSSL TCP and UDP, SSL/TSL Best overall use
SSTP 256-bit AES encryption TCP, SSL/TSL Best option for Windows
IKEv2 / IPSec 256-bit AES encryption UDP Best option for mobile browsing
L2TP / IPSec 256-bit AES encryption UDP Best option for basic setup
PPTP 128-bit encryption TCP None; obsolete
WireGuard 256-bit AES encryption UDP Best option for early adopters

When an attempted connection is made to the VPN provider’s remote server, the server authenticates the user and creates an encrypted tunnel for their data to run through. The data that funnels through this tunnel gets scrambled into code and rendered illegible by anyone who does not have access to the encryption key, and therefore does not have permission to read it. Once this data reaches the server, the server uses its own private key to decrypt the data and make it readable. The server sends the decrypted data, along with a new IP address, back to the site you’re attempting to connect with.

How this encryption process occurs—and whether it’s fully secure—depends on the type of protocol, or system of instructions, used to make the connection. A VPN service can only guarantee security and peace of mind when backed by a strong protocol. It’s the engine that keeps a VPN running.

You’ll find a wide variety of protocols among VPN providers, each with their own routing methods, each with their own use cases. Here are some of the most common options to look out for:

OpenVPN

One of the most widely used protocols in the space, OpenVPN is generally considered to be an industry standard for its security, stability, and flexibility. It features 256-bit encryption technology, provides tunneling through SSL/TSL, and uses open-source technology, which means anyone can view its source code and address any potential vulnerabilities. This level of transparency ensures that your data will never be sold or given to third-party advertisers.

SSTP

SSTP, which stands for Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol, is another industry-standard protocol that features 256-bit encryption and SSL/TSL certifications for authentication. It’s natively built into Windows OS and supported by Microsoft, which makes it the best option for Windows users.

IKEv2 / IPSec

IKEv2, which stands for Internet Key Exchange version 2, is a protocol that is usually paired with IPSec, Internet Protocol Security, for optimal security and speed. IKEv2/IPSec maintains your connection under unstable Internet conditions, even when toggling between cellular data and Wi-Fi. It’s the best protocol to use for mobile VPNs.

L2TP / IPSec

L2TP, which stands for Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol, is another protocol that is frequently paired with IPSec for added security. Like SSTP, it’s natively built into Windows OS, and is generally easy to set up, though many providers no longer support this protocol since there are now better options available.

PPTP

PPTP, which stands for Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol, was the original predecessor to L2TP, and has since been rendered obsolete. Some free VPNs may still use this protocol, though due to its many known security flaws, it is no longer considered a reliable option for secure connections.

WireGuard

WireGuard is a newer, up-and-coming protocol that continues to gain traction in the VPN space. It touts a leaner codebase, more modern encryption technology, and greater mobile compatibility. Like OpenVPN, it’s an open-source project, which means anyone can review the source code, report bugs, and keep their providers accountable.

How a VPN protects your IP address

In addition to encryption, a VPN also masks your IP address from the public internet, in turn masking your identity. When a user successfully connects their computer to the VPN server, the VPN not only secures their data, it also assigns them a new IP address that conceals their real IP address. This may come in the form of a shared IP address, which groups multiple users into a single IP so that activity from any one individual user becomes difficult to discern. This new IP address may also correspond with the IP address of the VPN server, which means the more servers there are across the globe, the more IP addresses you have to choose from. Depending on your needs, this can be configured in the settings of your VPN client.

When a VPN hides your IP address, it also spoofs, or hides, your location as well. This is useful for bypassing content blocks and firewalls, which rely on your IP to initiate the blocking. IP masking has also proven effective against doxing, where your private identity is made public online, as well as DDoS attacks, or distributed denial of service attacks. If no one knows your real IP address, then no one can launch an attack against you.

How secure is a VPN?

Even with the strongest protocols, a VPN does not guarantee iron-clad security. For one, it doesn’t protect against viruses. And even though a VPN can prevent an advertiser from using your cookies to target ads, it doesn’t prevent the cookies themselves. Security flaws, bugs, and other vulnerabilities may arise, which is why it’s important to keep your software up to date. Less reputable providers may log your browsing activity and use the data to sell you ads. And while the best providers offer the highest level of encryption and IP masking, ISPs and other third-party entities are growing savvier every day.

Despite these minor challenges, your online experience is still more secure and more flexible with a VPN service than without. If you’re looking to bring an added layer of online privacy to your daily browsing, then a VPN is necessary. With the winning combination of strong encryption plus IP masking, a VPN works to meet your protection needs.

What does a good VPN do?

Now that you know the advantages of using a VPN, as well as its various types, protocols, and use cases, let’s explore what to look for in a VPN provider. There are plenty of options on the market, but you’ll want to select a reputable company with clear expertise, a proven track record, and trustworthy values. Here are some of the features you should look for in a good VPN provider:

Strong protocols

The most important feature of any VPN provider is security, so it’s essential to choose a service that uses an industry-standard protocol with 256-bit encryption—the same kind of encryption used by banks and military. In today’s landscape, this means being aware of the limitations of older protocols like L2TP/IPSec, while avoiding obsolete protocols like PPTP altogether. Instead, opt for services that use OpenVPN, SSTP, IKEv2/IPSec, or WireGuard. The top providers support multiple protocols and should allow you to toggle between them, depending on the use case.

IP address protection

Greater anonymity is a pivotal reason to use a VPN. When looking for a provider, you’ll want to choose one that provides you with options for rerouting your IP address. A shared IP address groups multiple users together under one IP, protecting you from within the crowd, while quick and easy server switching allows you to choose your location from wherever your provider’s servers are located.

A range of servers across many locations

When using a VPN, you may notice a slowdown in performance if your provider only runs a select number of servers in a select number of locations. By using a service comprised of many servers located near and far, including ones closer to you, your data travels a shorter distance, improving on speed. The more servers there are around the world, the more spread out the users, the faster the performance. And if you’re looking to switch to an IP address from a particular region, you’ll want to see that your provider has a server there that supports your chosen protocol.

Zero-log policy

You may be hidden from third parties, but in theory, a VPN provider has the power to potentially see everything you do under its protection. Because of this, it’s important to go with a company that practices transparency around their logging policy. A zero-log, or no-log VPN provider keeps a record of your email address, payment information, and VPN server, but it shouldn’t log or store any data that gets sent while you’re securely connected. This includes usage logs, connection logs, session data, or even your IP address.

Kill switch

If your secure VPN connection gets interrupted, your computer reverts to your real IP address, in turn compromising your identity. A kill switch prevents this from happening by cutting off your Internet connection as soon as your VPN connection disrupts.

Mobile compatibility

Mobile activity gets risky when it’s happening on an unsecured Wi-Fi network. If you’re looking for a safer mobile experience, then it may be useful to look for a provider that offers support for mobile VPN, particularly the ability to switch to the IKEv2/IPSec protocol when roaming. This ensures that your connection is secure, even when you move from public Wi-Fi to cellular data.

Options for authentication

When a computer attempts to connect to a VPN server, the VPN must first authenticate the user before the connection is successful. This typically means entering your credentials via a login page or desktop client, though it’s best to consider additional options for authentication. Multi-factor authentication, for instance, requires that you authorize your login with your mobile device through an app. You may also want to use a physical security key, which you plug into your USB port, for even more security.

Customer support

Like other software companies, a VPN provider must have a reliable support team for you to contact for any issues that may arise. This support team should be knowledgeable, helpful, and easy to get in touch with.

Premium pricing

In general, it’s best to avoid free VPNs altogether. By choosing a paid provider, you are choosing a real and credible company, backed by quality technology and infrastructure. A paid provider is also less likely to log your activities and sell that information to advertisers. A premium VPN may require a monthly fee, but the value of safety, security, and peace of mind is well worth the cost.

How do VPNs help with identity theft?

Identity theft is a growing problem that continues to shift and evolve in subtle, surprising ways. It’s when hackers steal your personal data for the purpose of charging your credit cards, accessing your bank account, taking out a lease, or using your insurance for their gain—all forms of fraud. With the increasing frequency of corporate data breaches, where user information is stolen from a database, the issue of identity theft only seems to be growing bigger. And now that almost every café, business, or airport offers public Wi-Fi for the working, banking, and shopping needs of their patrons, our identities seem more vulnerable than ever.

Although it may not be possible to prevent a data breach from happening, it is possible to protect against online identity theft by using a VPN. Through tunneling, a VPN encrypts your data so that no one else, including fraudsters, can see it, thus securing your information even when you’re using an unsecured network. A VPN also masks your IP address so that your online identity and location remain untraceable, making it difficult for cyberthieves to pin you down. Because your IP address is hidden, you’re protected against cyberattacks.

Frequently asked questions

  • What is VPN and why do I need it?

A VPN, which stands for virtual private network, protects its users by encrypting their data and masking their IP addresses. This hides their browsing activity, identity, and location, allowing for greater privacy and autonomy. Anyone seeking a safer, freer, and more secure online experience could benefit from a VPN. Learn more about the benefits of a VPN

A reputable VPN provider should offer the highest level of encryption, IP address protection, location masking, and failsafe privacy options. Depending on the features offered, you might use a VPN to work remotely, secure sensitive data, access regional content, bypass content blocks, or prevent third-party tracking. Discover the many features of a VPN

A VPN connection is a digital connection established between your computer and a remote server owned by the VPN provider. When the connection is successful, it creates an encrypted tunnel through which all your data runs through. This data gets scrambled into code so that no one else can see it, ensuring that your browsing activity remains private and protected. See more VPN definitions

While VPNs do not protect against cookies, they do protect against ISP tracking, or Internet service provider tracking, as well as third-party advertisers and cybercriminals. This is accomplished by routing your connection to a remote VPN server, which masks your IP address and hides your location. With this information hidden, your identity remains private. Learn more about VPN protection

A VPN app is a software application that allows you to make a connection to a remote VPN server after you enter your login credentials. This may come in the form of a virtual client for the desktop, or as a mobile app. So long as the client or app is running, your device will remain protected by way of VPN. This is especially useful for smartphone users looking for security and protection while on the go. Explore additional types of VPN

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14 most interesting uses of a VPN

Virtual private networks 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

Mar 13, 2023
Время чтения: 16 мин.

  • What is a VPN?
  • What can you do with a VPN?
    • Protect your right to privacy
    • Make public Wi-Fi more secure
    • Access websites while traveling
    • Avoid price discrimination when shopping online
    • Save money on flight tickets, hotels, and car rentals
    • Avoid targeted bandwidth throttling
    • Secure and fast file downloads using VPN P2P servers
    • A better gaming experience
    • Protect yourself from phishing attempts
    • Stop intrusive and malicious ads
    • Block tracking cookies
    • Access your local network from afar
    • Convenient browsing on the Onion network
    • Get alerts about accounts in danger

    What is a VPN?

    A VPN, or virtual private network, establishes a protected network connection and boosts your security online. VPNs mask your IP address and encrypt your data even on public networks.

    Advertisers and other third parties are keen to track your browsing habits when you visit websites and access content. A virtual private network can give you greater privacy, using encryption to protect your online identity from your internet service provider and 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. When you use a VPN connection, all the internet traffic to and from your device is routed through one of the VPN servers. Your data moves inside an encrypted tunnel, protecting your data from snoopers and man-in-the-middle attacks. That’s how a VPN connection works on the technical side — but what can you actually do with a VPN?

    Browse freely and securely with NordVPN.

    Stay safe with the world’s leading VPN

    What can you do with a VPN?

    Besides keeping you safe in cyberspace, a VPN offers multiple other benefits that may up your network experience. Here are 7 ways to use a VPN, some of which you may not have heard of:

    1. Protect your right to privacy

    One of the simplest and most important duties of a VPN is to protect your right to privacy. 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.

    2. Make public Wi-Fi more secure

    Connecting to public Wi-Fi isn’t always safe, but you can secure your Wi-Fi network with a VPN. A common misconception is that public Wi-Fi requires no additional safety precautions. Surveys show that 81% of Americans use public hotspots regularly, but only 1% use a VPN server to secure their network activity on public Wi-Fi.

    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 potential malware and getting your details stolen while using public Wi-Fi.

    3. Access websites while traveling

    If you are abroad and want to access websites or services you’re used to accessing at home, and they are blocked due to country restrictions, use a VPN. A VPN can help you securely stream your favorite TV shows or sports games from your home country while lying under a thatch umbrella on a sunny beach.

    A VPN is also great for remote learning and working, as it allows you to switch locations and access work or university networks/intranet in restricted areas. A VPN will help you access files and websites, secure browsing traffic on public networks, and protect you from third-party invasion and potential malware online.

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    4. Avoid price discrimination when shopping online

    Imagine getting off a flight and going directly to the closest cafe for a cappuccino. At the counter, you discover that they want to charge you $5, while the guy before you paid $4 for the same coffee just because he’s a local. Sounds unfair, right? Well, this happens online all the time.

    According to our research, UK holidaymakers pay up to 97.5% more for bookings. Many online services display different prices for the same items based on the location a user is browsing from. So, for example, the price for the same holiday deal could be lower for a German IP address than for a Swedish IP.

    Asking how is this possible? Again – your IP address is the culprit. It reveals the country you’re located in, giving businesses the freedom to decide what search results to show you and what prices to offer.

    So if you are about to purchase a monthly plan for your favorite music platform 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. Try switching between different locations and get the best shopping deals.

    Online security starts with a click.

    Stay safe with the world’s leading VPN

    5. Save money on flight tickets, hotels, and car rentals

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

    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 UK website rather than a French one, simply pick a VPN server in the UK.

    6. Avoid targeted bandwidth throttling

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

    Bandwidth throttling happens when your ISP attempts to reduce bandwidth congestion and regulate network traffic, directly affecting 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 your ISP can no longer track your online activity. 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 you use a large amount of data, such as streaming or gaming, a VPN can help. Although the amount of used data is still visible to the ISP when using a VPN, you can enjoy your online games without major bandwidth disruptions.

    7. Secure and fast file downloads using VPN P2P servers

    P2P (peer-to-peer) file sharing is a networking technology that allows sharing digital media, such as books, music, software, videos, or large data sets across the network. However, many ISPs are not thrilled about their customers engaging in P2P activities, resulting in slow connection speeds, limited bandwidth, or access to restricted 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 the door to cybercriminals.

    To keep your personal data secure while using P2P, turn on a VPN. With a VPN, your IP stays hidden, and your online traffic is encrypted so no one can see or intercept it. You will be able to use P2P without your ISP slowing down the connection and stay safe at the same time.

    What can you do with NordVPN?

    In addition to the usual VPN benefits, NordVPN offers even more VPN features to up your online experience:

    1. A better gaming experience

    Video games have become a popular leisure time activity for many people. And there is a reason for that. It immerses you in a different world, develops relationships between gamers, and lets you explore new horizons together. Multiplayer games create a feeling of belonging and are a good way to unwind yourself. So creating a stable environment for such experiences is crucial.

    Having a fast, stable, and secure connection is important when playing online games, and a VPN can help here, especially when you are seeking multiplayer capabilities. NordVPN has a versatile feature called Meshnet, which is perfect for LAN parties. You can use it to form remote encrypted LAN connections (even if you’re not physically in the same location) with your friends and play together over secure private networks.

    2. Protect yourself from phishing attempts

    Email phishing is a widespread cyberattack that uses email as the primary means of deception. An email phishing attack tricks the recipient into clicking on a malicious link, downloading malicious software, or providing personal information to third parties.

    A VPN is a primary remedy against such attacks. NordVPN has an additional feature, Threat Protection, that scans your files during download and blocks malware from infecting your device.

    3. Stop intrusive and malicious ads

    Nothing is more annoying than dozens of ads on a website when you simply want a recipe for apple pie. NordVPN and Threat Protection work just like an ad blocker, blocking intrusive ads while you browse and letting you surf the net without annoying interruptions.

    While some ads are only intrusive, others may contain malware that could damage your device. Moreover, fewer ads mean fewer internet connection interruptions leading to faster loading times.

    4. Block tracking cookies

    Using a private browsing mode only stops trackers when you close your browser. NordVPN’s Threat Protection also works as a tracker blocker as you browse and stop third-party trackers snooping on you around the internet and gathering your personal data.

    Malicious actors can gather a lot about you: IPs, addresses, devices, browsers used, time spent on websites, political views, family, food preferences, and other personal information. A tracker block is necessary for gatekeeping your data and protects you from prying eyes.

    5. Access your local network from afar

    Many of us store photos, important school or university documents, and large files on our home desktop computers. Need to access them while on holiday? No problem. You can use a VPN to access your computer content at home.

    NordVPN has a remote access feature that lets you connect to your devices and local networks from anywhere. Creating such a connection without additional tools may reduce your security. That is when Meshnet comes in handy.

    This file-sharing feature lets you share files between multiple connected devices. This peer-to-peer mechanism ensures your files are sent safely without any third party intruding on the exchange. You can safely access your files while traveling or test your web applications on different platforms without leaving your house. And it only takes a few minutes to configure — one, two, and you’ve set up a convenient environment for file-sharing.

    6. Convenient browsing on the Onion network

    Onion Over VPN is another handy feature of NordVPN. It works just like The Onion Router (Tor) but provides the extra security of a VPN tunnel. This easy-to-use feature sends your internet traffic through layers of encryption, making it very difficult to track your online activity. NordVPN safeguards your incoming and outgoing traffic, giving you peace of mind when surfing the web.

    7. Get alerts about accounts in danger

    Even if you take excellent care of your security in cyberspace, data breaches can still occur. Your sensitive information may unwittingly land on the dark web and cause identity theft. Yet another NordVPN feature, Dark Web Monitor, continuously scans the dark web and will notify you about any exposed personal data so you can take proper action.

    What do people use a VPN for most?

    Besides the multiple additional VPN benefits, people use VPNs mostly for the following:

    • Privacy protection.
    • Safeguarding IP information.
    • Securing their data.
    • Making their browsing habits private.
    • A VPN provider gives people more control over their online presence and helps to preserve the right to online privacy.

    And if you are considering between a free VPN and paid VPNs, always go for premium VPN services. Free VPN services might track and collect your data, clutter you with ads, and have very limited functionality.

    Don’t just take our word for it

    See for yourselves! Check out the NordVPN reviews to hear more from people worldwide who use NordVPN every day. Take control of your online activities and save money. NordVPN is available for all major operating systems. And you can use it on your laptop and your mobile phone.

    NordVPN now offers bundle deals and pairs the VPN service with the password manager NordPass or the encrypted cloud storage NordLocker. Ensure your privacy for one or two years, or get a monthly plan. The good thing is that you can upgrade your VPN plan anytime. And all two-year subscriptions come with three extra months for free!

    If we have convinced you and you want to learn how to use a VPN, read our next article.

    Online security starts with a click.

    Stay safe with the world’s leading VPN

    Lewis Lambert Fox

    Lewis — автор контента в NordVPN и истинный исследователь, когда речь идет о кибербезопасности. Его неизменная миссия — изучать мир технологий через призму конфиденциальности и делиться своими выводами и полезными советами с читателями блога.

    19 cool things to do with a VPN

    Hand pointing at shield with acronym VPN written on it

    They told you to get a VPN . Standing for “Virtual Private Network,” a VPN encrypts and routes your data via a server to increase privacy and security. But what can you do with a VPN? Well, this article will offer a few more insights into the multiple ways you can use a virtual private network for increased privacy and online convenience.

    Table of contents

    Get cheaper bookings (flights, car rentals, hotels, etc.)

    Searching for a specific booking may result in fluctuating prices. Also, it’s common for Mac users to get higher prices than Windows users . Crazy right? Well, it all comes down to cookies and your interest in buying this specific ticket, car, room, etc. One of the more lucrative things to do with a VPN is to get around these price fluctuations.

    Tip: Test different server locations with your VPN on and see how prices differ. Then, you’ll start seeing how much money you can save on airline tickets with a VPN .

    Access websites while traveling

    Accessing websites while traveling can be a challenge, especially if you rely on certain websites that may become inaccessible due to geographical limitations. Many countries have restrictions on certain websites or services, and these restrictions can vary widely depending on where you are in the world. With some preparation and the right tools, you can stay connected to the internet and access the websites you need, no matter where your travels take you.

    Tip: Connect to a VPN server back in your country, and you’ll be able to access websites from your homeland without any issues.

    Enjoy the best deals for online shopping

    Depending on your location, some retailers may increase the price of their items. The difference is due to taxes and import costs across countries.

    Tip: Check different VPN servers at locations around the world to see which price is the lowest. You could even save money while on vacation! Who knew that this many VPN uses would be about saving money, huh?

    Protect your mobile devices

    These days, many of us don’t even have a stationary PC. We’re all immersed in laptops, smartphones, tablets, smartwatches, and whatever else you can stick a touchscreen on. Therefore, our internet connection changes sources often, especially when Wi-Fi is involved.

    Tip: Ensure your data is protected with a VPN running on your device. Even if anyone tries to spoof your internet connection or tries to launch a man-in-the-middle attack, any data they intercept will be unreadable.

    Create the ultimate lockdown streaming hub

    We all want to maintain our privacy online. And yes, that also extends to streaming your favorite shows and movies. With a VPN connection, you can feel safe even when indulging in the latest Netflix gems from the comfort of your couch.

    Not to mention, a VPN may even speed up your streaming by helping you avoid internet throttling. With your traffic encrypted, your internet service provider will not know that you’re watching videos. Therefore, they can’t throttle you. Surfshark is equipped with 1GBit (and it is constantly upgrading to 10GBit) server ports available to you worldwide.

    Tip: Use a VPN whenever streaming for privacy and dodging internet throttling.

    Secure your streaming today!

    Disclaimer: We prohibit using Surfshark services for any unlawful purposes as it is against our Terms of Service. Please be sure to act in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations of streaming service providers.

    Stay safe on public Wi-Fi

    “Free Wi-Fi” is the most magical phrase for any urbanite on the go. Unfortunately, free Wi-Fi is sussy (for people reading this in 2024: “suspicious”) Wi-Fi. It’s questionable how much your two-star hostel cares about your digital security or whether the network you’re connecting to at the cafe is even real .

    Tip: Anyone trying to steal your data via an unsafe public Wi-Fi hotspot can be stopped by using a VPN. As long as you’re connected to a VPN server, all your data is encrypted and unreadable.

    Comment and publish opinions anonymously

    When we don’t like something, we recommend others not make the same mistake. What if this results in being harassed or even sued over a negative review? And there are more dangers for those expressing their political opinions under oppressive regimes . The same goes for journalists and bloggers who cover controversial topics.

    Tip: To make tracking you down more difficult, you need to hide your identity online . One of the first steps is to hide your IP with a VPN and then post any comments or reviews. This way, you can share the truth with others safely while a VPN protects you.

    Speed up your internet connection

    If you find yourself waiting for a website or video to load, you may be suffering from bandwidth throttling by your ISP. This means that your ISP (Internet Service Provider) may purposely be slowing down (throttling) your connection .

    Tip: Avoid this sort of unpleasantness by keeping your VPN connection on at all times . A VPN encrypts your internet connection, so even if the ISP were going to look into that, they wouldn’t see anything. For the best speeds, choose a server that’s closest to your physical location.

    Game where you want to game

    Online gaming can be a wee bit bandwidth-intensive . It can also distract you from school, work, or whatever else the person administering the Wi-Fi router thinks you should be doing instead. Well, they’re neither your mom nor your boss (even if they literally are), and you have the right to go blind playing PUBG.

    Tip: With a VPN on your device, you can! Firewalls on routers block your connection to classic Runescape servers because they’re told to block connections to Runescape servers. Connect to a VPN, and then the firewall will only see you connecting to a VPN server, something that is very difficult to block. Then you can play any game you want.

    Get more “free” services and websites

    Not all news websites are completely open to the public. Quite often , you can only access a limited number of entries before signing up . Similarly, other useful online tools like moz.com allow a set number of “free” daily searches.

    Each time you visit “free” websites , they track your IP address (check where your IP address is located ) and log how many articles you have opened. That’s how they know when you’ve reached your limit. So, how do you get around this?

    Tip: Just choose a different server from your VPN app every time you reach the limit. Open the website or tool in a new private browsing window, and they’ll see you as a new visitor .

    Unlock social media apps

    According to a study analyzing internet censorship , “almost one in three countries have blocked social media either permanently or sporadically since 2015.” If you happen to travel to one of these countries, you likely won’t have access to social media.

    Tip: C onnect to a server located in a neighboring country using a VPN and browse as usual w hen using social media apps in countries where they’re blocked.

    Research your competition privately

    Thanks to Google Analytics and other tools, a webmaster can see all visitors on their website. They can track your internet data and know where you come from or what information you took an interest in — even when researching your competition .

    Tip: Turn on your VPN and connect to a server to stay private while doing any internet research. And don’t use your real name when filling out forms.

    Avoid “the list”

    Downloading and file-sharing may get you noticed by specific agencies — even if it’s legal. These include the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America), the NSA (National Security Agency), the GCHQ (The UK’s Government Communications Headquarters), and more.

    Though their main goal is to track illegally downloaded and shared information, that doesn’t stop them from keeping an eye on you . One of the VPN uses is keeping you hidden by masking your real IP.

    Tip: Always have a VPN connection on to keep your IP hidden online.

    Skype call for free (or cheaper)

    Skype can connect you to your loved ones who are far away. But calling someone’s landline or mobile phone can get expensive when geographical distances get involved .

    Tip: Get around this issue with a VPN (e.g., Surfshark works well with Skype). Choose a server in the receiver’s country and call for free or get cheaper rates.

    Unblock VoIP services

    Want to contact your relatives via VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) services, like Viber or WhatsApp, but can’t because of restrictions in their country ? You can get around this with a VPN, even in countries that ban VoIP services.

    Tip: Just choose a server where the VoIP service is available and enjoy connecting with others hassle-free!

    Stay secure on the Tor Network

    The Tor Network does a lot to increase your privacy. While relying on volunteer nodes to reroute your traffic, it uses three nodes per connection to make it more secure. This ensures that any single node only knows its neighbors on the chain . For example, an entry node knows where you’re connecting from but not your real online destination — only that you’re connecting to the second node.

    It is still possible to compromise this network by seeding enough nodes to capture both the entry and exit nodes and then identify users by triangulating connection times. However, with a VPN on, even the entry node won’t know where you’re connecting from !

    Tip: Use Tor over a VPN . Simply connect to a VPN server before engaging the Tor connection.

    Take your media with you

    Geoblocking is a nasty thing that ruins our enjoyment of online streaming services. This can get especially egregious for travelers when their favorite shows, YouTube series, or music becomes unavailable on a trip.

    If your ISP blocks certain sites, a VPN will easily overcome their blocks. After all, you’re not connecting to YouTube — you’re connecting to a Surfshark server (which is connecting to YouTube).

    Tip : With a VPN service on, you can switch your online location effortlessly to match that of your home . And just like that, you can listen to your favorite tunes anywhere in the world.

    Work from wherever

    The plague showed us that we don’t need to be at our offices to do our jobs right. Naturally, for the lucky people, this meant that Work From Home was (and still is) an option. But home is a nebulous term, and some of us would like it to include sunnier and warmer places.

    Tip: With a VPN service, you can connect to your workspaces as if you were still back home . Anyone who wants to track your location by IP will only see the server’s location. Who can tell the difference if you are connected to a server that matches your hometown?

    Secure the entire home

    VPN services provide a level of security that works great on your phone or laptop. But what about all the other smart gadgets, gizmos, and gewgaws scattered around the house? Not all of them are sophisticated enough to support VPN apps !

    But you do have a router . Most top VPN routers can either support VPNs or users can configure them to do so.

    Tip: If you slap a virtual private network on your router , you’ll immediately provide the VPN benefits to any device that connects to it — a great boon for such app-averse appliances as consoles and smart TVs.

    Explore your VPN beyond privacy and security

    Though the ultimate goal is to secure your digital life, there are other VPN uses as well. As you can see, these 19 tips and tricks can help you save money, stream privately, browse anonymously , and so much more!

    If you love surfing the web, accessing blocked websites, and discovering hidden possibilities online, I definitely recommend always using a VPN.

    Try this cool multifunctional internet security tool!

    FAQ

    What should I use a VPN for?

    You should use a VPN to:

    • Stay safe on public Wi-Fi;
    • Bypass geoblocking ;
    • Access censored sites;
    • Keep yourself safe while accessing censored sites.

    Obviously, there are more uses than that, but those are the ones that exemplify the protection and accessibility that a VPN brings.

    Can the police track a VPN?

    No, the police can’t track live VPN traffic. But there is a bit more to the story. For a full answer, read our article on whether police can track VPNs .

    What are the disadvantages of a VPN?

    There are two main disadvantages to using a VPN:

    • Financial expenditure : a good VPN is a paid VPN, and free ones will never match that level of services. In fact, they might even pose an online security risk ;
    • Loss of speed: some of your bandwidth will be used by the encryption overhead, which is necessary for making a VPN work. The drop shouldn’t be noticeable.

    What sites can I access with a VPN?

    With a VPN, you can access all the sites you can access normally — and likely the ones that are blocked by work, school, or the government:

    • YouTube;
    • Facebook;
    • Instagram;
    • Twitter;
    • News sites;
    • Streaming services.

    This is not an exhaustive list!

    What doesn’t a VPN protect you from?

    A lot depends on the circumstances, but a VPN definitely can’t protect you from:

    • Falling for phishing;
    • Installing malware yourself;
    • Giving out your personal information online.

    Can your internet provider see your history with a VPN?

    No, the ISP can only see that you’re connected to a VPN server.

    What can I do with a gaming VPN?

    A VPN for gaming can help you:

    • Secure yourself from DDoS attacks;
    • Maintain security from SWATing;
    • Match with players in different regions;
    • Defeat bandwidth throttling while gaming;
    • Play online games blocked by local firewalls .

    What can I do with a VPN on Android?

    A VPN on an Android can help you to:

    • Maintain security on public Wi-Fi;
    • Connect to sites blocked by local firewalls;
    • Access websites from your home country while traveling.

    What can I do with a VPN on iPhone?

    • Browse the web without trackers;
    • Get better deals;
    • Stream privately and throttle-free.

    All you need to do is download a VPN app and connect to a VPN server to get these benefits.

    Martynas Klimas

    Martynas Klimas
    Knows as much about VPN as it is healthy for someone who isn’t a VPN developer

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