VPN, an acronym for Virtual Private Network, is a digital service that alters your IP address and hides your internet usage through real-time encryption. On top of privacy and anonymization, the benefits of a good VPN include heightened security and the ability to access websites and online services that may be censored or blocked in your region. Below we will provide an overview of each major benefit of VPNs.
Hide and Anonymize Your Internet Activities
Because your browsing data is encrypted, it is difficult to read and understand. As your IP is switched, your activities cannot be tracked to a specific location. These two factors can prevent your ISP (internet service provider) from judging your online activity, as well as reduce risk of any wide-reaching government surveillance from gaining access to your activity and identity.
When an entity tries to view your real IP address, the only thing they can view is your VPN server’s IP. This same IP is typically used by a multitude of users at any given time, making the data even harder to read and sort through.
A good VPN service provider will delete all activity logs on a regular basis so that they may not be retrieved at a later date. To further the effort of anonymizing users, many VPN providers destroy all metadata connection logs which may link users to their browsing or online usage.
Protect Your IP Address from Onlookers
IP stands for Internet Protocol. Your internet protocol identifies your computer and geographic location, both of which can lead back to your identity. A VPN masks your IP address as the IP of the VPN server. This makes it challenging for any websites, ISPs, and government entities to retrieve your identity.
More than assuring your privacy while using the internet, VPNs have an added benefit of protecting you from targeted ads that are programmed by advertisers to follow you around the web.
VPNs are commonly used to bypass blocked content and websites, as well as censorship of any kind. Thus, they have been useful in universities, workplaces, and even countries with government censorship.
You can access censored content easily by connecting your computer to a VPN server in a geographic location where the content is allowed.
Expand Your Streaming Service Library
As with censorship, VPNs also allow you to access foreign streaming content that may not be available in your area. As an example, with YouTube, videos that have been labeled as region-restricted can be watched as long as you connect to a VPN server in a country where the video is available. As another example, with Netflix, you can use a United States VPN server to access a larger catalog of movies, programs, and TV shows than any other country.
Stay Secure Against Hackers
The Wi-Fi at your local café or airport is likely not secure. There is very little chance that any free, public Wi-Fi is secure. Insecure Wi-Fi invites hackers to view your browsing session and make away with private, sensitive information. By using a VPN, you can assure that your data and online activity is encrypted, even on public Wi-Fi.
Shield Your Peer-to-Peer Torrenting
A VPN does a great job of concealing your true IP address while torrenting files. You’ll also be able to access blocked torrent sites. P2P (peer-to-peer) users won’t be able to identify each other. Your ISP won’t be able to identify you or the content you are torrenting.