How do VPNs work, and how should you use them?

For the average internet browser, whether you have a laptop or use your phone, the idea of investing in a quality VPN may not even have occurred to you. But even if you only access your favourite sites from your smartphone every now and again, a VPN is an invaluable tool to have, both for your safety and your peace of mind.

What is a VPN?

VPN stands for Virtual Private Network, which is a pretty explanatory title. At its simplest, a VPN provides a way to access the internet without directly connecting to the internet source. VPN creates a tunnel or line between your device to a private server, and that server is then what connects to the internet. Essentially, it’s an additional layer of protection to keep you safe online. Typically, a VPN will set your ‘public’ visibility to a different country entirely, adding an additional layer of security.

How does a VPN work?

VPNs work by encrypting your data, so no-one else can read it. This is particularly important if you use your device on public WiFi or unsecured LAN connections. That could be the WiFi at work, in your local café or the library. Anywhere you access your internet publicly can leave you open to potential cyberattacks or someone accessing your information. VPNs prevent that from happening when activated and make sure that no-one can look at what you’re browsing for.

What should you use a VPN for?

So, when do you need to use a VPN? If you generally access the internet at home or exclusively use mobile data, you may think there’s no need to buy a VPN for your smartphone or computer. But you might be surprised by some of the reasons VPNs are used:

Safe browsing with complete privacy

Safety is a top priority for VPN users, and using a VPN service removes any risk from browsing online even if you happen to be using the WiFi in a local fast food place. You’re safe to access your online banking, pay for the things in your shopping cart or access personal information with no risk of anyone else seeing what you’re doing. VPNs prevent hackers from accessing your device, and that makes you much safer as a result.

Accessing restriction-locked content

If you’ve ever gone to watch a stream and found your favourite show isn’t on there, but it is in the US or Canada, you may have considered using a VPN. While streaming services are cracking down on VPN access, many VPN providers still advertise the ability to access Hulu, Netflix and even BBC iPlayer elsewhere in the world. If you want to catch the latest shows or movies, a VPN is often a way people can do so.

Anonymity online

VPN provides complete, 100% anonymity for online browsing – and we know what you’re thinking, but not every need for anonymity is bad. For example, if you live in a country where the government monitors the internet, you may use a VPN to access certain things. Or if you’re concerned about your privacy when buying anything from an eCommerce store, that extra level of security is welcomed.

Which VPN should I use?

So, which VPN is best for you? That all depends on what you’re looking for. Our online VPN reviews are the perfect place to start when it comes to finding the right VPN for your needs. There are plenty of options and price points on the market to suit just about any budget – so you certainly don’t have to stick with the first option you find. Many providers even offer free trials to give a VPN a go before you buy.

Whatever your VPN choice, having one in place for safe browsing and additional security is always a good move. Check out our post on how to choose the right VPN in 2021 today to discover more.

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