Now firstly, we need to explain exactly what a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is. A VPN provides you with online privacy and allows you to have online privacy and anonymity. It masks your IP address, and thus makes the majority of your online actions untraceable. A lot of people obviously have a desire for privacy and data protection, and thus a VPN is a necessity for these types of people in the digital era that we live in. However, most people don’t actually know when a VPN is necessary, which is a pretty important thing to know! Just for reference, around 75% of people around the world do not use a VPN according to a survey from the Global Web Index – and so if you need a VPN I recommend ExpressVPN (I will explain why later).
In this article, hopefully you will become more aware of when a VPN should be used.
1. When using public wifi
If you are using public wifi, then a VPN is an essential. When discussing public wifi, it is in reference to wifi at clubs, bars, shopping malls, starbucks, etc. Whether or not the wifi is password protected, hackers on the same network can very easily see your data.
This is where using a VPN comes in, as it allows you to have an added layer of security, as well as encrypting all of the communication that you have over the network. This will likely take you off of the hacker’s radar as they will go and try to find someone without a VPN (who is easier to hack due to increased vulnerability). For reference, security breaches in general are becoming more common (increased 67% since 2014, according to accenture).
2. For travel reasons
A VPN is necessary when you travel a lot. Let me explain why. In many countries, access to specific services are blocked by the government, take China for example, where they block access to Facebook, YouTube, Netflix and Instagram (just to name a few). A VPN can make it appear that you are in a specific location, when in fact you are not – and this allows you to access the content that is usually available in your home country, with ease. A lot of companies are trying to track down VPN users, however it is extremely difficult to do so. Hence, we end up with a ‘whack-a-mole’ game, where the VPN services are constantly making alterations, in order to ensure functionality with these important services (like Netflix or BBC iPlayer).
Not only this, but it is worth putting on a VPN when booking flights too, as it can impact flight prices positively. Sneakily, some flight companies will store cookies from your previous website visits, and gradually increase the price to increase urgency, and make it appear that they need to book now. Another reason is that in certain regions, booking flights is just generally cheaper.
Furthermore, VPNs are extremely popular for expats who wish to use the services that are available in their home country.
3. For general privacy/convenience reasons
By using a VPN at home, you are able to prevent your ISP (Internet Service Provider) from collecting all your data. Never good to leave footprints for people to discover. Your ISP is able to prevent you from accessing certain websites, as well as being able to slow down your internet speed.
A few things about VPNs…
VPNs are great, but some VPNs have worse reputations than others. This is due to the fact that technically your VPN provider is able to see what you do online (instead of your ISP). In the past, many VPN providers have claimed that they keep ‘no logs’, however, after digging it was discovered that some VPNs that claimed not to keep logs, actually kept logs. Since having a trusted provider is what will offer you the best privacy that is what most people desire, and choosing the provider becomes very important.
Now for a big word of warning, just please PAY for a VPN or don’t get one. If you go and search for a free VPN, the speeds will be awful and you know the saying, “if a service is free, then you are the product”. So they will definitely just be harvesting your data/information in order to support the service.
My personal VPN recommendation
Now my personal VPN recommendation is ExpressVPN. This is due to the fact that they provide these features:
- No logs
- Can pay anonymously (like with bitcoin)
- Allows you to access all wanted services (including Netflix, BBC iPlayer and virtually all other necessary websites)
- Servers in 94 countries (with multiple servers in majority of countries)
- Very minimal internet speed changes when using the VPN
- Only $8.32 per month if you sign up for 12 months
So if you need a VPN, I would recommend that one. Despite the fact they are slightly pricier than other competitors, it is better to have peace of mind and know that you can access any site without having to worry, and knowing that there are definitely no logs kept while you are surfing the web.
So overall, a VPN is necessary when using public wifi, usually while travelling, and just when you want to ensure that you have a completely private connection (for exchanging data that should be encrypted). Many countries will use geo-restrictions in order to block access to specific content in their countries and thus a good VPN is essential for the majority of people. Although, if you live in a country that doesn’t have many geo-restrictions or if you aren’t too worried about your privacy, then maybe a VPN is an unnecessary expense for you.
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