A VPN is a great tool that can benefit pretty much anyone who accesses the Internet regularly, although is much more usable for certain people than others. Read this article and find out what VPNs are, what are their benefits, who they are especially useful for and how to choose the best VPN provider for your needs.
What is a VPN?
VPN stands for virtual private network. It extends a private network across a public network, which enables its users to send and receive data over public networks to each other as if they were connected to a private network, for example sitting in the same office building.
Virtual private networks were created for the business world, as they allowed remote workers or branches of the same company to work together as if they were located in the same building, while taking advantage of the security that comes with VPNs.
Why people use VPNs
However, VPNs are now widely used outside of the business world, too. There are two main benefits that make them more and more popular and useful:
- Security and protection of personal information, identity and location
- Circumvention of geo restrictions and blocking implemented by various websites and online services
The first benefit is pretty straight-forward. VPNs add an extra layer of protection to your internet and network usage. That is especially useful if you change location often and connect to the internet from multiple locations and maybe even networks with questionable security. You can be sure you’re browsing the internet and communicating online privately and securely, even when connected to an unsecured network.
The ability to circumvent geo blocking is even more useful to many people. Since you are establishing a secure connection with a server located in another country, you will seem to be in that country as well. This is useful for many types of websites that implement geo blocking, such as:
- Netflix is a great subscription streaming service. It’s available pretty much everywhere by now, but the selection of movies and series is nowhere near as vast as in the US in many countries. Although Netflix is not happy about it and tries to block known VPN servers, you can still access Netflix through a VPN and enjoy a full content database, but you need to choose a good VPN provider so that Netflix doesn’t block your access.
- Online casinos. Web-based gambling operators generally only accept players from certain countries and there is no way around that. However, some countries have implemented their own blocking system that doesn’t always make sense or is good for the players. VPNs offer a good way to go around this, although it’s advisable to check the local regulations first.
- Local television when traveling abroad. National TV stations often broadcast over the internet, but access is almost always limited to just people in the country. That shouldn’t be an issue if your VPN makes it seem that you are in your home country, even if you are on the opposite side of the globe.
But that’s not all. Some countries have really vast internet censorship and something like a VPN can help people from such parts of the world enjoy a more free and unrestricted browsing experience and get to information they otherwise wouldn’t be able to.
How to choose the best VPN provider
If you already tried looking for a VPN to use for free or purchase, you know there are countless sites offering comparisons and linking you mostly to the premium VPNs you will have to pay for. There are also free VPN services and servers, although their quantity and quality of servers is generally nowhere near that of premium VPN services.
Some VPN services are extremely easy to use, although their functionality might be a bit limiting to advanced users. A great example of this is TunnelBear. If you are a beginner, it might be a good choice for you, but if you require advanced functionality, it’s best for you to look further.
There are many more advanced VPN services with better functionality, that are still quite easy to use and don’t require strong technical knowledge on the user’s side. Services like ExpressVPN, NordVPN or IPVanish offer a great balance of usability and rich functionality.
It’s impossible to pick the best VPN service for everyone. Some excel in security, other offer great selection of servers from a big number of countries and some might have features that their competition simply doesn’t. When looking for a VPN, make sure to think about what you want to use it for and select accordingly. And make sure to read best VPN reviews, as they might be really useful in helping you pick the best option for you.