You've probably heard that VPNs boost your digital privacy and security. That statement is true, even though they've evolved to offer a broader spectrum of features. It's always wise to go back to basics, especially when it comes to highly sophisticated technologies, like those making VPNs possible. So, the big question is – what is a VPN used for (precisely)?
Well, there are many ways to answer that question. Broadly speaking, a VPN is used to hide your Internet browsing activity, access geo-blocked websites, bypass Internet censorship, and plenty more. With that said, let's take a closer look.
1. To Hide Your Web Browsing Activity
The primary purpose of any VPN is to hide your Web browsing activity by encrypting your incoming and outgoing Web traffic, which makes you invisible on the Internet.
In case you didn't know, you're surrounded by digital trackers, no matter what you do on the Web. Almost every website uses trackers, and that applies to the mobile Web and mobile apps as well. On top of that, a new generation of cookie-less trackers is currently being developed by Google, creating an urgency to think about your online privacy.
Using a VPN puts an end to online tracking practices when you connect to a VPN server. That's precisely when your Web traffic becomes encrypted and invisible to anyone else. In other words, you'll make it impossible for trackers to do their job, providing a much-needed privacy layer to your Internet browsing.
In case you'd like to take a look at how VPNs work, make sure to use the provided link. In addition to that, you can learn more about the process used to protect data in a VPN connection.
2. To Bypass Internet Censorship
Unfortunately, Internet censorship is on the rise across the world. However, VPN can be used to bypass digital censorship, creating a more secure and open Web.
Many countries have turned to Internet censorship to control public opinion on different events during the last couple of years. We've seen that happen in the United States, the European Union, Turkey, China, Kazakhstan, Russia, Venezuela, South Africa, Egypt, and plenty more countries. Your access to information can be limited in critical times - if not shut down completely.
With that said, VPNs are perhaps the most effective tool to ensure the freedom of speech online. They let you connect to the Web, hide your Internet traffic, encrypt everything you do online, and give you access to websites not typically available in your country.
However, many VPN services have evolved their features to battle techniques used to impose censorship. For example, there's 'Onion over VPN,' which gives you two layers of protection. Also, some VPNs offer obfuscated servers, giving you the ability practically to erase your data from the Web.
3. To Help Secure Your Work-Related Data
Since VPNs encapsulate your Web data, they keep it hidden from anyone else on the Web. As a result, they are used to protect your work-related data, no matter if you work for someone else or you manage your own business.
One of the long-term consequences of the global COVID-19 pandemic is a shift towards remote work. Many companies are switching to fully remote, allowing their employees to work from pretty much any place on the planet – as long they have a stable Internet connection.
When working remotely, aside from having a stable and fast-enough Web connection, it also needs to be secure. However, a typical anti-virus app won't cut it. Instead, you need a VPN that can protect all your incoming and outgoing Web data.
Even if your company doesn't give you access to a VPN, there are many reasons for you to invest in a VPN yourself. That might be an additional expense (which you can keep under control quite easily), but it brings numerous benefits and gives you some peace of mind.
If you have your own business, everything said above still applies. Using a VPN made for businesses, you can cover your entire team, preventing security vulnerabilities along the way. Once again, that expense will be much smaller than what you'd pay in case of a data leak.
If you own a business, just about any commercial VPN can meet your needs. However, there are also VPNs specifically made for teams. For more info, check our hands-on review of Perimeter 81.
4. To Access Geo-Blocked Websites
We can't talk about what is a VPN used for without mentioning the ability to access geo-blocked websites. This is related to VPNs' ability to change your IP address.
Once you connect to a secure server, multiple things happen. As explained above, your Web traffic gets rerouted. However, your IP address also gets changed based on which country you connect to using a VPN. As a result, previously unavailable websites become accessible.
That's how you can not only visit sites unavailable in your country but also subscribe to digital services that were previously out of your reach. For example, here's how to access Disney Plus, Discovery Plus, Paramount Plus, Hulu, fuboTV, and Sling TV outside the USA (if you're not in the US, that is).
Then, we have websites that are available everywhere – but they bring separate versions for each country they operate in. For example, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video are such websites (and VPNs let you access their US version, with plenty more content).
If media streaming is something you're interested in exploring, head over to our guide on the best VPNs for streaming. And also, check out the best on-demand streaming services and live TV streaming services.
5. To Help You Download Torrents Anonymously
Downloading torrents without any cyber-protection leads to copyright infringement, even if you do your best to stick to legal torrents only. As you can already guess, we'll say that a VPN can protect you while torrenting, and here's why that's important.
TechNadu's team is against copyright infringement in any form. So, you really shouldn't try to access torrent repositories that serve illegal content. However, even if you use legal torrents only, ISPs can flag your IP and forward you a copyright infringement notice.
To avoid that, you'll want to hide your IP. As previously explained, VPNs are the best option you have right now. They're also the easiest way to change and hide your IP, which makes you invisible to other P2P users, as well as to your ISP. On top of that, they hide plenty of additional data from your ISP, including your Web browsing history – which is a nice benefit, you'll agree.
For more information, turn to our guide on how to download torrents with a VPN. You'll also want to check our list of the best VPNs for torrenting based on our hands-on tests.
So, which VPN should you pick? Well, that depends on your goal of using this type of software. An excellent place to start is our buyer's guide to VPNs. However, you'll also want to check the best VPNs available right now, which we've listed after testing more than 60 VPN services.
So, what is a VPN used for? Well, their primary focus is your online privacy. With that said, we hope you'll choose a VPN to secure your access to the Internet. Let us know your thoughts via the comments section below – and lastly, thanks for reading!