While many of us already have one at this point, you might have been hearing a lot about VPN or Virtual Private Networks. These must-have tools allow you to access content in other countries, often for less money, and to keep your personal data safe.
What Do VPNs Do?
The primary purpose of a VPN is to help to hide your online activity. They’re often used to guard against hackers and snoops on public networks, but they also help hide your IP address, browsing activity, and personal data on any Wi-Fi network, including at home.
This is important as privacy is increasingly precarious. ISPs or social media sites are all collecting data to make money, or there are simply hackers that are looking to steal your personal details. There could, in fact, be someone really watching or tracking your activity every time that you use the web.
VPNs instead help to protect against this by encrypting your connection and hiding your location. It does this by routing your traffic through a VPN server. That way, when your data is finally transmitted to the internet, it appears to come from the VPN server, not your personal device. Essentially, the VPN works as a private tunnel to keep your data safe.
The Internet and VPNs
If we think of the internet as a motorway, wherever we drive around visiting our favorite locations or websites, we make purchases in shops, read the news, play games, watch movies, etc. But by simply driving around, you’re actually completely visible, and that means anyone can freely follow you, including following you home, or at least see who you are or peek into your life.
Instead, a VPN acts as a private tunnel that encircles you and helps you to hide your anonymity. There are three main types of encryption: hashing, symmetric cryptography, and asymmetric cryptography. Each type has its strengths and weaknesses, but they all include scrambling your data and your metadata so that people have a harder time accessing it.
Why Should You Use a VPN?
One of the biggest reasons for using one is to stream content from other countries or simply to stream content from your country while traveling. It’s no secret that countries like the US have better content to stream. Despite major attempts to block VPN usage, it still often remains possible to change your location device to a virtual one in order to watch media content.
This also means that you can use it to change your location effectively and sign up for services in countries with much cheaper subscription services. As we’ve all seen on The Issue, with fantastic deals such as getting Netflix in Turkey for under two quid, as well as other amazing deals by utilizing VPNs to spoof locations such as India and Pakistan.
You can also use public Wi-Fi safely with a VPN. Also, if you’re traveling, this also means you can access content from your home region that might not be available in all countries. Obviously, all of you use public Wi-Fi, whether at the local coffee shop, in the library, or in the pub. There’s truly too many places to even count.
Unfortunately, however, public Wi-Fi is public for a reason, and people utilizing these can also be hackers and scammers. That means that all the information that you send and receive on your device, including passwords and data, could be found or seen by malicious parties. You can even accidentally connect to evil twin Wi-Fi networks that hackers set up. It helps to create really strong passwords for this.
A VPN should help to protect your connection anytime you use a public network. It even pays to pick up a mobile VPN as these also are even invulnerable to hacking these days. Obviously, this is even more important for your online banking. Online banking and mobile banking are both incredibly convenient, but despite banks’ security measures, identity and personal data can still be stolen at any time.
How VPNs Can Save You Money
Another massively important reason to use VPNs is to get better shopping deals and start saving money by staying anonymous. When shopping for hotel rooms, flight tickets, car rentals, etc., these websites track your activity and artificially hike prices on your next visit.
Online shops can also change the prices depending on your location. That’s why using a VPN, combined with anti-tracking browsers, can all help you to compare prices and snag the cheapest offer.
However, there are also often downsides to VPNs, namely that they slow down your internet speed as your web traffic instead has to go through additional steps such as encryption as well as connecting to another server. This, of course, means decreased browsing speeds.
It’s also super important to note that while VPNs present just about as good a safety mechanism as you can actually get on the market, they are certainly not fail-safe.
Which VPNs Should You Use?
By far, the three best VPN services that get spoken about the most are NordVPN, Surfshark, and ExpressVPN. NordVPN is arguably the best overall and the biggest. Surfshark is generally the best value, and ExpressVPN is the best all-rounder.
NordVPN is the best for those of you who are looking to protect your privacy over everything else, with double VPN encryption, private DNS protection, and a huge number of services and loads of countries. Right now, you can also grab two years and an extra three months with 60% off the total price.
Meanwhile, Surfshark is better valued and, in fact, boasts better speed and still top-notch security. You can grab it for 82% off and you get two months free on a two-year deal. Plus, there are often freebies.
ExpressVPN, however, has top security, a fast stable connection, and it’s a great option for streaming from the internet, all while having great user-friendly apps. Right now, however, you can grab two years of Surfshark and grab up to 90% off via Top Cashback. This might actually be the one that we pick.
Another fab deal that we found includes Private Internet Access, who are offering two years with three months free, all for only 43 quid, and you can get Top Cashback back of 94.5% back.