Most people use a VPN to protect their browsing data from being monitored by their ISP, to provide security when using an unencrypted public Wi-Fi hotspot, or to bypass location-based content restrictions. But there are plenty of other advantages a VPN can provide you that you may not know about.
1. You can save money online
Many websites offer services to multiple countries, you may find that these websites offer different prices in different countries. This is generally for one of three reasons. The first reason is that the website may not be using an up to date conversion rate. If a product is available for a long time, they may have set a price once, and never adjusted it, despite conversion rate changes. The second reason could be the website adjusting prices to be more in line with local wages to make it affordable everywhere.
The third reason you could save money with a VPN is that websites can’t use your advertising preferences to decide you might be willing to pay more. If you’ve ever been looking at flights or hotels and then noticed that the prices suddenly increased after you refreshed the page, you’ve experienced this issue. By using a VPN however, you can start a new session and prevent the website from increasing the price.
2. You can read more than the allowed free articles per day
A number of news sites offer a limited number of free articles per day, week, or month. Once you’ve read all the free articles, you can view more by switching to a different VPN server.
This makes the website think that you’re a new user, and thus you can read more of the articles on the site. Now, since most VPN providers offer any number of servers, you can repeat this process as many times as you’d like, but if you really want to access a large number of articles, you may still want to consider a subscription with the service itself – the website is, after all, also trying to earn money through the content they provide.
3. You can prevent ISP throttling
Many ISPs use a technique called traffic shaping to throttle high bandwidth usage. The general reason for this is to ensure adequate bandwidth for all users. Unfortunately, this generally affects streaming services and downloads which you want to run as quickly as possible.
Using a VPN hides your browsing activity from your ISP so they can’t detect what internet usage to throttle. They can see that the Internet is being used, but not for what – they can therefore not selectively slow down or reduce bandwidth based on their usual settings.
4. You can comment anonymously
A number of websites allow you to comment on articles and similar content anonymously. What you may not know is that these servers generally log your IP address. Historically some administrators or hackers with access to the sites have looked up IP addresses and have tried to use it to hack the commenter or reveal their identity.
Using a VPN hides your home IP address and replaces it with the IP address of the VPN, it protects any website from knowing your real IP. While you should never use VPNs in order to leave hateful or trolling messages anonymously, it can be a useful tool if you want to make sure your comments won’t be tracked back to you.
5. You can get around censorship
Many countries, companies and other bodies censor some internet content. When using a VPN your traffic and DNS requests bypass the censorship filter allowing you to access the unfiltered internet.
Depending on where you live, a VPN can be a powerful weapon in the fight against disinformation, lies, and propaganda, and allow you access to what the rest of the world sees.
6. You can torrent anonymously
P2P filesharing such as torrenting gets a lot of bad attention because its primary use is to illegally share copyrighted material. Torrenting and other P2P networks aren’t illegal to use, however, because there are legitimate uses, such as the distribution of open-source software.
Unfortunately, your torrenting activity is visible to your ISP unless you use a VPN. Without a VPN your ISP can throttle your torrenting or log details that could be used by copyright trolls to target you. With a VPN, you don’t have this risk as your ISP can’t tell that you’re torrenting at all.
7. You can make international calls at local costs
VoIP or “Voice Over Internet Protocol” providers such as Skype allow you to make phone calls from your computer or smartphone over the internet. When you’re abroad, however, you may still find yourself facing international call costs, despite not actually using a foreign phone network.
You can use a VPN to change your location, so it appears that you are in the country you’re trying to call. This way you only get changed the cost for a local call, saving you money.
8. Your ISP can tell you’re using a VPN
Using a VPN gives you privacy from your ISP. They can’t monitor your exact browsing data, but they can still see that you’re using the internet. Your ISP can still tell how much data you’re uploading and downloading so you can’t use a VPN to bypass a data cap. Your ISP can also work out that you’re using a VPN because all of your traffic is encrypted and going to a limited number of destinations.
9. Browser extension VPNs only protect your browser
If you’re using a browser extension to access a VPN, you may think it protects all of your network usage. You should be aware that a browser extension VPN can only encrypt the communications of the browser, any other apps and the operating system itself are not protected by a browser-based VPN. To protect your entire system, you need to install a standalone VPN app on your operating system and use that instead.
Browser extension VPNs are also more likely to leak DNS requests as these are generally made by the operating system, not the browser and so do not go through the VPN.
10. Location matters
When using a VPN, location plays an important part in the speed of the connection you will get. The nearer the server the better the service you should receive. Exact performance may vary but connecting to a VPN server on the other side of the world will likely significantly increase your ping (the delay in your connection) and generally results in slower internet speeds too. If you’re wanting to access content from a different country, you obviously need to use a VPN server there, but once you’ve finished you should switch back to a more local server for better performance.