What Is A “VPN” And Why Do I Need One?

By Scott Hamilton

Being an online user, you might have come across the term “VPN” and wondered what it meant and what it is all about.

VPN stands for “Virtual Private Network” (VPN). VPN allow you to access networks securely and anonymously. Here are a couple examples of how a VPN can be useful to you.

Let’s say there is a website that is blocked from you because of where you’re viewing it. There are a lot of examples of this but a common one is trying to watch a live event from another country (like a soccer match) that you can only watch if you’re in that country.

A VPN service will hide your location and make it look like you are visiting the site from a different country. For example, if you like the UFC, there are a lot of countries where the UFC lets them watch the fights for free because they want to grow the popularity of the sport. With a VPN, you can visit the site AS IF you are in that country and watch the fight for free.

Another example of when a VPN is handy is when you are trying to visit sites while at work that the company has blocked for some reason or another. There are a lot of sites that block Facebook or similar sites so their employees can’t visit them while at the office. A VPN lets you work around those blocking systems and visit any site you want without anyone knowing.

Security is another big benefit of a VPN. If you go online from an open wifi network at a mall or library, you are exposed to hackers stealing your passwords. They can access data on your device because you are both on an unsecure network. VPNs allow you to use those free wifi hotspots without worrying about your data getting stolen. The VPN service hides you and your identity.

Privacy is one of the biggest reasons to get a VPN service because they disguise who you are. Normally when you go online your identity can be seen by your internet service provider, government and the visiting website because of your IP address. Your IP address is basically your online identity that anyone can trace back to you. If you have a VPN, it will disguise your IP address so no one can see who you are and your browsing history.

Finally, if you are someone that likes to stream A LOT of shows, videos and content, then a VPN could help you when your internet service provider starts to slow down your internet speed. Many cable companies “throttle” or slow down your internet speed if you stream too much. They do this so that you don’t hog all the data from other customers and cost them money. If you use a VPN, you can hide how much data you stream.

So … a VPN service is definitely not required to use the internet, but in my opinion, the benefits are much greater than the cost. If you don’t like the idea of paying for a VPN service, many of them offer free trials for 3, 7 or even 30 days. I used to move from one free trial to the next to save money. When I finally tired of switching every 30 days, I settled on NORD VPN which is the most reliable and the best bang for your buck.

Happy Surfing!

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