Why do people use VPNs? 5 great reasons to get one

Better security for starters – and benefits like being able to watch the streaming services you want from anywhere.

woman using a laptop at airport
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In this article, we’re going to highlight five compelling reasons why you might want to subscribe to one of the best VPNs around. Indeed, you may well have heard of a VPN – or Virtual Private Network – and are wondering what all the fuss is about.

As the name suggests, VPNs can help maintain your privacy online and give you better security to boot. But there are plenty of other reasons why you might want to adopt one, such as being able to get around regional restrictions - great for entertainment and even saving some cash.

1. Better security

A VPN provides you with an increased level of security when you’re online because the data you’re sending via your broadband connection is encrypted while it’s transferred.

In other words, even if an attacker can intercept your data, they won’t be able to make any sense of it, because the data will be encrypted and therefore unreadable. You’re certainly safer and more secure when going online with a VPN, and it comes in particularly handy with the likes of potentially insecure networks such as public Wi-Fi.

2. Anonymity and privacy online

A VPN hides your IP address, which is essentially the way to find your PC online (much like your postal address is the way to find your house in the real world). A VPN can give you a different IP, therefore hiding your real online address, so you can’t be located – and your online actions cannot be traced back to your PC. That sort of tracing is how companies can, for example, see what you’ve browsed (using cookies), and target adverts at you using this information.

Good VPNs also provide extra protection with a feature called a kill switch, which ensures that if the VPN drops somehow, your internet connection is blocked off so your real IP isn’t revealed while the VPN is down (so bear in mind that a VPN without a kill switch is a riskier proposition in this respect).

Stay secure - and anonymous - with a VPN

(Image credit: Pixabay)

3. Getting around regional restrictions

Following on from the above point, another advantage of using a VPN to switch your IP address is that you can circumvent regional restrictions. In other words, by choosing to go through a VPN server in a different country, you will have an IP which marks your connection as being in said country.

So, for example, if you’re in the UK, connecting to a US-based server with your VPN will (hopefully) mean you can watch Netflix US or other American-based streaming services (or US users can appear to be in the UK and watch BBC iPlayer).

We say ‘hopefully’ because streaming services are aware of this practice, and do try to block VPN users from pulling off this trick – but many of the best Netflix VPNs are pretty successful when it comes to evading detection.

4. Saving money

A VPN can save you money? But wait, you might think – isn’t it necessary to pay for these services? Well, it’s not actually – see our next point – but even if you do fork out money for a VPN, you might still save in the long run.

That’s because using a VPN server to appear in a different country isn’t just useful for streaming, but it can also potentially get you better prices when online shopping, most obviously with the likes of flights, where buying from a different country may see a considerable difference in the price of a ticket in your favor. These kind of savings can add up in the end.

Save dollars with a VPN

(Image credit: Pixabay)

5. A VPN won’t necessarily cost a penny

There is such a thing as a free lunch in the VPN world, and in fact there are a ton of free VPN providers out there that won’t charge you a penny. There are arguments as to how trustworthy some of the free VPNs might be, but pick a good one and you can get yourself some solid VPN protection at no cost – which is surely a great reason to get on board with the above benefits.

Later on, if you decide you want to overcome any limitations a free plan might have – which may include daily or monthly bandwidth limits, or not much choice of servers – you can subscribe to a premium service. That will be a must if you do end up using it to stream Netflix shows or if you want to use it as a VPN for torrenting.

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for T3 across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel was published by Hachette UK in 2013).