16 Interesting and Cool Things You Can Do With a VPN
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a popular tool for leveraging online privacy/security. It creates an encrypted tunnel for routing incoming/outgoing traffic to prevent prying eyes of government agencies, cybercriminals, and copyright hunters from monitoring you.
That’s not all though, as a VPN has purposes far beyond privacy. There are many situations, where using one can offer a huge list of benefits. This is exactly what I’ll be discussing today. Continue reading to learn about 16 interesting and cool things you can do with a VPN service…
1. Unlock a New World of Entertainment on Different VoDs
Video-on-Demand (VoD) services like Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hotstar, Prime Video and Hulu, etc impose geographical restrictions and content limitations, as part of their agreements with distributors and production houses.
Depending on where you reside, you may get access to a restricted list of titles, despite paying the same amount for a subscription. As a result, after some time you may face difficulty finding something entertaining in your region. This isn’t fair, after all we are a generation that thrives on binge watching).
This is where VPNs come in handy by giving streamers the ability to access the complete content libraries. For instance, if you want to access the US Netflix that hosts more than 6,000+ titles, simply connect to a server in the US and notice the difference in entertainment available!
2. Enjoy Fast Streaming without Bandwidth Throttling
Netflix and YouTube consume most of the internet bandwidth in recent times. In the first half of 2019, HTTP media streaming accounted for 12.8% of the internet traffic worldwide, with Netflix representing 12.6% of the total downstream volume.
To balance things out, ISPs throttle connection speeds on these sites, as a means to control the usage. As a result, you may receive slow speeds when streaming, which is why Netflix even has an ISP speed index you can use for analyzing the performance of different ISPs worldwide.
If you experience annoying outages, buffering issues, or poor quality streams, getting a VPN is the best solution; routing your internet connection through a secure tunnel and different IP prevents ISPs from seeing your activities online, and subsequently cannot impose bandwidth limitations.
3. Stay Invisible when Connected to Public Wi-Fi Networks
You may not think much of it when chilling with your friends at a bar, café, restaurant, or while shopping, but connecting to public Wi-Fi networks is one of the riskiest things you could do for your personal and online information. I’ll tell you why…
These places are home to cybercriminals, who could be monitoring public Wi-Fi networks. They can eavesdrop on your activities, or worse steal valuable data. You could fall victim to a phishing attempt, malware attack, or even ransomware.
Luckily, VPNs have you covered when away from office and home networks too. By routing your connection through a secure tunnel, all incoming/outgoing traffic is encrypted. Therefore, none of your activities from your laptop of smartphone are at risk, even on public Wi-Fi.
4. Say Goodbye to Lag, Swatting Hoaxes, and DDoS Attacks
Online gaming is more than just a pastime, but an entire lifestyle. It is now an industry worth billions of dollars with actual tournaments and championships that give away prizes/awards.
However, the rise in popularity of gaming has also led to geo-restrictions on servers for online playing, speed throttling by ISPs, and DDoS attacks by pesky gamers, which is not only limited to computers but also your Xbox One and PS4.
When you use a VPN, your internet traffic routes through an encrypted pathway to an external server, hiding your IP address. This in turn protects you from being a target to DDoS attacks and swatting hoaxes, while enabling you to play in high-speeds by bypassing ISP throttling!
5. Mitigate the Risks and Fear Surrounding Online Shopping
If you are hesitant on trusting online sources for shopping, a VPN can provide the peace of mind and let you know that your information is secure. It comes in handy when connecting over a public or unsecure network, and while shopping at a new site.
Since your connection gets routed through an international service, you can also access vendors/websites that would otherwise be blocked by a firewall. You can also order stuff for your home even while travelling in different countries, so that you can have it waiting for you at your doorstep upon returning.
In some countries, a VPN can also provide access to PayPal, which includes Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, and other places where it is blocked. You can connect to a server in a nearby country, so you can shop on eBay freely and check on your payments. All in all, a VPN makes online shopping a safe and smart option.
6. Enjoy Torrenting Minus Legal Hassles and DMCA Notices!
Well, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably know about the benefits P2P/Torrenting brings into the life of cord-cutting entertainment geeks, program-testers, and gaming-enthusiasts. Downloading torrents is a one-stop-shop everyone!
Despite the increase of restrictions on torrenting sites by copyright infringement hunters, who are adamant on shutting down the P2P industry, even now, I find all my games, movies/TV shows on sites like KAT and thepiratebay.org and download them via BitTorrent.
The only thing that has changed is that I have to be wary about DMCA notices, for which VPNs come in handy, encrypting my network connection and masking my identity. In simple words, a VPN is a great tool to have if you are an avid pirater!
7. Avoid Surveillance from Prying Eyes on the Internet
From the Five, Nine, and Fourteen Eyes alliances to the DMCA, MPAA, and other agencies worldwide, many constantly monitor the internet for illegally shared or downloaded information, and indulge in mass surveillance for intelligence sharing.
At the same time, you need to watch out for cybercriminals, who may hack, scam, or attack your private networks at home. There are plenty of risks when deciding to put yourself out there in the virtual world, and if you are not careful, you may end up in the watch list.
One of the best steps you can take to mitigate those risks is to get a reliable VPN solution. By anonymizing your activities and changing your IP address, you become invisible online.
8. Unblock Social Media in Countries Where They are Banned!
Countries like China, Iraq, Turkey, Syria, and North Korea ban round the clock access to social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, etc and a huge assortment of other websites. They restrict your ability to explore the internet.
China even goes as far as blocking Google and its many services, and this may become a hurdle for anyone visiting the country, as you are unable to access your Gmail account, Google Maps, and even the Google search engine, which nowadays everyone cannot even live without.
A VPN serves as a crucial tool for bypassing all these geographical restrictions. When you connect to a server in a different country, you gain the capability of accessing these websites, without legal hassles or encountering censorship, hence why VPNs are a useful tool for travelers.
9. Save Money When Booking Car Rentals and Airline Tickets
Another great thing a VPN can do for you is get cheaper pricing on hotel bookings, car rentals and airplane tickets. By connecting to servers in different countries/cities, you can gain access to special discounts and pricing, otherwise not accessible.
For instance, let’s say you are traveling to Mississauga, Canada and are looking for good hotel accommodation. If you access a particular hotel website from your US location, you may have to be expensive rates, as you are not a local.
However, if you connect to a server within the city, then you can gain access to the local pricing for the same booking, which can drastically reduce the costs. Same goes for getting car rentals and airplane tickets, if you are travelling on a budget.
10. Work Safely From Home Amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic
Work from home was previously a luxury offered by respective companies, but ever since the coronavirus outbreak, situations have changed drastically and several industries have been hit hard. Countries around the world have imposed statewide lockdowns.
Meanwhile, organizations have issued remote working directives for employees.If you have never worked from home, this may be quite a challenge. After all, working in a collaborative environment in the office with your colleagues and team leads is different than when working remotely. You can also fall victim to a trove of security issues by the COVID-19 “fearware”.
A VPN with a dedicated IP will greatly assist in remote working and collaboration. By getting this IP approved from your office network administrator, you can securely exchange information online, while at the same time leveraging strong privacy against malware, viruses, hacking and scamming attempts.
11. Save Money on VoIP Calls and Secure Communication
Services like Skype, Spike, ICQ, and other VoIP services do utilize encryption for protecting your calls, but they are not immune to censorship and hacking attempts. Anyone with mid-level understanding of internet protocols can intercept your call.
In countries like the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand where surveillance and intelligence sharing in rampant, the risks of interception are greater, hence why VPNs are crucial tools. They anonymize all incoming and outgoing traffic while using VoIPs, offering great protection.
At the same time, you can save money when making long distance calls. Connect to a local server where you need to make the call and get instant access to cheaper local VoIP calls, instead of having to pay hefty international calling rates, which do end up breaking the bank.
12. Safely Access UseNet for Sharing of Files Anytime
Yes, this is the same UseNet, which predates social media, blogs, and web forums. A cross between a file-sharing and discussion forum, UseNet has literally been around since the dawn of the internet. And, yes varied newsgroups are still alive today.
It is a great way to share files and offers plenty advantages over BitTorrent. The only problem is that many ISPs have blocked UseNet, due to users illegally sharing files. Though not all files shared via UseNet are illegal, it still presents itself as a safer alternative than Facebook, Twitter, etc.
Since ISPs will not provide direct access to UseNet, the only option remains is to unblock it. To safely access different UseNet providers and avoid blocking, a VPN offers plenty of incentives.
13. Make Yourself Virtually Invisible on the Home Network
If your job entails dealing with sensitive work-related files and you regularly work from home, then anybody can track your activities online, or worse steal valuable information, while you send it to a co-worker, manager, or your employer.
In such circumstances, it is a great option to get a preconfigured VPN router, as it completely anonymizes all activities on the home network, including those performed by your kids, siblings, or significant others. A VPN is a great security tool for your home.
14. Avoid Detection When Conducting Research on Competitors
If you are a news reporter or journalist, you know that anonymity is crucial to your success. After all, getting access to vital information is a great part of your job. Also, there could be instances where you would be required to research a competitor.
Sadly, every website keeps a log of visits, which can be accessible through Google Analytics. After this, anybody can follow your digital trail and gauge your interest in their site. With a VPN, the website will still log your visit, but with the IP address of a random user, instead of your own.
15. Leverage Better Security on Personal Blogs
With the technological revolution, the livelihood of billions depends on online resources/mediums. Bloggers are one such demographic, who express and share their expert knowledge on myriad of topics to earn money or simply increase their rep.
What would happen if your blog gets hacked and all sorts of deliberately weird messages were posted using your name? It could not only tarnish your reputation but could also reduce your credibility. By using a dedicated IP from VPNs, you can increase the security measures of your blog by only allowing your IP to log into your account.
16. Enjoy “LAN” Connectivity in Different Countries
This may sound a little useless, but it is fun nevertheless. You can use a VPN with a friend to fool your computers into thinking they are on the same network. Some tools specifically designed with this idea in mind include Evolve and Hamchi.
This is useful for old videogames that no longer have online servers or only grant access to multiplayer gaming through LAN. You can also do this on PS2 and Xbox too by having multiple friends connect to a single server/group you created through a VPN. Isn’t this a nice trick?
Wrapping Things Up
Are you contemplating whether or not to buy a VPN? If so, then the above reasons should convince you to take the leap and leverage the many benefits. Got any other interesting insights to share or need help with a query? Feel free to comment below! J