Many Internet users have chosen to get a free VPN trial in recent years—but what makes VPNs so popular?
Primarily, they’re one of the best digital defense tools we have available—if not the most. Numerous cybersecurity experts have weighed in on the positive impact modern VPNs have provided, asserting their ability to protect Internet users from data breaches, unsecured Wi-Fi networks, and Internet surveillance alike.
Today, approximately 80 percent of people around the globe are concerned about their online privacy. In the next five years, experts predict that the VPN market will expand at the compound annual growth rate of about 6.39 percent. VPNs, for many, have become as important as antivirus software. It’s no surprise, then, that VPNs have a major similarity to the very same digital defense tool: There are a lot out there—and it can be difficult to decide which one to use.
We’re here to help out. While there are plenty of high-quality VPN providers available, the best VPNs around offer top-tier security features you shouldn’t pass up. Let’s cover the most significant benefits of using a VPN in general. We’ll then provide a few tips for choosing a VPN to keep your Internet browsing sessions safe, secure, and private.
Benefit One: A Hidden IP Address
The biggest benefit of using a VPN is also the one most talked about: It hides your IP address.
Every time you use the Internet, you’re assigned an IP address that defines the device you’re using. This address is necessary for accessing online services—as your device’s “fingerprint” is required for Internet-browsing, in general. Unfortunately, however, this means that all of your online activities can be followed back to the very same address.
This includes every Google search, every online purchase, every webpage you visit, and even every comment you make on social media. Needless to say, there isn’t much privacy on the Internet these days.
Fortunately, using a VPN can restore your online anonymity. A VPN disguises your IP address by sending it through one of your VPN service provider’s servers. Your provider has many to choose from—and each is located in a different location around the world. So, whenever you browse online, every interaction will appear to stem from the VPN server’s IP address—keeping yours completely incognito.
Because this process masks your IP address, it also hides your identity, location, and even your device’s information from prying eyes. By and large, this benefit alone makes using a VPN well worth the sign-up fee.
Benefit Two: Low Costs
Speaking of sign-up fees: VPNs are incredibly affordable. Even though they’re arguably the best cybersecurity tools available, their massive growth in popularity has made them a necessity for most. As such, they’re far from tech-guru tools exclusive to common Internet-goers: The cybersecurity world’s top minds intend to make VPNs accessible to many to improve online safety across the globe.
As for the cost of using a VPN: Some of the best providers serve these power-packed cybersecurity tools for as little as two dollars per month; make no mistake, though: Their low price doesn’t reflect their quality at all. Most VPNs offer similar degrees of digital defense, offering supreme protection against today’s most common cyber-threats.
Benefit Three: Data Encryption
Your biggest digital asset is also the one hackers want to track down the most: Your personal information.
Whenever we browse the Internet, we receive and exchange data. This is unavoidable, as our devices need to communicate with websites to interact with them. As such, malicious users keen on exploiting our browsing behavior try to do so by locating this data—then using it to identify our personal information.
While some of this information is useless, some can be used to discover things like our banking information, medical information, and even our home addresses. While most modern devices already have privacy tools to protect us from unwanted information access—it isn’t tricky to derive meaningful information from our data “footprints” alone.
A VPN helps by encrypting these footprints, making our data tracks illegible to anyone who isn’t authorized to access it. This happens at the same time your IP address is rerouted, too, assuring that if any of your data is located—which isn’t likely—it’ll be entirely useless to anyone who’s acquired it.
Benefit Four: Nonnegotiable Privacy
Most VPN service providers—and certainly the best—have non negotiable rules about your data’s privacy: Even they won’t log it. Because of this, your browsing sessions are genuinely, completely private. This doesn’t just account for your VPN provider, Wi-Fi host network, Internet snoops, and hackers, either: It also protects your data from Internet service providers, businesses, and even your local government.
It’s important to note that the best VPN providers use only the best encryption tools. Their encryption methods are considered to be military-grade, assuring total protection regardless of who’s attempting to spy on you.
Benefit Five: Unrestricted Entertainment
Major streaming services like Netflix offer a wealth of television shows and films to watch—but their multimedia libraries aren’t fully accessible. Their multimedia is featured on a location-to-location basis, which means you’ll lose access to some of your favorite flicks while traveling.
In some countries, streaming providers like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon aren’t even available. This mostly happens due to licensing issues, but the battle to find complete multimedia coverage is constant. Understandably, the ability to change your IP address’s location of origin is a major benefit.
Because your VPN provider hosts servers worldwide, you can pick a server hosted in a country that has streaming access to the shows and films you’d like to watch. While this is primarily useful when traveling abroad—as you can simply relocate your IP address to your own country—it’s also useful for checking out foreign films. Netflix, Hulu, and other multimedia providers host some of the best cultural flicks around, but these films and movies aren’t always available internationally.
However, when using a VPN, geo-restrictions are easily lifted—making these great features only a couple of clicks away.
Benefit Six: Cheaper Travels
You’ve probably experienced this before: The first time you browse for plane tickets, they’re reasonably priced. The next time you browse for them—they’re much more expensive. What gives?
In most cases, this happens because our data is recorded online. Airline providers, and other businesses, can use this information to promote services at higher price tags. This doesn’t just happen with flight ticket prices, either: Local product and service price tags tend to differ from location to location—frequently increasing when your IP address is local.
You can use a VPN to circumnavigate these expensive tourist traps. Try using a VPN server hosted in a country with lower traveling costs to get a less expensive flight. To get the lowest price possible, compare these prices from different VPN servers. This trick also works for hotel prices, as well as rental car prices. In some cases, it even works for local restaurant deals, shopping deals, and other public transportation costs.
Finding the Best VPN: The Top Two Qualities
Every VPN offers basic functions like IP address rerouting and device encryption. This said, some VPNs offer a far more expansive selection of server locations to choose from. Similarly, some VPNs use far more advanced encryption technologies.
We don’t suggest using a free VPN, as they tend to have major security flaws. Instead, we suggest choosing a provider capable of offering two specific qualities. Most providers tend to offer top-tier encryption services, but the two factors discussed below separate the good VPNs from the best VPNs.
The best VPNs don’t only offer services via a desktop application: They offer mobile app versions of their software, too. Try to find a provider that does this, as their mobile app will probably be provided free of charge. These apps are lightweight, easy to use, and practically run themselves—keeping your Internet sessions safe around the clock, regardless of the device you’re using.
Plenty of Servers
Your provider should also offer plenty of servers to choose from. Ideally, these servers will span across many countries—ranging from standard encryption servers to P2P-specific servers. Server variety is important if you’re trying to get the most out of your multimedia streaming, and even more so if you travel often. While some VPN providers offer incredible safety, not all providers have flexible server location choices. The best providers have both.
Identifying the features a VPN provides isn’t too difficult, as most will display them clearly on their website’s homepage. If you’re having trouble choosing a provider, check out their subscription plans before looking elsewhere: More often than not, you can get a free VPN trial to test things out. It’s definitely worthwhile to see how a potential provider’s VPN software runs on your device. Likewise, it’s also worth it to test out a provider’s different servers to get a feel for their browsing speeds.
Before long, you’ll have a VPN of your very own, gaining unrestricted access to the best online services around the globe—safe and secure from your location.