My first encounter with VPN was when I was moving to China and knew I needed to download one if I wanted to access all the social sites I usually access back home in the states. I didn't know much else about it. But the more I've used it, the more I have realized the great number of benefits to having and using one- especially when traveling!
Staying safe on Public wifi networks
Hopefully you know by now that public wifi is very unsafe. Anyone who knows even the basics of computer hacking, can easily get and use your personal information (accounts, passwords, contact info, etc.) just from being on the same wifi as you. This is where VPN comes into play.
Instead of leaving your data exposed, a VPN is encrypting all of your data, turning the public unsecured network into a private and secured one. This makes it safe to use and no hackers can use or see any of your information. In other words- VPNs are protecting your private data when using public wifi.
Bypass Government Restrictions
Like I mentioned earlier, China (and some other countries in Asia) bans social networking and information gathering platforms like Facebook, Google, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and so many others. And in some parts of the Middle East, Skype and WhatsApp are banned! If you are in these parts of the world, having a VPN still gives you access to all your sites (even though they are restricted!)
HOW? Basically a VPN changes your IP address on your device to make it appear as if the traffic is coming from somewhere else. So sites and servers will see your IP address as the VPN provider you are connected to, rather than your direct address. In other words, it changes the "location" of your device, so the servers recognize that location, rather than your actual physical location. So you can access anything you want, anywhere in the world!
Access Geo-Restricted Content
Going off of the previous point, you can bypass geo-restricted content too. This basically means that some websites (like Netflix, Hulu, ESPN, and so many others) give different content based on where you are geographically located. So you can change your location and access content that's not accessible wherever you physically are at the moment.
One awesome tip for this, is if you really want to watch a certain movie or TV show, you can Google "where can I stream _____?" And it will show you which country's version of which website will give you access. For example, when I was in China during Christmas time I really wanted to watch the movie Elf. So, I googled it and found that the only Netflix that has Elf on it is the Japanese Netflix (random, I know!) So I just changed my VPN location to Tokyo, opened up Netflix, and watched it! No problems!
Which VPN should I use?
- Cost: $100 for 12 months ($8.32 per month)
+ 30 day free trial
+ 24/7 customer support
+ 5 simultaneous devices
+ Cost: $47.76 for 24 months ($1.99 per month)
+ Unlimited devices
+ Cheapest 2 year plan
+ 24/7 live chat support
- No free trial
- Can be spotty or unreliable at times
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