Last updated - March 2, 2023
The Internet has seen exponential growth in the last two decades. This growth was even more accelerated by the global pandemic that started in 2020, forcing all of us to spend more time in front of screens. With such an increased presence of the internet in our everyday lives, taking steps to ensure our online privacy is not compromised is essential.
You might have heard if not used VPNs for one of its many applications, among which privacy is the prominent feature promoted by VPN service providers. This article will discuss what exactly a VPN is, how it works, and the different types of VPNs in use. We will also see some popular VPN providers and their features.
What is a VPN?
When you use the internet, you send requests through your internet service provider and it is often shared by ISPs and is traceable by ad networks and even other third parties, who can use your browsing information as well as know the physical location of your computer. This makes your personal data vulnerable and can be misused in the wrong hands.
When using a VPN, instead of sending your data through your ISP, you send it through the private servers of the VPN provider, which means your data is masked and is shown as if you are accessing the internet from the location of the VPN servers instead of your actual servers. Thus these virtual private networks protect your traffic and location from being spied on by your internet service provider and other third parties.
Reasons to Get a VPN
Your data is encrypted and sent through secure private servers when you are using a VPN, so your online activities are not available to the public, thus giving you privacy. Though your traffic is private, your internet service provider and others can still understand that you are using a VPN to mask your activities. Thus, using the internet with VPN can be a better option to add a layer of privacy.
Unlock Regional Services
Streaming platforms like Netflix and Disney Plus often broadcast content based on their licenses and rights to show them in different geographical locations. This means a TV show that is available in Canada might not be available to viewers in the US, even though they are both using the same platform. Using a VPN can help bypass such regional restrictions put by OTT platforms. But you must note that Netflix and other services are now catching up with VPN users and not all VPN networks are now capable of streaming geo-blocked content so you may have to opt for paid VPN networks that specialize in running OTT content.
If you are a frequent traveler, you might notice that not all countries have similar laws regarding the internet and may deny access to certain parts of the internet. Journalists and similar professionals may be hindered by such restrictions and using a VPN can help overcome them.
The same products may sometimes have different prices in different countries, both in online stores and retail outlets. Using a VPN to access the stores of different countries can show better deals which are especially true for buying flight tickets. But keep in mind the shipping charges for physical products which can be high for international delivery.
Security While Using Public Wifi
Another practical application of VPNs is that they protect your data when you are accessing the internet from unknown public wifi. Hackers and other mal elements might access your browsing activity as well as other sensitive data. Turning on the VPN before accessing public wifi can help prevent such cyber threats.
3 VPN Services To Consider
While there are a lot of VPN service providers, not all of them provide comprehensive encryption and privacy. Here are a few top picks among the service providers that might be the right choice for your access to secure internet without advertiser tracking.
ProtonVPN is an end-to-end encrypted VPN service focusing on privacy and internet security. According to the official website, Proton was started to give free access to the internet to journalists and activists and takes privacy quite seriously. Its secure core technology gives an edge to its users against network-based attacks, and the Netshield blocks ads and trackers across the web. Proton has over 1900 servers across 67 countries, offering a wide range of virtual networks for its users.
Pricing: Monthly plans start at $9.99, which is available at $4.99 if you opt for the 2-year subscription.
NordVPN is a highly popular VPN service provider which it says is also the fastest service provider in the industry. Wherever you are, you can use NordVPN to safely access the internet and you have the protection of Nord’s next-generation encryption to keep your browsing and personal data safe.
It is available for all devices so you have privacy on the go no matter what device you are using to surf the internet. Nord also has a threat protection feature that protects you from trackers and other cyber threats even without connecting to a VPN, which is an added bonus.
Pricing: The monthly plan starts from $14.29 for the pro and $11.99 for the standard plan, you can avail of the same at $5.29 and $2.99 respectively if you opt for the 2-year subscription.
Surfshark is a pocket-friendly yet fully featured VPN service provider. It has 256-bit encryption and a kill switch to turn off the data transmission when there is a vulnerability in the servers. An added advantage is that you only need one account to protect all the devices in your household with Surfshark.
Pricing: Monthly plans start at $2.05 for the annual plan.
Now that we have seen what a VPN is and how you can benefit from it, you can consider using one if you want that added security to your internet activities, irrespective of what you use it for. It not only keeps your data protected, but it also evades advertisers and other trackers from monitoring and collecting your data. Note that all of these service providers have an option to test them out for free, either via a free trial or a money-back plan.