VPN or virtual private network provides you a secure way to connect to the internet without compromising on security. VPN can server variety of purposes such as secure access to a corporate network on the internet, hides your public IP address, open restricted sites, bypass school and college restrictions over some web services, etc. People often question why use a VPN if there are several free proxies available? Also, what does a VPN do other than accessing corporate network over the internet? What is in it for you if you are a student or someone who is only looking to access restricted content because of geolocation constraint, etc.
Before we discuss what does a VPN do, let’s do a quick recap and understand about some technical jargons around VPN.
As the name implies, a Virtual Private Network or VPN is the extension of a private network over a public medium such as the Internet.
It protects your internet traffic by establishing an encrypted connection between your computer and a remote VPN server. This connection appears as if it is a tunnel, with all of your online data passing through this protected tunnel.
The traffic after reaching the server exits into the Internet, thereby appearing that the whole traffic originates from the VPN server and not from your machine.
- Suggested read: What are Different Types of VPN Protocols?
What does a VPN do?
VPN is not only limited to accessing corporate network when you are away, but you can also watch movies online or online TV series if are geo-restricted in your country.
Apart from this, VPN can hide your IP address, bypass government censorship, protect your VOIP calls, and the list goes on. Let’s understand why to use a VPN in detail.
Hides your internet activity from the ISP
Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) has full access to your web browsing activity. But a VPN can put an end to this. Since all your internet activity passes through a secured VPN tunnel, the ISP has no idea about any of your internet activity.
The ISP can only see that you are connected to an external VPN server but not the target website. Apart from that, it has no clue about the stuff that you are viewing online. So, using a VPN help you to maintain your privacy online.
Get access to restricted content
Due to copyright agreement and geo-restrictions, there are some websites which might be banned in your country. A VPN server bounces off your original IP address and makes it appear as if your internet traffic is coming from the IP of the VPN Server.
Remember, a VPN server could be located in any country. Usually, when you purchase a VPN service, you get an option of selecting VPN server location based country based on your preference.
Thus, the target website might see the request to access its content coming from the VPN server location and not your computer. In this way, you can get access to sites which are otherwise banned in your country such as any movie websites, online channels, etc.
Bypass government censorship
Even the government has prohibited several websites due to political motivations and copyright agreements. The VPN just as in the scenario above can help you get access to these websites. It cannot be traced back to you because the traffic would appear to be coming from the VPN server rather than from IP address.
Use public Wi-Fi hotspots worry free
Everybody loves to use the freely available Wi-Fi hotspots at the railway stations and airports. However, these hotspots don’t come without threats.
There is a significant chance of your confidential and private data being compromised while using these Public hotspots. However, VPN can prevent this and you can carry out any financial transaction without any worry of an eavesdropper.
Employees of a company can login into the VPN Client software using the public hotspots. Doing so would result in the creation of a VPN connection between their laptop and a VPN server.
After this, they can freely surf the internet using the public hotspot without the worry of their internal data being compromised.
Get through restrictions in schools and colleges
Many Schools and Colleges ban access to a lot of websites for their students. These sites include Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, etc. sites which they feel will distract their students.
The students can bypass such restrictions by using a VPN from their School or College computers. While it might not be in their best interests to use it while studying, it is nevertheless a way to get past the prohibitions.
Defend against location-based pricing
A lot of e-commerce websites have different prices for the same item based on different locations. This is entirely unfair to customers who shouldn’t have to pay more or less just because they are in a different location.
Using a VPN can help to prevent such an unfair practice and help a customer do shopping online through fair means.
Prevent logging of data
It might be that your ISP is keeping a track or a log of every internet transaction that you do. The data gathered due to logging can then be sold to generate revenue for the ISP.
The Logging of your internet activity such as that of your online searches can then be used to customize advertisements and future searches.
A VPN is the perfect answer to these practices. It puts a cloak over your IP address thus keeping your internet activity and searches private.
Protect your VOIP calls
Many applications which facilitate Voice over IP calls don’t have robust encryption. This means that your VOIP Calls can easily be eavesdropped into.
So, if you are an avid VOIP services user, you must make use of VPN. VPN service will cost you some bucks and it might even affect the speed of your VOIP call. But all in all, the whole setup will protect your VOIP calls.
Helps in your research without leaving traces
It helps in certain situations if your online activity cannot be traced back to you. This could be if you are searching the marketing policies of your competitor, a journalist working on sensitive issues or if you are an investigating officer looking for evidence online.
In all the above situations, having a VPN would mask your identity and your IP address. Thus, making your internet traffic untraceable.
For online gaming purposes
A VPN can sometimes slow down your gaming speed or can cause disruptions. Despite that, it is better to have one while gaming online. First of all, it makes you anonymous, so if things get heated with a competitor, he wouldn’t know your credentials.
Secondly, it bypasses geo-restrictions. Lastly, it prevents against DDoS attacks which can make your connection slow and ultimately drive you out of your game.
Over to you on what does a VPN do
It is always better to have a VPN connection on your computer irrespective of what is your intention while browsing the internet. A VPN not only help you to gain access to the restricted resources, but it also protects your privacy.