A lot of us use the internet on a daily basis. This is in the form of searching something on the internet, or social networking, or even buying things online. For those who have been using the internet for a few years now, chances are that you may have come across the term virtual private network (VPN). While it may sound a bit confusing, consider VPN as a secure tunnel between the website that you are visiting and your PC. It ensures that your online activities are secure and private.
For those wondering how the virtual private network works — your PC connects to a server which can be in a foreign country like the United States, United Kingdom, Europe or so. All your web traffic passes back and forth through this server. As for data logged by most websites, you’re browsing from the geographical location of the server, and not from your computer location. The benefit of using a secured VPN connection is that it becomes difficult for someone to spy on web-browsing activities. Here are four reasons why you should use a virtual private network for private web browsing.
Upload and download P2P files in privacy
Yes, it is illegal to download pirated content — music, movies, TV shows, videos, and more from Torrent websites. However, there are people who still prefer downloading content from such websites. There are also times when people share files with others using a peer-2-peer (P2P) connection. To keep your identity secure and avoid the authorities from snooping on your online activities, using a VPN is the best solution. Sure, a virtual private network may slow down your internet connectivity by cutting down the bandwidth by up to 50 percent, but that is worth it.
Use public Wi-Fi with confidence
Who doesn’t like free internet? Places like coffee shops, hotels, shopping malls, airports and railway stations are hub to public Wi-Fi hotspots. And given the fact that its free to access, a lot of us connect to such hotspots to surf our favorite websites, download content, watch videos and more. However, these are open Wi-Fi networks, which makes it easier for hackers to target your PC or smartphone and steal sensitive data.
As open Wi-Fi networks do not offer any sort of encryption and security, your data — emails, contacts, browsing history and more — will be at great risk. To keep your data encrypted and hidden from prying eyes, ensure that you browse using a VPN connection.
Search without your data being logged
Like it or not, search engines such as Bing, Google, and others log every web search that you perform. These searches are then attached to the IP address of your computer and are used to customize the ads that you see. For instance, if you search for divorce lawyers, love advice, and more, all those searches will be stored by Google.
Sure, it has its own set of benefits as Google can display relevant information based on your interests. However, if the data ever falls in wrong hands, there are certain risks attached to it too. At such times, a VPN can help you keep your searches private.
Bypass content censorship
Every country has some manner of censorship on web content. For instance, access to Facebook, Gmail and other Google services is restricted in China. Similarly, a lot of internet service providers in India block access to torrent-based sites. A VPN helps in connecting to a VPN server to ‘tunnel out’ censorship restrictions and let you have complete internet access, without the government spying.
Popular VPN service providers
When it comes to virtual private network service providers, you have both, free and paid ones to choose from. Express VPN, Hotspot Shield, Tunnel Bear and SurfEasy are some of the services you can try on your Windows PC and Mac. These services have both free and paid services ranging between $7 (approximately Rs 450) per month to $15 (approximately Rs 1,000) per month.
For those on Android and iOS platforms, you can opt for TunnelBear, Hotspot VPN, and VPN Proxy Master to name a few.
The Opera browser for Windows and macOS comes with built-in VPN, whereas on Google Chrome browser, you can install extensions such as SaferVPN, Hotspot Shield VPN, TunnelBear and BetterNet among others.