Home Technology What Is a VPN, and Why Would I Need One?

What Is a VPN, and Why Would I Need One?

A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, allows you to create a secure connection to another network over the Internet. VPNs can be used to access region-restricted websites, shield your browsing activity from prying eyes on public Wi-Fi, and more.

VPNs essentially forward all your network traffic to the network, which is where the benefits — like accessing local network resources remotely and bypassing Internet censorship — all come from. Most operating systems have integrated VPN support.

What Is a VPN and How Does It Help Me?

A VPN connects your PC, smartphone, or tablet to another computer (called a server) on the internet, allowing you to access the internet via that computer’s internet connection. So, if that server is in another nation, it will appear as if you are from that country, and you may be able to access things you wouldn’t ordinarily be able to.

So how does this help you? Good question! You can use a VPN to:

  • Bypass geographic restrictions on websites or streaming audio and video.
  • Watch streaming media like Netflix and Hulu.
  • Protect yourself from snooping on untrustworthy Wi-Fi hotspots.
  • Gain at least some anonymity online by hiding your true location.
  • Protect yourself from being logged while torrenting.

Many people these days are using a VPN for torrenting or bypassing geographic restrictions to watch content in a different country. They are still very useful for protecting yourself while working at a coffee shop, but that’s hardly the only use anymore.

How Do You Get a VPN, and Which One Should You Choose?

You can use a VPN from your workplace, create your own VPN server, or even host one from your home, depending on your needs — but the vast majority of people are just looking for something to protect them while torrenting or to allow them to watch media online that they can’t seem to access from their home country.

The easiest thing to do is simply head to one of these sites, sign up, and download the VPN client for your Windows PC, Mac, Android, iPhone, or iPad. It’s as easy as that.

  • The Best VPN: ExpressVPN
    This VPN server has the best combination of ease-of-use, really fast servers, and supports streaming media and torrenting, all for a cheap price.
  • A Free Option: TunnelBear
    This VPN is really easy to use, is great for using at the coffee shop, and has a (limited) free tier. It’s not good for torrenting or streaming media though.
  • A Solid Contender: StrongVPN
    Not quite as easy to use as the others, but you can definitely use them for torrenting and streaming media.

All of them have free trials, so you can easily get your money back if you change your mind.

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