First things first, what is a VPN? It seems to be one of those tech acronyms that gets thrown around a lot like HTML, CSS, VPN, WWW and so on and so forth.
A VPN stands for the virtual private network and it’s as simple, and somewhat complicated, as that. It’s essentially a secure, private pathway to connect your PC or other devices with the places you’re visiting on the internet.
First, you’re connecting to the VPN’s location. VPN servers are located all across the world, from the United States to Spain to France to Thailand. Your activity passes back and forth through that server.
Let’s say that you’re on your laptop on vacation in Sydney, Australia. You use your VPN and access the server based in the United Kingdom. You go around your social media pages, check eBay and login to your bank account. From the website’s point of view, you’re browsing from the UK.
That’s just a quick preview, but what else can a VPN do you for?
An Extra Layer of Security
Most people agree that not enough is being done to protect their data and online activity. In a world where there seems to be a data breach every other day, what can you do personally besides throwing away all of your tech gear and living in the mountains?
Going back to that previous example of using a laptop while in Sydney. While you’re browsing the web, there are only three people who know what you’re doing: the VPN provider, the website you’re visiting and you.
It becomes very difficult for anyone to spy on your activity and just what exactly you’re doing. Even though it could be something harmless like shopping for socks online, they could also catch you while you’re checking very sensitive information.
Perfect for the Modern User
If you’re someone who is connecting to public WiFi in cafes or airports, you should have gotten a VPN a long time ago.
These WiFi hotspots are all public, meaning anyone connected to the network can easily spy on you and see just what you are doing. That’s why it’s always recommended to never log on to anything personal on a public WiFi network, among other tips.
Anyone connected to that network will have a significantly more difficult time attempting to spy on what you’re doing.
It’s a Must for Streaming Content
If you’ve ever traveled, chances are you’ve run into issues where a website or some form of content you were trying to access was blocked to do your geographical location.
The best way to get around that is by using a VPN, giving you more freedom to browse the internet with much fewer restrictions.
If you’re someone who likes to have their entertainment on the go with a streaming device, you should really look into Troypoint’s recommendations. They can help you get set up with a VPN on your Amazon Firestick to make sure you have all the content you want no matter where you go.
What a VPN Won’t Do
While a VPN has multiple benefits, it’s important to highlight what a VPN can’t do. While adding security to your home network is a big advantage, it’s not going to protect you from viruses. Just because you have a VPN doesn’t mean you should download anything you want because you’ve got a huge virus shield.
VPNs also won’t be able to skirt around countries internet laws that have a heavy hand on censorship.
Your behavior and activity can still be tracked, even on a VPN. Cookies exist everywhere and a VPN isn’t going to block sites from taking your information.
If you’re not careful, you can lock yourself out of certain accounts by using your VPN. If you are consistently using your VPN to log into PayPal for example and forget to turn it on the next time, your PayPal could lock you out of your account or ask for other means of verification.
Last but not least, it’s important to look at where your VPN is headquartered. Those companies must abide by the laws of their host country and each country could have different restrictions or laws on collecting user data. Do your due diligence and find out which is the best option for your situation.