When you type in a web address into your browser, the request goes through your Internet Service Provider to the corresponding web server, which processes your request. Accessing a virtual private network or VPN affords you several advantages over connecting to the internet directly through your ISP. Here are a few of the main ways that a VPN would change your online experience
1. A VPN server can protect you against hackers and data thieves
The data connection between you and the VPN is also encrypted, so you can now use the Internet securely. Because there are 3.42 billion web users worldwide, making it impossible to target each and every one of them, hackers focus on those who visit the websites of banks and e-commerce platforms – these are the people likely to login to their bank accounts with their passwords or use credit/debit cards online.
They are usually traced back to their computers using their IP addresses, and hackers secretly install malware to gain access to your bank account or obtain your credit card information. With a VPN, you can be tracked only as far as your VPN server, and these deploy advanced security measures to keep them out.
2. A VPN server allows you to watch shows in regions where would otherwise be unavailable to you.
Your request could also be declined. For instance, if you wanted to watch NetFlix movies outside the country, the web server would look at your IP address (this is assigned by the Internet Service Provider or ISP that you use to connect to the internet), figure out you are not in Australia, and so refuse to accede to your request.
With a Virtual Private Network or VPN, a new server comes in between your ISP and the web server. This receives your request, and forwards it to the web server, but with its own IP address. If the VPN server is located in Australia, the NetFlix web server would see the request as originating from an IP address in Australia, and grant access to NetFlix Australia’s collection of TV shows and movies.
3. A VPN server covers your online history
That is not the only advantage there is. Ever wondered how after browsing through an e commerce site, advertising for that exact same site shows up on another page that you visit later? When you visit such a site, it jots down the IP address your request came from and then sends its advertising to that IP address, which is usually your computer or mobile device.
Now, when a VPN server comes in between, its IP address is what is recorded by the web server and that is where advertising is sent. What it means is, using a VPN is a huge step forward in privacy – your browsing history can no longer be recorded. Even your ISP will have records of only you accessing the VPN – that information is of little or no value to an advertiser, except perhaps a rival VPN service.
Your own computer, in comparison, is more vulnerable because it doesn’t have the latest security measures, which would cost more than the computer itself (and is therefore, not invested in)
4. Experience faster surfing speeds through a VPN server
You might also experience faster speeds when downloading or uploading. The reason is that the VPN does not forward any requests from processes that run in the background on your computer. Office software, antivirus, application programs, your operating system – they are all constantly trying to get the latest updates downloaded to your computer, and so take up much of your bandwidth.
So privacy, getting around geo-restrictions, security, faster internet speeds or any combination of these – take your pick.