The Top 7 Benefits of Using a VPN

How masking your IP address gives you greater privacy and freedom

Person holding phone with VPN

Prykhodov/Getty Images

A VPN lets you connect to the internet privately and anonymously. Using a combination of IP masking, data encapsulation, and encryption, a VPN network creates a hidden tunnel that makes it virtually impossible for ISPs, search engines, websites, and advertisers to track you.

If you're wondering if you should get a VPN, here are the top benefits of using a one to gain greater privacy and freedom on the web.

VPNs Mask Your IP Address to Provide Privacy

A Tunnel Bear VPN Connection on a mac computer.

Every time you log on to the internet, you're assigned an IP address that uniquely identifies your computer or mobile device. The problem is, all of your online activities can be traced back to this IP address. This includes every Google search, every website you visit, the things you buy, the links you click, the comments you leave on social media sites, and much more.

One of the top benefits of a VPN is that it disguises your IP address so your activities can't be tracked. It does this by sending you onto the internet from a server in different gateway city or country with a masked IP address. Because of the VPN's ability to disguise your actual IP address, your identity, location, and online activities stay private on the web.

VPNs Protect Private Data Over Public Wi-Fi

A VPN on an iPhone in a public place.

Using public Wi-Fi at airports, hotels, and cafes without a VPN is a risky proposition. Even if you use a password to connect to public Wi-Fi, it's not secure. With a little motivation and know-how, your data can be easily intercepted, read, or stolen by hackers. This includes things like phone calls, emails, chats, logins, and passwords.

Instead of leaving your data exposed, a VPN creates a hidden tunnel for your data. It does this by encrypting your internet traffic inside encapsulated data packets, creating your own private network over public Wi-Fi. With a VPN, your data is virtually impossible to view by outside forces, keeping your private information — private.

VPNs Allow Access to Geo-Restricted Content

A VPN on a smartphone asking if the user wants to tunnel to Germany.

Whether you're traveling overseas or live in a country that isn't licensed to stream from say, Netflix or Amazon, you don't have to let content restrictions bring you down. Instead, you can use a VPN to spoof your computer's IP address and get around geo-restricted content bans. How does this work?

For example, say you're in Australia. You can log on to your VPN's USA server to obtain a U.S.-based IP address. This makes it appear as if you are physically in the U.S., thus enabling you to access your favorite movies and TV shows. This tactic also works in reverse. If you're in the U.S. and want to access shows in Australia — just use one of your VPN's Australian servers.

VPNs Can Circumvent Censorship

A web address bar with Forbidden over it.
 Gerd Altmann / Pixabay

It's no secret that many countries today impose oppressive internet censoring on their citizens. For example, China bans Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Flickr. Meanwhile, many VOIP-based services, like Skype and WhatsApp, are banned in parts of the Middle East.

If you live in or are visiting a country with censorship in place, using a VPN can help you circumvent these restrictions and access the entire World Wide Web and VOIP services. Just be sure to sign up for a VPN service before you enter a country with restrictions in place. Often, VPN download sites are banned from these countries also.

VPNs Allow Access to Less Expensive Travel

Planes from several airlines lined up at an airport terminal.
Gunther Simmermacher / Pixabay 

Airlines and online travel brokers are notorious for manipulating airline ticket prices. One lesser-known benefit of VPNs is that you may be able to book cheaper airline tickets depending on your geographical location.

To get a cheaper flight, try logging onto a VPN server in a country that has a less expensive cost of living than where you're located. To get the lowest price, try comparing from multiple VPN servers. This VPN benefit may also work for booking rental cars or hotels.

VPNs Can Be Used on Any Network or Hotspot

A VPN on a tablet, which is resting on a suitcase.

Another benefit of VPNs is that they're not dependent on any particular network or Wi-Fi connection to work. Once you have your VPN service set up on your device, you can use it over any network. This includes your home or work network, as well as any Wi-Fi hotspots when you're on the road. This flexibility gives you greater privacy, protection, and peace of mind.

VPNs Can Be Used on Any Device

A woman using a VPN on a smartphone.
@stefan.coders / Twenty20 

Last, but not least, VPNs can be used on any type of device (computers, laptops, smartphones, and mobile devices), making them super convenient and easy to use. Even better, some VPN service providers will allow you to connect several devices under one service plan, helping to reduce costs while providing multi-pronged protection.

Now that you understand the benefits of using a VPN, it's time to get one. To learn more about how to get the right VPN for your needs, see How to Get a VPN.