What Does a VPN Hide?

It's a lot more than you might think!

Internet privacy is a growing concern for many people. Fortunately, a VPN, or virtual private network, can help you stay hidden and private when browsing the internet, but what does a VPN hide? Here's a look at 9 surprising things a VPN can hide, keeping you private and safer on the World Wide Web.

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A VPN Hides Your IP Address

Computer screen showing IP addresses

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An IP address is your computer's unique address on the web. The bad news is, all your online activities can also link back to your IP address, including things like searches, website visits, social media activity, and a lot more.

Instead, using a VPN masks your real IP address. Anonymizing your activities helps prevents ISPs, search engines, websites, marketers, and hackers from tracking your movements on the web.

Using your browser's private or incognito mode offers a certain level of privacy, but your ISP can still track your activities unless you're masking your IP address with a VPN or other service.

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A VPN Hides Your Geographic Location

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VPN services offer different gateway servers around the globe, allowing you to spoof your IP address and location, which is handy if you want to access geo-restricted content (such as Netflix movies), government blocked websites (aka blacklisted), and VOIP services.

As a bonus, you can also use IP spoofing to try to get lower prices on airline tickets, hotels, and other products. Just log onto various VPN servers in different countries and see how the prices change, depending on the location.

If you want to know where your IP address thinks you are, just head over to whatismyipaddress.com. There, you can see your computer or mobile device's IP address and browsing location.

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A VPN Hides Your Personal Data

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While convenient, public Wi-Fi hotspots come with serious security risks. For starters, hackers can use public Wi-Fi connections to steal your private information and distribute malware. They can take your logins and passwords, and eavesdrop on private communications.

Accessing the internet through a VPN helps keeps your sensitive information private and safe. Using a combination of data encapsulation and encryption, a VPN creates a hidden tunnel over unsecured networks and public Wi-Fi hotspots, helping to keep your data safe when using hotspots in airports, hotels, cafes, and other locations.

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A VPN Hides Your Web Browsing

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Despite deleting your browsing history and cookies, your web activities are an open book to anyone who cares to take a peek, including search engines, your ISP (internet service provider), and nosy marketers. That's because everything you do online can be linked back to your IP address.

While you can use your browser's private or "incognito" mode (which disables browsing history, cookies, and the web cache), websites and ISPs can still "ID" you through your browser type, operating system, and plug-ins. Using this information, they can create a profile that links right back to your IP address. Instead, you can use a VPN to hide your IP address and keep your browsing history to yourself.

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A VPN Hides Torrenting

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Media companies are increasingly cracking down on torrent traffic on peer-to-peer file-sharing networks. Sometimes they masquerade as file sharers or eavesdrop on your ISP signal. If authorities find you in violation of copyright, you could attract a warning, or worse, a hefty fine.

If torrenting is your thing, you can use a VPN to hide your IP address and keep your torrenting activities private. You'll want to use a reputable VPN provider that has a good privacy track record, fast speeds, and offers the latest (read: most secure) encryption protocols.

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Hides Your Identity on Social Media

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If you're an active commenter, you'll need more than a clever pseudonym to thoroughly hide your identity on social media, blogs, and forums. Not only can the administrator of a webpage see your comments, but they can also track you using the footprint of your IP address.

If you prefer to keep your comments and opinions anonymous, you can use a VPN to mask your IP address. In anyone attempts to identify you, they'll have a hard time tracking you down with a spoofed IP address.

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A VPN Hides Your Spending Habits

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Your online buying habits reveal a lot about our personal lives. In some cases, you may want to keep your purchases private. A VPN acts as a tunnel between your computer and the websites where you shop, preventing e-commerce websites from tracking your IP address and linking it to your buying activities. Doing this protects your privacy and prevents targeted advertising by companies who want to follow and up-sell to you.

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A VPN Hides Activities on Your Mobile Phone

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Today, more and more people are using their mobile phones to access the internet. However, keep in mind that whenever you browse on your mobile phone, you're essentially broadcasting your IP address, location, and activities for anyone to see. Like VPNs for home or office use, a mobile VPN app provides data encryption and privacy, helping to keep your mobile activities anonymous, no matter where you're connected.

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A VPN Hides Web Surfing From Your Boss

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Many companies allow employees to access the internet during work hours. But do you want your boss to see how many hours you spend on Facebook or catching up on the news? While we have no opinion about employees surfing on the job, using a VPN at work over your company's network can help keep your browsing activities private (even when you have nothing to hide).