Internet, Networking, & Security VPN 333 333 people found this article helpful What Does a VPN Hide? It's a lot more than you might think! by Kat Aoki Freelance Contributor Kat Aoki has nearly 10 years worth of professional IT and troubleshooting experience. She currently writes digital content for technology companies in the U.S. and Australia. our editorial process LinkedIn Kat Aoki Updated on August 08, 2020 reviewed by Michael Barton Heine Jr Lifewire Tech Review Board Member Michael Heine is a CompTIA-certified writer, editor, and Network Engineer with 25+ years' experience working in the television, defense, ISP, telecommunications, and education industries. our review board Article reviewed on Oct 12, 2020 Michael Barton Heine Jr How to Get a VPN How to Get a VPN Introduction VPN Basics What is a VPN? What Does a VPN Hide? What Are VPN Tunnels? Do I Need a VPN? Why Do I Need a VPN? Top Benefits of Using a VPN Choosing a VPN The Best Free VPN Services The Best VPN Service Providers The Best Linux VPNs The Best VPNs for Kodi The Best Free VPNs For Android The Best Free VPNs for Macs The Best VPNs for Netflix The Best VPNs for iPhone The Best International VPN Services The Best Chromebook VPNs The Best VPNs for Gaming Setting Up Your VPN Set Up VPN Connections in Windows 10 Set Up a VPN on Windows 7 or 8 Set Up a VPN on Mac Set Up an iPhone VPN Set Up VPN on PS4 Set Up VPN on Xbox One Install a VPN on Linux Set Up VPN on Chromecast Use a Mobile VPN on Android Fixing VPN Errors The Most Common VPN Error Codes How to Fix VPN Error 800 How to Fix VPN Error 619 Fix a VPN That's Not Connecting Test & Fix a DNS Leak Tweet Share Email 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. The 8 Best VPN Service Providers of 2020 01 of 09 A VPN Hides Your IP Address Matt Anderson Photography / Getty Images 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. 02 of 09 A VPN Hides Your Geographic Location Tetra Images / Getty Images 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. 03 of 09 A VPN Hides Your Personal Data boonchai wedmakawand / Getty Images 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. 04 of 09 A VPN Hides Your Web Browsing Henrik5000 / Getty Images 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. 05 of 09 A VPN Hides Torrenting Yuichiro Chino / Getty Images 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. 06 of 09 Hides Your Identity on Social Media damircudic / Getty Images 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. 07 of 09 A VPN Hides Your Spending Habits svetikd / Getty Images 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. 08 of 09 A VPN Hides Activities on Your Mobile Phone Hinterhaus Productions / Getty Images 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. 09 of 09 A VPN Hides Web Surfing From Your Boss 10'000 Hours / Getty Images 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).