They told you to get a VPN. Standing for “Virtual Private Network,” a VPN encrypts and routes your data via a server to increase privacy and security. But what can you do with a VPN? Well, this article will offer a few more insights into the multiple ways you can use a virtual private network for increased privacy and online convenience.
Table of contents
Get cheaper bookings (flights, car rentals, hotels, etc.)
Searching for a specific booking may result in fluctuating prices. Also, it’s common for Mac users to get higher prices than Windows users. Crazy right? Well, it all comes down to cookies and your interest in buying this specific ticket, car, room, etc. One of the more lucrative things to do with a VPN is to get around these price fluctuations.
Tip: Test different server locations with your VPN on and see how prices differ. Then, you’ll start seeing how much money you can save on airline tickets with a VPN.
Access websites while traveling
Accessing websites while traveling can be a challenge, especially if you rely on certain websites that may become inaccessible due to geographical limitations. Many countries have restrictions on certain websites or services, and these restrictions can vary widely depending on where you are in the world. With some preparation and the right tools, you can stay connected to the internet and access the websites you need, no matter where your travels take you.
Tip: Connect to a VPN server back in your country, and you’ll be able to access websites from your homeland without any issues.
Enjoy the best deals for online shopping
Depending on your location, some retailers may increase the price of their items. The difference is due to taxes and import costs across countries.
Tip: Check different VPN servers at locations around the world to see which price is the lowest. You could even save money while on vacation! Who knew that this many VPN uses would be about saving money, huh?
Protect your mobile devices
These days, many of us don’t even have a stationary PC. We’re all immersed in laptops, smartphones, tablets, smartwatches, and whatever else you can stick a touchscreen on. Therefore, our internet connection changes sources often, especially when Wi-Fi is involved.
Tip: Ensure your data is protected with a VPN running on your device. Even if anyone tries to spoof your internet connection or tries to launch a man-in-the-middle attack, any data they intercept will be unreadable.
Create the ultimate lockdown streaming hub
We all want to maintain our privacy online. And yes, that also extends to streaming your favorite shows and movies. With a VPN connection, you can feel safe even when indulging in the latest Netflix gems from the comfort of your couch.
Not to mention, a VPN may even speed up your streaming by helping you avoid internet throttling. With your traffic encrypted, your internet service provider will not know that you’re watching videos. Therefore, they can’t throttle you. Surfshark is equipped with 1GBit (and it is constantly upgrading to 10GBit) server ports available to you worldwide.
Tip: Use a VPN whenever streaming for privacy and dodging internet throttling.
Disclaimer: We prohibit using Surfshark services for any unlawful purposes as it is against our Terms of Service. Please be sure to act in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations of streaming service providers.
Stay safe on public Wi-Fi
“Free Wi-Fi” is the most magical phrase for any urbanite on the go. Unfortunately, free Wi-Fi is sussy (for people reading this in 2024: “suspicious”) Wi-Fi. It’s questionable how much your two-star hostel cares about your digital security or whether the network you’re connecting to at the cafe is even real.
Tip: Anyone trying to steal your data via an unsafe public Wi-Fi hotspot can be stopped by using a VPN. As long as you’re connected to a VPN server, all your data is encrypted and unreadable.
Comment and publish opinions anonymously
When we don’t like something, we recommend others not make the same mistake. What if this results in being harassed or even sued over a negative review? And there are more dangers for those expressing their political opinions under oppressive regimes. The same goes for journalists and bloggers who cover controversial topics.
Tip: To make tracking you down more difficult, you need to hide your identity online. One of the first steps is to hide your IP with a VPN and then post any comments or reviews. This way, you can share the truth with others safely while a VPN protects you.
Speed up your internet connection
If you find yourself waiting for a website or video to load, you may be suffering from bandwidth throttling by your ISP. This means that your ISP (Internet Service Provider) may purposely be slowing down (throttling) your connection.
Tip: Avoid this sort of unpleasantness by keeping your VPN connection on at all times. A VPN encrypts your internet connection, so even if the ISP were going to look into that, they wouldn’t see anything. For the best speeds, choose a server that’s closest to your physical location.
Game where you want to game
Online gaming can be a wee bit bandwidth-intensive. It can also distract you from school, work, or whatever else the person administering the Wi-Fi router thinks you should be doing instead. Well, they’re neither your mom nor your boss (even if they literally are), and you have the right to go blind playing PUBG.
Tip: With a VPN on your device, you can! Firewalls on routers block your connection to classic Runescape servers because they’re told to block connections to Runescape servers. Connect to a VPN, and then the firewall will only see you connecting to a VPN server, something that is very difficult to block. Then you can play any game you want.
Get more “free” services and websites
Not all news websites are completely open to the public. Quite often, you can only access a limited number of entries before signing up. Similarly, other useful online tools like moz.com allow a set number of “free” daily searches.
Each time you visit “free” websites, they track your IP address (check where your IP address is located) and log how many articles you have opened. That’s how they know when you’ve reached your limit. So, how do you get around this?
Tip: Just choose a different server from your VPN app every time you reach the limit. Open the website or tool in a new private browsing window, and they’ll see you as a new visitor.
Unlock social media apps
According to a study analyzing internet censorship, “almost one in three countries have blocked social media either permanently or sporadically since 2015.” If you happen to travel to one of these countries, you likely won’t have access to social media.
Tip: Connect to a server located in a neighboring country using a VPN and browse as usual when using social media apps in countries where they’re blocked.
Research your competition privately
Thanks to Google Analytics and other tools, a webmaster can see all visitors on their website. They can track your internet data and know where you come from or what information you took an interest in — even when researching your competition.
Tip: Turn on your VPN and connect to a server to stay private while doing any internet research. And don’t use your real name when filling out forms.
Avoid “the list”
Downloading and file-sharing may get you noticed by specific agencies — even if it’s legal. These include the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America), the NSA (National Security Agency), the GCHQ (The UK’s Government Communications Headquarters), and more.
Though their main goal is to track illegally downloaded and shared information, that doesn’t stop them from keeping an eye on you. One of the VPN uses is keeping you hidden by masking your real IP.
Tip: Always have a VPN connection on to keep your IP hidden online.
Skype call for free (or cheaper)
Skype can connect you to your loved ones who are far away. But calling someone’s landline or mobile phone can get expensive when geographical distances get involved.
Tip: Get around this issue with a VPN (e.g., Surfshark works well with Skype). Choose a server in the receiver’s country and call for free or get cheaper rates.
Unblock VoIP services
Want to contact your relatives via VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) services, like Viber or WhatsApp, but can’t because of restrictions in their country? You can get around this with a VPN, even in countries that ban VoIP services.
Tip: Just choose a server where the VoIP service is available and enjoy connecting with others hassle-free!
Stay secure on the Tor Network
The Tor Network does a lot to increase your privacy. While relying on volunteer nodes to reroute your traffic, it uses three nodes per connection to make it more secure. This ensures that any single node only knows its neighbors on the chain. For example, an entry node knows where you’re connecting from but not your real online destination — only that you’re connecting to the second node.
It is still possible to compromise this network by seeding enough nodes to capture both the entry and exit nodes and then identify users by triangulating connection times. However, with a VPN on, even the entry node won’t know where you’re connecting from!
Tip: Use Tor over a VPN. Simply connect to a VPN server before engaging the Tor connection.
Take your media with you
Geoblocking is a nasty thing that ruins our enjoyment of online streaming services. This can get especially egregious for travelers when their favorite shows, YouTube series, or music becomes unavailable on a trip.
If your ISP blocks certain sites, a VPN will easily overcome their blocks. After all, you’re not connecting to YouTube — you’re connecting to a Surfshark server (which is connecting to YouTube).
Tip: With a VPN service on, you can switch your online location effortlessly to match that of your home. And just like that, you can listen to your favorite tunes anywhere in the world.
Work from wherever
The plague showed us that we don’t need to be at our offices to do our jobs right. Naturally, for the lucky people, this meant that Work From Home was (and still is) an option. But home is a nebulous term, and some of us would like it to include sunnier and warmer places.
Tip: With a VPN service, you can connect to your workspaces as if you were still back home. Anyone who wants to track your location by IP will only see the server’s location. Who can tell the difference if you are connected to a server that matches your hometown?
Secure the entire home
VPN services provide a level of security that works great on your phone or laptop. But what about all the other smart gadgets, gizmos, and gewgaws scattered around the house? Not all of them are sophisticated enough to support VPN apps!
But you do have a router. Most top VPN routers can either support VPNs or users can configure them to do so.
Tip: If you slap a virtual private network on your router, you’ll immediately provide the VPN benefits to any device that connects to it — a great boon for such app-averse appliances as consoles and smart TVs.
Explore your VPN beyond privacy and security
Though the ultimate goal is to secure your digital life, there are other VPN uses as well. As you can see, these 19 tips and tricks can help you save money, stream privately, browse anonymously, and so much more!
If you love surfing the web, accessing blocked websites, and discovering hidden possibilities online, I definitely recommend always using a VPN.
What should I use a VPN for?
You should use a VPN to:
- Stay safe on public Wi-Fi;
- Bypass geoblocking;
- Access censored sites;
- Keep yourself safe while accessing censored sites.
Obviously, there are more uses than that, but those are the ones that exemplify the protection and accessibility that a VPN brings.
Can the police track a VPN?
No, the police can’t track live VPN traffic. But there is a bit more to the story. For a full answer, read our article on whether police can track VPNs.
What are the disadvantages of a VPN?
There are two main disadvantages to using a VPN:
- Financial expenditure: a good VPN is a paid VPN, and free ones will never match that level of services. In fact, they might even pose an online security risk;
- Loss of speed: some of your bandwidth will be used by the encryption overhead, which is necessary for making a VPN work. The drop shouldn’t be noticeable.
What sites can I access with a VPN?
With a VPN, you can access all the sites you can access normally — and likely the ones that are blocked by work, school, or the government:
- News sites;
- Streaming services.
This is not an exhaustive list!
What doesn’t a VPN protect you from?
A lot depends on the circumstances, but a VPN definitely can’t protect you from:
- Falling for phishing;
- Installing malware yourself;
- Giving out your personal information online.
Can your internet provider see your history with a VPN?
No, the ISP can only see that you’re connected to a VPN server.
What can I do with a gaming VPN?
A VPN for gaming can help you:
- Secure yourself from DDoS attacks;
- Maintain security from SWATing;
- Match with players in different regions;
- Defeat bandwidth throttling while gaming;
- Play online games blocked by local firewalls.
What can I do with a VPN on Android?
A VPN on an Android can help you to:
- Maintain security on public Wi-Fi;
- Connect to sites blocked by local firewalls;
- Access websites from your home country while traveling.