They told you to get a VPN. 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 both 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 a Mac user to get higher prices than a Windows user. 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 getting around these price fluctuations.
Tip: Test out 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.
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.
Research done by Pricerunner.com compared the prices of a MacBook Air, iPad, and iPhone combined. The cheapest came out at $2,225 in Tokyo. The most expensive came out at $4,160 in Sao Paulo. A massive difference!
Tip: Check different VPN server locations to see which price is the lowest. You could even save money to spend while on vacation! Who knew that this many VPN uses would be about saving money, huh?
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 have no way of knowing that you’re watching videos. Therefore, they can’t throttle you. Surfshark comes 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: Surfshark does not encourage using a VPN in any way that would potentially violate the Terms of Service of other service providers.
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 reguments. 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’ll safely be able to share the truth with others, 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 was going to look into that, they wouldn’t see anything. For the best speeds, choose a server that’s closest to your physical location. So yes, speeding up your connection is one of the cool things to do with a VPN.
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 needing to sign up. Similarly, other useful online tools like moz.com allow a set number of “free” daily searches.
Each time you visit these 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 social media 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: When using social media apps in countries where they’re blocked, connect to a server located in a neighboring country using a VPN and browse as usual. And as far as VPN uses go, one that promotes free flow of information can hardly be beat.
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 see where you come from or what information you took an interest in – even when researching your competition.
Tip: How do you stay private while doing any internet research? Just turn on your VPN, connect to a server, and you’ll be good to go. Well, 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 way, it 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 that you’ll 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
Geo-blocking is 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 be listening to your favorite tunes no matter where you are in the world.
Work from wherever
The plague showed us that we don’t really 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 places that are sunnier and warmer.
Tip: With a VPN service, you can connect to your workspaces as if you were still back home. If anyone wants to track your location by IP, they’ll only see the server’s location. And if you are connected to the server that matches your hometown, then who can tell the difference?
Secure the entire home
VPN services provide a level and security that works great when it’s 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 be made to support VPNs.
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 like 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 15 tips and tricks can help you save money, stream privately, browse in anonymity, and so much more! If you love surfing the web, getting access to blocked websites, and discovering the 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 geo-blocking;
- Access censored sites;
- Keep yourself safe while accessing censored sites.
Obviously, there are more uses than that, but those are the ones that really 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 a necessity of 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 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:
Can your internet provider see your history with a VPN?
No, the ISP can only see that you’re connecting to a VPN server.