What is a VPN?

Anyone who connects to the internet on a regular basis should have some basic knowledge about what a VPN is and how they work. Essentially, a VPN is a tool that keeps you private online while also allowing you to change the geographical location from which you access the web. Ever worried about having your banking details stolen or gotten annoyed at your favourite movies only being available on American Netflix? Read on to find out what exactly a VPN is and how it is relevant to you.

So you don’t know what a VPN is?

VPN: Explained

In order to understand what a VPN does, you need to know about IP addresses. An IP address is a unique set of numbers that is used to identify your computer online (a bit like a postal address for your computer or smartphone). Whilst having an IP address is necessary in order to send and receive information over the internet, the annoying thing about an IP address is that it reveals your location to any website you try to access. This is where a VPN comes in, as your VPN provider is able to exchange your actual IP address with one from their globally located servers.

What can I do with a VPN?

By disguising your real IP address (as well as encrypting all of your online data) a VPN insures that nobody, including hackers, advertisers or the government, can see what you are doing on the web. Moreover, since you are now able to choose the country from which you would like to receive your new IP address, you can also choose the location from which you would like it to appear you are accessing the web from. This is really useful if you want to access streaming content or blocked sites that are not available in your current location.

5 everyday examples of when you should use a VPN

Don’t think a VPN is relevant to you? Think again

  1. When using public wifi - Did you know that anyone with basic hacking knowledge can access all the information flying around public wifi spots? Using a VPN will protect you from getting your credit card details stolen at your local coffee shop.
  2. When living abroad - A VPN means you can watch the latest episode of the Great British Bake Off from the other side of the world.
  3. When travelling - Not only does a VPN safeguard you from the dangers of public wi-fi and allow you to access content from home but it will also stop you getting locked out of your online banking when accessing it from another country.
  4. When looking for a deal online - Strangely enough anything from software to flights can cost a different price depending on what country you are buying it from. Experimenting with changing your geolocation could save you serious money.
  5. When you just feel like being private - Few British people are aware of the fact that our government has some of the most extensive spying capabilities in the world. Using a VPN stops the government (and data selling businesses) tracking your every click online.

What is a VPN? It’s internet freedom and privacy for all!

So who exactly should be using a VPN?

The answer to that is: everyone! As you can see VPNs aren’t only for the super-techy but are instead vital for anyone who wants to access the web safely, privately and without restriction. As the internet has grown to become such an integral part of everyday life, it is vital that people have easy access to the tools that can keep them safe online. So if you’re using the internet to work, learn, shop, chat or stay entertained then you should definitely know what a VPN is and how to use one.

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