What Is VPN Used For? Applications and Benefits

Are you looking to know some information about what is VPN used for? This article will help you with all the information around it in brief.

Updated: 24 Jul, 22 by Susith Nonis 7 Min

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More people are becoming familiar with VPNs or using them as certain technology becomes more widespread. VPN stands for, virtual private network for those who don't know it and have never heard of it. It uses the internet to let users create a connection to another securely. But what is VPN used for? You can use a VPN to hide your online activity on public wi-fi from prying eyes and access restricted sites, etc.

Initially, VPNs were created to facilitate secure connections between businesses or allow users to access their business networks from home. Although VPNs are popular nowadays, it is not for originally-intended purposes. These networks function by forwarding all your traffic to the network. Benefits such as bypassing internet censorship arise from this. Most operating systems come with integrated VPN support.

The following simple steps show how you should use VPN to hide your IP address and encrypt data:

  • Download and install the VPN App.
  • Open the app on your mobile device or desktop.
  • Select a VPN server and then connect.

VPNs have different uses. The most common are online anonymity and circumventing censorship or restrictions on the internet. The following list does a deep dive into each.

1. Online anonymity

When you don't have a VPN, your identity and location are easily traceable because of your IP address. The latter is like a fingerprint and is unique to each internet connection. Your IP address is basically an online postal code revealing your identity and location to others. With this information, someone can track your online activity back to you.

A virtual private network hides users' locations and IP addresses. It reroutes your internet traffic through an external server meaning that your online behaviour can only be traced to the VPN server's IP address rather than your own. Using this service accords anonymity, so parties like marketers, streaming services, cybercriminals, and governments cannot pick out your identity. They can only see your VPN server's IP address.

Furthermore, no one will be able to discover your actual location because it will look like it is that of your virtual private network server.

2. Secure browsing on public wi-fi

Public wi-fi can be convenient in certain situations. However, it can also be risky and come at a great expense. Whenever you are at your local ice cream shop or the airport going through your emails, someone might just be monitoring your online behavior. Other users, such as hackers and cybercriminals, can thus easily intercept your personal information and data. 

No one wants strangers accessing their files, credit card information, and email logins. When accessing a public network, using a VPN protects your data by hiding sensitive information, account passwords, and browsing history from internet strangers with ill intent. Hackers can only see encrypted data and will be unable to discern what it is.

3. To go around online censorship

Although most countries globally allow internet users to use the internet freely, this is unfortunately not the case everywhere. The internet is heavily censored in several countries, including North Korea, China, and Russia. They restrict access to various websites and services, commonly Google, YouTube, WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram.

Besides social media platforms, journalist platforms and news websites also get blocked as they represent a threat to ruling regimes. In these countries, citizens experience an adverse impact on free speech. Several other countries also have online restrictions blocking sites such as Pirate Bay to prevent citizens from pirating material online.

If you live in such a country, a VPN will allow you to sidestep these restrictions and censorships and connect to a server in another country. This way you can use the internet as if you were there. So, you'll be able to browse services and on sites that are unavailable in our country.

4. Prevention of digital files

Advertising networks like Google and Facebook constantly gather data on you from your online traffic. With this information, they can curate ads for different users and sell your data to third parties. Other than the likes of Twitter, your internet service provider also has access to your information. Because they know your browsing behaviour and where you are doing it from, they can collect all this data and sell it to advertisers even if you are browsing "incognito."

Things can turn sour quickly once your data falls into the wrong hands. When you encrypt your information using a VPN, your ISP and the other networks have difficulty gathering any data on you. Consequently, they will not influence what you see on the internet as heavily as they did before.

5. Secure remote working

One of the most sought-after benefits of VPN is its encryption features. Coding data obscures it, allowing you to secure sensitive information. If you run an organization and want to invest in a VPN, one of the advantages is that employees will be able to connect to the office network. They can then access any confidential files on their personal devices away from the office premise.

Because remote work has become more mainstream, especially during and even as the pandemic ends, VPN is great for keeping sensitive data safe off-site.

6. Access to content in different geographical locations

Countries are not the only entities restricting internet activity. Other internet services, such as streaming services, limit access to specific regions. It is primarily because streaming services have broadcasting rights in some countries but not in others. Sometimes, it is not the entire service that's restricted but specific shows.

If you are vacationing in a different country and want to watch a show that's available in your country, a VPN will make it possible. Also, if you wish to stream a show that's not available in your country, a virtual private network will allow you to connect to the web using servers in a different country.

Do you know what does a VPN do? This all information that we cover in terms of security and privacy for virtual private network. Although they are great software but they also have some drawback that are listed above, just like every other technology. We hope that this article helped you to clear out the doubts about the question of what is a VPN used for. That means that purchasing one of these services is not the end-all-be-all of your online safety efforts. Ensure that you regularly observe other privacy measures on top of it, like clearing your cookies often.

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Susith Nonis

Susith Nonis

I'm fascinated by the IT world and how the 1's and 0's work. While I venture into the world of Technology, I try to share what I know in the simplest way with you. Not a fan of coffee, a travel addict, and a self-accredited 'master chef'.