Happy August 19, or - going forward - Happy International VPN Day! With use of VPN services increasing across the last year-and-a-half thanks to the pandemic and subsequent changing working conditions, it seemed only right to dedicate a whole day to celebrate the innovative piece of software. Instigated by NordVPN - one of the top-dog players in the VPN market - henceforth August 19 will be known as International VPN Day.
Even with virtual private networks becoming more commonplace, though, it's fair to say not everyone will be savvy when it comes to the innerworkings and benefits of a VPN - and why the right time for International VPN day. For many, it may be something your work has you sign into in order to work remotely and access certain resources. Others may have dabbled with a VPN in its early iterations.
However, whatever your grasp on the technology, we're here to bring you the top ten reasons one could benefit you and why to get one on this oh-so-sacred day!
Try NordVPN on International VPN Day!
The masterminds behind International VPN Day, NordVPN finds itself sitting highly on our VPN buying guides. That's because it offers excellent security features with the ability to unblock most popular streaming platforms. Better still, it comes with a 30-day money back guarantee, allowing you to try out risk-free.
ExpressVPN - ranked the best VPN overall
While on the more expensive side, we can't talk about VPN and not mention ExpressVPN, which is our go-to recommendation. Great security features, top-tier performance, and a sleek interface across devices to boot. Offering a 30-day money back guarantee, you can also benefit from 3 months free!
1. Access blocked websites and apps
A VPN is able to manipulate your IP address and, in turn, spoof your device into thinking you're browsing from a different location. This means you can evade any blocks on a network or regional level.
For many, this might simply mean to access websites and apps while in the office or educational institution where there is a block on social networks or streaming websites in order to streamline productivity and, in the case of school environments, curtail the likelihood of online bullying.
However, in some instances this extends on a national level of censorship, in turn stunting the voices of civilians. Notable, recent examples of this are the Twitter ban in Nigeria. Last year also saw the introduction of the national security law in Hong Kong, which is seeing a growing risk of legislation mimicking that of the 'Great Firewall of China' in its limitations on freedom of speech. This makes a Hong Kong VPN increasingly necessary.
Of course, countries like China, North Korea, Iran, and the UAE are also known for their heavy-handed censorship on the likes of WhatsApp, YouTube, and other social networking websites, as well as accessing news websites like the BBC and the New York Times, and even using Google.
Whether you're planning to travel to any of these countries and are in need of a China VPN or UAE VPN, or are even a resident looking to bypass these geo-restrictions, a VPN is a great tool to ensure you have access to your favorite websites and services while in the country.
2. Watch native, free broadcasters while abroad
With many of us choosing to hop, skip, and jump out of the country now foreign travel is back on the table without the need for 14-day isolation periods either side, you might find yourselves on holiday and unable to tune into the likes of your preferred native broadcaster. What's worse, the option may be to pay rather than access those free to watch back home.
In the UK, that's BBC, ITV and Channel 4, as well as their online, on-demand counterparts. In Australia, you're looking at the likes of SBS and Channel 7.
However, a streaming VPN can help with that. Install onto a device you're taking away with you, hop onto a server based in your native country and you'll be able to tune into the TV shows, movies, and other coverage you're after.
We've tested to discover the best Peacock VPN and even BBC iPlayer VPNs that unblock these services like a dream, allowing you to by-pass these blocks and ensure you won't miss a moment while away. And if they work on the likes of iPlayer, you can expect them to do much the same on the likes of 7Plus, All4, CityTV and so on.
3. Stream big sports events
We may have just had a summer fit for an Olympian with the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games finally able to go ahead earlier this month, and the 2020 Euros before that. But don't be fooled into thinking that's your fix of the live sporting action for another year. The Premier League is back for another season, as is the NFL in the lead up to that big Super Bowl game next year.
Don't miss a moment of the action with the help of a VPN. Whether you're on holiday and want to access your native coverage, or living abroad and don't want to get stuck behind a paywall, a VPN's location spoofing capabilities is once again going to be your best friend.
Whether you're after a Premier League live stream or want to watch the NFL, a VPN can ensure you get access to your preferred coverage with the ability to unblock a number of online media players like Sling TV and ESPN Plus, and, of course, Peacock TV.
4. Watch live TV from anywhere
There are plenty of streaming platforms that allow you to tune into live TV around the world. However, if you're out of the country for whatever reason you'll likely come face to face with messaging telling you you're unable to access its content where you are. From the aforementioned BBC iPlayer to channels in the US like ABC, NBC, and The CW.
Whether your chosen channel is free to watch and you're just in need of a VPN, or you want to partner your VPN up with a subscription to the likes of Hulu with Live TV or make the most of the roster of Sling TV channels you can watch live, a VPN is certainly the work-around.
5. Gain access to foreign Netflix libraries
Beyond Netflix Originals which are more or less globally available across all libraries, Netflix also has the licence to thousands of TV show and movies. However, you may find those available on UK Netflix, you don't have in the US and vice versa.
For instance, those wanting to watch RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars season 6 in the US will have to sign up to a separate streaming service, Paramount Plus to get a load of the wig-snatching action. Meanwhile, the UK gets all of the Stateside Drag Race drama through their Netflix subscription.
However, with the best Netflix VPN you should be able to trick your device into thinking you're elsewhere. And it doesn't stop at accessing UK and US Netflix, with many of our top VPN picks able to open the gates to Netflix in Australia, Canada, and even Japan.
Proceed at your own risk, though. While Netflix has always fronted a strict no-VPN policy, the streaming giant has begun to more seriously crack down on individuals using a VPN to access its website.
Beyond simply flashing up a warning message to cease 'using an unblocker or proxy', it's been reported Netflix has blocked residential IP addresses in a more rigorous approach to crackdown on the use of VPNs where some proxy providers have begun using residential IP addresses to appear like a regular subscriber.
6. Avoid buffering and bandwidth throttling
A VPN is unlikely to increase your internet's speed. This is because servers tend to run slower than your network at its optimal speed with multiple people around the globe connected at the same time as you. However, what a VPN can do is offer a more stable, consistent connection.
This is because of that online anonymity, which helps to avoid bandwidth throttling by browsing under cover.
Internet Service Providers have been known to throttle bandwidth in order to regulate traffic and avoid congestion. In simple terms, this means intentionally slowing down the speed of your internet, particularly prevalent when doing high download data tasks like streaming or gaming. The outcome is slower loading speeds and the dreaded B-word: buffering.
A VPN can help with this by concealing your IP address, and therefore preventing your ISP from being able to see your internet activity.
7. Optimize online gaming
As well as avoiding bandwidth throttling, there are other reasons a gaming VPN has its uses. Especially when it comes to online gaming where certain content might be geo-restricted, using a VPN could allow you to gain access to exclusive packages, levels, and so on.
For Call of Duty gamers, it could also be your window into less skill-filled lobbies with the right Warzone VPN, allowing you - with a bit of logic - to curtail the suspected skill based match-making algorithm and secure far easier matches.
Of course, it can also protect you from any sore losers or hackers out there, helping to deflect any potential DDoS attacks while you game online.
8. Benefit from cheaper prices when booking holidays
While the Covid-19 pandemic may have brought the world to a standstill in early 2020, restrictions have slowly been easing around the globe in recent months, and that means many might be looking to hightail out of the country at the early possible convenience. Honestly, we don't blame you.
With the concept of foreign travel more of a possibility, it's worth considering using a VPN when it comes to booking. Why? We'll tell you.
It's been known that the prices you see when it comes to accommodation, flights and the like can depend on a lot of things. Along with theories around booking holidays on certain days of the week and at specific times of day to get the cheapest prices, there's also a lot to be said about your location, as well as browsing history, all of which is attached to your IP address.
By using a VPN, you can effectively wipe the slate clean and potentially benefit from better, lower prices. Not convinced? Check prices first of all without the use of a VPN. Then, connect to a server to a different location and compare your results. While there's no exact science and it's certainly not a foolproof theory, it's certainly worth a shot to see if you could save money.
9. Install and optimize the use of multiple devices
Many of the VPN services we recommend come with clients for a plethora of devices, combined with the option to have a number of simultaneous connections. This means one subscription can be loaded onto numerous devices.
From the usual suspects like Windows and Mac clients, iOS and Android apps for smartphones and tablets, to clients for media streamers like an Amazon Fire Stick VPN or an Apple TV VPN. A router VPN will even allow you to extend a limited amount of connections to all your devices.
This means you can make the most of all security, streaming and performance benefits of a VPN across all your devices.
10. Maximize the security of your device and internet connection
Perhaps not as exciting as all the streaming and gaming benefits, it goes without saying a VPN's prime function is to offer a robust extra layer of security to both your device and your browsing data. From protecting against malicious malware to ensuring your sensitive information is kept from prying eyes, combine a VPN with the best antivirus software and you're onto a winner.
Combining the use of servers to conceal your IP address and utilising encryption to turn your data into inaccessible code, many VPN providers also have a range of other security features like dedicated kill switches and split tunneling.
Ensuring better online anonymity, really a VPN sells itself for those conscious of keeping their information under wraps, as well as reaping the benefits of a VPN's more exciting uses.
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Alice is eCommerce Editor at Future with a focus on streaming services, such as Disney Plus and HBO Max, and VPN. She predominantly writes buying and streaming service guides, as well as how to watch articles. Previously a Commercial Content Writer at Trusted Reviews, Alice has five years experience giving online buying advice, and over two years writing about consumer tech.