VPNs have exploded in popularity in recent years, and frankly, it’s easy for me to see why. But someone who isn’t involved in VPNs could have difficulty wrapping their heads around why VPNs are so popular.
That’s why I’ve outlined ten reasons why it seems that everyone is using a VPN nowadays:
- Browse privately and anonymously
- You can avoid online censorship
- Stream openly without geo-restrictions
- VPNs help protect you from cyber attacks
- VPNs are crucial to businesses
- They don’t allow ISP network throttling
- People can torrent freely and securely
- VPNs can help you save money online
- Gamers’ best friend
- They’re cheap
What was once a conspiracy theory is now a fact – governments, institutions, and advertisers are tracking our every step online and even offline as we use our phones and laptops to connect to the internet.
Even if you have nothing to hide, the fact that they know our every interaction online is dystopian, to say the least. Luckily, people have woken up in droves in recent years, mostly thanks to Edward Snowden and his eye-opening revelations.
A reliable VPN can help you stay safe and anonymous online and hide what you’re doing from spying eyes.
Let’s now dive a bit deeper into these reasons and find out in more detail what’s behind the booming VPN success.
1. Browse privately and anonymously
The way that VPNs work is they hide your real IP address once you connect to one of their remote servers. This can be done automatically every time you turn on your smartphone or computer or any other device you use to connect to the internet.
The reason why hiding the true IP address is important is that your IP address contains crucial data that can reveal your city, area code, ZIP code, and your ISP’s name. Believe it or not, that’s more than enough for third parties to find out exactly who you are.
By browsing the internet, we leave our IP address, that’s basically our signature, on social media, blog comments, chatrooms, forums, and email (among others).
But aren’t regular folks like you and me “small fish”? Why would people want to know our location?
The list of third parties interested in our IP address is endless, unfortunately. From authorities, advertisers, employers, streaming and subscription services, criminals, and cybercriminals, everyone has a vested interest for one reason or another.
The number one reason why VPNs are so popular is that they let you browse anonymously without revealing your location and your browsing activity to ISPs and other, more or less, inquisitive parties.
2. You can avoid online censorship
Online censorship is definitely on the rise worldwide, with countries such as China leading the pack. For this reason, China is one of the best markets for VPN providers as tens of millions of people, businesses, and students are basically forced to use them to access internet websites that are banned. And there are many!
Here are just some blatant examples of websites that are barred in China:
- Search engines: Google, Yahoo, DuckDuckGo
- Streaming services: Netflix, Vimeo, BBC, YouTube
- Social media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tik Tok
- Wikipedia, Medium, most western news media
- Adult entertainment websites
- VPN providers
VPN lets you bypass online censorship, and you can browse freely and seamlessly without anyone knowing. Whoever is interested in what you’re doing online will only be able to see that you’re connected to a VPN server, and if you use obfuscated servers, then not even that!
RELATED: 7 VPNs That Work In China
3. Stream openly without geo-restrictions
Another major reason for VPN popularity, if not the reason, is that you can stream TV shows, movies, and music without regularly imposed restrictions.
If you’re from Germany and you want to access Hulu, an exclusively American streaming platform, you won’t be able to do it as it’s restricted for anyone outside of the US.
Netflix, on the other hand, has a different library in every country and if you want to access another country’s content, you’re out of luck. The company has also started to crack down on VPNs in general, preventing people to use the service at all when connected via VPN.
This has led to a cat and mouse game between VPNs and Netflix and only the best VPNs can keep up. Still, millions of people use VPNs for streaming to the fullest as they have paid for the service and want to, rightfully, extend their cash.
READ ALSO: Best VPN for Streaming
4. VPNs help protect you from cyber attacks
Cybercriminals and cybersecurity are, unfortunately, hot topics these days. Hackers, scammers, malware, viruses – they’re all looking for the slightest vulnerabilities in your systems, apps, networks, and devices.
VPNs, as we already know, encrypt your network data with what’s usually military-grade encryption. So, even if you don’t have the need to browse privately, you still need to stay secure.
For this reason, even people that aren’t VPN users or supporters have to acknowledge that using a VPN while being connected to a public WiFi will keep their data protected as the encryption will make it impossible for intruders to read it (if they can even intercept it).
5. VPNs are crucial to businesses
Businesses around the world pretty much use VPN for the same reasons that people do – to stay safe, private, with free access to the internet while, at the same time, protecting their own resources and sensitive data.
But companies aren’t the only ones using VPN. Universities and students are also reliant on them, especially in more restricting countries. Knowledge has no (or shouldn’t have) borders.
With a significant increase in remote work, one can never be sure from where your worker is accessing your company’s systems. Employees might be trying to access your data from unprotected or public WiFi. As life has taught many people – a second of not being protected is often more than enough.
6. They don’t allow ISP network throttling
Network or bandwidth throttling happens when your internet service provider intentionally slows down your internet speed if you’re streaming, playing online games, and torrenting. It’s really unfair on their part as you’re paying for their services, fair and square.
By using a VPN, your ISP can’t determine what you’re doing online and won’t throttle your speed. I can tell you to change to a different ISP, but that’s often not possible as they are scarce in some states and territories. That’s why your best bet is one of many inexpensive VPNs.
7. People can torrent freely and securely
Torrenting is still one of the biggest reasons why VPNs are so popular. With so many different streaming platforms that are segregated and often don’t even allow access from outside the US, people are turning once again towards torrents.
The irony is that, even though we can access content easier than ever, many are returning to torrenting as they simply refuse to pay for so many streaming services.
Condone torrenting or not, the fact is that VPNs shield your real IP address. This is extremely important even if you aren’t afraid of authorities. You see, anyone that’s downloading the same file that you are can see your IP address in a torrenting client.
It could be thousands of people that are accessing the same files that you are and that makes it extremely unsafe to torrent without a good VPN.
8. VPNs can help you save money online
Airlines and hotels are among those companies that tend to display different price tags to different people, depending mostly on their location.
For instance, someone browsing for a hotel in Austin, Texas but lives in New York, might have to pay more than someone browsing for the same hotel form, let’s say Cleveland, OH.
Not all hotels or airlines do this, but it’s worth checking prices from different states and even countries. Savvy shoppers have known about this trick for a long time, but now it’s widespread and even mainstream.
The only thing you need to remember is to use the browser’s incognito mode and clear your cookies after each visit.
9. Gamers’ best friend
Gamers are another demographic that regularly uses VPNs to play online games. They do this for many reasons and some include privacy and security, just as for the rest of the population.
People playing multiplayer video games have the most potential to become victims of swatting (calling S.W.A.T. to your address), DDoS attacks, man in the middle attacks, malware, etc. ISPs also love to throttle their internet speed.
There are other benefits that don’t include security. For instance, connecting to a server that’s closer to the game server can significantly reduce lag and ping times, which are super important to efficiently play online games.
VPNs can also help you get access to games being released in other territories sooner. As well as play games that are banned in your country. Australia, most notably, bans games en masse, but there are also the UK, Germany, Brazil, and, of course, China.
10. They’re cheap
VPNs are, if you aren’t aware, dirt cheap. For less than two or three dollars per month, you can get one of the major VPN services with all the bells and whistles.
Surfshark, for instance, is one of the most well-known and most inexpensive VPNs out there that has thousands of servers worldwide and the latest VPN technology that helps you access the internet even from the most restricted countries.
The company lets you use their VPN on an unlimited number of devices with the best encryption available today. They also have a strict no-logs policy which means that they aren’t monitoring and, more importantly, logging anything you do online.
Find out more about Surfshark VPN in our full review.
NordVPN is another top choice for anyone valuing their privacy, safety, and money. Not only is NordVPN at the cutting edge of technology, but it’s also super cheap, making it an excellent investment.
NordVPN will keep prying eyes at bay and keep your data and location safe. It’s available as an app on all major operating systems that will let you connect to one of almost 6,000 servers worldwide.
The company has made a comprehensive package that checks all the boxes for seamless browsing, streaming, and P2P, but also speed, privacy, and security.
CyberGhost costs less than one Starbucks coffee a month and is yet another cheap VPN that works excellent with Netflix and other streaming platforms. It’s also easy and convenient to commit to CyberGhost’s two-year plan as the organization has an industry-leading 45-day money-back guarantee.
The company has more than 7,500 servers globally and many of them are specialized for streaming specific platforms such as Netflix Germany, France, UK, and the US, as well as BBC iPlayer, Hulu, YouTube, etc.
Aside from dedicated streaming servers, there are additionally gaming and torrenting servers. Find out more about CyberGhost in our full review.
We also recommend ExpressVPN but it’s a bit more costly than the ones above. However, it’s also an outstanding option that can reliably stream 4K videos from Netflix and other streaming services.
There are plenty of excellent reasons as to why VPNs are so popular and why hundreds of millions of people are using them. With prices that are dirt-cheap and up to 30 days or more of the money-back guarantee, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t at least try out one of the VPNs and find out definitively what all the fuss is about.