If you’re celebrating International VPN Day or are just interested in preserving your online privacy, you probably already know a lot about VPNs, what they are, and how they can protect you over public Wi-Fi, unlock Netflix, and let ISPs record your traffic. .
But this is just the beginning. Installing a VPN can provide you with all sorts of unexpected benefits, some of them so important that they could justify your subscription on your own, and in this article we’ll talk about eight of our favorites.
1. Protect your smart home
Keeping your desktop and mobile devices safe from hackers is critical, but don’t forget any other smart devices in your home. If they connect to the Internet, there is also the possibility of being hacked.
Setting up a VPN on your router protects connected devices by sending their traffic through a secure tunnel and preventing access to them from the outside world. Installing the external ExpressVPN application, for example, is an easy way to make this happen (although it is not compatible with all routers).
Manual setup is a little trickier, but most VPNs have detailed tutorials to guide you through the entire process: NordVPN has plenty of on-site guidance to help you through the process.
2. Access blocked places at work or school
Unlocking VPN is not just about accessing the web in China or watching Netflix on your phone. Many networks have their own blocking policies, perhaps limiting access to social media, streaming platforms, or anything else they prefer you don’t see.
Connect to a VPN, though, and your traffic is encrypted immediately. The network sees your connection to the VPN server, but has no way of knowing which sites you are browsing and there is no way to block them.
Just a word of warning: Even though your actions on the Internet are protected, the network can still see basic details about your connection, including how long you’ve been active and how much data you’ve consumed. If streaming platforms are banned, but you’ve just used 15GB of data watching Ultra HD Netflix in the last two hours, it might catch your eye.
3. Cheat web surveys
You see a poll on the website on a topic that really interests you, so clearly you’ll want to vote multiple times. And again. And again. And, perhaps, again. Unfortunately, the website does not share your enthusiasm for matching surveys and only offers you an opportunity to share your opinion.
If the poll is open to the public and you don’t need to sign in to a social media or other account to access it, voting restrictions are likely to be based on your IP address only. After the first vote, sign in to your VPN and you will likely be able to vote again.
Out of order? If you disconnect from a VPN and reconnect to the same location, you will sometimes get the same IP address. Connecting to different locations should get you better results.
4. Unlock Netflix on a Smart TV
Netflix VPNs aren’t just about unlocking streaming platforms on desktop and mobile computers. Many services also work with smart TVs, allowing you to enjoy high-resolution screen movies from the comfort of your own sofa.
Some vendors have special Android apps that run on Android TV systems, Amazon Fire TV Stick, and anything Android-based. Setup is usually very easy. Find trusted providers like ExpressVPN, NordVPN, or Surfshark on your Fire TV Stick, install them, sign in, and you’re done.
If your smartphone doesn’t use Android or your provider doesn’t have a smartphone app, you might be able to work by reconfiguring your router.
5. Verify your business ad campaigns
Geographic targeting is a feature of advertising campaigns that ensures that your ads appear only to customers who choose your location. It’s a smart idea and can make a lot of sense: why waste your advertising budget on clicks from people in countries where you never do any business?
However, can you be sure that the targeting is working properly? Some companies know what they’re doing (Google has a lot of experience tracking web users, so Google Ads is unlikely to disappoint you), but with others it’s not so clear and you might want to check it out.
Connect to a VPN server at your location, try running search terms with your chosen keywords, visit a destination site (or do what your ads can show), and see if your campaign offers features. ‘geographic orientation you paid for.
6. Post anonymously online
Some websites allow visitors to post messages or comments without creating an account, and it’s easy to assume they’re anonymous. But real life is not always that simple.
The site may not have your email or any other personal information, but it will know your IP address and is likely to register as well. If you just post something about why the latest Netflix series is total, total junk, it probably won’t matter. But if it’s something more sensitive or in a country that doesn’t have as much fondness for free speech, it’s worth taking more care of it.
7. Use VoIP anywhere
Freedom of expression is threatened in many countries, let alone a philosophical point of debate: it is literally happening. China, Iran, North Korea and others have regularly blocked VoIP services and messaging applications such as WhatsApp, Signal and Facebook Messenger.
College and office network administrators don’t always want to allow free voice chats, so there’s a chance you’ll find that these apps are blocked when you’re close to home.
Set up and connect to a VPN, though, and its encrypted tunnel keeps your conversations so private that no one will even notice they’re happening … as long as you keep your voice low.
8. Secure access to your home network
Modern home networks can be huge, with many devices connected: security cameras, TVs, maybe a printer, PC, maybe a NAS hard drive, and other smart devices. And that makes there a lot of reasons why you might want to connect to the network when you’re away from home.
But there are dangers in opening your devices to the outside world. What if someone finds and hacks your network and gets full access to all your hardware? Or do they manage to spy on your connection while accessing the network and intercepting some of the personal data you have been viewing?
Set up your router to use a VPN (or buy a router with a VPN server included) and you’re protected. You can sign in to your home network from anywhere with internet access and strong encryption keeps all your data securely away from any spying.