8 Things You Didn’t Know a VPN Can Do

Here’s a great article from SitePoint

VPNs are an essential part of protecting your online privacy, and nowadays it’s common to hear of people using them.

Ten years ago, if you’d asked the average person about VPNs, they’d probably have had no idea what you were talking about. With the rising popularity of watching US Netflix in other countries, many less computer-savvy people have found themselves learning about VPNs to view this geo-blocked content.

While that’s a great use of a VPN, there are still tons of other use cases that people aren’t even aware of. The ability to change your geolocation so easily can be a total game changer when it comes to your online activities, and some of these things can improve your internet connection or even save you money.

Before we get started, if you’re new to VPNs, check out “VPNs: What They Are, and Why You Need One”. And if you’re wondering which VPN to choose, check out “The Best VPNs for Developers”.

Let’s take a look at some of the different things you can do with a VPN that you probably didn’t know about.

1. Avoid Traffic Shaping

Have you ever felt your internet slow down for no apparent reason? There can be a few reasons for this, but one reason is that ISPs use traffic shaping to throttle down your connection speed.

Traffic shaping is a technique used by ISPs to sort the different types of traffic on their network in order to prioritize certain types of traffic. This means that, as they sort the type of traffic coming from you, they decide if they want to slow you down.

Application-based shaping is the most common form of traffic shaping, and we typically experience this every day without even knowing it. With application-based shaping, ISPs will determine which types of applications deserve priority over others.

While many people are aware of potential throttling if they exceed data caps, a lot of people don’t know that some of their traffic is slowed down just simply based on the type of traffic it is.

A known favorite for ISPs to target with throttling is gaming, and most gamers aren’t even aware that their ISPs are throttling down their connection speeds! With so many people gaming on the Internet, it’s an easy target for ISPs because it can have a significant boost on the overall performance of the network if they save some bandwidth here.

Many apps use encryption to get around traffic shaping to improve their performance, and this is where the power of a VPN begins to shine! VPNs offer an encrypted connection that reroutes your traffic. The encrypted data circumvents the traffic shaping and makes your data harder to decipher.

This, in turn, prevents connection throttling from your ISP, because they can’t figure out what type of traffic is being used by your network.

If you care about having the best connection speeds possible when playing games online, make sure you use a high-quality VPN to use your internet connection unthrottled.

2. Access Streaming Apps On Inflight Internet

Have you ever been on a plane and tried to use a streaming app on the inflight internet? You may have noticed that video streaming apps like Netflix and YouTube are blocked. This is because video streaming apps require a fair amount of bandwidth to be able to play the videos you want to watch.

Airlines end up in a dilemma because they want their customers to have access to Wi-Fi while flying, but if everyone wanted to watch Netflix or YouTube, there simply wouldn’t be enough bandwidth to go around. This is why, most of the time, there are measures put in place to block apps like Netflix and YouTube. This is inconvenient, since most people using the internet connection on a plane probably want to watch some videos to kill time.

Once again, VPNs are your best friend in this situation! By utilizing a VPN when connected to an inflight internet service, you’re routing your traffic around their network, and you’ll be able to watch whatever you want on the connection.

Ensuring you have a VPN on your device before flying can allow you to kick back and stream your favorite content while everybody else is stuck watching the inflight movie!

(Editor’s note: some streaming services allow you to download movies and other content to your device for watching offline later, which is another option to consider!)

3. View Live Events with Different Commentary

Commentary can really make or break the viewing experience, especially when it comes to sports.

Whether you’re looking for commentary in another language or feel that commentary from another country is better, a VPN will allow you to view sporting events with commentary of your choosing.

Typically, when you’re watching a stream of an event that’s being viewed internationally, the geolocation that you connect with will determine the commentary you receive. It makes sense that someone from Germany who’s watching a football match will want German commentary, but if you’re an English speaker who’s in Germany, you might want English commentary.

By running a VPN before streaming the event, you can select a server from the UK. This changes your geolocation in the eyes of the website or app, and you’ll be served up commentary from the UK. This trick is especially useful for sports fans who do a lot of traveling abroad.

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8 Things You Didn’t Know a VPN Can Do
on SitePoint.

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