make most of VPN

Online privacy is a hot topic, and there is no better way to minimize your digital footprint than by using a VPN. What you might not realize is that this inexpensive privacy tool also doubles up as a life hack that makes you feel like an internet VIP.

A VPN can get you around roadblocks you didn’t necessarily know existed. In this guide, we have brought together all our favorite VPN hints; so that you can get privacy and the most out of your VPN.

What is a Virtual Private Network (VPN)?

Before we cover the things you can do with a VPN, we’ll explain what a VPN actually is. Short for Virtual Private Network, a VPN is a service that encrypts your internet traffic. To do this, you connect to a VPN server in a location of your choosing. You’re then assigned a new, temporary IP address while your actual IP address (and location) is hidden.

As you browse, stream, and torrent with a VPN, all of your internet traffic is routed through an encrypted tunnel to the VPN server. This increases your online security, protecting you from a wide range of security threats. The fact that your IP address and virtual location is changed means you can also bypass content restrictions, internet censorship included.

How to choose a VPN

Choosing a VPN can be challenging, particularly when there are so many VPN providers. Which VPN you opt for really depends on a few factors. For example, are you looking for a server in a specific country? Do you require a specific security feature such as MultiHop servers?

It may be that you’re only planning on using your VPN for everyday browsing, in which case there are plenty of suitable VPNs. However, more bandwidth-intensive activities such as streaming, torrenting, and playing online games require faster speeds as well as unlimited bandwidth. Not all VPNs meet these requirements.

To find the VPN that best fits your needs, we recommend you take a look at our list of the best VPNs. Note that we also have articles on the best VPNs for streaming, the best VPNs for torrenting, the best VPNs for playing online games, and more. Note we only recommend VPNs that offer respectable speeds as well as strong security. That way, you can use the VPN for all of your online needs.

NordVPN is our top-rated VPN and fulfils all of the key criteria as listed above. It’s fast, offers strong unblocking, and has thousands of servers in 60 countries. It’s also highly secure with military-grade encryption and specialty Double VPN (MultiHop) servers. What’s more, it includes a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can try it out risk-free.


NordVPN is offering a fully-featured risk-free 30-day trial if you sign up at this page. You can use the VPN rated #1 without limits or restrictions for a month—great if you want to gain privacy, security, and freedom online.

There are no hidden terms—just contact support within 30 days if you decide NordVPN isn't right for you and you'll get a full refund. Start your NordVPN trial here.

16 things to do with your VPN

Below, we have listed our favorite things to do with a Virtual Private Network (VPN):

1. Access more streams

Access more streams
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When you connect to a VPN server in a foreign country, the websites you visit believe you are there. This life hack lets you access internet services that are supposed to be region-locked. Now, people all around the world have learned to use this to their advantage.

If you go on holiday, the TV streaming platforms you usually watch become unavailable. Licensing restrictions force those services to serve you an error message. This leaves you stuck in your hotel room wishing for home comforts.

With a VPN, you can instantly connect to a server back home, which lifts these blocks and lets you stream. Thus, whether you want to watch shows exclusive to the US Netflix catalog on a lifetime trip to Paris; or stream BBC iPlayer while riding a train across Australia  – a VPN will provide an instant fix.

What’s more, streaming platforms often serve different libraries in different regions. A VPN is a great way to access additional content that is not currently available where you are. This makes a VPN an excellent way to get more bang for your buck

If you want to make the most of streaming online, we recommend Surfshark. It has fast servers located globally that are known to work with services like Hulu, HBO Max, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, and over a dozen Netflix regions. 

2. Download privately and securely

Torrenting has been a popular online activity since it was first conceived in 2004.
Unfortunately, authorities in many countries now blacklist popular torrent sites. They do this despite the fact that file-sharing has plenty of legitimate use cases. As a result of this unfortunate censorship, it can be hard to access torrent sites in some places around the world. Luckily, you can bypass these restrictions using a VPN.

Even if you aren’t having problems accessing torrent sites, it is a good idea to use a VPN. A VPN for torrenting allows you to access download sites privately and with added security. This is important because when you torrent, you connect to other users Peer to Peer (P2P). This exposes your home IP address to other users, which makes you vulnerable to cyberattacks.

A VPN conceals your home IP address, which lets you download without fear of connecting to anyone with malicious intentions. What’s more, the encrypted tunnel provided by a VPN ensures that local network admins and ISPs cannot track your download habits – giving you an important layer of privacy that prevents profiling.

Nothing in this article should be considered legal advice so please check the local laws in your area before torrenting online. Conducting illegal activities with a VPN is still illegal.

If you want to download content securely online, or access torrenting sites that have been censored, we recommend NordVPN. It is fast, highly secure, and has servers that are optimized for torrenting.

3. Use internet banking from abroad

internet banking abroad
Photo by Carlos Muza on Unsplash

When you travel overseas it can be hard to use internet banking and online payment services. Those financial services prevent users from accessing their portals overseas to prevent fraud, theft, and scams.

This can be annoying if you are on vacation and want to check your balance, make a purchase, or transfer money.

With a VPN, you can regain access to an IP address in your home country. This allows you to access your internet banking and other financial services (or government portals, and other local services) that have been geo-blocked for your own safety.

If you want to use internet banking abroad in a secure manner, we recommend NordVPN or Surfshark. These are both highly reliable VPNs with strong AES encryption and servers located globally. 

4. Use public wi-fi hotspots safely

public wifi
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When you connect to a public wifi hotspot, the wifi router and internet provider are privy to everything you do online.

Unfortunately, unscrupulous companies are more than happy to harvest your data for profiling, marketing, and to create a revenue stream by selling it to third parties. This is why airports, hotels, coffee shops, restaurants, and shopping malls provide free internet.

Using public wifi also exposes you to a risk of hackers. If a hotspot is improperly secured with encryption (such as WPA2) eavesdroppers could attack the network and anybody who is connected. This means that you could be at risk of having your personal data hacked.

In fact, hackers sometimes set up ‘evil twin’ hotspots in locations where consumers expect to find free wifi. They do this to trick consumers into connecting, giving them the ability to piggyback on their session and steal personal information.

VPNs protect you against both these problems. By encrypting your data, VPNs keeps you safe against invasive hotspot providers and malicious hackers. This is why it is vital to use a VPN everytime you connect to the internet outside of your home.

If you want to access the internet privately and securely while on public wi-fi we recommend CyberGhost. It is a service that is uncomplicated and easy to use which makes it perfect for beginners.

5. Save money when traveling or purchasing online services

save money
Photo by Damir Spanic on Unsplash

A VPN is a great way to save money online. What you may not know is that airlines, hotels, and other travel-related services often track your location to automatically serve you a different price. They do this because people around the globe earn different salaries, and can’t afford the same rates.

Even people living in divergent US states may experience different prices for transport and hotels. Furthermore, if you visit the same travel site more than once in search of tickets or accommodation it could inadvertently drive up the cost (because it indicates a higher level of interest).

By connecting to a VPN you conceal your IP address from the websites you visit, which prevents them from being able to track you when you return each time. It also allows you to pretend to be in a different location to get the best possible discounts available.

Some people even use VPNs to purchase computer games for less – or to pay for services like Spotify or Sports Streaming at a lower rate. Ultimately, it is going to take a bit of trial and error but there is no doubt that there are bargains waiting out there if you try!

If you want to make savings by pretending to be in a different country or state, we recommend using ExpressVPN because it has servers in 94 countries – plenty of options to shop around!

6. Play foreign game servers

In addition to buying games in a different region to save cash, many gamers use a VPN to improve their ping or to play against different lobbies. Players also access different regions to play games that aren’t available when they travel abroad/, such as Lost Ark – or PUBG, which is censored in India, China, Jordan, Nepal, Israel, and Iraq.

With a VPN, you can also access multiplayer lobbies that are populated with more players in the middle of the night. You can also find easier lobbies on games like Call of Duty: Warzone.

Some players even use VPNs to access game servers in their home country when they are on vacation or living abroad. This allows them to be matched up more often with players who speak their native language.

If you want to play international game servers online we recommend using CyberGhost or IPVanish because these were recently found to be the fastest VPNs on the market. 

7. Access your home network securely

home network
Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

Whether you want to access your PC, smart home, or a NAS drive while away from home, it is important to do so securely.

There is no doubt that connecting to your home network remotely will allow you to do many useful things. For example, you can access work documents, videos,  photos, music, and other important files and folders.

In addition, you can choose to host a website or a game server if you want. The important thing to remember is that when you connect to your home network, your data could be at risk unless you do so using a securely encrypted VPN tunnel.

Want to connect to your home network remotely? We recommend PrivateVPN because it allows you to select the port used for incoming connections, so that you can set up port forwarding to your computer or NAS server. 

8. Bypass geo-restrictions to shop (and do other nifty things)

When you go on vacation, you can’t always shop at your regular online retailer’s site. This is because shopping platforms serve a local version, designed to cater to that region. As a result, you can’t use your existing account to make purchases. Some companies also stop you from ordering while abroad to reduce the opportunity for scams and fraud.

The good news is that with a VPN, you can easily pretend to be back home. This means you can make purchases using your regular address and payment method. What’s more, the benefit of pretending to be back home extends past shopping.

You can use a VPN connection to access your internet banking, government portals, geo-restricted work or school networks, and many other important services that are region locked to prevent unwanted access.

If you want to shop online while on holiday, or access other important geo-restricted services, we recommend ExpressVPN because it has fast servers in 94 countries to pick from. 

9. Use VoIP apps in any country

Some countries around the world block apps like Skype, WhatsApp, Facetime, Viber, and Facebook Messenger. Governments restrict these messengers because they don’t want citizens to be able to make free calls. This is the case in countries like Oman, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia – where the government owns a majority share in the country’s primary telecoms provider.

In addition to the financial reason, governments often do not want citizens to use VoIP apps because they allow for encrypted communications that cannot be intercepted for surveillance purposes. As a result, VoIP apps are often censored to squash dissent and to prevent freedom of speech.

The good news is that you can use a VPN to regain access to VoIP kinds of apps from anywhere in the world. This includes multiplayer games for which VoIP communication is essential to the gameplay.

If you want to download and use a VoIP app that has been banned or blocked, we recommend NordVPN because it is highly secure and fast for making video calls. 

10. Get more out of your Kodi

If you love watching content on your Kodi system, you might be interested in using a VPN for Kodi. A VPN for Kodi can help you access international streaming platforms and services while on vacation to stream content only available back home.

A VPN also conceals your home IP address from Kodi add-ons and content repositories – some of which could potentially be run by internet users with malicious intent. For more information on using VPN with Kodi and how to install a VPN on Kodi, check out the guide in the link.

If you want the best VPN for Kodi, we recommend IPVanish because it is super fast and has all the features you need to use Kodi securely and privately.

11. Connect to a University campus network securely

University campus VPN
Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

Many school networks are unavailable when you leave the country. This causes havoc for international students who return home between semesters, or students who travel abroad to enjoy their summer. A VPN lets you pretend to be back in your University’s home country to access campus resources, download assignments, or deliver work that is due.

In addition, many Eduroam campuses are strict about what students may access while connected to the network. As a result, students living in halls of residence (or elsewhere on campus) often can’t access game servers, video streaming platforms, online gambling sites, social media services – and other online resources – they wish to use for personal reasons. A VPN lets you get around these blocks to use the internet as and when you wish.

Finally, a VPN ensures additional security when you connect to university portals to access information or hand in assignments. This keeps important research safe from eavesdroppers attempting to steal it.

This is important because there have been cases of industry-funded university research projects being canceled after proprietary information was stolen from students or faculty members.

These kinds of circumstances can be catastrophic for the post graduate students involved, leaving them out of pocket and unable to graduate. VPN encryption adds an extra layer of safety for data in transit, to keep it as safe as it passes to and from the University’s network.

If you want to connect to your University campus securely and with added privacy and freedom, from anywhere in the world, we recommend NordVPN because it has highly secure apps for all platforms. 

12. Prevent traffic shaping

In many places around the world, Internet Service Providers engage in traffic shaping to prevent their subscribers from using too much bandwidth during peak times. They do this to stop the network from becoming congested.

As a result of these tactics, internet users who like to play games, stream HD videos, torrent, or make video calls may struggle to maintain fast enough speeds. This is frustrating because those users are often paying their ISP for top speeds they aren’t getting.

The process of throttling users because of what they do online is unfair. A VPN handles your DNS requests and encrypts your data which removes the potential for your ISP to throttle your bandwidth when you use specific services.

If you want a fast VPN that will provide the best possible speeds while also preventing traffic shaping and bandwidth throttling, we recommend IPVanish. It was recently found to be one of the fastest VPNs available on the market.

13. Resist online hacking attempts

Resist hacking
Photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash

Your IP address is the gateway into your home’s network and all the devices that are connected to it. Unfortunately, when you surf the web you constantly broadcast this sensitive address to the world.

If a malicious internet user or website dev detects your IP address, they can theoretically target your IP address with a DDOS attack or scan the network for open ports. This creates the potential for hackers to exploit your home network and gain access to the devices that are connected.

Once inside, savvy cybercriminals can find ways to attack your devices, steal your data, and exploit connected devices such as security cameras. They could even add internet-connected devices (IoT devices) like smart kettles, lightbulbs, or smart fridges to a botnet used to carry out secondary attacks.

A VPN conceals your real IP address from the world, which ensures that you don’t attract cybercriminals to it.

If you want to conceal your IP address online we recommend either NordVPN or Surfshark because they are the most versatile and secure VPNs available. 

14. Prevent websites from tracking you

Each and every time you return to a website it is able to track you using your IP address. This allows it to understand how often you visit, your location, what pages you use, and what products or services you are interested in. This information is then used to profile you for marketing purposes.

By concealing your IP address from websites using a VPN, you prevent it being tracked as you move around the web. However, anybody who cares deeply about privacy should also use script blocking extensions to block trackers, and incognito/private browsing mode to evade cookies, as these also facilitate invasive levels of surveillance capitalism.

If you want a VPN that prevents websites from tracking you around the web, we recommend NordVPN. It has reliable apps for desktop and mobiles that you can use whether at home or on the move. 

15. Resist censorship and access important information

In many places around the world, governments engage in high levels of online censorship. Some countries block information that is critical of the government, others block content that is deemed to be incompatible with the moral, cultural, religious, or political norms of the country.

As a result, it is not uncommon for ISPs to purposefully block dating websites, important news content and blogs, gambling sites, and even educational resources regarding reproductive health, LGBTQ, and other important topics.

If you need to access information or services that have been unfairly censored by the government we recommend NordVPN because it has a trustworthy no logs policy, and strong unblocking capabilities. 

16. Access the dark web anonymously

You can use Tor to access the dark web safely. It routes traffic through multiple servers and encrypts it at each step, providing anonymity. However, a VPN can add an additional layer of privacy to the process. By using a VPN to access the dark web, internet traffic is encrypted before it even enters the Tor network. It also hides your original IP address. This prevents your ISP from seeing you’re accessing the Tor network.

Of course, we should emphasise that while the dark web is legal and can be used for perfectly legitimate purposes, it’s also known for hosting a variety of illegal activities. Needless to say, accessing certain content on the dark web or engaging in certain transactions can lead to serious legal consequences. It’s therefore important to be aware of these risks.