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5 Refreshing Uses For A VPN

Matthew Hughes 02-07-2014

A Virtual Private Network What Is The Definition Of A Virtual Private Network Virtual private networks are more important now than ever before. But do you know what they are? Here's what you need to know. Read More (VPN) like Private Internet Access is a way of pushing your network traffic through a remote server, allowing you to send and receive data as though you were from somewhere else.

These have traditionally been the workhorses of the enterprise, allowing workers to remotely connect to the corporate network when away on business, or working from home. But why – as a consumer – should you care?

Here are 5 refreshing uses for VPN networks that you may not have thought of.

Watch Netflix (Without Your ISP Slowing You Down)

Verizon is an ISP so terrible, it borders on farce. Some have speculated that Verizon isn’t actually an ISP, but rather the longest exercise in broadband-related trolling.


What makes Verizon so terrible? For starters they’ve been throttling Netflix, likely to protect their own vested interested in cable television that are threatened by the faster (and almost certainly better) offerings of Netflix.

If you’re a Verizon customer and you want to get full-speed Netflix, all you need is a VPN like Private Internet Access with an endpoint in the US, and you can watch the popular streaming site, but without the needless buffering.

Play Games (Without Your ISP Slowing You Down)

Traffic from online games is often slowed down by ISPs. Furthermore, some games (including the hugely popular MMORPG World Of Warcraft Getting Started With World Of Warcraft: A Complete Newbie’s Guide Here’s what you need to know if you’ve never tried World of Warcraft before. Read More ) use the BitTorrent protocol to issue patches and updates. This protocol is a particularly bandwidth-intensive one, and one that is often used for illegally downloading copyrighted materials. As a result, it is often throttled by network providers.


How do you get around this? You use Private Internet Access, making it impossible for your ISP to directly slow your gaming experience. Fair warning though, this is a double-edged sword. By using a VPN, you make significant increase your latency, potentially reducing gaming speed.

Watch Awesome Online TV

Australia has the ABC. America has CBS. The UK has the BBC. What do these broadcasters have in common? They let you freely stream their content online, but only if you live in these respective countries.


But what if you’re desperate for your fix of The Chaser, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, or ‘Snog, Marry, Avoid?’.

Private Internet Access allow you to move your network traffic to the country of your choice. All you need to find is an end-point in the country of the service you want to watch, allowing you to unlock the treasures of BBC iPlayer.

Securely Work From A Cafe (Without Getting Spied On)

Those of us fortunate enough to not have to work from an office also have the luxury of working from wherever we please. Whilst I prefer to work from my local hackerspace Four Reasons Why You Should Visit Your Local Hackerspace Read More , others prefer working from cafes, pubs and even – for those who live in cities with municipal WiFi – parks.


Whilst convenient, the majority of these networks are fundamentally insecure, since they send and receive traffic without the encryption that is generally found on the WPA2 networks that are used by most home users.

Thankfully, VPNs generally encrypt traffic using secure, military-grade encryption. Meaning? Well, you can surf, work and be productive without worrying about anyone capturing your traffic.

Shop Online While Abroad (Without The Hassle)

So, I was living abroad and I decided to switch Web hosts. I paid with a British credit card. After having paid… Nothing.

Later, I got an email from the company I’d bought the hosting from. They said that my purchase had been flagged as potentially suspect and they would have to manually verify my purchase. What did that involve?


Well, I had to take a piece of blank, white paper and place it over my bank card. I then had to find a pencil, and shade the piece of paper that was over my card, so that the shape of my card and the numbers were noticeable. I then had to fax – yes, fax – the paper to the Web hosting company.

The reason I had to jump through these hoops was due to my making a purchase with a British credit card whilst abroad. However, if I used a VPN based in the UK, I could have saved myself a lot of hassle.

Did I miss any?

VPNs are a wonderful thing, and they’re not just for downloading torrents without getting sued by the RIAA. If you’re looking for a good VPN service, we recommend Private Internet Access — they do not store logs, supports 5 devices simultaneously and only costs only $39.95 a year.

Have you found any unique or interesting uses for them? Let me know in the comments section below.

Photo Credits: Shopping In Milan (Michael and Annabel)Café del Urrestarazu (Boca Dorada)

Related topics: Online Privacy, Online Security, VPN.

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  1. Tara Sazs
    March 24, 2017 at 10:28 am

    The article itself was very refreshing! :)

  2. john
    February 7, 2015 at 4:28 am

    There are VPN Routers and VPN Accelerators (mini-PC) designed to work together. The Router will do pptp/openvpn, the accelerator provides both including l2pt these are configured via a web style interface.
    The Router has a Gateway function which list IP's of all connected devices each IP can be assigned to the Local Service Providers IP, (visible) or to the VPN running on the Router or VPN on the Accelerator, (cloaking) you may have two VPN running at the same time on the same Internet connection providing you have access to two different VP networks. New Devices connecting and are not assigned will be assigned to the current routers status until it is changed. It is important to note that any device assigned to a VPN or local IP the entire system/device is either on a VPN (cloak) or not (visible) but It is very easy to use a Browser and surf using the local IP and have another Browser(s) configure to use one of your Proxies via the Browsers Proxy setting. One browser can be in your own country and at the same time the other browser in another.

  3. john
    February 3, 2015 at 4:31 pm

    VPN are great, so are the Free VPN's for working around some block sites buy known VPN IP's that provide proxy server, or VPN can be blocked there is software and web sites that provide services to block known VPN traffic. Most VPN providers provide DSN proxy not only Ironsocket. You may have some luck with Video Streaming using Google's or OpenDNS free DNS IP's but that is changing fast. Some sites (Poker/Games/Others)now back check that is they look back at your account address, a Credit Card Number may be used to check Country. As mention VPN does slow down your connection. Routers that provide VPN settings should be Dual core to handle the encryption, there are Mini PC (Dual Core) that work nicely and can be used with some Routers I have this style using the Router to assign our TV's to the Mini PC where the VPN service is running. On my Old setup Video streaming through a VPN tunnel would cause connection slow down and stuttering for lack of a better description. Mostly I use a VPN for Poker and some TV/Movies assigning my PC and TV to the VPN while the rest of the family are on our main Providers IP. This may shock some but if I need full VPN service just to watch an event (sports) and the DNS proxy is not enough I configure the VPN settings config file and remove the encryption (yes none) change the port to 53 and load that on the Mini-PC - it's just TV all I need is to be in a different Country.
    My ISP provides a Modem/HUB/Wi-Fi which has a Firmware Firewall with very little user control, connected to VPN Router also having a Firmware Firewall and user control, connected to a switch, (i do not need the switch) connected to a Mini-PC running Ubuntu. One can configure the Router via VPN UK IP, Mini-PC USA IP and port forward any other PC or device for that matter to local providers IP - or another country.

    Interesting but silly when I think about it, we want to use Internet services for entertainment and willing to pay then our Government to demonstrate TAX Dollars at work have to force service providers to block traffic. Interesting times but fun.

  4. Panda
    July 17, 2014 at 9:23 pm

    You are welcome to try free Seed4.Me iPhone/iPad VPN:

    If you have a blog and can write a review of vpn they can give you a
    lifetime free VPN account + some personal invitations.

  5. Ed
    July 6, 2014 at 10:52 pm

    I've been a Private Internet Access customer for 6 months (won a giveaway on MakeUseOf) and have found their service and speed to be great.

    I will be buying a year subscription when the free giveaway runs out.

  6. Shawn Rosvolsd
    July 4, 2014 at 9:31 pm

    I use a private VPN but when I want to watch foreign content, such as World Cup which I believe is only available in the US on ESPN ($$$ubscription), I use Hola. It works very well for me and is free.

  7. Masood
    July 4, 2014 at 3:32 pm

    I use Tor...
    At least in my country, that's best way to bypass censorship...

  8. michael clyde
    July 4, 2014 at 10:43 am

    paypal lets me login as long as I'm on a server in my home country (America) but if I forget and I'm going through the Netherlands and hit green dot, paypal or even my gmail account it can be less than fun for awhile.

    @ HELEN,
    The crappy ISP that is your everyday internet provider is the connection you have to use to get to the vpn server so, crap in, crap out and most of the time your speed will slow down some because your traveling farther to get to your destination. Some vpn's are faster than others. The type of protocol you hook up with at the vpn's server makes a difference as well. Openvpn is more secure but is slow because of all the implemented security features. PPTP is faster but less secure if your using it for banking or some type of sensitive info but, I use PPTP for bittorrent traffic ALL THE TIME aned I don't have to worry about a hacker breaking into my tunnel and stealing
    the software I'm stealing. The ISP's or the copyright watchdogs can't get into the PPTP tunnel, much less the Openvpn tunnel. The NSA or anybody with access to the same equipment (it's all publicly for sale) can capture any information in any form that moving around on the planet and any vpn owner can be threatened by whatever goverment he is under and be made to show his records (if any) and be made to give real time access to his vpn traffic or go to jail without passing go. If it comes down to it, a vpn provider will give up the info to keep from losing his company and his freedom (it's already happened) and be made to keep quiet about it.

    For some reason I'm thinking this Matthew (guy who wrote the article) is the same one who writes stuff on Ashraf's software site. He writes some stuff that's risky (to say the least) like telling people to enable desktop gadgets in Win 7 which M/S says is still a dangerous thing to do. (big security hole) If this is a different Matthew, I apologize, if not... public beware.

    michael clyde

    • A.H. van Herp
      July 6, 2014 at 1:07 am

      Thank you for your comment.

      It has nothing to do with the VPN, I got in.

      I had to jump through hoops to get my account in order, then I told them what I previously posted here and the reply was: if you use a VPN again the same thing will happen.

      Sent to me by email.

      I live in Australia.

  9. A.H. van Herp
    July 4, 2014 at 1:13 am

    PayPal won' let you use a VPN. I have a user name, password, security gadget and I still get no service using Hotshield.

    • James Bruce
      July 5, 2014 at 3:29 pm

      Paypal works fine when connected through the PIA VPN connection for me. If you're using the *free* Hotspot Shield, you probably shouldnt expect much.

    • Panda
      July 17, 2014 at 9:24 pm

      try using L2TP or IPSec VPN

    • A.H. van Herp
      July 18, 2014 at 12:40 am

      Two posts below is an explanation. How it came to be there I don't know. But I got into PayPal ans was refused. complained, an ID, a p/w and a second identifier should be enough. But they said if I used a VPN again I would get the same treatment.

      This correspondence is now finished as far as I am concerned, it's old stuff by now.

  10. Godel
    July 3, 2014 at 10:24 pm

    It's interesting that you use Australia's ABC as an example, as the Private Internet Access VPN that you're pushing doesn't have a server in that country.

    As for credit cards, it can often help if you phone your bank before leaving on that overseas trip and tell them you'll be in Europe for the next X weeks, so that they can flag it on their computer. Although knowing banks, frequently that won't work and it's nice to have a backup plan.

  11. Roger
    July 3, 2014 at 10:20 pm

    I'm sure that there are plenty of others, but I use Tunnelr as my VPN for any browsing that I want kept private. They do not share data with anyone and do not keep log files of visitors. It's super cheap at around $5.00 (USD) per month.

  12. Helen
    July 3, 2014 at 6:57 pm

    What I never can understand thogh, is where one gets internet access in the first place.
    Our one available IP is such cr@p . Slow and expensive. Wouldn't I still need an IP in addition to a VPN?

    • James Bruce
      July 5, 2014 at 3:27 pm

      Yes, you still need an ISP. VPNs provide a safe route through that ISP and out to the internet at large, but they still need a hardline into your house, which is what the ISP does.

  13. lone0001
    July 3, 2014 at 4:57 pm

    If you run your own VPN on your local network you can login to that and have your local network at your fingertips where ever you might be, I find that useful. :)

  14. Clive R
    July 3, 2014 at 3:12 pm

    I have found some US services (specifically Hulu) are blocking proxy connections. Whether this applies to all proxy servers or whether this was because I was using one of the free ones I am not sure - but the fact that they can identify when you are using proxy server may over time reduce the opportunities for using it to watch TV from other countries.

    The media companies are clearly very anxious to preserve their control over how, when and what we watch!

    • Ben
      July 3, 2014 at 10:23 pm

      Yes, but the thing you aren't getting is that, by their very nature, VPN's are NOT Proxies.

    • Ben
      July 3, 2014 at 11:00 pm

      You can also use VPN's to enter country restricted sweepstakes

    • paulinsf
      July 4, 2014 at 2:17 am

      I am a Private Internet Access customer and found Hulu blocked to me also, so some VPN servers ARE caught and listed. Luckily for me the BBC isn't blocking yet.

  15. Howard B
    July 2, 2014 at 10:09 pm

    Sounds more like an ad for Private Internet Access (especially since the links contain a referral code!!!!) rather than an "article."
    I seem to remember a SOCKS 5 proxy that was $34.95 a year - slightly cheaper than a PIA; I don't need a full VPN...

    • bobrob
      July 5, 2014 at 3:10 pm

      The very first paragraph clearly states that this is a sponsored article. No one is trying to slide an ad past you.

  16. Rodolfo L
    July 2, 2014 at 8:07 pm

    It doesn't work too good for pirating, at least VyprVPN. I got an email from them last week saying that my service was temporally suspended because NBC filed a complaint against me for downloading a torrent of Bates Motel. So, basically, my VPN provider is spying on me and telling the big companies.

  17. Min Xuan X
    July 2, 2014 at 7:50 pm

    Some games, such as Watch Dogs and League of Legends, are region-locked, and VPN can be used as a workaround. Tired of "cyka blyat" in EUE, or just want to play in beta builds? VPN can help. Can't play Watch Dogs SEA because you're hanging around in Europe? VPN. As you can see, VPN isn't just about freely streaming on Netflix or Hulu, gamers can make use of VPN as well.

    Just cross your fingers that you don't get caught using it.

  18. pceasies
    July 2, 2014 at 4:20 pm

    Good to see the old "make the company I'm giving money to for internet access" act a bit more honestly uses up there.

  19. RichF
    July 2, 2014 at 3:34 pm

    Too bad my employer blocks vpn traffic at work. I wish there was a way around that!

    • Shade
      July 2, 2014 at 6:46 pm

      I want to say you can get around that by changing the port the VPN routes through (assuming the client you use allows that configuration and port blocking is what's limiting you). Port 80 and 443 tend to never be blocked since they're the default for HTTP and HTTPS traffic.

    • Eli
      July 3, 2014 at 10:34 am

      UltraSurf claims that it overcomes such blocks. Never tried myself