I discovered VPN around 2012, it initially helped me to see there was a lot of unlearning I needed to do after being "educated" in school, and I really appreciated the freedom of being able to access different information. And yes, VPN was not about privacy protection for me at first. But as I keep using it, I am learning more and more about the benefits of using a VPN, and it has become one of the musts in my daily digital life.
However, after reading about many people who are still unsure about what a VPN is or why they should even use it, I am happy to share some of the things I have learned while using it.
Why Use a VPN?
VPN, short for virtual private network, not only encrypts your browsing data but also hides your IP addresses.
However, you might be wondering, I have NOTHING to hide, why do I need to use it? But here are some of the benefits of using a VPN:
Unlock Internet Freedom
I lived in places where Google, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and WhatsApp are all banned, could you imagine how it feels? But the interesting thing is if one hasn't tasted freedom, they wouldn't know what freedom is like. But with a VPN, you can unlock ALL censored content.
And one of the most common practices these days is to censor information whenever something serious happens, but how is it possible to make better decisions without reliable information? However, Imagine if you VPNed to China when the pandemic happened or VPNed to Ukraine when the war happened; maybe you would get to know what was happening? It's as simple as switching location to see what locals talk about instead of listening to BBC or CNN. Accessing first-hand information and knowing where to find it is a good way to get an information edge, especially in a time full of noise.
You might also sometimes find some content unavailable in some areas due to IP protections, like movies on Netflix or YouTube, but simply changing the VPN location often solves the problem.!
Hide your IP Address
Do you know that we are constantly being spied on and collecting data? All sites can collect our IP address, cookies, and even things we searched for and then sell us ads. For example, did you ever search for something on Google? Then, after a while, Instagram shows you exactly those products that you want to buy; how thoughtful! There's even a joke that the advertisers know you better than your boyfriend or girlfriend.
For those who travel constantly, using a constant IP address is a good way to avoid causing unnecessary attention because many services would flag your account or even log you out due to "abnormal activities". Also, it is a good way to stay safe on public Wi-Fi whenever you are in co-working spaces, cafes, or Airbnb, as you don't know who is watching, better be cautious than sorry.
Above are two basic uses for VPN, but what if I told you that choosing the RIGHT location could unlock some extra fun?
- Digital Migration
I learned that most SaaS services price differently to meet local markets, a.k.a. localized SaaS pricing. For example, the chart below shows the pricing difference between a Turkish user and an American user.
Saving $40+ monthly just by switching locations is doable for most people ( stack more sats.! ), and sometimes all you need is a good VPN, and Turkiye, Argentina, and India are good places for these SaaS subscriptions.
*The data was from 06.2022.
- Cheaper Flights
Did you ever experience that the more you searched for the same air tickets, the more expensive it would become? Because Airlines use dynamic pricing for the tickets, and thanks to all the cookies in our browser, they would easily get to know "us" and then decide how much they want to charge.
But with the help of a VPN, you can easily turn things into your favour. One interesting thing I learned is that it often shows cheaper tickets if you set the VPN into the flight destination. For example, here are the ticket prices when buying a return flight ticket from istanbul to Tokyo:
( the price in photo 1 is when switching the VPN location to Japan. )
( the price in photo 2 is when switching the VPN location to the UK. )
Do not forget to clean out browser cookies if you are using the same browser, and you are welcome to test things out.
These are some of the fun I have learned from using a VPN, and I would love to learn more possibilities 🤓
Next, so Which VPN?
First, If you're not paying for the product, you're the product. How do you think those free VPNs make money when they aren't making money from you?
I used to use Proton VPN, but I was getting a bit annoyed that they are trying to do EVERYTHING. All I want is a reliable VPN, and the last thing I want is to rely too much on the same company. So, I spent some time digging some geeks' recommendations, I eventually moved to Mullvad last year, and I am quite happy with it so far.
- No account registration is needed - log in with a number
- Many locations to choose from
- It can be used on up to five devices
- No subscription, no upsell, and flat pricing ( 5 euros monthly )
- Accept BTC, even with a 10% discount
- Built-in blockers
I use the Mullvad VPN app on my laptop so that I don't need to log in Apple Store, and I use the Wireguard app on phones. Also, to make it more private, I pay it with Lightning ( Tor available ) https://vpn.sovereign.engineering/
From my understanding, the builder of this site brought a bunch of top-up codes and then offered this service. However, if you would like to use this tool, a better practice is to use the purchase voucher option and then redeem the voucher without even giving away the account number.
VPN is a Must
I think a VPN is a must for everyone. Otherwise, you are pretty much naked; you don't walk outside without clothes, so why is it okay to be naked online? But VPN is only part of the setup against digital surveillance 👁️
Stay tuned for more.