It seems like everyone is talking about VPNs lately. But if you haven’t yet used a VPN, you may be wondering exactly what they are.

A VPN is useful in a number of ways. It allows you to access websites that are restricted by region, access torrent sites like The Pirate Bay, and keep your data and information safe from any prying eyes.

Picture a VPN as a tunnel. Your data can travel through that tunnel, and it’s kept safe from the outside world. This includes governments aiming to censor the sites you visit, hackers stealing your information, and nosy parkers trying to see what you’re up to online.

VPNs give you better privacy and security. Since your data is encrypted, anyone trying to see what you’re doing will only receive a lot of random numbers and letters. pexels-photo-326507

One of the reasons I love using VPNs is because I tend to login to a lot of public wifi hotspots. These include Starbucks, airports, malls, fast food places, and more. The problem with logging into these sites is that they’re pretty easy for cybercriminals to hack. I never login to my bank account on these networks anyway, but for people who do tend to login to social network sites and more on public networks, you should know that people can easily steal your information.

Some smart hackers will actually go as far as to set up unsecured networks to lure the unsuspecting into joining them. They’ll then look at everything you’re doing online and aim to grab as much data as they can. That’s why I always use a VPN when I’m on a public network. It’s just not worth the risk of getting hacked in my opinion.

I also used a VPN when I was living in China. I would have felt extremely cut off from the outside world if I didn’t, since I stay in touch with family and friends on Facebook. The Chinese government blocks citizens from accessing Google, Facebook, and many international news sites. The average Chinese person can’t find any information on what really happened in Tiananmen Square for example.

Luckily, with my VPN I was able to do whatever I liked online. I don’t think I could have spent as much time in Beijing as I did without a VPN.

For people who travel a lot, a VPN is particularly important. I like to watch Netflix, and there’s nothing worse than getting to a new country and realising that show you love isn’t played on that country’s Netflix. This happened to me with Bones.

There are a number of VPNs that don’t work with Netflix, and the site will tell you to turn it off. But there are also plenty that will work, so you can watch whatever shows you like, wherever you happen to be.

If you’re looking for an in-depth guide, you can learn more about VPN thanks to VPNs R Us. Take a look at their great, detailed post to learn which type of VPN will be right for you.