VPNs are well known to help protect your privacy secure your connection from prying eyes, but they also provide a wide array of other benefits from improving download speeds to shopping from abroad.

On a basic level, VPNs create an encrypted tunnel that your data travels down, keeping you more secure and anonymous on the internet, but their features extend well beyond privacy and security, with additional features for travellers, shoppers, streamers, and more. Here are our four favourite features to look out for when subscribing to a VPN.

Shop from afar

A number of online stores are only available within certain countries and to avoid issues they block traffic from countries they do not serve. This makes perfect business sense, but for times when you are travelling abroad and want to buy a present for a friend back home or just order something to arrive when you get back then these geo-restrictions can be a major headache.

VPNs let you appear like you are accessing websites from any one of their servers and get around these restrictions with the click of a button. No matter if you are surfing in Hawaii or trekking in Borneo, you can still access UK-based ecommerce stores secure in the knowledge that your data is encrypted too using tools like those at https://surfshark.com/servers/uk.

Access iPlayer from abroad

BBC iPlayer has long been a leader in the video streaming market and for those of us in the UK that pay the License Fee it is free to access the TV shows, films, and live sport the service streams. However, just like other streaming platforms the BBC does not let people access the service from other countries, so if you are holidaying or working abroad you are normally stuck without access to Eastenders, Line of Duty, and the wealth of other content the service provides.

Many people use VPNs to try and access the US version of Netflix by using a VPN, but no matter where you are in the world a VPN with UK servers can provide you access to your favourite UK television shows by making it appear that you are accessing the service from the UK.

Avoid ISP traffic shaping and speed up your downloads

ISPs like Virgin, Sky, and BT all manage massive networks of infrastructure to connect us to the internet and some use “traffic shaping” to provide some internet services a smoother connection than others, such as giving someone using Zoom priority over someone else Bittorrent or playing online games, despite similar levels of bandwidth usage.

Traffic shaping will benefit some users to the detriment of others, but people using VPNs hide which services they are accessing from their ISP and so can often access faster download speeds as their connections are not being throttled.

Get around internet filters

The internet can be a wild and terrifying place, so it is right that many ISPs and other services provide filters to try and block some of the darker places online. Some people will just switch these filters off, but for others who want a filtered internet but just want to put a wager on the Grand National once per year or sporadically access other blocked content without switching off the filters for everyone else in the house, then a VPN can help as the encrypted traffic will generally work around most content blocks.

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