VPN for Android: What is a VPN and Why Should You Use One?

If you’re using public Wi-Fi, want to access websites from abroad or worry about data security, using a VPN for Android could be the way to go.

VPN for Android: What is a VPN and Why Should You Use One?

What is a VPN?

This is a common question and although a lot of people have heard the term, most don’t understand what it actually means. VPN stands for Virtual Private Network and is essentially a group of computers networked together over the internet.

The advantage of using a VPN is that it gives you increased privacy and security. Businesses commonly use VPNs to protect any sensitive data or information that they hold. Private users are also becoming more likely to use a VPN, especially for important transactions.

Protecting privacy with a VPN

VPNs are commonly used to protect the privacy of the user. VPNs do this by replacing the IP address (which identifies the device you are using) with an IP address from the VPN provider. This fundamentally masks your identity and hides your location.

For example you may be using the internet in London or New York, but by using a VPN you can appear to be in either Tokyo or Buenos Aires.

Increasing security with a VPN

Another reason to use a VPN is to add an extra layer of security when you are using the internet. Whenever you access the internet, there is a possibility of your data being intercepted. This data on your computer can be protected by a firewall, although a VPN offers similar protection. To do this it uses encryption protocols and secure tunnelling techniques.

This is basically a fancy way to say that other people can’t look at your data. This is especially important on public networks where anyone can have access, such as Wi-Fi networks in airports, hotels or restaurants.

So what are the specific reasons to use a VPN on Android.

1. Security while using public Wi-Fi

Many people log into their Facebook, Twitter or even online banking via public Wi-Fi networks without giving it a second thought. This can expose your data to other users (potentially hackers) that are on the same network. The majority of this kind of usage tends to take place on your phone, which is why you may want to consider setting up a VPN on your Android device.

VPNs provide extra security when using public WiFi networks

You should consider using a VPN to protect your data on any network that you don’t personally manage (or know and trust the person who does). Doing so will give peace of mind, knowing that you don’t have to worry about anyone accessing your information when you shop or check your bank balance online.

2. Using location-restricted services or content

One very common use of a VPN is to access websites or services from another location. Imagine for instance that you want to access popular social networks that are blocked in your country, watch BBC TV shows outside of the UK, or listen to Pandora outside of Australia, New Zealand or the US.

Using a VPN can let you access location-restricted content

Using a VPN will allow you to do any of these things. The reason is that VPNs mask your IP address (which identifies your location) with another one from the VPN provider. Most providers allow you to select the IP location you use, meaning you can access services normally only available to people in that country.

Popular social networks are restricted in some countries

This is often a key consideration for people who travel a lot, as it means they can still enjoy their favourite services and TV shows, regardless of where they are.

3. Prevent companies from tracking you

Many companies track your internet usage to get an idea of your habits and what you like. They use this data to display personalized, targeted ads. If you don’t want companies to have all this data, a VPN is the most likely solution, as it’s able to hide your identity, location, interests and shopping habits.

Using a VPN in this way can also work to your advantage when shopping online, especially for travel. It is common practice for websites to increase flight prices when you look at them more often, as it suggests that you really want to take that trip. Using a VPN to stop such websites from tracking you can help you to get a lower price.

A VPN can help you get lower prices on flights

If you are considering using a VPN many providers offer a free trial to give you time to ascertain if the service is right for you. Many of them will also offer a convenient app that makes VPN setup on Android extremely easy.