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These days, Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are synonymous with unblocking websites. Need to watch U.S. Netflix abroad? Use a VPN. Want to Google something in China? Use a VPN. Itching to use Facebook? You get the idea.

However, simple using a VPN to access blocked sites would be selling it short. Want to unlock the full potential of your online Swiss Army knife? Here are four more ways to use your VPN.
1. Secure your data
VPNs were first created to enable businesses to share confidential information securely. Although they have since been adapted for private use, they remain a wonderful asset for data security.

Next time you log in to your online banking service or social media profile, fire up your VPN to make sure your account credentials are encrypted and shielded from opportunistic third parties.

Some users may worry that using a VPN makes it difficult to access local network devices, thereby creating a dilemma between security and convenience. The good news? Split tunneling is now a standard feature of leading VPNs, allowing you to send your internet traffic through the VPN tunnel while retaining local network access.
2. Stay anonymous online
Not only can VPNs keep your data safe, but they can also keep your online identity a mystery.

Internet service providers (ISP), governments, and some web services often track individual browsing histories. While some do so for public safety reasons and others for profit, the truth is, your fundamental right to online privacy is being violated.

By encrypting all of your device traffic and sending it through the VPN server before it reaches the internet, a VPN hides your online identity from the rest of the world. Even if someone could see the online requests you’re sending, it’d be impossible for them to link it back to you.

So next time you’re thinking of torrenting something, remember to turn on your VPN first—your ISP or local authorities don’t need to know about it.
3. Get more from online gaming
Gamers live and die by their internet connection. No matter how good you are, a laggy connection often results in you getting pwned by angsty teenagers somewhere else in the world.

When you use a VPN, your internet traffic no longer runs through your ISP. This makes it impossible for them to throttle your connection, giving you high-speed gameplay every step of the way.

What’s more, a VPN helps gamers beat geo-restrictions by changing your IP address to an overseas one. Want to join a match that only allows Russian IPs? Sure thing. Want to download some UK-only DLC? You got it.
4. Enjoy lower prices online
Spending a lot of money on your VPN provider? You can earn it all back when you shop online.

Whether it’s books or airline tickets, companies often show different prices to customers from different countries. The solution? Use your VPN and connect to a location with lower prices. Not only will you save more money, but you may even find exclusive deals not available in other regions in the world.

And when you finally reach that dreamy vacation locale via your discounted flight, let your VPN do the heavy lifting as you stay connected with friends and enjoy your favorite online entertainment.

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