The best VPN acts as an intermediary between your internet service provider (ISP) and the rest of the net, creating a secure tunnel through which you perform all of your internet activities. The boom in popularity of US VPN services over the last few years can be explained by the enhanced anonymity and privacy they offer—their use of strong encryption can help prevent ISPs from monitoring and logging your activity.
The best services also prevent ISPs from blocking websites based on your location, which can be particularly useful if you wish to surf freely when visiting certain countries outside of the US.
One can see the justification for using a VPN in countries such as China, where large portions of the Internet are censored, but why might you want to use a VPN in the US specifically?
Boost your streaming
You’ve more than likely experienced the frustration of reading about some highly anticipated new TV series, only to find out that for some obscure reason your streaming provider isn’t showing it in the US.
VPNs give you a selection of servers that you can connect to in multiple geographic locations, thus hiding your true location from the websites that you visit and opening up the possibility of watching geo-blocked content.
This so-called location spoofing lets you watch streaming content from whatever country you like. If you wish, for example, to spend the entire evening checking out the Netflix Mexico library or watching some compelling content on BBC iPlayer, you can do so easily with a streaming VPN.
Prevent identity theft
Identity theft is a major problem in the US, accounting for billions of dollars of financial loss for US citizens every year. One way a criminal might get access to your private data is when you connect to an unencrypted public Wi-Fi network such as in an airport or a café.
If you use a VPN while connecting to a public network, your data becomes encrypted and secure, making it practically impossible for another person to decipher it and use it for fraudulent activity.
Another favorite tool of fraudsters is malware—malicious software that attempts to send your private data to criminals once it's installed on your device. Certain VPN providers, such as NordVPN, maintain databases of sites known to contain malware and block you from accessing them, letting you surf more safely.
Avoid hours researching data protection laws
The laws governing data protection in the US are labyrinthine—while some laws exist at a federal level, much of the legislation changes from state to state.
If you wish to avoid wasting hours researching state-specific data protection laws any time you hop on an inbound flight in the US, we recommend availing of a secure VPN service to protect your data from prying eyes and prevent it from being monetized by ISPs.
Stop the government from snooping
The US government has a history of spying on its citizens—from the ramp-up in surveillance following the 9-11 attacks to the now-infamous PRISM program, dramatically disclosed by Edward Snowden in 2013, which monitors private communications within the US on a massive scale.
Note that while VPNs are an excellent way of making it difficult for individuals or agencies to snoop on your internet activity and location, they are not infallible. If you are keen to surf the net with even better security we suggest using the TOR protocol, ideally in conjunction with a private VPN.
The only way of completely ensuring that the US authorities aren’t spying on your communications is to avoid internet use altogether, but if you’re keen to not go to such extremes, we recommend getting a VPN and taking advantage of the added layer of security and anonymity that this technology offers.
Which VPN do we recommend for users in the US?
ExpressVPN stands out from the competition in terms of price, features, and value. With servers in nearly 100 countries and plenty within the US, blazing connection speeds, and reliable access to multiple streaming services, ExpressVPN has everything that one would need from a VPN.
While some users may prefer certain features of other top VPNs, it’s the best overall option for most users – and now Tom’s Guide readers can claim three months absolutely free.