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What can you use a US VPN for?

What can you use a US VPN for?
(Image credit: Belyay/Shutterstock)

US VPN services are getting more and more popular every year, and it’s easy to see why so many people in the States use VPNs whenever they’re online. Contemporary VPNs offer incredible security, fast connection speeds, access to popular streaming services, and a variety of other features.

In this article, we’ll cover the primary benefits of using a VPN in the US, including streaming, torrenting, and using the internet on a public network. Make sure to check out our guide to the best VPN services for more information about the top providers in 2020.

Streaming

Streaming services offer different content in different countries. With a VPN, you can appear as if you were connecting from another country, potentially allowing you to access content that isn’t available in your home country. Similarly, you may have the option to access content from your home country while you’re traveling abroad.

Unfortunately, streaming platforms don’t want users accessing content that isn’t available in their country, and they’ve made it significantly more difficult for VPNs to circumvent region controls. As a result, only the best streaming VPN services can unblock Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+, and other popular services.

Privacy

Most countries use some level of surveillance to track residents and visitors, and a VPN can keep your information out of their hands. A VPN will also protect your traffic from your internet service provider and/or your organization if you use a shared connection, like work and school networks.

However, different VPNs offer different degrees of privacy, so it’s important to find a provider with a clear privacy policy that details their commitment to security. The most secure VPN services don’t store any activity logs, and many of them have undertaken independent audits in order to verify their claims.

Avoid trackers

In addition to surveillance on the part of the government or internet service provider, you may also be worried about online trackers, which are primarily used for marketing purposes. Facebook and Google, for example, may be tracking you even if you’re using private browsing or incognito mode.

While a VPN won’t prevent your traffic from being monitored, it will stop third parties from associating your activity with your location or device. Again, some VPNs monitor this information on their own, so you shouldn’t assume that your traffic is safe just because you’re using a VPN.

Torrenting

While torrenting files isn’t illegal on its own, downloading copyrighted content or other illegal files could raise suspicions, and it’s easy to accidentally end up with pirated files on your device. Furthermore, your IP address may be exposed without a suitable VPN.

If you’re planning on torrenting, it’s better to be safe than sorry and connect to a VPN before opening any P2P connections. This is especially true while traveling abroad, since you may not be aware of the relevant laws and surveillance practices in your destination country.

Staying safe on public Wi-Fi networks

Connecting to public Wi-Fi networks largely puts your security in the hands of the network administrator. If the network isn’t encrypted, for example, it would be relatively simple for a hacker to access your traffic and potentially compromise sensitive information.

Using public Wi-Fi hotspots without a VPN puts you at risk of a variety of attacks, and accessing the same network through a VPN will keep your information safe from third parties. Make sure to look for a VPN with a reliable kill switch in order to avoid exposing your browsing data.

Which VPN do we recommend for users in the US?

Tom’s Guide readers can claim three months absolutely free

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.