The other day, I was searching for flights online.
I tend to use Skyscanner most of the time. If I am searching for a short-distance flight, I would occasionally book directly with the airline (such as AirAsia).
This was the case on that specific day. I had just found a cheap flight for the next day and was about to make the booking.
When I tried to make the payment, my credit card got rejected.
Naturally, I logged into my bank account to see what’s up. Turns out, I had almost reached the monthly limit for that specific credit card.
No problem, just raise the limit a bit.
Whoop. Logged out from online banking.
What had just happened? Did I click the wrong button? Internet connection interrupted?
I wasn’t sure so I simply logged in again.
After a few seconds, the same thing happened again. I would automatically be logged out. Sometimes I couldn’t even log in at all, at other times, I was about to confirm the new card limit when the system logged me out.
I tried this at least a dozen times before thinking it might be the browser that is causing the issue. After all, there was no error message. Nothing. I would simply be logged out automatically.
Chrome didn’t work and neither did Firefox, nor Microsoft Edge.
I couldn’t call the bank’s support hotline either as it was the middle of the night. The flight I wanted to book was for the next morning.
I have accessed my online banking account from a dozen different countries and have never encountered this issue before.
Naturally, my assumption was that there was something wrong with the banking site. (Maybe they are running an update as it was midnight?)
The last thing I was willing to try (before giving up for now) was selecting a different country via my VPN. Basically pretend I am in a Western country (while actually being in Asia at that time).
That was it. The IP address. The country I was in or the IP address I was using (for whatever reason) looked suspicions to the bank, thus the auto-logout.
France – the banking software concluded – is safe enough …
If you are staying at one location, a VPN isn’t absolutely necessary (for safety and accessibility). However, if you travel on a regular basis, then you will encounter issues similar to the one I mentioned above.
PayPal doesn’t allow the use of a VPN, but if you don’t use one, any time you are in a new country and try to log in to your account, you will receive the following message.
This security check is actually a good thing.
After all, you want your account to be safe. However, it can be a bit annoying having to receive and enter the verification code almost every time you want to log in.
If the number you have added to your PayPal account is a local one, then you won’t be able to receive the text message if you are already in another country.
In that case, you have to call PayPal’s hotline and manually go through the verification process after which they will remove the security check and you are able to log in.
These are 2 real-life examples of why a VPN can be useful.
Do You Really NEED a VPN?
Notice how I said CAN. I am not here to tell you that you absolutely must use a VPN because whether or not you require one depends your circumstances.
If you travel on a regular basis, then, yes not using a VPN is not only a hassle – it’s a security risk as well!
Youtube Proxy (VPN For YouTube)
Maybe you’ve come across the following notice on YouTube.
‘The uploader has not made this video available in your country.’
The only way to bypass this restriction is by using a VPN.
By the way, there are similar geo-restrictions on sites such as Netflix & Hulu.
In addition to the YouTube ‘Video not available in my country’ – issue, there are videos of which existence you don’t even know because they are hidden for your location.
Any YouTube channel that is part of a Multi-Channel Network (MCN) can block videos for certain countries.
That means you don’t get the notification above – instead the video becomes invisible to you (in searches, on channel, etc.)
Again, the only way to bypass this restriction is by using a VPN.
How Does A VPN Work?
A VPN (virtual private network) creates a tunnel through which all data between your computer and the Internet is traveling. All of that data is encrypted which means nobody is able to decipher what data is sent.
You don’t need to understand how a VPN works (and the technology behind it) to be able to use one.
Nowadays, almost all VPN providers offer software (desktop) and apps (smartphone) which allows you to connect to the VPN with just a few clicks.
Here’s how easy that is with NordVPN.
I am using Windows, so I select the Windows download option.
Download of the installation file takes a few seconds after which you start the setup file.
Once installed, you log in with your email address and password.
Then use the map to connect to a location (in this case, I am selecting Malaysia), OR …
… choose from the list of countries.
Any server location can also be bookmarked so you will see it under ‘My Favorites‘.
That’s it, really.
As you could see, little to no technical expertise required. All you need to do is download the software, run the installation and log in with your account information.
Which VPN Is The Best?
Depends what your criteria is. Price? Location? Ease of Use? Payment Options?
In terms of pricing, most major VPNs are in the $3-7 range (for yearly contracts). If you care about the safety of your data/logs, I recommend you choose a provider that’s not located in any of the 14 Eyes Countries.
NordVPN would be such a provider as it’s located in Panama.
Forget about searching for free VPNs. They either don’t work at all or are very slow. Most VPNs come with a 30 day money back guarantee which means you can test them with zero risk.
To be clear, this ISN’T a NordVPN review.
I just happen to be very happy with this provider. Another neat feature of this VPN is the Internet Kill Switch/App Kill Switch.
When this is turned on, you are able to access the Internet only when the VPN is active.
It also makes it so that in case the VPN connection is interrupted, the browser is automatically closed (to expose your true location/IP address).
I used SpeedTest.net to compare regular Internet speed against the connection when connected to the closest VPN server.
As you can see by the results below, there is a significant difference when it comes to download speed.
However, whether or not this actually matters depends on what you are doing. If you are streaming videos, then the reduced speed might be an issue.
For simply browsing the web or uploading files, the difference will be marginal.