What can I do with a VPN?

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When you’re picking the best virtual private network (VPN) services, the decision process should start with value as it relates to privacy and security. There are even great free VPNs that preserve online anonymity and boost overall security, but there are more features to a VPN than privacy and security for computers and mobile devices.

All reputable VPNs offer military-grade data encryption to enhance online security and most of the big VPN providers have admirable zero-log privacy assurances, which means your online anonymity is preserved whenever you’re connected. Privacy and security are obviously paramount considerations for a VPN, but there’s a lot more you can do with a VPN.

VPNs for streaming content

One of the most popular uses of VPNs outside of privacy and security is streaming content from international sources. International streaming services such as HBO Max, Hulu, Peacock, and the various regional Netflix libraries tend to be ‘geoblocked’ based on the locational data associated with your device’s IP address.

For example, if you’re in Australia and want to stream Hulu content from the US, you won’t be able to as Hulu will detect your Australian IP address. Connect to an eligible US server with a VPN from that same device in Australia, though, and you’ll be able to bypass the geoblock, sign up for an account, and stream content. The same logic applies to accessing geoblocked streaming services or content libraries (like Netflix) in other regions: just connect to a streaming-friendly VPN server in that region, then start streaming. Certain VPN providers like NordVPN and ExpressVPN even offer smart TV apps to make this process even easier.

There are some disclaimers, though. For starters, these streaming services are geoblocked because of regional licences, which means you run the risk of having your account banned. Bypassing geoblocking measures with a VPN tends to violate the user terms and conditions that you agree to when you sign up. If that doesn’t bother you, the other proviso is that connecting to any VPN server will slow your internet connection. The farther away the server, the more speeds will be impacted. With a VPN on, slower internet connections may struggle to buffer and stream video content in a smooth and acceptable quality.

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VPNs for accessing Australian streaming services
If you’re travelling outside of Australia, you won’t be able to easily access local services like Stan or Kayo when trying to stream from a non-Australian international IP address. In these instances, a VPN that’s renowned for streaming can help by allowing you to bypass geoblocks when connected to an Australian server.

VPNs for accessing websites

Similar to accessing streaming services, using a VPN to connect to different servers in the world can open up more of the internet. For example, certain websites have regional differences, again based on the automatically detected IP address your device is connecting from. If you’re overseas and want to access the Australian version of a global news website, connecting to an Australian server with a VPN will facilitate this.

This logic also applies in reverse: when you’re in Australia, connect to a corresponding international VPN server to see that regional version. Using a VPN to connect to different countries may also give you access to sites that are banned at a regional level. For example, if a website won’t open from an Australian IP address, connecting to a VPN server in another country may allow access to it. VPNs are also useful for accessing geoblocked sports and news highlights on YouTube or other region-specific websites.

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57256083630-day money-back guarantee
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*ProtonVPN Plus plan used for comparison. Cheaper plans are available, but offer limited servers, connections, speed, and more.

VPNs for online gaming

At first glance, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to connect to a VPN to play games online when VPNs slow connection speeds and increase latency. Because online games can be very sensitive to latency changes, it’s generally advised to play games on servers close to home to get the best experience.

That said, faster VPNs that have a minimal or no impact on your device’s connection latency can help improve your online gaming experience. This is particularly true for people who like to play online games in regions outside of Australia, as connecting to a VPN server in the country you’d like to play may result in lower latency (and more responsive gameplay) than connecting from your Australian IP address, depending on how your internet provider routes traffic.

VPNs like Surfshark also let you fake your GPS location, which makes it easier to play location-based games like Pokémon Go without actually having to travel to a real-world location.

VPNs for online shopping

The dreaded “Australia tax” is a term used to describe the potentially egregious differences between the prices we pay for an item or service in Australia compared to the prices paid in other regions. Location-based pricing is a common practice for providers of many products and services, but switching regions with a VPN can help bring the costs down.

For those who don’t mind virtually shopping around between regional prices, this can lead to cheaper prices for a range of digital products—games, software, and music streaming services—or it can lead to cheaper airfares or hotel prices. Be aware that this may run afoul of user agreements, and if you do find what appears to be a cheaper price, factor in additional fees like currency conversions and other bank fees.

VPNs for bypassing internet provider restrictions

Because your internet comes from a provider, you’re at the mercy of their network. While this typically determines the overall speed and reliability of your internet, it may also mean you’re subject to certain provider restrictions.

For example, using a VPN with fast Australian speeds is a good way to determine whether you need to have a chat with your provider about potential ‘shadow throttling’. This is when an internet provider discretely slows your internet speeds, typically during busy hours. Connecting to a nearby Australian VPN server that has faster speeds can help identify shadow throttling.

VPNs for restricted networks

This is one of the more common uses for VPNs, which may be required by a workplace or university. While VPNs can be used to sidestep geoblocked content, sometimes a specific VPN is needed to connect to a particular secure network. Most commonly these are work or university networks, which can restrict access and monitor usage by shielding the network behind a VPN.

In the same breath, an everyday VPN can be used to access content outside of restricted networks, including work, university, and hotel networks. Work and university networks tend to favour security to a point that they’ll block specific websites, but some of those websites may be part of your everyday internet activities. Use an everyday VPN to get around these limitations.


We recommend using a VPN to keep compatible devices secure and anonymous during everyday internet usage. A VPN can also be a versatile tool for unlocking geoblocked content, finding better deals, and online gaming (to name a few).
Using a VPN is legal in Australia, but not everything you can do with a VPN in Australia is necessarily legal.
As far as we’re aware, it’s not illegal to use a VPN with Netflix. That said, using a VPN to bypass your regional Netflix library may fall afoul of your user agreement and may lead to an account ban.

Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time of publish and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on the retailer’s website at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product. SafeWise Australia utilises paid affiliate links.
Nathan Lawrence
Written by
Nathan Lawrence

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