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Should you use a VPN on Twitch?

Should you use a VPN on Twitch?


Twitch is the place for you, whether you want to be a star or part of the crowd! Personally, I love listening to esports tournaments and high stakes competitions, but you’ll also find unofficial collections of classic titles, sneak peeks into new releases, knowledge-based gameplay, sprints, live arts and much more. Given that Twitch racks up an average of 2,900,000 views per week, it’s no surprise that Amazon acquired the site for $1 billion in 2014.

Part of the magic of Twitch is that it allows ordinary people to make a living by what they love – playing video games. It’s the kind of thing you dreamed of as a kid! However, when there is money at stake, things can get serious. There is a lot of conversation going on right now about how to stream securely and get the best results — and the VPN factor is in those discussions on a regular basis.

The big question is whether you need a VPN if you are a Twitch user or a viewer. I’ve looked at both ends of the argument, but the answer will ultimately depend on your circumstances and setup. So, let’s get stuck!

Advantages of using a VPN for Twitch

I’ll start with the good stuff. A VPN has all kinds of tools and features that can enhance your daily surfing outside of Twitch (like when you scroll through Twitter or Netflix), but there are also some streaming-specific advantages to be found. I’ve collected the most impressive of them below!

1. No more IP leaks

Let’s say your IP address is leaked and becomes publicly visible – this is an IP address leak, which is a big problem because your IP address contains a lot of relevant information about your online activity. Your location and ISP are tied to your IP address, for example, and you obviously don’t want that information to be available and available to anyone searching.

Hackers only love IP leaks. They can exploit your device if they detect an IP address leak and get into your data, even escaping with your identity. IP leaks can also be a targeted attack. Some people get embittered, either because they lost a broadcast match, they don’t have the same size of audience, or they don’t like the operator in question (especially if you’re a girl and you, God forbid, win!) – whatever the reason, they can try to leak your private IP them to cause chaos, and the stakes are increased if the operator is playing a game through a peer-to-peer connection.

So how does a VPN help? Well, it will mask your original IP address – as in the one that contains all that information about your location and your ISP. VPNs do this by routing your connection through an encrypted tunnel to a secure server, and protocols keep your data out of the reach of snoopers and malicious actors. Once you are connected to the VPN server, you will be assigned a new, temporary IP address associated with the server and owned by the VPN. Therefore, a hacker will not be able to trace it back to you even if they try!

I also recommend looking for a VPN that offers IPv6 and DNS leak protection. Alternatively, if you are concerned that your VPN may be leaking your IP address, we have a great little leak testing tool that you can check out by clicking here.

Check out CyberGhost

💻 CyberGhost has a huge number of servers spread all over the world – over 6600 to be exact, and in 90 countries! Much of it is bare metal which is great for security, and as an added bonus, only the CyberGhost team has access to them. If you’re in the mood for streaming, torrenting, or want extra privacy, CyberGhost also has custom selections that you can choose from.

🔒 And the service ticks all the boxes when it comes to security. CyberGhost opts for AES-256 encryption, the RSA-4096 handshake, and the OpenVPN protocol, although IKEv2 and WireGuard are suitable alternatives. All in all, it’s an impressive setup that will keep your IP address and all your activities safe, whether you’re on streams or streaming all night.

🕴 Since CyberGhost makes its home in Romania, it has no obligation to monitor its customers and can adhere to a no-logs policy. Customers (aka “Ghosties,” which I think is cool – they should make plush) get all kinds of extra protection with a subscription, too. There’s DNS, IP, and WebRTC leak protection, and an automatic kill switch that keeps your original IP address safe if the VPN connection drops.

💵 I’ve always been impressed by the service’s 45-day money-back guarantee, which is more than enough time to learn what CyberGhost can add to your setup. If you’re looking for more whistle-stop rides, there’s also a 24-hour free trial! Help is available 24/7 and in English, German, French and Romanian – c’est bon!

Try CyberGhost

2. Preventing DDoS Attacks

A distributed denial of service attack – also known as a DDoS attack – occurs when an IP address is completely flooded with traffic. Hackers launch DDoS attacks using botnets, usually, as they see them as requiring a large amount of traffic, and have probably heard of them being referred to as “crowd” attacks as well.

DDoS attacks are another big problem in the broadcast domains. According to Netscout, more than 10 million DDoS attacks occurred in 2020 – a record for the most attacks in a single year! As you can imagine, players are severely affected by DDoS attacks because we are all connected in one way or another, either playing together online or tuning streams, and these Bitter Betty can direct DDoS attacks to individual streaming devices to prevent them from doing their job or gaining an edge in the competition.

You might think that DDoS attacks are caused by super clever and covert hackers in caches, but the truth is that practically anyone can launch a DDoS attack if they have the right tools and resources. All they need is an IP address to target… and as I mentioned earlier, a VPN actually masks and hides your IP address! Useful, isn’t it?

Connecting to a VPN eliminates the threat of DDoS attacks, because a hacker targeting you will not be able to see your original IP address – instead, they will see the IP address of the VPN server. Of course, the server will bear the brunt of the attack if it occurs, but a lot of providers are well prepared for this possibility.

Check out NordVPN

💻 NordVPN is a household name in this day and age – and for good reason! There are more than 5,400 servers in 59 countries for you to choose from, which is great for site spoofing.

🔒 But where NordVPN really shines is in its security package. You’ll be able to deter DDoS attacks with ultra-secure AES-256 encryption, an RSA-2048 handshake, and OpenVPN encryption. If you wish, you can switch over to the IKEv2 protocol, but OpenVPN is the gold standard when it comes to staying secure on Twitch…and everywhere else!

🕴 NordVPN fully adheres to its no-logs policy and has even brought in an independent third party to review it – which is exactly what you would expect from such a premium provider. Your IP addresses and timestamps won’t be stored, NordVPN offers IPv6 and WebRTC protection, as well as obfuscated servers for people living with oppressive internet restrictions.

💵 As per the industry standards, NordVPN allows customers to make use of the service with a 30-day money-back guarantee. Help is at hand 24/7, and you can contact the support team by email or live chat, or directly through the Nord Help Center.

Try NordVPN

3. Overcome geo-restrictions

You can’t have all the games in all countries – a fact that you will realize if you have friends abroad who can access a larger group than you! Unfortunately, the same restrictions can be applied to streaming sites.

Twitch is very popular, and it allows players to stream all kinds of titles – even controversial ones. Some governments out there don’t like this. So far, only China and Russia are the two countries that have banned Twitch, but by doing so they still make the site completely unavailable to millions of people!

Some private Twitch content is subject to geo-restrictions, although it is of the licensing type, not the oppressive type. For example, Twitch Prime is available worldwide… apart from China and Russia, and some other regions where they are banned. People on these sites are missing out on all the extra goodies that come with a Twitch Prime account, and through no fault of their own!

And of course, if you’re trying to access Twitch at work or at school, you’re going to have a hard time. Network administrators like to clamp down on these “time-wasting” sites to keep you focused on test preparation or to save a bit of bandwidth.

A VPN can handle these issues with sufficient precision, all thanks to location spoofing! It’s a bit of a weird term, but all it means is that when you connect to a VPN server abroad, the sites and services you visit will think you’re actually there too! If Twitch Prime is not available in your country, all you have to do is connect to a server in UK or USA and register yourself. Network administrators at work or school will be frustrated by the VPN as well. Since the VPN encrypts your traffic and makes it unreadable, you will be able to bypass restrictions without them knowing about it.

Check out Private Internet Access

💻 If you want to overcome geo-restrictions, Private Internet Access (PIA) has covered a whopping 29,000 servers in 77 countries. That’s a totally insane amount of servers, and the service continues to expand its empire after the last boom!

🔒 PIA keeps things on track with AES-256 encryption, an RSA-4096 handshake, and a generous set of protocols. Again, I must suggest you stick with OpenVPN if you want to switch servers! I’m also happy to report that PIA has finally given PPTP the boot! You won’t find this outdated and insecure protocol in any of our PIA clients from now on – a win for security conscious everywhere!

🕴 While you don’t have to worry about records with the PIA, its US headquarters can raise some eyebrows – any gag orders submitted to the company by the government must be followed to the letter, after all. But the no-logs policy means there is no data to hand over to the government in the first place! It’s not perfect, but it does go a long way to ensuring that users value their privacy. PIA sweetens fate with IPv6 and WebRTC leak protection, obfuscating servers for people in Russia or China who want to stream like everyone else.

💵 PIA has perfect subscription prices for anyone on a budget, and you can try before you buy with a 30-day money-back guarantee. For all these burning questions, send them to the PIA Support Team, available 24/7 via live chat.

Try Private Internet Access

4. Outwit ISP throttling

ISPs aren’t big fans of anything you do on the internet that’s data-intensive – so consider streaming Netflix or playing online. And Twitch kind of combines those two things, right? If your ISP detects that you are broadcasting (or even part of the audience), it could throttle your bandwidth.

In short, bandwidth throttling occurs when your ISP gives Twitch a slower connection to save some bandwidth. Other sites you visit will be fine and unrestricted, but because Twitch can be data-hungry (and because streams can go on for hours and hours), it’s a prime target. Unfortunately, throttling can lead to slow, sluggish currents…

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