Do Streamers Use VPNs? Do You Even Need One?

Many streamers use VPNs to protect their online privacy, boost performance, and protect themselves from SWATting. Some even use VPNs to access geo-restricted streaming platforms and games.

With so much at stake, it’s essential to use the best streaming VPN – NordVPN.

The only other streaming VPNs close to comparison for speed, performance, and security are Surfshark and ExpressVPN.

Keep reading for in-depth discussions on the top 5 reasons streamers use VPNs!

Top 5 Reasons Streamers Use VPNs

Streamers are typically gamers with many of the same concerns.

However, there’s a lot more at stake, mainly because they’re sharing content in real-time with viewers.

If you’re a streamer, you’re at risk of:

  • IP Leaks
  • DDoS/Swarming Attacks
  • Geo-Restrictions
  • Unstable Connections
  • SWATting

IP Leak Protection

3 impostors among us

IP leaks happen when your IP address becomes visible.

You implicitly (and sometimes explicitly) permit websites to see your IP address.

But you don’t offer the same rights to hackers, who also use your IP to determine your ISP and approximate location.

Worse, they can also use it to pinpoint your exact location, especially if they use your IP address to gain access to your device through your browser.

All they need to do is cross-reference your IP’s location data with other information being handled through or even stored on your browser.

Think of it like an “Impostor” in the game Among Us.

They use the admin table to see where other players are on the map and then use the vents to get in and out for a quick kill. This is what an IP leak is like (minus the killing).

No matter how large or small your following is, streamers make incredibly tempting targets for hackers.

A VPN offers a front-line of defense against IP leaks. When you connect to a VPN server, websites and other parties can only see that server’s IP address, not yours.

As an added layer, a quality VPN also uses DNS leak protection and an automatic kill switch. They should also have a strict no-logs policy!

Preventing DDoS Attacks (Swarming Attacks)

swarming attacks – are especially popular in eSport

DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks – AKA swarming attacks – are especially popular in eSports.

What happens is the target’s IP address becomes overwhelmed by a swarm of requests.

There’s a reason I chose a shot from the Resident Evil game for this section: attackers will use a botnet or “zombie network” to DDoS you.

This is a distributed network of malware-infected computers in the attacker’s control. The goal is to quickly reach and even exceed the IP address’s network capacity. When this happens, the network can no longer function properly.

First, your ping rate skyrockets, and your lag becomes unbearable.

Then your connection is dropped altogether – usually because your ISP or the game’s servers cut you off due to the high number of requests made by your IP address.

As you can imagine, when it comes to eSports, this is usually because another team – or its fanbase – wants to hurt your chances of qualifying or winning.

For streamers, it’s usually sore losers or someone else who feels powerless in real life and is trying to compensate by taking out a big player.

Of course, before someone can launch a DDoS attack against you, they need your IP address.

If you’re using a streaming VPN, they can only target the VPN server – because that’s the IP they’ll see. And any quality VPN will be well-equipped to handle DDoS attacks without its users being affected!

Getting Past Geo-Restrictions

Pass geo-restrictions

In many games (like Dragon Age: Inquisition), you unlock new areas as you level up and complete missions. But in real life, your location causes some games – or even platforms – to be locked against you.

Many countries ban certain games (or heavily censor their content). Sometimes it’s the other way around, with game publishers blocking players from certain countries.

Other times, it isn’t the game that’s restricted, but the streaming platform. Twitch is a common example, with countries like China and Russia preventing their citizens from accessing the platform to view or stream content.

If you want to stream your gameplay for a popular game or on a platform blocked in your country, then streaming VPN is the ideal solution.

The best VPNs have servers around the world. This means you can unlock that content or platform by connecting to a VPN server in a country where it’s available.

A few other reasons streamers use VPNs to obfuscate their geolocation include:

  • Joining a multiplayer lobby (often to collaborate with other streamers) hosted in a different region
  • To stream early-access gameplay for a game that hasn’t been released in their country yet

How Do Streamers Get SWATted?

busted

One moment you’re streaming GTA V and showing your viewers how to pass a difficult mission. The next, your door is kicked in, and you’re “busted.”

It isn’t because you were performing a simulated heist or hijacking in the game. It’s because you got SWATted.

How does this happen?

The first step is your home address being leaked. Sometimes it’s thanks to your real IP address being leaked and used to get an approximate location, which is narrowed down using other information you’ve shared online (usually on social media).

In some cases, it’s because you accidentally showed your address while streaming.

It could be a delivery address on a package you’re unboxing on camera. Or, if you’ve ever streamed yourself while out and about, a good look at your home’s exterior is enough to find your address using Google Maps Street View.

Armed with this information, the prankster sends a credible threat to your local police. Usually, it’s a bomb threat or hostage situation. Your address is given as the location.

The authorities have to act as if it’s a credible threat. So the SWAT team suits up, arms themselves, and packs into a van. When they arrive at your house, they typically force entry, hold everyone at gunpoint, and search the property.

In the best-case scenario, the fact you were SWATted is quickly established, and they start investigating the call’s origins. Worst case scenario, you or someone in your household is killed.

Unfortunately, using a streaming VPN can only protect you from your IP address being used against you. It’s still up to you to ensure viewers with a sick sense of humor and sore losers looking for revenge can’t discover your address online.

How to Stream Securely Without Losing Speed?

another game

This is a cheap shot because the glitches are primarily due to impatient players forcing the developers to release the game before it was ready… but Cyberpunk 2077 is infamous for being a buggy game.

But no matter the game, gamers know the frustration of speed issues and an unstable connection causing lag during gameplay. And because you’re not simply running the game – but also broadcasting your gameplay live – the issues are compounded for streamers.

Both activities require a high-quality, stable connection with low latency.

The bad news is, by routing your online traffic through another server (belonging to the VPN), you’re likely to experience additional latency.

The good news is your connection will be more stable because VPN servers provide more reliable connections. Plus, you avoid bandwidth throttling, which happens when your ISP cripples your bandwidth.

This means you stand a good chance of actually improving your speed and streaming quality with a good streaming VPN.

If you’re still concerned that using a VPN will cause your quality or speed to suffer, use your VPN’s split tunneling feature. This allows you to run the game on your regular connection while streaming through your VPN.

The Best VPN for Streamers

To help you focus on streaming and getting more viewers, I’ve done the heavy lifting for you by testing different streaming VPNs to find the best options for streamers.

Focusing on the features that matter most to you, here’s how the three best VPNs for streamers compare!

NordVPNSurfsharkExpressVPN
Upload Speed31.66 Mbps32.45 Mbps33.20 Mbps
Servers5,447 VPN servers in 59 countries worldwide3,200+ VPN servers in 65 countries worldwide3,000+ VPN servers in 94 countries worldwide
IP and DNS Leak ProtectionYes, with additional obfuscation features availableYes, with additional obfuscation features availableYes, with additional obfuscation features available
Split TunnelingYesYesYes
No Logs PolicyProven through independent auditsProven through independent auditsProven through independent audits
Unlock DiscountUnlock DiscountUnlock Discount

Choosing between them is a close call for me.

However, although my connection was slower than with Surfshark and ExpressVPN, my recommendation for streamers is NordVPN.

This is because, in a head-to-head competition, NordVPN has the best security features.

This includes a proprietary VPN protocol called NordLynx, which is based on the open-source project WireGuard. NordLynx was explicitly developed to take advantage of WireGuard’s best features (like being faster than OpenVPN) while also overcoming its vulnerabilities.

You can also take advantage of NordPass, an encrypted password manager that stores your credit card information. This means you aren’t only protecting your passwords for logging into games and your favorite streaming platform – you’re also protecting your payment information when paying for new games.

The CyberSec feature also protects you from malware by blocking malicious websites, while its AdBlocking function prevents ads from taking up bandwidth that should be dedicated to gaming and streaming.

FAQ

Do streamers use a VPN?

Many streamers use a VPN to protect their online privacy, boost performance, and protect themselves from online attacks. Some also use a VPN to access geo-restricted streaming platforms and games.

Does using a VPN affect streaming?

Using a VPN can affect streaming by causing some latency because the data needs to pass through an extra server. But it will also create a more stable connection and protect you from bandwidth throttling, so it improves streaming quality and speed.

Are there any drawbacks to using a free VPN for your streaming?

There are many drawbacks to using a free VPN for your streaming. Free VPNs usually have more inadequate security and fewer features than a premium VPN. They also impose strict limits on VPN server locations and your bandwidth.

Is it illegal to use Twitch with a VPN?

No, it isn’t illegal to use Twitch with a VPN unless Twitch or VPNs are banned by your government, in which case you should take care to use robust VPN obfuscation methods.

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re just starting or already have a large fanbase, there are many reasons to use a reliable VPN as a streamer.

NordVPN ticks all the right boxes as the best VPN for streamers, from protecting your online privacy to boosting performance.

You can even use this link to unlock a special discount!

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