Whether at home, at the office, or on the move, it's hard to find a single moment when we are not connected to the Internet.
A reliable VPN (virtual private network) can help ensure that your online experience is private and secure, but it can also offer other benefits you may not have even realized you needed.
Like most things in life, however, there are advantages and disadvantages to a VPN.
Keep reading to learn more about the pros and cons of a VPN, and whether its benefits outweigh its drawbacks.
VPN Pros And Cons
Advantages of a VPN
1. Bypass firewalls, geo-blocks and change your IP address
As you have probably noticed, websites sometimes restrict your access from certain locations.
This is mostly done because of content distribution laws, which only permit distributors to offer their streaming services to specified regions.
If you try to access one of these websites from a restricted location, the site - using geo-tracking technology - will block you from accessing its services.
Because your real IP address reveals your location, services can easily see that you are in a region where their content is not allowed.
With a VPN, you can connect to a remote server in the location you need to be in, giving you an IP address that reflects the server location - not your location.
This way, a website that is looking to block any foreign IP address that comes its way will have no reason to block you.
2. Secures your personal data
Online, information is constantly being sent from place to place - your username and passwords, bank details, and other private information.
If you are not using a VPN when surfing the web, there is no way to know who has gotten ahold of your private data - including hackers, government officials, or third parties.
A VPN sends all of your Internet traffic through an encrypted tunnel so that if someone gets their hands on your information, it will be totally indecipherable.
This is especially vital when using public Wi-Fi or unsecured networks.
3. Privacy and anonymity
Nowadays, there is really no such thing as privacy online.
The government, business, and your ISP are constantly getting ahold of your data, selling it to vendors and third parties, and, sometimes, stealing your private identifying info.
If you use a VPN, your online presence is completely private.
Your traffic is encrypted, and none of your activity is ever logged, so you can search whatever you please knowing you are completely hidden from your ISP, or anyone else.
4. Protection in censored, authoritarian countries
If you travel to a country with strict censorship laws and minimal Internet freedom, you may be putting yourself at risk for serious consequences online.
A reputable VPN service has military-grade encryption and a no-logs policy, which ensure that all of your activity is encrypted, and can never be traced back to you.
And what happens if you are in these countries when your VPN client suddenly disconnects, or your DNS is leaking?
Reputable VPNs have a kill switch that will cut your Internet in the event that your VPN drops its connection, so you will never be exposed and never be left surfing the web without adequate privacy and security.
5. Prevents bandwidth throttling
Many ISPs are known to put caps on your usage when they see that they are using activities that require a lot of data, like streaming, gaming, or torrenting; or when you are using the web at popular times where their servers may be crowded.
This process of throttling slows down your connection speed and significantly affects your online experience.
When you use a VPN, your activity is all private and encrypted, so ISPs can't see you gaming, streaming, or torrenting, and can't get away with bandwidth throttling.
6. Better online gaming experience
Aside from letting you access geo-blocked games, and game without being throttled by your Internet service provider, using a VPN while gaming can also protect you from IP bans and DDoS attacks.
In addition, if you are trying to access blocked content, your VPN can help you get access to these blocked games.
7. Save money on online purchases
You may be utilizing a VPN to access content in all different parts of the world, but you can also use it access deals, sales, and free media all around the globe.
If you test out your connection to different servers in different countries, you will find that you can access the same sites from many different regions, and that the prices are actually different depending on your server origin.
This gives you the choice to find the very best prices around and, for example, buy cheaper flight tickets!
Disadvantages of a VPN
1. It can make your connection slower
When you are using a VPN, your traffic is being sent through one of its remote VPN servers and encrypted.
Unfortunately, this extra ecnryption process can slow down your Internet connection.
The top VPN providers have very good speeds to start with, so, although there is a small drop in speed with a VPN, it will not affect your online experience, and you may not even notice it at all.
2. Some VPNs are pricy
No one likes to spend money, but, the few dollars that it costs for a VPN service can save you much more money in potential damage if you are the victim of a cyber-attack or scam.
If you are willing to shell out a few bucks for a small coffee that will last 5 minutes, what's a few bucks for Internet security that will last a whole month??
3. Free VPNs are usually not secure
Free VPNs often have the opposite effect from their intended benefit.
Because they do not charge subscription fees, they make money off of users in a different way - often by selling user data to third parties, or allowing ads and malware to bombard your device.
Free services are often completely ineffective at unblocking your content.
They tend to have fewer servers, many of which become crowded, which makes streaming spotty and full of buffering.
In addition, these free VPNs are usually the first ones to be blocked by streaming sites.
4. Some VPNs are hard to configure
If you are new to VPNs, all of the VPN and proxy lingoes may sound like an entirely different language.
Some of the VPNs out there are actually pretty complicated to configure, and users wind up guessing which protocol to use, or which settings to switch on or off.
Thankfully, the top VPNs are pretty user-friendly, so you won't have to take a computer science course before signing on to your VPN service.
5. Won’t protect you from data collection if you gave consent
If you are utilizing a VPN, but not using common sense, you can still wind up in trouble.
If you've been on the Facebook website, you are probably aware of how much data people share voluntarily.
All of the data we share voluntarily gives people an in to get more data about us.
A VPN can't hide information that you're sharing willingly, and it can't protect you if you are making unsafe choices online.
Common sense, plus a VPN is the best combination.
Is a VPN Worth it?
There are advantages and disadvantages to using VPN services, but, in most cases, the VPN advantages certainly overshadow the disadvantages.
That being said, it is important to realize that not all VPN companies are reputable, and not all VPN services will be safe and effective.
Here is a list of some important criteria to pay attention to when choosing the best VPN provider:
- Security: It is vital that you make sure that your VPN of choice has strong security, including AES 256-bit encryption, and a kill switch feature that will keep you protected even if your VPN connection drops.
- Privacy: All reputable VPN services on the market have no-logs policies, so you can be sure your activity and data are never stored.
- Customer Support: The top VPNs offer 24/7 live-chat customer service so the VPN user can get a quick solution to any troubleshooting questions that may arise.
- Server Network: It is vital to make sure that the VPN server infrastructure is adequate, offering users a sufficient choice of servers and IP addresses.
- Compatibility: Does your VPN work with any device you use? Are the VPN apps compatible with a range of devices? How many devices can you connect to one VPN account?
While there are both pros and cons to using VPN services, the verdict is pretty clear: The VPN advantages certainly outweigh the VPN cons.
A reputable VPN provider should always be a part of your routine when accessing websites, maintaining your privacy and security online, and trying to keep your online activities hidden from your Internet Service Providers.
Browse safely with SwitchVPN!