The Internet offers endless opportunities to explore – from getting information to finding things to keep you entertained and everything in between. But the World Wide Web is less secure than you might have thought. Things like cyber attackers, viruses, and malware are creeping in the dark that may steal your personal information, drain your bank account, etc. This is where a good quality VPN comes to your rescue, and it watches your back while you are exploring the wild, wild west of the Internet. All you need to do is download a VPN of your choice, sign up, and follow the rest of the instructions to set it up and enjoy surfing the web.
This article discusses the advantages and disadvantages of using a VPN.
Benefits of a VPN
Did you know your online data travels long distances passing through different servers while browsing the Internet? Well, now you do.
This data includes your personal information like financial details, passwords, private messages, etc. If this data is not encrypted, it might be intercepted and accessed by third parties like cybercriminals, the government, or your ISP. These third parties may use your private data against you.
If you use unsecured public Wi-Fi, the risk of your personal information falling into the wrong hands is especially high.
VPNs help to keep your data secure. They encrypt the Internet traffic so nobody can view or access what you are doing online. Most premium VPN providers use cutting-edge encryption algorithms to keep users safe online. Some of them might even help you identify malware-laden websites and block ad trackers.
Ensures anonymity and gives access to geo-blocked content
IP addresses are used to track the identity and location of the user. Whenever you visit a site, the site provider can track down your IP address and use it to create targeted ads. When you use a VPN, your data will be routed through a VPN server that has its own IP address. Therefore, the websites you interact with will not be able to view your actual IP address but the VPN’s IP address. This ensures anonymity, and you can surf the web anonymously.
Furthermore, VPNs help users bypass firewalls and access geo-blocked content. Thanks to the feature of changing IP addresses, VPNs let users access websites outside of their country that might be otherwise restricted.
Changing your IP will also help you watch or stream content online that is unavailable in your country or avoid pricing discrimination when shopping online. Sometimes, the prices in online stores depend on the country you are in. Hence, changing the IP will fetch you better deals.
Protects online privacy
Whatever you do online can be traced back to you. It also tells a lot about your online behavior and habits. Even surfing in Incognito mode, your data isn’t secure. Several entities and third parties can quickly get your data and use it against you.
For instance, the threat might come from your ISP itself. Often, ISPs snoop on their customers’ data to pass it to government officials or other third parties for ad targeting and marketing purposes. A VPN is the best solution to mitigate this issue and encrypt your Internet traffic. This way, no one will know what you are doing online, and you can enjoy your privacy.
Enhanced online gaming experience
A VPN is your best friend if you want to increase your gaming experience. VPNs protect networks from DDoS attacks and prevent unfair IP bans. It also allows you to play games that might be banned or unavailable in your country.
Drawbacks of VPN
Banned in certain countries
VPNs are heavily restricted or banned in certain countries. This means you cannot use VPNs in those countries to enjoy any of the benefits mentioned above. For instance, India and Russia approve VPN providers if they agree to log user data and give it to the government upon request.
In North Korea, Turkmenistan, Iraq, and Belarus, VPNs are banned, and if you make any attempts to use one, you may have to pay hefty fines or serve jail time.
However, VPNs are allowed in a majority of countries. You just have to check the laws and regulations when traveling.
Slow Internet connection speeds
Since VPN or virtual private network is a virtual connection inside a physical network, you may experience a slowdown in connection speeds. This is because VPN takes resources from the Internet and limits how fast the connection will be through the VPN.
However, this is becoming less of an issue nowadays because VPN services are improving each day. Moreover, most premium VPN providers ensure minimal loss of connection speeds.
Doesn’t protect from voluntary data collection
If you voluntarily give your data to Facebook, Google, or other data collectors, VPNs won’t be able to protect you. Also, VPNs cannot protect you from unsafe online behavior. You must exercise common sense to ensure your safety.
Most popular operating systems and devices are compatible with VPNs, but some exceptions exist. For instance, you may need help finding a VPN service for your smart home devices or gaming consoles. Although this is put down as one of the drawbacks, it is not a huge issue that cannot be solved. Instead, you can configure the home router to receive and send data through a VPN. Then, all the devices connected to your home network will be protected.
The benefits clearly have an edge over the drawbacks of VPNs. Since protecting your private data and privacy online is essential, you cannot ignore VPNs. They encrypt traffic, prevent third parties from snooping, offer access to geo-blocked content, and protect you while browsing the web.