A virtual private network (VPN), can help keep your information protected online, to help maintain your privacy.
This easy guide will help you decide if you need a VPN.
- VPN Pros & Cons
- What is a VPN and why do I need it?
- What a VPN can’t do
- Do I need a VPN on every device?
- Is there a downside to using a VPN?
- Which VPN should I use?
- How do I get a VPN?
What is a VPN and why do I need it?
A VPN (virtual private network) is a piece of software that can be turned on to create an encrypted tunnel between your device and a remote server operated by a VPN service.
Your internet traffic is routed through this tunnel, to keep your data secure. Your real IP address is kept hidden, masking your identity and location.
If you’re wondering, “do I need a VPN?” we also recommend using one for browsing the internet, as they’re simple to use and help keep you safe online.
You would most likely need a VPN if you’re accessing data in a public place, or you’re concerned about internet privacy and cyber security.
VPN: Pros & Cons
Here’s a quick summary to help answer the question, do I need a VPN?
When to use a VPN
If you’re asking the question, do I need a VPN? Here’s some examples of when using a VPN is helpful.
Public Wi-Fi network
If you log onto wifi at a coffee shop or airport without a second thought, you not be aware of who might be watching the traffic on that network. It’s difficult to tell if the wifi network is legitimate, or poses a security risk.
If you connect to that same Wi-Fi network using a VPN, your VPN will keep your online activity safe and private, so no one will be able to see what you’re doing.
Remember, public wifi networks can be unsafe. Just because it’s called Heathrow_WiFi doesn’t mean it’s really owned by the airport.
Browsing at home
Cyber security risks at home are smaller, as you own the network hardware. But a VPN can be useful at home too.
Your internet service provider (ISP) can see what you do online, and in the USA, your ISP can sell anonymous data about its customers!
By using a VPN, you can keep your browsing activity private so your interneet provider can’t see what you’re doing and potentially sell that data on!
Compare VPN prices & features.
If you’re working, studying or traveling abroad, you may find it difficult to access subscription services at home, such as Netflix or Amazon Prime.
With a VPN, you can connect to a server in a different country. So you can essentially ‘trick’ the subscription service into thinking you’re back at home in the UK watching Netflix instead of abroad.
Again, because VPNs encrypt your web traffic, they help protect your identity when connecting to the open internet.
That said, some governments are wise to this, which is why VPN use is being blocked in Russia and China.
A VPN is also no guarantee of total privacy protection, particularly against states or police services with huge cyber resources. However, to answer the question “do I need a VPN for traveling abroad?” YES! It’s defintely worth it for keeping you safe online.
What a VPN Can’t Do
Whilst a VPN is an effective way of protecting your privacy online, the honest truth is, is someone is targeting you specifically and a havee the right amount of skill and resources, they will still be able to access your information.
A VPN can be defeated by malware on your device.
Because of this, we always recommend installing a strong antivirus software onto your devices to add an extra layer of protection.
A VPN cannot stop things like cookies, which eenable a company to track your internet usage even after you’ve visited their site.
It’s worth noting that most VPN services are not philanthropic organisations that operate for the public’s best interests. They are commercial organisations.
There can be data breaches, or privacy issues that arise. VPNs also only do so much to anonymize your online activities.
While VPNs are useful, they won’t protect you from every threat. Hence why we strongly recommend installing antivirus software, switching on two-factor authentication wherever it’s available, and using a password manager to create effective logins.
Do I need a VPN on every device?
We recommend you use a VPN for every device you use to browse the internet.
You will also need to install a VPN ‘client’ (app) on each device you want to connect to the VPN.
Choosing a VPN for mobile devices can be trickier, due to the different operating systems, such as Android and iOS.
Our VPN comparison page will show you which VPNs work on certain mobile devices.
Is there a downside to using a VPN?
There are some drawbacks to consider before answering the question, ‘do I need a VPN’.
Some websites or subscription services consider VPN traffic suspicious and won’t let you connect. That can be a real, especially if it’s your bank that blocks you.
You can try a different server location to resolve the problem, or you may have to disconnect the VPN to use that particular site. There can be connectivity issues with Chromecast and other streaming systems that send data over your local network.
The same goes for printers or other devices on your network. Those machines are trying to connect to devices on the same wifi network, not from a remote VPN server.
However, some VPNs have options to allow local network traffic to solve this problem. Some streaming services such as Netflix may not allow you to connect using your VPN, so you may have to change the server location several times.
Another drawback of VPNs is speed. It can slow down your uploads or downloads.
Therefore we recommend checking out a VPN provider that offers a fast connection speed, like the top 7 on this list.
Which VPN Should I Use?
There dozens of different VPNs available, some better than others. Whilst some VPN providers offer monthly plans suitable for personal user, some VPNs for work are better suited to business users.
Some antivirus software providers include a VPN in some of their internet security products, which offer a cost effective way to not only protect your privacy, but also protect your device from other security threats.
How do I get a VPN?
The easiest way to get a VPN is to use our free VPN comparison tool.
You can find the best VPN for you in seconds, as well as comparing features and prices.
Once you’ve found the VPN provider you want to use, simply click-through to make the purchase with the VPN provider.
Looking for a VPN quick download? Check out SurfShark for a cost-effective service you can cancel at anytime.