Should I Get A VPN? Yes, And Here Are 18 Reasons Why
With companies regularly monetizing your personal data and breaches occurring at a concerning pace, taking steps to maintain your online privacy is more important than ever. As a result, you may be asking yourself, “Should I get a VPN?”
The short answer: Yes.
If you care about privacy, security, or content access, a VPN provides easy to use solutions at a surprisingly affordable price.
What Is A VPN?
A VPN transmits your data via an encrypted connection, using a remote server to mask your IP address. This process prevents hackers, nosy corporations, and even your Internet provider from seeing your Internet activity, any data you send/receive, your location, and the device you’re using. Think of a VPN as a private tunnel carrying your data to its destination without anyone being able to see inside.
Normally when you send traffic from your computer, you connect to a server owned by your ISP, which is the company you pay for Internet access. Your ISP then connects you to the websites you want to reach.
A VPN allows you to bypass your ISP by creating a sort of detour. Before your data reaches your ISP server, it’s first routed through a remote server owned by your VPN and secured with military-grade encryption.
The end result? No one who’s paying attention to your Internet activity can see what you’re doing or where you’re located. Using a VPN means complete anonymity online. When you make a purchase, your credit card numbers are fully protected. If you’re sending confidential documents, no one can intercept or open them.
Even your own ISP can’t see what you’re doing. If you don’t want your personal data sold or your browsing history tracked, a VPN can make a big difference to your peace of mind.
A VPN also allows you access to websites and content from around the world. That means you can gain access to shows, movies, or sports that are available in other nations but not in your home country. Or if you travel a lot, a VPN makes it easy for you to use your favorite sites and social media, even if you’re in a country where the Internet is heavily censored.
Why Should I Get A VPN?
To be blunt, VPNs have become as crucial to cybersecurity as antivirus and malware protection. Take a look at some of the top reasons that we say yes to the question: Should I get a VPN?
1. Improve Your Internet Speed
Some ISPs are known for metering or throttling their users’ bandwidth to encourage subscribers to upgrade to a faster service. You may also suffer from slow Internet speeds because you share your Internet connection with other users — many cable and DSL services provide entire neighborhoods with a shared Internet connection.
When you have a VPN, you communicate directly with a remote server, so any bandwidth limits imposed by your ISP can’t affect you. Fast Internet speed is especially important if you game online, stream HD content, or download large files. All of the VPNs we recommend offer unlimited bandwidth and servers optimized with speed in mind.
2. Enjoy Worldwide Unrestricted Internet Access
Many countries (China, for example) block certain websites and online services. Whether travelling for business or pleasure, you may not always be able to access the sites you use regularly at home. In many countries, you can’t even log on to social media sites to see how your friends are doing while you’re away.
A VPN provides a way around this problem by providing you with hundreds – if not thousands – of remote servers to connect to. With the click of a button, you can access the Internet as if you were physically located in any country in the world.
3. Safely Access, Send, & Receive Sensitive Content
If you need to access, send, or receive sensitive content — whether it be religious, political, or personal — you may find yourself in need of some protection if you’re in a region that doesn’t respect freedom of expression.
A VPN is one of the few tools that can provide anonymity when you’re transmitting data online – no government, law agency, or other prying eyes will be able to see what you’re doing.
4. Stream Sports, Shows, & Movies From Anywhere In The World
Maybe you have a deep love for BBC programming, but you’re not in the United Kingdom. Or perhaps you want to watch a sports competition that isn’t being broadcast in your home country.
With a VPN, you can access content from anywhere in the world by connecting to a remote server in the country of your choice.
5. Safely Access Public WiFi
Free WiFi hotspots make it easy to stay connected no matter where you are — but what are you risking when you log on? Here’s a quote from an FBI staff operations specialist detailing why public WiFi connections are a risk to your security.
“It’s easy and convenient to use public Wi-Fi to access the Internet. However, this is risky, because you can’t control the security standards of a public Wi-Fi network.”
He goes on to explain why a VPN is the perfect solution to this common problem:
“There’s a great solution to this problem: Use a virtual private network, or VPN, to shield your sensitive data. A VPN creates the appearance that your data is coming from the VPN server, not from your device. Therefore, it’s harder for an attacker to identify you as the source of the data. Even if attackers can intercept your data, the encryption means the attackers can’t understand your data or use it to their advantage.”
If you’re concerned about identity theft when you use public WiFi, you’re not alone. In fact, 74% of people admit to voluntarily restricting their Internet usage when using a free hotspot. When you have a VPN, you don’t have to worry about cybercriminal poaching your sensitive information. Protecting data from spying eyes when using public WiFi is one of the most popular reasons for using a VPN.
6. Secure Your VoIP Calls
If you use VoIP to make overseas phone calls, you may have some concerns about security. And those concerns are justified, since VoIP calls are common targets for hackers.
Using a VPN while making VoIP calls solves this problem by adding a layer of military-grade encryption so you can talk to colleagues, clients, family, or friends without worry.
7. Stop Websites From Tracking You
Have you ever discussed a product on social media or in a private message, then found yourself inundated with ads about whatever you mentioned? It could be as innocent as liking a friend’s new pair of boots or discussing the latest video game. Websites are actively tracking your activity and communications, then selling that information to advertisers who target you based on your recent Internet activity.
When you use a VPN, Google and other websites can’t see who you are. That means they can’t store data on your activity, searches, private messages, or anything you do online. With a VPN, annoying and intrusive ads will be a thing of the past.
8. Encrypt Your Data
When connected to a VPN, every activity you perform online is automatically secured with military-grade 256-bit AES encryption. These encryption measures are so strong that it would take the fastest supercomputer in the world millions of years to decipher.
So even if a hacker should somehow be able to intercept your data, they’ll never be able to read it.
9. Secure Your Remote Collaboration
For most modern businesses, remote collaboration is essential. Whether that be between office locations or remote workers, any time data is transferred, there is risk involved. You’ve probably heard of Zoom meetings being hacked — something that wouldn’t have happened if those meetings had been protected by a VPN.
A VPN encrypts all of your communications, including emails, chat groups, and virtual face-to-face meetings. A VPN will also protect the data you send to the cloud. In sum, collaborative efforts become worry-free when you conduct them over a VPN.
10. Get The Best Prices On Everything
Many people don’t realize that prices for products and services can fluctuate online depending on a variety of factors, including your location and your recent web activity.
A significant purchase that features huge price differences are airline tickets — which, of course, are almost always bought online. Booking sites pay attention to your visits, tracking them with cookies. If you research flights on a site and return later or visit a competitor to make a purchase, you may find that the price has unaccountably gone up.
It’s an unethical method that leaves you with no choice but to pay more than fair market value. However, with a VPN masking your browsing history, booking sites – or any online marketplaces – won’t be able to identify you as a target.
You can also change your location to compare prices in different regions, which can often result in huge savings. A VPN gives you the access you need to always find the best price, no matter what you’re shopping for online.
11. Guarantee Your Privacy & Anonymity
Even if everything you do on the Internet is legal, many people don’t like the idea of someone being able to see their web activity. It may make you feel uneasy knowing how many companies and government agencies are able to see everything you do online, down to the most minute actions.
A VPN, with its powerful encryption, gives you the peace of mind that absolutely nobody can see what you do online. Whether you’re browsing the Internet in your home or on a crowded subway, you have the right to keep your data and activity private.
12. Stop Your ISP From Selling Your Data
In 2017, Congress gave ISPs permission to sell the personal data of their customers. While the data is anonymized, many people are uncomfortable with the idea that the ISP they pay money to every month is making even more money by selling their private data. It’s particularly concerning because your ISP has access to everything you do online — even while browsing in incognito mode.
A VPN prevents your ISP from tracking your Internet activity. If your ISP can’t see your data, it can’t sell it to third parties who don’t necessarily have your best interests in mind.
13. Protect Your Mobile Devices
Many people are more concerned about the security of their smartphones and other mobile devices than that of their home computers. After all, you’re subject to the security (or lack thereof) of every WiFi network you connect to. In addition, some people may have concerns about government intelligence or law enforcement agencies accessing their smartphone data.
Every VPN we recommend has user friendly apps for nearly every mobile device, keeping you protected no matter how you choose to use the Internet.
14. Torrent Content Safely & Anonymously
If you torrent, you may find yourself stymied by your ISP or the victim of an illegitimate copyright lawsuit. Many ISPs don’t support torrenting at all and it’s all too easy to trigger surveillance by copyright organizations.
To stay safe when you torrent, it’s recommended to always use a VPN. You’ll also be protected while using a shared P2P network, where other users will be able to view your IP address.
15. Anonymously Conduct Sensitive Research
Maybe you want to check out a competitor’s website in detail, but you don’t want to be tracked or leave behind any signs that you were there. You might also have to do research that a government (foreign or your own) would disapprove of. All sorts of research might require you to protect your identity.
A VPN will keep your competitors from realizing that you’re checking them out by making your IP address anonymous.
16. Secure Your Home Office
If you work from home, your employer may be concerned about what kind of cybersecurity setup you have. After all, when you’re accessing your company’s internal networks, you could potentially be putting their proprietary data and information at risk.
For that reason, many employers require you to use a VPN before they’ll approve you for remote work. With a VPN, you can access your company’s data safely no matter where you are.
17. Safely Send Or Receive Money
Transferring money via the Internet involves personal information, including banking passwords and credit card numbers. Finding a way to protect this personal data is vital.
Using a VPN is one of the only ways to send or receive money without revealing any personal identifying information.
18. Get Around Workplace, School, Or Other Internet Restrictions
Libraries, schools, and even your employer may keep you from accessing certain sites while connected to their network. For example, some employers may restrict social media sites in an attempt to maximize productivity.
Using a VPN gives you the ability to access the Internet however you see fit.
How Do I Choose A VPN?
Now that we’ve answered “Should I get a VPN?”, the next logical question is, “How do I choose a VPN?”
Much of your choice will depend on your specific needs, which may include any of the points we discussed above, or even some we didn’t mention. Before comparing VPN providers, it’s important that you understand what you will be using a VPN for.
With your own needs in mind, here are a few factors that we consider to be the most important when selecting a VPN provider:
What Encryption Protocols Do They Offer?
The encryption protocol plays a large factor in how a VPN protects your data. The most common include OpenVPN and L2TP/IPsec. You might need L2TP/IPsec for certain use cases, but in general, OpenVPN is your best choice. It’s the most recent protocol and is compatible with a wide range of operating systems.
Do They Have A Large Server Network?
The number of servers a VPN offers and their locations is important for several reasons. More servers means the VPN can support more users without their network slowing down. More locations means you can access the web from different places in the world.
These factors particularly matter if you’re hoping to stream content from multiple countries. It’s also crucial if you need to avoid censorship or other Internet restrictions in your region.
Do They Protect Multiple Devices At Once?
The average consumer uses about three devices to connect to the Internet. The average household, many more.
If possible, you’ll want your VPN to protect all of the devices you use with a single account. We tend to recommend VPN providers that protect at least five devices at once.
Do They Offer Good Speeds And Unlimited Bandwidth?
If you intend to use your VPN to stream, game, or download large files, speed is imperative. And you should never have to sacrifice security for speed.
You’ll always want to make sure the VPN you choose offers unlimited bandwidth to its users and high download speeds. We recommend taking advantage of free trials and refund periods to ensure you can get good speeds in your area.
What Payment Methods Do They Accept?
In most cases, your choice of payment method is purely a matter of convenience. However, some people don’t want to share their identity with a VPN provider.
If you fall into that category, you’ll want to look for a VPN that accepts anonymous payment methods, such as cryptocurrency or gift cards.
Do They Have A Kill Switch?
If your VPN connection fails, a kill switch will terminate your Internet connection so that you don’t go unprotected for even a minute. Downtime among the top VPN is extremely rare – and usually only lasts for a few seconds – but a kill switch is a necessary precaution to ensure your data is never exposed.
Do They Log User Data?
Some VPNs (none of the ones we recommend) log data about their users. If you have any legal concerns about your Internet traffic, that means law enforcement agencies can still get access to your history and data.
Make sure you understand whether the VPN provider you’re considering logs user data. Always read the terms of service to identify the logging policy, as some VPN providers that do log data claim in advertising that they don’t.
Should I Get A Free VPN?
We almost never recommend using a free VPN. Remember, if something’s free, you’re not the customer — you’re the product. Free VPN providers have to make money to keep operating, and they often do so by selling your data. Having your privacy compromised by your VPN provider defeats the purpose of using a VPN in the first place.
In our comparisons of over 1,000 VPN providers, we found that free VPNs:
- don’t offer the most current or secure protocols
- don’t offer the highest bandwidth and connection speeds
- do have a higher disconnection rate
- don’t have as many servers in as many countries globally
- don’t offer customer support
Besides, most premium VPNs have plans for around $5/month. Staying safe online doesn’t have to be expensive.
Should I Get A VPN? Yes!
In a world filled with inherently risky WiFi networks and data mining companies exposed to breaches, VPNs are an essential component of an effective cybersecurity suite. So when you ask, “Should I get a VPN?” the answer is simple. VPNs are affordable, easy to use, and provide solutions to a huge number of use cases. There isn’t a reason that you shouldn’t be protecting yourself with a VPN.
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