10 Benefits of a VPN - Why You Need a Virtual Private Network
A recent study by pewresearch.org shows that six in 10 Americans believe companies or the government is tracking their online activities. In a bid to improve online security, tech giants like Apple, Google, and Facebook have introduced new measures for using personal information online. For instance, Google recently outlined plans to disable tracking technology in its Chrome web browser. Apple also has a new pop-up window for iPhones that asks people for their permission to be tracked by different apps.
With these increasing conversations around safety and privacy on the internet, it’s no surprise that virtual private networks (VPNs) have become popular. Initially, they were used to connect business networks securely over the internet or allow you to access a business network from home. However, in recent years, VPNs have become one of the most effective ways to protect your connection to several networks over the internet.
If you’re wondering how a virtual private network can help you, we will discuss several benefits of a VPN below:
Increased Security on Public Internet Connections
Public internet connections may be free, but they pose many risks for users’ online privacy. Even using a local coffee shop’s Wi-Fi to browse the web and update your social media can be a hazardous activity without a VPN.
First, your browsing is unencrypted, and malware from one laptop in the coffee shop could find its way to your device via the router. In some cases, the free Wi-Fi could be a fake internet connection masking a phishing scam to steal your data.
A study by the Securelist states that nearly a quarter of the world’s public Wi-Fi networks don’t use any type of encryption. Whenever you connect to the internet via a non-encrypted public network, it’s easy for hackers to access your sensitive information like your personal data, financial information, and passwords.
Cybercriminals can bridge your connection with the servers and become an intermediary between you and the connection point. With this setup, they can collect your information and access your systems as if they were you. A public internet connection also makes it easy for hackers to plant malware on your computer.
If you must use public internet connections, it’s a good idea to get a VPN router on your device, whether your smartphone, laptop/PC, or both. A VPN routes your IP address through a specially configured remote server run by a VPN host. This establishes a secure connection so that you can access apps and websites with reduced risks. Your data and location also stay encrypted, and your IP address remains safe.
You Can Remain Anonymous With a VPN
A VPN can help you to browse the internet “anonymously” and keep your online activities private. Once you activate the virtual private network on your device, it creates an encrypted internet connection between your device and a VPN server in your preferred location. This means that your online data becomes indecipherable, even if someone manages to get hold of it.
A VPN service will allow you to browse the internet without being traced easily, whether you’re downloading files, uploading private information, or just surfing through social media.
It also allows you to skip any geographical restrictions on your IP address. For example, streaming services like Netflix and Spotify might limit the content you have access to in specific locations. However, with a good VPN, you can bypass these restrictions and enjoy your viewing.
Avoid Data and Bandwidth Throttling
Have you noticed that after browsing for some time, your internet speed suddenly slows down? You might be experiencing data or bandwidth throttling.
Specifically, data throttling happens when you exceed your data limit, and your internet service provider (ISP) then decides to slow your service down. This is different from data deprioritization, where your service provider slows down your data speed to favor others on the same network. In the same way, bandwidth throttling happens when your service provider intentionally slows down your internet speed due to the types of sites you visit or your other online activities.
For example, let’s say you subscribed for a 5GB prepaid monthly plan on Verizon. After exhausting this plan, the speed of your data might get throttled to 128 kbps. This is about twice as fast as 2G, but not as fast as 3G. While there’s still plenty of debate about data throttling and its legality, one thing is clear; it happens often, but you can do something about it.
A VPN is able to help you avoid data and bandwidth throttling. Recall that a VPN connection hides your IP address and encrypts the traffic coming from your device. This means that your service provider cannot track your activities to know the sites you’ve visited or how much data goes to and from your device. Since they cannot track your data transmissions, it becomes harder for your ISP to throttle your data or bandwidth.
With a VPN, You Can Reduce Support Costs
According to Tech Path, managed IT services for an individual costs anything between $99 and $199 depending on the complexity of the IT environment and required level of support. If you run a small business, you can expect to pay $2,000 to $5,000 every month for round-the-clock support, including protecting your data, workstations, and information systems. In this case, your service provider builds in the costs of managing an on-site setup, including hiring a dedicated internal staff to oversee the infrastructure.
Meanwhile, you can get a cloud-based VPN subscription for anything from $16 per user every month, depending on the service provider. Most VPN service providers have money-back guarantees on their plans.
Naturally, your next question should be, “how do VPN providers manage to take a huge chunk off individual support costs?” Simply put, VPN services incur lower costs on managing and maintaining data infrastructure.
With a VPN, all upkeep falls under the purview of the service provider. Their IT expenditure is supported by many paying clients, making their cost per client relatively low. These savings get passed on to you in the form of lower fees than what you would pay to have a dedicated team manage your infrastructure.
Your File Sharing Is Protected
While file-sharing might be a convenient method of transferring information in the workplace, it poses many risks, especially if you use a public network connection. These days, many enterprise companies are in the middle of a “file-sharing” crisis with sensitive and regulated data leaving their networks at a staggering rate.
According to a 2019 report by the United States Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, file-sharing applications are often used by hackers to transmit malicious codes and viruses. In addition, peer-to-peer file sharing applications may expose your sensitive or personal information, giving access to unauthorized parties.
A virtual private network can protect your file sharing using a unique protocol by encrypting your network and shielding your online activities. This means you can share files over extended periods without having to worry about the data being stolen or exposed.
In some cases, the VPN can encrypt all of your information so that no one can decode it even if they manage to breach your network. Most VPNs use encryption technologies like IP security (IPSec), Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP)/IPSec, and Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), and Transport Layer Security (TLS), to create a virtual encrypted “tunnel” between your device and a VPN server.
A VPN Can Help You Bypass Firewalls and Geo-blocking
While firewalls are set up to protect websites from malicious individuals, they also prevent normal people from browsing the internet freely. Luckily, a strong VPN can help you get around a firewall and have free access to websites.
The encryption used by nearly every VPN has a tunneling protocol that masks the traffic transferred over the connection. This gets it past many of the firewalls in use today. Many firewalls are IP-based and target the IP addresses of specific geolocations.
By masking your IP, you can prevent the firewall from attributing your internet traffic to your address. All you would need to do is make it so that you are using the internet in a country that the firewall doesn’t affect, and you’re set. When activated, a virtual private network can hide all your online activities and encrypt your data.
A VPN Can Offer Increased Savings for Businesses
More than privacy and encryption, a VPN can have a positive impact on your business’ finances. If your business relies on phone calls significantly, using a VPN might be a great way to cut costs and reduce long-distance phone charges. It also means that you can choose not to rent expensive network capacity lines.
Bypass Renting Expensive Network Capacity Lines
Instead of investing in expensive network capacity lines for office-to-office connections, you can connect via public infrastructure through cheaper local leased lines or broadband connections through a local ISP.
A VPN also allows for faster connectivity and also supports unlimited bandwidth usage. You wouldn’t have to deal with monthly quota restrictions or bandwidth throttling. The confidentiality of your data is also protected as it flows between your offices, data centers, and authorized remote users.
A VPN May Be Able to Reduce Long-Distance Phone Charges
A VPN may be able to reduce long-distance phone charges. For example, instead of connecting via remote access servers and dial-up networks to access a company’s intranet, you could connect to your local ISP access point. This allows you to use local ISP access points to access your company’s intranet instead of remote access servers and a dial-up connection.
Most of the apps you use on your phone can compromise your personal data. For example, Facebook has come under a lot of fire following how they’ve used their users’ data. Recall the Cambridge Analytica story in which data was used to manipulate voters, and enable cyberbullying and “doxxing” (sharing private information publicly). Apart from social media applications, other random applications like your time tracker and health apps might misuse your personal information.
With a VPN, you can limit the amount of information these applications have access to. A VPN will prevent apps and websites from attributing your behavior to your computer’s IP address. It can also limit the collection of your location and browser history.
At the same time, using a VPN helps you protect your online information from your government. In countries with heavy government surveillance, using an effective VPN ensures freedom of online speech and reduces governmental overreach.
Do you want to find the lowest prices for items? Try shopping online with a VPN connection. Many online stores operate location-based pricing, displaying different prices for the same item, based on which country you’re browsing from.
If you have the time, you can try browsing your favorite online store using different VPN servers until you find the prices that work best for you. This takes time, but if you’re looking to save money, it’s worth it.
A VPN can also help you find cheap flights and other fantastic offers. Many times, airfare is more affordable when you buy a ticket from a different country. While the departure and destination locations remain the same, you can change your IP address to another location using a VPN. You can accomplish this by simply selecting your preferred location on the VPN server to see the plane ticket costs in another country.
Protect Multiple Devices
Most VPNs support paid plans that cover multiple devices. This means you’d be able to link most of your gadgets to the same network instead of paying for multiple subscriptions. Some VPN service providers allow you to link up to six different devices on a single plan.
There are several reasons why you should consider a VPN for multiple devices. First, it is the best option for online protection for your familiar. Everyone can link their devices to a single VPN account simultaneously and enjoy complete protection. You can secure your personal gadgets and office devices on a single network instead of incurring extra costs.
If the devices use different operating systems, a high quality VPN will support several operating systems and encrypt the internet traffic coming from them. However, you can double-check to know if a VPN service provider works on a particular operating system before subscribing to any plans.
What You Should Look Out for When Choosing a VPN
To enjoy the benefits of a virtual private network, you need to make a well-informed decision. Here are a few things you should consider when choosing a VPN:
No one wants to be stuck with a sluggish internet connection. The first thing you want to look out for is stable and fast access for the proposed VPN. Although you might experience a slower network connection with a VPN, this shouldn’t affect your browsing experience substantially.
You’ll want to choose a VPN that promises a safe connection with minimal risks. Read through the VPN provider’s terms of service to know how they protect your data from third-parties.
One of the most important benefits of a good VPN is data encryption, which is how a VPN protects your data and safely transfers information. When making a purchasing decision, you should opt for a VPN that has a dependable encryption mechanism. This is particularly important in cases where a high level of anonymity must be maintained.
Other things you should factors you should consider are:
- Ease of use
- Versatility for multiple operating systems
- P2P functionality
There’s never been a better time to take your safety and privacy on the internet seriously. Choosing the right VPN helps you create a better online experience. You can say goodbye to IP bans, DDoS attacks, malware, hackers, and other things that make the internet an unhealthy place.
However, note that not all VPNs will guarantee you the same degree of privacy. Despite its many benefits, a VPN can put your online information at risk if you make the wrong choice.
When it comes to selecting a VPN, always do a thorough assessment before making a decision. You should look out for the different features, limitations, and any security flaws it may have. Ultimately, the best VPN for you will depend on several factors, including your budget, how much safety and privacy you want to have, and your other needs. For example, choosing a free VPN might mean that you will not have access to all the features of 360-degree online protection. Some free services might compromise your data to third-party applications.
Luckily, we’ve done the heavy lifting for you and identified the best VPN services in 2021 based on speed, access, security, multiple OS support, and other features. While our list isn’t exhaustive, it’s an excellent place to start from.
Ready to stay safe and secure on the web? Sign up for a VPN today!