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What Are The Pros And Cons Of A VPN? (2022 Update)

What Are The Pros And Cons Of A VPN? (2022 Update)

Updated: 01-21-2022

Did you know that more than 26% of internet users rely on VPN services?

If you didn't know, you're probably wondering how a VPN can add value to your internet browsing experience.

And, what are the potential benefits and downsides of using it? Below, you will find answers to those questions and much more.

A high-quality VPN can help you access services or products blocked in your country by parent companies like Netflix, Spotify, HBO, etc.

Also, when booking flights or hotels, a VPN can mask your computer's IP address. This helps you get better deals and lucrative discounts, usually reserved for individuals residing in a particular geographical region.

Do you need your online presence to be anonymous? Using a VPN is key to online privacy; it lets you browse freely and safely.

Hackers can steal your information and sell it to a third party or even use it for blackmail, something a VPN helps prevent.

There are many VPN products in the market, and choosing the right one can be a daunting task. However, that doesn't have to be the case.

By learning more about the general pros and cons of a VPN, you'll find it easier to choose the best VPN provider for your needs.

Here is a preview of what to expect in this article:

VPN Pros

  • Helps you access geo-blocked content
  • Keeps your private information safe
  • Lets you shop at discounted prices
  • Not that expensive
  • Provides high-end encryption
  • Secures your connection when on public Wi-Fi

VPN Cons

  • Slows down your internet speed
  • Availability of anti-VPN software
  • VPN connection can suddenly drop

 

VPN Pros

Now that you know what to expect in this article, here's a deeper look at each of these points.

A Quality VPN Will Help You Get Access to Geo-Blocked Content

Do you need to watch a movie or access geo-restricted content? The frustration is understandable, and that's why you need to start using a VPN.

Geo-blocking is when individuals from a particular region can't access specific websites or content on the internet due to territorial restrictions.

How websites and streaming services locate users

To enforce geo-blocking, the content providers track their client's IP addresses. However, most users have switched to using VPNs to access geo-restricted content. For this reason, some websites and streaming services do not find IP address tracking an effective way of enforcing geo-blocking.

Instead, they opt for advanced verification measures such as cross-referencing the IP address with GPS data if you’re using a smartphone. Some websites can also check whether your IP address matches the IP addresses of known VPN servers, and if it does, they block you immediately.

This territorial restriction is quite popular in video streaming services, specific social media apps, dating sites, news sites, and many more.

Content restriction usually occurs due to licenses and copyright issues. Let’s take the film industry as an example; when a movie studio invests a large sum of money in producing a movie, they expect to earn a profit.

This is why they enforce strict copyright laws after releasing the movie.  Streaming services need to adhere to these copyright laws, even if it means geo-restricting content.

For example, Netflix hosts many movies and TV series, and they do not initially produce some. Therefore, they need to follow the rules of these production companies to be granted a license to air such content.

Copyright laws are also enforced to ensure all parties involved are well paid, initial investments well covered, and profit earned.

Here's how to circumvent geo-blocking using a VPN

  • Download and install a premium VPN service from the internet
  • Sign up for the VPN service
  • Connect to a server based in a country with no restrictions. For instance, if you want to access BBC iPlayer and you’re outside the United Kingdom (UK), connect to a UK server.
  • Log in to the streaming service with geo-blocked content and play the content.

Examples of geo-restricted content

  • Sites that stream music, movies, television, and sports sites, e.g., Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now, Disney +, DAZN, ESPN, etc.
  • Messaging apps and social platforms
  • Some news sites
  • Gaming websites and applications
  • Some dating sites
  • Kickass torrents, pirate-bay, etc.

It is also important to note that some streaming services may block your attempts to access content by using anti-VPN software and that your preferred VPN may not have servers in your preferred country.

That’s why it is always advisable to opt for VPNs with commendable speeds and top-notch encryption protocols to get past such hurdles.

A Quality VPN Will Help You Circumvent Internet Censorship

Censorship occurs when some countries restrict the airing of certain content because of differing values or legal reasons. In countries like Saudi Arabia, China, and North Korea, the government uses censorship to control their citizens' access to information.

But with a reputable VPN, you can bypass these policies. All you need is a good internet connection and browser. To do that, you need to connect to a VPN server outside the restricted area. A good VPN service should have servers located across the globe, making it easier to find a server to connect to.

After connecting to a server outside the region with censorship, the VPN encrypts and reroutes your internet traffic through a trusted access point. In other words, your web requests and replies will be sent to the VPN server, and the server will forward them back to you. Your identity will be protected, and you’ll be free from any kind of internet censorship.

The Internet Service Providers (ISPs) or even the government will only see the IP address of the server you’re connected to.

For example, China has banned access to Google, Facebook, and YouTube. If you use a VPN service to connect to a server located in Germany, you’ll be able to browse the internet freely as if you were actually in Germany.

A VPN lets you access servers from different countries, hiding your current location in the process.

Some governments have even enforced internet censorship by using DNS injection, e.g., the Great Firewall of China.

DNS is short for Domain Name Systems, a server that matches domain names with IP addresses. For instance, the system takes a website name like Google.com and compares it with a computer code such as 192.345.7.8.

DNS injection is the process of injecting forged DNS replies to block users from accessing blocked sites. To bypass this type of DNS-based attack, you can change your DNS server.

A DNS can be changed by utilizing your router settings to affect all connected devices. After configuring your settings and entering the primary and alternate DNS addresses of the service you chose, restart your router. The method is effective but requires some technical skills.

A VPN Keeps You Safe

Studies have shown that big companies steal your data and sell it to third parties for marketing purposes.

Your social media presence is also being constantly monitored because some companies do not prioritize their client’s privacy.

For example, Facebook was recently involved in a data leakage scandal, creating more awareness of internet privacy. When your information leaks online this can, in return, lead to all sorts of cybercrimes.

On the brighter side, a VPN wraps your data through a multiple-layer system, ensuring everything you carry out is as private as it should be. The most secure VPNs are usually transparent about their services, take responsibility for any leaks, and don't store your browser history.

To hide your IP address, a VPN assigns you a new IP address, effectively masking the existing one. This allows you to remain anonymous when surfing the internet and prevents Internet Service Providers (ISPs), hackers, or even the government from tracking your online activities.

When ISPs track what you do online, they can enforce bandwidth throttling.

Bandwidth throttling is when the ISP controls your internet speed due to data caps or other reasons. For example, when you notice that your internet’s speed drops around a specific date, chances are you’ve reached your monthly data cap.

Characteristics of a safe and reliable VPN

Lack of IP address leaks: An IP leak happens when the VPN fails to establish a connection, leading to the leakage of a user’s original IP address. It usually occurs when a user’s device deviates and accesses default ISP servers rather than accessing VPN servers.

No data logs: Data logs contain crucial information about VPN users such as their browsing activity, connection times, IP addresses of websites they visited, choice of server location, and other in-depth details regarding VPN service usage. A good VPN service should keep no usage logs and have a clear no-log policy. With such measures in place, users can browse the internet anonymously without worrying about their usage logs being seized by third parties.

Availability of kill switches: A kill switch feature automatically shuts down the internet connection on a device when the VPN connection drops. It prevents unprotected access to the internet by blocking all external traffic to and from your actual IP address until the restoration of a VPN connection. The feature is also effective at preventing DNS and IP address leaks. A good VPN application should have either a system-level or application-level kill switch installed by default.

Multifactor authentication: This is the act of verifying a user’s identity by using a second security factor other than their password. It prevents hackers from accessing your VPN account even if they obtain the correct login credentials.

A VPN Can Get You Discounts When Shopping Online

Hotel prices vary depending on several factors. For example, customers from certain countries may spend more or less money than those from other countries because of economic reasons, business policies, etc.

To enforce the price variation, some hotel and airport websites store cookies from website visitors. The cookies can then hike individual prices.

Cookies are pieces of data that store your online identity. However, using a VPN to access such sites safeguards your online identity.

VPNs Are Not That Expensive

It is possible to find free VPNs in the market, but they have some disadvantages. For example, they may slow down your internet, display annoying ads, or enforce data caps.

Some VPN companies can also sell or store your data to sell to third-party companies.

Great VPNs offer premium features at affordable rates. Compared to hiring a team of IT experts and buying expensive encryption hardware, it is cheaper to invest in a premium VPN.

The pricing structure of most premium VPNs depends on various factors, such as:

Number of devices connected: The higher the number of devices connected, the higher the price.

Amount of bandwidth needed: The higher the bandwidth, the higher the price.

Number of accessible servers: The more servers available, the higher the price.

Length of subscription: Most VPN services have various subscription plans priced differently, such as monthly, quarterly, and yearly, that users can choose from.

When choosing a suitable VPN, it is advisable to opt for the one that provides more freedom without compromising on its features.

VPNs Are Easy To Install

You don't need a computer science degree to learn how to install a VPN. You only need to download the software through your browser and follow the installation procedures provided by the VPN provider.

Additionally, it doesn't take much effort to activate the encryption protocols for some VPNs.

Some encryption protocols launch as you open your browser or turn on your PC or any other device connected to the VPN.

High-End Encryption Especially on Quality VPNs

The best VPNs in the market feature state-of-the-art encryption processes. Encryption conceals data, restricting messages, emails, or any other private information to authorized parties.

Some VPN services have also been certified by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology as potent and efficient data protection methods.

Encryptions require high computational power, technical skills, and a lot of patience to bypass. As a result, it becomes increasingly difficult for third parties to hack into such encryptions.

High-quality VPNs have protocols referred to as OpenVPN, allowing multiple customizable options and compatibility with most online platforms.

On the other hand, protocols such as IKEv2, suitable for Windows or iOS devices, use a complex set of numbers and keys, allowing fast adaptability to network switches.

Additionally, most high-quality VPN services offer cross-platform compatibility. Such VPNs support major operating systems, such as Linux, iOS, Android, Windows, or even some internet routers.

Understandably, this information can be too technical to grasp. Luckily, you never need to learn all these protocols; all you need is a good VPN to incorporate all those features in a single app.

A VPN Secures Your Connection When on Public Wi-Fi

87% of Americans use public Wi-Fi, and a much lesser number have VPNs installed to protect their privacy.

Public Wi-Fi offers an easy and free route to get online. But this Wi-Fi's encryption is easy to breach and, therefore, an opportunity for hackers to access your device.

A VPN helps prevent:

  • Data theft
  • Credit card fraud
  • Access to your login credentials and other private information
  • Viruses from infecting your devices

Cyber-attacks occur in three different ways, as discussed below.

Wi-Fi Renaming

Routers or hotspots can be renamed to anything. As a result, hackers can create networks you are likely to fall for. They are free, after all, right?

Malware Attacks

Insecure Wi-Fi connections can ship undetectable malware to your device, causing damage by stealing your internet bandwidth or acting as gateways to other attacks.

Middle Man Infiltration

Hackers can position themselves between your device and Wi-Fi networks, making it easier to monitor your online activities and lead you to malicious sites.

Here’s how it works:

Your digital footprints can be accessible when you connect to public Wi-Fi. A digital footprint is a record of your activities over the internet. Examples of data that could be fetched from your digital footprint include:

  • Call and text logs
  • Applications opened, and their timestamps
  • Phrases entered into search engines
  • Websites visited
  • Appointments scheduled
  • And more

Connecting to public Wi-Fi means logging in to a 'captive portal,’ requiring you to agree to terms and conditions of use or input a password before accessing the internet.

After connecting to the Wi-Fi, there might be a slight security loophole between the time the device connects to the Wi-Fi and when the VPN turns on. However, this loophole isn’t much of a security concern, given that the time difference is relatively short.

VPN Cons

Like other software, VPNs are not perfect. Here are examples of some common challenges you may encounter while using a VPN.

A VPN Can Slow Down Your Internet Speed

As much as VPNs can help you access geo-blocked websites, save money and enjoy many other privacy-related benefits, they may slow down your internet.

The reduced internet speed is because encryption requires a lot of processing power, which is frustrating for users who need high-speed internet.

To maintain fast internet speeds, it's therefore essential to get a VPN that provides high-end encryption.

Online Services Are Taking Measures Against VPNs

VPN services help you bypass various restrictions enforced by certain companies because of business-related or legal reasons. But unfortunately, some websites have anti-VPN software installed as a countermeasure against the VPN encryption protocols.

Some ISPs, websites, and governments also block traffic originating from VPNs.

Here are examples of different VPN blocking tactics employed by such companies and institutions.

IP blocks: Some sites have a database of blacklisted VPNs, automatically blocking traffic from devices connected to such VPNs.

Port blocking: Ports are wraps that ship data, and when detected, they may be blocked instantly.

Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) block: Detection of encrypted traffic involves observing unique cryptography signatures, eventually blocking them.

VPN Connection Can Suddenly Drop

Some VPNs can suddenly crash and reveal your identity or expose your data, which is precisely what you're trying to avoid.

To avoid such security risks, it is always advisable to opt for premium and reliable VPNs.

When a VPN suddenly stops, premium and reputable VPN services have a feature called a kill switch.

This switch is activated when there is an interruption in your VPN connection, preventing third parties from accessing your device until your VPN network is restored.

When the kill switch is inactive, and the connection drops, your real identity risks being exposed, leaving your digital footprint in the process.

This feature is particularly vital when visiting high-risk websites or apps, such as the dark web.

A VPN with a kill switch can also come in handy when using public Wi-Fi.

Configuration Can Be Difficult Depending on the VPN and Experience

For a VPN to work, you need to make sure the setup is secure, depending on where you need it. This can include but is not limited to routers or server installation.  When not done appropriately, it can lead to data loss.

 

Your private information can be easily accessed by malicious individuals, which is why you may need a VPN.

As stated earlier, a VPN grants access to restricted content increases online safety standards, protects your devices while connected to a public network, among other benefits.

On the flip side, VPNs can reduce your internet speed, lose connection suddenly, and experience resistance from anti-VPN software.

Some of these drawbacks are prevalent in cheap VPNs. When you opt for premium and reliable VPNs, chances are you won’t worry about most of these problems.

With the list of advantages and disadvantages above, you can now confidentially shop for a VPN that meets your requirements for a safer internet browsing experience.

Do not let third parties steal your information; they can not only use it to benefit themselves (for example, buying stuff using your credit card) but also harm you by leaking sensitive information. Some hackers even demand ransom in exchange for your private information they have access to.

It is time to invest in a premium and reliable VPN if you want to keep your data safe and browse the internet anonymously. 

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