People use VPN for all different kind of reasons. A VPN (Virtual Private Network), is a powerful tool that prevents corporations and cybercriminals from accessing your personal information. When you use a VPN, your data travels to a remote server via a secure connection. The remote server masks your IP address to make it look like you are accessing the internet from another location. It also allows you to bypass geoblocking and censorship.
Because of this, VPNs have grown in popularity over the past few years. Particularly they have grown in countries like China where online censorship is rampant and sometimes dangerous. However, people all over the globe use VPNs to protect their privacy, anonymity, and unrestricted access to the internet.
But is it necessary to have your VPN switched on and connected at all times? Well, it depends on your situation and the reason you’re using a VPN. To help you decide if a constant connection is necessary or if you can give your VPN the day off, we have gathered the following information.
Reasons to Always Use a VPN
Virtual private networks (VPNs) have experienced a surge of interest since Congress voted to allow ISPs to sell your browsing history. It’s not always clear exactly why you should be using one though. Sure, it can help you unblock geo-restricted content on streaming sites like Netflix. However, a VPN can dramatically improve your security and privacy by routing your traffic out of the reach of eavesdropping governments, ISPs, and malicious hackers.
1. To Block Prying Eyes
As you know, websites are always trying to collect information about you. Sometimes it’s just for business, sometimes it’s for more sinister reasons. A VPN blocks them from doing so by encrypting your data and making you anonymous.
You might think this is only useful for people like Edward Snowden, but think again. Any kind of wireless network can be a target for malicious software, be it your local coffee shop’s wifi or the airport internet hotspot. You never know who’s creeping around on your network. But a VPN can prevent people from creeping around on YOUR internet.
This holds especially true on public wifi networks. You never know who might have tampered with the router or installed some malware, and since we often use publicly available wifi connections, it’s definitely a good idea to use a VPN to protect your privacy.
2. Defeat Censorship and Bypass Restrictions
Public Wi-Fi networks are often provided free of charge. In return for their service, you agree to their Terms & Conditions, which may limit what you can access on their network. As the provider can’t determine what content you access through the VPN, you can effectively bypass their restrictions.
The same is also true of government censorship. China has become infamous for its Great Firewall that blocks a number of websites like Facebook. All you need to do to evade this censorship is activate your VPN and choose a server in a less restrictive country.
3. To Save Money
We all know how it feels. You check out the prices for a plane ticket and you see a great deal valued in US dollars. You go to the site, fill in all the information, go to the purchasing menu, and find out the price is suddenly in euros, or even worse, pounds. Now suddenly your ticket is roughly 10% more expensive. However, if you use a VPN, you can fool the ticketing website into thinking you’re in the US, allowing you to pay in US dollars instead.
The same can apply to many other products. The price of video games bought online can differ greatly between countries. With a bit of research, and with the help of a VPN, you can save money on many purchases around the world.
4. Stop Tracking Dead in Its Tracks
I’m going to go ahead and say that Sting called it all the way back in 1983. In the Police’s chart-topping hit single, Sting sang “every single day, every word you say, every game you play, every night you stay, I’ll be watching you”. Correctly predicting the rise of online tracking. Ad networks the world over, including the likes of Google and Facebook, all track you across the internet, building a profile of you that can be sold to advertisers.
5. To Transfer Money
This can be a little more complex, because if PayPal detects that you are using a VPN, it will lock your account to prevent it from being hacked by cybercriminals. If it happens, you’ll have to send a copy of your ID to PayPal’s security team to unlock your account.
Your bank may use similar security protocols, which will make using a VPN for internet banking tricky. However, it’s still critical to protect your personal information when you’re transferring money, and there are some easy hacks to overcome this without having your account locked.
The most effective way to prevent this is to connect to a nearby VPN server. So that it doesn’t look like your connection is coming from outside the country. If you‘ve got an Australian PayPal account, for example, and you log in through a US VPN server, PayPal’s alarm bells will go off.
If you’re looking for a good VPN to use with PayPal or online banking, prioritize services that offer WebRTC blocking. In this way your browser won’t leak your geolocation. As an example PureVPN prevents WebRTC leaks and gives you the option to use a dedicated IP. So that PayPal won’t recognize it as an address that belongs to a VPN company.
6. To Avoid Bandwidth Throttling
Bandwidth throttling has become a common practice among ISPs around the world. The basic idea behind this is that if you try to consume extra bandwidth (through torrents etc.), your speeds will be capped.
In such cases, you can turn on your VPN and circumvent the throttling altogether. Since a VPN encrypts your data, the ISP will not be able to see what data you’re accessing and won’t be able to throttle your speeds. But you will have to keep your VPN turned on at all times when doing so. Otherwise, you will just have to go back to the snail speeds you get when you use torrents.
7. To Get Rid of Slow Internet
Bandwidth throttling is not the only reason that your internet might be slowing down. There are a number of reasons why this might happen. One of the biggest among these is the actual physical distance between you and the server you are using. The greater the distance, the more time your internet will take to process your connection requirements. As a result, you might experience slower internet speeds than usual.
In such cases, you can use a VPN to get connected with a closer server. The lesser distance between you and the server will help you get better speeds. However, you still need to keep your VPN turned on all throughout. Otherwise, your connection will go back to your default server and your speeds will go down again.
8. To Use Public Wi-Fi
Public Wi-Fi’s are very popular all over the world. They are a major reason why people visit public establishments like coffee shops. While everyone loves free internet, you have to be aware of the dangers you are exposing yourself to. In the recent past, cryptocurrency miners have been known to infiltrate public Wi-Fi and use the devices connected to it for mining purposes. This can deplete your computer’s processing speed significantly while you are connected.
Further, public Wi-Fi networks are happy hunting grounds for hackers and other cybercriminals. It is not uncommon for people’s devices to get infected with malware or ransomware which is then used to extort them. So, when you are using a public Wi-Fi, it is essential that you keep your VPN turned on and connect to the Wi-Fi through that. This will keep you safe from all dangers.
A VPN is one of the easiest ways to improve your online security. Create an account, download, connect and your VPN will do most of the heavy lifting. Then you can browse the internet, sending data back and forth with impunity, knowing that you are protected. As with any market, there are unfortunately those who have an incentive to mislead you. Free VPNs often can’t be trusted to properly secure your data, with some even selling it on for profit.
While it’s generally considered more secure to choose a premium VPN, it doesn’t guarantee security. A report from RestorePrivacy showed that some providers are faking server locations in an effort to minimize costs. Fortunately there are some tell-tale signs that you can actually trust a VPN provider. Despite these risks, if you find a trustworthy VPN then you can reap the benefits of a secure connection.
Basically, your VPN should be turned on whenever you are using any remote server or proxy service. The same goes for when you are accessing sensitive information or are transferring it. Since most top VPNs provide unlimited bandwidth, there is no reason to turn off your VPN anyway!