What Are he Pros and Cons Of Using a VPN?


by Vlad Costea
Updated 03/17/2020


Introduction

VPN services are essential privacy tools that help you fight against surveillance capitalism.

In this era of the internet, you don't even need to have something to hide. In the USA, ISPs (Internet Service Providers) collect your browsing history and sell it.

Corporations like Google, Amazon, and Facebook are responsible for commodifying user data. And on top of it all, your government is also watching.

Using a VPN helps, but is it all sunshine and rainbows? What are the downsides of using a VPN? To answer that, we have compiled a list of the major pros and cons of using a VPN service.

The Pros of Using a VPN


1. You Boost Your Privacy

If you browse the internet without a VPN service, you reveal your real IP address. This allows every website you access to know your exact location (city, country) and ISP.

With a little social engineering, hackers can also find your real name, gender, and address. And if your data trail is big enough (social media accounts, blogging), then profiling you is a piece of cake.

It all sounds scary, but browsing the "clearnet" (open, public internet) is not safe. Not without an extra layer of protection, that is.Thankfully, VPN services help you opt out from this type of surveillance. They obfuscate your ISP and thus mislead every website you access.

For everyday use, we recommend VPN services such as Express, Surfshark, Pure, and Nord. For as little as $1.99/month, you can connect to thousands of servers from all around the world. And next time you access a website, you will trick it to think you come from somewhere else. This works even better if you use a double VPN.
Monthly Price# Servers / CountriesSpeedPrivacyBuy
express VPN logo$6.653000 / 160FastestAmazing
pure VPN logo$2.882000 / 140AverageAverage
surfshark VPN logo$1.991040 / 61FastGood
nord VPN logo$3.495660 / 59FastGood

2. Your Data Gets Encrypted

Strong encryption is the ultimate privacy tool. And the good news is that every VPN service available on the market encrypts your data.
This means that everything you access and download cannot be associated with you.If third parties want to know what you're up to during your browsing sessions, they have to decrypt the data. And decryption is time and computation intensive.

In the case of 256-digit encryption, it can take longer than 100 years to find the right combination.Some governmental agencies may have backdoor keys to encryption systems. Yet most internet companies and bad actors have no means to crack your protection layer.

They won't see what you're doing online because you've been cautious enough to get a VPN service.

3. You can Bypass Geographical Restrictions

The internet may seem like a universal network, but it's actually not. Depending on where you are in the world, the way you view pages is different.
Sometimes you may even find locked content that you can't access from your country.This is where VPN services step in and save the day. If you're located in a country which blocks certain news websites, you will be able to get a foreign IP. If your Netflix subscription limits your access to series from a country, you can "move".

Chinese citizens looking to bypass the great firewall also use VPN services. It's unclear to which extent they are safe from the government's surveillance.

But being able to communicate with the outside world without restrictions is essential. And some people seem to go to great lengths to protect their fundamental human rights.

Why don't you too?

4. You Get to Choose Your Virtual Location

Unlike Tor, VPN services don't generate a random connection to a node. They offer thousands of servers to which you can connect at any time.
Would you like to add Italian subtitles or overdubs to your favorite Netflix series? No problem, you have plenty of options.Are you traveling abroad and would like to access your accounts as if you were still in your home country?

That's also feasible thanks to the burgeoning network of VPN servers.And if you're not happy with having only one connection, you can choose multi-hop. It will connect you to two servers from different countries at the same time. This means increased privacy and double data encryption.

If you're fine with a little randomness, you can also do the VPN-Tor combo. By downloading the Tor browser, you get the greatest amount of privacy.Yet the essential part is that you get to choose from which part of the world you want to access the internet.

And your experience will vary accordingly, with all the advantages and limitations. And speaking of limitations, that brings us to the cons of using VPNs.

The Cons of Using a VPN


1. Slower Access Speeds

The main drawback of using any proxy system is that your internet speed decreases. Which makes sense: connecting to other data centers around the world takes time.
Instead of connecting to a website directly, you have to exchange and encrypted data with a proxy.In some cases, it may prove impractical to keep your VPN on.

When you're downloading files, privacy is not a priority, and your time is precious, it's time to switch off. Likewise, when you're doing a video call and the other participants can't hear you, it's better to go VPN-free.

VPN services are great and useful, but you have to find the right balance between speed and privacy.

The good news is that Express, Surfshark, and Nord will surprise you with their speeds. And their great number of servers will help you find a better connection whenever you please.

2. Bad VPNs Leak Data

If you're using a mediocre VPN service, then it may have backdoors or random disconnects. Seeing how content gets restricted while you're accessing it can be frustrating.
Likewise, not receiving the full VPN benefits due to technical issues is a big problem.This is why it's important to choose a VPN whose record is impeccable.

So far, ExpressVPN and SurfsharkVPN have a clean slate. NordVPN also used to fall into this category, but one of their servers suffered exploits in 2018.

There's enough research data and scrutiny out there to help you find the best VPN for your needs. A good rule of them is that free VPNs are worth what you pay for them. But, don't assume that paid VPNs are always trustworthy either. Avast Secureline is a great example of a paid VPN that was caught selling user data to third parties.

Please don't compromise on your privacy, as it defeats the purpose of using a VPN.

3. Premium Services Aren't Free

There are plenty of VPN services on the market. Some of them are free to download and use, while others cost you money.
But when it comes to your data privacy, you shouldn't make any compromises.Free services might seem convenient, but they often turn out to be private data miners. After all, there is an unwritten rule on the internet: if you don't pay with money, you pay with data.

The "free" software will place ads and most likely surveil your access. It will track you and only offer the convenience of allowing you to change location.

If you're serious about protecting yourself and your data, you have to go for a paid VPN service. You're only paying for the right to be left alone, but you're also paying to get some crucial extra features. And next time you surf the web, you will have more confidence that your data is safe.

4. Some Governments May Target You

There are lots of countries around the world where the internet is not free. Some are happy to impose restrictions but rarely prosecute the few rebels.
But there are some draconian jurisdictions where you're targeted for opening a webpage.Once again, it's important to choose a VPN service whose reputation is impeccable.

One that doesn't keep logs, doesn't track you, and operates in a liberal jurisdiction. A service that won't shut down while you're in the middle of surfing a website or downloading a file.

And a service that is open and transparent about what it does.By all accounts, ExpressVPN is the best service for privacy and high speeds. And it's followed by the newer and more affordable Surfshark. So far, they tick all the boxes and have a clean slate. If you're going to try to bypass the Chinese firewall to read Western news, these two are the most reliable.

Conclusion


While there are drawbacks to using VPNs, they offer great advantages in privacy. And these days, many of the disadvantages of using VPNs, such as speed throttling, are mitigated by high quality paid services, such as the ones below.

When choosing a VPN, make sure it offers as many servers in as many countries as possible. This will offer the greatest privacy while also increasing speeds of the service.
Monthly Price# Servers / CountriesSpeedPrivacyBuy
express VPN logo$6.653000 / 160FastestAmazing
pure VPN logo$2.882000 / 140AverageAverage
surfshark VPN logo$1.991040 / 61FastGood
nord VPN logo$3.495660 / 59FastGood

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