Should I get a VPN? There was a time when this question was practically redundant. Not many people knew what a VPN was, let alone the necessity of one. Well, this was before almost 90% of our everyday lives happened online. Technology is amazing, and we love it, but can we trust the online world and step into it without taking security precautions?
Of course not.
Every website you visit, every payment transaction you complete, and every email you open is a chance for cyber crooks to spy on your activities. But this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Social media applications spy on you all the time. One of my friends told me he was discussing a particular subject with his friend on WhatsApp, and later that day, an Instagram post related to that same subject appeared on his feed. Spooky, right?
Social media platforms have made communication super easy, but at what cost?
Now, not all of these platforms use this information for malicious purposes, but it’s wise not to leave anything to chance. A VPN, even a free one, is the minimum security step you can take to protect your online privacy.
So, the next time you hear someone ask, “should I get a VPN?” tell them the story I shared about my friend.
We need to know what is actually happening in the online world if we want to protect our privacy and keep our sensitive data secure.
What Is a VPN?
A VPN is short for Virtual Private Network, but what does this mean?
When you turn on your computer, open your browser and start surfing the web, your device connects to a network over the internet to fetch your requested data.
Now if you want to connect to a secure network that doesn’t reveal your data traffic, you need to use a VPN. A VPN creates a private and secure tunnel between you and the World Wide Web. VPN providers have many servers which can be located anywhere in the world, and when you turn on your VPN and select a server in Paris for example, you are basically connecting to the Internet from that server.
Let’s use a fun analogy.
Say you want to play poker in an exclusive underground club. Now, you can either sign up for the club on your own or join via your friend’s invitation, a member of the club. The safety of all club members is 100% guaranteed, but concealing their identity is a different matter.
All who join the club via inside invitations get a whole new identity; name, address, etc. But anyone who joins the club without an invitation must provide their real name, address, marital status, occupation, etc.
If you’re invited to the club, you stay anonymous, and all your playing history will be confidential by law.
But other members’ credentials, playing history, etc., are available on the club’s record.
Which way do you prefer to join the club?
If you went with the “invite” option, good choice; that’s how a VPN works.
By using a VPN, you are basically putting a disguise mask on your true location and encrypting your data traffic. Encryption techniques are data scrambling techniques; used to turn data into random bits of information that are practically useless.
Encrypted traffic is almost impossible to crack, especially if your VPN provider uses high-level encryption methods like AES 256-bit.
So the purpose of a VPN is to protect your traffic from prying eyes and connect you to the Internet through the safest, undetectable route.
Why Use a VPN?
Let me ask you another question. Do you think a routine is good or bad?
If you always pass Times Square at 7 am and then stop at Starbucks to buy your latte with a chocolate brownie on your way to work, is that a good thing or bad?
Routines are great because they create order and discipline. But they also make us predictable, and when we are predictable, we become vulnerable. Everyone will know our next move before we even make it; they can manipulate our days without us even noticing.
So when it comes to the online world, having a routine should be the last thing you want. If you always use your local network to complete your online tasks, you are already in the predictable loop. Not to mention, all your data will become an easy target for hackers.
The purpose of a VPN is to be your virtual shield against online snoopers; instead of exposing your IP address, a VPN provider uses its servers’ IP address to connect you to the Internet. Here’s how it works:
Say you are living in Malaysia, and you are using a VPN originated from a server located in Paris. Every website you visit sees the VPN provider’s IP address_Paris_ as the real source of the data request, not your true location_ Malaysia.
VPN technology is super helpful if your country restricts Internet access or bans social media platforms like YouTube, Twitter, etc.
Also Read: How to Bypass Internet Restrictions
Although VPNs are one of the best tools for data privacy and online anonymity, you should be mindful of the VPN company you choose. In the following sections, we will introduce 10 trustworthy VPN providers so you can choose the best one that best suits your needs.
Why Use a VPN on iPhone?
Your iPhone is the most dangerous listening and tracking device you could ever use.
Don’t get me wrong; I love Apple products and everything about them. As far as technology goes, Apple has done a tremendous job at making communications and online tasks easier and faster. But what about your online security?
There is not much you cannot do with an iPhone. Paying bills, sending emails, checking inventory, watching Wednesday on Netflix, shopping on Amazon, listening to audiobooks, and the list goes on.
From the moment you hop on the Internet to do anything, your activity is being tracked. Any online snooper can track your online behavior, and since you are not using a VPN, you’re basically walking around carrying a big neon sign with your name on it.
Social media platforms are harmless and super entertaining because that’s how THEY want to be seen, but are they really? Facebook is at the top of the list when it comes to users’ privacy issues. According to Forbes.com, Facebook tracks you as you browse other apps and websites. How unsettling!
We use social media apps for convenience and entertainment, but if we don’t protect our privacy, we become fair game.
So, instead of asking, why use a VPN on iPhone, you should ask why not use a VPN on iPhone.
The same goes for other smartphones as well. Any device that connects you to the Internet can cause security issues.
Fortunately, for every problem, there is a solution, and in this case, a VPN is the most affordable solution that anyone can and should use.
Why Use a VPN at Home?
Do you trust your Internet service provider (ISP)?
Are you 100% positive they don’t track your data or, worse, sell it?
Here’s an unnerving piece of information:
According to PCMag.com, the US Congress has allowed ISPs to sell data about users and their online activities.
This was a public announcement, which was fortunate because it gave people a chance to take security precautions or stop using certain online services.
But what about the country you live in?
Do you trust that the government will share these concerning laws that go against users’ privacy 100%? Maybe your government has already enforced this law, and you haven’t even noticed.
Your ISP might have strict orders to share your online traffic; you cannot do anything about this.
But you can do something about what you can control, which is your online defense.
Yup, think of the online world as a digital battlefield, something like Mortal Kombat, if you will. Every company and entity is gunning for your information, but you are not defenseless. VPNs are the most basic security weapons you must use if you want to survive data intrusion battles.
I am using a gaming analogy for better understanding, but make no mistake; the data privacy threat is 100% real.
10 Common Uses of a VPN
The uses of a VPN don’t end with the list below, so we encourage you to use VPNs for all online activities, even if you visit legitimate websites and platforms.
Speed Up Gaming
Gamers can get pretty competitive, and if your rival is a tech-savvy developer, he can launch a DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack using your IP address and knock you offline. A VPN masks your true IP address and protects your network connection. Also, if you use a VPN to connect to a server located near the game’s main server, your gaming experience improves significantly.
Some streaming platforms, such as Hulu or Netflix, block some countries from accessing their content. Or in some cases, the country itself blocks these entertainment platforms, but when you use a VPN, you can access any geo-restricted content. Make sure to check our guide to unblock Netflix titles available in certain locations.
Secure Remote Access
When the pandemic started, more and more businesses had to revert to online tools, especially remote access software, for their day-to-day collaborations. This type of software made it possible for remote workers to connect to any device from anywhere. For example, RDP was quite popular for accessing and managing files remotely, but still, companies were worried about the security aspect of this software. They needed to secure employees’ network connections to block hackers from spying on company data; enter VPNs. A VPN hides users’ real IP addresses and encrypts their network traffic, eliminating all security loopholes.
Bypass Geographical Restrictions
Many governments enforce Internet restrictions which can cost many remote workers their jobs. For example, popular meeting platforms, such as Zoom, or project management software, such as Asana, are blocked in some countries. A VPN allows you to use these platforms securely without being blocked by your ISP.
Block Bandwidth Throttling
Some Internet service providers slow down your connection to manage network bandwidths, commonly known as throttling. For example, if you purchase a cheap plan from your ISP, they might limit your bandwidth so premium users can have better Internet speed. A VPN blocks your ISP from seeing your online activity, so they wouldn’t know which services you are using, and as a result, they can’t throttle your traffic.
Bypass Airplane/Online Stores Price Discrimination
This might be surprising, but some shops or airlines change the price of their products/services based on where you are. Price discrimination is not fair, but instead of complaining, you can use a VPN and never wonder whether you paid the real price or its threefold.
Public WiFi Protection
Hackers can set up public WiFi connections named after popular entities like Starbucks. The minute you connect to this fraudulent public WiFi to pay for your coffee, the bad guys get access to your payment details. So unless you want your critical data exposed, never ever connect to a public WiFi without a VPN.
Secure Downloading & Uploading
If you use P2P (Peer to Peer) file-sharing websites and experience reduced speed from time to time, your ISP is involved. Without a VPN, your ISP can see your online traffic, and they can limit your bandwidth when you are about to share files with your co-workers or anyone else. Besides, since your traffic will be encrypted when using a VPN, you can share sensitive data without worrying about security loopholes.
Block Malicious Ads
Free VPNs don’t protect you from malicious ads and websites, in fact, the pop-up ads you see when using a free VPN are the gateway to phishing websites. But most premium VPNs, such as NordVPN, use advanced protection methods to block ads from malicious websites.
Undetected Competition Research
Website owners can see who and from where has visited their website. So when you visit a website without a VPN, they will have access to your real IP address, i.e, your true online identity. If your business competitor is doing well and you want to scope out their website without being detected, a VPN is the easiest tool you can use.
Top 10 VPN Providers on the Market in 2023
|VPN Provider||Ad-blocking||Antivirus Add-on||Anonymous Payments Support||Split Tunneling||Price Range|
|Private Internet Access||✅||✅||✅||✅||+$1.90|
Most VPN providers’ pricing plans are pretty affordable, but if you are looking for a long-term, most cost-effective way to encrypt and protect your online traffic, a self-hosted VPN is a perfect option.
Should I Get a VPN or Host One Myself?
It depends on your specific needs and budget. If you want to access restricted content online or limit your ISP’s interference with your network, you can buy a trustworthy VPN and enjoy online freedom and anonymity.
However, if you use a free VPN, you will probably be routed to a public IP shared by several users. If hackers are on this shared IP as well, they can block it altogether, and you’re back at square one.
Most premium VPN providers offer dedicated IP addresses to their customers, so no IP-hacking or blocking issue will occur. But your online experience is still limited based on your VPN provider’s configuration protocols.
On the other hand, a self-hosted VPN gives you total control over your VPN settings and configuration. Also, if you’re worried about anonymity issues, you can purchase a VPS service with Bitcoin. Keep in mind that configuring a VPN requires you to have adequate knowledge of networking and encryption. But given all the advantages you get by having your own 100% private VPN, the option is worth considering.
How to Choose the Best Hosting Service to Set Up Your Own VPN Server
If you are a bit cynical and don’t trust VPN companies, you can purchase a VPS and host your own VPN. Most VPS providers accept crypto payments, so no personal information will be traded, which gives you 100% anonymity.
The best thing about hosting your VPN server is that you will have complete control over its configurations and privacy settings. No one will be able to log or sell your online traffic, and best of all, no monthly subscription fees. You only pay for your VPS server, which is basically nothing compared to monthly VPN fees.
Here’s the bottom line:
Self-hosted VPN = 100% online privacy + no additional fees + dedicated private servers.
Commercial VPN = ?% online privacy + monthly fees + multiple users connected to one server.
The choice is yours but if you want to know more about the best VPS providers for hosting VPNs, here’s a great source:
Why should I get a VPN?
A VPN encrypts your online traffic and hides your IP address, meaning that the government, hackers, and your ISP cannot spy on your activity. If you use any social media platform or visit a website without a VPN, anyone who is on your network can use your IP address to uncover your true location and identity.
What is the main purpose of a VPN?
The main purpose of a VPN is to provide a secure tunnel between your device and the online world. The moment you turn on your VPN, ingoing and outgoing traffic will be encrypted and untraceable by third-party snoopers.
Should I use a VPN for every online task?
If you want to make sure no one spies on your PII (Personal Identifiable Information), then yes. Sensitive online tasks like paying bills or taxes, shopping from amazon, or filling out legal or health documents must always be done over a protected network.
Should I use a VPN at work?
Any company’s data must always be protected from hackers and malicious attacks. Using a premium VPN ensures that no one can eavesdrop on your conversations, and you can share files without worrying about security issues. Also, using a trustworthy VPN is a must if you are a remote worker and want to access the company’s data through RDP.
Should I get a VPN for my home business?
Absolutely. Any sort of business, especially small ones, is prone to cyber-attacks. A VPN with a dedicated IP ensures the safety of your data and transactions, but if you want to maximize the level of protection, you should consider a self-hosted VPN. (Check out Top 10 VPN Hosting Services to find the best hosting providers.)