Your online identity and whatever activities you perform on the internet are open and at risk. Even if no third parties are involved in monitoring your traffic or stealing your private information, your internet service provider can monitor you, and even sell your traffic to concerned parties.
Other than that, you always have to be careful when connecting public Wi-Fi networks of restaurants, coffee houses, or any open network.
But all of your security concerns are covered if you use a VPN. It makes sure you don’t get exposed to malicious practices on the internet, and also, you can have other benefits too which will make your life much easier.
So how does a VPN protect you? Well in layman terms, it simply shields your original identity on the web by assigning you a fake identity so you don’t become an easy target for the data predators.
Along with that, let’s catch up more on how effective a VPN can be? We’ll try to cover all the VPN queries in this guide so you can make a firm decision when deciding on a VPN provider.
How Does A VPN Protect You?
A VPN or Virtual Private Network hides your online identity or IP address on the internet. It assigns you a bogus IP address that shields your real IP address so you are not targeted for malicious activities on the internet.
IP addresses are your digital address, it carries the information of the device from which you’re connected to the internet.
To tell you how VPNs work, it simply creates a secure bridge between the user’s client device and the VPN server. This changes your actual location and the VPN server’s location becomes your default region, which is also called geo-spoofing.
With this, every internet activity which the user performs, the data moves from that tunnel to the server and then reaches the destination.
This encrypted tunnel from where the data passes allows the user to be anonymous on the internet and prevents third-party interventions of all kinds. Even internet service providers and government authorities will be unable to track your internet traffic.
When Should I Use A VPN?
The universal suggestion would be ‘All the time’ as you never know if your network has been compromised.
And it can be hectic to keep a VPN app on all the time, for this you can just set up a VPN server on your router. With this, all your devices are secured and your traffic would not get exposed on the web by any means, and even if it does, it’s encrypted.
But there is another dimension to it. Some platforms don’t work well with VPNs and they immediately recognize VPN traffic. You would not be able to use your internet banking app with a VPN on.
A solution for this would be choosing a top-tier VPN provider that offers the split-tunneling feature. Split tunneling gives you the power to choose your apps to exclude from your VPN connection.
So even if your VPN is on, you will still be able to use the selected apps to work as their traffic is bypassing the VPN.
Other than this, you should always be using a VPN when you’re connected to public Wi-Fi networks of restaurants, coffee houses, or libraries. And this also applies when you’re connected to the Wi-Fi of a relative, neighbor, or any other household.
Is It Okay To Use A Free VPN?
Free VPN services are available and they’re good if you are an occasional VPN user. But it is recommended to avoid free VPNs.
VPN infrastructures cost a lot to set up and operate. And it’s hard to believe that a VPN company will just provide you with their services free of cost.
If they’re not charging you anything, then most probably you’re paying them with other ways of which you’re not even aware.
Whatever traffic you generate goes into the network pipes of the VPN servers from where your data can be collected.
Browsing history, network traffic, IP address, or session information are collected by free VPN providers to sell them to the highest bidder.
That means you’re paying for the VPN by handing them your sensitive data.
Even paid VPN providers can do this sometimes. That’s why it is advised to always sign up for a VPN company that has a strict no-log policy and if they’ve been audited by an authentic third-party firm, better.
How to Choose A VPN Service?
You would want a VPN that can fulfill all your requirements and meet your needs.
The first question would be why do you need a VPN in the first place? Is it because you just want to stream different libraries or streaming platforms or maybe you need it for multiple purposes.
You can always just Google the product and check the user reviews to paint a picture while comparing different VPN companies.
But we can tell you the universal answer to what exactly a VPN should have.
- Look out for the latest protocols. OpenVPN is strong and pretty flexible.
- Check out if your devices are compatible with the VPN. Also, check if the features they’re offering work on all the platforms.
- A 30-day money-back guarantee offer. So you can get a refund if you’re not satisfied with their services.
- A kill-switch feature to make sure you don’t expose your real IP address if your VPN drops.
- Maximum servers that can unblock international catalogs of popular streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, etc.
- A VPN app that has a user-friendly interface is a plus.
- Check if the payment methods are flexible for you.
- A 24/7 customer service.
Can A VPN Slow Down Your Internet?
When you connect to a VPN, your traffic has to hop from certain checkpoints before reaching the destination. And if a VPN server is far from your actual location, your webpage will take more time to load.
That’s why it is always recommended to connect to a server that is nearer to your actual location so you don’t stick a pencil in your eye out of frustration.
Other than that, if your data has to pass through different barriers before reaching its destination, does that mean surfing the internet with a VPN is costing you extra internet data?
In some manner, yes. It is no surprise that VPNs use a little extra (about 10% of your internet data) for encrypting your traffic.
It is not much but let’s paint a picture here exactly how much additional data is being consumed when you browse the internet with a VPN.
Suppose if you’re downloading or streaming a movie without a VPN and it consumes 1 GB (or 1,024 MBs) of your data, then with a VPN, your data usage would be around 1,130 MB approx if you’re using a reliable VPN provider like NordVPN or ExpressVPN.
With this as an example, if you download several movies in a single day with your VPN connection on, it would take an extra usage of 1 or 2 GBs of data for encrypting your traffic.
Do VPNs Log Your Data?
One of the main user concerns is whether the VPN company logs user activity. This can include browsing history, session information, or traffic data.
If we talk about free VPN services, then most of them earn their share with this method. If they’re not charging you then they may be keeping track of your personal information and selling that to bidders.
Not only free services, but paid VPNs can also participate in such activities. One such incident happened in 2015 when customers found out that HolaVPN is selling users’ bandwidth information to third parties.
So to be hundred percent sure that your VPN service provider doesn’t keep tabs on your data, choose a reliable VPN service that is audited by third-party companies.
ExpressVPN, which is one of the main players of the VPN market, uses RAM-disk servers which means that their servers run on volatile memory. And it is also proved that ExpressVPN follows its no-log policy as it is audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers and cure53.
Other than that, when Turkish authorities seized an ExpressVPN server in 2017 from the ExpressVPN data center of Turkey to solve an investigation, they also found nothing as the company’s server did not possess any customer data or connection logs.
Is It Legal to Use A VPN?
That depends on which country you’re living in.
If we talk about the states, it’s legal to use a VPN. But there are countries like Russia, China, Belarus, Turkey, and North Korea where there are complete bans on VPNs and proxies.
And don’t make the mistake of thinking that just because you’re not a citizen of these nations, you can have unrestricted access to a VPN while visiting there.
So definitely do your research and check with your VPN provider about the details of using a VPN before visiting a country.
Other than that, bad practices are still bad practices on the internet, doesn’t matter if you’re using a VPN or not.
What Happens If My VPN Connection Drops?
A VPN is there to hide your real identity while you surf the internet. But what happens if your VPN connection drops without giving you a warning?
Your original IP address will simply get exposed on the internet while you’re carrying out your routine activities.
This can be prevented if you opt for a reliable and trusted VPN service that offers a built-in kill switch feature.
A VPN kill switch disables your internet connection if somehow your VPN crashes accidentally.
It does that to make sure you don’t expose your real IP address by warning you and killing your internet connection. Then everything comes back to normal as soon as the VPN is operational again.
What Are VPN Protocols?
VPN protocols are a set of rules or instructions which guide your traffic to route from your device to the VPN server.
SSL, PPTP, IKEv2/IPsec, OpenVPN, or L2TP/IPsec are the names of communication protocols that you’ve surely heard of if you have been looking out for a VPN provider. Your traffic is encrypted is passed through the tunnels by applying these communication methods.
PPTP is one of the older protocols and also has cross-platform compatibility. It has a 128-bit encryption method and can be very cost-effective. But this protocol is not much preferred for greater security as it has been compromised.
IKEv2/IPsec runs on the Diffie-Hellman key exchange and it is widely used because of the speed and security it offers.
L2TP was introduced as an upgrade for PPTP (Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol) and L2TP is used with IPsec which makes this protocol very flexible and secure.
SSL VPNs establish an end-to-end encrypted tunnel between the client and the server. SSL is popular for its reliability factor for remote networks and firewalls. It is used to access restricted networks. Later on, TLS was introduced which became its successor protocol.
OpenVPN is one of the popular and reliable VPN protocols. It uses a 256-bit encryption system and it has not been compromised yet. It works great if you’re connecting to a server that is far from your location. It’s not so famous for its speed but it offers high-end security. You can think of it as a Panzer Tank, it might not be fast, but it’s secure.
If you’re confused to choose a VPN protocol, probably go for OpenVPN as it is compatible, reliable, and very secure. But make sure your device is not too old cause OpenVPN is not a good fit for older devices.
Other VPN protocols have also been introduced by VPN service providers like Lightway by ExpressVPN and NordLynx by NordVPN which are a blend of two or more protocols to provide a more secure and reliable product to the users.
What Does It Mean When VPNs Mention the Term ‘Simultaneous Connections’?
The term ‘Simultaneous Connections’ used by VPNs is the ability of a VPN’s single plan to work on different devices at the same time.
It means that you can log in to your VPN account on more than one device and use it at the same time.
You can share your password and give it to your family members, friends, or relatives to have a secure connection.
But every other VPN provider has different limits on simultaneous connections, some allow 4 devices at the same time, some allow 5, while some VPN service providers offer a no-limit bandwidth. This means you can connect as many devices as you want and use your VPN at the same on multiple devices.
And if your VPN service only allows one connection at a time, you should consider changing your service provider to a top-tier VPN provider that offers simultaneous connections on more than one device.
ExpressVPN offers 5 simultaneous connections, NordVPN offers 6, and Surfshark has no limits on simultaneous connections.
However, if you’re stuck with your VPN provider and you want to use more than 5 or 6 devices at the same time, consider installing a VPN on your router. A router VPN will cover all the devices of your household and it’ll only count as one device.
What Are Static and Dynamic IP Addresses?
IP addresses are your digital address. Every device which is connected to the internet has a different IP address.
Now when we talk about a Dynamic IP address, it means that when you connect to a VPN server, you’re assigned an IP address that is available at that time from a tank of IP addresses. So this is why it is likely that you’ll be assigned a different IP address whenever you establish a VPN session.
If you’re using a third-party VPN service for commercial use then you’ll be assigned a different IP every time you connect to a server. But most VPNs offer dedicated IP addresses for an additional cost which some users prefer so that an IP address that works perfectly on their platform doesn’t get banned because of someone else using it carelessly.
Static IPs are assigned to one single user only and nobody else. This is when a user wants to run a server. They are more for the corporate use cases.
So unless there is a need for static IP to carry out a specific operation, you’ll always come across dynamic IP addresses when you connect to a VPN server.
Can I Use A VPN On Streaming Platforms?
You can watch your favorite shows on streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, or HBO Max if you have their subscription.
But sometimes you can’t watch movies or TV shows on these streaming platforms as they’re geo-restricted in your region.
This is because content producers have to license agreements with the streaming platforms to show their content in restricted regions only. So even if a show or movie is available in the catalog of your streaming service, you won’t be able to watch it as it is unavailable in your region.
But when you use a VPN and change your region, you can easily stream your favorite movie or TV show. To use a VPN on Netflix, first, get a VPN and log in with your VPN account, choose a server where your show is not geo-restricted and then launch the Netflix app, it should be working now.
Streaming platform giants like Netflix work tirelessly to detect VPN IPs and ban them. So it takes a lot of resources, effort, and time for VPN companies to crack the algorithms of streaming platforms and provide access to their users of different libraries.
Only select a VPN service after doing proper research. Google it, search for reviews, test it by taking advantage of their 30-day money-back guarantee offer. And when you’re sure, only then sign up for a longer-term plan.
Can A VPN Protect You From Hacking?
A VPN service can be a universal solution to access geo-restricted sites on the internet, hiding your online identity, and geo-spoofing your location. But can it protect you from hackers trying to manipulate your sensitive information on the web?
Hackers can use different ways and methods to steal your data on the internet trying to take advantage of the loopholes and weak spots. Some of the attacks can be prevented, while some require your own intelligence.
Man In The Middle Attack
Man in the middle attack is when the hacker or attacker comes between you and the other party you’re connected with. The hacker can steal your private information (like credit card details or credentials) and eavesdrop without you knowing about it. This happens when the attacker finds a weak spot in your network’s encryption method and enters.
This can be prevented with a VPN. When you’re connected to a VPN server, all your data is encrypted with the VPN’s strong encryption system and along with that, your real IP address is hidden. So the hacker won’t be able to steal your data if your IP address is unknown.
DDoS or Distributed Denial of Service is when an attacker or hacker sends unwanted requests on your network and floods it, from which your network crashes and you go offline.
But you can eliminate the risk of getting attacked by DDoS by using a VPN.
For this attack, the attacker must know your real IP address to flood you with requests and traffic. But if you use a VPN and change your IP address, the hacker will never know what target to attack.
But you have to keep in mind that if an attacker already knows your IP address then a VPN won’t do anything to stop it. For that, you’ll need to consult your internet service provider.
This is when a hacker gains access to your system remotely.
Whenever you visit a website, the website keeps track of your IP address. And if any of those websites is compromised by a hacker, then your IP address is also compromised. The attacker can use your IP address to reach your system.
To avoid this, use a VPN whenever you surf the internet. As a VPN will assign you a bogus IP address, the websites that you’ll visit won’t be able to track your real IP address so your original IP is not compromised.
Attacks That A VPN Can’t Prevent
VPNs can keep you safe from all the attacks which require your IP address as the target. But other attacks like malware, phishing attempts, and click baits are out of range for VPNs.
Hackers can get access to your computer files by injecting malware by sending you malicious emails or you may get it by visiting an unsecured website or downloading an app that has a virus.
But this can also be prevented on some level if you sign up for a top-tier VPN service. With NordVPN’s CyberSec and Surfshark’s CleanWeb, you can avoid malware, ads, and phishing scams.
Best VPN Services With Their Best Deals
- ExpressVPN – Twelve-month plan with three free months for $99.95.
- NordVPN – Two-Year plan for $89.
- Surfshark – Two-Year plan with three extra months for $59.76.
- CyberGhost – Two-Year plan with three free months for $58.50.
- IPVanish – Two-Year plan for $94.98.
Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs
Are VPNs legal?
How much is a VPN service?
Can a VPN protect me from all kinds of attacks?
When should I use a VPN?
How should I choose a VPN for Netflix?
Should I use a free VPN?