Proxyrack - December 14, 2023

VPNs: What are the Pros and Cons?

Just about everything is online these days. Shopping, banking, communication, tiresome life admin, you name it. But, even though the Internet is more convenient and open than ever, it’s still not access-all-areas. 

Millions of people put their privacy at risk daily by corresponding over the internet: long gone are the days of popping your used letters in the paper shredder and thinking no more of them.

It pays to keep your internet activity encrypted; one of the most common ways to do this is by using a VPN. But what exactly is it?

Stick with us to find out more about VPN pros and cons, how they work and even some potential alternatives.

What is a VPN?

For those who can't quite grasp what a VPN is, let us talk you through it.

A VPN, short for virtual private network, is a tool used to create a secure connection between a device, like a phone, and a network.

VPNs allow information to travel from these two places through a tunnel of protection, encrypting the information and making for a more secure experience online.

But how do they work, exactly?

How do VPNs work?

The simplest way of explaining how VPNs work is by taking it back to basics.

Picture this: if you're sending a letter to a friend, what is the best way to ensure that the information within that letter is safe and doesn't get read by someone else? 

Well, you'd use a lock, perhaps with a code.

Using a VPN is like putting your information in a sealed, locked envelope, safe from criminals. For all of the tech lovers amongst us, here’s a brief overview of the moving parts and how they work.

  • Encryption: A VPN encrypts (locks up) your internet data. This means that even if someone manages to intercept it, they won't be able to understand it without the "key".

  • Tunneling: Your encrypted data travels through a secure tunnel. This is a private path from your device to a special computer called a VPN server.

  • VPN Server: The VPN server is like a secure post office. It receives your encrypted data, unlocks it, and sends it to its destination on the Internet.

  • Changing Your IP Address: Your IP address is like your home address on the internet. With a VPN, your data gets a temporary new address: the VPN server's address. This helps protect your real identity and location.

So, when you use a VPN, you're essentially wrapping your internet activities in a protective layer, making it much harder for others to snoop on what you're doing. It's like having a secure, private tunnel for your online travels.

The pros of using a VPN

So, what are the benefits of this private tunnel? Things on the Internet have a habit of feeling a little abstract for people, so it helps us outline some of the key benefits when it comes to using a VPN.

Enhanced security and privacy

One of the main attractions of a VPN is the security and privacy it gives people when they are surfing online. Using a VPN has huge benefits when protecting against fraudulent activity, scams or any other types of surveillance.

Remote access

Businesses often use the help of a VPN provider to allow their employees to work for them safely. The VPN helps employees establish a secure, protected connection to their employer's network. This is especially effective when employees work remotely and ensures all data exchanged across the network is protected.

Access to geo-blocked material

In some cases, material can be blocked from being accessed in certain countries. This can be due to country laws or licensing laws for the company that owns the site.

This is common with streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and any site that streams live sports.

Anonymous browsing

Whatever your search history may be, you probably don't want people to be getting ahold of it. With the use of a VPN, users can search the internet completely free of surveillance from unwanted eyes. This can also help people avoid annoying targeted ads.

Secure file sharing

If you're sending files to someone else across the net, you're going to want them to be safe, in the same way you wouldn't like someone going through your post!

A VPN stops unwanted cyber hands from getting into your files, meaning you can share whatever you want freely.

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The cons of using a VPN

Such is life: with every good thing comes a few minor drawbacks. Although VPNs are a fantastic tool if used effectively, there are some reasons why people wouldn’t like to use them, too.

Risking slower connection speed

In some cases, using a VPN can hinder connection speeds by around 50%. This is fairly unavoidable, as the data has to move further through a remote server infrastructure, causing delays.

If you were happy with your VPN, you might consider changing your internet service provider for better results.

Cost

Although there are free VPNs, many of the top VPN providers will charge a fee for their services. The average cost for these services can be anywhere from $5 to $100 per month, and some people may consider the benefits of using one not worth the cost.

Restrictions

This may seem a little paradoxical, as most people will use VPNs to feel freer on the internet. Some companies have put restrictions on their site to stop people with VPNs having access.

Complexity

For some people, employing a VPN service might be a little too technical. Although many VPN providers offer a very simple service, some users would rather not go through the extra effort to protect their data.

Potential for misuse

With great power comes great responsibility; everybody knows that!

Unfortunately, people can use VPNs to facilitate illegal activity. This isn't good for anyone, as it tarnishes the reputation of VPNs and could ultimately lead to them being criminalised.

VPN use cases

There is a wide array of ways people can use a VPN to their advantage. In the modern day, it's becoming more common for people to incorporate them into their daily internet usage. Here are some of the most likely ways VPNs are used today.

  • Protected browsing on public Wi-Fi: Public Wi-Fi networks are known for being less secure than your connection at home, for example. Using a VPN to safeguard your data in uncertain areas against hackers or any other cyber threats could be wise.

  • Accessing geo-restricted content: You'll have heard a lot about this use case with popular streaming services like Netflix and YouTube, where you can stream content not previously available to your location.

  • Secure remote access for work: Some workplaces, especially those handling sensitive data, will use a VPN to protect their information from falling into the wrong hands. VPNs ensure a safe connection between employee and the resources, allowing them to access anything they need in their working day from wherever they are working.

  • Safer file sharing: When you're sharing files over the internet, they run the risk of being picked up by criminals. a VPN provides that information with a protective tunnel as it travels through the cyberwaves.

  • Online gaming: It may seem niche to some, but VPNs are becoming more prevalent in online gaming, too. Gamers use VPNs to try to reduce latency and access game servers in different locations. For example, they may be playing late at night on UK servers, and they'd rather play on American servers where it's closer to peak times.

  • Market research: A VPN can be a valuable tool for businesses looking to learn more about a market. They can do this by visiting sites whilst appearing to be from different places.

Whatever your interest in using a VPN is, it makes sense to use a reliable VPN service. Take a look at some of our offerings to learn more.

What makes a good VPN?

When it comes to using a VPN, it helps to invest in one that is of a high standard, especially in an environment where data protection is a concern.

  • Customer support: This is crucial for any company, especially where your safety and information are at risk. Before you choose a VPN provider, look at what people say about the company.

  • User-friendliness: A good VPN is one that can be navigated seamlessly. As a user, you don't want to have to do any hard work to use the services; leave that to the computer geeks!

  • Connection speeds: If you're going to use a VPN, you want one that doesn't feel like it hinders your connection speeds too much. 

  • A kill switch feature: Many good VPNs will have a kill switch feature. This feature kills the internet connection immediately if the protection of the VPN happens to drop. This protects any data leaks and holds on to the user's privacy.

  • Affordable pricing: VPNs are a great tool and can even be life savers sometimes, but this doesn't mean they have to break the bank. Do your research, and find a pricing structure that works for you.

  • Constantly updating software: Everybody knows that the digital world moves and evolves rapidly, and companies must keep up.

We don’t like to brag, but we offer some pretty great VPN and proxy services. Why not read a little more about us?

What are the alternatives to using a VPN?

Some of the cons may act as a deterrent for people looking to use a VPN. Luckily, some alternative solutions can provide similar results.

  • Incognito browsing: Modern internet browsers often include an incognito browsing option. This means that sites can't hold on to your cookies, browsing history or site data. It won't provide the same level of protection as a VPN, but it is a quick and easy solution.

  • Smart DNS services: If you're looking to access geo-restricted content, smart DNS services can do this by changing the DNS settings on a device. It's important to note these guys don't offer security features, but they're still great if you focus on things like streaming.

  • Encrypted messaging apps: If it's just messaging you're looking to protect, some messaging services pride themselves on protected communication, saving you the time spent choosing a VPN.

  • Proxies: These are similar to VPNs in the way that they act as middlemen between your device and the internet. They can help people hide their IP address and browse restricted content. If you're interested in learning more about proxies, you're in the right place.

  • Firewalls and antivirus software: This may seem a little old-school to some people, but firewalls and antivirus software still have their place in the world! This kind of software reinforces the stability of your connection by monitoring and controlling the traffic within your network. They can't offer the privacy features a VPN does, but definitely enhance the security of your activity.

That’s a wrap! Whether it's a proxy, VPN or firewall you’re looking for, it always pays to stay protected. If you’re interested in cyber security and learning more about the World Wide Web, check out our blog.

Stay safe with Proxyrack

If you're looking to utilize the benefits of a VPN, you're going to need access to premium VPN services.

Whatever your use for VPN servers, whether streaming, data protection or remote working, we've got some great offerings available here
at Proxyrack.

Netflix addict? We're here to help.

Unsure about how VPNs can help you? You can try out all of our proxy and VPN products with a FREE 7-day trial.

FAQs

Are VPNs legal?

Though it depends on the country, VPNs are largely legal across the world, including places like the UK, America and Japan.

If you're unsure about the legality of using VPN connections, check the laws for the country you reside in.

Can I watch Netflix with a VPN?

Yes. Netflix is one of the most common sites that people like to use a VPN for. Using a VPN for Netflix allows people to change their digital location and access content that may not be available in their region for whatever reason.

Does a VPN affect my internet speed?

Unfortunately, a VPN connection can often affect your internet speeds. This is because the process of using a VPN involves data passing through a VPN server in order to protect it, meaning requests take longer. With that being said, a higher quality VPN provider will have lesser effects on your connection speeds.

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