It’s 2021 and if we are still asking: Is a VPN worth it, tell us this.
Will you buy a car without seat belts? Would you go out into the scorching sun without sunscreen? Similar is the case of using the internet without a VPN.
Think of Zoom Data Breach: the company which was using no encryption at all until it lost 500,000 passwords to a hacking attempt, leaving the personal information on these 500,000 accounts selling on the dark web.
So if a tech company earning 2.65 billion USD with over 2500 staff members to look after the operations can lose it to hackers, how powerful are we as individual internet users?
If you surf without a VPN, especially if on public Wi-Fi, you are leaving yourself exposed to unknown dangers at the mercy of online entities that lurk at the corners of the vast internet.
Everything you do online is open for some trackers to see: including hackers and your internet service provider. This means that anybody who can benefit from your online behavior, can process your activities, influence them and achieve their motives.
Now this concern is only as trivial as driving without seat belts. And we’ll tell you why. So if you also wonder whether a VPN is worth it, this article is dedicated to you.
What is a VPN and Do I Need a VPN?
VPN is a modern privacy tool that uses encryption technology to protect your internet traffic.
Think of encryption as a method to scramble data characters you exchange between device and server. So when your data is encrypted, your ISP can’t read what you are surfing.
When you connect through a VPN, you basically establish a private chamber (a tunnel or tube) on the conventional network and pass your data and search queries through that tube. Since your traffic is exiting via a remote VPN server, your original IP address is not visible hence cloaking your identity and location.
We will cover why we need this level of privacy against the online entities and the ISP in greater detail in the later section. But for now, know that it is a worthy investment and a tool that puts a price tag or privacy.
VPNs are like other commodities or services: different prices, different features, and different qualities of services. The main concern when choosing a VPN is the value it offers. A VPN should be able to perform its basic function of encryption at a minimum. As a recommendation, we suggest using Surfshark as it:
- is based in a safe-jurisdiction
- has the military-grade encryption technology
- has multiple servers if you wish to use different IP addresses
- unblocks popular streaming services
- provide a free ad-blocker tool, split-tunneling feature, internet kill switch
- is highly affordable and has reasonable packages (as low as $2.49 a month).
Presently the two-year plan is available at a staggering discount and is fully refundable within a 30-day window.
The main strengths of Surfshark are its features that are rarely seen in other VPNs. The Whitelister option, for example, gives you the freedom to choose which apps and websites will be routed through split tunneling when using the VPN. The solution offered by Surfshark is neat and tidy, transcending what the competition offers.
Another feature is the Multi-Hop that bounces your traffic to a second VPN server adding an extra layer of security. You can also avail of static servers for free, but you will be using them with others since they are not assigned to you exclusively.
Surfshark has developed privacy tools that cover a lot more than basic security: an ad-blocker, a DNS service, Hacklock that sends alerts if your account gets hacked, and a privacy-enhancing organic search tool named BlindSearch.
Do I Need a VPN and How Can A VPN Help Us?
A VPN lets you unlock all internet treasures while keeping you safe and secure. From providing you with a virtual IP address to unblocking geo-restricted content on the go, a VPN is worth it, but only the paid (premium) services. Here are 5 solid ways how a VPN can help you:
Know that many tech companies, including the broadband carriers, are allowed to track your activities, process the data, and then are legally bound to share them with governments that promote digital surveillance.
In such cases, you do not want your ISP to monitor every move you make, every website you surf, every product you shop online, or every piece of video content you stream.
Isn’t it scary that people you don’t know behind the screen can actually keep track of each of your online moves?
That’s the biggest reason digital experts and privacy advocates suggest users surf with the best VPN.
Privacy on Public Wi-Fi
Public Wi-Fi networks are weak in nature. they have thousands of active users at every point of time, while half of them are there only to monitor what others are doing.
So if you are an individual user surfing social media, or a freelancer completing client work, or a PR professional sharing sensitive MS Excel attachments via email, there are high chances the snoopers would be tracking you.
Using a VPN when you use free Wi-Fi, is then highly recommended to encrypt your WiFi connection from hackers who might want to sniff sensitive data packets in transit.
Access to Unrestricted Streaming for Home Use
A VPN can unblock a seamless streaming experience for you, and there are two reasons behind this bold statement:
Firstly, many popular streaming services block their content for specific regions, otherwise known as geo-blocking. This prevents you from viewing content from all over the world. What if you are a native of the USA and traveling to Canada You may not be able to continue your half-watched series since the IP address would trigger Hulu to block the platform for you.
In that case, only a VPN like Surfshark or ExpressVPN could unblock Hulu in Canada for you. A VPN can efficiently bypass these restrictions by connecting you to a server in a different country. While doing this, you will get an IP address that masks your real location.
Equipped with a new IP address, you can access TV shows, movies, and websites that were otherwise blocked.
Secondly, when your ISP can’t watch what data packets you are consuming, they can definitely not throttle the speed to limit bandwidth consumption. No more buffering, no more speed throttling, and no more downtime on websites you love.
Safety of Data
When connected through a VPN, all your data travels through an encrypted tunnel, and most often, it is impossible to get through it. This means that no one can keep an eye on your data, whether they are government officials, your ISP or hackers, and identity thieves.
This level of protection covers everything you do, from online banking to checking emails to accessing social media. This will keep your passwords, banking ids, and bank balances safe online. Exchange sensitive information through the private tunnel, so only the intended audience can find it, and no snoopers in between.
Is It Worth Paying for a VPN?
The short answer is YES, it is totally worth paying for a VPN for all the reasons mentioned above. And at home we recommend users configure their VPN credentials in their Wi-Fi routers so that all activities across all hardware are encrypted 24*7, here are 5 activities you must never perform without VPN protection:
- Online shopping
If a hacker takes over your online session, he can not only get access to your credit card details but also make hefty purchases or subscribe to services. Also, with a VPN, you can occasionally make international purchases for a lower cost.
- Surfing social media
Social media accounts are the first and easiest targets of online hackers, cyberstalkers and bullies. If they get into one of your accounts by monitoring the activity on your router, there are high chances you will lose most of your personal information.
- Studying online or Working on Public Wi-Fi
Again, these networks can be penetrated. If your company hasn’t already made it mandatory to use a VPN while learning or working, do it as part of your professional ethics. Better safe than sorry.
- Accessing Banking channels or company portals
Banking portals have financial information: the most attractive data almost every cybercriminal would want. Using a VPN while using digital banking channels is a safety measure you should not miss.
- Torrenting and Streaming
While exchanging large files on P2P networks, you may mistakenly stumble upon copyright material, triggering copyright trolls, and may get a DMCA notice for infringement. To prevent situations like these, always stream, torrent, and play online games under the VPN shield.
How Can You Tell If a VPN is Worth It?
It can be tempting to use the many free VPNs that are available on the market, but we strongly advise against the practice.
A free VPN is worse than no VPN at all. It is not worth the trouble since it doesn’t fulfill any criteria ranging from safety to speeds, yet transports the complete record of your online activities to be sold on the black market.
Before committing to a VPN, make sure it provides value for your money. Some of the features to look out for include:
- Jurisdiction: where the company is registered
- Military-grade encryption
- Fast speeds
- Kill switch
- DNS/IP leak protection
- A huge number of servers
- Able to unblock geo-restricted content
- No-log VPN
- Unlimited data
- Compatibility with all major operating systems
- Multiple connections via a single subscription VPN
If you’re a Reddit frequenter, then you can use the following subreddits for more information on VPNs:
While we recommend Surfshark for it has all the necessary features of a VPN, we do encourage you to perform your quick search on Reddit too. The platform has honest opinions about all major VPNs and Surfshark tops the list.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are VPNs a waste of money?
No. They are totally worth the money they charge for providing network-level security and privacy.
The level of protection provided by reputable VPNs cannot be acquired by any other means. Security, otherwise, doesn’t have a price which means that they are not a waste of money. Also, there are no tools like VPNs that would guarantee such private identity on the internet.
Are VPNs legal?
Yes. Using a VPN is completely legal, except for companies with strict legislation like Iran. However, Illegal activity will remain illegal irrespective of using a VPN. While VPNs are legal, using them for piracy, funding crimes, or any other illegal activity is of course prohibited by law.
Should I use a VPN at home?
Yes. A VPN can help attain access to streaming content and also safeguard your privacy at home. They offer better speeds and no buffering. So yes, using a VPN at home can be beneficial for everyone’s online safety.
Should I leave my VPN on all the time?
It is a good idea to stay connected through your VPN at all times. This drastically reduces the chance of data leaks and cyber-attacks.
Why Can’t I use a free VPN?
A free VPN doesn’t deliver on what it claims, neither the safety nor the speeds. In return, they steal your information, introduce malware to your devices, obtain your IDs and passwords and create advertising profiles for micro-targeting. You will only get frustrated when using a free VPN and also endanger your online safety.
The Final Verdict: Is a VPN Worth it?
Yes! A VPN is the only answer to all internet privacy-related concerns. Using a VPN in conjunction with an antivirus program, a device finder, and a secure browser is highly recommended to bypass security breaches in 2021.
The minor cost of a VPN is nothing compared to the trouble you may face if your information leaked out and you became the victim of a cyber-crime.
So invest wisely in a trusted VPN, like Surfshark, and keep you and your loved ones safe at all times.