Your IP: Unknown · Your Status: ProtectedUnprotectedUnknown

Skip to main content

VPN benefits: Pros and cons for personal use and business

VPNs have already become a common cybersecurity tool for both personal use and within a business environment. Even though the advantages of VPNs go far beyond improving your data privacy, this technology has its own set of challenges. In this article, we’ll explore both the benefits and the possible drawbacks of using a VPN.

VPN benefits: Pros and cons for personal use and business

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Benefits of using a VPN

The main benefit of using a virtual private network (VPN) is data privacy. But a VPN offers much more than that:

  • Privacy. Using a VPN masks your real IP address and location, making your online activity more private. Advertisers, websites, and even internet service providers (ISPs) can’t track your browsing habits if you’re using a VPN.
  • Security. A VPN creates an encrypted tunnel between your device and a VPN server. This encryption helps protect sensitive information like passwords, credit card numbers, and sensitive data from hackers, especially when you’re using public Wi-Fi networks.
  • Access to home content from abroad. VPNs allow you to access your home content from different regions by connecting to servers in those locations. You can watch TV shows and use online services you’re subscribed to at home even when you’re traveling.
  • No more bandwidth throttling. If your ISP is throttling your internet speed based on your activity (like watching online videos or gaming), a VPN can hide your activity type, potentially preventing this targeted slowdown and reducing lag in the process.
  • Censorship bypass. VPNs can help you access websites and services that are blocked or restricted in certain countries or by certain networks. This is crucial for maintaining internet freedom and access to uncensored information in places with strict internet regulations.

Online security starts with a click.

Stay safe with the world’s leading VPN

Understanding the pros of VPNs

If you’re considering getting a virtual private network app for either personal or business use, you should be familiar with the pros and cons of VPNs. Let’s look at VPN pros first.

Hide your IP and browsing activity from your ISP and hackers

One of the main VPN uses is VPN encryption — it’s a process that scrambles data into an incomprehensible mass of randomized code. When you enable a VPN client on your device, all the data that flows between that device and the VPN server is encrypted. Even if a hacker intercepted your data while in transit, all they’d see would be this meaningless code. The encrypted data is decrypted by the VPN client on your device. By routing your web traffic through a VPN server, a VPN also shields your original IP address. This way, a VPN hides your information from your ISP and online snoopers. Hiding your real IP address can also limit the threat of cyber harassment such as doxxing.

Connect safely to public Wi-Fi

Public Wi-Fi routers are often unsecured, making them ideal for hackers wishing to spy on internet users connected to them. Some cybercriminals may even set up their own hotspots in hopes that people will use them to get online, exposing their data in the process. If you use a VPN while on public Wi-Fi, for example, when working remotely, all your browsing traffic will be protected by powerful encryption even if it’s passing through a potentially unsafe public Wi-Fi router. You’ll reap the same VPN benefit when using a VPN on your phone, not just your laptop. No wonder that in 2023, 51% of internet users worldwide used a VPN to protect privacy on public Wi-Fi, with this number increasing each year.

Browse from home while you’re abroad

When traveling abroad, you may struggle to access the sites and services you normally use at home. Online banking sites may block you if you connect from an unusual location, while social media apps may force you to go through extensive security measures every time you try to log in. With a VPN service, you will be connected to a server in your home state so you can avoid the hassle and just browse as if you never left your home country.

Avoid price discrimination

Some online prices vary by region — the same product, bought through the same e-commerce site, may cost less in some countries than in others. To get access to the best pricing options, you can change your IP address with a VPN service and access the lower prices available in other locations. From getting cheaper movies and games to buying more affordable plane tickets with a VPN, a VPN opens up more opportunities to save money and find great deals.

Shop safely online

When shopping online, you typically have to give websites your card details and other sensitive data. These websites should already have their own encryption built into their payment systems, but to be on the safe side, you can use a VPN to ensure that all the data coming to and from your device is encrypted. Even if you’re using unsafe Wi-Fi, you’ll still be able to shop securely with a VPN.

Prevent bandwidth throttling and DDoS attacks

If your internet service provider (ISP) notices you engaging in an online activity that uses a lot of bandwidth — downloading large files, using streaming services, or P2P file sharing — it might reduce your speeds. This throttling prevents you from using too much of the ISP’s network capacity (even if you’re paying for a high-speed internet connection).

Online gaming is exactly the kind of bandwidth-heavy activity that can cause your ISP to throttle your speeds. However, when you use a VPN for gaming, your internet traffic is encrypted, so your ISP can’t assess what you’re doing and is less likely to throttle your data as a result.

A VPN can also absorb distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. These attacks involve flooding a network with artificially inflated traffic to force legitimate users offline. To do so, the attacker needs the victim’s IP address, which a VPN conceals.

Protection in regions with low internet freedom

Journalists and activists risk persecution in some authoritarian or dangerous regions. It’s essential for them to protect their privacy online if government agencies, law enforcement agents, or organized criminals are targeting them. By using a VPN service, they can still get online, communicate with their peers, and access free media without exposing themselves to undue risk in areas with low internet freedom. That’s why NordVPN offers VPN accounts for journalists and non-profit organizations.

Extra security features

If you invest in a premium VPN service, you can also benefit from additional VPN security and privacy features that come bundled with it. For example, NordVPN’s Plus plan includes the Threat protection tool, which significantly improves your online privacy by:

  • Limiting the risk of malware attacks by scanning the URLs of websites you are about to visit and blocking access if the website is potentially fake or malware ridden.
  • Blocking ads so you don’t get distracted while browsing or fall for a malvertising campaign.
  • Blocking trackers so you can browse without being followed around by websites and preventing third parties from gathering data on your online habits.
  • Acting as an anti-phishing solution by inspecting website URLs, recognizing fake ones, and warning you about the threats.
  • Preventing virus infections by scanning the files during download and removing them if it identifies them as malicious.

We always recommend using a paid VPN instead of a free VPN, not only for these extra features but also because free VPN services might lack stability, speed, and privacy.

infographic: vpn benefits

Considering the cons of VPNs

Although a VPN should be the cornerstone of your cybersecurity, it won’t solve all your browsing security problems. Therefore, it’s essential to understand what VPN risks you might have to deal with. Here are the main disadvantages of using a VPN:

Slower connection

The encryption process and routing your traffic through remote servers can slow down your internet connection. However, premium VPN services usually have fast protocols and a powerful infrastructure that make the speed drop barely noticeable. NordVPN has an exceptional advantage here because it scored excellently in recent speed tests performed by AV-TEST. Its lightweight NordLynx protocol is living proof that speed and safety are totally compatible.

Some VPNs are insecure

VPN security is the most important aspect of the service. Secure VPNs use strong encryption protocols and don’t track or sell your browsing data. However, some free VPNs might be unsafe and do more harm than good.

If a VPN service is free, it likely monetizes its operations by collecting your data and selling it to third parties or flooding you with ads. Free VPNs also tend to have a smaller server infrastructure, which results in congested servers and, consequently, slower speeds. Besides, they may have more security holes and weak encryption algorithms — the perfect recipe for data leaks.

Subscription costs

A good VPN will cost you, but the price will only be a few bucks per month, which isn’t much compared to the safety it provides (in many places, it comes out to less than a cup of coffee per month). Besides, many of a VPN’s advantages may end up saving you money.

VPNs are banned in certain countries

In certain countries, VPNs are banned, or at least heavily restricted and need to comply with government logging requests. However, they are legal and widely used in the majority of the world. But even if VPNs are legal where you live, you should double-check local laws when traveling abroad to ensure you know what you are and aren’t allowed to do.

Incompatible with certain devices

While most popular devices and operating systems are completely compatible with VPNs, there are some exceptions, especially when it comes to smart home devices. For example, you won’t be able to install a VPN on certain TVs and gaming consoles. However, that’s not a major problem, because you can just configure your home router to send and receive data through a VPN. As a result, any device connected to your home network — including smart TVs, consoles, and any other device connected to the router — will be protected.

A VPN does not protect you from voluntary data collection

VPNs will not protect you from voluntarily giving your data to Google, Facebook, or other data collectors. In many of these cases, we give our data away ourselves just by using these services or at least let them get a foot in the door.

Similarly, a VPN will not protect you from unsafe online behavior — you have to use common sense when it comes to safety. However, if you’ve already overshared with online service providers, you can use a personal data removal service that will contact data brokers and people search sites on your behalf and request that they remove your personal information from their databases.

For a quick overview of all VPN advantages and disadvantages, take a look at the table we’ve compiled:

VPN ProsVPN Cons
Secures your browsing dataSlows down your internet speed
Improves your daily cybersecurityCheap or free VPNs are slow, insecure, and may collect your data
Masks your IP addressPremium VPNs cost money
Works as a handy protection tool for activists in hostile environmentsDoes not protect you from data hoarding on social media
Prevents bandwidth throttling based on certain activitiesIncompatible with certain devices
Offers a more secure gaming experienceBanned in certain countries
Protects you while working remotelyDoes not protect you from voluntary data collection

Benefits of a VPN for business

VPN services are just as useful for businesses as they are for individual users. Here are a few ways in which a VPN can help businesses of all sizes:

  • Endpoint security. Every employee device, or end point, is a potential entryway for hackers trying to get into a company’s networks. With many people working remotely, the risks of unsecured devices being used to steal data and distribute ransomware have never been greater. If all company devices are installed with a VPN client, however, they will all send and receive data through encrypted tunnels, lowering the risks of a breach.
  • Scalability. As a business grows, it’s essential that its security measures keep pace and scale to meet the security risks larger organizations face. The great thing about a VPN is the ease with which it scales. If a hundred new employees are hired, they just need to download the VPN client to their device — a quick and easy process — and they can enjoy the same level of security and privacy as everyone else within the company.
  • Reduced maintenance costs. If you use a third-party VPN provider like NordLayer, you don’t have to worry about the upkeep costs and maintenance for servers and network infrastructure. That is all handled by dedicated VPN providers, so you and your team can focus on your work.

Every VPN provider offers different benefits, so it’s important to talk to a potential provider to ascertain exactly what it can offer your business.

Online security starts with a click.

Stay safe with the world’s leading VPN