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Pros and cons of a VPN

You wouldn’t want someone to sneak into your house and steal something precious or to find a stranger peeping through your window. The online world has similar dangers, and a VPN is an essential tool to have if you want to avoid them. Let's look at the pros and cons of a VPN and why it's worth having.

Paul Black

Paul Black

Nov 03, 2020 · 5 min read

Pros and cons of a VPN

VPN pros and cons

Firstly, let’s first look at the benefits of a VPN.

Advantages of a VPN

It secures your data

Our online data travels long distances and passes through various servers when we surf the web. It includes even our most personal stuff, such as private messages, passwords, financial information, and more. If it's not encrypted, third parties, like your internet service provider, government officials, or cybercriminals, can access it and use it against you. The risk is especially high when you use unsecured public Wi-Fi networks, which are fertile grounds for hackers.

VPN can help you with that. It encrypts your traffic so no one can see what you do or access online. Premium VPN providers use top-notch encryption algorithms, which are practically indecipherable and guarantee 100% protection, making you almost invisible online.

It protects your online privacy

Everything you do online leaves traces that can tell a lot about your online habits. There are many entities trying to get your data, ranging from your internet service provider (ISP) to online shopping websites. ISPs often snoop on their customers' data and can even pass it to third parties. For example, they can sell it to a governmental institution interested in what you do online or a commercial entity that may use it for marketing purposes or ad targeting.

A VPN will mitigate this issue. Once your traffic is encrypted, no one will be able to snoop on your online actions and you’ll be able to enjoy your privacy.

You can change your IP and bypass geoblocks

Some websites or online services may be unavailable in specific locations for ethical, commercial, or political reasons. Internet service providers impose these restrictions by inspecting users' IP addresses, which show users' locations. Providers can then deny content or services to specific locales.

A VPN routes your traffic through a remote server and changes your IP. All you have to do is pick a server in a desired location (NordVPN has servers in 60 countries). Then, anyone who inspects your IP won't see your real address and will assume you’re connecting from a different country. This is especially useful when you travel and want to access your usual content, as it might be unavailable in the countries you visit.

A VPN can also help you bypass firewalls. If your IP is blacklisted, you can just change it and access restricted content. For example, if you wish to access a news website in a country where it's restricted, this feature can help you.

Changing your IP may also help you avoid pricing discrimination, as prices in online shops sometimes depend on the country you're in. By changing your IP, you can switch your geolocation and get fair deals.

Protection in a hostile environment

A VPN is a vital tool if you ever find yourself in a country with a low index of internet freedom, where your online actions can have real-life consequences. This is where you need especially strong encryption to hide your activities from potential interceptors.

And what if the VPN connection suddenly drops? NordVPN has a special KillSwitch feature that will automatically terminate your online connection so that you never browse unprotected.

No bandwidth throttling

Some ISPs limit their customers' bandwidth during peak hours or when they engage in certain activities like torrenting, streaming, and gaming. This practice is called bandwidth throttling. By encrypting your traffic, you hide your activities from the provider and they can no longer limit your traffic.

Better online gaming experience

A VPN can significantly enhance your gaming experience. It protects your networks from DDoS attacks and can also help you avoid unfair IP bans. Geoblock bypassing can also help you access restricted content.

vpn pros and cons infographic

The benefits are clear. Get the leading premium VPN with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Disadvantages of 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 powerful infrastructure that make the speed drop barely noticeable. NordVPN has an exceptional advantage here, as 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

Free VPNs are often unsafe and do more harm than good. The fact that they are free likely means that they use other ways to monetize their operations. This can mean 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. Just remember the recent leak incident of a few free VPN providers.

When choosing a VPN, always make sure it has an audited no-logs policy, which means that it does not collect your data.

Subscription costs

What is peace of mind worth? A good VPN will cost you only 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.

VPN does not protect you from voluntary data collection

VPNs will not protect you from voluntarily giving your data to Google, Facebook, or other similarly voracious 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 through the door. Similarly, a VPN will not protect you from unsafe online behavior. You have to use common sense when it comes to safety as well.

Is a VPN worth it?

Definitely. The advantages clearly outweigh the disadvantages. But, as mentioned before, you should choose your VPN provider carefully and avoid unsafe free VPN services. Treat your online space just like your physical one: you wouldn't waste money on a lousy door lock or security system that you know for a fact a burglar could easily break. You should protect your network the same way, as it stores so much of your private and precious data.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when choosing a VPN provider:

  • Server infrastructure. Make sure it has extensive server infrastructure, as it will give you a lot of IP addresses to choose from;
  • Strong encryption algorithms. This is one of the essential components of a VPN. 256-bit AES encryption is the strongest on the market, so always check if the VPN service offers it;
  • Customer service. A good VPN provider should have a reliable and professional customer support in case you encounter any problems (to find out how satisfied our customers are with their service, check out these NordVPN reviews);
  • No-logs policy. Make sure the provider has an audited no-logs policy, which means that they do not store any data about you;
  • Country of operation. Check whether the service is not based in a country notorious for surveillance and privacy violations.

With powerful encryption, global infrastructure, and a 30-day money-back guarantee, choosing NordVPN makes sense.