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Pros and cons of a VPN

A VPN is an essential tool for keeping yourself safe online. It enhances your security, protects your privacy, and gives you a better all-round internet experience. Let's look at the pros and cons of a VPN and why it's worth having.

Paulius Ilevičius

Paulius Ilevičius

Pros and cons of a VPN

VPN pros and cons

Constant stories about data breaches and hackers might leave you feeling deflated, and have you wondering “is a VPN worth it?” Well, we're here to soothe those concerns with some hard facts on why a VPN is one of the best and fastest ways to stay secure online and keep yourself private.

Here's a quick overview of the pros and cons of a VPN.

vpn pros and cons infographic

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, providing high-quality security and improved privacy online.

NordVPN also has the Threat Protection feature. Threat Protection makes your browsing safer and smoother. It helps you identify malware-ridden files, stops you from landing on malicious websites, and blocks trackers and intrusive ads on the spot.

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.

Change your IP address

Your IP address can be used to track your location and identity. Whenever you visit a website, the website provider can see your IP address, and may use that information in ad targeting in the future. However, if you use a VPN, you'll be routing your data through a VPN server with its own IP address. Websites you interact with will only be able to view the VPN's IP address, and not your own.

A VPN can also help you bypass firewalls. 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 virtual location 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.

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

No bandwidth throttling

Some ISPs limit their customers' bandwidth when they visit certain websites or use specific services. 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. NordVPN's Meshnet feature can even help you form private remote LAN connections to game with your friends!

Online security starts with a click.

Stay safe with the world’s leading VPN

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.

Is there a downside to using a VPN? That depends on the one you choose. Always make sure your VPN has an audited no-logs policy, which means that it does not collect your data. Make sure it uses strong encryption and has a global network of servers so it doesn't slow you down too much.

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.

VPNs are banned in certain countries

This will only be a con depending on your location, but in certain countries VPNs are banned, or at least heavily restricted. Even if VPNs are legal where you live, you should double-check local laws when you're traveling, to make sure you know what you are and aren't allowed to do. That being said, VPNs are not banned in the majority of countries.

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. You won't be able to instal a VPN on certain TVs and gaming consoles, for example. 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 anything else on the router — will now be protected.

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?

Yes. With online scams multiplying rapidly amidst the pandemic, remote working opening us up to constant online threats, and with invasive trackers and snoopers monitoring your every move: the advantages of using a VPN clearly outweigh the disadvantages. But, as mentioned before, you should choose your VPN provider carefully and avoid unsafe free VPN services.

PRO TIP: 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. 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.

Online security starts with a click.

Stay safe with the world’s leading VPN

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Paulius Ilevičius
Paulius Ilevičius Paulius Ilevičius
Paulius Ilevičius is a technology and art enthusiast who is always eager to explore the most up-to-date issues in cybersec and internet freedom. He is always in search for new and unexplored angles to share with his readers.