Should I leave my VPN on all the time? Yes, and let us explain why
The answer to “should I leave a VPN on?” is yes. VPNs offer the best online security, so you should leave your VPN on at all times to protect yourself against data leaks and cyberattacks, while you’re using public W-Fi, and against intrusive snoopers such as ISPs or advertisers. So always keep your VPN on.
Always use a VPN when you go online. A VPN hides your location by connecting you to a remote server so no one will be able to tell what and where you browse. NordVPN also has plenty of additional functions such as Threat Protection or Kill Switch, which provide extra layers of protection.
When exactly should you keep your VPN on? Here are 8 times you should always keep your VPN on
1. Keep your VPN on when you use public Wi-Fi
Public Wi-Fi isn’t encrypted, so hackers can easily intercept the connection and steal your personal information. Encryption protects and secures everything you do online by scrambling your traffic into gibberish, which is all a hacker would see if they ever got hold of it.
Luckily, using a VPN will encrypt your public Wi-Fi connection. NordVPN’s strong encryption algorithms hide your online activity and protect you against malicious actors who try to secretly intercept your connection and steal your personal information.
A common public Wi-Fi trick is an evil twin attack, where a hacker sets up a Wi-Fi network similar to the one you’re expecting to use in the hope that you’ll connect to it instead. These dupe networks could potentially steal your personal or financial information, so bear this in mind whenever you’re connected to Wi-Fi in a hotel, café, or airport.
2. Keep your VPN on when you are in a country with harsh internet restrictions and a low index of internet freedom
Some countries administer severe punishments for accessing certain content. In some places, you may even go to prison, so using a VPN could quite literally save you. Some VPNs have additional protections for these threats. For example, NordVPN’s Kill Switch function shuts down your internet connection in case the VPN connection suddenly stops.
3. Keep your VPN on when you send sensitive data or perform financial transactions
Hackers may intercept your connection, but with VPN encryption your traffic is hidden from potential snoopers and third parties, which is useful if you’re banking online while on the move.
Banking scams and credit card fraud are some of the most worrying cyberattacks since they’re fiercely escalating during a pandemic that has forced the world online. In fact, the dark web is brimming with databases full of credit-card details that are often exchanged between hackers for a few dollars.
In a man-in-the-middle cyber attack, a hacker positions themselves between your device and the internet connection to steal your information in transit. Banking sites themselves are always encrypted, so your details should be safe on their sites. But your details can be stolen and intercepted in other ways too, like when you’re connected to public Wi-Fi and making transactions or if you paid for something on an unencrypted website. Always use a VPN to encrypt any internet connection and help protect your data.
4. Keep your VPN on when you wish to avoid bandwidth throttling
Sometimes ISPs tend to slow down users’ traffic. This is because some ISPs do not have enough resources to cope with 24/7 streaming and gaming. So what they do is reduce traffic either during certain hours for users who engage in these activities or generally when such activities are at their peak (such practice is called bandwidth throttling). By using a VPN, an ISP will not see what you do, so it will be less likely to reduce your connection speed.
5. Keep your VPN on when there is no HTTPS extension
Not all websites are equally safe. Some websites still don’t use the secure HTTPS extension and have the old HTTP. HTTPS uses the TLS protocol to encrypt data traveling between users and a website. However, you should still use a VPN when accessing HTTPS sites.
HTTPS encrypts only the connection between you and the website, while a VPN encrypts all your connections. HTTPS encryption is usually weaker than that of a VPN, so make sure to use both HTTPS and VPN at the same time.
Moreover, a VPN can offer lots of other security functions such as Threat Protection and Kill Switch. NordVPN’s Threat Protection feature warns you before you enter any malicious websites that might host malware, and a VPN Kill Switch cuts your devices off from the internet if your VPN ever fails. That way, you’re protected even in unpredictable circumstances.
6. Keep your VPN on when you wish to bypass firewalls
Firewalls are to the internet what a secretary is to a CEO, controlling, limiting, or even blocking the information that gets through. This function helps protect the network from malicious activity.
Your university, school, or workplace usually has a firewall up to protect other users on the network. Users are detected by the IP address of their device, but sometimes that IP address changes if, say, you move abroad. Firewalls can react to this by blocking your access.
A VPN will let you bypass firewalls by connecting you through servers based in other countries This makes the internet think you’re in the UK instead of the US, for instance. NordVPN lets you connect to servers in 59 countries all over the world, from the UK to Canada and Australia.
7. Keep your VPN on if you experience malicious pop-ups or annoying ads
NordVPN hides your online activity and protects you from unwanted advertising for a smoother browsing experience.
Personalized ads are a pain. One day you search for black leather sofa-beds, and for the next month that’s all you see advertisements for online. But how do these ads follow you around? Well, third parties and your ISP can snoop on your online activity and sell it to advertisers who use it to target you with relevant products. A VPN hides your online activity from third parties and your ISP, making you practically invisible online. So if you’re tired of personalized ads following you around online, keep your VPN on all the time.
NordVPN’s Threat Protection feature also uses an ad blocker to protect you against malicious ads as well as websites that are known for phishing attacks and hosting malware. Threat Protection is an invaluable tool to have as part of your VPN, especially since you can barely tell when an ad is malicious. Clicking on malicious ads can potentially download malware or a virus onto your device, and malicious websites can steal your personal information, especially since they’re not encrypted.
8. Keep your VPN on if you want to access your devices remotely
NordVPN’s Meshnet feature lets you connect multiple devices as part of an extended network. As well as being able to access data stored on devices that you don’t have physical access to (a home computer while you’re traveling, for example), Meshnet also gives you the ability to connect to the internet using the IP address of your home network, even when you’re not at home.
9. Keep your VPN on when you simply want to browse privately
VPNs are an everyday essential tool for privacy and security online. Think of a VPN as a virtual equivalent to window blinds in your house.
Whenever we go online, we are being watched. Your ISP records every single website you visit, and unknown third parties track everything you do online. Your data is often sold to advertisers and traded with authorities, who often build complex profiles on citizens. And let’s face it: most aspects of our lives can be traced online – so information about you may be more revealing than you think.
When you use a VPN, you connect to the internet through the VPN’s private, encrypted servers rather than your ISP’s unencrypted servers. This means that anything you do online is hidden from your ISP, snoopers, and other third parties.
VPNs give you paramount privacy and excellent security online. If you keep your VPN on all the time, it will keep your browsing private and help secure your personal information from spies. All you have to do is download NordVPN and switch on the app to start browsing privately.
And before you start wondering how big the difference between VPNs and private browsing tabs is, know that it’s massive. Private browsing tabs make sure that the websites you visit aren’t stored in the browsing history of the device you’re using. However, your online activity can still be seen by your ISP and snooping third parties.
PRO TIP: Keep your VPN on at all times while traveling. If you’re on holiday or abroad for work, it’s likely that you’ll need to use the Wi-Fi in hotels, airports, and other public spaces. Your VPN will ensure that you don’t expose your data on an unsecure or malicious Wi-Fi hotspot.
When you should think about turning off your VPN
While we advise you to disable your VPN as rarely as possible, needing consistently high speeds could be a rare exception:
Internet speed is of the utmost importance in certain situations (e.g., when gaming or downloading massive files). Sometimes VPNs can reduce your speed because they create an encrypted tunnel and connect you to a remote server, which requires additional traffic resources. However, NordVPN offers exceptionally high speeds, so you may not even notice any difference.
While we strongly recommend keeping a VPN on most of the time, you should also make sure you use a reliable service. Make sure the VPN service does not store your data, has a wide selection of servers, and comes from a reliable provider. Try out NordVPN for lightning-fast speeds and a simple, easy-to-use interface.