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Do You Need a VPN on a Cellular Network?

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You need a VPN on a cellular network. By encrypting all traffic passing through your phone, a VPN can help defend your privacybypass firewalls, defeat geo-blockingsecure your financial transactions, and prevent specific hacks.

In the rest of this piece, I discuss why you should use a VPN on your cellular network, how to set one up properly, and how it can help keep your data safe.

Reasons You Need a VPN on Your Mobile Network

Since hackers are becoming more sophisticated, it’s necessary to take preventive measures against them. Here are the top reasons to use a VPN on a cellular network.

1. Prevent Mobile Internet Data Tracking

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Even if you have a prepaid plan, companies like Verizon and T-Mobile can monitor your online activities. This includes information about the torrents you download, the sites you visit, and how long you spend on such services.

Also, telecommunication, social media, and other digital tech companies can monitor your browsing habits for sales, advertisement, and marketing purposes.

So, if you want to avoid all that and browse anonymously on your phone, a reliable VPN like ExpressVPN is your best bet.

2. Secure Torrenting

You can use VPN to hide your torrent upload and download activity.

This way, you can visit torrent sites and download files anonymously.

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Beyond that, you can avoid copyright trolls and prevent ISPs from seeing torrent activity, which leads to bandwidth throttling or getting nasty notices.

3. Encrypt Your Financial Data

Although most apps have encryptions and other security features, a VPN will add another security layer.

For example, using a banking app/website via your mobile phone sends your financial data across the Internet. Similarly, if you use shopping applications like Groupon and Amazon, you’re taking another risk with your financial data whenever you checkout with your cards.

A VPN ensures that all your data is encrypted. Instead of connecting directly to the internet, it allows you to access the internet through an encrypted “tunnel” that protects your sensitive financial data from scammers and hackers.

4. Bypass ISP Throttling

Many ISPs limit your connection speeds if you consume a lot of bandwidth for gaming, torrenting, non-torrent downloads, or streaming. Luckily, using a VPN makes it more difficult to trace what you’re doing online. So, you can enjoy top speeds and bandwidth for a long time on your VPN’s encrypted servers.

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Keep in mind that utilizing a VPN might slow things down slightly.

Thus, always look for speed-optimized VPNs that deliver a lesser connection drop and may even help unlock your ISP’s speed caps.

For example, with IPVanish, I encountered no problem finding a speedy connection. 

Each server is displayed with a load number between 1-100.

The lower the number, the less congested it’s — meaning you’ll get better speeds.

I used it to watch The Mandalorian (Hulu) in Ultra HD; there was no buffering the entire time. It averaged 488 Mbps over a 1079 Mbps connection.

5. Unblock Geo-Restricted Content From Streaming Sites

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Some Hulu, BBC iPlayer, YouTube, Netflix, HBO Max, and Disney content is only available in specific regions.

A VPN service can help you connect to a server in a country (usually the US, UK, and Canada) where the content is available. Thus, you can watch anything you want, regardless of your actual location.

6. Remote Access to Corporate Data

You may need to access key information on your mobile devices while working outside your company’s internal network. For corporate security, many files require a secure connection.

Thankfully, using a VPN on a cellular network can help you connect to private servers and utilize encryption technologies to prevent data leakage.

PS You might want to consider robust VPNs with a dedicated IP address, like NordVPN, if you constantly access corporate data over cellular networks.

7. View "True" Prices When Buying Online

Airlines, hotels, and online retailers use cookies to monitor which accommodations, tickets, or products you’re searching online. Then, they can intentionally raise prices based on their perception of how much you can spare.

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That’s why you need a VPN to anonymize your online activities and avoid price discrimination to get better deals.

Does Using a VPN on a Cellular Network Use More Data?

Using a VPN to access the Internet consumes more data than without a VPN.

In fact, it can increase your data consumption by 4% to 20%.

The increase in data usage depends on various variables, including the VPN protocol used.

With time, the overhead can quickly accumulate.

For example, a 1-hour Netflix high-definition video will typically require around 3GB of data. With a VPN, that might increase to 4GB.

Here is a summary of how the VPN overhead may impact the data usage of different online activities:

Activity Without VPN With VPN (4% Overhead) With VPN (20% Overhead)
Web browsing (per web page) 1917.5 KB 1994.2 KB 2301 KB
Standard Definition (SD) Netflix Video (per hour) 0.7 GB 0.728 GB 0.84 GB
High Definition (HD) Netflix Video (per hour) 3 GB 3.12 GB 3.6 GB
Ultra HD Netflix Video (per hour) 7 GB 7.28 GB 8.4 GB

How to Reduce Your VPN's Data Usage?

You can use several techniques to reduce the amount of data your VPN uses.

Here are some of my most trusted approaches:

  • Choose the right VPN protocol: Some VPN protocols are more data-efficient than others. In my tests, WireGuard came out as the most efficient VPN protocol for mobile. Some providers like NordVPN (NordLynx) and ExpressVPN (Lightway) use even more efficiently-coded alternatives than WireGuard.
  • Turn off the VPN: If you’re only using your VPN occasionally to anonymize your identity when torrenting or accessing foreign Netflix libraries, turn it off when not engaged in those activities. 
  • Use Split Tunneling: You can use the VPN to protect sensitive online browsing apps but send high-bandwidth activities like gaming and streaming outside the VPN to save the overhead. However, not every VPN offers split tunneling. I recommend NordVPN. 
  • Activate Compression: Many VPNs use compression to decrease the data they use. It’s similar to zipping a file before sending it over the Internet. If your VPN has the feature, it’s usually enabled by default. CyberGhost is an excellent example of a VPN that offers the feature.

Which Are the Best VPNs for Cellular Networks?

Not all VPN providers are made equal. From unblocking abilities to fantastic speeds, and a sleek interface, these are the best VPNs worth installing on your Android or iOS device.

  • NordVPN: NordVPN Is a secure VPN that provides easy-to-use mobile apps, high levels of encryption, and thousands of servers on mobile. Also, the NordLynx protocol provides lightning-fast internet connection speeds without compromising encryption security.
  • Surfshark: Surfshark’s easy-to-navigate app offers features like the dedicated kill switch and split tunneling on mobile. Also, you get GPS spoofing and split tunneling on Android devices. As for iOS, you get the IP Rotator feature for additional security.
  • ExpressVPN: This is another secure VPN that provides easy-to-use mobile apps, high levels of encryption, and 3000+ servers on mobile. It also features automatic obfuscation, a helpful tool if your government blocks VPN connections or uses harsh censorship tricks.

Should You Leave Your VPN on All the Time on Your Phone?

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It’s best to keep the VPN app connected to your phone to bypass geo-blocking and firewalls, secure financial transactions, prevent specific hacks, and enhance your online privacy.

However, if the application consumes a lot of resources, slows down sensitive apps, and drains your device’s battery quicker than usual, turn off the VPN when not needed.

Does a VPN Give You Unlimited Data?

Cell phone data plans usually have a cap on how much data you can use each month.

A VPN won’t allow you to bypass this restriction or access limitless bandwidth.

Thus, VPN services advertising ”no data cap” or “unlimited bandwidth” only applies to the VPN service instead of your cell phone’s data cap.

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You need a VPN when using your phone at home to keep hackers out, prevent ISP data collection and secure your internet traffic. A VPN is also essential to protect IoT devices (usually over a VPN router) since smart home gadgets are frequently vulnerable to network intrusions.

Avoid using free VPNs on a cellular network. Most free VPNs are ineffective in safeguarding your online privacy and security. They even track and share your data and have bandwidth/speed limits. Furthermore, free VPNs consume more bandwidth to load ads and may infect your device with adware.

Your VPN won’t encrypt your standard voice calls or texts.

These processes aren’t sent over the Internet but by voice cellular network, which doesn’t require VPN services.

That's a Wrap!

When you’re on your cellular connection (3G, 4G, 5G, etc.), your smartphone may open you to identity theft, conversation hijacking, DDoS attacks, and other cyber dangers.

But remember that VPNs still count towards your data cap.

So, choose a VPN that offers multiple data-friendly protocols and reliable encryption. Thus, you get faster speed and data savings without losing the encryption blanket.

Luckily, a reliable VPN like NordVPN will help you browse anonymously, unblock geo-restricted content, and circumvent internet censorship.

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