Yes, a VPN is totally worth it. And there’s a VPN for every budget, need, and lifestyle!
I’ve been using VPNs for more than a decade for personal and professional purposes.
This led me to test and explore all sorts of VPNs: free ones, low-budget ones, cutting-edge ones, etc.
In a world that’s now more connected than ever, all aspects of our lives are digitized.
This is why VPNs are more known than ever before, as they can help you restore your privacy rights and protect your devices online and even your wallet.
Apart from being a great shield, a VPN is also there to smooth up and enhance your overall online experience.
Keep reading if you want to know more in-depth about what a VPN can and cannot do for you.
Why Do I Need to Use a VPN? 8 Reasons That Make a VPN a Must-Have
VPNs are nowadays the most famous go-to for cybersecurity and online privacy.
But why have they become so mainstream?
These 8 VPN facts will answer that question!
FACT #01: A VPN is Necessary to Improve Your Online Security
A virtual private network hides your browsing activity and makes it indecipherable to prying eyes.
It reroutes all your data traffic through a secure virtual encrypted tunnel before sending it to your Internet Service Provider (ISP).
Therefore, intruders can’t read the data packets passing through this tunnel.
Also, this encryption adds a significant layer of security to your data.
But why should you worry about online lurkers and threats?
A great example is public WiFi hotspots, which are unsafe.
You can fall victim to several types of hacking attacks while using the WiFi network of your local coffee shop or airport.
A Man in The Middle attack (MITM) is one of the most widespread threats to consider when connecting to a public hotspot.
This attack consists of someone intercepting and meddling with your data.
This security breach is even more alarming when involving your banking information.
The second most common attack you can face when trusting a public hotspot is an SSID stripping, also known as the Evil Twin attack.
An SSID stripping will trick you into connecting to a fake access point that uses the name of a familiar hotspot.
Once you connect to the forged hotspot, hackers can install malware, steal precious data, and even take over your device.
A VPN shows its utility against those attacks by protecting your devices with encryption that will stave off any hacker who might infiltrate and intercept your data traffic.
However, don’t be fooled into thinking that threats can only affect your public hotspots.
While it is true that it’s less likely to be targeted by a hacker at home (it’s just not worth the effort since there are fewer people at your home than in public places, so less personal information to steal), your data is still vulnerable.
Yes, even in the comfort of your home.
And here’s why:
Your ISP might be collecting and selling your data to third parties without your consent, in total legality in some countries.
Although, it largely depends on your country and its data protection regulation laws.
Regions and countries like the EU, Canada, and Australia might have implemented or strengthened their privacy acts over the last years.
However, even if these laws are an essential step toward respect for privacy, this doesn’t prevent cybercriminals from stealing and selling your data.
This is where a VPN comes in handy.
Unlike their neighbors, the U.S. opted for a completely different stance regarding data privacy.
In 2017, the Senate decided to make it legal for third parties, such as ISPs or big technology giants, to collect and sell their user’s personal information without their consent.
So if you’re a US citizen, you need a VPN service just to get basic privacy.
But, as we said, your ISP isn’t the only one gathering your data without your approval.
Lots of other entities can collect your data.
For example, big companies like Google are also commonly known for collecting their customers’ personal data.
Why should you worry about the protection of your data?
- The right to privacy: it is your personal private information, and you should have a say on it and to what extent your data should be gathered and shared.
- If you work or run a company remotely.
- If you’re up to something that’s illegal in your country.
A great way to be less traceable online is to subscribe to a VPN.
As the VPN replaces your IP address with one of its servers, all trackers (ads, cookies, digital watchdogs, etc.) will be tailing the VPN’s IP address.
Your online whereabouts remain private.
However, be aware that even though a VPN greatly enhances the protection of your identity on the Net, you can still be tracked.
But don’t worry; we came up with seven privacy tips to help you beef up your privacy
Fact #03: A VPN Will Help You Unblock Geo-restrictions
A VPN also assigns you the IP address of the server you connect to, thus hiding your real IP.
This is particularly helpful when living in a high-censorship country, as you’ll appear to be in the VPN’s server country.
Therefore, you can virtually evade restrictions and get access to websites that are blocked in your country.
Also, you can enjoy wider content with the help of a reliable VPN.
For example, a VPN can get the most out of your Netflix or Prime Video subscription by “relocating” you to the country of your choosing.
Also, you can get access to streaming services that are only available in certain countries, like Hulu, Peacock TV, etc.
Or, if your IP address is banned or blacklisted somewhere, a VPN gets you a brand new record by giving you a new IP address.
FACT #04: A VPN Grants You Unlimited Bandwidth and Data Transfer
If you constantly face lags and buffers, your ISP might be throttling your internet connection.
It happens quite commonly when your ISP detects excessive bandwidth use or activities such as torrenting.
A VPN is the best solution to avoid this throttling and enjoy your internet connection to its (almost) full speed.
How can a VPN do that?
Your VPN will spoof your IP address and encrypt your data, so your ISP won’t know what you’re doing online.
Hence, no throttling.
FACT #05: A VPN Makes Torrenting More Secure and Private
Torrenting is the most famous sharing protocol that allows downloading files without passing through a centralized server.
In other terms, you download content directly from other people’s hard drives.
The issue here is that you have no guarantee of the integrity of the seeds you’re trusting to receive your files from.
Consequently, it opens the door to all sorts of malware and viruses that could, and probably will, cripple your device.
In addition to that, when you invite an untrustworthy file on your hard drive, your precious data can be compromised, meddled with, or stolen.
But the troubles are far from over, as your IP address is viewable by other peers when torrenting.
So, it is actually relatively easy for hackers to target your IP address and do whatever they please with it.
It can go from IP leaks to ID theft, etc.
And last but not least, you could face legal troubles such as jail time or fines.
So, is there a way to prevent all this?
Once again, a reputable VPN can have your back by hiding your real IP address while you torrent.
It will provide high-grade encryption to your data online, so no third party can read, meddle with, or sell it.
My recommendation for a reliable torrenting VPN is NordVPN, as it has a wide selection of P2P servers, high speeds, a no-logs policy, and built-in security features.
I do not encourage piracy, nor do I condone the use of illegal downloading of copyrighted material in any case.
FACT #06: Most VPNs Are Easy to Use and Budget-Friendly
A surge in popularity has led VPN companies to make their interfaces more user-friendly for everyone.
But VPN providers have not only adapted to wider types of customers but also adjusted to all sorts of budgets.
Nevertheless, VPNs can sometimes become problematic since they don’t allow you to communicate with other devices on your network.
No worries, some VPNs have the solution to this nightmare!
If you would like to benefit from the protection of the VPN without compromising your living habits, opt for a VPN that offers split tunneling.
Split tunneling is a VPN feature that lets you choose which data will travel through the VPN tunnel and which will go through the open internet.
This way, the sensitive data on your device remains protected while you stay connected to all the smart devices around you (TV, printer, fridge).
Also, thanks to this feature, you can avoid speed drops caused by your VPN.
However, split tunneling does come with the cost of reducing your security.
That’s why we tested and compared many VPNs, so you can choose accordingly among the seven best VPNs with split tunneling features.
But if you don’t want to jeopardize your security, you can install your VPN on your router.
Though, this also comes with many downsides because it’s not as practical as it sounds.
First, VPNs are not supported on all router models.
You should check on the provider’s website to see which router brands are viable.
Then, the VPN setup on a router is not user-friendly, and you will need a bit of technical knowledge to get it right.
And last but not least, you will still need the VPN’s protection when you leave your home.
But if you still want to go with this option and choose NordVPN, all the information you need is in this guide.
FACT #07: Your VPN Will Help You Save Money
We already said that VPNs are budget-friendly, but they also protect your wallet.
How does a VPN manage that?
Some companies really make prices just for you.
Or, more precisely, for your location.
So, if you trade your actual IP address for one of your VPN’s servers, you can actually pay less for the same service or product.
FACT #08: A VPN Can Enhance Your Gaming Experience
Nowadays, more and more gamers are targeted by DDoS attacks (distributed denial-of-service) that force them offline.
A VPN will shield your gaming sessions by hiding your real IP address.
Therefore, those malicious attacks will only be flooding the VPN’s IP address under unnecessary requests.
VPNs Aren’t Perfect! 8 Facts You Should Know Before Committing
Even if a VPN is the most complete tool in terms of privacy and security, it still comes with a few downsides.
Let’s discuss them next.
FACT #9: A VPN Can’t Protect You if You Agree to Give Out Your Information Online
As we said above, a VPN is a substantial layer of security to keep your identity online private and to sow the tracks of online tailors.
However, your VPN can’t do much if you willingly communicate your personal information to the websites you visit.
For example, if you input your banking information, log in to all your social media accounts, or specify your location, it becomes really easy to constitute your ID.
FACT #10: Not All VPNs Are Worth It!
That’s why the most reliable and trustworthy VPNs are ready to do whatever it takes to prove that they honor the promises of the no-logs policy.
But all VPNs aren’t created equal.
So, which ones are worth trusting?
Here are some tips:
- Stay clear of free VPNs. There’s no such thing as free services. If you’re not paying for it, you’re probably the product. Many free VPNs are known to keep logs and sell them to marketing companies.
- Check if your VPN’s country has any data retention laws.
- Look for external audits before you start investing your hard-earned bucks on a VPN. Many reputable VPNs hire them to evaluate their privacy. The audit results tend to be more transparent and reliable if the audit firm publishes on their website instead of the VPN website.
FACT #11: You May Experience Speed Performances Drops
Speed decreases are the usual problem VPN users have to deal with.
It’s due to many reasons.
- More distance is covered. Consider the detour your traffic takes to pass through the VPN server.
- Secure things take time. The encryption step also eats up a little more time, especially if your VPN uses up-to-date and strong encryption like AES-256.
- Virtual traffic jams do exist. Let’s say it’s Superbowl night, and many people are soliciting US servers to stream it. The servers will become overcrowded, automatically making your connection speed more sluggish.
However, most top-notch VPNs are clear of these issues and can guarantee a high-speed connection.
Plus, as mentioned earlier, a VPN can enhance your connection speed by blinding your ISP on your activities and preventing it from throttling your connection.
FACT #12: Some VPNs Don’t Bypass Geo-Restrictions
Even if VPNs are primarily a privacy tool, they are more famous for circumventing geo-restrictions that allow them to enjoy wider content on streaming services like Netflix.
However, many streaming services use anti-VPN software to detect VPN IP addresses because they don’t get paid for copyrights in unlicensed countries.
So if you want to enjoy worldwide streaming content without blocks, we suggest you choose one of the best VPNs for streaming.
FACT #13: Some VPNs Are Unreliable
DNS and IP, and WebRTC leaks are not something to overlook.
The solution to these leaks problems is getting a VPN because it will also encrypt your DNS queries on top of your other personal data.
However, this is more likely to occur only when using a low-quality VPN.
FACT #14: Using a VPN Might Be Illegal in Your Country
Some countries prohibit VPNs.
If you live in one of the following countries, the usage of a VPN is either illegal or restricted:
- North Korea
- United Arab Emirates
However, citizens of these countries who use a competent VPN report that the service functions well and without any problems in most cases.
FACT #15: The Identity Proofs Hassle
Every time you log in to your VPN, you might use a different server.
This can trigger suspicions about these unusual locations while using a service.
For example, say that you used multiple VPN sessions on the same day and logged in to your bank app every time.
There’s a probability that your bank’s security system asks you to certify your identity with several captcha tests or two-factor authentication.
Even if these extra steps are annoying when repetitive, they prove that your data and money are well protected.
A reliable solution is to order a dedicated personal IP from your VPN provider.
FACT #16: Free VPNs Are Not Worth It!
In the VPN world, you get what you pay for.
And when you pay nothing, consider yourself lucky if you get nothing.
In fact, many free VPNs have been caught keeping logs and selling users’ data.
Some even installed malware on their devices.
Thankfully, not all free VPNs are this bad, though you should still revise your expectations.
When opting for a free VPN, expect bad to idle connection speed, limited bandwidth use, few server choices, no P2P support, and weak security features.
Even the best VPNs come with restrictions, such as limited bandwidth, a low number of servers, and slower speeds.
Why Are Premium VPNs Worth Shelling Out Your Money?
High-Grade End-To-End Encryption
The best VPNs use AES-256 Encryption, which federal agencies and military forces use to protect their files.
To this day, it has been proven that no ISP, hacker, government, or any other entity can brute-force this level of encryption.
Your data is a well-guarded secret.
The Fastest and Security-Oriented Protocols
VPN protocols are a set of instructions that will determine how your VPN will operate.
Whether you want your VPN usage to be more security-oriented or you want it to favor speed and stability is entirely up to you.
Good premium VPNs grant you a wide choice of VPN protocols, so you can choose one that will adapt to your needs.
The Strictest No Log Policies
A no-log policy is a commitment from your VPN provider never to collect your traffic data, let alone share or sell it.
To consistently beat the competition, premium VPNs are always looking for new ways to demonstrate that they’re the most trustworthy VPN on the market.
They share detailed privacy policies and are ready to hire independent audit companies to evaluate their commitment.
DNS Leak Protection
Most premium VPNs commit to making your DNS queries travel through their DNS servers to avoid DNS leaks.
You can always use a DNS test tool to verify the efficiency of this protection.
Kill Switch Feature
A Kill-Switch is a security feature that automatically disconnects your device whenever your VPN connection drops.
Some VPNs even go the extra mile by providing an App Kill Switch.
This type of Kill Switch allows choosing which apps or software to exit when the connection fails.
Top-tier Security Features
Most premium VPN services are willing to take security further, so they come jam-packed with cybersecurity features.
The VPN scramble feature, for example, is designed to use obfuscated servers to hide VPN traffic.
By disguising your OpenVPN traffic, your activity looks like regular traffic and passes the deep packet inspections without raising any suspicions.
This feature is significant, especially when living under the jurisdiction of a repressive government.
Only premium VPNs provide the VPN scrambling feature.
Additionally, in most cases, you should find a built-in ad blocker, public WiFi protection, an Auto-Reconnect, a double VPN feature, Onion over VPN, and many more.
Dedicated Personal IP Address
A dedicated IP address is a static IP address granted by your VPN to you and only you.
But, no worries, the VPN will still hide your real IP address; you just won’t be sharing one with other users.
What are the benefits of this dedicated IP address?
- You won’t be paying for somebody else’s misdeeds.
Whatever the previous VPN user decided to do while using the shared IP address, you don’t also have to face its consequences, like being blacklisted or banned from some websites.
- Your bank will know, once and for all, that you’re no longer trying to rob yourself.
As mentioned above, each time you log in to your bank accounts from a different location, it tends to raise doubts about your identity.
Then comes the never-ending ID verification, or worse, a locked bank account.
With a static IP address, you can avoid all these troubles.
- Gain control over secured access to your company’s network
When you own an online company and need your remote employees to access sensitive data, you would allow only authorized and secure IPs in.
Your business needs to use dedicated IP addresses protected by the VPN’s encryption.
- Prove that you’re definitely not Mr. Robot
VPN customers using a shared IP are more subject to CAPTCHA tests than those with static ones.
If you’re tired of constantly proving that you’re human, a dedicated IP is an option to consider.
Although, not all VPNs offer this option.
And for those that do, you still have to pay an additional fee to enjoy this feature.
Fast Connection Speed and HD Quality Streaming
Premium VPNs take speed connection very seriously and are constantly trying to improve it, so your VPN connection should be as fast as your regular one.
Our Top 3 VPNs
NordVPN wins first place because it’s the most complete VPN in terms of security without compromising speed, as it was the fastest when I ran a speed test.
Also, it underwent independent audits several times to prove the authenticity of its logs policy, and it’s based in a country where there are no data retention laws.
This makes it a top choice for privacy.
ExpressVPN is also an excellent choice.
It’s one of the best VPNs in the market for gaming because it’s fast and keeps the connection and speeds very steady.
It was also audited to verify its no-logs policy and is based in a country with no mandatory data retention laws.
It also comes jam-packed with top-tier security features.
The only downside is the price.
Surfshark ranks in the top 3 because it offers excellent performance at a very affordable price.
The connection is fast and steady.
It’s also a good pick for privacy, as it’s been audited.
Security is also assured by robust encryption, great VPN protocols, and a very decent set of security features.
It comes third because NordVPN and ExpressVPN come with slightly better performance results.
VPN vs. Proxy vs. Tor. Which Is Better?
Like a VPN, a proxy will also reroute your traffic through the proxy server before it reaches the web server.
And just like a VPN, it will hide your real IP without encrypting your data.
Meanwhile, The Onion Router is a network that relies on many access points, commonly known as nodes, to function correctly.
So, when you use the Tor browser to access the Tor network, your traffic gets rerouted and encrypted through these nodes before arriving in the webserver.
Now, which of the three options is better?
|Hides IP address||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Adds encryption over traffic||No||Yes||Yes|
|Bypasses geo-restrictions and censorship||No||Yes||No|
|Covers and secures the whole traffic||No||Yes||Yes|
|Free of charge||Yes||No||Yes|
|Works with P2P||No||Yes||Yes|
Now that the utility of a VPN is no longer to be proven, let’s look into the different kinds of VPNs to find the one that will suit you in terms of costs, online activity, and needs:
|Business usage||Personal usage|
|Remote access VPN||Suitable, as it allows the user to access a private network remotely when working from home.||
Suitable because it works great for:
Suitable because it works great for:
Is a VPN Useful When Using Tor?
You need a VPN when using Tor.
Tor needs access points called nodes to reroute and encrypt your traffic data.
These nodes are volunteer computers, so you can’t trust them blindly since there’s no way to verify their integrity.
If you decide to use Tor without a VPN, your ISP and government agencies will know you’re utilizing Tor.
While its use is legal (if you don’t intend to get involved in outlaw activities), Tor suffers from the bad reputation granted by drug trafficking, black markets, etc.
So, using a VPN with Tor is essential to avoid silent judgment.
You still need a VPN when navigating on HTTPS.
Even if you never use public WiFi and avoid shady websites, HTTPS is not enough if you value privacy.
The double encryption is not unnecessary, as HTTPS only covers a part of the road.
When traveling from the data origination (you) to its final destination (the website server), your data gets encrypted and decrypted at least once.
In the course of these decryption phases, you have no clue about who can access your data.
On top of that, the research results held in May 2019 in San Francisco showed that HTTPS was not as secure as it is known to be.
5.5% of the first 10,000 websites served over HTTPS, according to Alexa’s top 1M list, were subject to TLS vulnerabilities.
Are You Vulnerable to Hacking Even When Using a VPN?
Yes, even though a VPN will make it harder for a hacker to get a hold of your data or computer, it remains possible.
We suggest combining a reliable VPN with other cybersecurity tools like antivirus software and secure cloud storage to enhance your protection.
We also recommend enabling two-factor authentication and letting a password manager handle your keys.
Can I Create My Own VPN Instead of Buying One?
You can create your own VPN.
But there are more downsides than advantages.
It will work as a budget-friendly dedicated IP feature, meaning that your IP has never been shared, so you will not be annoyed by the never-ending authentication request and CAPTCHAs for only $5/month.
However, it offers a minimal choice of locations available with only very basic features.
Suppose you’re using a VPN for privacy purposes.
In that case, this is not an advisable option because it’s way easier for hackers (or anyone else) to crack since using the same IP address for all the sessions makes it easier to trace.
Additionally, it will not be able to bypass geo-restrictions on platforms like Netflix and Prime Video.
Not to mention the very disappointing speed and little to no customer support.
Is a VPN Worth It in the UK?
Yes, a VPN is worth it in the UK (and everywhere else).
Nowadays, a VPN is a mandatory tool for restoring your privacy rights, no matter the laws of your country on data privacy.
Even if the Data Protection Act (DPA) has been implemented to consolidate the right to privacy of UK residents, you still need the protection of a VPN in public places or against malevolent hackers.
As for your torrenting activities, it is essential to use a VPN as you could be fined for illegal downloading.
Is a VPN Worth It in Australia?
With the bill passed by the Australian senate allowing the government to block some websites on top of admitting to retaining metadata, investing in a reliable VPN becomes more than necessary.
A VPN will cover your data with a robust layer of encryption to restore your privacy rights and online freedom, thus preventing anyone from snooping or spying on your online activities or browsing history.
Also, a VPN will hide your real IP address by “relocating” you outside of Australia to bypass any geo-restrictions imposed on Australian citizens.
This is the best and safest way to access any blocked websites.
Is a VPN Worth It for Netflix?
Getting a top-notch VPN to watch Netflix lets you get the most out of your subscription by unlocking Netflix’s geo-restrictions, thus allowing you to stream any movie or TV series available on foreign Netflix libraries.
Nonetheless, it is essential to make the right VPN choice, as not all of them effectively circumvent Netflix’s geo-restrictions.
You might experience interruptions when watching your favorite entertainment with a bad-quality VPN.
Is a VPN Worth It for Gaming?
There are several reasons a VPN is necessary to get the best out of your online gaming sessions.
First, if the VPN’s server is close to your game’s server, it can decrease ping and provide a smoother gaming experience.
It can also grant you the connection speed you’re paying for by fighting ISP throttling.
Finally, a VPN protects against DDoS attacks launched by vicious players.
A VPN guarantees fair play by hiding your IP address so nobody can swamp your connection through these malevolent attacks.
Is a VPN Worth It for Torrenting?
A VPN is a must-have for torrenting.
First, you need robust encryption to hide your torrenting activities from your ISP, or else you could be fined or face legal troubles.
Also, when torrenting, you are exposing your devices to potential malware and viruses, as the files you download can be infected.
The most reliable VPNs combined with a decent antivirus can help you torrent safely.
Is a VPN Worth It for Streaming?
Whether it is for legal or illegal streaming, a VPN always comes in handy and, in some cases, is even indispensable.
A VPN will unblock the geo-restrictions, allowing you to access content available for other countries on legal platforms such as Netflix.
Also, a VPN will grant you access to other legal streaming platforms that are only available in some countries, such as Peacock TV, Popcornflix, Crackle…
As for illegal streaming, getting a VPN is more than necessary to access these websites safely.
These sites are usually pullulating with malware and viruses, and you will need a VPN to encrypt and shield your devices against cyberattacks.
Is It Worth Having a VPN at Home?
It’s worth having a VPN at home.
Your home WiFi is undeniably much safer than public networks but, in terms of privacy, it leaves much to be desired.
That’s why you will need a VPN to keep snoopers like your ISP, the government, etc., away, thus making your navigation more private.
A VPN can also be useful to prevent your ISP from throttling your connection and allows you to bypass geo-restrictions.
Also, if you work from home, it is essential to get a reliable VPN to protect your sensitive data.
To Wrap Up
In a world as connected as ours, VPNs are definitely worth it.
They’re almost a no-brainer when taking care of your privacy, money, and online security.
Subscribing to one will grant you the speed you pay for and make it possible to enjoy your online entertainment trouble-free.
They’re also a must-have if you need to bypass geo-restrictions and censorship securely.
But a VPN also has its limitations, so it’s better to combine it with other necessary cybersecurity tools.
If you’re ready to take the next step and buy a VPN, I recommend NordVPN, as it ranked first in our review of the best VPNs.