Is a VPN worth it? Things to consider before buying
Hacks, leaks, dangerous viruses, it seems like a daily occurrence nowadays. With more of our lives being moved online, it’s no surprise that interest in cybersecurity is growing as well. Just as you need a lock for your house, you need cyber security products to help protect your digital life. But is a VPN worth it? What do you need to consider before buying a VPN? Hopefully we will help you answer these questions.
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Why are you thinking of getting a VPN?
What is a VPN and why do you think you need one? VPNs are great and have a multitude of uses. VPNs help to improve your online security, protect your privacy, protect you against censorship, save you money, and much more. If any of these reasons have crossed your mind before, then a VPN is definitely something you should consider. At least get a trial for a VPN service, most of the popular ones’ offer a money back guarantee, so there’s no risk in doing so.
Online security using a VPN
Let’s explore VPN uses. First of all, a VPN is a piece of software that allows you to encrypt your internet traffic and redirect it through specialized servers. This makes it seem you’re connecting to a website or an app from a different location than you actually are. This has some great benefits for your online security. If you connect to the internet via a poorly secured connection (free WiFi, public WiFi outlets) it is possible for hackers to intercept your data. They are able to redirect you to a fake website to get personal information and even steal your identity. According to McAffee Cybercrime costs society more than $1 trillion, a 50% increase from 2018. Obviously a few dollars a month is a small price to pay for the peace of mind that your internet connection is secure even when using public Wi-Fi.
Personal privacy and VPNs
The second thing that security experts highlight is that by using a VPN you are protecting your personal privacy. Most of us rarely think about it, but everything we do online can be tracked by our Internet Service Providers and even by government agencies. If you don’t encrypt your internet connection your browsing history is an open book for your ISP. They can block certain websites, mine and sell your usage data to advertisers or even worse, help government agencies spy on you. This is not ideal, if you want to keep your personal business to yourself.
Saving money using a VPN
Saving money using a VPN is a secondary feature of a VPN, but it is still very useful nonetheless. The method is simple, some advertisers use pricing discrimination that depends on location. For instance, a monthly Netflix subscription might cost $10 in the US and only $3 in Turkey. Flight operators might try to charge you more if you visit their site a couple of times from the same IP address. If you do a bit of research you can save a pretty penny using a VPN provider.
Cost of a VPN
VPNs come in all shapes and sizes, some of them demand a premium price, while others are cheap or even free. But is it worth paying for a VPN if you can get one for free? Actually there are several reasons why you should never use a free or a especially cheap VPN.
Cheap and free VPNs have very basic features and poor customer service
As the old saying goes, what you pay is what you get, you can’t get top performance without paying for it. Cheap and Free VPN providers usually cap speeds to save on infrastructure costs. They usually have very few server locations that are often crowded. If you run into a problem chances are you will struggle to get a hold of a real person that could help solve your problem. Moreover, the features are usually lacking. Premium providers are always trying to come up with new features, while the cheap and free providers don’t have the resources for that. Using cheap and free VPNs might be acceptable for something simple, but most of us will struggle if you want a fast and seamless experience.
Free VPNs have to make money somehow
It is only natural that everyone wants to make some money out of their work and effort. VPN providers are no different. If you don’t pay anything for your VPN it is very likely that the VPN provider is selling your data to 3rd parties. Even worse is that some use a part of your internet bandwidth to run their service more effectively. This is not ideal as the main point of a VPN is to have more privacy and security, which goes out the window in cases like these.
What VPN should you get?
If you got this far chances are you decided to invest in your online security and get a VPN. Now you need to decide which brand to go for. Choosing the right VPN provider will depend on your budget, features and brand perception. The VPN market is pretty crowded, so which VPN is actually worth your hard earned money?
Get a VPN that has the features you need
VPNs offer a wide range of features. Some offer split tunneling, ad-blocking, multi-country streaming, thousands of servers and much more. It is important to decide what you actually need and will use, and what are unnecessary bells and whistles that you can skip. This can save you a lot of money in the long run, don’t get the most expensive product just because it has a lot of features.
Get a VPN that is reputable
Reputation is very important for a VPN company. A company has to be transparent, secure and be one step ahead of threats to be considered one of the best in the market. Before buying, do a bit of research on each company you consider. Well recognized certificates, 3rd party audits and good customer reviews should be considered.
Get a VPN that is in your price Range
Prices differ greatly depending on the product and the length of the subscription. Usually if you buy a longer subscription you will be able to get the product for cheaper and vice versa. Since a VPN is an objectively useful piece of software, it’s recommended to buy it for a longer period of time to save yourself some money.
See what other people are recommending
One of the best resources for informative and honest reviews has always been Reddit. Simply by googling “is a VPN worth it Reddit” you can find a lot of information from real people using VPNs. You can easily find the pros and cons of any popular VPN brand in no time. For instance, a Reddit user named SomeoneWannaBe writes:
“Its always worth if you ask me. They give you privacy. Your ISP won’t know what exactly you are visiting as sites, downloading something or playing games etc, your internet activity actually. You can confuse probably trackers/advertisers when you use different IP.