It is not difficult to say that VPNs are increasing in popularity as days go on, although there are plenty of people that use them but do not know exactly what the service can offer them, or the extent of what they can do with the service. The comparison of VPNs however, will help you find out about the benefits and drawbacks of VPN services, and help you make a more informed decision, as well as having an easier time knowing if they are great for you or not.
Before embarking on this knowledge though, it is important to know what VPNs are, as well as knowing how they work.
What are VPNs and how do they work?
VPNs are online services that allow you to access geo-restricted content, as well as protecting your data from surveillance and hackers through the process of encryption.
The VPN relies on the use of a client and a server, in order to establish secure connections. You install the client in your device, then use it to connect to your preferred server, and then the provider will create an encrypted tunnel between the server and the client.
When you surf after the connection is created, the requests you make will undergo encryption and get to the server, then the server will decrypt the request and forward them to the internet. When the internet returns the data that is required, the server encrypts it, and then sends it back to the client. The client will then decrypt this information and allow you to access it freely.
Benefits of using VPN services
It hides your identity
Because the VPN hides your traffic and IP address, it will reduce the chances of unauthorized parties tracking your digital footprints on the internet. Any hacker who may want to snoop around in your data cannot use your actual IP address, and cannot know personal information about you. Other than that, advertisers, your ISP or government cannot snoop on your activities.
It helps you bypass geo-restrictions
Imagine this – you want to watch a video, access a website, or access a social media platform, only to be met with the message that the content you have requested is unavailable in your region. That geo-restriction of content is irritating in many cases, but it is a method that content providers use to control the access of their content in various regions of the world – usually to comply with legal procedures, copyright laws, and licensing regulations.
VPNs will help you in ways that a website cannot – since the website can see your location when you go online. If the region you are in is blacklisted, then the website will redirect you to another page or block you from access. VPNs bypass this by hiding your actual IP address, and the platform will think you are from the ‘right’ region.
Securing online connecting
Wi-Fi is everywhere and very convenient these days – but it is also unsecured and leaves you vulnerable to online attacks. Cybercriminals can use it to find out plenty of information about you, including very sensitive data.
However, using a VPN will avoid the instances of these happening, because it will encrypt your information and block it from any unauthorized people. This also makes them a good choice if you want to access files remotely, such as checking a file sent by your client while using the local Wi-Fi network in a school library or coffee shop.
It prevents bandwidth throttling
The term ‘bandwidth throttling’ refers to when your ISP reduces your bandwidth and your online speeds, in order to remove network congestion and ensure user bandwidth is enough to cater for users. The way they can increase the bandwidth is basically telling you to pay for a higher-tier plan and a more expensive subscription.
However, a VPN will encrypt the traffic, which means your ISP cannot see what you are doing, and they will not know what you are using most of the bandwidth for. That also means they cannot throttle your bandwidth.
Drawbacks of VPN services
They can slow down your surfing speed
The speed of your online activities when using a VPN will mainly depend on several factors. These include the geographic distance between your device and the VPPN server, the type of VPN protocol you use, and the levels of encryption you have.
That means that your internet connection speed may take some hits when using a VPN. Even though this is not always noticeable, it can still occur – unless you have very powerful bandwidth and a strong CPU.
Using the wrong VPNs will risk your privacy
While VPNs are meant to safeguard your online privacy, you will stumble on plenty that do the exact opposite, and possibly even use them. Wrong VPNs will usually stem from inexperienced providers (the signs include lack of support and user tutorials, buggy applications, and little to no indication of the security they have) and free VPNs (because nothing is really free).
In the case of free VPNs, they will likely get you into serious trouble, because they will not offer you good levels of encryption, and will even expose you to malware.
In addition to this, choosing VPN providers that keep logs of your online activities are a risk to you because they can sell off your data.
You can avoid the problem by doing serious homework on various VPNs before choosing them, as well as going for the paid ones that maintain a no-logging policy while giving you high-end security.
The best VPNs are expensive
As we have said before, free VPNs are never reliable, and you will need to go for the paid ones. However, it becomes a problem if you are on a tight budget, because some providers have a minimum monthly fee ranging from $9 to $12. Some are more on the budget-friendly side, although you will need to do your research and ensure they are credible.
Doing a comparison of VPNs requires that you know the challenges and benefits of using them, and we have only highlighted a few. Ensure you do your homework before settling on one though, since your security is important.