Last Updated on March 22, 2021 by Filip Poutintsev
A VPN is an online service that works by encrypting the user’s data across the network. It is usually used to protect online data and to hide the user’s real IP address. This provides protection against ISPs and the government monitoring every action that you take. A VPN is a great way to ensure data protection but it also has its disadvantages, along with several other advantages. If you are planning on getting a VPN service, it is important to understand both of these sides first.
Advantages of VPN
1. Bypass Geo-Restrictions
Geo-Restrictions are a method of content control where the content providers choose what kind of users get to access their platforms. This control is done based on the geographical location of that user. It is possible for these platforms to see your geographical area because of your IP address.
The way a VPN works is it hides your real IP address. So, deploying a VPN will, as a result, hide your real geographical address. Thus, letting you access various platforms without restrictions.
2. Increased Online Privacy
When you’re not using a VPN, any website you visit can see your real IP address. To the people who might not realize why this is a big deal; an IP address can reveal a lot about you which can be used against you. An IP address can reveal what country you’re in, your city, your ISP and even your zip code.
When you surf the internet, you leave a footprint. ISPs can track this and sell that data to advertisers for them to create an accurate customer profile. They then target you with ads according to this footprint. With a VPN, your real IP address is hidden, freeing you from all this danger.
3. Free from Online Censorship
In some countries, the government imposes a ban against certain online services and websites. The Great Firewall of China is one example; it prohibits access to several applications and websites throughout the country.
You can use a VPN that gives you a US based IP; meaning your fake IP will belong to the USA so China’s prohibition rules won’t apply to you and you can browse the web without any restrictions. This also applies to any restrictions your ISP imposes.
4. Safer Torrenting
When you are downloading Torrents, yes it is very convenient but it also poses some threats. The total number of people that download and upload a torrent is called a Swarm. All of these people can see your real IP address when you are on that torrent. Not only can it reveal everything about you, some ISPs and governments also prohibit downloading torrents.
If they catch you doing this, they have the right to report you to the authorities. Who wants all that unnecessary trouble? A VPN will protect you from all this hassle by simply hiding your real IP address.
5. Network Scalability
First off, network scalability is the measure of how easily a network can add or remove devices that are on that network. A private network is basically a network that assigns its private IPs to the devices on that network. This kind of network is preferred by a lot of companies. The budget required to create a private network is huge.
A VPN reduces this cost and the problem of scalability just by making use of the public network. Its use is even more significant for international connections.
Disadvantages of Virtual Private Network
There are some countries that consider a private network, illegal like Uganda and Turkey. Some other countries are also working to ban the use of VPNs.
So, before you decide to buy a VPN service, make sure your country isn’t one of the countries that want to ban VPN. Using it despite the ban might result in you having to pay a heavy fine.
2. Decreased Performance
When you use a VPN, what it does is it connects your network to a private server before letting you access a website. The problem with this is the private server might not respond right away to your request for a private network. What this means to you is that the website you are trying to access will take longer to load.
3. Monitoring by the Service
Yes, the whole point of getting a VPN is to avoid all the unnecessary monitoring and tracking online. But, even then some VPN services do monitor and track your data. It doesn’t mean that their intentions are malicious all the time, but it is a possibility.
There is also a chance that the service will not tell you that they’ll be monitoring you. This is the case with free VPNs or the ones that cost much less than other standard VPN services. So, that is another thing to keep in mind before paying for or downloading such a service.
4. Unable to Bypass 100%
The biggest reason why VPNs are so popular is because it allows access to services and websites that might have been inaccessible in that geographic area. It is easier with a VPN to access those websites but even VPNs cannot allow access to certain sites.
Hulu is an example of such a site. You can only access it if you live in the USA and a person from say, Nepal, cannot access it even with the use of a VPN. This is because of the agreement they have with content producers. They have to abide by it and ban it from certain areas.
5. Increased Cost
As mentioned before, some VPNs monitor your online activity. Some of these free services also do not work as intended, leaking your private internet information.
A good Virtual Private Network requires payment which can be up to $100 every year. This is not a lot for big companies but for someone to use it at home, this might be a large amount to be spent.