Pros and cons of VPNs. Is a VPN worth it?

Douglas Mabiria Last updated: December 21, 2022 Read time: 25 minutes Disclosure

A VPN is an essential tool to have for anyone surfing the web. This detailed guide covers all the key pros and cons of a VPN that will help you move across the line.

Sneak peek at the VPN pros and cons

Many users consider VPNs a magical wand that makes them go invisible online. While that’s true to some extent, it must be realized that online anonymity is not always desirable. At times, the usual VPN features, like IP changes and anti-tracking, meddle with the user experience on websites. But on the other hand, not putting up such hindrances via VPNs leaves open areas for cyber attackers to play their nasty games. Therefore, users need to compare the features of VPN services with their regular browsing habits and understand the pros and cons of using them to avail of a privacy-oriented internet experience.

Amidst the rising cybersecurity incidents that even target individuals globally, the typical security tip you would hear from every privacy advocate (including us) is using a VPN. But before jumping on the bandwagon, knowing about the pros and cons of using a VPN service is essential.

Indeed, it doesn’t mean you should be skeptical about the benefits of VPNs.

Today when your online details always remain at stake, you inevitably need something like VPNs to defend yourself against common digital threats.

Besides, VPNs undeniably remain the best workaround to evade content restrictions and censorship.

However, as a responsible internet user, you deserve the right to know all about this service and opt to use a VPN by choice instead of merely following others’ advice.

Also, given the plethora of free and premium VPN services available today, choosing the right one is tricky. Here, it’s essential to realize that not all providers offer the same feature and services. Every VPN service available today has its pros and cons.

Therefore, the more you learn the benefits and problems of virtual private networks, the better you can decide which service you should use, how to find one, and whether you need it.

So, without further ado, let’s start with the pros and cons you’ll likely experience as a VPN user. By the end of this guide, you’ll be clear about how to protect your online security.

What to expect when using a VPN – quick look at the pros and cons

Short on time to read the details? This table will help you quickly understand the benefits you get and the problems you might face when using VPNs.

Pros Cons
Ensures privacy and anonymity as your online data and internet traffic gets encrypted The underlying encryption technology may reduce the connection speed
Unblock all types of restricted and censored content Unrestricted access to content may require some physical monitoring, such as parental monitoring for kids and teens
Change your online location to any specific region to get access to local content Many VPNs may fail to work against anti-VPN technology
Improved online security as VPNs mask your actual IP address Rerouting traffic through different servers may cause connection drops, especially on unstable internet connections
Protect yourself from ISP throttling and government surveillance Some governments ban VPN use or label VPNs illegal
Enjoy safe and smooth gaming and torrenting Torrenting files that infringe copyrights may cause legal troubles if caught
Eliminate price discrimination while making purchases Free VPNs may not offer better online anonymity, hence leaking your actual location online

What is a VPN?

A Virtual Private Network (abbreviated to VPN) establishes an encrypted tunnel for data transfer between you and a remote VPN server. It hides your actual IP address with the VPN server’s IP address from a different geographical location than yours.

For example, if you choose a VPN server located in the US while you’re in the UK, it would appear as if you’re using the internet from the US.

All data communicated between you and the VPN server through the encrypted tunnel remains inaccessible. VPN systems contain numerous elements that secure the VPN’s private network and the external network by which a user connects.

Using a VPN adds a strong layer of privacy and security to private and public networks alike, such as home WiFi networks or public WiFi hotspots. All thanks to the advanced encryption VPNs use.

To better understand how this works, consider a public WiFi network, like the WiFi at a coffee shop or the airport’s passenger lounge. You would typically join the WiFi network and use free internet without a second thought.

However, you are unaware of who may be watching your traffic through that network. You can’t even be confident whether a public WiFi network is a real deal or a fake network set up by a hacker!

Think about all the passwords, credit card numbers, banking data, and private information transferred between you and the web. All this information remains potentially exposed to the prying eyes. 

Now, if you connect to the same public network, this time with the protection of a VPN, you should no longer worry about anyone intercepting your data. Neither users prying around for unprotected victims nor the network operator can access your data.