I’m sure that some of you must have wondered if you’ll end up consuming more data if you installed a VPN on your device. Well stick with me and your thoughts will be answered.
In this article, we’ll get to understand some workings of a VPN, how it works and why you may need one.
We’ll also be discussing the pros and cons of using one, and what you should be mindful of when choosing a safe VPN service.
What is a VPN?
But before we dive right into explaining the above question, I’m sure that most of you already know what a VPN is. But I’m still gonna explain it anyway.
A VPN (a virtual private network) is software built to protect your internet privacy, security, and freedom. It connects your device with a remote VPN server, creating a private network inside a public internet connection.
Just view it like a nightclub (for those that do go to one) which have a public section and the VIP section. Whereby the VIPs get special service, comfortable seats, and most importantly, privacy in their section.
Why Should You Install a VPN?
Well, VPNs are important for various reasons:
- It can mask your location from the websites you visit.
- Stopping third parties from observing your activities while on the internet.
- Encrypting your data transfers when using insecure or public Wi-Fi networks.
- You can also access restricted files, apps, or sites which are usually not accessible to your country.
- Communicate more securely.
In 2020, GlobalWebIndex interviewed VPN users around the world to find out why they used a VPN. The common reasons they gave include:
- Secured privacy on public Wi-Fi networks (51%)
- Browser the web secretly (44%)
- Secure Communications (37%)
- Accessing restricted (streaming – file-sharing – torrent) sites (23%)
- Access to international entertainment content (22%)
But Should You Install One?
Well, they do say that every good thing also has a bad side, just like two sides of a coin. Cause with data theft, mass surveillance, and internet censorship on the rise globally, a VPN has become a very important cybersecurity tool.
But, is a VPN always safe to use? The short answer is no.
While there are many legitimate and safe VPN services, there are also a large number of dangerous VPN products you must avoid.
Downloading an insecure VPN puts you at risk of malware, hacking, identity theft, legal action, and more.
Free VPNs are the most common offenders. Our free VPN safety research has exposed dangerous free VPN apps that steal users’ personal data and sell their internet activities.
Even paid-for VPNs can be unsafe to use if you’re not aware of a few important concepts:
VPN Logging Policies: If your VPN service keeps a record of your originating IP address, when you connect to its servers, and which websites you visit, it is a threat to your privacy. This information could leak, or governments could force the VPN company to hand it over. For maximum security, you must check a VPN’s logging policy, and use a verified no-logs VPN service.
VPN Leaks: One of the main reasons why most people install VPNs, is to hide their IP address and keep their internet activity private and secure. When an installed VPN leaks your IP and DNS credentials, you should immediately stop any sensitive ongoing work. It would be better even if you disconnected from the internet until you get a better VPN.
VPN Laws: Although VPNs are legal in most countries, you’d be surprised that in China, Turkey, and Russia, the use of VPNs is illegal or severely restricted.
VPN Jurisdictions: In different countries like the Five Eyes Alliance (which include
: Canada, New Zealand, Australia, the United States, and the United Kingdom), the data of its citizens have a strict range of constitutions or laws surrounding it. They usually force companies to hand over records or user web activities. Using a VPN based in a privacy-friendly jurisdiction is the best and safest option.
Virtual Server Locations: The location of the VPN server you connect to can be important for privacy and security. Many VPN services use virtual server locations, where the advertised IP address doesn’t match the server’s physical location. This approach is often used to assign VPN IP addresses for countries where placing physical VPN servers is problematic.
Are There Any Limits?
We can all agree that VPNs have a lot to offer in terms of covert/silent browsing, private communication, and more. But the main problem with using one comes from not understanding its limitations and disadvantages.
We should learn and understand that VPNs don’t solve all online security and privacy problems.
Here is a summary of the limitations and disadvantages of a VPN is written below:
- You won’t be completely hidden when using a VPN.
- Most secure and top-rated VPNs involve the use of money (They will cost you money).
- Your internet speed almost always slows down due to the use of a VPN
- Customers who use VPNs are banned from some online services.
- Most VPNs will not defend you from malware or phishing attacks.
- Many of them will still be detected by the web blocks of highly- censored nations.
Using a VPN that’s in partnership with antivirus software or a password manager is a better option for improved security.
Do You Consume More Data When Using One?
And the answer is yes, you consume more data when using a VPN. Why? Then let me explain.
The use of VPN increases mobile data usage by 4-20%, depending on which VPN protocol you use. The rumors that you could get unlimited roaming data or bypass your monthly data caps are all that rumors. Although you can go around certain forms of ‘soft’ cap and bandwidth throttling (adjusting the communication speed between your device and the server).
Take a mobile VPN app, for instance, initially your phone should directly connect to your desired website to retrieve the information that you want. But with the VPN, your phone now connects to the VPN server, which then connects to the website and returns the information.
And you can only connect to the VPN server with an internet connection, which increases the amount of required data for accessing your desired information.
So in other words, your mobile carrier can see that you’re connecting to a VPN server, but not what your doing through the server or where your traffic is coming from.
Here’s a diagram of how your internet activities are without a VPN
The unencrypted network connects to the cell phone tower, which in turn connects to the mobile carrier’s server, which then connects to the internet to retrieve your desired information. Then it sends it back to your mobile device and repeats the process again.
The same happens when using a VPN, but in this case, it’s encrypted, and the only time that it’s unencrypted is when data is sent from the VPN server to the internet. But we all know that you can overlook this particular information, cause it’s not your real info.