Are VPNs worth it? – That’s the main theme of this guide.
To get the most out of the internet, you need to take care of various internet injustices. In many countries, the internet is not open.
There is censorship and geo-restrictions, government surveillance, and cybercriminals. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) will also throttle your internet.
Concisely, your online security, digital identity, privacy, and online freedom are at risk every time you access the internet. Your best line of defense against these injustices is using a Virtual Private Network (VPN).
In this guide, you will learn:
- How a VPN protects you.
- Various ways a VPN can help you.
- Why do you need a paid VPN and not free VPNs?
- Paid VPNs vs. other alternatives such as TOR, proxy, and Smart DNS.
A paid VPN keeps you secure and private over the internet. It ensures your connection and online traffic are not vulnerable to eavesdroppers and even snoopers.
This makes it harder for interested parties to know what you are up to on the internet. A VPN also helps you unblock various content by changing your geo-location and masking your IP address.
Continue reading to find more about paid VPNs, if they are worth it, and why you should get one?
Related article: What is a VPN and how does it work
Related article: How to unblock geo-restricted websites
How a VPN Protects You
A VPN protects you by creating a secure tunnel over the internet. The tunnel safeguards your connection and online traffic between your devices and the internet entities. This primarily happens in two ways.
- A VPN encrypts your connection and traffic by using secure algorithms. These encryption are hard to break, and hence no unauthorized personnel will get access to your connection. Additionally, they won’t know what data you are transmitting/receiving over the internet.
- IP address masking. A VPN routes your secure online traffic through a VPN server. The VPN server masks your actual IP address with its IP address. Internet entities will only see the VPN’s server IP address instead of your real IP address. This aspect protects your identity.
Paid VPNs include other various security and privacy features that reinforce your VPN protection.
Benefits of Using a Paid VPN
Depending on your online tasks, a VPN can help you in various ways, including overcoming the internet injustices mentioned earlier.
Secure your internet connection
A VPN can help you avoid prying eyes and third-parties interested in your data by encrypting your connection and data. Unauthorized entities may not be able to read your online traffic.
Public Wi-Fi security
Public Wi-Fi hotspots are unsecured because the admin or other malicious connected entities can see your unencrypted online traffic. They can harvest information such as your passwords, emails, and usernames.
You can avoid your data falling into cybercriminals by securing your Wi-Fi connection with a VPN.
Hide your IP address
By masking your actual IP address, you can browse the internet anonymously. Also, if your actual IP address was blacklisted, you can bypass the blacklist since you are using the VPN’s server IP address.
Protect your Digital Identity
While using the VPN’s server IP address, third parties won’t be able to tie your online activities to your actual IP address. Snoopers, cookies, surveillance watchdogs, and advertisers will only track the VPN’s IP address.
Unrestricted Open Internet
Unblock geo-restricted content
Popular online streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, BBC, YouTube TV, Disney Plus, HBO Max, Sports TV, among others, offer their content only in specific regions. Others offer different content in supported areas. These services geo-restrict their services because they can see your geo-location.
Related guide: How to unblock Netflix from anywhere
Related guide: How to unblock Hulu from anywhere
Related guide: How to unblock the BBC iPlayer from anywhere
Related guide: How to watch ITV in the USA
If you change your geo-location, you can beat their restrictions and access their content from anywhere in the world. The good news is that when you connect through a specific VPN server, you get the VPN’s server IP address and geo-location.
Bypass Censorship and Blocks
States and other institutions regulate what content citizens can access. This can be either local or foreign. This is done by blocking websites, social media, and other communication channels.
They use various techniques such as Deep Packet Inspection (DPI), firewalls, and IP filtering. These techniques are hard to bypass, even for some subpar VPNs.
Nonetheless, with a paid VPN, you can bypass censorship and various blocks and access local and international content. These VPNs use features such as obfuscation/VPN scrambling to hide VPN traffic.
Torrenting securely and privately
Torrenting is associated with piracy and copyright infringement. Hence, most ISPs block or throttle torrent connections. In some cases, torrenting websites are inaccessible. Additionally, when you use the P2P clients, your connected peers will see your IP address.
This becomes a problem if there are copyright trolls. Trolls track your IP address and report to copyright enforcers. This is how you get DMCA notices.
With a VPN, your IP address is masked, and your online activities are hidden. Your ISP won’t throttle your torrent connection if they don’t know you are torrenting.
Avoid Price Discrimination
Prices of international goods and services, especially in e-commerce, vary according to the region. This is because some areas are economically better than others, while others face inflation, among other factors.
For instance, some hotels may have higher booking prices in some regions while low in others.
This is the same situation with airline tickets, online subscriptions, and even car rentals. Other places may have higher discounts than others.
To get the best deals, you will need to adjust your geo-location to areas where prices are affordable. You only need to connect to turn off location services, clear cookies, and connect to a VPN.
Paid VPN vs. a Free VPN
Here is a quick overview and comparison between free and paid VPNs.
||Extensive / many servers
||Highest possible speeds
||Capped / slow speed
||Top security / no logs
||Multiple extra features
||None or minimal
|Value for money
||Sells your data
Paid VPNs are superior in every aspect as compared to free VPNs. Free VPNs may entice you with the fact that you won’t have to spend any money. But that is not the case; free VPNs have to meet their operational cost.
To do this, they may sell your data or push intrusive ads. Paid VPNs may be pricey, but you get excellent value for your money in the long run.
Premium VPNs have extensive server networks. They have servers specialized for various online tasks such as torrenting and streaming.
These servers also boast exceptional unblocking abilities; you can gain access to content from anywhere in the world. Also, they offer the highest possible speeds coupled with unlimited bandwidth.
On the other hand, free VPNs have few servers, limited bandwidth, and they cap your speeds once you reach the set bandwidth.
Also, with few servers, you will experience congestion, unable to unblock content, and won’t be able to bypass VPN block. Most free VPNs also don’t allow P2P traffic.
Security and privacy-wise, free VPNs log your data and share it with other parties. They also lack proper implementation of security. Paid VPNs offer stellar security with features such as leak protection that bolster your VPN connection.
They also don’t log your activities or monitor/track what you do online.
Premium Features of Paid VPNs
These are features that enhance the functionality of Paid VPNs. They help in security, privacy, and bypassing geo-restrictions, censorship, and VPN blocks.
Dedicated IP: a dedicated IP address is suitable for services that blacklist VPN connections. Usually, VPNs use shared IP addresses.
Some services, such as banks, may detect this as a fraudulent instance. To avoid this, premium VPNs offer you a personal IP address. You can also use it for remote access, streaming services, and gaming.
Leak protection: Paid VPNs offer leak protection that ensures your connection always stays in the tunnel. If your DNS or IP leaks, your ISP will service your connection. Other third parties may also see what you are doing online.
Obfuscation: other paid VPN call it VPN scrambling. This feature is often used to bypass VPN blocks and censorship.
When activated, it disguises your VPN connections and makes them seem like regular HTTPS traffic using port 403. Since this traffic is rarely blocked even by the firewall, you will bypass VPN blocks without any hassle.
Double VPN: This feature offers double protection. Also known as multi-hop, this feature lets you connect to two VPN servers in different locations.
This technique adds an encryption layer, and your IP address is hidden behind two servers. Double VPN ensures maximum privacy and security; tracking you will be hard.
Some premium VPNs also block ads, trackers, malware, and phishing attempts. You might also get TOR over VPN and other customizations. Moreover, premium VPNs offer a Smart DNS.
It is suitable for devices that don’t allow native app installations. However, it is not ideal for security and privacy.
Additional use cases for VPNs:
Paid VPNs vs. other Alternatives: Smart DNS, TOR, and Proxy
You can pick several alternatives to a paid VPN, each with their advantages and disadvantages.
A Smart DNS and a VPN share the excellent ability of bypassing geo-restrictions and gaining access to content such as streaming services.
A Smart DNS achieves this feat by utilizing the combined capabilities of a proxy and a DNS. The DNS receives and services your DNS queries, and the proxy changes your geo-location.
However, this setup doesn’t help you with your online security and privacy. A Smart DNS doesn’t secure your online connection or data; it doesn’t use encryption or a secure tunnel.
Additionally, a Smart DNS doesn’t change your IP address. Intrusive techniques will be able to get your IP address.
Essentially, other than bypassing geo-restrictions, a Smart DNS cannot help you in other areas. For instance, you cannot torrent safely or protect your online security and identity.
Also, they are high chances that a Smart DNS may not be reliable. This is why you need a paid VPN.
For devices that don’t support VPN apps, you can use the VPN service on your router.
TOR or The Onion Router is an anonymizing network. TOR is mainly used for anonymous communication, and this strength is unmatched by even VPNs. Although VPNs also offer the “anonymous” option, it is easy to take a VPN to court than TOR.
TOR anonymizes your connection and traffic by routing it through several nodes. Each node provides a layer of encryption, and this ensures perfect forward secrecy.
This makes it harder for someone to track your connection. Even the recipient sees the last node as the sender rather than the original sender.
TOR also has secret nodes that are used to evade censorship. Despite the anonymity, TOR has a slow connection as compared to a VPN. This is because of the nodes involved.
Additionally, the slow speed isn’t suitable for daily tasks such as streaming and torrenting. Also, other services may not allow TOR connections.
Hence it is better to use a VPN as it offers a great balance of speed, security, privacy and can also bypass censorship. Also, some premium VPNs have the TOR over VPN feature.
Proxy servers offer a great alternative option for bypassing restrictions and also hiding your IP address. Like a VPN, you can use a proxy to change your geo-location and access various content from other regions.
However, unlike a VPN, a proxy server is limited to locations it can block at once.
A Proxy server works by redirecting your connection to the internet and giving you back the results. The internet will only see the proxy server’s IP address and not your actual IP address.
Despite helping to conceal your identity, proxy servers don’t encrypt your connections or your online traffic.
This makes it hard for proxy servers to bypass some robust blocks and other restrictions. Unlike VPNs which don’t log your connection activities, proxy servers maintain a connection log.
These logs can be used to comprise your privacy. Also, you cannot use proxy connections in all your apps.
A Paid VPN is worth it and gives an excellent value for your money than free VPNs. Premium VPNs offer stellar security and maximum privacy.
Their extensive server network ensures you can block content from anywhere in the world. You also get to enjoy blazing speeds with unlimited bandwidth.
Paid VPNs also offer superior privacy and security-enhancing features. They also have exceptional unblocking abilities.