Can You Use a VPN Without Wi-Fi?

Justin Oyaro

By Justin Oyaro . 2 July 2024

Cybersecurity Expert

Miklos Zoltan

Fact-Checked this

A VPN is a must-have tool for protecting your online security and privacy while surfing the internet on Wi-Fi.

If you don’t have access to Wi-Fi, you can still use a VPN as long as you have alternative means of establishing an internet connection.

Without an active internet connection, a VPN won’t work since it cannot create a secure tunnel through its servers over the internet.

Other than Wi-Fi, you can establish an internet connection using alternative means such as cellular mobile data and ethernet.

Summary: A VPN acts as a safeguard for your online security and privacy when browsing the internet on Wi-Fi.

Even without Wi-Fi, a VPN remains effective with other internet connections, such as cellular mobile data or an Ethernet connection.

However, it’s important to note that using a VPN over cellular data can result in higher data usage and faster battery drain on your smartphone.

Ethernet connections provide high-speed internet and substantial bandwidth, although their range is limited by the physical length of the LAN cable.

Additionally, the article clarifies that a VPN does not provide a free internet connection and warns against using VPNs that falsely claim to offer this service.

Using a VPN with Cellular Data

Cellular data is an excellent alternative to Wi-Fi when other internet connections are unavailable.

Telecommunication providers have cell phone towers in most locations, making cellular data a portable option for accessing the internet, even in remote areas.

However, cellular data is expensive, and using a VPN with cellular data can increase your data consumption due to the encryption overhead.

In addition to higher data usage, using a VPN with cellular data will also drain your smartphone battery more quickly.

Using a VPN with Ethernet

Ethernet refers to wired internet technologies. For consumers, you can get internet by connecting an ethernet cable (LAN cable) from your router to a LAN (ethernet) port on your computer.

Most routers have up to four LAN ports. These ports look similar to your computer’s LAN port. You will need a USB ethernet adapter to use ethernet on other devices, such as your smartphone.

Other wired internet technologies, such as optical and coaxial, usually terminate at the modem router.

Ethernet offers fast speeds and carries much bandwidth. When using a VPN with ethernet, the encryption overhead is negligible unless your ISP gives you low speeds.

Additionally, ethernet doesn’t suffer much interference compared to Wi-Fi or cellular data connections. However, ethernet reach is restricted by the length of the LAN cable.

VPN and Free Internet

Can a VPN give you a free internet connection? No, a VPN cannot give you a free internet connection. Nonetheless, some VPNs claim they can do so.

Usually, these VPNs incorporate tools that exploit your telecommunication network’s loopholes. They create a tunnel that routes your traffic to the internet via the loopholes.

These loopholes are open ports on your telecom network and other protocols that your provider uses for internal purposes. These VPNs also exploit the free access your telecom or ISP offers to some essential websites.

Nowadays, most telecom providers have taken measures to ensure these loopholes are not exploited; thus, the probability of VPNs offering free internet is low.

Even if you succeed in getting free internet, you won’t be able to enjoy benefits such as bypassing geo-restrictions. These VPNs also offer slow speeds unsuitable for online tasks such as streaming.

Additionally, these VPNs require your phone’s admin privileges (root) to work correctly. If they can exploit loopholes in telecom networks, they can severely harm your privacy and security.

Wrap Up

Wi-Fi is the most preferred way to connect to the internet since it is provided in most public places.

However, if you are in a place with no Wi-Fi and need to protect your online activities, you can use a VPN with other Wi-Fi alternatives such as cellular data or ethernet.

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