Updated March 3, 2019

Although vast swathes of the public might now be aware of what a VPN is, that doesn't mean they believe that a VPN is necessary for their internet usage. Misconceptions abound regarding this growingly famous bit of programming. This article will dispel some common myths.

Virtual private networks (VPNs) are becoming ubiquitous in our daily usage of the internet. For anything from hiding your identity online to accessing another country's Netflix shows, VPNs are in vogue. What was once a niche piece of software is now the talking point in offices and coffee shops around the country. A secure private connection to the internet has become a commodity of necessity.

And as the news fills with stories of companies having data leaks and countries spying on their citizens through their internet habits, the need for privacy has never been higher.

To help you stay protected, here are five of the most common VPN myths, and the truth behind them.

Myth 1: I don't need a VPN if I've got nothing to hide

One of the most typical arguments whenever privacy issues come up in the press; why should it matter if you're not doing anything wrong? It is heard regarding anything from publicly accessible records to CCTV cameras in residential streets.

A common misconception for VPNs is that their primary function is to hide illicit and illegal activities. However, there are tons of reasons why a VPN is useful for completely legitimate internet uses.

Although VPNs are used primarily to hide people's online identity, this can be beneficial for many reasons. You may not feel the need to hide your browsing history from the government, but increasingly internet privacy is being breached by unknown sources. Many websites are finding they can't keep track of password leaks by unknown hackers.

If you want to complete your bank transfers in comfort, for ease of mind, we recommend using VPNs.

One of the most used functions of a VPN is that you can bypass region-locked content. Accessing the wealth of content on streaming services like Netflix and Hulu might be only possible through a VPN if you're outside of the US.

Myth 2: A VPN will slow my internet down to a snail's pace

Many VPNs function by rerouting your internet traffic to a server, which can be in a foreign country. Because of this, it is true that if your VPN reroutes you to a far away distant land, you will have to deal with the latency issues as you send information back and forward across the globe.

However, although this is a possibility, it is not always the case.

Most current VPNs give users the ability to choose where their server is going to be located. This means you don't need to connect to a server in Bishkek, Kazakhstan every time you want to watch a video on YouTube.

If all you want is data encryption and not a different geo-location,  you can happily connect to a server in your own country. This way your latency issues will be a thing of the past.

Myth 3: It's not worth it to pay for a VPN

There's no such thing as a free dinner. Of course, you can get a free VPN, and we even have a recommendation list of some of our favorite free VPNs. However, it's important to note that there's always a price to something free.

Many free VPNs will have restrictions in some form of another. Some will restrict your bandwidth usage, others will have speed restrictions. However, the riskiest form of restriction a free VPN may come with is a restriction on your privacy.

Many free VPNs are somewhat careless with the information they may force you to provide them upon signing up. Maintaining logs of your history and personal data is the price to pay for some free VPNs.

Myth 4: All VPNs are the same

Although we may talk about VPNs as if they come with a clear set of functions, that couldn't be further from the truth. The vast range of functionality and capabilities of different VPN services is staggering.

The most important functions of a VPN will always be the same. Any good VPN should be encrypting your data. However, there's more than one method of encryption. We frequently recommend ExpressVPN for its industry-leading encryption.

Aside from just encryption capabilities, there's also the VPN protocol to think about. This is the user interface with which you access your VPN. Although the VPN may be secure, a dodgy protocol takes you back to step one. Generally, OpenVPN is the most secure protocol technology, while PPTP is the least.

Finally, not all VPNs are equal when it comes to logging your online activity. Keep an eye out for your VPN's Privacy Policy. Some may keep logs of your information. Others may keep them for a short time before deleting. Ideally you want a VPN that keeps absolutely no logs.

Myth 5: My VPN is good, I'm free to browse as I please

One of the most malicious myths of them all. No VPN is 100% safe, a VPN won't protect you from everything. They're just one form of digital protection.

Keeping your vigilance while you browse is still an absolute necessity. There are tons of cybercriminals constantly trying to find the means to steal your valuable data. If you compromise your information yourself, even the best VPN can't save you.

This is why anti-virus software and firewalls are still a must.