Updated March 20, 2019
As any savvy shopper knows, free things often come with a catch, or they’re probably worth about as much as they cost. Well this logic isn’t exclusive to typical retail – it also applies to online security.
Why would a cyber-security provider of any sort spend money and time developing infrastructure and programs, only to offer services for free? I mean it happens, but it’s rare.
The Internet is becoming increasingly more threatening, as new technologies and methods of spying on and stealing your data are always being developed. That’s why a premium Virtual Private Network is a good investment.
While paying for your online security might be something you wouldn’t consider, in my opinion, the benefits that come with owning a VPN offset the cost. Read on for the benefits of using one.
No matter what your location is, a VPN allows you to be somewhere else. Well-established VPN providers have a vast global server network that spans the world, including all the hotspots of information and entertainment like North America. Accessing this network allows you to fool your ISP into thinking you’re based there, granting you access to all the content you’d otherwise miss for being outside of that region.
Secure Personal Data
Technically, VPNs don’t directly deal with a security threat, but rather make you anonymous to a lot of them. A VPN encrypts your activity, making it impossible for others on the network to understand the content of your traffic – even if they intercept it. Therefore, if you need to transmit important and sensitive information, such as logins or banking information, over an unsecure Wi-Fi network at a coffee shop or airport, for example, it’s imperative that you use a VPN that employs industry-leading encryption.
The vast majority of public Wi-Fi networks are not safe and come with little—or no—encryption.
Bypass ISP Throttling
Speed is one of the top priorities of anyone on the Internet, and one of the benefits of using a VPN service – with servers all over the world – is that your device will benefit from less throttling.
Using a VPN with local, physical servers allows you to avoid the hassle of having your traffic routed from one country across the planet to another. For example, if you’re based in the US and want to use a service based in the UK, you’re better off using a server that’s in the UK, rather than connecting to it with the ISP outside of that region.
ISPs are known for throttling traffic, which obviously diminishes your overall experience of the Internet. By hiding your data, a VPN gets you around these bandwidth restrictions.
If you have a personal or organizational network that spans several locations, a VPN can link all the remote resources without compromising the security of the organization. For instance, if a company has five departments, each with its own unique local network, a VPN can help employees in all the branches access common servers and resources, like printers and shared drives. Obviously this works wonders for digital-nomads, home-workers or those always on the move.
Government agencies and hackers aren’t the only parties interested in monitoring your online activity. The type of content you consume can land you in civil or federal trouble without a bit of care. Obtaining content through torrenting is one such precarious activity, as extortionist, increasingly litigious law firms are always open to earn big bucks from the corporations clamping down on torrentors.
As a VPN encrypts online traffic, it’s not possible for anyone to know that you’re torrenting – Unless you use a membership-based torrent site, of course. It eliminates that blatant risk of stealing copyrighted content – or gives some reassurance at least.
While VPNs come with a host of benefits, security should obviously be a top concern. No security means no privacy, after all. Every service out there—bar most free VPNs— offer some form of encryption, and you should always aim for the one that offers the best encryption at the price that suits you.
But if it comes without a no-log policy, then what’s the point? Your data is sold on to marketing firms for bespoke advertising, and other such breaches of your privacy.
Opt for one that actively commits to a no-logging policy. There are plenty out there and it’s a feature belonging to a lot of decent services available at the minute. As a tip: choose one that’s headquartered in a location without strict copyright and data-retention laws.
Support, Diagnostics and fixes
Having no technical skills isn’t an issue since all ready-to-use VPNs are optimized for the most novice user. This is frustrating for more advanced users, of course. All the leading VPN providers offer automatic diagnoses and fixes of network problems, typically working in the background without a hitch. But if a network issue isn’t automatically diagnosed and resolved, premium VPNs have a team of customer support representatives, some even available 24/7, to offer assistance through live chat, email and support tickets.