Benefits and disadvantages of VPN services

Anton P. | July 27, 2023

The benefits and disadvantages of VPN are perks and possible downsides of using a Virtual Private Network. Securing your internet connection does wonders when working remotely or connecting to public Wi-Fi networks. 

So, encrypted tunnels and data have many advantages for users. However, some minor disadvantages of using a VPN do exist. 

This article discusses the ways a VPN can influence your digital life, both positively and negatively. 

Learn VPN benefits and disadvantages.

What a VPN is and how it works 

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is an application that users install on devices like laptops, smartphones, or smart TVs. Its main job is to encrypt internet traffic, reroute it through selected servers, and change users’ real IP addresses

So, the main motivations for using a VPN follow these goals: 

  • Protecting the data users submit and exchange online. 
  • Making their internet connection more secure, especially when using unknown networks. 
  • More privacy from online entities, advertisers, and their Internet Service Provider (ISP). 

Pros and cons of using a VPN service 

Here is a rundown of the most prominent advantages and disadvantages of using a VPN:

AdvantagesDisadvantages
Boosts the security of browsing activitiesFree VPN services might be unreliable and outright dangerous 
Protects data submitted online (like login data)Web traffic encryption and rerouting might influence speed
Helps journalists and activistsVPN connection could result in slightly higher usage of mobile data
It might prevent bandwidth throttlingDoes not work on every internet-connected device
Protects users on unsecured Wi-Fi networksIt does not protect from all types of online tracking practices
Protects from attacks like DDoSLimited VPN server selection
It helps users hide their IP address and locationSome services and governments can block VPN connections
Provides remote access opportunitiesA VPN usually does not work as an antivirus
It might help avoid price discrimination based on locationVPN providers might keep users’ data logs

Let’s discuss each point in detail. What might help you avoid the unwanted downsides and get more out of the perks?

Privacy is a BIG DEAL!

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Benefits of using a VPN 

A trusted and secure VPN service can significantly protect your routine for accessing the internet.  

  1. Boosts the security of online activities

People might limit their activities due to security or privacy concerns. For instance, users might avoid Googling health symptoms or embarrassing questions. Why? Because the digital footprint from the search query might affect your further experience (like ads on other sites and apps). 

How a VPN helps: 

A VPN encrypts internet traffic and mixes it with other users connecting to the same VPN server. Thus, you cannot distinguish which user performed a particular activity even if the traffic were to be decrypted. So, it gives users more privacy to perform the activities they want and need online. 

Pro tip: Perform the most private browsing using a VPN, browsers’ incognito mode, or a privacy-focused search engine.

  1. Protects data online

Users share a lot of information through the internet. Your banking details, passwords, messages, and other personal data travel via it. However, online communications can fail, exposing data. 

Also, various attacks, like SSL stripping attacks, aim to capture personal details. For instance, a sniffing attack means that criminals steal unencrypted packets. It can happen due to unsafe networks or unsafe websites. 

Many efforts have been made to protect and alert users against HTTP sites. However, these websites still exist, threatening users’ sensitive data. 

How a VPN helps: 

A VPN encrypts internet traffic, making communications much safer. It also fixes many of the issues haunting unsecured networks and HTTP websites. Overall, web traffic encryption ensures no one can read what you send (except the intended destinations).  

  1. Helps journalists and activists 

Internet access is a complicated subject. Users worldwide experience the digital world differently. Thus, limiting or restricting access to websites or services has been linked to human rights violations and laws. So, journalists and activists in such restrictive countries hope to find ways to spread the word and news. 

How a VPN helps: 

Various VPN providers support journalists or activists around the world. They can engage with global communities and share their stories by connecting to VPN servers outside their countries. 

  1. Preventing bandwidth throttling 

Laws in countries like the United States have allowed ISPs to manipulate their clients’ internet speed. Such conditions open doors for ISPs to prioritize specific traffic, like supporting higher speeds for streaming services they partner with. 

How a VPN helps: 

Since a VPN encrypts internet traffic, it prevents ISPs from seeing what you do online. So, if throttling happens based on traffic type, a VPN can stop it. However, a VPN won’t help in cases of general speed throttling during peak times.

  1. Protection on unknown Wi-Fi networks 

Public Wi-Fi networks have a reputation for being unsecured. Users joining random hotspots do not have the option of seeing their security status. Thus, they might use less robust encryption standards. As a result, activities via such internet connections should be treated with caution

How a VPN helps: 

A VPN adds much-needed security to connections to public Wi-Fi. It protects you from its network managers and other connecting users. 

  1. Stopping price discrimination

Users may notice that prices for various products differ based on location. While this is reasonable, there are times when the division might be unjust. In such circumstances, people might be unable to purchase the necessary goods because of their location. 

How a VPN helps: 

A VPN hides your IP address and lets you choose which VPN server to join. Thus, you can find better local deals that otherwise might not be available. Using a VPN might be particularly beneficial for traveling: booking flights or hotels in foreign countries.

Disadvantages of a VPN 

Despite all the positive changes a VPN does, the software might bring some unwanted effects. Let’s discuss them and see how you can avoid the trouble of dealing with them.

  1. Free VPN or low quality-premium VPN

Not all VPN services are reliable. Free VPNs generally have an unsavory reputation for collecting and selling users’ data. However, premium VPNs can perform the same exploitative actions. In other cases, some VPN providers might not invest enough to offer the best encryption protocols or secure servers. 

How to avoid this VPN disadvantage: 

Research the VPN provider and see whether its practices and conditions are reasonable. Check reviews from external sources, users, and industry experts. 

  1. Internet speed loss 

Sometimes, a VPN can improve internet speeds. However, the extra protection, data rerouting, and encryption can slow down your internet connection. So, a slight difference in speed is normal and somewhat expected. 

How to avoid this VPN disadvantage: 

VPN providers do their best to minimize the potential encryption and rerouting burden. For instance, Atlas VPN also introduces servers exceptionally crafted for specific activities. However, most of our servers aim to affect users’ regular speed the least.

  1. Higher mobile data usage 

Depending on the VPN infrastructure, the increase in cellular data usage differs. For instance, specific encryption protocols are said to keep the effects minimal. So, you can predict what increase to expect from a particular service. 

How to avoid this VPN disadvantage: 

The first thing to look for is the protocols a VPN offers. For instance, WireGuard® is a modern protocol, and data usage increases from 4% to 5%. On the other hand, OpenVPN can increase data usage by 20%.  

  1. Does not support all smart devices 

VPNs mostly work on laptops, smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, or browsers. That leaves many devices unprotected. Luckily, there are options for protecting devices that do not natively support VPNs. 

How to avoid this VPN disadvantage: 

Installing a VPN on a router can help protect each device connecting to the network. Additionally, you can create a hotspot from a device protected with a VPN. All devices joining the shared network will receive VPN protection. 

  1. A VPN does not protect from all tracking 

The greatest advantage of a VPN is its ability to secure internet traffic. However, this tool is not enough to protect you online fully. Users should have antivirus software and other programs ready to defend their activities. 

How to avoid this VPN disadvantage: 

It is best to change your attitude toward the digital world. For instance, pick more private search engines, and messaging platforms, read privacy policies, and be mindful of what you get. Another example is social media; even with a VPN, it manages to harvest a lot of personal information. 

  1. VPNs that keep logs 

A trusted VPN should not keep logs of users’ activities. Such no-logs claims can be proved via independent audits. Thus, you should always read VPN’s privacy policies. 

How to avoid this VPN disadvantage: 

Check whether the VPN provider follows a no-logs policy. Also, find information on the audits the VPN has gone through.  

Know what to expect from a VPN

A VPN can be an excellent tool for safeguarding your privacy and security online. For instance, Atlas VPN works hard to minimize any possible setbacks. 

We optimize our VPN servers, have undergone several audits, and always seek ways to protect and inform our community!

Browse safely & anonymously with a VPN

Browse safely & anonymously with a VPN

Encrypt your internet traffic and defend against online snooping, hackers, governments, or ISPs.
Anton P.

Anton P.

Former chef and the head of Atlas VPN blog team. He's an experienced cybersecurity expert with a background of technical content writing.

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