A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a popular technology that establishes a safe and private connection over the Internet.
It was originally created to allow employees to access their corporate network securely – and the available resources on it – from outside the workplace.
Today, VPNs are more commonly used by regular Internet users for various reasons like accessing unavailable content or bypassing ISP monitoring.
While this technology is incredibly helpful, many misconceptions regarding it are easily believed by most people.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the most common VPN myths out there and debunk them once and for all:
Debunking the Top 11 VPN Myths & Misconceptions
1. VPNs are an all-in-one privacy & security solution
VPNs are an essential tool to protect yourself online as they add a layer of military-grade encryption to your traffic and communications. But it’s important to realize they’re not a complete security and privacy solution. You can’t replace an antivirus program or firewall with a VPN. It’s just one of the many tools you should have in your arsenal to keep your device safe, nothing more.
2. A VPN is only for the tech-savvy
If you’re talking about building your own VPN server at home, then things can get a bit too technical and complicated. However, this is far from the truth when it comes to using commercial VPN services on the market. All you have to do is download the app/client for your device, run it, and you’ll be able to create a VPN connection in no time!
3. A VPN is a “get out of jail free” card
Even though VPNs are perfectly legal in most countries, that doesn’t mean you can use them to do anything you want. In other words, a VPN doesn’t make illegal activities such as data theft or cyberstalking any less illegal. If you’re using a VPN to break any laws, you would still be held liable for your actions when you’re discovered.
4. VPNs are dying
Privacy concerns are on the rise, government surveillance has become a norm, and Internet censorship is a big issue in authoritarian countries. As if that wasn’t enough, incidents of identity theft have seen an increase over the last few years. Therefore, the rapid growth of VPN usage around the world doesn’t come as a surprise, and it’s safe to say that it won’t stop any time soon either.
5. A VPN slows down the connection
Some people avoid using a VPN altogether because they believe it will slow down the speed of their connection. While the encryption and decryption process that takes place has the potential of doing so, the truth is your VPN speed depends on a variety of factors. These include but are not limited to:
- The speed of your Internet connection
- The distance between you and the VPN server
- The VPN protocol you’re using
6. Free VPNs are as good as paid ones
While you might be tempted to give free VPNs a shot, you should know that such services aren’t worth the risk. They won’t cost you anything monetarily, but you still pay with your personal data, which is collected and sold to third-parties.
Then, you also need to take into account their long list of limitations – fewer server locations, poor encryption, and IP leakages, to name a few. With top-rated paid VPNs, though, you’ll never have to worry about any of these issues.
7. All VPNs are built equally
One of the biggest VPN myths is that all of them are more or less the same. No! As with any other service offered in a competitive market, each VPN comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages.
Besides price, some key factors to consider include supported platforms, the number of servers, and connection speed. Please take a look at our how to choose a VPN guide to understand what sets one VPN apart from the others.
8. Proxies & Tor are Reliable VPN Alternatives
Due to the VPN myths we’ve discussed above, many people search for alternatives that will provide similar benefits. They combine proxies and Tor for this purpose, but even so – these technologies can’t replicate what a VPN does.
ISPs are able to see when you’re connected to the Tor network, whereas a proxy does only masks your IP address. If you want to achieve the highest levels of security, however, using a VPN in conjunction with Tor should get the job done.
9. VPNs Are Illegal
There’s a misunderstanding about VPNs that you’re going to end up in jail if you use them. Though these tools can sometimes be employed by shady figures to conduct illegal activities, their use by itself isn’t illegal.
VPNs were originally developed to help businesses transfer confidential data safely, and it’s something they’ve been using for decades. Personal VPNs have increased in popularity only recently, given the growing concerns surrounding privacy.
The truth is, any technology can be used for legitimate or illegitimate purposes. You don’t have anything to worry about, as long as you’re not using a VPN for anything illegal.
10. A VPN Makes You 100% Anonymous
VPNs disguise your online identity as much as possible and protect you from data theft and tracking. However, it’s important to understand that true online anonymity is close to impossible to achieve, whether you’re connected to a VPN or not. The only way to hide yourself entirely is by not using the internet at all!
We live in an age where data collection is a part of everyday life, and not all of it is bad. For example, when you buy something online, the purchase wouldn’t be possible without your payment details. Online anonymity is a complex topic because many players are involved, like the government, your ISP, and websites you visit (including tech giants like Google and Facebook).
We often hand over our personal information unintentionally, and it isn’t fun to admit that happens. Just remember this: if you serve your data on a silver platter to third parties, using a VPN won’t make any difference.
11. VPNs Slow Down Your Internet
A VPN can make your internet slow, but that isn’t necessarily always the case. When you use one, your traffic goes through a process of encryption and decryption, which is why users notice a difference in connection speed.
That said, this problem usually occurs when you’re connected to VPN servers located far away you’re your location. The closer you are to the server, the faster the internet speed. Unless you’re looking to access geo-restricted content, always connect to nearby countries.
In fact, using a VPN can even boost your internet connection. If you experience throttling at the hands of your ISP when streaming or downloading, a VPN will shield your online activities using encryption so they can’t throttle you.
Hopefully, we’ve managed to clear your confusions and doubts about the different myths surrounding VPNs. If you have any questions, feel free to use the comments section below, and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can!