A Swiss army knife in a form of a shield, with VPN written on it

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) encrypts your traffic and hides your IP address to protect your privacy online. You’ve probably heard it a thousand times before. But while privacy and security are the main building blocks of any good VPN provider, they’re far from being the only benefits a VPN offers.

Having a VPN can enhance your online experience, increase connection speeds, or even help you save some money. Follow along to learn more about the benefits of a VPN.

Table of contents

    VPN pros and cons at a glance

    Before we delve into the nitty-gritty of each advantage and disadvantage, let’s review the main points:

    Pros
    Cons
    Improves online security
    VPNs may slow down your internet speed
    Enhances privacy — hides personal data
    Premium VPNs cost money
    Helps overcome internet access restrictions
    Free VPNs may be too slow and may collect your data
    Removes bandwidth throttling
    VPNs may be restricted in some countries
    Saves you money on online purchases
    Removes native content access restrictions*
    Makes gaming safer
    Makes file sharing safe and anonymized

    *Useful when traveling to a country that doesn’t have access to your native apps or entertainment

    What are the advantages of using a VPN?

    The benefits you get from a VPN depend on which provider you choose. Each has a unique set of features designed to give its customers the best possible VPN experience. Here are some of the most common advantages of using a VPN:

    a listing of the benefits and disadvantages of using a VPN

    Curious to experience the benefits firsthand? Have a go at Surfshark’s VPN free trial to explore the full features and advantages.

    Improved security

    First and foremost, a VPN is a security solution. It establishes an encrypted tunnel of communication between you and the internet. Simply put, it creates a secure internet connection that protects you from external threats.

    Features like Kill Switch and Private DNS further boost your security. Kill Switch shuts down your internet connection if a VPN disconnects so that no sensitive data gets leaked. Private DNS adds an extra layer of security to your searches and the data you send to websites when you visit them.

    Enhanced privacy

    When it comes to VPNs, privacy is just as important as security. A lot of your private information can be collected if you don’t use a VPN. This includes your searches, the websites you visit, your activity on said websites, or even your name, email, phone number, and location.

    By encrypting all your traffic and changing your IP address, a VPN app effectively eliminates such issues as neither your ISP (Internet Service Provider) nor bad actors can see your online activity. On top of that, you can even hide the fact that you’re using a VPN if you connect to one of Surfshark’s obfuscated servers.

    Unrestricted access to the internet

    The internet may seem like an open ocean that you can explore without restraints or limitations. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Oppressive governments tend to censor the internet for their citizens, while lesser online restrictions may be applied depending on your region.

    You can overcome oppressive censorship and freely access the wonders of the World Wide Web by connecting to a VPN server. Surf worry-free with secure encryption, which won’t let anyone spy on your online activity.

    Disclaimer: Please note that using Surfshark services for any illegal activities is strictly forbidden and violates our Terms of Service. Make sure that any use of Surfshark services for your particular activities conforms to all relevant laws and regulations, including those of any service providers and websites you access using Surfshark.

    No internet throttling 

    Your ISP can throttle your connection when you play games, download files, watch video content, or take part in other data-heavy activities. However, when you use a VPN, your ISP can’t see what you’re doing online. As a result, it can’t throttle your connection based on your activities.

    It’s worth noting that a VPN only helps with selective throttling. It won’t affect your connection speed if the ISP has placed a data cap on your network or is slowing the connection down for other reasons.

    Saving money on online purchases

    While any good VPN costs money, it can also help you save some. 

    Some websites keep logs of your activity and use this information to increase their prices. This is particularly common with flights and accommodation booking. The more you check the prices, the higher they get. Clear your browsing history and cache folders, and connect to a VPN to avoid this.

    Sometimes, prices of goods and services may differ according to location. You can try changing VPN servers to get an even better deal.

    Access to your native websites

    Video libraries and news outlets tend to restrict their content to a certain country and region. A VPN allows you to keep up to date with your favorite shows and local news while traveling abroad. Simply connect to a VPN server in your home country, and you’ll be able to enjoy content as if you never left.

    Protection on all devices

    Surfshark offers unlimited simultaneous connections and is supported by all major platforms. There’s no need to count your devices — you can run a VPN on iPhone, Android, PC, or Mac simultaneously.

    Alternatively, you can set up a VPN on your router. By doing so, you secure every device that connects to your home network, and you don’t need to install apps or set up extra connections.

    Smoother online experience

    Premium VPN providers typically offer special features to enhance the user’s experience and security. For example, Surfshark’s Clean Web feature blocks annoying ads and helps prevent malware, phishing, and cookie pop-ups. And it’s all included in the standard plan, so you don’t have to pay extra.

    Safer gaming

    Playing online games can pose a threat to your online privacy. Many such games don’t protect your IP address or protect it poorly. Some may even ask you to set up your network in a way that leaves you open to DDoS attacks. When you use a VPN for gaming, it hides your IP address and closes vulnerable ports, protecting you from most privacy and DDoS risks.

    File sharing made safe and anonymized

    A VPN is a great choice for remote workers to secure themselves and their work whenever they travel. Suppose you’re working in a company that uses peer-to-peer file sharing. In this case, a VPN will encrypt your data, making all your work secure and your identity hidden from those outside the intended recipient circle.

    What are the disadvantages of a VPN?

    While VPN disadvantages are a small price for privacy and security online, they still need to be considered before you get a VPN subscription.

    Connection speed

    While a VPN can help with ISP throttling, it will slightly slow down your connection when it’s not being throttled. This happens because data travels to a VPN server and is encrypted before reaching your desired destination online. Once there, the data is fetched back to the VPN server to get decrypted and only then reaches your device.

    The impact on speed depends on the distance between you and the server and how crowded the server is. If you use a premium VPN to connect to a local server, the speed shouldn’t fall by more than 10-15%. If you connect to a server thousands of miles away, the impact on speed will be slightly more noticeable.

    If you want some of your apps to stay unaffected by a VPN, you can set that up with a split-tunneling feature. This way, selected apps will make the most of your connection speed while the rest of your traffic will stay protected by a VPN. This feature is commonly used to run banking apps or to exclude data-heavy apps like YouTube or Netflix from the VPN.

    An infographic showing how a VPN works: data travels to a VPN server, is encrypted, fetched back to the VPN server, is decrypted, and reaches the user's device.

    Pricing

    If you want a truly secure and private connection to the internet, you should look for a premium VPN. And premium VPNs aren’t free. That said, not all VPN subscriptions cost the same. You can get Surfshark as cheap as $2.19, while some providers may charge more than twice as much. So take your time and do your research.

    While free VPN alternatives exist, they don’t provide the same safety or experience as premium services. The connection speeds tend to be slow due to overcrowding, and you get shown excessive amounts of ads. In some cases, free VPN providers have even been known to collect and sell user data.

    Free VPN risks

    A free VPN service is often related to security issues and not without a reason — 25 million free VPN user records were exposed in 2022. Usually, free providers limit data usage, have slow speeds, and limit the number of servers VPN users can connect to. Some providers even sell user data to maintain their business.

    Legality

    While VPNs are legal in most of the world, some countries have decided to restrict or outright ban VPN use. Oppressive governments typically impose such restrictions to keep track of every step their citizens take online. VPNs provide users freedom and privacy, which is why they may get banned.

    Do the benefits of a VPN outweigh the disadvantages?

    Using a VPN is the best online privacy and security solution available today. It’s easy to use, affordable, and secure. The only downsides are a slight drop in connection speed and the bad reputation that VPNs get from sketchy free service providers.

    A premium VPN like Surfshark will keep you safe and private while enhancing your surfing experience with additional features like ad blockers and unlimited connections. For a more detailed feature list, visit the Surfshark review.

    All things considered, it’s only fair to say that the benefits of the VPN far outweigh any disadvantages.

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    FAQ

    What are the main advantages of using a VPN?

    Generally, a VPN’s main benefit is stopping websites, software, and ISPs from tracking your online activity. Here are some other VPN benefits:

    • You can change your IP;
    • Internet connection is encrypted and secured;
    • File sharing is safe and anonymized;
    • Your online privacy is protected;
    • It helps overcome internet access restrictions;
    • Bandwidth is no longer throttled;
    • It helps you save money on online purchases.

    What is the main purpose of a VPN?

    A VPN creates an encrypted point-to-point tunnel that secures your data, masks your IP address, and lets you avoid firewalls on the internet. This way, a VPN allows users to enjoy internet freedom while maintaining their online privacy.

    Are there any drawbacks to using a VPN?

    A VPN marginally slows down your connection speed because it sends traffic through a VPN server. On the other hand, free VPNs pose some privacy and security issues, so it’s better to choose a paid option.

    What are the different types of VPNs?

    There are physical (hardware) VPNs and software ones. Hardware VPNs are VPN routers (or VPN firewalls) and are commonly used by tech enthusiasts. They give you private access to the internet but are often hard to set up. A software VPN is an app offered by a service provider that enables you to easily establish private internet access.

    What are the benefits of a business VPN?

    When talking about software VPN, the main benefits for a business are:

    • Safe connection to the company’s inner infrastructure for remote workers;
    • Almost complete device compatibility and easy setup;
    • Low-cost, easy-to-scale security option.

    When should I use a VPN on my phone?

    You should use a VPN on your phone whenever you’re online. A VPN encrypts your traffic and hides your IP to keep you safe on the internet. Whenever you access the internet without such protection, you’re vulnerable to a number of threats.

    Is a VPN really worth it?

    VPNs are worth it if you want to protect your online privacy, hide your IP, and overcome oppressive censorship. VPNs encrypt your online data traffic to prevent online tracking and third parties snooping on your online browsing. Depending on the provider, VPNs also have numerous other benefits. For example, Surfshark offers an ad and a cookie pop-up blocker.