You’re not much safer surfing the web from your living room than anywhere else. If you want privacy and security online, you need a VPN (Virtual Private Network). Much like a door keeps unwanted visitors away from your home, a VPN sets up a barrier that protects you from bad actors online.
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Why do I need a VPN?
First and foremost, a VPN is a privacy tool. It creates a secure connection to the internet and keeps your sensitive information hidden from snoopers. Since it encrypts all your traffic, no data is passed to your ISP (Internet Service Provider), the websites your visit, or hackers looking to use it for malicious purposes.
Without the protection of a VPN, you are far more likely to receive targeted ads, phishing attacks, or become a victim of data breaches.
Premium VPN services like Surfshark have additional tools to ensure a safe and smooth online experience. These include the likes of Kill Switch, a data breach alert, a private search engine, or an antivirus to keep your devices safe.
If you’d like to see the features in action, you can start with Surfshark’s VPN free trial and go for a risk-free test drive
5 reasons to use a VPN at home
Protect your privacy online
You need a VPN to protect your privacy online. It’s the first thing people mention when talking about VPN providers, and there’s a good reason for it. A VPN is a privacy tool designed to keep your sensitive information away from prying eyes.
There are two basic ways how a good VPN service protects your privacy:
- By changing your IP address;
- By encrypting your data.
Scammers, hackers, invasive ISPs — everyone wants a piece of your data. But once you’re connected to a trusted VPN service like Surfshark, you’re hiding everything a VPN can hide.
Pro tip: with Surfshark’s Camouflage mode, your ISP won’t know you’re using a VPN.
Enjoy entertainment privately
If you’re one of the more privacy-oriented people, you’ll want to stay safe no matter what you do. This includes entertainment. With a VPN, you can keep bad actors away when playing games or streaming your favorite movies.
Just make sure to look for a VPN that has fast servers and doesn’t limit your bandwidth. Surfshark has 10Gbps ports on most of its servers, allowing you to use as much data as needed. So you’ll never have to suffer a buffering screen or watch content without the protection of a VPN.
Disclaimer: we prohibit using Surfshark services for any unlawful purposes as it is against our Terms of Service. Please be sure to act in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations of streaming service providers.
Pro tip: Surfshark is compatible with most smart TVs, so you can enjoy private and secure streaming on the big screen.
Secure your whole family online
You’re probably not the only one using the internet at home. Thankfully, there are ways to protect everyone within your household with a single VPN subscription. Surfshark offers unlimited simultaneous connections on all of its plans, so you can protect your family while taking care of your own privacy.
You can secure your entire home network by installing a VPN on your router. By doing so, every device connected to your home Wi-Fi is immediately protected by a VPN.
And it’s not just about improving privacy on phones, tablets, and computers. All internet-of-things devices are safe are long as they’re connected to your Wi-Fi. This includes smartwatches, cameras, sensors, and anything else that connects to the internet.
Pro tip: the easiest way to protect every device on your home network is to set up a VPN connection on your router.
Defy invasive laws and practices
You’d think it would be in your country’s interest to protect its people’s privacy. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Depending on the country, the law might require your ISP to keep logs of your browsing data for six months — or even allow them to sell your data to marketers.
A VPN encrypts all your data before it leaves your device. So instead of activity logs, your ISP sees gibberish code. The same applies to anyone trying to snoop on your traffic.
A VPN can also help you overcome oppressive censorship. This is particularly useful for users in countries that heavily restrict or regulate internet use. By establishing a VPN connection, you can overcome these restrictions and enjoy free access to the internet.
Pro tip: Surfshark offers NoBorders mode for users in countries that restrict VPN access.
Save money online
Some services, such as airlines, rentals, and online shops, change prices according to your location and previous activity on their website. Whether it’s because you’re trying to get a last-minute flight or you’re visiting their website too much, price discrimination is real.
Fortunately, you can still hunt for bargains and save money with a VPN. Make sure to regularly clear your cache and cookies so the website you’re visiting has no information about your prior activity. Now, you can start using a VPN to get cheaper flights, or find better deals for whatever you’re looking for.
Pro tip: switch your VPN location a few times to find the best deals.
What does a VPN hide?
A VPN can hide most of the things you do online, including, but not limited to:
Your web activity
Everything you do online, including your browsing history, can be tracked by third parties. That’s everyone from your ISP to hackers.
Protecting your activity from hackers is essential, as they typically have malicious intent behind their actions. ISPs can’t be trusted, either. Some of them have been known to sell your information to advertisers or pass it on to government agencies.
A VPN hides all your traffic from third parties by encrypting it in a code that’s nearly impossible to crack. Anyone trying to spy on you will see gibberish and won’t gain any useful information from you as long as you’re connected to a VPN.
Your IP address
Without any protection, your IP address is exposed every time you go online. Imagine that each time you went to a coffee shop, you had to write down your home address and give it to the barista. That’s what happens whenever you visit a website. What can happen if someone has your IP? Quite a few things, like tracking and hacking. Once you establish a VPN connection, you hide your real IP and use the one the VPN provides instead.
Once you establish a VPN connection, you hide your real IP and use the one the VPN provides instead. Whenever you’re in a coffee shop, you write “Surfshark” as your home address. And there’s no way to track it back to your address.
Your networked devices
You probably have a lot of devices connected to your local network — your phone, laptop, TV, or even your smart fridge. And guess what? They can all be found and hacked into. Hackers can then blackmail you, steal sensitive data, or even restrict your access to the internet.
That’s where a VPN connection comes in. A VPN on your router will hide your devices behind an encrypted tunnel, protecting you from hackers.
What happens when you don’t use a VPN?
Without a VPN connection, your online activity is easy to track and monitor. Your ISP and other intrusive snoopers can access your sensitive information. Such data is commonly sold to advertisers and other third parties that use it to run targeted ads, spy on your activity, or even run elaborate phishing attacks.
Here’s how not using a VPN can put you in danger:
ISPs collect and sell your data
In some countries (like the US), your internet service provider can monitor and sell information about your online activities to data brokers. This can lead to unsavory practices like targeted advertising.
A simple fix is turning your VPN on. A VPN hides your traffic from your ISP by encrypting it. This ensures they don’t snoop, collect, and sell your data. If the worst happens, and your data falls into the data brokers’ hands, you can get it back by using Incogni, a service that opts you out of data brokers’ databases on your behalf.
Your data gets exposed due to data breaches
Data breaches expose millions of people every year to possible cybercrimes, such as phishing or identity theft. Leaks usually happen because many companies that collect and store your data don’t protect it.
What’s the best way to prevent exposure to data breaches? Don’t give them your data in the first place. This means — don’t use your real details to open accounts and use a VPN where possible.
Note: if you use Google while logged in to your Google Account, no tool can prevent them from collecting your search information.
You may become a victim of different types of hacks
If your internet traffic is exposed, hackers can use it to perform malicious attacks that end up costing you dearly. Cookie theft, fake Wi-Fi hotspots, and Man-In-The-Middle (MITM) attacks can all happen if your traffic is unencrypted. A VPN protects you from such attacks and lets you use any Wi-Fi with peace of mind.
Should I use a VPN? Pros and cons
Now that we’ve discussed the benefits of using (and the dangers of not using) a VPN, here’s a short list of pros and cons to confirm the age-old question “do I need a VPN” once and for all:
Increase the security and privacy of your digital life
Some loss of speed (depends on the provider)
Keep your entertainment private
Good VPNs cost money
Secure your whole family online
VPNs are illegal or restricted in some countries (like China)
Defy invasive laws and practices
Save money when shopping online
Avoid certain types of hack attacks
How to choose a VPN?
Let’s say you decided that you need a VPN — how do you choose one? What should you consider? Here are a few things I’d look for in a VPN:
Number of servers
The more servers a provider offers, the more likely you are to find an uncrowded server nearby. This results in a smooth and fast connection.
Number of allowed connections
Count the devices you'd like to protect with a VPN and make sure your selected provider allows that number of connections at once. Or go for one with unlimited connections!
Operating system support
This one is self-explanatory. Before paying for a VPN, make sure it works on the devices that you and your family use.
Server infrastructure & speed
Besides the server count, look for a VPN with 10Gbps servers and access to the fastest protocols, such as WireGuard®.
Price & refund options
It's not a secret that price plays a huge part when selecting a VPN. Look for one that’s paid yet affordable and offers a money-back guarantee, just in case.
VPNs should be intuitive and easy to use.
A VPN should be customizable so you can set it up in a way that works best for you.
Pay attention to all additional features that a VPN offers and make sure they cover all of your needs. It can be as simple as leak prevention or as advanced as an anonymous subscription.
How to get started with a VPN
Okay, so you found a VPN that you like. The hard part is done. Next, you need to set up your VPN, which is pretty easy. All you have to do is:
- Get a VPN subscription;
- Sign up;
- Download a VPN app and install it on your device;
- Log in;
- Connect to any server you like.
Protecting your privacy online is really as simple as that, so there’s no reason why you should keep yourself exposed to the threats that lurk on the internet.
The takeaway: is a VPN necessary?
Whether at home or on the go, using a VPN is one of the easiest yet most reliable ways to improve your privacy and security online. Choose a reliable paid VPN service, and you won’t have to worry about the prying eyes feasting on your sensitive information online.
Is it worth having a VPN?
Yes, if you want to protect your privacy. With a VPN like Surfshark, you can get VPN protection for as little as $2.39/month. That’s one less coffee a month. Seems like a small price to pay for your safety online.
Is it OK not to have a VPN?
No one’s going to force you to use a VPN. If the only reason you use the internet is to look up pictures of clouds once in a while, you’re fine without it. But if you want to enjoy the best that the internet has to offer, you need a VPN to protect you from the threats that you might encounter along the way.
Do I need a VPN abroad?
Yes. A VPN abroad will protect you from malicious attempts to steal your data and personal information, including credit card details and passwords. You can secure your network and browse safely online using different Wi-Fi spots while exploring the country. You’ll also be able to access local online sites and services.
When shouldn’t you use a VPN?
You shouldn’t use a VPN if it’s free. Yes, yes, obviously, a paid VPN provider is going to tell you that, but it’s true. No good product is free, and a couple of dollars a month for a premium VPN experience is a worthwhile investment.
There are many things to consider when it comes to free VPNs vs. paid VPNs. For example, what you save in monetary value with a free VPN, you pay for with your sensitive data. Free VPNs can only keep up because they sell user information to third parties or run an excessive amount of intrusive ads.
Do I need a VPN on my phone?
Having a VPN on your phone is more important than having one on any other device. You take it wherever you go and likely connect it to various networks, such as free Wi-Fi in coffee shops, trains, or airports. Such public Wi-Fi hotspots pose a lot of risks, so having the protection of a VPN is a must.
Do I need a VPN for my business?
Businesses need a VPN to secure their employees’ internet connections and connect them to a remote server where files and sensitive information can be accessed safely. This allows for a secure, encrypted connection, even when employees work remotely.
For large businesses, tools like a VPN concentrator offer a great solution for protecting the entire network of employees. Smaller companies will find it sufficient to get a VPN for business to keep all sensitive data and files safe.