It’s 2022, and our lives have all but moved online. As a natural reaction to the lack of privacy (like the notoriously intrusive COVID-19 apps) in our current digital space, more and more people turn to VPNs. But here’s the thing: do you really need a VPN at home? Let’s go over all the pros and cons you need to consider.
In short: Do I need a VPN?
Yes, you need a VPN if you want to:
- Secure your internet connection,
- Increase your level of privacy,
- Access blocked websites,
- Circumvent censorship and firewalls,
And much more. To learn about the full VPN benefits, check out our 101 article about VPNs: What is a VPN? Virtual Private Networks 101.
Why do I need a VPN at home?
There are multiple reasons why you need a VPN at home. Let us break them down in an easy-to-digest form:
Protect your privacy online
The basic way that a VPN protects your privacy is by changing your IP (Internet Protocol) address. It’s like your home address, only for the internet… and you leave that address plastered wherever you go. You don’t post your home address in real life, so why would you do that online?
But once you’re connected to a VPN server, you’re only leaving the server’s address in hand, which can’t be traced back to you. This ruins cross-site tracking and other ad tools and tracking plans that rely on IPs. And, you know, the IP no longer points at your real home.
The quarantine made a lot of people stir crazy. Streaming services helped alleviate the pressure, which exposed many people to spend more time online and stream content.
If you’re one of the more privacy-oriented people, you’ll want to stay safe and VPN-protected no matter what you do. This includes entertainment. With a VPN, you can steer clear from prying eyes when playing games or streaming your favorite movies.
So, look for a VPN that has fast servers and doesn’t limit your bandwidth. (Psst! Surfshark has 1GBit ports on all of its servers and unlimited bandwidth!)
Disclaimer: Surfshark does not encourage using a VPN in any way that would potentially violate the law or Terms of Service of other service providers.
Secure your whole family online
Remember: a VPN at home helps not only you. You’re not the only one in your household with an online presence. Therefore, it’s important to protect even those who don’t have an interest in online security and privacy. With a good VPN, you can protect the rest of your family – either by installing a VPN on your router or just making use of unlimited devices supported under a single account.
Remember: with a VPN, you’re not only improving privacy on phones, tablets, and computers but also your internet-of-things devices. Having a VPN on at home can decrease the chances of them getting hacked to spy on you – or to play unwelcome content.
Defy invasive laws and practices
Wherever your home is, you probably already have a love-hate relationship with your ISP (Internet Service Provider). Depending on the country, the law might mandate your ISP to keep six months of logs of your browsing activity – or even allow them to sell that same data to marketers. This would be a lot harder to accomplish if all of your data was encrypted – there’s not much to be discovered if the only thing an ISP can see is that you’re using a VPN.
A VPN also allows you to overcome online censorship carried out by the state (and, since you can put a VPN on your phone due to Surfshark’s unlimited installs policy, firewalls established by your work or school). A combination of factors that make a VPN work enable it to bypass a lot of the filters that such institutions use to keep you from reaching what you want to reach.
Save money online
Price discrimination is a real thing. Most services like airlines, rentals, and online shops, will charge people different prices depending on their location and how many times they visit a website. Using a VPN and regularly clearing your cookies can help you hunt for bargains and save money!
What happens when you don’t use a VPN?
Our data grows more valuable every year, and so do the risks of losing it to malicious third parties. There are several ways not using a VPN can put you in danger:
- ISPs collecting and selling your data. In some countries (like the US) your internet service provider (ISP) can monitor and sell information to data brokers about your online activities. This can lead to unsavory practices like target advertising. A VPN hides your traffic from your ISP by encrypting it. This ensures that they don’t snoop, collect, and sell your data.
- Getting exposed due to data breaches. Data breaches expose millions of people every year to possible cybercrimes like phishing. Leaks usually happen because the incredible number of companies that collect and store your data don’t properly protect it. The best way to prevent yourself from being exposed to data breaches? Don’t give them your data in the first place. This means, where possible, not using your real details to open accounts and using a VPN when browsing the web. Note that if you use Google while logged in to your Google Account, there’s not a tool on the internet that can prevent them from collecting your search information.
- Becoming victim to different types of hacks. Any type of hack where a malicious third party can snoop on your internet traffic can expose your data and cost you dearly. Cookie theft, fake Wi-Fi hotspots, and Man-in-the-Middle attacks can all happen if your traffic is unencrypted. Using a VPN ensures you avoid these attacks, and can use public Wi-Fi with peace of mind.
VPN pros and cons in short
Now that we’ve discussed the benefits of using (and dangers of not using) a VPN, here’s a short list to narrow down their pros and cons:
Increase security and privacy of your digital life
Some loss of speed (depends on the provider)
Privatize your entertainment
Good VPNs cost money
Secure your whole family online
Defy invasive laws and practices
Save money when shopping online
Avoid certain types of hack attacks
How to get started with a VPN
Here’s how you get started with a VPN:
- Find a VPN app you like (remember: Free VPNs incur secret costs)
- Sign up.
- Download and install the app on the device of your choice.
- Log in.
- Connect to any server you like.
If you set up a VPN on a router like we had previously mentioned, you’ll only need to do this process once to secure your entire home – especially if you buy a router with a VPN already installed.
BONUS: Do I need a VPN on my phone?
Actually, a VPN on your phone is probably even more necessary than at home:
- You need protection on public Wi-Fi.
- You may go on holidays or business trips to countries that engage in censorship, so you need a VPN to bypass that.
- You can shop for airline tickets or anything else online and find cheaper prices.
So when it comes to smartphones, they need VPNs probably more than homes do!
Yes, you do need a VPN at home
Using a VPN at home will improve your privacy and security in many ways, even if they’re not obvious. After all, you don’t always see data thieves circling outside your window, so such benefits aren’t immediately clear. So give a VPN a try – after all, Surfshark offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.
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