VPNs: Debunking the myths
VPNs can be an incredibly helpful tool in your technological arsenal, but with many people starting to use these digital products, it’s important to stay informed as to what they actually do. Here are a few of the facts about what VPNs can actually do, and some of the myths that you might have fallen for in the past few years.
1. I can watch American Netflix through my VPN
This one is true. With a VPN, you can effectively “disguise your voice” in a digital manner, sending your traffic around the world. By spoofing your location, you can effectively convince apps and programmes such as Netflix that you’re in a completely different location, helping you to access a vast amount of content that would otherwise be locked behind digital walls.
For example, if you’re in the UK but you’re really itching to watch some superhero content, The Dark Knight is available on Netflix in the US. Meanwhile, if you want to watch the gang in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia in the US, you’ll need to use a VPN to get onto UK Netflix where all of the seasons are currently available. With a good VPN, you can literally unlock a world of entertainment.
2. A free VPN will be just as good
Although a lot of VPNs might look expensive to the layman, the cost is worth it. This payment has gone to ensuring that servers around the world are able to handle your web traffic, and your fees go to a very clear and obvious purpose.
By comparison, a free VPN still needs to set up the same servers globally, but its money isn’t coming from customers. This could mean two things. One, your VPN might come with advertisements in an attempt to gain revenue, meaning that your experience will become ridden with even more adverts. Two, there is a chance that you are the product, with your private browsing data being sold off to companies to inform their future marketing strategies.
The less stable financial platform available to a VPN, the more likely they are to be insecure, offer less consistent servers and sell your browsing data to outside companies in order to stay afloat. It’s often well worth paying a little bit more to guarantee VPN quality.
3. My ISP can’t see what I’m doing
This is correct. By using a virtual private network, your internet service provider (or ISP) won’t be able to see any of what you’re doing online. This is because all of your traffic is sent through an encrypted tunnel, meaning that all of your traffic isn’t able to be read by the internet service provider. They won’t be able to keep logs on anything that you’ve been browsing, and they won’t be able to see anything that you’re doing in the first place.
However, this means that your trust has been put in the hands of the VPN. It’s important to make sure that the VPN you choose is reputable, or you risk putting your private data in their hands instead of that of the ISP. Rather than having completely masked your online activity, you instead run the risk of simply passing the buck onto a smaller and less regulated company.
Are VPNs all they’re cracked up to be?
A reputable and high-quality VPN is likely to be everything it says on the tin, helping to redirect your traffic and keep your information to yourself. However, before you make a choice, you need to do your research, or you run the risk of giving your information to a service you might not be able to trust.