A VPN is a Virtual Private Network, which is basically a secure internet connection that allows you to browse the internet via your home or work computer and virtually appear as if you were browsing from anywhere in the world. As technology advances more quickly than governments can comprehend, using a VPN has become an important tool for individuals across the globe to protect their own privacy.

That said, it’s important that users understand what they are getting themselves into before committing to it. VPNs are excellent for unblocking geographically restricted content, bypassing censorship, protecting your online shopping habits, securing your home wifi network used for entertainment as indicated by the graph below, and much more. However, there are also a few drawbacks that you should be aware of before signing up for one.

(Image Source: Statista)

1. Pure VPNs Can Be Slow

VPNs protect your internet connection from prying eyes while encrypting the information you send over the web within an encrypted tunnel, making it private and virtually impossible to crack (especially if you use good VPN encryption). This can be useful when using public wifi or for individuals in countries with restrictive internet policies like China or Iran.

So why would you not want a VPN? Because VPNs create an encrypted tunnel for your web traffic to travel through, which means that the data takes longer to reach its destination. This is because the information cannot be processed as quickly as it normally would without encryption. This also affects your internet speeds in general. For example, on a typical connection of 10 mb/s without a VPN, browsing the web would take roughly 10 seconds to load a webpage. With a VPN, that same webpage might take 15 – 20 seconds to load (especially if you have an older computer).

2. There’s A Limit To How Much You Can Spend

As we mentioned, a VPN can protect your internet connection from prying eyes by encrypting your data in an encrypted tunnel. One of the great things about the internet is that it’s open for anyone to use. Unfortunately, a lot of data sent on the internet is not private and can be easily captured by an attacker. If someone manages to get a hold of some of this data while it’s in transit, that person could potentially use it for their own gain. That’s where encryption comes into play. Encryption allows you to scramble your data in a way that can only be unscrambled by someone who knows the key to unlock it.

The good news for VPNs is that they are growing in popularity and people are starting to catch on. That means they are becoming cheaper and more accessible, but there is still a limit to how much you can spend depending on your needs. If you are just looking for other countries’ Netflix, then a free VPN will probably be enough. If, however, you want something more robust or with added features like high-speed internet security protocols like OpenVPN, then you will need to spend a little more money for just about every provider out there.

3. There’s No Guarantee You’ll Be Safe

VPNs are notoriously easy to hack. If someone manages to get their hands on your data while it is traveling through their system, they could potentially intercept it and use it for their own gain. This is why VPNs can be so secure because they encrypt everything that is being sent over the internet and only your intended recipient can unlock the information. That means that you might be protected from hackers and snoopers at home and abroad, but if you are using a free VPN service then there’s no guarantee that you will always be as safe as you would want to be with your data.

If your secure VPN company goes out of business, or the VPN software stops working, it will be a lot harder to bypass the blockades put in place by governments and other actors like hackers and prudes. The only problem is that this sort of choice and flexibility comes at a price. The more features and support for all platforms you want from your VPN, the higher the price will go up too.

Most people choose an annual subscription so they can save costs on their purchase but still plan to use the VPN service in the long term. This is often a good idea because if the service proves to not be what you expected, you can just cancel it if things don’t work out. But there are advantages to both kinds of packages too. There are benefits to buying a VPN with a longer commitment or shorter commitment as well as annual subscriptions.

(Image Source: VPN Mentor)

4. Them’s The Rules

There are no laws currently in place protecting internet users from government surveillance. Even the ones in place are extremely weak and that’s to say nothing about the entire continent of Europe where they are almost non-existent. While people have the right to privacy on their computers and devices, that is not always the case upon crossing a border into a different country. This means that you can easily be tracked on your phone for example while abroad and even if you use a VPN to protect yourself from it, it won’t provide complete protection.

But as far as paid VPN services go, this is mostly true when it comes down to servers or encryption standards. There are more secure connections available in business markets where they will only allow approved servers to connect with their service. If a server is not approved, they will block the connection. But on the other hand, free VPNs are more relaxed with their rules and will allow any server to connect to their servers for use. You can be using a free VPN and when you connect in another country or region, they might not be able to provide the protection you need which is why it’s important to make sure that you choose a good free VPN service provider.

5. There are A Lot of Options To Choose From

When it comes down to it, there are three different types of VPN packages available for purchase: monthly subscriptions, yearly subscriptions, and lifetime subscriptions. There are also paid and free VPNs you can choose from. The differences are in the features that the service offers, the level of protection you get, and what type of networking hardware is being used. This means that there are literally hundreds (if not thousands) of VPN services available on the market today. While these providers have different features to offer, they still fall into one of these three categories.

In recent years big network providers have been cracking down on how much data their users can transfer through their networks. This means that if you are a business owner with a home office in another country and want to know how well data privacy is being provided, you need to use a VPN. The reason this is important is that a lot of these zero-rated services from the major telecom infrastructure providers are not good at all. They can track all your data and make it available for either the government or other parties such as advertisers and private firms to use for their own purposes.

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Dmytro is a CEO at Solvid, a creative, long-form content creation agency based in London. Founder of Pridicto. His work has been published in Shopify, IBM, Entrepreneur, BuzzSumo, Campaign Monitor and Tech Radar.