Does a VPN Use More Data that Normal Browsing?

Updated on: 20 February 2019
Updated on: 20 February 2019

There are so many benefits of VPNs that are widely known and thanks for the superb offers that vendors such as Express VPN and Nord VPN offer, it is more easily affordable to get a quality VPN that you pay for on a monthly or annual basis.

One of the key questions we look to answer in this post surrounds the issue of data usage, more specifically, if a VPN churns up your data and uses more than without.

The short answer is: Yes. However, this is only by a very slight difference.

Online security is in demand now, more than ever before. It goes without saying that balancing the need to stay safe with that of your ISP or Network providers data usage restrictions is important, but with such a marginal difference in data usage, for us, the question of whether or not to get a VPN is not really an issue.

Of course, you need a VPN!

You are not alone in asking this question, why do you think we have written an article about if VPNs use more data than normal?

1. Explanation of How a VPN Works

A VPN is a Wide Area Network. This involves two devices, one at each end, which is; The Server and The Client. This set-up enables you to access a network and remotely share information via a public network, protecting your information when it is in transit to the internet.

Because most reputable VPNs encrypt your information, this prevents data from being intercepted and means that hackers cannot easily steal your passwords and other sensitive data.

When you connect to the internet via your ISP, you then create a VPN connection using a server that is easily accessed through their software. The client software that is located on the service will then cement a connection that is secure and will provide the user with access to the network.

When you are online, the VPN service will transmit information on your behalf, encrypting it as it gets sent and received in a highly secure way.

2. How Much More Data will a VPN Use?

As we explained in the previous part of this post, information flows between the VPN server and your computer via your ISP. While the ISP cannot see any of your data, it is still able to work out how much data you are using. The only exception to this would be if you were to connect your device to a public Wi-Fi network.

Data is also subject to encryption when it passes through a VPN, because of this very important part of the process, there is a requirement to use more data. However, as you can appreciate, more data is needed to fuel this process. Encrypted files also use more space than those which are not encrypted.

It is estimated that total increase in your data usage from using a VPN works out at roughly 10-15%.

3. Different Types of VPN Protocols

VPNs use different types of encryption and different types of algorithms. The amount of extra data that gets used can depend on the specific protocol that is used.

Without getting too technical, it is the framework of the encryption and data transmission that your VPN Service Provider uses. The majority of VPNs will offer a number of different protocols such as L2TP, PPTP, IPSEC, and OpenVPN.

For those who want to know, here is a little bit more information about each one!

L2TP – 256-bit encryption

This is considered to be one of the strongest forms of encryption but is typically a slower protocol.

PPTP 128-bit encryption

This is a less intensive protocol for encryption that is quick, yet somewhat vulnerable. For those who require quick speeds and have a lower security requirement, it is ideal. For instance, if you want to use a VPN for streaming media, this would require a faster service than if you are simply sending emails or browsing the web.

OpenVPN – Multiple encryption strengths

This is probably the most common and popular of all VPN protocols due in most to its flexibility and how easy it is to implement.

4. Why You Need a VPN?

Your Privacy

Online privacy is more prevalent than ever before. Using a VPN helps you stay secure online and shields your identity from prying eyes or organizations. It doesn’t matter what you do when you are online; you deserve to be able to take actions in private.

Stay Secure

Similar to the above point, your safety online is paramount. With hackers and cybercriminals alike, waiting to see an opportunity to steal your private information, you need additional protection when connecting to the internet in order to transmit information. With a VPN, you get encrypted traffic, meaning that nobody is able to intercept your data.

Bypass Geo-Blocking

If you have ever tried out or used a subscription for a streaming service, such as Netflix, then you’ll know that they provide different content to different countries. Those who reside in the US will get a far wider choice of shows in their content library. YouTube is another example of a service that operates in the same way. There are also many banking, gambling, and government sites that work like this too.

With a VPN, you can choose your preferred location for connection, which will appear to any provider as if your request is coming from the country of choice. With most of the reputable VPNs can select most major countries due to the fact they operate servers from a very wide range of locations.

Access Blocked Sites

If you live, work, or are vacationing in a country that has censorship in place; then you might find it hard to get access to the sites you want to view or use. For instance, in many countries across the globe, social media, messaging, gambling, pornography, religious, and other media-themed sites are blocked.

A VPN is the only safe way to access these, with the additional security of knowing your traffic is encrypted and your browsing activities will remain completely shielded.

Another reason you may be struggling to access the sites you need online is due to restrictions that are being imposed by your employer, a public Wi-Fi or hotspot provider or your Internet Service Provider.
Whoever is blocking your access, you can easily bypass the problem by using a VPN.

To conclude the post, you now know that using a VPN can increase your data usage by up to 15%. However, the reason it does this is due to the additional workload placed on the data that is being transmitted due to the essential encryption process that needs to take place as data is both sent and received.

Written by: Elizabeth March

Advanced ITSEC Specialist Based in Cambridge, England, Elizabeth has held notable positions for a range of high-profile vendors and clients in the European IT Security and Communications Sector. As a former IT Trainer, Technical Specialist, and Product Manager; she transitioned into the role of an expert IT Copywriter in 2015. Since then, her works have been published globally, and she continues to help people easily decipher complex technical challenges and make informed decisions about their digital lives.

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