Is a VPN Worth It? Find Out Why You Do Actually Need a VPN

SECURITY Updated on: 24 November 2018

To answer this question, you have to take a step back and observe what you’re using the internet for. Just checking the news, talking to your friends, searching for information, and pretty much what the average Joe uses it for?

Then you probably don’t really need a VPN. It would just be wasted money. No different than getting toilet paper with King Kong’s face on it.

However, if you know that you have some sensitive information on your devices or you want to make sure your messages aren’t seen by anyone else, then you probably want some extra layers of security.

1. Why a VPN is absolutely worth it

There are plenty of reasons why you would need a VPN, actually:

  • You don’t want to be tracked by your ISP because you engage in piracy or torrenting. And we all know that breaking the copyright agreements can sometimes upset the DMCA holders, who, in turn, complain to your ISP.
  • What happens is the ISP sends you a few warnings to stop your illegal torrenting. If you continue, it might interfere with your speed and traffic, slow them down to a crawl and make your life miserable.
  • You are afraid of having your device hacked when connecting to public Wi-Fi networks. Going to a café to sip on your morning fuel and getting some precious minutes with your project seems magical and very efficient.
  • But there are risks that have to be taken into consideration, namely that public Wi-fi networks are extremely easy to hack. The security protocols are practically non-existent, and your data can be easily compromised. Using a VPN will prevent that.
  • You want to stream Netflix or any other popular streaming service that you would otherwise have no way of accessing. Let’s say you’re living in a country that’s out of Netflix’s coverage or you have restrictions banning you from using the internet for such things.
  • In this case, using a VPN seems like the most logical and easiest method to overcome these issues. Just connect to a server in another country, and your traffic will mimic the geographical location of that server. This is what the SmartDNS function does and you can find it in all premium VPNs.
  • In general, if you want to access any geo-blocked content on the web, the only reliable and feasible solution is a VPN. It will break apart all barriers and give you access to the entirety of the internet, just like that.

2. What are you looking for in a VPN?

We’ll talk about the most important traits that a VPN should possess, and what you should be looking for in a high-quality one. These features should be essential, and not optional:

  • Strong no-logging policy that leaves nothing unclear. In this case, you want the VPN to clearly specify that it doesn’t collect any confidential data about you, your device, location or otherwise anything that could be linked to you.
  • At the very most, it should only gather technical information about the functionality of the servers, their up time, speed, maintenance processes, and generally things related to their infrastructure.
  • A specific privacy policy that emphasizes the user’s anonymity as the core goal of the VPN itself. You should be protected at all times, even if, let’s say, a government agency comes asking for information about you or your online activities.
  • They should steer clear of anything suspicious or fishy, take care that you are never put in any risks whatsoever and that you are anonymous at all times.
  • An excellent customer support, preferably active 24/7, to offer support and help whenever you encounter an issue. This is one of the features that, while not integral to a VPN’s overall efficiency, will be greatly illustrative of its professionalism.
  • Strong security protocols. We’re talking about OpenVPN, the AES 256-bit encryption, and so on. These are currently the best and most efficient security protocols available, and the best VPNs use them as well.
  • I can’t stress enough the importance of good protection when it comes to online security providers, aka VPNs. This is, simply put, their most important function that they should excel in. If they fail in doing that, then they are obsolete. Stay away from them!
  • A free trial or a money-back guarantee if you’re not satisfied with the provided services
  • The VPN should be able to cross platforms, to work on as many devices as possible
  • No bandwidth limits so you won’t wake up one day with your speed plummeting down and you traffic restricted just because you connected one too many times to the internet using the VPN

3. Free VPNs are the Mr. Hydes of online security providers

Let’s be honest here – in spite of all the financial shenanigans and crooked people in the world, you can’t help but be intrigued by the word free. It’s a magical word. Flash it around, and you’ll have countless brain-dead puppets crowding the scene, craving for a piece.

But, as we all know, nothing’s free. And if something looks too good to be true, that’s probably the case. Free VPNs make no exception.

From an online security provider, you expect only the best services, a superior security, fail-proof cyber protocols, and an excellent privacy policy. You want to be protected at all times and hidden from any intrusion, no matter its nature.

In short, you want professionalism and excellence. Well, I’m here to tell you that free VPNs will not only take a crap on those principles but also try to slice you apart and sell your organs on the black market. Metaphorically speaking. Hopefully.

Generally, while you don’t actually pay for their services, there is a price to pay, whether you’d like to or not – your privacy and personal data will be endangered due to the low security protocols.

So, what exactly are the dangers of free VPNs?

1. Collaborating with third-party parties

Free VPNs will more often than not be in cahoots with certain companies and brokers on the internet that deal with buying and selling confidential information.

Free VPNs can and generally will collect your personal data, intimate details and security information, sell them to the highest bidder, and make some money in the process.

Moreover, they can even track your connection and traffic, your real IP address, what websites you’ve been visiting, what you download and watch on YouTube, things that real VPNs are the very opposite of.

You will be met with plenty of malicious ads, adware and freeware, just to make some profit. Cybercriminals will easily have access to your device because there’s nothing really stopping them.

2. Ill-intended proxies

As you might know, a proxy is basically a connection protocol that forwards your internet traffic without encrypting it. Generally, this allows for greater speeds, faster response times, no streaming freezing or lagging behavior.

However, precisely because they have no security protocols in place, and because we’re talking about free VPNs here, they are some of the worst. All your data will be fully recorded and sent through an unsecured tunneling protocol that anyone with half a brain and some basic know-how in IT can access.

Even more, the VPN’s own operators might want to cut a slice of pie for themselves and keep your personal data just to sell it later or use it for some other shady purposes.

All in all, free VPN proxies should generally never be trusted. Even in the case of premium online security providers, there are warnings concerning the use of proxies, that they have weaker security protocols in place.

3. Plain bad services that will only waste your time

100% of the time, free VPNs can’t even compare to the real deal, the premium online security providers. Mediocrity at best, that’s what you’re going to get.

In general, we’re talking about ludicrously slow speeds, which are basically unusable for anything other than Googling information, and even then, you have to wait an impressive amount of time because of the slow loading times.

More than that, the servers are over-crowded and will often suffer malfunctions, they will shut down, fail to connect, and so on. That’s because free VPNs generally don’t have their own servers but use those of another company, a premium VPN.

And that company will generally work with multiple free VPNs using the same servers. It’s normal that they would be overcrowded in no time.

The server coverage will also be very small, with only a few countries a few dozen servers that you can connect to at best. So even if you want to use Netflix, you won’t have many options to choose from.

And, generally, free VPNs will not give you access to Netflix, not that they would even be capable of such high-requirements processes in the first place.

4. Then what VPNs should you trust?

Paid ones, of course. That aside, there are differences to be made here as well. Not all paid VPNs are good, and some of them can even be put in the same garbage bin with the rest of the free stuff out there.

I’m talking about the very best, the most popular and renowned VPNs on the market, those that end up in the top 5 of any list on the internet. In other words, I’m talking about the VPNs that even Reddit users approve of.

Here’s a list to help you out in picking out a suitable VPN for you, alongside details and characteristics to create a wider picture of their services and goals.

1. NordVPN

ExpressVPN’s first and foremost competitor on the market is definitely NordVPN, both from a functional point of view, as well as with regard to customer feedback.

It has everything you can possibly ask for, and there are no crucial differences between the two of them.

NordVPN does have military-grade security encryptions in place, as well as the DoubleVPN feature that ups the ante by a little bit. All the bets are off when you put on your Nordic cyber-cloak.

Pros:

  • Dedicated IPs which have extra costs
  • No-logging policy that’s among the best out there
  • Six simultaneous connections
  • Based in Panama (you’ll see why this is a great advantage)
  • Works with Netflix and BBC iPlayer
  • Allows torrenting
  • SmartDNS
  • Solid speed
  • No leaks whatsoever
  • Accessible prices, cheaper than ExpressVPN’s at least
  • Compatible with Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android
  • Kill-switch
  • Military-grade encryption

Cons:

  • IPv6 leaks in macOS IKEv2 app

Overall features

With how competitive the market has become, NordVPN had to level up its services and came up with a few tricks. For once, they provide users with six simultaneous connections which are very attractive, to say the least.

You can choose between UDP and TCP protocols when connecting to the servers. Whether you want increased privacy or speed, you can switch between the two of them as you see fit.

While it doesn’t support port forwarding, NordVPN supports torrenting on all of its servers. You also have access to the obfuscation feature as well, which will make next to impossible for anyone to notice that you’re using a VPN.

This will, in turn, increase your chances of successfully accessing Netflix, the great streaming service. Moreover, you also have the SmartDNS feature.

While certainly nothing overly-exceptional, NordVPN’s server speeds were very reliable and solid. This means that there will not be any sudden drops in speed when streaming in HD or any freezing.

You have access to a free trial as well as a 30-day money-back guarantee, and as for the payment options, you can also use PayPal or Bitcoins for anonymous payments.

As for privacy, the base protocols are almost the same as with ExpressVPN, only that NordVPN has a DoubleVPN feature through which you can chain two VPN servers at once.

Like that, your traffic will be doubly encrypted, and the chances of you being tracked will become almost non-existent.

Also, the mother company is based in Panama, a country well-known for its rigid and reliable stance on the situation of personal privacy. It also has no data retention laws in effect, which makes it all the better.

You can use Tor with NordVPNs obfuscated servers for double the security, if you’re not content with the basic protocols.

Finally, NordVPN is a fully-featured, multipurpose online security provider that you can trust to take care of your anonymity and privacy. You will never feel in danger with them watching your back.

2. ExpressVPN

At the moment, ExpressVPN is hailed by everyone as the best online security provider available on the market. The Reddit community gave this one a green light.

It touches upon the overall points that most clients are looking for in a high-quality VPN. From this point of view, it can be said that Express VPN really is an all-rounder, a jack-of-all-trades.

Pros:

  • Extremely secure 256-bit encryption
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Top speeds on all servers, definitely capable of streaming content in HD
  • 24/7 customer support, ExpressVPN being the very first in the business that implemented this concept
  • Unlimited bandwidth
  • SmartDNS feature
  • Compatible with Tor and .onion web addresses
  • Capable of unlocking Netflix
  • No leaks
  • Exceptional no-logging policy
  • Very easy to use
  • Kill-switch

Cons:

  • IPv6 WebRTC leaks that can be fixed through the browser extensions
  • The prices are a little too steep
  • The British Virgin Islands is not ideal for privacy purposes

Overall features

First of all, you have access to three simultaneous connections, which is pretty average when you think about it. A lot of premium VPNs offer just as many if not more.

However, ExpressVPN was the very first one who thought about a 24/7 customer support, alongside a live chat that clients can contact at any time of day or night for that matter.

The servers are split between bare-metal and virtual ones, but most users have no problem using either one of them. It would, however, be good if ExpressVPN made it clearer which is which.

You can also get your hands on the pre-configured routers that ExpressVPN provides to all its clients if you don’t want to configure the settings yourself. They will install everything from the bottoms up, with DNS leak protection and split tunneling included.

Then, you have the SmartDNS feature, which is really a handful. It basically allows you to create the illusion that you are located elsewhere by connecting to a certain server.

The underlying protocols will trick your ISP and other websites, streaming ones for example, in believing that you’re located in their geographical zones.

In terms of speed, ExpressVPN has managed to outrank most of its competitors with how swift its servers are. The connection times are above average, and while it doesn’t break any records yet, the results are still extraordinary.

The average download speed was approximated at 52 Mbps.

The client is available for Windows, MacOS, Android, iOS, and a special app for Linux. There are plenty of materials and FAQ information on the website to help you overcome any issues you might have.

As for privacy details, ExpressVPN has anti-leak protection in place, obfuscated servers, kill-switches, and a very trustworthy no-logging policy. The security protocols used are OpenVPN, SSTP, L2TP/IPsec, and PPTP.

However, the fact that it’s based in the British Virgin Islands might pose a problem for the privacy purists out there. While the government itself has no data retention laws in place, it’s still under the jurisdiction of the UK.

All in all, in every matter and regard, ExpressVPN is definitely a premium service that is definitely worth it. It has everything you might want from a professional VPN, and the level of professionalism they’re offering is top-notch.

3. CyberGhost

CyberGhost has been consistently ranking in the top 5 of the best VPNs on the market, and this is why I’m rating it so high here. It’s very well-known for its super-luminal internet speeds, and the swiftness of each and every one of their servers.

The mother company is based in Romania, and it’s known for its drastic emphasis on internet speeds. All the ISPs there follow the same principle, actually.

Pros:

  • 45-day money-back guarantee
  • P2P torrenting allowed
  • Very private
  • No-logs policy
  • Strong encryption protocols
  • Very intuitive and modern-looking client
  • Seven simultaneous connections
  • Live chat support
  • Unblocks Netflix
  • Astronomical server speeds, if I wasn’t clear enough

Cons:

  • No cons

Overall features

Let’s admit it, one of CyberGhost’s premiere features is that it allows you access up to seven simultaneous connections. It’s actually one of the few if not the only VPN provider being this generous.

The majority of the servers are located in North America and Europe, with a few of them being in South East Asia and Australia. On the vast majority of them, P2P is allowed. Americans, however, will have to connect to European servers to do that.

Being a very popular VPN, which is only growing in strength with time, CyberGhost has many resources at its disposal, hence the fact that Netflix has no chance of stopping their servers from accessing it.

Now, for the speed. Throughout the many tests the experts have done, this VPN has recorded pretty mediocre average global speeds. They were very good but nothing off the charts.

However, the max burst speeds are another thing altogether. I would go so far as to say that no other VPN can keep up with it. It’s a lightning-fast performance, to say the least. If you are in luck to be near one of the servers, expect your device to require some kerosene instead of electricity.

Ignoring a minor remnant leak on the macOS, everything else was perfect, so there’s not much to say here.

In terms of privacy, it’s mainly based on OpenVPN, ciphered data and control channels using AES-256-BC and RSA-4096 encryptions. Perfect forward secrecy is also allowed, accompanied by an ECDH-4096 key exchange.

Aside from the obfuscated servers NordVPN and ExpressVPN provide, CyberGhost has almost the same security features, on the same level of strength and reliability.

Moreover, all of the servers are entirely owned by CyberGhost itself, with no third-party mediator to mediate the process. This is one of the evident advantages, having complete control over their own servers.

In conclusion, you can only look at CyberGhost as yet another great VPN dealing in professionalism and excellence. It provides serious security, great speeds, at very accessible prices, and most users agree that it’s among the best VPNs on the market.

5. You’re still wondering if it’s worth it to use a VPN?

I believe I made it clear enough that, if you do require added security and online protection, a VPN is the absolute best option you’ve got. There is literally nothing else that can guarantee your anonymity and the safety of your private data.

VPNs have many more functions than just giving you a cyber-bunker to hide yourself in and conduct your business. It also acts as a skeleton key that can open almost any lock on the web.

Now, the next question comes natural – free or paid VPNs? I’d say it’s a no-brainer. Picture the paid VPN as that smooth, young, virgin, round-tits, ass-hard-as-rocks babe that smells like an angel and spreads hormones and love everywhere. The free VPN is that old toothless whore smelling of booze and cigarettes, ready to give you a $5 BJ and some STDs for the road.

What’s it going to be?