Should a VPN be Turned on at All Times?

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

VPNs are becoming increasingly popular, and not just in the workplace; everyday consumers want to know that they’re not being tracked and followed around when they are online.

With more people than ever before now harnessing the power of a VPN in their personal lives, knowing when and where to switch on a VPN is a question that is frequently asked in forums and online.

As there are more threats online, people need more advanced ways to ensure their safety and privacy are respected. With so many people trying to find out your every move and action on the web, there has never been a greater need to secure your web connectivity.

We had written this post specifically to address the question of when should a VPN turned on, and if you should always keep your VPN switched on when you are browsing the web?

1. When you Don’t Need a VPN Turned On

If you are not connected to the internet, it is safe to say that this is certainly one instance of a time that you will not need to switch on your VPN. Because a VPN does not protect any of the data within the hard disk (Anti-Virus will do that), it is only purposed with protection the data that is communicated when you are online.

2. When you Do Need a VPN Turned On

Accessing Blocked Content

Location-based blocking of content is present in almost every country. Also known as geo-location based content or geo-blocking, it is the act of allowing content access in certain countries and not in others.

For some expats who want to access content from their home counties, this is also a common issue they will need to overcome.

Netflix and YouTube are two well-known names that do this on a regular basis.

Sometimes, the blocking can also be dictated by the government, an Internet Service Provider, or a Hotspot Provider.
In these cases, you will need to switch on your VPN and connect to their remote server in order to bypass any blocks that might be in place.

Because your internet connection will then be getting routed via the VPN servers, you must keep it on at all times when accessing content that is otherwise blocked in your location.

Using Public Wi-Fi

Hotspots and Public Wi-Fi services are popular in so many locations across the globe. They can often be a deciding factor when choosing where to get a coffee, work, or grab a bite to eat. Free data has its attractions.

However, there are many dangers that you could be exposing yourself to when you hook-up to those networks.

There have been endless scams connected to hackers and malware that can intercept traffic that is on a public Wi-Fi network.

In fact, it is said to be easier to break into a public Wi-Fi network than people are aware of due to the advanced tools that cybercriminals now have access to.

Equipment can become easily infected with malware, spyware can be placed on the devices of those who use public Wi-Fi to browse the internet, and more worryingly, the information that you send over a public Wi-Fi network, which may include your financial information, login details, usernames, and passwords; can be easily intercepted and sold online to the highest bidder.

This is why it is so important to only ever connect to a public Wi-Fi network with your PN switched on.

Bandwidth Throttling Issues

If you haven’t already come across the terms, this is essentially where your data is limited, or your connection speeds are slowed down. Internet Service Providers across the world deploy this tactic in a bid to prevent you from overusing the bandwidth they deem appropriate. Essentially, they cap your speeds.

If you believe this to be the case, or you are concerned you are using more than what would be considered as normal use; you should switch on your VPN in order to prevent any such people from seeing what you are doing.

Because a VPN encrypts your information, this prevents anyone from seeing where you are going or what you are doing online. Using a VPN will also mean that your internet speeds cannot be throttled.

Slow Internet

In the above point, we covered bandwidth throttling, which is known to be something that can grind your speeds to a virtual halt. However, this isn’t the only cause of slow internet.

One of the foremost reasons that people experience slow internet is due to the actual distance between your physical location, and that of the server. The farther you are, the longer it takes for the internet to process any requests.

If you are dealing with a slow connection or poor speeds, a VPN might be able to offer you a faster service. In many cases, the server you are trying to use could be farther away than your nearest VPN providers server.

The shorter the distance between you and the server, the slower speeds you will experience.

Always make sure you keep your VPN switched on whenever you are accessing the internet.

Making ANY Financial Transactions

If you are going online to conduct any type of financial transactions or even simply logging in to view your data, such as that contained within statements, then you must use a VPN.

Consider that each time you log in, you enter usernames, passwords, memorable information and answers to various security questions; should that information fall into the wrong hands, it can leave to open to ID theft or worse still, result in money being removed from your accounts.

Whenever you are logging into any accounts online, you need the extra security of a VPN to protect you and keep your data secure.

To Save Money

Whether you shop online regularly or not, you may know that prices can vary greatly from one region or country to the next. Another factor that can increase the prices you pay online is the use of cookies.

With some popular travel-based sites, they log when your 2nd and 3rd visits are, increasing the prices slowly to try and pressure you into making a quick decision to buy due to the rising prices. As sneaky as this seems, it is perfectly legal.

Use a VPN to avoid rising prices from tracking and help locate the lowest prices to buy things with ease.
It goes without saying that a VPN should always be switched on whenever you are connecting to the internet or accessing content online.

If you already have the VPN and the knowledge of how to use it, simply not bothering to switch this on is a waste of time and effort, and more important, a risk that is absolutely not worth taking.

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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