Should You Keep Your VPN On All the Time? (Easy Guide)
A lot of people are turning to VPNs to keep safe while using the internet. This is not without cause because it appears as though online security threats keep multiplying by the minute.
For those who are not tech-savvy, using a VPN might be a little tricky. Questions such as how, when, where, and what mode they can employ while using the VPN keep coming up. Perhaps the commonest question is whether one should have the VPN turned on all the time or to rather turn it off intermittently.
In this article, we examine this question in detail, offering insight that will no doubt prove useful. Here goes.
What is a VPN?
A VPN (short for Virtual Private Network) is software that is primarily designed to enhance and fortify your security online. Ordinarily, when you use the internet, anyone with a certain level of expertise can track your activities. This is because each internet user has a unique set of numbers known as an IP address. Your IP address serves as a location identifier. Thus, a hacker can hop on your network and discover details ranging from websites you visit, downloads, your physical location, etc. Imagine how devastating it could be if a cybercriminal gets hold of your financial information. You could be ruined for life.
A VPN sorts this out by creating a secure private network that you can use. Instead of accessing a website’s server directly, a VPN reroutes your traffic through its servers first. This achieves two things. Firstly, it affords you an IP address different from the one provided by your Internet Service Provider (ISP). Additionally, it encrypts your network, making you impervious to attacks. Thus, even though your traffic will still be visible when you use a VPN, it will nonetheless be indecipherable.
When Should Your VPN Be On (Always)?
To use a VPN, you either have to download and install a provider’s app, a browser extension for browsers or install it on a router. When you use a VPN app, you have the option of leaving it turned on always or turning it off every once in a while. What situations should you leave it on always?
1. When Using Public Networks
Public Networks such as shared Wi-Fis are danger zones. Cybercriminals lurk around such spaces because of the possibility of finding prey. When you use a public network, everyone on the service can access your data. However, with a VPN, no one will be able to interfere with you. Thus, at any point that you use a public network, always leave your VPN on.
2. When in Locations with Internet Restrictions
If you are in a country where the government implements any internet censorship, you cannot take the risk of having your VPN turned off. This is because accessing the internet without a VPN exposes you to risks. These could range from arrests, prosecution, or even targeted killings. Additionally, if you have a high-risk job, such as investigative journalism, you want to always leave your VPN on.
3. When You Constantly Carry Out Sensitive Financial Transactions
If you are always carrying out sensitive financial transactions, leaving your VPN turned on is non-negotiable. Hackers and cybercriminals will still be able to notice your internet traffic. However, they will be unable to do anything to harm you. This is because they will lack the means to decrypt your traffic to attack you.
4. When Bypassing Firewalls and Geo-restrictions
Firewalls prevent you from accessing specific content. For instance, educational institutions sometimes put up firewalls within their locations. These prevent people in that area, including students and teachers, from accessing unauthorized content. If you want to get past this challenge, you can use a VPN. If you spend a lot of time within that space, your VPN must always be turned on.
Similarly, if you aren’t located in a specific region, you may be blocked from accessing some content. This sort of discrimination is known as geo-blocking and is routinely employed by streaming platforms. To constantly access these sites without fail, you need your VPN turned on always.
5. To Beat Bandwidth Throttling
Internet Service Providers routinely slow down the internet speed of users. This occurs mostly in situations where such users are using a lot of data. For instance, you could be a victim of this if you are always streaming content online or gaming. With a VPN, you can escape this problem. This is because the secure tunnel a VPN provides even shuts out your ISP too. This means that if you do a lot of streaming or gaming, you will be best served if your VPN is always left functional.
When You Should Not Leave Your VPN Always Turned On
There are certain situations where it will be less than ideal to leave your VPN turned on. These scenarios include:
When You Need to Prioritize Speed
A VPN could slow your traffic down some. Hence, if you are engaged in activities where you need to prioritize speed (over security), then you should not leave your VPN turned on.
When the VPN Provider Does Not Have Servers in Your Physical Location
As mentioned above, to access any region’s content, your VPN provider needs to have servers in that region. So, for instance, if your VPN provider does not have servers in your physical location, you will not be able to access your physical location’s-specific content while using the VPN. This means that you will constantly have to turn off your VPN to use your regular internet.
Pros of Leaving Your VPN On Always
Are there benefits you get from having your VPN turned on at all times? From the discussion above, the answer ought to be clear. However, here are specific benefits you get from having your VPN turned on always:
1. Constant Security
A VPN is primarily designed to improve your security. Most VPN providers go out of their ways to ensure that they equip their services with features that do that job excellently. That means that when you have your VPN turned on always, you stay safe for longer. Thus, you will not have to worry about toggling the settings at any point or whether you may have mistakenly accessed a dangerous site with your protection turned off. You are rest assured of blanket internet security when your VPN is always turned on.
2. Stable Internet Speed
As mentioned above, you may want to leave your VPN always turned on if your ISP is in the habit of throttling your internet speed. A necessary fallout of this is stable internet speed. With speed lags eliminated, you will not have to spend hours loading sites that ordinarily should take you minutes.
3. Easier Access to Blocked Sites
If you are in regions where certain platforms are blocked, connecting to a VPN at all times means that you have uninterrupted access. For instance, Twitter is inaccessible in some countries. Furthermore, a VPN proves useful in bypassing the restriction by allowing you to connect to a server in a region where the service is not blocked. Thus, with your VPN always turned on and connected to a compatible region, you will hardly notice the ban.
Cons of Having Your VPN Always Turned On
Like there are pros, there are also cons with having your VPN turned on. Here are a few:
1. Battery Drain
Leaving your VPN turned on could always drain your device’s battery. This is especially the case if your device is old or has outdated features. Hence, if you are in an area where you do not have easy access to power, having your VPN turned on all the time might not be a great idea.
Using a VPN could cause speed lags. This is because of the time it takes the VPN service to reroute your traffic through its servers. As a result, the process could lead to a drop in internet speed. In the vast majority of cases, though, this speed drop is negligible.
Best VPNs To Consider
Here are two VPN providers to consider if you are at a loss regarding the services to hop on to:
- Number of servers: More than 3,000
- Speeds: Unlimited
- Server locations: 160 in 94 countries
- Maximum devices supported: 5
- 24 live chat: Yes
- 30 day money back guarantee: Yes
- Fastest VPN out there
- Strict no logs policy
- 256-bit AES encryption
- Few discounts
If you are looking for a VPN that can stay on and active for as long as you need it, you can scarcely do better than ExpressVPN. This is an all-rounder, sporting feature that makes it the envy of other VPN providers. However, when it comes to its capabilities, ExpressVPN ranks highly also.
This provider has 3000+ servers in 90 countries and 120 locations. These servers are excellent for unblocking geo-restricted content. In addition, they are fast and reliable, so you are assured of buffer-free service with this provider.
ExpressVPN has awesome security and privacy features. Starting the pack is the AES 256-bit encryption system it uses on its servers. This is virtually uncrackable and is even used by the United States military. In addition, this provider has a Network kill switch that kicks in immediately after your network slips. There is also the split tunneling feature with which you can split your apps to use either the VPN network or your regular ISP-provided service. Finally, it maintains a reliable no-log policy and has its headquarters in privacy-friendly the British Virgin Islands.
You have the luxury of connecting 5 devices simultaneously to one ExpressVPN account. In addition, this provider has competitive subscription plans, which are fair, considering its capabilities.
- Cryptocurrency accepted? Yes
- Simultaneous connections: 6
- Dedicated IP-addresses? Yes
- Servers: 5342 in 58 countries
- Lots of pricing options
- Netflix support kept up to date
- 256-bit AES encryption
- Slow app
NordVPN is another excellent VPN to consider. An oldie in the industry, this service has existed long enough in the industry to be recognized as formidable and remarkable. We have no qualms recommending it for use for your every VPN needs.
This provider has 5000+ servers in 59 countries. These servers provide you with IP addresses that reflect a secondary location. Hence, they are perfect for unblocking geo-restricted content. You can use NordVPN to access content platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, BBC iPlayer, and so many others. If gaming, torrenting, peer-to-peer file sharing, and torrenting interest you, this VPN will come in handy.
Your security is also guaranteed on this service. NordVPN uses the military-grade AES 256-bit encryption model to secure its servers. In addition, you get dedicated IP addresses if you need the same, support for Tor over VPN, a kill switch, and reliable security protocols. Furthermore, NordVPN is Panama-based, which is important for the maintenance of its no-log policy. In addition, its no-log policy has been tested and certified by third-party auditors.
This provider’s subscription offers are affordable. You also find apps for the major operating systems, ranging from macOS, iOS, Linux, Windows, and Android. In addition, you will be able to connect 6 devices to one account.
There is no doubt that you cannot go wrong with using a VPN. However, when it comes to whether you should leave the VPN on at all times, your priorities and preference factor in. This review has shown the pros and cons of leaving your VPN on always and the situations where either stance makes sense. You may want to strongly consider the benefits you get when your VPN is always turned on.