Having a VPN – or, at least, having access to one when you need it – is a definite benefit for anyone who uses the internet on a regular basis. It is, certainly, something that you might feel a little bit odd about switching on for the first time. We’ve come to associate anonymity with wrong-doing in our society, and that’s definitely unfair but probably understandable – but once you’ve started to use a VPN you will be glad you did. The question then becomes “why isn’t this just the norm?”. It’s very easy to find yourself in a place where you consider always having your VPN switched on.
So it is certainly worth asking whether this is something you should do. And the answer is complicated enough that it can’t be answered with a simple “yes” or “no”. To get to the bottom of whether it’s a good idea to have your VPN on all the time, you need first to know what the repercussions of having it switched on will be. And below, we’ll go into some of those.
VPNs allow anonymity, but at a price
Not specifically a financial price – there are some perfectly decent free VPNs, although you get more benefits by paying, and it is worth it. To cloak your activities, whether it’s processing sensitive information at work or registering your own details with Max credit card casinos, VPNs need to route through a more secure server, and that takes time. You may find that this makes your internet run a little slower, which is generally worth it. But if all you’re doing is watching YouTube videos, you may not need the security – so if those cat videos are buffering, you can switch off.
Using a VPN may block you from sites and services
If the main reason you’re using a VPN is to check out what Swedish Netflix is offering or watching the evening news in Bulgaria, then the geographical bluffing it allows is exactly what you need. On the other hand, if the internet thinks you’re in Bulgaria, it might make some quite basic activities more complicated. Some shopping and delivery services will simply not work if you’re not in the country where they operate, or will try to route you through their version for that country. Of course, you can set a VPN to run from your country, but not your actual location, so you can always switch for a moment before returning to where you were before.
A VPN can drain your battery
A major part of the conversation over whether the VPN should always be switched on is the matter of which device you have it installed on. If it’s on all your devices, be prepared to have to charge your phone multiple times a day – because routing via a VPN does draw on your battery. If you work from home with your laptop plugged in, you won’t really notice – but if you’re working in public spaces, where it’s more than advisable to keep your ID cloaked, it might be worth bringing a spare battery or finding a charge point.