Yes, VPNs are worth it. In today’s digital age, it’s become increasingly important to protect online data. In the first quarter of 2023 alone, more than six million data records were exposed to data breaches all over the world.
VPNs, or virtual private networks, address this by encrypting the connection between a device and an online network, securing data against hackers and bad actors.
While quality VPNs typically require a paid subscription, they are relatively inexpensive compared to possible losses incurred from a breach or a cyber attack. IBM recently reported that the global average cost of a data breach this year can reach $4.45 million USD.
In this article, we’ll offer reasons why VPNs are worth the spend, how free VPNs fare against paid ones and what VPN services can be best for you and your business.
What does a VPN do?
A virtual private network (VPN) protects your online traffic by generating a secure and encrypted tunnel through which all your data is passed through. This hides your online activity and makes your data illegible to malicious third parties.
VPNs protect sensitive information such as IP addresses, browsing history, DNS queries, files downloaded and other types of personal data.
VPNs also give you the ability to select an alternate IP address and location and access region-blocked websites. This allows you to view geo restricted content like streaming services, news articles and locked websites.
To learn more about VPNs, you can check out our full article entitled What is a VPN?
Why you need a VPN for your business
VPNs are a cost-effective way to ensure that your business’ data is protected against cyber attacks and hackers. As more organizations rely on the internet for their regular operations, it’s important to be proactive in securing internal resources.
Confidential information like inventories, business strategies and internal communications are just a few examples of data that VPNs can protect.
VPNs also add an additional layer of security to client/s’ confidential data. Through VPN encryption, you can ensure customers that their information is in safe and secure hands.
Additionally, VPNs help secure resources for employees that access a company’s network remotely. As more organizations shift toward hybrid setups, VPNs ensure that no data is accidentally exposed when remote employees access materials on the company network.
Free vs. paid VPNs
|Free VPNs||Paid VPNs|
|No payment information required||Requires a monthly payment|
|Limited security, speed and features||Heightened security and performance|
|Only offers a handful of servers||Full server network|
Free VPNs offer access to an encrypted connection at zero cost. Because they’re free, they don’t require users to hand over financial information, such as credit card numbers or bank details.
Some paid VPN providers even offer free tiers of their services. This is a great way to trial a particular vendor’s VPN implementation before purchasing a subscription.
However, there are drawbacks to free VPNs—chief among these is the limited security and performance. Most free VPNs possess weaker overall encryption and have a smaller network of servers. It’s also common for free VPNs to restrict connection speeds and have a cap of only 2-5 GB of usable data per month.
Because the service is free, there’s a good chance that free VPNs sell your data to marketing companies to make up the costs.
Paid VPNs address all of these issues. They offer the highest quality of encryption and security, grant you access to a full server suite and typically provide more reliable performance and speed. With a paid VPN subscription, you also get extra security features such as built-in anti-malware protection, ad-blocking and specialized servers for streaming or torrenting.
Paid services usually offer more robust independent testing on their security claims. While most VPNs carry no-logs policies on user data, not all vendors back these claims through third-party audits. On the same note, paid VPNs are also less incentivized to sell your data since they already make a profit through monthly subscription fees.
Other benefits of paid VPNs over free VPNs are better customer service, more intuitive user interfaces (UI) and support for multiple platforms.
Choosing the best VPN for your business needs
As you browse through various VPN options, there are a few features that you should look out for before purchasing a service.
Top-tier security protocols and encryption
As a security software first and foremost, a quality VPN should come with at least the OpenVPN security protocol. OpenVPN is considered the most popular protocol for its security and reliability. WireGuard and IKEv2 are also expected additions that offer a good balance of speed and security.
In terms of encryption, AES-256 is the gold standard. It’s used globally to protect confidential information and is considered military-grade by security experts worldwide.
For a VPN that offers impressive security, I recommend NordVPN. NordVPN carries OpenVPN, IKEv2 and AES-256 encryption. It also has special server types that protect privacy and improve security. For more information, check out our full NordVPN review here.
An easy-to-use and intuitive interface
Not everyone is tech savvy and comfortable using security software. That’s why it’s important for a VPN to have an easily understandable UI. This makes using the software less intimidating and encourages users to protect their data and utilize the VPN.
On the UI front, ExpressVPN is one of the best. It features a pleasant-looking UI that’s intuitive and easy to use. It also offers a convenient browser extension that serves as a remote control for the desktop application. For more information, check out our full ExpressVPN review here.
Multiple device connections
A VPN should be able to protect multiple devices with one subscription. This is especially true since businesses rely on desktops, smartphones and other devices for day-to-day work.
Normally, VPNs only support around 5-7 simultaneous device connections. This may be a problem if you regularly use multiple devices and want the same protection across the board.
Fortunately, there are VPNs that offer more device connections. One of these is AtlasVPN, which allows for an unlimited number of connected devices. This allows you to protect multiple machines without paying an additional fee. To learn more, you can check out our full AtlasVPN review here.
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