Should I leave my VPN on 24/7?

Should I leave my VPN on 24/7?

How a VPN protects your online privacy and security

by Kurt Knutsson

You’ve got tech questions? I’ve got answers. We recently received an email with an important question from one of our readers who goes by the initials JRP:

Should VPNs be left on 24/7?

It’s a great question, and the answer is that it really depends on what exactly you’re using your VPN for. I like leaving mine on most of the time for security purposes; however, there are some instances where your VPN could (and probably should) be turned off. But before we explore the appropriate circumstances for enabling or disabling your VPN let’s give a little refresher for those of you who might not know exactly what a VPN is.

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What is a VPN?

A VPN is a service that allows you to connect to the internet through a secure and private network. VPN stands for virtual private network, which means that it creates a virtual connection between your device and another server on the internet. By using a VPN, you can hide your IP address, encrypt your data, and access websites that are blocked or restricted in your region.

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How does a VPN Work?

A VPN is like a secret tunnel that connects your computer to another network somewhere else in the world. It creates a secure and private connection between your device and another server on the internet. This way, you can use the internet as if you were in that other location, and no one can spy on your online activity. For example, if you are traveling in a foreign country and want to watch Netflix shows that are only available in the USA, you can use a VPN that connects you to a server in the USA. Netflix will think that you are in the USA and let you watch those shows. Yet that’s not all. A VPN can also help you access local network resources that are normally out of reach when you are traveling or using public Wi-Fi.

 

What are the pros of leaving a VPN on all the time?

There are a few pros to having your VPN turned on all the time that I think can benefit you in the long run.

Better security

First off, VPNs add a layer of enhanced security by scrambling your internet traffic to prevent your data from falling into the hands of hackers, advertisers, or other third parties.

More privacy

Another reason to keep your VPN on all the time is that it will prevent Internet service providers from monitoring your online activity. If you’re someone like me, who wants to keep their privacy on the internet truly private without anyone else snooping, then keeping your VPN on all the time is the way to go.

No geographical roadblocks

VPNs also offer a way around geo-blocking. That’s the technology that can tell where you are located geographically when not protected by a VPN.  This can be a helpful thing when you’re traveling, especially if you’re in a different country where the laws on internet privacy are much different.

VPNs also connect back to your home region. Some websites, especially streaming providers like Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+, only offer certain programming in certain countries based on licensing agreements. However, you can watch programming and streaming services anywhere on the internet away from home with a VPN. Many people use VPN to watch TV shows and movies that are not available in their country.

Saves you money

Did you know that having your VPN on all the time is also a financially responsible decision? A VPN can help you save money on purchasing items like flights and hotel rooms because it allows you to access websites and prices from different locations, and sometimes prices can vary between regions.

MORE: ARE FREE VPNs SAFE?

Increase your connection speed

Having your VPN on all the time can also help increase your connection speeds, especially if your Internet provider decides to throttle down your speed at times when it’s busy online. This is because VPNs encrypt your traffic, which makes it more difficult for your ISP (Internet Service Provider) to identify and throttle.

 

Some countries, such as China, Russia, Iran, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Turkey, Iraq, Turkmenistan, Belarus, and North Korea, forbid the use of VPNs altogether because they want to control what their citizens can access online.

 

What are the cons of leaving a VPN on all the time?

Although there are plenty of pros, there are also a few cons to having your VPN on all the time. If any of these cons apply to you, then you should maybe consider turning off your VPN from time to time.

Slower internet speed

I know I mentioned above that a VPN can increase your internet speed; however, it can sometimes slow down your internet speed as well. VPNs encrypt all your information before it is sent through the internet, so this can take some extra time when it comes to loading information. The distance can also affect your internet speed because the further away your server is, the slower your speed will be.

Different versions of websites

If you use your VPN to connect to another country, you may be redirected to that country’s version of the website, which may have different content available. This can be difficult if you’re trying to shop for something specific, so keep that in mind when you’re using your VPN.

You might get blocked

Sometimes websites will block you from viewing them if they detect a VPN, so if there’s a specific website you want to visit, you should probably turn your VPN off. Just make sure that you’re not posing any security risks to yourself when visiting that website.

MORE: MASSIVE FREE VPN DATA BREACH EXPOSES 360 MILLION RECORDS

 

So when exactly should I leave my VPN on?

Now that we have all the pros and cons of having your VPN turned on all the time, let’s go over those times when you should have it turned on for your safety.

Using public WiFi

If you’re in a place that’s using public WiFi, such as a Starbucks, or while you’re waiting in an airport, you must keep your VPN on at all times.

Public WiFi is great; however, it can also make it that much easier for a hacker to get into your devices and scope out your private information and browsing history. This is because most public WiFi networks are unencrypted so a VPN would keep all your information safe and protected whether you’re using a public or private network.

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Sensitive banking and credit information

It is still possible for a hacker to intercept your WiFi connection even if you’re using a private one, which is why having a VPN is so important. Some of the most common cyberattacks happen with banking and credit information, as those scenarios can have a great deal of value to a hacker.

Although banking and credit websites are always encrypted, you may run into a situation where you have to use Apple Pay in a public space or log in to your online banking account from an unsecured network. This is where a VPN comes in handy as it will protect that sensitive information from hackers.

Traveling abroad

Different countries have different internet laws and restrictions. Some websites that you can access in the U.S. may be blocked in other places. A VPN can help you access those websites while encrypting your data, but it may not be legal or safe in some countries. You should always research the rules and risks of using a VPN in the country you are visiting before you use one.

MORE: TOP 6 REASONS WHY YOU NEED A VPN WHEN YOU TRAVEL

Browsing privately

Simply wanting to keep your browsing information private at all times is a perfectly good enough reason for keeping your VPN on all the time. VPNs let you connect to the internet through the VPN’s private, encrypted servers rather than your ISP’s unencrypted servers, meaning that it diminishes the chances of your stuff being snooped about on the web, which is more than a private browsing tab could ever do for you.

FOR MORE OF MY PRIVACY & SECURITY TIPS, SUBSCRIBE TO MY FREE CYBERGUY REPORT NEWSLETTER HERE

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Best VPN software

There are many VPN choices available that can be installed on multiple devices, allowing you to use the VPN connection on all of them.  Some VPN services also have mobile apps that can be downloaded from the App Store or Google Play, making it easy to use a VPN on your cell phone.

My top recommendation is ExpressVPN. It has a quick and easy setup, is available in 94 countries, and will not log your IP address, browsing history, traffic destination or metadata, or DNS queries.

Right now you can get 3 extra months FREE with a 12-month ExpressVPN plan. That’s just $6.67 per month, a saving of 49%!  Try 30 days risk-free.

Read my review of best VPNs here

Best VPNs for browsing the web privately 2023

 

Kurt’s key takeaways

Ultimately, whether you have your VPN on all the time or not is your decision. I like to keep mine on most of the time; however, if you need that faster internet speed or you’re trying to visit a website that prohibits them, then it’s ok for you to turn it off every once in a while. Just make sure you’re being extra cautious whenever you do because, in the realm of cybersecurity, a momentary lapse in vigilance can invite the digital equivalent of an uninvited guest to waltz through your virtual front door.

Do you leave your VPN on 24/7? Why or why not? Have you encountered any advantages or disadvantages of keeping your VPN on all the time? Let us know by commenting below.

FOR MORE OF MY PRIVACY AND SECURITY ALERTS, SUBSCRIBE TO MY FREE CYBERGUY REPORT NEWSLETTER HERE

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18 comments

Suzanne July 5, 2023 - 5:51 am

Good info. Thanks

Reply
Mark W July 5, 2023 - 6:43 am

I’ve found that I have to turn my VPN off when using the WiFi calling feature on my cell. If the VPN is on, calls can not be made or received.

Reply

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