VPN has been known as the solution to various privacy problems on the internet today.
With the indefinite suspension slammed on Twitter by the Federal Government after it deleted a tweet by President Muhammadu Buhari; a lot of Nigerians have embraced the use of VPNs.
While the government ban means access to Twitter has now been blocked by telcos and other internet service providers (ISPs); a VPN can provide the security solution that brings back your access to the micro-blogging site. With the virtual private network, you can continue tweeting under the safety of a foreign location.
However, among the many benefits that VPN can provide for your online privacy, there are various disadvantages that you have to be aware of before using any VPN service.
This is especially true if you are the first time VPN user.
Here are some of the pitfalls associated with using a VPN:
1. Using VPN might be illegal in your country
There are some countries that don’t allow their citizens to use any type of VPN service. In fact, most VPN services will be blocked in the countries that consider private networks to be illegal. This is the first disadvantage that you need to deal with. If you think that your country is in the list of countries that consider the private connection to be illegal, then you shouldn’t use the VPN service in the first place. This is because you might end up paying a huge fine; or going to jail when you do that.
2. You might have performance issues while using the private network
Since the private network connection works by connecting your network to a private server; before you can actually access the website that you want to visit, it might create a performance problem in the process. Some virtual private networks might take a longer time to contact the private servers; which might result in a longer time for you to load the website that you access.
This is in fact a common disadvantage that you will see when you use a free VPN service. Also, you might notice that the connection speed when using private connection might be slower than when you use the regular connection.
3. The VPN service might monitor your activity and use your data
Some private network services will allow you to use their private servers; in exchange for your data. Of course, they might not state their intention in the first place. However, there have been cases where VPN companies are monitoring the data; from their users for their own benefits. Yes, they might help bypass your internet restrictions; and hide your IP address; but the private network companies might actually do the tracking instead.
You should be aware of the VPN services that offer their private connection for free; or for a very low price because they might log your activity.
4. It might be difficult to set up for business users
For individual users, VPN might be easy to set up; since you just need to download your VPN apps or software and install it on your device. However, for business users, the case might not be like that. For business users, VPN is much more complicated to set up; especially if you need to set up the private network on your business premise.
It will add more complexity to your overall network connection; and it will affect each device that you use on your business. While many VPN companies can simplify that for you; you might still need a dedicated network management team to oversee the private connection network on your business.
5. It might add more cost to your network connection
By default, the virtual private network is a premium private connection service that you need to pay separately from your regular network connection or ISP. Also, if you want to use a VPN router, you have to purchase an additional router hardware to be able to be used alongside your VPN connection. Thus, it might not come to you free of charge. Sure, there are many free private connections that you can use, but they are generally not reliable and they have lots of limitations. So, another disadvantage of private connection is that it can be very costly for you in the long term.
6. It can slow down your internet speed
When you add a VPN connection, you’re adding a layer of privacy through VPN server. Instead of directly accessing a website, you’re accessing it via your VPN provider. Although this allows you to hide your IP address; and encrypt your data; this also means, data has to travel more and with added complexity.
If VPN providers you’re using are not powerful enough, your internet can get very slow. This affects primarily when you need a high-speed internet; for streaming or downloading, etc. But this is not always the case.
Also Read: 10 reasons you should use a VPN
7. Using it can not guarantee 100% anonymity
There are various ways you can still reveal your identity even though you are using a VPN. What if you were browsing a website using a VPN connection and you suddenly realized that your VPN client is suddently disconnected? Or your DNS is leaking? On even worse, the provider you’re using agrees to provide your government with some critical information about yourself?
Although the service providers nowadays offers many features such as Double VPN; or Kill Switch to make your connection as much private and secure as possible. There are still many ways data can be leaked through hardware, software, or any other means.
8. Not possible to bypass all the restrictions
One primary reason people use VPN is to unblock specific websites or content (in other words, bypass restrictions.) Although it is relatively easy to unblock most websites or content, some content may still be difficult to access. Netflix, for example, is accessible from anywhere; but the company allows access to some movies or TV shows to specific countries only.
Since they have various agreements with content producers, they’re not legally allowed to show specific content in a particular region. And mostly they’re good at enforcing this. Many VPN providers can NOT bypass this restriction. Same is the case with many other sites or content.
9. Platform compatibility issues if you’re using a less popular platform
If you’re using an operating system that is used by millions of users worldwide, you’re fine. However, If you’re using a less popular OS, outdated OS, or incompatible hardware, there may not be many ways to use or configure VPN on your device. Most VPNs are available for four most popular operating systems, likewise Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS. If you’re using anything else, the chances are that; you may face difficulties configuring the service; and even get the support from the company. This is true not just for VPNs; but for any software. Several VPN providers offer ways to configure your router to protect your entire internet network as well; which could work as a solution to this issue.
Those are the disadvantages of a VPN that you should know before using it. If you plan on using any VPN service, you need to ensure that you are using reputable ones.