7+ Myths About VPNs Debunked and Explained

Daniel Attoe
Daniel Attoe

Updated · Jan 27, 2023

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Online privacy has triggered fierce disputes in recent years. Since cybercrime raised the relevance of digital privacy, it has been commonly accepted that VPN is a necessary protection tool.

However, many myths about VPNs persist, and we have set out to demystify them all.

Myths About VPNs: Debunked

In the past, only corporate users would use VPNs to secure data transfer, but nowadays, anyone can switch to a VPN server to bypass geoblocking or simply protect their privacy. We decided to leave none of the following VPN myths standing:

1. VPNs Guarantee Total Anonymity

Although VPNs are extremely privacy-focused tools, 100% online anonymity is difficult to secure, with or without a VPN. What’s certain is that VPNs offer protection from targeted ads, data theft, and tracking.

That’s not to say a virtual private network guarantees complete internet anonymity. As a matter of fact, it is virtually impossible for an average user to leave no trace online.

Take online shopping as an example: When you buy something online, some of your personal information must be retained in order to process your purchase.

Another thing to keep in mind is that when you go to a website, its cookies and trackers enable it to get information a VPN sometimes fails to conceal. Digital privacy breaches are possible even if you use a VPN due to the actions and/or failures of the websites and apps you use, your ISP, or even the government.

You should check out our guide on online privacy, to fully understand the main concerns and what you can do to stay safe.

2. VPNs Are Complicated to Use

Another myth that stops people from using a VPN is that it’s only for techies. Although building a VPN from scratch is not straightforward, most VPNs are simple to install and use. First, install the app on your chosen device, log into your account, and finally, connect it to a server.

Tech-savvy users can enjoy the whole VPN package, from adjusting the kill switch, modifying protocols, or removing devices and websites from the VPN tunnel. Still, most VPNs are built to accommodate average users, and the needed settings are enabled by default.

3. You Only Need a VPN if You're Planning Something Illegal

This is one of the most common VPN myths. Although some people use VPNs for illegal acts, such as copyright infringement, most don’t. One of the biggest VPN advantages is protecting you when using public Wi-Fi.

People also turn it on to avoid spam and prevent surveillance, data theft, and tracking. The reasoning is this: When you’re connected to a public network, anyone can gain access to a password or browsing history and steal some personal info.

Moreover, VPNs are beneficial for using banking apps and avoiding censorship when traveling.

Many people think VPNs themselves are illegal tools. And they are not necessarily wrong: Governments impose VPN restrictions in China, Turkey, Iraq, and Russia to control people’s online activities.

4. Using a VPN Lowers Your Internet Speed

Although a VPN can decrease your connection speed, that’s not a given. When your activities pass through a VPN server, they go through encryption and then decryption. This process does slow down the internet speed. However, remember that the more remote a server, the slower the connection. That’s why it’s recommendable to choose a closer country or city.

On the other hand, a VPN can enhance your connection. American internet users frequently face ISP throttling when streaming Netflix, watching YouTube, or searching for something that requires high bandwidth. ISPs do this to protect their resources. That’s when a VPN improves your connection to camouflage your activities from ISP

5. Every VPN Is the Same

Since the primary VPN feature is hiding your IP address to make your search private, most VPNs seem to offer more of the same. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Not all VPNs offer the same number of server locations or encryption levels. Moreover, VPNs have different features.

Modern ones offer ad-block and virus protection, whitelisting features, or even unlimited simultaneous connections. That’s why it’s essential to analyze your options before selecting a VPN provider.

6. VPNs Don’t Collect Data

One of the most widespread myths about VPN services is that zero-log VPNs never collect data. VPNs contain multiple server networks where information exchange happens continuously, and VPN providers collect users’ data to secure the infrastructure, prevent a cyberattack, or undertake analytics

Zero-logging VPNs, the safest on the market, need minimal customer information, such as email addresses or payment details, but don’t require logging IP addresses or timestamps.

The safest way to avert the risk of falling for fake zero-logging claims is to thoroughly check a VPN’s logging policy. Many providers will have such information on their websites, while you can also refer to independent reviews.

7. VPNs Protect Against Hackers

Despite what some unreliable VPN providers claim, a VPN can’t completely protect you from hackers. If a hacker steals your credit card or any personal information, such as your address, a VPN can’t help you. Some attacks are so refined that even a VPN can’t do much about it. 

However, a VPN can protect you from some forms of hacking. Therefore, it’s definitely safer to use a VPN on public or home Wi-Fi. For instance, it can prevent remote hacking through your IP address as it masks and encrypts your online activity.

8. Tor and Proxies Are the Same as a VPN

Although Tor, proxies, and VPNs have some things in common, they differ.

While Tor conceals your location and browsing activity, it can make you anonymous only so much since your ISP can see that you’re using Tor. Also, Tor slows down your connection speed, resulting in a poor user experience.

Proxies, on the other hand, mask your IP address but don’t encrypt your data, making them unsafe compared to VPNs. When it comes to safety, keep an eye on free proxy servers since it’s unclear who they belong to.

You might be interested in our list of best proxy server services.

9. All VPNs Can Unlock All Geo-Restricted Content

Many people believe that paying for any VPN can unlock any geo-blocked streaming service, such as Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime, access libraries of foreign countries, or watch anything not available in their country. Well, no and no.

Many streaming platforms have agreements with distributors to make sure specific content is limited to a certain location. As a result, many services have established high-end VPN exposure software.  

But if your idea is to install a VPN to watch Netflix, you can still do it with some of the best VPN providers.

Conclusion

Knowing what a VPN does and why you need one is key to selecting the best one for your needs. Doing the proper research can help you avoid falling into the trap of common myths.

This guide sought to reveal the truth about VPNs and clear your doubts.

FAQs.


What are the dangers of using a VPN?

VPN software might come with malware and viruses, and data might be compromised since it goes through third parties.

Why shouldn’t you use VPN all the time?

Sometimes, a VPN can lower your connection speed. If you use a VPN on your mobile device, it can increase mobile data usage.

Is using a VPN suspicious?

Using a VPN is entirely legal since it offers you online protection. However, with a court order, police can check your ISP and usage logs if it has suspicions of illegal activities.

Do VPNs actually hide your identity?

One of the myths about VPNs is that a VPN makes you completely anonymous. While a VPN hides your identity by disguising your IP address, it doesn’t hide your activity from online registered accounts, such as social media shares.

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Daniel Attoe

Daniel Attoe

Daniel is an Economics grad who fell in love with tech. His love for books and reading pushed him into picking up the pen - and keyboard. Also a data analyst, he's taking that leap into data science and machine learning. When not writing or studying, chances are that you'll catch him watching football or face-deep in an epic fantasy novel.

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