Q: Should I use a VPN at home for better protection against hackers?
A: A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a tool that can provide a variety of security and convenience services that are most useful on networks shared by others or when traveling.
Unless you’re sharing your home network with random strangers, the main security benefits of using a VPN don’t really apply.
Depending on the VPN you are using, you may also experience slower internet connections as everything has to go through the server provided by the VPN you are using.
If you work from home and need to use a VPN to access your company’s secure network, you may want to test on and off for your personal use to see if there is a performance impact. .
Modest benefitsThere are a few minor benefits to using a VPN at home, but they may not be worth the cost or compromise performance.
The first is that the VPN will prevent your Internet Service Provider (ISP) from monitoring what you do online, which they usually do for marketing purposes.
The VPN provider, however, will have the ability to track what your ISP would normally track, so it’s important to research their privacy policies before setting one up for this reason.
Another small plus is that for the few websites that don’t serve their content over a secure (https) connection, it’s usually because the content isn’t personal.
Using a VPN at home would ensure that all your online interactions will remain private as all your interactions will be encrypted.
Exclusive access to contentAnother potential significant benefit is for those who want to access content limited by your location.
For example, some local sports that may be blocked may become available if it looks like you’re logging in in another state.
The same goes for those who want to access content in other countries blocked in the United States. As an example, I used a VPN to access content from the BBC website during the London Olympics that was unavailable to those outside the country.
A VPN service allows you to select a server in a specific region or country, so if you are going to use it for these purposes, make sure the service you select has servers available in the country or countries for the content you you are interested in accessing.
You can also do detailed research to make sure the VPN service isn’t blocked by the website or streaming service you’re trying to access.
It’s become a bit of a cat-and-mouse game, as content providers often update their detection systems to include popular VPN servers around the world.
Streaming services such as Netflix, YouTube TV, HBO Max for example have extensive knowledge of available VPN services and block most of them.
Most VPN companies offer some form of free trial that gives you plenty of time to test it out for the specific purpose you might have in mind, which can help you avoid buying something you can’t actually use. .