A VPN is a handy tool that many people use daily. However, keeping your VPN on all the time can have some severe disadvantages. Because of how many people use a VPN every day, it might seem like a good idea to keep it on all the time. But while it does protect you, it can also cause some issues for your computer and your work.
Can you leave my VPN on all the time? If you choose to leave your VPN on all the time, the following six risk factors can appear:
- Slowed computer speed
- Location of VPN server can impact security
- Multiple users can cause issues
- Personal security problems
- Long term use invites hackers
A VPN can be beneficial, especially if you are doing financial work or using public Wi-Fi. But a VPN can also present risks, many of which some people have not even heard of. Read on to find six key security risks that come from leaving your VPN on all the time.
5 Risks of Leaving Your VPN on All the Time
A VPN is a public network that masks your private network. As such, it makes it seem as though your computer is at the location of the VPN’s server rather than where you are. Using a VPN has become quite commonplace for most people. It helps keep everyone secure. However, there are a few risks that come with leaving your VPN on all the time.
Because using a VPN is rather standard practice, many of these risks may not have even occurred to you. It is a good idea to keep them in mind going forward so that you can better protect yourself online (check out my review of the best VPN choices here).
The following sections cover six risks of VPNs and how to use your VPN safely and without any issues.
1. Slow Computer Speed
One disadvantage of using a VPN is that it can drastically lower your computer response time. Moreover, it can cause your computer to work harder than it should. It can get especially bad if your computer is a bit old and outdated – you will have a very noticeable decrease in the speed of your computer.
A VPN can also slow down your computer if it is not configured or set up the right way. It can consume lots of memory that it does not need if it has not been configured well.
How to Configure a VPN for Windows:
- Open Settings.
- Go to Network and Internet.
- From there, click VPN.
- From there, go to Add A VPN Connection. It’s at the top of the page. A VPN form will open.
- In the form, type in the details of your VPN. If you want to edit an existing VPN, click on that VPN from the VPN section of the Settings.
- Next, you will have to enter into the form:
- VPN provider: Use the dropdown box to select your VPN provider.
- Connection Name and Server Name and Address: These will vary depending on your provider.
- VPN Type: Enter or change the connection type.
- Sign-in: Input your username and password or change an existing one.
- Now you can save your VPN.
How To Configure a VPN for Mac?
How to Import a VPN:
- Click the following: Apple Menu>System Preferences>Network>Settings>Import Configurations.
- Select your VPN file, then import it.
How to Manually Enter VPN Settings:
- Click the following: Apple Menu>System Preferences>Network>Add>Interface.
- Choose VPN.
- Next, you will input a bit of information – the type of VPN connection, the name of the VPN, and then you will create the VPN.
- After, you will have to input the server address and the account name for your VPN.
- Then, Authentication Settings.
- There is information you would have acquired from the network administrator. Here is where you will input that. You might have to go to Advanced if your network administrator told you to. There you would type in additional information.
- Now choose OK, and you are done.
VPNs for Slow or Old Computers
Here are a couple of suitable VPNs you can use if you have a slow or old computer:
- Shieldsurf: This one is perfect for slow and slightly older computers because it comes with lots of bandwidth and memory. It has a stable and secure connection that works great with computers that have a slow processing power.
- AVG: AVG technologies VPN is suitable for older computers because it is a much more basic VPN, but it still has all the perks of a VPN that you want. It is compatible with most computers, and it does not require that much space.
- NordVPN: This is a reliable and safe option for a computer that is not brand new. It has all the security features you will want in a VPN, but it does not take up very much memory or space on your computer. It even checks your computer for malicious malware and has very secure browsing.
2. Location of VPN Server
A VPN is subject to its policies, but also to the laws of the country in which it is located. If the VPN happens to be located in a country where the government requires companies to keep data records, your information is at risk. Even if the VPN service advertises a zero-logging of data policy, they are still primarily subject to the regulations of their country.
By keeping your VPN on all the time, you are risking more of your information being logged. Being aware of where your VPN is located would be best, as then you are aware of what kinds of data laws, they are subject to.
3. Multiple Users
If your computer is used by many people and has multiple user profiles, a constant VPN endangers the entire system. If one person is not vigilant and their account is compromised by a virus or malware, then the entire computer becomes infected. There is no way to separate the accounts on your device so completely that malware cannot access parts of it.
VPNs for Multiple Users
Here are some VPNs that are fantastic for devices with multiple users:
- ExpressVPN: ExpressVPN is one of the best home VPN services available. It has thousands of servers in hundreds of locations. This guarantees your location is well protected. It has basic and advanced features for every person’s needs.
- SurfShark: SurfShark is better for home usage, as it is a basic and reliable VPN service. It has fast connections, reasonable prices, and a high number of servers. It provides easy-to-use user controls and is excellent for home computers.
- Avast: Avast VPN is a tried and tested VPN that works great for work computers. It is supported by many businesses and is easy to set up and use. It is a bit expensive, but only because of its processing power, memory, storage, and security features.
- Private Internet Access: VPN by private internet access is another reliable and sound VPN. It has a history of working well for work devices and being used often by companies and businesses. It costs a little bit more, but it is well worth it.
4. Personal Security
Although a VPN is known to be the most secure and safe way to use the internet, in some cases, it might not be. A VPN cannot hack or steal your information, but a VPN could be used to get your information. VPN providers can also use their business to get your personal information.
VPNs Can Be Hacked
Overall, it is crucial to understand that a VPN is not a security measure that works 100% of the time. There are ways to bypass a VPN. Because of this, it is best to use your VPN only when you need it because leaving it on all the time can be problematic. It can allow you to be found, and it can drastically affect your computer’s speed and performance.
How VPNs Can Be Hacked
- Midpoint Hackers: One way that a VPN can be hacked is if the hacker places themselves between a network you use and your computer. This way, any information you send through your network goes through them. This does not require the hacker to even go through the VPN, as the information is given to them. A VPN only makes it seem as though you are located elsewhere, and it does not give you much more protection than that.
- Servers: A VPN can be hacked from its main servers. A VPN is not guaranteed to work, and there are ways that hackers can hack a VPN. They can do that by using the VPN servers and then capitalizing on that breach to steal information.
- Providers: There is also the fact that sometimes a VPN provider will use the service as a way to get your information. VPN providers could also use their business to get your personal information, and that is why researching your provider is necessary.
- Lack of Security: Many VPNs do not have firewalls and security. This leaves you open to hackers and information theft. People commonly use their VPNs on public Wi-Fi, and this is a prime spot where hackers can get to you.
The only way to protect yourself from hackers is to not only use a VPN, but also to have firewalls, antiviruses, and malware blockers. Try not to use a service that can be used as an entry point into your computer. A VPN is only as useful as it can be when it is used correctly.
VPNs to Block Hackers
There are a couple of VPNs that are better at blocking hackers from your computer than others:
- IPVanish VPN: IPVanish VPN is incredibly good at blocking hackers and protecting your computer. It has thousands of servers and hundreds of locations. This makes it very secure. It also has a no-logging of data policy and gives you complete privacy.
- SonicWall: SonicWall is good for security because it has multiple extra security features. It has protection for unstable and unsafe Wi-Fi networks and also has a zero-logging of data policy. It examines all incoming data for malware, as well.
5. Long Term Use of the Same VPN
Using the same VPN for an extended period is not a great idea because it can alert people to your location. If a VPN is left on for a long time, then you are intrinsically connected to the VPN’s IP address, which would make it relatively easy to find you. This makes the entire purpose of using a VPN null and void.
So, if you turn off your VPN when you are not using it, you will save not only your computer from damage but also yourself. If you need the VPN for heavy-duty security, then it might be a good idea to look into a VPN like Tor, which is better for location concealment.
Just remember that a VPN does not do much more than conceal your IP address and location. Unless it explicitly provides it, there is no extra firewall or malware blocker built-in to the VPN. So do not overestimate what your VPN can do, as it provides a much more basic service than many people think. Some VPNs provide additional services, but those are specific ones and tend to be more the exception than the rule.
How to Bypass VPN Issues
One way to bypass the risks of a VPN is not to use one. However, there are many online activities and concerns people have that require a higher level of online security. For these things, it is vital to take all the right precautions and be prepared.
These are concerns and online activities that do require a VPN:
- Privacy concerns: If you fear that people are going to steal your personal information, or you are on a sketchy or scam website. In this case, a VPN would protect your personal information from potentially being stolen. This is one of the main reasons why people do use a VPN.
- Bypassing geo-blocking: If you are trying to access geo-blocked content, a VPN will effectively hide your location. If you turn your VPN off, you will likely be kicked from the site as it will recognize your location.
- Transferring money: When transferring money or conducting financial transactions, a VPN will work to protect your financial information. This is the leading and most important use of a VPN, as you are dealing with real money and financial information.
- Hiding your location: If you need to hide your location, a VPN will help you with that. It conceals your IP address and only shows your location to be the IP address of the VPN. This makes the computer or website think that you are at the VPN’s location when you are not.
- To fight off hackers: It is significantly harder for hackers to access your information if you are using a VPN. It is about 99.99% guaranteed to work, but there is the possibility of your information still being stolen.
What Does Not Need A VPN
Some things online are very ordinary and mundane. These pose just about no security risk to you, and they do not require a VPN:
- Normal internet browsing: This is relatively harmless, and it is doubtful that a VPN will do much. You are not in a situation where you would need that kind of anonymity or security, so the VPN is useless.
- When using your network: On your network, the chances of you needing high levels of security online are low. Your network protects you, and beyond that, it is unlikely that you would be hacked in such a private place as your home.
These routine activities are not really at risk, and as such, do not need a VPN. In cases like these, a VPN becomes just an added expense that does not do much. So, before you get a VPN, figure out if you need it, or if you are just a little bit paranoid.
It is good to be prepared but being excessively paranoid and cautious has no purpose. Using a VPN when you do not need one is a safety precaution, but a relatively unnecessary one. Use a VPN correctly and try to use it only when you need it so that you are not wasting time or money.
If you are going to need a high level of security and anonymity, then a VPN or even something more secure would be the right choice. Just learn how to judge your online activity and what kind of security you need. That way, you are not burning through computer memory and money for something that you do not need.
Being able to know for yourself what you need is an essential part of deciding how long you should keep your VPN on. That is the best way to decide whether you should keep your VPN on all the time or just when you need it.