What are VPNs, and what are they useful for?

Ki James
Ki James
August 24th, 2021

In an age where information is more accessible than ever, the desire to keep your personal details private has becoming increasingly prevalent. One of the primary ways people try to do this is by using a VPN; however, for many, these are mysterious, magical things. The Redact Team wants to provide you with all the tools necessary to keep your information secure, so we are going to elucidate some confusion about VPNs, what they are, and how useful they can be in which circumstances.

“VPN” is an acronym for Virtual Private Network, and they essentially encrypt and disguise your online identity. Without getting too technical, you can imagine that any time you connect to the internet, you hold up a sign that tells everybody who you are and where you come from. A VPN lets you change that sign at will.

This sign change will apply equally to your internet service provider, and any websites or services you access that connect to the internet. With this in mind, here are some of the benefits this will confer on you:

  • Accessing region locked content

  • Hiding your location from bad actors

  • Preventing Data Throttling

  • Hiding private information

While these are all wonderful, VPNs aren’t without their shortcomings. Here’s a list of just some of the negative side effects you’ll have to deal with whenever you use a VPN.

  • Slower internet speeds

  • Blocked from certain platforms

  • Illegal in certain countries

  • Not all VPN providers are equally effective

The pros and cons of using VPNs are going to vary depending on your specific needs. If you’re particularly concerned about people spying on your internet traffic, or even just want to watch TV shows that aren’t available on American streaming services for a few minutes a day, then the cons won’t seem as bad.

All in all, we recommend that you personally assess your situation to find out whether or not a VPN is suitable for your needs. While the security and utility they provide are extremely valuable, the negative effects are particularly noticeable if you plan on using one for prolonged periods of time.

To find out more information about Privacy, Redact, and your place in the world, go to redact.dev/blog to keep up with all our latest updates! We’ll be writing more about VPNs (including which ones we recommend) in the coming weeks!

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