Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are the latest rage among Internet users. With online security threats growing by the day, it is only natural that people would want to stay safe while using the Internet. A VPN is arguably the most popular online security solution these days. There are a couple of questions that most VPN users ask. For instance, does connecting to a VPN server result in using more data than normal? Or does a VPN help you get around your Internet service provider’s data cap?
What is a VPN?
To make it very simple, a VPN is a piece of code installed on your computer and on the VPN server. This encrypts all traffic that flows between your computer and the server. Once the encryption is done, the VPN server is able to send and receive data, and encrypt them before sending them to your computer. No third party can snoop on the data passed between the client and the server.
The Pros and Cons of VPN
One common complaint when using a VPN is that you must choose between speed and security. Several users complain that using a VPN affects speed and results in a slow connection. What does a VPN have to do with speed? To find the answer, we must understand how a VPN works.
Does a VPN Use Data?
Yes, it does. Even though the traffic flows between your computer and the VPN server, it still uses the internet connection. Therefore, all traffic passes through the servers of your internet service provider first. Your ISP isn’t able to read any of your data, but it is able to calculate your usage. Unless you use public WiFi, your data cap will be used up by your VPN.
Does a VPN use More Data than Normal?
Yes, a VPN does use more data than normal because of the encryption. A VPN encrypts all traffic to protect them from online threats, and this increases your data usage by around 10 percent. This is because encrypted files take up more space than unencrypted files do. This is called encryption overhead. It is because of this reason that your data use increases when you use a VPN.
Usually, stronger VPN encryption automatically increases the encryption overhead. If you use a superior VPN service with a stronger encryption, it will use more data for the same file than weaker encryption. And when a VPN uses up more data than normal, it also affects speed. The stronger the encryption, the more it will take to load files.
Can I Use VPN to Get Around My ISP’s Data Cap?
It must be mentioned here that a VPN cannot get around the data cap. It is still controlled by your ISP. Even though they cannot read your data, they can see the amount of data you are using. Therefore, a VPN with a strong encryption will always use more data and have a slower speed.
In certain cases, however, a VPN can also increase speed. This usually happens when an Internet service provider throttles certain data types to improve speed. For instance, when you are using a VPN, some Internet service providers will slow down HD videos to sub-HD quality in order to improve speed. Although this affects video quality, it certainly improves speed.
The downside here is that it is difficult for an ISP to distinguish between the types of data when you are using a VPN. Therefore, they cannot slow down only certain types of data without slowing down all data. Different VPN protocols have different encryption overhead. While VPNs that use a 256-bit encryption have a higher encryption overhead, those that use a 128-bit encryption have a lower overhead.
Although a VPN is an incredible tool for ensuring online security, there are certain things it cannot do. Getting around your data cap is one of them. Unless your ISP uses selective throttling of data, it isn’t possible that your data will be slowed down to improve speed.
The stronger encryption you use, the more data you will use. This is one of the downsides that come with a VPN, but you cannot ignore the security it provides you with. The streaming benefits and the security are great features of a VPN, which are the main reasons why virtual private networks are used so widely.