The phrase VPN has become more commonplace and it seems like you can't read an article or news story without hearing about VPNs and encryption.
But the big question is, do you really need a VPN?
If you're like a lot of people you're probably wondering if a VPN is even necessary for your usage so we've put together this guide to help you make a decision once and for all.
Do you need a VPN?
Below we've rounded up the most common usages of a VPN to help you decide if you really need one, based on these answers you'll be able to make a decision if you really need a VPN or if they're just another new-fangled technology that everyone is jumping on just “because”.
You don't care about anyone knowing what you do online
If you really don't care about anyone knowing what you do online then, No, you don't need a VPN.
Without a VPN, it's possible for anyone on your network, anyone who has access to your router, your ISP, your government and a host of other companies and individuals to know exactly what websites you visit, who you talk to, what emails you write and more.
In more extreme cases when you use public Wi-Fi people could even possibly access your Facebook account as you.
If you really don't care about any of this then, no, you don't need a VPN.
You do care about people knowing what you do online, even a little bit
If you value your privacy even a little bit then, Yes, you do need a VPN.
If you're concerned that your private emails may become public, the websites you visit may be known or logged and could in a worst case scenario even fall into the wrong hands then a VPN can mitigate against this.
A VPN will scramble all of the information that you send from your computer or mobile device to the wider internet. Anyone in between won't be able to see this information, including what websites you visit, who you talk to etc.
In many cases even when that information reaches the wider internet unless it's specifically personal to you (ie; includes your name) then it would be very hard to link that information, action or who visited that website to you personally.
Your privacy remains intact.
You don't want to access more content
If you don't want to access more TV, more entertainment or more websites that aren't intended for your country then, No, you don't need a VPN.
A VPN can allow you to access more content. For example, if you have a UK Netflix account you can use a VPN to access the American Netflix website and get access to 50% more TV shows and movies.
There are many other possibilities for accessing more content but if you don't want any of this then no, you don't need a VPN.
You want to access more movies, TV & websites.
If you want a more open and freer internet with access to more content then, Yes, you do need a VPN.
Using a VPN will allow you to access more entertainment online and more websites.
Often foreign websites are blocked from viewing in your country, a VPN will allow you to access them. The same if you go outside your own country, you often can't access sites from home.
For example, if you're an expat or went on holiday outside the UK you couldn't access your Sky Go account abroad, but with a VPN you can.
Sporting events that might be on pay per view in your own country are sometimes shown free online in other countries. With a VPN you can access these sports streams and watch things like PPV boxing, MMA, Premier League football all for free.
If you want to access all of this and more then yes, you need a VPN.
So do you really need a VPN?
The above are just a couple of reasons you may or may not need a VPN.
They're probably two of the biggest reasons why people use VPN services but there are plenty more.
If you answered Yes to any of the above then you should get yourself a VPN. If you answered No to both then you really don't need a VPN, keep your money.
Where you can get a VPN
VPN services are offered by a range of companies, some good and others less so.
Our Editor's Choice recommended VPN service is IPVanish and if you want a good all-round VPN service then it's best to start there.
If you have a little more time to shop around then three other providers we recommend are:
Once you've got yourself a VPN you'll be protected online and be able to access content from all over the world including your home country should you travel abroad.
Still struggling? Got questions? Feel free to post in our comments section below.