If you want to use the internet privately and securely, then you need a VPN. But with all the different types of VPNs available, how do you decide between using a VPN app and a VPN plugin (or VPN browser)?
On the surface, it seems that using a VPN plugin is the better choice. After all, they’re almost always free and comparatively easy to install. And in the case of VPN browsers, the VPN already comes pre-installed in your web browser. What’s not to like with a VPN service that requires no payment, no subscription account, and only a few clicks to install?
Before you decide to entrust your online privacy and security to VPN plugins and browsers, here are a few things you should consider.
A VPN plugin or browser only protects your browser traffic, not the rest of your network traffic
Installing a VPN plugin onto your web browser or using a VPN browser protects all of your browser traffic and nothing else. So if you have a VPN Plugin on Chrome, all of your Chrome traffic is encrypted and protected from prying eyes. However, if you use Outlook, Skype, or any other tool that exchanges information online, that traffic will not be protected by a VPN plugin or browser (which can leak your IP address anyway).
In essence, there is not much technical difference between a VPN plugin and an encrypted HTTP proxy. Although you’ll see your IP address change when checking a “what is my IP” website, your other applications will still use your home IP, effectively de-anonymizing you and leaving your traffic vulnerable to snooping by internet service providers.
To completely protect all of your network traffic, you need a VPN app.
Using a free plugin or browser means you’re likely paying with your privacy
Virtually all VPN plugins and browsers on the market are free, which should be cause for caution instead of celebration. This is because maintaining the servers required to power a VPN service is expensive. So, if providers are not receiving revenue from customers, they are almost certainly making it from other means.
For example, some providers may choose to use cheap infrastructure to save money, resulting in slow and unstable connections. Others may decide to limit their technology upgrades and customer support in order to cut costs. Worse still, some providers may sell user logs and IP addresses to third parties, which defeats the purpose of a VPN in the first place.
A VPN app is the best choice for internet privacy and security
Given these concerns, a VPN app remains the most professional option for safeguarding your online life. Not only does it encrypt and protect all of your device’s network traffic, but paying a small subscription fee also ensures that your provider can continually invest in upgrading its technology and maintaining its hardware. The result is increased privacy, comprehensive security, and unlimited online freedom. And that’s something worth paying for.