People who want to improve online privacy and protect themselves from hackers usually look for a virtual private network (VPN). Many VPN providers promise high-speed encrypted internet access and online anonymity, but these solutions aren’t always perfect. Before anything else, let’s discuss the drawbacks of VPN technology. We have some alternative options for you if you discover that a VPN isn’t the right fit.
Why VPNs Aren’t Perfect
Here are some reasons VPNs aren’t the perfect solution for online privacy.
No Complete Anonymity
Contrary to popular belief, VPNs don’t always guarantee online privacy and anonymity. Google, Facebook, and advertisers can still track your web behavior through trackers, cookies and browser fingerprinting.
For example, first-party cookies let website owners track user behavior and activity within their domain. The site can still collect data on your browsing behavior and sign-in information if you’re using Facebook. Having a VPN won’t hide this information.
Not All VPNs Are Trustworthy
Not all VPNs are made equal. A VPN service can still hand over your data to a third party. That’s why it’s important to review VPN logging policies to know what happens to your online data and browsing information. Some VPNs have vague and complicated logging policies—so they’re not exactly trustworthy or reliable. Alternatively, you can try a no-logs VPN service, which does not collect or hold any information through the VPN tunnel.
Not Always Able To Bypass Restrictions
People living in countries with high censorship—such as China, Russia or Turkey—use VPNs to bypass restrictions in their geographical region. On the other hand, people in the U.S. or Australia seek VPNs to access Netflix libraries and streaming services unavailable in their region.
Unfortunately, VPNs won’t always be able to bypass restrictions. Users could be detected by the country’s censorship system or Netflix could still block access to other streaming libraries.
Difficult To Scale
A VPN may experience overload issues as more users rely on the service. To cope, you could add more appliances and concentrators to improve network performance. However, these additional expenditures could be expensive.
An increase in traffic could also lead to performance issues such as data packet loss and jitter. For internet users, connection speed could slow down or network issues could impede business operations.
4 Alternatives to VPNs
Let’s explore some of the popular VPN alternatives you can consider for your business.
A virtual desktop stores users’ browsing information and data in a virtual machine—hosted via the cloud or company servers. Employees can access their virtual desktop, as long as they have an internet connection. Administrators also have the ability to stop users from copying confidential information or transferring it to a local device. As such, it’s an ideal choice for companies and businesses that want to keep their data secure through their own network.
A decentralized VPN (dVPN) is a distributed VPN service with a network of nodes or server volunteers across a decentralized network. A node could be a laptop, computer or a server from anywhere in the world. Using decentralized applications (dApps), people can choose a connection to send their data through multiple nodes. Then, the connection is rerouted and the data is encrypted as they browse online.
Unlike a VPN, a dVPN has a large network of server volunteers. Each volunteer receives compensation in crypto to keep the network running and reroute internet traffic. Some of the most popular dVPN providers are Deeper Network, Mysterium Network and KelVPN.
Tor, known as The Onion Router, is open-source software for anonymous web browsing. The software’s decentralized network enables encrypted traffic to run through its multiple servers. By bouncing online information across a distributed network of relays managed by their volunteers, users can safeguard their browsing information and conceal their geographical location. Both the destination and source are also encrypted to provide an added layer of security.
A major drawback of using Tor is that it can significantly slow down your internet connection and offer poor search engine results. It could also have a hard time surpassing blocks by Netflix. Other than Tor, you can also rely on Tor-like services or privacy-first web browsers such as Brave, Epic Browser, and I2P.
Using Your Own VPN Server
If you don’t want to rely on a third party, set up a VPN server in your office or establishment. Purchasing a standard router with built-in VPN capabilities costs around $50 to $200. Before making your purchase, make sure that the server supports your preferred VPN protocol for easy setup.
According to vpnMentor, launching your own VPN server involves setting up your home router and your VPN client.
How to set up your router
- Step 1. Head to the router’s control panel. Open your internet browser and type the LAN IP address in the search bar. Most routers have an IP address of 192.168.1.1 or 192.168.0.1.
- Step 2. Enter the username and password of the router.
- Step 3. Head to “Settings (or Advanced Settings)” then select “VPN service” to enable it. Make sure everyone using the VPN connection can access all websites and choose “Apply” to confirm these settings.
How to set up your VPN client
- Step 1. Download configuration files from your router’s control panel.
- Step 2. Unzip the files and copy them (through a USB cable or wirelessly) to the VPN client folder of the device that you want to connect.
- Step 3. Connect to the VPN and test for DNS leaks.
When it comes down to it, there are many alternatives for VPNs. Evaluate each option’s pros and cons to determine which would work best for your business. If you’re also considering using a VPN, you can check our list of the best VPN services.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What are some disadvantages of using a VPN?
Much like all technologies, VPNs aren’t perfect. It won’t be able to guarantee complete anonymity, and it could still be prone to vulnerabilities. However, you can minimize these drawbacks by researching and finding a trustworthy VPN for your business.
Is there a free VPN with unlimited data?
Proton VPN offers unlimited data so you can use the VPN for free without any issues. Without a paid plan, you’ll only be limited to three countries, and it won’t be as fast as paid alternatives. You can check out our list of best free VPNs to learn more.