VPN vs WiFi

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Updated August 29, 2022

If you’re shopping for a premium VPN, you may wonder, is a VPN better than WiFi? A virtual private network (VPN) offers additional security for your data and network activity, and you can’t use one without a public WiFi network or a private internet connection, WiFi or otherwise. That said, some users are unsure what roles VPNs and WiFi play in a secure connection. Stick around to learn what wins in the VPN vs WiFi debate.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) encrypt your online activity, protecting your internet privacy on private or public internet networks.
  • Wi-Fi is a wireless networking technology that offers local area networking and internet access over radio waves.
  • You cannot access your VPN without an internet connection, while Wi-Fi is a wireless networking protocol that can offer internet.

While the best VPNs for Netflix are ideal for home entertainment, business owners should consider whether VDIs vs. VPNs are better for remote server access.

Insider Tip

Using a router-based VPN provider minimizes the opportunity for hackers to target older, unprotected hardware on your Wi-Fi network.

Users wanting basic network security measures should research the best free VPNs. While they won’t meet the advanced encryption standard of premium options, they can provide digital protection on public networks, as long as you select a reputable provider. And if your VPN service provider isn’t responding, you can learn why your VPN is not connecting with our troubleshooting guide.

Is VPN Better Than Wi-Fi?

In short, a VPN and Wi-Fi are two very different things that work well together. A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is an internet encryption tool that routes your online traffic through an encrypted server. This service changes your IP address and hides your broadband connection activities from hackers and your wireless provider, thus protecting your private data.

On the other hand, Wi-Fi is a wireless networking technology that enables local area networking and internet access through radio waves. There is a small degree of privacy with private Wi-Fi passwords, but Wi-Fi doesn’t offer the common privacy measures of a VPN.

Connection Speed

A non-VPN connection with Wi-Fi will be faster on the same network than a VPN-protected computer or android device. Since VPNs route your connection through a secure VPN server, it will not be as quick as an unsecured network experience. That said, premium VPN services should not significantly impact your Wi-Fi network speeds.

Device Protection

Wi-Fi and VPNs do not protect your devices like antivirus software. For example, a VPN cannot protect your PC from malware or some internet trackers. Additionally, a Wi-Fi connection will not protect your device on its own, but you can add content restrictions and passwords to secure your home network.

Warning

Without a VPN connection, public Wi-Fi hackers can track the internet traffic of your computers and mobile devices at hotels or coffee shops.

Strong Encryption

VPNs offer much stronger encryption to protect your online identity than Wi-Fi. While Wi-Fi features multiple encryption protocols like WPA and WPA2, hackers can still access content from your network.

STAT: A 2021 Pew Research Center poll showed that 59% of Americans making less than $30K per year have a broadband internet service provider. (source)

Cost

Buying an internet service and using Wi-Fi is definitely more expensive than subscribing to a VPN. That said, you have to have an internet connection to use a VPN.

VPN vs. WiFi FAQs

What do VPNs not cover?

VPNs do not hide your activity under registered online accounts like Reddit, Meta, or Linkedin. Additionally, VPNs do not protect your personal devices from phishing attacks, malware, ransomware, or dangerous downloads. A VPN simply encrypts your online activity, and you should use antivirus software to protect your entire home network.

Do I need a VPN connection at home?

While VPNs might seem unnecessary for your private home network, they offer multiple benefits beyond data encryption. VPNs allow users to watch content outside of their region, and they enable users to circumnavigate ISP data caps.

Are VPNs legal?

Yes, VPNs are legal in all 50 states of America and most countries. That said, VPNs are illegal in some regions, such as Belarus, North Korea, Iraq, and Turkmenistan.
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