Do I need to use a VPN at home?

Virtual private networks – or VPNs – offer added privacy when connecting to a public wifi network, but do you need to use one at home?

A VPN is a service that protects your internet connection and provides you with privacy online. VPNs mask your IP address, giving you anonymity, and making your online actions virtually untraceable. If you’re browsing the internet while connected to an unprotected Wi-Fi network, for example at a library or coffee shop, then a VPN is pretty essential if you want to ensure your privacy. VPNs route your data traffic through an encrypted tunnel between your device and a remote server operated by a VPN provider. By routing your traffic through a VPN server, it is hard for others to track your movements online. A VPN hides your browsing history, your IP address and location and your devices. This is obviously advantageous when using a public, unprotected Wi-Fi hotspot, but do you need to go to all the effort of setting up a VPN when browsing at home? The simple answer is probably not, although there may be instances where a VPN is required.

A good place to start is shared Wi-Fi networks where you don’t know every single person accessing it. While there’s no reason to have an unprotected Wi-Fi in your home in 2022, there may be instances where you don’t want anyone on the same network to be able to see what you’re browsing. Apartment buildings and shared houses often have Wi-Fi thrown in by the landlord as an incentive, and you may not know everyone you’re living with. Additionally, if you don’t know your landlord well, you might want to protect yourself from them snooping. This might be especially important if you’re working remotely due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and many employers will require you to use a VPN.

Accessing foreign streaming shows is another reason you may want to use a VPN at home. If you log into a VPN service based in another country, or one that gives you a choice, you could use it to stream shows that aren’t available in your country. Most streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime offer different content based on country, with users in some countries blocked from watching certain shows or movies. With a VPN, you’ll be able to browse streaming services while spoofing your location, making you appear as if you’re actually there. However, many streaming services are wise to this trick and will block certain VPNs.