Have you ever wondered: “Does a VPN work on mobile data?”
The short answer is: yes.
For the long version, keep on reading below.
Regardless of the method you use to access the internet, a good virtual private network (VPN) will always protect you when you go online. Moreover, most reputable VPN services also maintain separate mobile apps for both Android and iOS and a host of other devices.
Therefore, even if you are on the move, your privacy will remain protected when web browsing via mobile data. Moreover, using a VPN service is crucial if you decide to save your data by connecting via a public WiFi hotspot.
Using a VPN always increases your data usage since it creates additional traffic overhead (up to 20%) that encrypts your connection, which varies based on several factors, such as the VPN protocol in use and whether you are using data compression and/or split tunnelling.
The additional data comes from the packets sent by your VPN provider that secure the payload and direct it to and from the final web destination via its servers. Therefore, users with a data cap and travellers with data roaming can easily get overcharged if they are not careful.
You can still stay safe online while minimising the extra data usage with these techniques:
Since different VPN Protocols use different approaches to encryption, they vary based on the amount of overhead data they use. Generally, the more complex and safer a protocol is, the slower it operates and uses more data.
Therefore, users have to decide whether to use lightweight yet faster VPN protocols that use less data, such as IKEv2/IPSec and PPTP, or a VPN with more robust protocols with slower speeds and higher encryption overheads like OpenVPN.
While you should use a VPN service at all times when going online, you can still save on data usage by turning it off for less critical activities. For instance, turn it on only to unblock certain apps, hide your location, torrent, or do other activities where privacy comes first.
Some VPN services offer a split tunnelling feature that lets you choose which apps to secure via a VPN protocol and which ones to leave out and use locally.
That way, you can set your privacy-sensitive apps, such as your web browser or email client, to use the VPN tunnel constantly, leaving your high-bandwidth services or those apps you need to access locally unaffected by the data overhead.
The further the server to which you connect, the more data your VPN uses. While most VPNs connect you to a close location, you can also manually choose one that works better. That way, you can also access a server with lower latency that uses less data.
To bust a common myth: using a VPN does not let you overcome a mobile data cap!
Users often believe that their mobile provider cannot track their activity if they turn on a VPN service. However, while it can’t see into your data packets, it still tracks the amount of data you send and receive. On top of that, you spend more data due to the VPN overhead.
The only scenario where a VPN might come in handy is if your mobile operator applies a soft cap on your data for certain high-bandwidth activities, such as streaming. In such cases, simply turn on your VPN to mask your actions and avoid getting throttled speeds.
Now that we’ve got all that covered, let’s look into some of the best VPNs for the job right:
Each of these VPN services helps you access the internet and use your favourite apps whenever and wherever you want. Moreover, they include fast, effective, and secure protocols that minimise the encryption overhead, thus wasting less extra data.
Does a VPN work on mobile data? Yes, it does! However, it uses more data, so if you are a traveller or a user with a hard data cap, you might pay more than you expected. To minimise this data usage, use one of our recommended VPNs and practice the tips and tricks above.
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