Can a VPN Be Shared?
A virtual private network (VPN) is security for all your personal data and critical information. It is one of the most useful security tools that you can add to guard your online presence, but it comes at a premium price. Due to the high cost, you may find it tempting to share your VPN with others and cut back on the high cost, but is it even possible?
Generally speaking, a VPN can be shared. VPN providers allow you to share your VPN account across multiple devices to purchase a new VPN account for each new device you use. However, the number of devices you can connect depends mainly on your VPN provider.
This article explores the scope of the benefits that VPN provides. Keep on reading to find more information on:
- Using VPN on multiple devices
- Sharing VPN with family and friends
- Risks of sharing VPN with strangers
- Risks involved in using a stranger’s VPN account
Why Is a VPN Connection Essential for Your Online Presence?
There may be people who may want to get their hands on your personal data and misuse them. It could target you with adverts, steal your access details and other sensitive data, or even limit your access to files and lock them up for a ransom amount. While VPNs cannot prevent such things from happening with a guarantee, they are still a necessity.
You need to ensure that each of your devices is using a VPN to access the online world. While VPN cannot guarantee absolute certainty that your data is not compromised, it provides the best protection it can by encrypting your data.
How Does VPN Work?
Everything you input or view online goes through heavily encrypted channels that work as a protective covering for your data. Think of it as a tunnel blocking others from seeing how the data is traveling inside it.
It would not help if you use a VPN for one device and do not use it on another. If you log in to the same email account, then the one with a VPN will provide you with more protection. Still, you will not receive the same protection if you log in to the same email account from the other device not connected to the VPN. The whole purpose of having a VPN connection is then defeated.
Check out this video to understand more about how VPN works:
Using VPN on Multiple Devices
Use a VPN on all the multiple devices you use to protect your data fully. So, you may have an iPad, a phone, a tablet, and a personal computer—all of which you use at different times to connect to your social media sites and email accounts. It then becomes very important that you use a VPN on each of these devices.
Please note that the maximum number of devices you can connect using the same VPN will depend on your provider. When investing in the VPN account, make sure to ask about the maximum number of devices you can connect with one account and then decide accordingly.
Is It Okay to Share VPN With Family and Friends?
If your household has more than one member using the internet, you would want to protect their privacy and personal information. The number of devices that need to be covered by the one VPN account may increase. You will not just have your laptop and phone, but your family member’s laptop and phone need to be protected.
There are VPN providers who provide router solutions. Having a router helps connect devices in the household through a VPN. You will not need a VPN on each of the devices then, but only on those currently in use.
Sharing VPN With Strangers
If you trust someone who is not a total stranger, you can consider sharing the VPN with them and split the bill between the two of you. However, sharing a VPN with strangers may not be an excellent idea. It increases the chances of any personal data being vulnerable as a stranger now has access to the same VPN as you.
The Tunnel Analogy
Going by the tunnel analogy explained in this article earlier, by sharing the VPN with the stranger, you allow the stranger to enter the tunnel and view the data flow in your network.
Also, your VPN service provider may not wholeheartedly endorse the idea because you are bringing in outsiders into the same platform, thereby defeating the purpose of having a VPN account in the first place.
You can technically share your VPN with others, but you will be responsible for that, not your VPN provider, if there is unlawful activity. A good practice is to read the Terms and Conditions document that VPN providers share with their customers to understand how you can share the responsibilities with the service provider.
Risks of Using a Stranger’s VPN Account
While there may be certain conditions where it may be okay to use someone else’s VPN account, you would not want to do so for the same reasons stated in the previous segment of this article. Since you are allowing a stranger to the same VPN network where your data will also be moving through, you may not be able to have a claim in case of a data breach.
Also, some VPN providers passively monitor the number of devices that connect to an account. If they find any suspicious or unauthorized activity, then they can suspend the VPN services or even terminate the account.
Why Is It Important to Be Cautious Before Sharing Your VPN Account Details?
While you can still share your VPN with others, it is extremely important to be cautious about it. Sharing the VPN account with people outside your family calls for added caution, and the same goes for using the VPN from someone outside your family.
Certain VPN providers may even encourage you to share the VPN with others to help you with the cost, but this practice is mostly frowned upon by most other VPN providers. Any deviation from this advisory makes you solely responsible for any data loss or breach that may happen on your account.
In certain cases, if you are negligent about following the VPN provider’s instructions and end up sharing the VPN account with more people outside the family, or do any unauthorized activity while using this VPN account, then the service provider may suspend your account. In more serious cases, the service provider may even terminate your account.
How Many Devices Can You Connect Through a Single VPN Account?
The number of devices connected through a single VPN account will depend on your VPN service provider. Some allow many devices to connect through one account, such as Private Internet Access of Kape Technologies that allow ten devices per account. Ten is quite a high number compared to the others, such as Express VPN that only allows for five devices per account.
Alternatively, you could opt for a VPN router such as the Netgear Nighthawk that is easy to set up and manage and has wired ethernet ports as well. It works well with all internet service providers and offers seamless network connectivity while protecting your data and devices.
It is always wise to err on the side of caution. Even though VPNs offer maximum security, some VPN providers may passively monitor your activities.
They do this mostly to ensure that you do not do anything suspicious, like sharing the VPN account with more people than the provided allowed. All in all, as long as you adhere to the terms and conditions of your service provider and share the VPN account within the prescribed limits, you should be fine.
- Comparitech: 5 Best VPNs for connecting multiple devices at the same time
- Express VPN: How to Set Up a VPN Router
- Norton: Are VPNs Legal or Illegal?
- US News: Best VPN Services 2020
- VPN: Can My Internet Provider See My VPN?
- Windows Report: Can you share a VPN account? Is it safe?
- Wikipedia: Virtual Private Network
- Wikipedia: Virtual Routing and Forwarding