The term ‘virtual private network’ (VPN) can be fairly tricky to grasp. Although it has become commonplace to use VPNs in day-to-day activities, such as browsing the internet and accessing remote servers, gaming still presents a few unique challenges surrounding the use of a VPN.
One of the biggest draws of a VPN is its primary purpose of providing increased privacy and security to the user. The very name ‘virtual private network’ gives the impression that it operates in a private and secure space, separate from the open internet.
Those who use VPNs understand that they provide them with greater security and privacy when compared to regular web browsing or other online activities. This is largely thanks to the increased encryption that comes along with using a VPN; this provides a safe and private experience for users, even when they are logged into their accounts on public facing websites.
BitTorrent Sync & Remote Gaming
Another interesting feature of certain VPNs is their ability to sync shared folders across different devices. This means that if you are logged into a certain VPN, and you have a gaming device and a laptop, or other similar devices, your files will be available for you to access and play on any of them. There is no need to download the files to a local device, as they will already be there when you log into the VPN on another device.
This is particularly convenient for those who game on the go. If you are playing on a laptop, there is always the chance that it could get stolen or damaged. Having files and settings stored on another device, such as a mobile phone or tablet, means that if this device is stolen or lost, you will not lose your game progress. This could save you a great deal of stress and anxiety, as well as giving you an additional layer of security.
If you are playing on a console, such as a Steam Box, using a VPN can also improve the efficiency and smoothness of gameplay. Many VPNs offer the ability to change the server location, which can dramatically reduce latency and improve the overall performance of the console. This can make a significant difference in terms of how much pleasure you get from gaming, as well as increase your productivity when playing.
This is why many gamers choose to use VPNs, to ensure that their consoles perform at their optimum level, and to get the most out of what they play. Inevitably, as with any form of internet-based activity, there are going to be times when you are going to be unable to maintain a high-enough connection to make the most of your VPN’s benefits. In these situations, it is advisable to disable your VPN, so that you can continue to enjoy high-speed internet during your game sessions.
Even when your VPN is working as it should be, you may encounter situations where you are unable to maintain a smooth gameplay experience. This could be due to an unexpected increase in latency as a result of an internet traffic surge, or it could be that your VPN is just not capable of handling the amount of data that is being transferred during gameplay. In these situations, it is usually preferable to avoid using a VPN, as it could end up being the source of your problems.
Compatibility Issues & Software Requirements
Certain software programs and platforms, such as the popular Steam platform, can be configured to use certain VPNs more readily than others. In most cases, this is not an issue, as you will usually find a VPN that is compatible with your operating system and the software you use on a daily basis.
However, if you are playing on a platform that does not have native support for VPNs, or if you are using a VPN that is not compatible with the software you are playing on, then this could become a problem. This could prevent you from being able to use some of the functionality of the game, or it could even lead to crashes and unexpected errors. In these situations, it is usually best to find a VPN that is compatible with the platform, or to use native support if available.
Encryption is the name given to the process of securing data by converting it into an unreadable format. This way, even if someone does get access to your personal information while it is being transmitted over the internet, it will be of no use to them, as they will not be able to read it. Most people, even those who are not necessarily familiar with the concepts of encryption, have a good idea of what it is and how it works.
When it comes to encrypting data for security and privacy reasons, there are several different methods that you can use. For some people, this involves using strong passwords and an additional layer of security through two factor authentication or a hardware wallet.
However, the most convenient and secure way of encrypting data is through the use of a VPN. The increased encryption provided by these services means that even if your internet connection is compromised by someone, they will not be able to read your emails, browse your browsing history or gain access to any other sensitive information you might have stored on a private server.
Those who use VPNs for gaming often do so because of this additional security feature. If you are worried about someone sniffing out your online activity, then encrypting this data through the use of a VPN will give you increased peace of mind. Especially when used in combination with a hardware wallet and two-factor authentication, this could be an excellent way to ensure your personal safety and increase the security of your digital activities.
When you initially set up a new device with a VPN, you will need to enter a long string of text, referred to as a ‘secret word’, in order to confirm that you know what you are doing and that you are indeed using the VPN. This is a good idea for added security, as the network administrator cannot manually configure your device and thus, cannot reverse engineer your login credentials.
However, sometimes this is not practical, as it is rather cumbersome to have to remember a long string of letters and numbers, in order to connect to a VPN.
Limited Data Capacities
This is the case with most internet service providers. Your data plan with them may have certain limitations on the amount of data that you can use on a monthly basis. If you go over this limit, then you will be automatically disconnected, and will have to pay extra for additional data.
If you regularly use a VPN and go over your data cap, then it is advisable to think about changing your data plan, or at least finding a way to stop the VPN from automatically reconnecting you, when you get disconnected. There is also the option of buying additional data directly from the ISP, if you want to continue using the VPN. It is not always an inexpensive solution, but it can be done.
Security Through Distraction
Imagine if you will, that you are playing on a console, and you need to take a break from your game session due to a technical error or other unexpected occurrence. You shut down your console and switch off your PC or mobile device, in order to give these devices a rest from all the activity they have been subjected to, while you were playing. This may be a good idea, as long as you remember to switch everything back on once you are finished playing.
When you are using a VPN, especially if you are using a public one that you have no control over, this restarting everything to get back to where you left off, can be rather difficult. Especially if you are trying to keep your activities on multiple devices secret, using a VPN can be a hassle, as you will have to manually enter your login details on each device, you use. This is why many gamers choose to use a dedicated PC for playing, as it is much easier to stop everything that is going on, when you are using a PC.
The main issue with using a VPN in this manner, is that you will be relying on the kindness of other users, or the lack of it, from a developer’s standpoint. If you do encounter problems, or if you want to use some of the features of the game, but you do not have access to certain ones, then this can make the entire process rather frustrating.
Using a VPN for gaming is something that you should only do if you can accept the risks. Although there are many benefits to using VPNs, especially when playing on the go, the reality is that not all VPNs are created equal, and you should approach this aspect of your digital life with caution.