A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a service which allows you to route your internet traffic to another server somewhere else in the world. This protects your privacy by giving you an IP address which is shared by everyone else using the same VPN, and by hiding your internet traffic from your Internet Service Provider (ISP).
Paired with a tracking-resistant web browser like Mullvad Browser, a VPN can effectively make you invisible to most third-party trackers on the internet.
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Yes, unless you are already using Tor. A VPN does two things: shifting the risks from your Internet Service Provider to itself and hiding your IP from a third-party service.
VPNs cannot encrypt data outside of the connection between your device and the VPN server. VPN providers can see and modify your traffic the same way your ISP could. And there is no way to verify a VPN provider’s “no logging” policies in any way.
However, they do hide your actual IP from a third-party service, provided that there are no IP leaks. They help you blend in with others and mitigate IP based tracking.
Using a VPN in cases where you’re using your known identity is unlikely be useful. Doing so may trigger spam and fraud detection systems, such as if you were to log into your bank’s website.
By using a VPN with Tor, you’re creating essentially a permanent entry node, often with a money trail attached. This provides zero additional benefits to you, while increasing the attack surface of your connection dramatically. If you wish to hide your Tor usage from your ISP or your government, Tor has a built-in solution for that: Tor bridges. Read more about Tor bridges and why using a VPN is not necessary.
VPNs cannot provide anonymity. Your VPN provider will still see your real IP address, and often has a money trail that can be linked directly back to you. You cannot rely on “no logging” policies to protect your data. Use Tor instead.