Does a VPN Work Without Wi-Fi?
Updated: June 25, 2017
No, a VPN needs a Wi-Fi connection in order to work.
To be precise, a VPN needs an internet connection to function, and this could come from an Ethernet cable or perhaps a hotspot from your mobile phone, but in this day and age the overwhelming majority of people use Wi-Fi to access the internet, and without this connection, your VPN will not work.
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The purpose of a VPN is linked to your online activity. It is a tool to enable you to have a more secure internet connection, or a more private internet connection. It enables you to get around efforts by your Government to control what online content you can look at, or sites which don’t want you using their online service unless you are located in a certain country. It is a tool to improve your internet connection and therefore an internet connection of some kind is required.
So a Wi-Fi connection is essential?
Yes. You need to have an internet connection to make use of a VPN service, and for most of us, this means having a Wi-Fi connection. A VPN is not another way of connecting to the internet, it is a way of securing the connection you already have.
Your VPN offers an encrypted connection from your device to one of your provider’s external servers. This connection helps to increase the security of your online activity, and also renders you totally anonymous online meaning that no external eyes, such as those of hackers or surveillance officers, can trace your online activity back to you.
The principal purpose of a VPN is therefore to make you more secure and private online, and it goes without saying that to take advantage of that you need to be online in the first place?
I use a hardwired internet connection, is that ok?
Absolutely fine. A VPN service requires an internet connection and these days the majority of people will hook up to the internet using Wi-Fi. But there are of course other ways and if you make use of an Ethernet Cable to get online, then you need not worry. You VPN is going to function in just the same way as it would if you were using Wi-Fi.
What about a Public Wi-Fi Connection?
Again, as long as you are connected to the internet in some capacity, you can make use of a VPN. So Public Wi-Fi is also absolutely fine.
In fact, one of the major advantages of using a VPN is the extra security it can bring to users when connected via a Public Wi-Fi hook-up.
Public Wi-Fi is notoriously insecure, with no meaningful levels of security built into the connection at all. This means that it is highly inadvisable to use any type of Public Wi-Fi connection, whether it be on offered for free in a coffee shop or shopping centre, or even one you have had to pay to access, for any activity online you wouldn’t want to be wider public knowledge.
Even the most novice of hacker is able to access a Public Wi-Fi network and see what you are doing there, so even the simplest things like sending emails is very inadvisable.
This is where a VPN can help, as if you use your VPN while connected to a Public Wi-Fi network, you are adding the same level of encryption to your internet connection as you would have with a VPN on your home Wi-Fi network. This therefore makes a public Wi-Fi much more secure as all your activity will be encrypted as well as totally anonymous.
In short, to use a VPN service you need to be connected to the internet, as the VPN does not offer that connection itself. For most people that will mean being connected to a Wi-Fi network, but others might still use a fixed connection such as an Ethernet cable.
A VPN will not work without some form of internet connection being available, but as the purpose of a VPN is to make your internet connection more secure, private, and flexible, there is little reason to want to use the service without being online.