A Virtual Private Network (VPN) can be used for a variety of purposes; this can be to access geo-restricted content, secure and privatise your online surfing traffic, and reclaim freedom of the Internet when bypassing censorship.
However, one of the common questions we always get is if our VPN can be used to bypass an ISP’s (Internet Service Provider) Internet quota.
Data usage and VPNs are often misconstrued ideas which are often taken to represent one another. So for anyone who may still feel confused whether a VPN can be used to skirt ISP data caps or if a VPN accounts for your data, do read on for further clarification.
Short answer: Yes.
Using a VPN still requires an Internet connection to function, and it does account for your data count, but typically not by a big margin.
How a VPN works is by compressing data packets to be sent through the VPN tunnel for encryption. What the VPN tunnel is really doing is encapsulating your packets inside other packets which must still go through your Internet to your ISP.
Data packets are essentially ‘bits’ of information that are sent from and to your device when you are performing any requests online.
So although a VPN is encrypting your data and sending the data through an external server, the data is still going through you ISP servers. While your ISP would not be able to know what request was sent or be able to read your encrypted data, it can still know how big the request was and count how much data you are using.
Hence, to also answer the age old question of “Can a VPN bypass my Internet quota?”, no a VPN would not be able to help you with that as well.
(Read also: Can Using a VPN Bypass Internet Quota?)
So how much data would your VPN actually use?
It is hard to put an exact figure on how much data using a VPN while you are online will incur, although it is a marginal one considering the level of privacy protection you are getting with the extra encryption.
However, there are a couple of factors that do affect if your VPN uses more or less data.
The main variable which contributes to this is the type of VPN protocol you connect to. The most common protocols include L2TP, OpenVPN, PPTP and others. Each protocol uses less or more data depending on the level of encryption you choose to have. More privacy protection = higher level of encryption = more data.
Another factor to consider, albeit it being less significant, would be to connect to VPN servers which are located geographically closer to your actual physical location. That way, you will help to reduce the ping time of your connection, ensuring you a lower latency/delay.