Can VPN mess up your phone? Are VPNs safe on phones?

by Vlad Constantinescu
Vlad Constantinescu
Vlad Constantinescu
VPN Expert & Privacy Advocate
Vlad might have a degree in Animal Husbandry and Livestock Management, but he's currently rocking anything software related, ranging from testing programs to writing in-depth reviews about them.... read more
Affiliate Disclosure
  • A lot of misconception regarding VPN usage floats unhindered on the vast channels of Internet, such as whether or not can VPN mess up your phone.
  • The truth is that VPN alone can't possibly break your phone. However, not being cautious enough can cause your device to fail, and not necessarily because of the VPN.
  • Check out our best VPNs that you can safely install on your phone.
  • Visit the Security Hub page to learn more about keeping your devices secure.
Can VPN mess up your phone?

A lot of misconception regarding VPN usage floats unhindered on the vast channels of Internet, such as whether or not can VPN mess up your phone. It’s already common knowledge that most VPNs aren’t PC-exclusive.

As a matter of fact, you can deploy a VPN on a wide range of devices, including but not limited to your router, tablet, phone, or even your gaming console.

However, one of these is not like the others. Your phone has most likely the largest chunk of your personal data, so it makes sense that you’d be worried about VPN messing up your phone.

Is it safe to use a VPN on your phone?

Popular VPN providers such as Private Internet Access and CyberGhost VPN have several apps that are fit for various devices. Deploying a trustworthy VPN on your phone should be no different than installing the same service on your PC.

You’ll get more privacy and your connection’s security will greatly improve. More so, remember those times when you tried watching US Netflix on your phone and it didn’t work?

Well, if you’re in a non-US location, a VPN can help you bypass the geoblock.

Private Internet Access

Private Internet Access

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Now about safety. We’re quite aware that installing a VPN on your phone is a huge step, as it requires a lot of permissions. However, rest assured that your VPN only does that so it can be more effective.

How else could Surfshark, for instance, spoof your GPS location without having access to your GPS in the first place? And how could PIA, for instance, secure your WiFi if you don’t grant it access?

Can VPN mess up your phone?

1. If you install it from untrusted sources

This is unfortunately one of the gravest mistakes VPN users do. Please try to always avoid downloading VPNs from shady websites. As a rule, you should especially avoid those with no SSL certificates.

Furthermore, don’t attempt to download cracked VPNs from warez websites.

The odds are not in your favor, and you might end up installing a malware-ridden service that will force your phone into a botnet or grant your attacker full remote rights over your device.

Installing malware on phone

Google’s and Apple’s app stores have various protections that will automatically detect if there’s something wrong with the product in their store.

Moreover, both Android and iPhone devices benefit from built-in scanners that can detect and prevent apps from harming your devices. As long as you don’t mess with the default settings, VPNs shouldn’t be able to mess up your phone.

2. If you use free VPN

This is not by any means an opportunity to discredit free VPNs. There are some trustworthy free VPNs, but most of them are not exactly safe.

Think of it this way: you’re using a service that runs hundreds of servers (which, by the way, cost a lot of money to maintain) for free. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t.

Most free VPN providers run side operations so that they can afford running their service for free. More often than not, they implement ads within their service, which you likely have to interact with.

Now it’s not exactly classified information that many ads are full of malware and/or spyware.

So before gleaming with joy about finding the perfect free VPN, consider it might mess up your phone and harm your privacy rather than protect it.

3. If you root/jailbreak your phone

Rooting or jailbreaking your device isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Essentially it gives you more freedom over your device than you should have. It makes you run things with Admin rights if you want.

On the downside, many users choose to elevate their permissions on personal devices to engage in unlawful behavior such as installing pirated apps (such as cracked VPNs) or overriding safe, default settings.

Rooted Android phone

If you root/jailbreak your phone, you will most likely stop receiving OTA updates, and your device will be less secure than ever if you don’t have a clue about maintaining its security by yourself.

Now to the main question. Can VPN mess up your phone if it’s jailbroken or rooted? Yes. In fact, if your device has been fully unlocked, it’s easier than ever for malicious VPN apps to take over.

Don’t install sketchy apps on your phone

To sum it up, no, VPN apps can’t mess up your phones without additional assistance. Using official, trusted sources to download VPN apps should pose no risk to your phone.

However, if you plan on rooting/jailbreaking your device, downloading cracked VPN apps and installing them on your phones, you’re probably going to mess up your phone all by yourself.

Last, but not least, you should avoid certain free VPNs that seem to offer a whole lot in exchange for nothing.

Remember, running a VPN operation is pricey, and if you don’t pay for this service with money, you’ll definitely have to pay another way.

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