Virtual private networks (VPNs) are in high demand now that many people concern about their online privacy. As a result, the virtual private network (VPN) market is growing exponentially to meet these expectations. Now, you can find countless free services that promise safety and security without an extra cost.
That deal sounds great as long as you’re not aware of the catch. VPNs use complicated software that hides user data, including your IP address, location, personal data, and even the VPN itself, through protocols and encryption. Every single one of them requires some investment to maintain the service.
How do you think free VPN providers offer you their services? These companies have to turn a profit somehow, and in doing so, they might leave you worse than before. Sure, some do work, but in turn, they’re severely limited.
You can find everything about free VPN in this article, whether they’re safe, how they compare to paid ones, and the best ones you can find.
Is There a 100% Free VPN Service?
People should be at least slightly suspicious of free products and services, and free VPNs aren’t an exception. While there are secure and free VPN services, they have their limitations. However, others only claim to be safe, but in reality, they have unfavorable privacy policies, and that’s just the tip of it.
What Are the Differences Between Paid VPN and Free VPN Services?
As we’ve said, few VPNs have a completely free, trustworthy option, and the few legitimate ones that offer them significantly restrict their services. Some limit your amount of data per month; others limit your number of connections or the number of server locations.
A free VPN provider often employs some of these measures or all of them at once. However, the vast majority of them are data farms. Their supposedly free VPN collects and sells personal data to interested third parties. They can keep your logs and even sell your bandwidth.
Meanwhile, paid VPNs typically don’t have these restrictions or problems, but that doesn’t mean every service is secure. There are still some shady ones with inadequate policies and practices, but they’re still not as bad as the vast majority of free VPNs. Most premium ones don’t have reasons to keep logs, monitor your online activity, or track your connection considering they make money from subscriptions.
What Are the Reasons You Shouldn’t Use a Free VPN?
Some people claim that you’re the end product if you don’t pay for a service. This mainly applies to free VPNs, but it doesn’t mean that every paid option is safe.
Regardless, it’s more about where the priority of these companies lies. A company that only provides a free service likely doesn’t have your best interests at heart. In the case of free VPN providers, here is how you end up paying:
They steal your bandwidth. This practice isn’t particularly new. These providers can make off with your data for their service, making your PC behave as another server. This results in your speed slowing down as numerous users begin routing through your internet connection.
It wouldn’t be rare to find that you unknowingly gave consent to this due to a fine print in their terms and conditions. These free VPN providers may also sell your bandwidth to other companies.
They contain malware. Malware is software designed to harm your computer, and it has many types, including trojans, adware, and spyware. Regardless, when it comes to free VPNs, the intention is profiting off your data. Hidden malware can target you with ads and spam e-mail. These can also steal your accounts and card details or hijack them altogether.
They track their users’ data. Facebook, a company that generates several privacy concerns due to its revenue model, bought the VPN app Onavo, which had a free version available. Then, it proceeded to run it secretly to collect and sell the data from its free users to other companies or use it for its own means.
This situation occurs with many free VPN providers. When they sell your data to third parties, they’re able to target you with malware and spam. In some cases, they expressly lay it out in their privacy policies, but it doesn’t make it any better. After all, it makes it risky to use the internet while connected to the free VPN.
They provide third-party access to your data. As we previously stated, free VPNs tend to collect and sell your data, including personal information. In most cases, they do this to target you with more relevant ads. However, some companies don’t stop there. They might do what they desire with it and put you at risk.
They have limited security features. These service providers often possess limited functionality, meaning you don’t get adequate security features such as a proper kill-switch, DNS leak protection, and other essential protocols.
Your identity is left somewhat unsecured, and the software may expose it if something goes wrong at an inopportune moment. Most free VPNs tend to provide L2TP and PPTP protocols. Some don’t even offer a functional VPN service. Instead, they work as a proxy and leave your IP address out in the open.
They may result in financial fraud and identity theft. These services partner with other parties and provide them access to your user data, possibly causing these potential issues. The reason is that although they offer you the VPN, they have to collaborate with other companies to finance it, and they put you at risk for it.
What Should You Consider When Buying a Paid VPN Service?
The best alternative to using free VPNs is buying a reliable and secure VPN service. It would be best to get one that values its users and provides them with a good experience on top of every essential feature a VPN should have. Here are some of the factors you should consider when purchasing a VPN.
Technical and legal security. VPN companies should have the required expertise to maintain your internet traffic private. Their protocols and encryption algorithms must be secure, and they should have leak protection measures as well.