The media and blogs have stories about how you can get a free VPN-connection, but is it really a good idea? Who doesn’t want to have something for free? A free VPN-connection that offers privacy, security, and the option to stream from all over the world sounds like a great deal, but is it really true? If you search on Google or the apps stores of Google or Apple, you will find plenty of providers that offer you a free VPN connection, so there are plenty of options.
At the first look, free might look great. You don’t have to pay anything, and you don’t have to provide any payment information like credit cards, so you should be sure to stay absolutely anonymous. Unfortunately, free means that they will have to finance the service by ads and to try to sell their customers information to third parties and the saying “If something is free you are the product” becomes true. With that said, let’s dive in.
Free VPN-networks will often be slow and sluggish. Setting up a VPN-network requires a lot of resources. You will have to set up servers all over the world to offer the users a decent network of access and exit points. You will have to have different kinds of network accessories. In addition to the servers, you will need software and you will needs apps or software so the users can connect to your network. All in all, there is a lot of costs related to setting up a network. If you offer it for free, you will find it hard to financing upgrading your network as the number of users grows.
It has been seen several times that a new free VPN-provider pops up, gets great reviews everywhere as it works perfectly for the first users, but after six months, you can see the same user showing discontent with their services because of poor performance.
If the users pay for the VPN-provider’s service, the VPN-provider will be able to upgrade the network as the number of customers increases and keep offering you a great service.
Security is a critical issue. A lot of free VPN providers use the PPTP ( Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol ) which is no longer considered fully secured. It will still be encrypted, but the encryption is no longer considered strong. If you want to stream movies from other countries, this can be ok, but if you’re going to avoid prying eyes, this is far from enough. You should use some of the more secure protocols like OpenVPN or L2TP combined with IPSec.
The other thing is that the free VPN-providers often only offer 128-bit encryption while the paid VPN-providers offers 256-bit, which is in a completely different league when it comes to security and encryption. Each extra bit double the time it takes to crack the encryption.
Another thing is that the free providers will seldom have the resources to follow up on security issues or vulnerabilities that show up. It will take longer to fix them, or they will have to wait for somebody else to fix them and then install the security patches.
Finally, they might be slower to upgrade to the latest technology due to lack of funds and therefore use older and more insecure technology.
When it comes to support, you will often be left on your own when it comes to free VPN-providers. The paid VPN-providers typical offer 24/7/365 support by email or live chat, which naturally is not possible if the VPN-provider doesn’t charge anything for their service.
If you are a bit lucky, you might be able to find a support forum for the free VPN-providers, find others who have had similar issues to yours, and have taken the time to post how to solve the problems.
Free VPN-providers will often have serious privacy issues. A free VPN will, as stated above, also have costs and bills that need to be paid. Since they have no income from the services they provide, they will need to find other sources of income and ads will be one of the first options that come to mind.
This means that the free VPN-providers will inject ads and spam into your browser and they will try to target it specifically towards you. Therefore they will log your browser history and sell it to their advertisers to improve the targeting.
Unfortunately, this also means that you will be tracked, as the advertisers will want to have information about how many people watch the ads and every other piece of information they can get access to. This is, of course, worrisome for you as you will get the opposite of what you wished for if you signed up for a VPN-connection that offers you protection for your privacy freely.
Serving You Malicious Ads
The free VPN-providers will often join different ad networks and, unfortunately, there have been cases where the advertisers haven’t been vetted thoroughly and turned out to be hackers that place ads that would infect people’s computers with malware or viruses.
Selling Your Information to Third Parties
Some free VPN-providers might even sell information about their customers to 3rd. parties. The 3rd. parties can be advertisers that wish to bombard you with ads and offers and often it is the more controversial advertisers like betting and online gaming sites, erotic sites, dating etceteras as they often struggle to be allowed to advertise on Google or Facebook.
In the worst case, it can be copyright lawyers that are phishing for people that have inflicted copyright laws or government bodies like the tax authorities that search for people that hide money abroad. The free VPN-providers might not even be aware of who it is they are selling to as they don’t have the resources to check the buyers.
Limited Number of Locations and IP addresses
With a free VPN-provider, you will often have a limited set of options when it comes to geographical locations as they just won’t have the resources to set up a vast network. The same is true with the numbers of available IP addresses. A higher number of IP addresses offers better anonymity and better chances of streaming.
So again, a paid VPN-solution is superior to a free solution.
Be Aware of IP Address Leaks
To keep you secure and anonymous it is essential that your real IP address that you have got from your Internet Service Provider is not exposed. Most paid VPN providers will offer different technologies to prevent this from happening. The free VPN providers will not due to lack of funds which results often in neglect to provide those technologies and you running the risk of having your real IP address exposed to anybody that snaps up your information. So your IP address is much more safe with a paid VPN-solution
You Risk Being Used
You might even risk getting involved in illegal activities like attempts to do DDoS attacks. Some shadier free VPN providers might even use your computers as a kind of VPN-servers and the bandwidth from your computers will be sold to third parties, that – if you are unlucky – will use YOUR bandwidth for illegal activities
So the offer of a free VPN connection might be a honeypot that is designed to attract unsuspecting users and to take advantage of those users
You Risk That the Free VPN-solution is a Scam
Some free VPN-solutions are set up just to scam you. You will by your own free will send all your traffic through their systems allowing them to pick up things like usernames and passwords or even access to your bank accounts. Therefore it can be really dangerous to use an unknown free VPN-provider.
Unclear Privacy and User Policies
A lot of the free VPN-providers have very vague policies with very little information, which is an obvious sign that they have something to hide. Or that they just don’t have enough resources and hence haven’t had the necessary time to create clear and understandable policies.
In many cases, it is also hard to find out which jurisdiction they belong under, so you can’t know if your data is protected from any agency or lawyer who asks will have the data handed over to them.
Can This Really be True?
A question you always should ask is: Can this really be true? Isn’t it just the sellers of paid VPN connections that want to scare people away from the free VPN-providers? Well, a group of Australian and U.S. researchers done a study that shows how dangerous it is to use free VPN-providers. They studied 283 Android VPN apps, and the numbers are quite worrisome if you use free VPN-solutions.
- 18 % created a tunnel without encryption of the user’s data.
- 38% contained some sort of malware presence.
- 66% leaked DNS traffic.
- 84% didn’t route IPv6 traffic through the secure VPN tunnel.
As you can see, free VPN-solutions put your security and privacy seriously at risk. You can find the full report here .
As you can see, there are plenty of reasons why you should go for a paid VPN- solution instead of a free solution. As said earlier – “if it is free, you are the product”.This is also true when it comes to VPNs, and we therefore do recommend that you choose a paid VPN.
A paid VPN-connection doesn’t have to break your budget as you will typically pay about $10 per month for a monthly plan, but if you pay for a longer time such as six months or a year, you can often reduce the costs by 50% so your monthly price will be down to $5/month.
So there is no reason to wait any longer. You will find our list about the best 15 paid VPN providers here.