A VPN today is one of the more popular security software that usually tops the list among many others. However, there are still many who aren’t aware of the benefits of using one. And, even if you’ve got a VPN, you might be considering shifting to a free one because the current one is way out of your budget. On the contrary, if budget is an issue, there are premium providers nowadays that are quite affordable. And some would even imagine that the features that come with it aren’t up to the mark. However, that’s far from true.
The purpose for telling you to choose a premium VPN that is affordable over one that is completely free is because of the vastness in performance levels, security, servers and much more. Other than that, there are a couple of free VPNs that are commendable, but again, it all comes down to what you need it for, and which provider you settle with.
This guide will highlight the various pros and cons of free VPNs, just in case you still have your heart set on it. But first, what is a VPN? How is a free VPN different from a premium one?
What is a VPN? How does a free VPN vary from a premium one?
As mentioned above, a VPN, short for Virtual Private Network, is exactly what its name stands for. It’s a security software designed to secure your internet connection with the highest levels of encryption. Each VPN offers virtual servers that you can connect to, which allows you to shield your physical IP address. It passes all data or web-traffic through encrypted tunnels that then reach the final destination.
Now, with that definition in mind, how can a free VPN help? Does it offer the same perks as that of a premium provider? Can it support multiple device connections or all the popular apps?
Well, a free VPN is a completely free service. All you might have to do is sign up and create your account. However, what does the VPN offer?
A couple of free VPNs either come in app form or you can download the browser extension version of it. They come with a limited number of servers that you can use for online protection or to access a certain platform that isn’t too difficult to unblock. The thing about servers is that a free VPN’s servers are never their own, as compared to a premium provider.
Even though they’re entirely free, there’s always a hidden cost to it. With that said, let’s jump to the pros and cons of using a free VPN.
Pros of using a free VPN
- Free VPNs do offer a small number of servers. With it, you’ll be able to remain anonymous and protect yourself online. But, to what extent? With these servers, you’ll be able to change your location and access small scale websites or apps.
- With a free VPN, you can bypass online censorship and surveillance. Using any one of its virtual servers, you’ll have access to local platforms. This is because in most countries around the world, online censorship and surveillance is a real thing – can go to pretty harsh extents.
- Free VPNs come with basic encryption, VPN protocols, and a couple other features. For sure they’re not better than a premium one, but it’s included. With it, you can attempt to secure your internet connection and bypass ISP throttling.
- Other than online censorship, you can bypass geo-restrictions. There are some countries that block access to most streaming platforms, websites, apps, and even basic search engines. With the help of a reliable free VPN, you can try bypassing these blocks.
Cons of using a free VPN
Now, even though there are quite a bit of perks that come with using certain free VPNs, its cons still trump the pros list. Here’s why:
- The VPN might be free to use, but even software needs to make monetary gains in some way. Free VPNs without a doubt log, steal and sell personal data gathered. The data can range from your browsing history, location, the website you visited, the information you put online and the list goes on.
- Server locations are important for every VPN, but a lack of them brings no value. Free VPNs offer not more than 10-15 servers with barely any IP addresses over each. There’s a lot that can go wrong when too many users are connected through the same IP at the same time. Plus, none of the servers are owned.
- Other than selling your logged data, they make their money with advertisements. You’ve probably noticed a whole influx of ads when you visit certain sites. Most of these ads have links that are malicious, while free VPNs also make money when you buy something through the ads they promote.
- Security is not top-grade! A premium VPN mostly offers AES 256-bit encryption while a free VPN is lower than that.
Only choose a free VPN if your activities are limited and if you’re not that big on privacy. Other than that, we recommend using a premium VPN that is extremely budgeted, and offers not just a free trial but a reliable refund policy.