VPN (virtual private network) services are becoming increasingly popular around the world as they ensure online security and anonymity while allowing users in certain countries, including China, to bypass internet censorship. There are many different VPN providers reviewed and promoted online, and some of them offer free VPN services. The average user might therefore wonder why they should use commercial VPNs since there are plenty of free VPNs out there.
Experts familiar with the current state of VPN technologies and other computer security mechanisms unanimously recommend using only paid VPN services. Why? This is the subject of this article.
So why use a paid VPN? The answer to this question comes from the answers to the following questions: “Why shouldn’t I use a free VPN?” and “What are the advantages of using a paid VPN over a free one?” Let’s go ahead and fix things.
Why shouldn’t you trust free VPNs?
A Virtual Private Network is indeed a great tool to protect your business and personal data. However, as with all Terms of Service, you must read the fine print before making your decision. This also goes for free VPNs, and it makes sense to give all the warnings upfront. Unfortunately, free VPNs can often instill a false sense of security, so there are some crucial things inherent in these solutions that you should be aware of.
They say there is no free lunch. How can a free VPN service stay afloat if it doesn’t charge its customers a dime? What’s the problem? Even if you think your online anonymity is protected with a free VPN, you may have no idea that the service of your choice is monitoring your web traffic and gathering information about you behind the scenes.
How safe are free VPNs?
As said, the same free VPN can track your online interests and all kinds of sensitive information, like your IP address. Therefore, some free VPNs can detect and log anything you try to protect through the virtual private network. Why risk using free solutions? It’s certainly a slippery slope, and it’s not just free VPNs that keep logs, but many paid services as well. You can see a list of VPNs that don’t need to keep logs here.
More things might bother you as long as you use a free VPN. For example, you are likely to encounter a series of annoying ads or your connection may slow down drastically due to bandwidth throttling. Another hidden threat is that free VPNs can take advantage of outdated encryption methods that do not guarantee adequate data protection.
The bottom line, however, is that the price of a commercial VPN subscription is usually so low that it just doesn’t make sense to compromise your security by using free VPN services.
Top 5 reasons to use paid VPNs and abandon free ones
1. Paid VPNs ensure stable connection
Those familiar with free VPN services have likely experienced connection dropouts, data download issues, or occasional VPN client issues for no apparent reason. Free VPN providers indeed face many technical complications, mainly because their resources are not sufficient to easily handle all user requests, which explains the frequent malfunctions and network instability. If you use a paid VPN, you can rest assured that your connection is always stable at all times.
2. Paid VPN tools deliver high connection speed
Free VPN service providers cannot guarantee high connection speed during peak network loads. Therefore, your internet connection will be much slower with a free VPN than if you browse without any VPN enabled.
Contrary to this, paid VPNs keep your connection speed at least as fast as in a scenario with no VPN running. Your local ISP’s bandwidth is usually the main speed limitation for any service you use, including VPN. Some users, however, notice that their connection becomes faster with VPN than without, especially if you connect to a VPN server in your home country.
3. Installing of paid VPNs is easy, even for inexperienced users
Those who are not tech-savvy might find it difficult to properly install and configure a free VPN client. Things are different with paid services, where the software is designed to be easy to use. In this case, logging in or out is a one-click experience and the tool will do the rest of the work automatically.
4. Free VPNs may leak your data
If you use a free VPN without wondering why you’re not being charged, you run the risk of losing more than you earn. Instead of protecting your logins and personally identifiable information, the free service may collect information about you to sell to interested parties. Advertisers are perhaps the most innocuous of these parties. Therefore, it is better to be careful with the various free VPN services, no matter who offers them.
5. Free VPNs are often exploited by Cybercriminals
Considering that some free VPN services are owned by people who start and use them for their purposes, they don’t bother to track fraudulent activity in their encrypted VPN tunnels and prevent it. That said, these free services are favorites of cybercriminals. As a result, their server IP addresses are susceptible to being blacklisted and filtered by major websites that have already been created and experienced breach incidents. This means that you will not be able to access these sites.
Paid VPN providers use special techniques to verify the identity of customers to identify potential criminals who might be using the network for illegal activities. Under End User License Agreements, these services reserve the right to disable VPN for suspicious users without notice.
In the end, it is always recommended to take your time and carefully check if your provided VPN is reliable.