A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is an excellent way to gain privacy online or to gain security while on public WiFi. In addition, a VPN can help you unblock a lot more content online, by bypassing geo-restrictions or avoiding censorship.
For many people, a free service is the only experience they have ever had with VPNs. And, while a free service can be a good introduction to the world of VPNs, it is not always a fantastic depiction of what a full, premium VPN can do.
Running a VPN company costs a substantial amount of money. Renting servers around the world, developing VPN apps and updating that software, as well as implementing up to date encryption all incur costs. Premium VPNs must invest in those things – and a free VPN provider must foot the bill too.
In order to create a revenue stream, many free VPNs decide to exploit their user’s data. This is a huge security risk. When you use a VPN all your data passes through the VPN’s servers, which means that it can see everything you do online. That data, which includes all your browsing habits and communications metadata, is extremely valuable which is how the provider can afford to give the VPN service away for free.
Many free VPNs are in partnership with advertising and marketing firms, some even allow those companies to serve ads within the VPN. Others may inject adverts into your browser on the web pages you visit. Those ads can be specifically targeted at you because of the information the advertisers are getting from the VPN. This is the exact opposite of what a trustworthy no-logs VPN does, and is the equivalent of an umbrella that is full of holes.
Although VPNs are an excellent way to unblock more content online, first and foremost they are a privacy tool. In fact, in order to access content that is blocked around the world, privacy is essential.
Think, for example, about someone who uses a VPN to avoid government censorship in China or Russia – and you soon start to see why privacy is important. Unblocking content could get you in trouble, so it is better to do so in privacy.
Studies have also proven that many of the free VPNs that appear on the first page of app stores are full of malicious code – including spyware, tracking libraries, and other exploits. These are designed to let the VPN company extract even more data from their users.
For people that are desperate to use a free VPN, there is some good news. Many premium VPNs provide a free version of their service, which you can think of as a starter plan. That plan lets consumers use a limited number of servers, and usually imposes usage download limits or speed throttling. These restrictions are designed to make people graduate on the much better full version of the VPN.
Those restrictions make it hard to do things like streaming because the data limit is reached extremely quickly. In addition, a lack of servers means that the VPN isn’t as useful for unblocking content from around the globe. Speeds may also be slow when using these legitimate free VPNs, which makes them useful for gaming and other data-intensive tasks.
On the plus side, a reliable and trusted free VPN is not going to be bad for your privacy. So, if you really can’t afford a better service – be sure to consult with the experts at ProPrivacy to check which free VPNs are trustworthy.
And, remember, if you want to experience a VPN with all the bells and whistles there really is no comparing free services to the real deal. The difference is like a chalk.