April 29, 2021

The Reason You Should Never Use a Free VPN Service

Posted by Rhiannon

Everyone loves a good bargain. Half off a TV? Yes please. Summer sale on a top-of-the-line BBQ? Don’t mind if I do. Free VPN? Wait just a second. While the word “free” is a dream come true for many, in the case of VPNs, or virtual private networks, the word “free” is more likely to cause a nightmare. Here’s why you should never use a free VPN service:

  • Information theft
  • Cut-rate security
  • Slow speeds
  • Why you should always pay for a VPN

Information Theft

When we get things for free, we often don’t consider why they were free. And that’s not unusual; normally the reason isn’t anything nefarious. Your neighbour gave away their old coffee table because they bought a new one. The free swag bag at the event you went to is a marketing tactic. But, when it comes to VPNs, the word “free” is actually a red flag to avoid that service at all costs. The reason for that is simple. VPNs must employ people to ensure their service keeps running. How can they pay their employees if they don’t make money from the service itself? There are two possible methods, and a free VPN may use just one, or even both. 

First, they may pack ads into their service. Advertisers pay them for this privilege. Most people just think that ads are annoying, but some can actually track your online activity which helps them make their ads better (and violates your privacy).

Second, and perhaps worse, free VPNs may collect your data themselves, then sell it to the highest bidder. This is especially egregious, because we use VPNs with the expectation that they’re keeping our data private from everyone. But, when it comes to free VPN services, they may be violating our trust behind our backs.

Cut-Rate Security

Free VPN services are not inherently insecure. Even the smallest, free(est) VPN may employ top-tier security protocols. However, these protocols must constantly be inspected for flaws and vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit. Unfortunately, constant testing requires a team of security experts, VPN testers, programmers, and more. It’s expensive to maintain such a team, and since free services aren’t flush with income, they may not bother and hope that hackers never find a way into their system.

Slow Speeds

The speed of your VPN relies on the number of servers the service offers, and how close those servers are to you. Because it’s expensive to maintain a fleet of servers around the world, most free options offer just a few of them…and they’re probably not super high quality. In addition, some free VPNs may also have a paid subscription and will deliberately slow your speeds on the free plan to force you to pay for the next tier up.

Why You Should Always Pay for a VPN

Trust us, we know that the word “free” is enticing in almost every regard. But, by now, we hope we’ve given you enough reasons to avoid free VPNs. Let’s talk about why you should pay for a VPN instead:

  • Fast Speeds: When you pay for a VPN, you pay for features you won’t get with a free one. In most cases, part of where your money goes is towards fast servers all over the world, so you can connect quickly to any location in the world.
  • Great Encryption: Another thing you get by paying for a VPN is encryption you can trust. Paid services have the revenue to pay crack teams of security experts to constantly monitor for flaws and vulnerabilities that need fixing.
  • Extra Features: Because you’re giving them your hard-earned money, paid VPNs know they have to step up the game to compete against their free counterparts. They do this by offering extra features, like kill switches (which are an extra layer of security), servers which can unblock geo-locked content like Netflix, and more.
  • Accountability: Your money helps keep VPN services accountable. The teams behind them know that if they use shady methods of operation, they risk losing customer support (and funding) if those methods get out. Instead, they’re more likely to commit to transparent business practices, especially when it comes to protecting your data.

Although there are lots of free VPNs on the market, they’re not worth the risk to your privacy and data. Fortunately, the best VPNs in the world typically offer tiered subscription plans, so you can sign up for the one that fits your needs and your budget. 

Posted by Rhiannon

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