VPNs can provide more online security, which makes it a popular choice for internet users all over the world. However, many of the biggest VPN providers require you to subscribe monthly, which makes a market for free VPN services.
While the idea of using a VPN for free may sound tempting, it’s not necessarily the best move for your security. So, which one should you choose between a paid and free VPN? Next two, let’s take a closer look.
How secure are paid VPN services?
All the major VPN providers you’ve heard of, such as ExpressVPN, Surfshark, or NordVPN, offer the best service at a low price. These VPN services offer multiple server connections, antivirus switches and unblocking features that let you bypass geo-restricted content. Many of these providers also offer double-hop or multi-hop VPNs that encrypt your data at least twice through multiple servers.
An important factor that makes paid VPNs the first choice is their ability to offer fast internet speeds. VPNs tend to have an impact on connection speeds because it takes time to send internet traffic through a remote server for encryption. This can be particularly frustrating for those who regularly stream content or play online games. Having a VPN that minimizes the impact on connection speed is an absolute advantage, especially if your internet speed isn’t already great.
These features have made paid VPN providers very popular over the past few years. However, when using a VPN, you always need to pay attention to one key issue: its trust factor.
No matter how reputable a VPN service may seem, it can be difficult to prove that your data is completely safe. Of course, many popular VPN services say that their main concern is the security of their data, which is often true. However, when a provider claims to have a “no logs” policy, you need to be reticent about it. Logs are a database of online activity and connection information that a VPN service can save.
No matter how many audits are conducted against any well-known VPN service, it’s almost impossible to be sure that your data has never been illegally saved or used without internal access to its infrastructure.
When you use any type of website or online service, no matter how slight, your data may not be processed securely. Therefore, VPN users need to trust their providers to some extent. But don’t let this worry you too much. If you’re using a very mature and vetted VPN provider, the risk of your data being stored unethically is minimal.
There’s another problem with paid VPNs: They can be costly. When looking at the pricing of top VPN services, you may have noticed that you have to sign up for a one- or two-year plan to get the best deal. The problem is that a lot of people don’t want to sign such a long contract. If you’re only planning to use a VPN for a few months, you’ll need to spend $10 or more per month (although some VPN providers offer a trial period).
The prices charged by these reputable VPN providers often make people think twice and may lead them to try free VPN services. While it’s good to save money, there are several reasons why using a free VPN puts your private data at risk.
How secure is a free VPN service?
One thing we want to clarify from the outset is that not all free VPN services are insecure. Sure, there may be providers that offer legitimate VPN services for free, but among free VPN providers, criminal activity, data breaches, and lack of security features are far more common than those that require a fee.
There’s a huge reason for this: profitability. In short, free VPN service providers need to make money somehow, and if they can’t make money with subscription fees, they need to take a more illegal approach.
It’s no secret that many free VPN providers sell users’ private data to the highest bidders while their customers are completely unaware. Millions of dollars can be made by selling data, so it’s not surprising that multiple VPN companies have already done so.
Betternet, Psiphon, ZPN, and many other VPN companies have been accused of tracking users and selling their data. These vendors have millions of users worldwide, so it can be said that many people are at risk.
Even governments and other official organizations can buy data from VPN companies, some of which are legally required to provide backdoors for government access. This is where millions of users are tricked into thinking their data is protected when that’s not the case.
But when using free VPN services, it’s not just data breaches that pose a risk. Many of these companies also have poor security features, which makes it easier for malicious parties to obtain your data or determine your geographic location based on your IP address.
Free VPN providers can also try to make money through other channels. For example, you may need to deal with ads when using a free VPN, which can be troubling and frustrating when you’re trying to use the internet uninterrupted. This is another reason why paid VPNs are usually worth paying for.
Free VPN or paid VPN?
Nowadays, many of us spend tens or hundreds of dollars a month on subscription services, so it makes sense that we want to save as much money as possible. However, using a free VPN service can undermine the purpose of using a VPN entirely, which is to protect your data.
With so many free VPN providers sharing your data with third parties, if your online privacy and security are paramount to you, it might be wise to consider using a more well-known paid VPN.