If this is the first time you’re thinking about using a VPN, you might have your hesitations. While VPNs are a good way to stay protected online, hide your identity, torrent and use streaming services in peace, they do require a constant cost on your part. Usually it is in a form of a monthly fee, because most VPN providers offer monthly based subscriptions. Therefore it is only natural to ask yourself whether VPNs are worth it and are a good investment.
Luckily though, there is an alternative. There are a lot of VPN providers out there that also include a free plan on their offer. And we’re not talking about limited free trials here, but about free packages that you can use for as long as you want.
But while free VPNs are so attractive and seem like the best logical solution, there is a reason why paid VPNs are still on the market. Free VPNs also come with their disadvantages and we are going to highlight the most important ones for you.
So here are the pros and cons of using a free VPN service:
Well, they are free. The fact that they don’t cost you a dime and you can use them for as long as you want, is the first obvious advantage when it comes to free VPNs.
The reliable, safe free VPNs can also protect your identity well enough when you are using a public WiFi for instance. As long as you only rely on a free VPN from time to time and not for daily use, you should be just fine and they can offer a useful extra layer of security.
Free VPNs can also unblock geo-restricted content, which is one of their main strengths.
Most free VPN services don’t require you to sign up in order to use the VPN. That means you’ll waste less time with sign up and setup processes and you’ll be able to start using the VPN instantly. Your anonymity will also be preserved, which is another great thing.
The biggest disadvantage with free VPNs is the fact that they are usually limited in features. Providers who offer free plans limit the amount of data users can use in a month. Some providers (such as Hotspot Shield for instance, where the limit is 500MB/day) even impose a daily limit. That means that all your browsing, torrenting, streaming and so on has to be carefully calculated so that you can respect that limit.
A free VPN also limits the number of available servers. There are VPN providers that have hundreds or thousands of servers spread all across the Globe, but only give access to a small percentage of them to customers who use their free plan. Another aspect to consider, also related to the limited number of servers you can access as a non-paying customer, is poor performance. Since you’ll be sharing those few servers with so many other users, expect them to get overcrowded and to experience a slow connection.
Free VPNs offer questionable security. While all VPNs should first and foremost protect your online privacy, there have been many examples in the past of free VPNs that contained malware. The protocols used for the free versions are usually less secure. A lot of them use the PPTP protocol, which doesn’t have a built-in encryption. Learn more about VPN protocols and which ones are the safest. Paid VPNs on the other hand mostly use the OpenVPN protocol, which is the standard nowadays.
Another disadvantage with free VPN providers is that oftentimes they will get the money from you any way they can, even if not by charging you a monthly subscription. A lot of those services keep logs on their users, will sell your personal data to third-party companies, or spam you with continuous and annoying ads.
Don’t rely too much on customer support if you opt for a free VPN service. As with anything else in life, you usually get what you paid for, which is this case is pretty much nothing.
While there are some advantages in using a free VPN, in most cases, the cons outweigh the pros. You’ll get a slower, less secure connection, you’ll have to stay within the data limits and you’ll have to put up with annoying ads all the time.
There’s nothing wrong with using a free VPN as long as you do it occasionally and you opt for a reputable provider. Here are the best free VPN services you can find right now.
As a general rule though, you’ll be better off paying for a VPN service and enjoying the full benefits. And if you want to be convinced that it is worth it, you can always sign up for the free trial first, as most VPN providers include one in their offer.