Every now and then someone contacts us to inquire about free VPNs and how they compare to their paid counterparts. Or to put it differently – are paid VPNs really worth the money. We think they are and in this article, we’ll try to explain why that’s the case. Let’s get started…
It’s all about the money…
Operating a VPN service costs a lot of money. The better the service, the more it costs to operate.
One of the key features of a good VPN is the size of its server network. Those servers aren’t free and neither is network capacity nor highly-trained system administrators hired to maintain those servers. Add third-party auditing and various security tests to the mix and you come to a hefty price tag.
Paid VPNs are funded by their customers, who pay to keep the service running. And there are some serious profits left afterward, no matter how affordable a VPN is.
The situation is very different with free VPNs…
How do free VPNs make money?
If a VPN doesn’t charge for the service, it makes money in a different way. Even if it’s a nonprofit, a company still needs to buy those servers, network capacity and to pay its people.
Here are two key ways free VPNs employ:
1. Tracking and selling your browsing data
A free VPN can track everything you do online as long as you’re using their service. And by everything – we mean everything. All data travels through their servers so yes, they do know “what you did last summer.” On the other side of the market, there are dedicated data brokerage companies that purchase users’ data and then further sell it to third party advertisers. A database containing information on your online habits could be a high-demand commodity. And this transforms you, the user, into a product.
2. Ads galore
Another popular tactic used by free VPNs is to serve you ads all around the Internet. They could even change ads on pages you visit with their own ad code. Worse yet, free VPNs will even show you ads in mid-pages, making for an awful user experience. Plus, for what would be their “perfect combo,” they could combine ad serving with selling your data.
Alternatively, they may offer a limited service only to push you to upgrade to a paid version. We have nothing against this approach as it could be a cost-effective way for the VPN provider to get new customers. As long as they don’t track you down and serve a ton of ads, we’re fine with this.
Free VPNs major drawbacks
As you’ve probably figured out, a free VPN cannot provide you with the service its paid counterpart delivers on a regular basis. Some of the major drawbacks of free VPNs include:
- Security issues. Since free VPN providers don’t usually have decent server infrastructure, their security and the level of encryption might be weak. What you instead should look for is top-notch encryption, without worrying that your data could fall prey to hackers.
- Poor performance. Compared to premium (paid) VPNs, free solutions tend to offer slower Internet speeds, making them useless for things like streaming and online gaming. Heck, you may not even be able to browse some data-heavy websites properly.
- Questionable privacy. As noted above, some free VPNs make their money by selling your browsing data to third parties. This kills the point of getting a VPN in the first place as its main function should be to let you be anonymous online – to protect you against tracking of Facebook, Google and others.
Next, we look at why paid VPNs are worth their money…
How paid VPNs compare?
With paid VPNs, you don’t have to think about any of the negatives outlined above. They deliver on all those fronts, while keeping you safe and secure no matter what you’re up to on the Internet.
The main thing to know is that these services, despite all the benefits they bring, are not expensive. In most cases, we’re talking about just a few dollars per month for top-notch privacy and security.
Also, you get a reliable VPN that has an extensive server network, typically with a few thousand servers spread across the world — which further provide for unrestricted access to all services that could otherwise be unavailable to you.
To get yourself a good, reliable VPN – visit our page with Best of the Best VPNs. All services there have been tested for years and won’t let you down no matter what you need them for. We’re sure you’ll easily find the one for all your needs…