Free VPNs seem like a dream come true. Who wouldn’t want to browse the internet safely, without worrying about their privacy? Why would someone pay for a premium service when the web is brimming with free options?
It’s known that VPN offers a lot of benefits. However, individuals should be aware of the existing security risks that come with free services. Many free options will endanger users’ privacy and compromise their data. People often overlook this hazard and unknowingly install such software. Continue reading to find out more about VPN do’s and don’ts.
The Difference Between Freemium and Free-Only VPNs
In the world of virtual private networks, there are several different business models. Freemium and free-only are a few of the examples. While they might seem similar or even the same, there is a big difference.
Freemium is a prevalent business model used by reputable companies. Users can opt for a free version with limited capabilities or purchase an upgrade. By upgrading their plan, consumers will enjoy exclusive benefits from the enterprise.
Free-only VPN services claim to have all the premium options without having to spend a dime. VPN infrastructure is very complicated, and the maintenance is quite expensive. Doesn’t it seem dubious that someone would offer a free-only option with “extra security features?” How do they still have enough funds to keep the systems up and running? Well, they use other methods of earning money. Find out more about it below.
4 Disadvantages of Using Free VPN Software
Free VPNs can endanger users’ privacy, especially when downloaded from unreputable sources. Here are some of the biggest disadvantage of using this type of service.
- Slower Internet Connection
Most VPNs are susceptible to occasional lags due to higher amounts of traffic. However, with a free VPN, even a simple Google search can take ages to load. That is partly because of aggressive advertisements, but also because they lack proper infrastructure.
Free VPNs often have thousands of people connected at the same time. That impacts the speed even further. They don’t care about quality. Their main concern is usually the number of users and profit that comes from advertising to them.
- Data Logging
The whole point in using a VPN is to ensure one’s safety and protect their privacy on the internet. Reputable firms don’t track nor save any data. Companies that offer free solutions aren’t that trustworthy, though.
A recent study by CSIRO discovered that more than 75% of free VPNs have at least one third-party tracker rooted in their software. These trackers collect information on customers’ online presence. They forward that data to advertising agencies to optimize their ads. That defeats the whole purpose of using virtual private networks.
- Underwhelming Security Levels
Free VPNs usually use lower security protocols due to lack of funding. That results in a connection prone to cyberattacks and exploits. CSIRO conducted a study in 2016, which further proved how risky these solutions are. They researched 283 Android VPN apps, 38% of which had already been infected with malware.
Besides being infected with malware, they often use outdated security protocols. This can result in major data breaches, which is punishable by law.
- Exploiting Users’ Bandwidth
There’s a lot of money in selling user data to various third-party buyers and data merchants. One high-profile example happened back in 2015. A popular VPN company named Hola was caught selling customers’ bandwidth and utilizing it for botnet attacks. Not taking proper care of user data left them vulnerable to cybercriminals.
A botnet attack transpires when someone infects a large number of computers, which are then used to carry out cyberattacks. That is unethical and just bad business.
4 Benefits of Purchasing a Premium VPN Plan
On the other side of the fence, we have paid VPN solutions. Paid options are commonly known as "premium". Paying for a service entails many advantages and way fewer security risks (you can get one from Google Play). Here is why people should consider purchasing a premium VPN plan:
- No Internet Speed Loss
Renowned businesses that offer paid options have enough funds to establish a high-quality infrastructure. The internet speed will be much faster and more stable. It also means that it can support larger traffic. This is especially useful for travelers and remote workers.
Since they’re receiving money for their services, reputable VPN providers won’t allow individuals to experience the internet and speed loss. If nothing else, that tarnishes their reputation.
- Additional Security Options
Premium packages usually include premium options. These additional features help protect one’s privacy while fighting off hackers and data miners. Paid members will also have access to extra servers and stellar customer support.
- No Privacy Concerns
Paid VPN providers are legally obligated to protect customers’ privacy. They also have higher budgets to turn these obligations into reality. Moreover, users will have access to multiple different security protocols, including L2TP and PPTP. That gives them more freedom and fewer things to worry about. VPN companies will ensure the safety and anonymity of their paying clients.
- It Can Be Used Across Multiple Devices
This feature is handy for individuals that own multiple digital devices. They can also share their monthly subscription costs with another friend or family member. By doing so, one can cut their monthly costs in half and save some extra money. More importantly, they will remain safe while browsing online.
The next time you come across a free VPN provider, think twice before installing it on your computer. Unless you’re using a reputable firm, it’s better not to have a VPN than to use one provided by a sketchy company that abuses your personal information. Online safety is paramount, and you shouldn’t compromise it by any means.