To amplify online safety and privacy, many people turn to VPNs to help them out. They are the first line of defense that prevents malicious actors and snoopers from tampering with your data. However, what can you do if you can’t spend a pretty penny on a paid virtual private network?
That’s where free VPNs come into play, and there is no shortage of them. Some will boost your safety and even bypass censorship or various websites. However, most often than not, no-pay services come with massive baggage of drawbacks.
Thus, in this article, we’ll tell you all about free VPNs. Plus, we’ll analyze their pros and cons to see if they are truly worth using.
What’s a free VPN?
Chances are slim that you’ve never heard about free virtual private networks. Nevertheless, if you need a reminder, these are services that can be used without paying a subscription or any other fees. Free VPNs usually survive off of advertising. Additionally, there are freemium services that survive off of premium subscribers.
According to experts at CoolTechZone, costless VPNs work in the same way as paid ones. They can encrypt your data, hide your IP address, and spoof your location. That way, you improve your security and privacy online. However, they often come with various limitations that we will discuss below.
Advantages of using a free VPN
Now that we got that out of the way, it’s time to see where free VPNs truly shine. Nevertheless, this won’t apply to all free services. Therefore, we recommend doing a bit of research before utilizing a particular free or freemium VPN.
Protect yourself from digital dangers
One of the main reasons why you should at least use a free VPN is to amp up your online security and privacy. The internet is crawling with malicious actors, malware, snoopers, and heaps of other online dangers. Luckily, reliable freemium VPNs provide AES-256 encryption, which scrambles your data, making it impossible to crack. Plus, these services can hide your IP address and location, so you won’t have to worry about confidentiality breaches and tracking.
Suppose you’re living in a highly restricted country. In that case, chances are most of the content you want to see is prohibited by the government. For example, during the 2023 earthquake crisis in Turkey, Twitter and other major social media channels were blocked due to slow response criticism. Thankfully, free VPNs provide access to the unrestricted internet. That way, locals can communicate, follow the news, and get the content they need without the interference of the nosy government.
Drawbacks of using a free VPN
Not everything is sunshine and rainbows in the free VPN world. Therefore, you need to know about the drawbacks and dangers of using a free virtual private network.
Sadly, free VPNs are not perfect. One of the major letdowns is that no-pay services have ridiculous data limitations that will prevent you from browsing freely. Additionally, joining a VPN server might be difficult, as there are very few pieces of hardware to choose from. And then there are shoddy speeds, outdated features, unresponsive customer support… You get the gist.
Useless for bypassing geo-blocks on streaming platforms
As free VPNs offer very few servers and IP addresses, most of them are already blacklisted by various streaming platforms. Therefore, changing your Netflix region, unblocking BBC iPlayer, or getting a Hulu subscription will be impossible.
Data collection & advertising
A lot of free VPNs will bombard you with ads to make a profit from their services. That makes most free services basically unusable. More so, shady providers collect your data and sell it to the highest bidder. That, of course, is totally against fair VPN practices, as it breaches your privacy and security.
Worst case scenario, it might be that you’re actually not using a free VPN but a malware-injecting machine. According to a study, around 84% of free Android VPNs contain malware. The consequences of using such apps are dire. Malware might destroy your device, crack weak passwords, and steal your precious data.
Free VPN alternatives
Taking risks in life might pay off, however, that’s usually not the case with free VPNs. If you take cybersecurity seriously, we suggest looking into some alternatives.
For starters, you could look into free trial VPNs. For a limited time, you’ll have unparalleled security, privacy, and entertainment possibilities. Otherwise, check out cheap high-end VPNs. These VPNs won’t break the bank and will provide you with reliable safety features. In both cases, look into NordVPN, Surfshark VPN, or ExpressVPN.
Using a free VPN is far better than having no free VPN at all. However, you have to be careful when choosing a no-pay service. With a reliable provider, you’ll be somewhat more secure and private online. And, of course, you won’t have to pay for the service you’re utilizing, which is probably the biggest plus.
But, as you can probably see, using free VPNs comes with quite a lot of disadvantages. Therefore, we recommend choosing a freemium or a cheap premium VPN if you want to explore the internet freely and stay completely secure. That way, you won’t have to deal with the cons of free VPNs.