Free products always make our eyes sparkle. Especially when it comes to software services, no one wants to add another item to their long list of monthly subscriptions.
It's the same with VPNs. With tons of free VPNs available on the web and millions of people using them every day, it's easy for you to think that they are a good enough solution to your day-to-day online browsing and streaming needs.
So, why would you need a paid VPN? What added value does it bring compared to free VPNs? Let's answer this question with a detailed comparison.
Why Should You Use a VPN?
If you've never used a VPN on a regular basis, you might only see it as a location changing tool. For most users, a VPN is software that allows you to change your browsing location.
But, what exactly is a VPN? It's a network system to establish secured and protected network connections with public networks around the world.
So, even though you're connected to the network of your local ISP, a VPN is routing the connection to public servers around the world, while hiding your IP at the same time.
There are so many perks of using a VPN. You can access and stream any content on the web regardless of the geo-restrictions, download free content, avoid being monitored by your ISP or regulators, browse securely while on private networks, and get great discounts in online shopping by changing your region.
Why Some VPNs are Free?
Whenever a business sells its product for free, you have to wonder 'how do they make money?'. For free VPN providers, it by tracking and selling your browsing data to marketers.
Believe it or not, data is the most valuable asset in the world right now. For marketers, your personal data and your preferences are more valuable than gold. Free VPNs don't take any fees from you, because they're autonomously tracking everything you do online.
This data is being sold to third-party marketers who uses your browsing pattern to identify which products appeal to you the most. And then you start receiving targeted ads. While you might be using a VPN for privacy and security, free VPNs will do the opposite by tracking everything you do online without your consent.
Annoying Ads and Spam
With paid VPNs, you don't receive any ads, pop-ups, or any spam. All you need to do is connect your VPN and start your browsing. You won't be interrupted by any annoying ads from the VPN provider.
Unfortunately, it's not the same case with free VPNs. They will bombard you with irrelevant ads and constantly interrupt your browsing experience. This is another way free VPNs make money.
Also, these ads are not screened by the VPN provider, so they often contain malware and spyware. Just one click on such ads can get your device infected, and even compromise your personal data.
By using a free VPN you might be saving a few dollars every month, but you're also putting your device and personal data at significant risk. And there's also the added frustration of constantly being interrupted with ads while browsing.
Slowing Down Your Connection Speed
Using any VPN affects your internet speed. It's routing your connection through a server that's most likely thousands of miles away from you. There's also an end-to-end encryption protocol between your device and the server. So there will be some impact on your connection speed.
However, you'll hardly notice it with paid VPNs. They use upgraded encryption protocols that have little to no impact on your speed. Some paid VPNs automatically scan every global server on their list and connects you to the most optimal server for greater speed.
With free VPNs however, it's a very different story. They use very old encryption protocols that take a toll on your internet speed. According to a study by Norton, 84% of free VPNs don't encrypt your data properly.
Some free VPNs intentionally throttle your speed to force you to pay for premium features. There's also the added load of constant ads and pop-ups.
Constant interruptions with ads and throttling mean that you'll see that spinning circle of death more often when you're trying to stream a video. All of these intrusion slows down your internet speed to a crawl.
How Secure is a VPN?
Paid VPNs give you great data security with end-to-end encryption. It means that every data you transfer or receive is encrypted and autonomous.
Paid VPN providers use advanced encryption protocols such as IKEv2/IPsec or AES-256-GCM. These are state-of-the-art security algorithms that encrypt every data packet in a transaction stream in real-time. So, whether you're connected to a private or public network, your connection and browsing activities are always autonomous and secured.
However, with free VPNs, you can say goodbye to secured browsing. Not only do these VPNs track your browsing data and sells it to third parties, but they also provide really poor encryption which is often an open invitation for hackers and stalkers.
On top of that, you're constantly being exposed to malicious ads and pop-ups. Data security is one of the most important features of a VPN. Unfortunately, it's not even a consideration for free VPN providers. That's why you'll rarely see any company or business using a free VPN.
A free VPN has more disadvantages than benefits. It degrades your browsing experience to a point when it becomes frustrating and often agonising.
There's also the fact that your data is being sold to markets around the world without your consent. Based on these reasons, you should never consider using a free VPN.
Most premium VPNs come with a trial period. You easily try out the VPNs for free before committing to pay any subscription fees.