A VPN is a useful tool for protecting privacy. It provides a greater level of security while using public Wi-Fi and protects against hacking.
You can find both free VPNs as well as paid VPNs. The former offer a variety of plans, from lifetime subscriptions to monthly ones, to long-term ‘pay once and use forever’ options, and everything in between. A paid VPN plan is better for many users. It can cover all devices and has unlimited data, fast throughput, strong no-logs policies, robust security, support department, and customer service.
Realize that you can get all the VPN goodness, even the best VPNs for as low as $3 per month. This is a lot less than what your ISP charges monthly to provide your internet connection.
With some downsides, it’s free
There are still options available for those who don’t have the money to pay for VPNs, such as for students on a budget, who eat ramen noodles, and casual VPN users. Be aware, however that good VPNs can often come with serious compromises. Before you sign up blindly, make sure to compare what you get.
Many paid VPNs provide a free tier. These are often called ‘Freemium’. However, these offerings have a limited number of features. For example, they offer very low data allowances, restricted devices, less available servers and lower priority to transmitted data. There is also less customer support.
These freemium VPNs can still be a good option for people who don’t mind a Mustang with a 4 cylinder engine. If the user installs multiple of them, they can get enough data to last a month even if their usage is less.
Malware – no extra charge
Mobile devices can pose a danger as data is transmitted over Wi-Fi or cellular radios. Android VPNs have become very popular with many millions of downloaded.
These VPNs are a magnet for malware of all kinds, especially on the Android platform which is less well-curated than the iOS App Store. It was revealed earlier this year that 27 out of the 150 VPN apps Top10VPN tested came back positive for malware after being scanned using VirusTotal. This anti-malware tool scans all of your files.
Users who need a VPN for free will be better served if they search on another platform such as Windows and Mac. There, malware is more prevalent and it’s easier to detect and remove.
There have been issues with Opera’s VPN, including stability problems. It used to run through SurfEasy. Now, Opera manages the VPN internally. An new development was to integrate the free VPN into the Android Opera browser. The standalone VPN had been removed about one year ago. This free VPN is available for Android and includes unlimited data. We are still monitoring this closely.
(Image credit: Image Credit: Pixabay)
You can trade the ads for… more ads
To avoid annoying ad trackers and regain privacy online, the primary purpose of a VPN is for security. Ad trackers are a lucrative business and free VPNs will make some profit. It is easy for a VPN to monitor the user and sell data to third-party advertisers.
Many of the Android-free VPN apps were also extremely invasive with user data and accessed other accounts including SMS messages. Even more troubling, certain VPN apps didn’t even use tunneling protocols to encrypt user data. This makes it a case of “risk without reward”.
Be aware of what you are getting yourself into
The free VPN software can be described as ‘The Wild West’. There are many disclaimers and caveats. You should also apply some skepticism to the idea of getting a VPN for no cost.
One argument that VPNs are not free is the fact that these companies have to make money. Therefore, user data can be monetized to generate revenue. This goes against the primary purpose of VPNs – privacy.
TechRadar has a list of free VPN providers that you can use to find some great options. It’s already done all the work to identify the culprits and offers solid suggestions.