Everyone’s talking about watching the Game of Thrones or some other show or movie you don’t have access to where you live, and you’re feeling like a loser. But you’ve heard about VPNs and how awesome they are, and how having a VPN will allow you to watch content that’s being served and streamed from anywhere in the world.
And, better yet, you can get a free VPN. Life just doesn’t get any better than that.
Except, is that free VPN really free? Will it end up costing you something other than cash from your bank account?
Let’s consider some of the possible negatives around using a free VPN, and then you can decide for yourself whether or not it’s still without cost.
The Most Common Dangers of Using a Free VPN
They Track Your Activity. Probably the most common dangerous tactic of a free VPN is that they are actively tracking your online activity. And given the reason you opt to use a VPN in the first place is so that information isn’t available to anyone, learning that is sickening.
A recent study done on free VPNs found that 72% — that’s nearly ¾ — of VPNs were busily collecting data on your online activity. And what are they doing with that data once they have it? They are selling it so that advertisers are able to serve better-targeted ads to you.
The irony is killing me. How about you? This alone should be enough to keep you away from free VPNs, but we’ll go on with other reasons.
Just in case the above was enough for you, and you’re now ready to look for a premium VPN provider, check out VPNpro’s review.
Netflix Remains Blocked. Remember how we said at the outset that you are looking for a VPN because you couldn’t watch the shows that other people were watching? A free VPN is not going to help you. At the time of writing this, there are no free VPN services that have the ability to unblock Netflix reliably. Added to that, many free VPNs have caps, caps that are far below the amount you would need to stream an entire movie. Another common issue is a free VPN will deliberately slow down your Internet speed.
Your Security Is Compromised. We mentioned some ironic situations above, and here’s another one. You want to protect yourself from hackers, so you get a VPN. How shocking is it that these very services who are supposed to be protecting your online security, actually contain malware? One study shows that 38% of all free VPNs showed signs of being infected with malware. And for the most part that malware is related to advertising. Awesome, right?
Limited Data. Loss leaders are a typical marketing strategy, so it’s no surprise that some VPN providers utilize that strategy. They will offer free plans, but those free plans are very limited. The provider hopes that you like their services, but realized that those limitations are too restrictive, so you decide to upgrade to a premium package.
Never Ending Advertisements. I try not to be annoyed at excessive advertising when I’m making use of someone’s free app, game, or service. I understand that this is an avenue for them to bring in some revenue. However, there is a breaking point at which it finally becomes too much. Most free VPNs operate in this area. And if it was just the ads, you may be able to accept it. But those ads are potentially slowing down your Internet speed or perhaps leading you to malicious websites.
What You Can Do
That all might sound as if we’re trying to scare people away from VPNs in general, and that’s definitely not the case. These days, most of us are looking for a way to save a buck or two, so it’s understandable why many would think that a free VPN is a good thing. However, with a little due diligence, and a little time there are several outstanding VPN providers that you can select, and some of them offer very low monthly fees as well.
Ultimately, you just need to count the cost. How do those few dollars a month, weigh against security breaches while you’re browsing the Internet or visiting websites? Losing your identity, or having someone gain access to your credit cards or banking information is ultimately going to be far costlier than the initial outlay of a relatively cheap VPN.