People nowadays are clever enough to understand the axiom “There’s no such thing as free lunch”. A lot of them even become skeptical of the products given free with another as a promotional offer. The what-if factor comes into play – what if it’s expired? what if no one is purchasing it? what if it’s counterfeit? However, we’re unsure of whatever we are suspecting. On the other hand, if the same product were purchased, you won’t doubt it as much.
The VPN industry has grown into a big one over the last half of the decade. Therefore, many VPN providers are raving about their services. No wonder, VPN is a must-have when it comes to security in today’s vulnerable digital world. This is why many people get carried away by the attractive offers these providers make. Some of them don’t sound as good as they truly are while the rest aren’t as good as they sound. A Free VPN is one such offer.
What Free VPN Means
As amazing as it sounds, it’s not any less daunting too. Yes, a free VPN costs you what you can’t afford. It’s a lot more than your money. Even the names that many users still believe are trustable like Hotspot Shield are not providing you the same services they claim, but something else in disguise of them. But before we warn you on that, let’s first look at what these Free VPNs are.
There are two kinds of free VPNs, each with a different purpose required of you. When you read these two kinds, beware of the danger that lurks in the subscription.
The Too-Amazing Free VPNs with Unlimited Access
Too good to be true, eh? Well, think about it. They have thousands of servers around the globe to make the virtual network whose maintenance costs a fortune. Why unlimited access and how would that benefit them? Why would they give you free services, for humanity? Not really! We’ll explain just as why, but now, let’s look into the other scammer.
The Not-So-Free VPNs with an Episode of Subscription
This is the free VPN version that seems a little less shady but is a fraud nevertheless. In this free VPN, you get a free account you use for a set number of days with a limited access. So, this becomes the catch, you can’t have multiple logins, you can’t have enough speed, you can’t use it to the full. What do you do next? You purchase its paid version. Is it normal? Well, it’s likely you haven’t detected what’s wrong in this. The question is why do they offer the basic account for free which is enough for a user’s daily personal usage and not offer a money back guarantee instead?
Now that you know which Free VPN services you must be at arm’s length from, let’s make you understand what are the risks involved.
Risks of Using Free VPN Services
Many of the users subscribe to a free VPN oblivious to the dangers involved. You sure don’t want a digital mishap to happen, do you? Well, it’s about time we explain what free VPNs can cost you.
Your Data is at Risk
Even after many activists and experts have uncovered the abuse of public data by different big organizations say NSA, Facebook, etc., many users still chose to turn a blind eye to the risks involved. No matter how many movies like Snowden based on real-life stories make millions of fans of Edward Snowden labeled as a hero and Ted talks on such awareness gains gazillion views, unfortunately, data exploitation is still not widely acknowledged. According to a survey, average common netizens don’t have an idea how their data can be exploited.
Using a free VPN risks your data in not one but many ways. So, if one flaw doesn’t apply with the free VPN you’ve chosen, then, of course, there could be other doubts to consider. Following are the ways Free VPNs abuse your data leaving you without a shadow of a doubt.
Third Party Exploitation
Here lie the answers to the doubts we interrogated above about Free VPNs’ earnings. So, logically, they have to earn a profit too, right? How do they do that? By literally selling your data to third-parties. Ouch! And why do these third parties purchase your data? Well, ever wondered why you always get the notifications and recommendations you are particularly interested in. Is that a coincidence? Well, it can least be a coincidence all the time. The harsh truth is that these third parties purchase your data to sell products or they are also a channel to sell your data to vendors and brands. What you’re interested in, what you prefer, what you search is all tracked and fed in their data servers to make money off you. Many people will say they don’t care about data retrieval if they’re getting recommendations they like. That can be a big mistake because this is not only your data about your likes and dislikes but your personal data and all you feed or use on the internet too. Who knows, it can even be your main memory RAM data if there are…
When you subscribe to a free VPN, you’re accepting their terms and conditions which means whatever they do next is legal, but necessarily not ethical. You get certain malware installed into your system hiddenly as you install the VPN setup. This malware retrieves your data for sending spam emails, targeted ads, bank details, purchased products online, and in very bad cases, for ransomware (lock your device for a payout) and even hijack your accounts. In simple, malware can be worse than your wildest imagination.
With this, the main purpose of having a VPN in the first place is compromised. You are tracked online! If VPNs directly don’t sell your specifically required data to third parties, even worse, these third parties are given access to the trackers which follow and record all your online activities. This makes all your browsing data at risk which may include your shipping address, your personal information, your location (ironically with a free ‘VPN’!), and your credit card details. If that’s the case, you know what dangers you are inviting with a Free VPN.
Playing With Your IP Address
Again, the main reason you’d buy a VPN for is compromised here. Your IP address is at risk. If unaware, your IP address is your identity over the internet which carries your information about your location and online activity. A good VPN’s main job is to hide your IP address and your location eventually making you anonymous and undiscoverable on the internet. However, If an IP address is not securely handled by a VPN with a strong and secure tunnel, it can do more harm than good. Following are the ways how your IP address can be exploited by using a Free VPN.
This happens when your VPN is not robust enough to keep your IP address within the boundaries of the secure tunnel built by the VPN. In simple words, weak VPNs synonymous with Free VPNs have weak encryption because security is not what they’re focusing on. They are rather preying on your data, and you know why by now. Because of low budget servers, the not-so-secure tunnels have holes and cracks which leak your IP address. This phenomenon is called DNS Leak in technical jargon.
Revealing Your IP to Third Parties
Remember that Your IP address is what was assigned to you by your local ISP which means that it has to do with your internet usage capacity. It works like a password to the internet which obviously was purchased by you from your ISP. Third parties are looking forward to your IP address as an endpoint to internet usage. They use your IP and your package ends before time, leaving you wondering what consumed it all. This exploitation is further explained in the below-mentioned risk but in a different way, thereby another risk of using a free VPN. We are putting it separately because there’s a minor difference in the two but risk the same.
Also Read: How to Hide Your IP Address
Stealing Your Bandwidth
You might have heard about the Hola controversy. If not the controversy, then, of course, this name, Hola, as it was one of the biggest names among free VPN providers back in the early 2010’s when big websites like Netflix, Ten play, etc. did not block VPNs. If unaware, the controversy was about stealing users’ bandwidth and selling it to their sister company, Luminati, while the sister company sold the bandwidth to big organizations which are always in the need of more bandwidth. This aroused a lot of debate about Free VPNs and their disadvantages.
Limitations of Free VPNs
While you have already known the dangers of a free VPN, we think you must also be aware of the limitations of Free VPNs so that you don’t have any reason risking all that’s mentioned above, simply because Free VPNs are not much useful. Here’s why:
Also Read: Free VPN vs Paid VPN
Can’t Unblock Netflix
Now that Netflix and other big websites which you might be a fan of and probably the reason why you’re subscribing to a Free VPN in the first place for, it leaves Free VPNs hardly useful. Netflix only allows certain big, best-paid VPNs which are actually made to protect you on the internet. We will discuss these best-paid VPNs below. Concerning Free VPNs, they do not unblock many big websites, so geo-restriction is quite limited.
Limited Data Usage
Data usage is limited with free VPNs. Some users with less amount of data usage on the internet think it suffices to fill their needs. However, if your data usage is a little more then low data limit by free VPNs is a catch for a paid subscription. And why is a paid subscription from many free VPNs dangerous? Remember we mentioned types of free VPNs above? So, you already know that these paid subscriptions will eventually make you pay for other free users just because these Free VPNs want inflow from anywhere possible.
Slow Down Your Internet
VPNs are usually notorious for slowing down your internet which is a myth for paid VPNs. But don’t myths have some reality in them? This is where this myth gets close to reality; in the case of Free VPNs! Yes, because they eat your bandwidth and their weak servers make your internet speed poor. This is usually also a catch for a paid subscription. Free VPNs slow down their speed for free users to a snail’s pace and then claim fast internet speed with the paid version. In actual, Free VPNs only thwart your internet speed when you have the free version, for the paid version, they only release the same speed which was originally there. So, if your Free VPN is claiming Internet speed, it’s a catch and more than that a fraud!
Bombard You with Ads
Peace is the basic need required of everything, that’s why we’ve placed this in the limitations. Your online peace is seriously disrupted when you get bombarded by ads coming from everywhere. And by now, you know where these ads are coming from. Remember the third parties?
Safe Free VPNs Are Like a Needle in a Haystack
While there are so many reasons not to risk getting a free VPN, there are very few options which are safe. Only reviews can tell you which ones are safe. However, don’t believe in every website’s reviews but only the reputed ones. You can find all kinds of VPN reviews on BestVPNDeals.com. Check before you decide to go for a VPN, whether free or paid.
Following are the free VPNs that are not listed in the bad books if not in the very good books like the paid VPNs mentioned later.
Based in Canada, this is not bad if you want to try out how a VPN works for free. It doesn’t have any of those dreadful drawbacks of using a Free VPN, so it safely lands into our safe Free VPNs list. It offers 500MB of data which is usually used up quite fast. However, testing reveals that it offers security tools that help you stay anonymous online, although, for a short period of time, it gives you an idea why you need a VPN. You can then purchase its paid version with unlimited bandwidth or go for the above best-paid VPNs to make sure you got the best one.
As the name has it, this free VPN based in Seychelles is another trustable and Safe Free VPN with twice as much as TunnelBear’s bandwidth i.e. 1GB. You can trust this free VPN to try out a VPN if you are a first timer with VPNs. It gives fair speed. The only problem with this free VPN is that it is short of features and it’s only available on a desktop. However, giving it a try isn’t risky as it too has little or no leaks.
Best Alternatives to Free VPNs
A VPN is a necessity over the internet, but a Free VPN isn’t, and certainly not at the expense of the above-mentioned risks you can’t afford at all. So, what are the most trustable VPNs in the industry? Let’s find out our best free VPN alternatives.
ExpressVPN – Ranked No.1
Not only here but in every review, you’ll find all good words for ExpressVPN, because, without a doubt, it is the most trustable VPN of all. It’s fast and steady because it has servers around the globe in 94 countries or 148 cities and still counting. It offers a trustable 30-day money-back guarantee and was the first VPN to offer such a long-term money back guarantee which some time ago many only dared offering a 7-day money back guarantee. Its best pricing plan is for a yearly subscription which costs $8.32 per month. Yes, it is a bit pricier than others but a few dollars every month surely leaves you carefree about geo restrictions and security.
Read: ExpressVPN Review
NordVPN – Editors Choice
Another big name that can unblock a giant like Netflix. Along with the best solution to geo-restrictions, tests reveal that it comes with a very good VPN speed and security. It becomes trustworthy as soon as you get to know that it is recommended by big names like BBC, Forbes, TheGuardian, Wired etc. Apart from all these perks, it comes with a decently priced 2-year subscription for $3.99 per month which is so far their best package along with a month’s money back guarantee.
Read: NordVPN Review
This VPN is one of the best ones with a little affordable price range as well. It’s mostly users’ favorite as it covers all the basic features of a VPN for a bargain not bad which comes with the deals they offer from time to time. At present, their best deal costs $3.74 per month for their 2-year package. It has 60+ servers around the globe. It follows a strict zero-log policy and offers a decent 7-day money back guarantee.
Read: IPVanish Review
Best Cheap VPN Alternatives to Free VPNs
If the budget is the problem you’re looking for a Free VPN, then some Best Cheap VPNs will satisfy you for a negligible price but provide you the same services that you expect from a VPN. These VPNs don’t offer any free versions but money back guarantees which make themselves trustable. Following are the recommended Best Cheap VPNs that could be the best fit for your budget.
Private Internet Access (Recommended)
It is considered as literally the best cheap VPN available out there for some of its features offered. It has more than 3226 servers across the globe. It has all the encryption and security tools you require of a VPN service. On top of all these features, it offers a very friendly 24-hour support system and live chat. Its 2-year subscription costs only $2.91 per month for now.
Supporting all platforms, it becomes out last recommendation in this category. With a decent speed and all that you require from a VPN; security, speed, and simultaneous multi-user facility on one account. It comes with a satisfying 30-day money back guarantee. Partnered with a big name like Norton, it offers an extensive range of security tools for the internet. It has servers in 120 countries and costs $2.95 per month for a yearly package, recommended.
This VPN is famous for its discount offers which they update for every deal season around the year. Currently, they are offering a 2-year plan for as low as $2.91 per month. They offer a reasonable 7-day money back guarantee. They are quite widespread as they have servers in 141+ countries. Although its capability of unblocking geo-restriction is not so effective because it can’t unblock Netflix and big websites with VPN bans, it still is a good cheap VPN pick if you’re looking for basic VPN functions for a very low price.
Whether it be the dread of public wifi, hackers or surveillance agencies, knowing the dangers of using the internet without a VPN makes it a digital obligation to use one. However, as nothing good comes without a price, thinking we can secure the Internet without sacrificing a few dimes is a folly. You have studied free VPNs in this post thoroughly and by now you know that these VPNs may give you security over the Internet in one way but breach your security in many other ways. All fingers aren’t equal, there are some safe free VPNs too but they too can’t give you the speed and security you expect of a VPN.
We use a VPN to avoid problems and using a Free VPN seems rather like inviting them. There are some cheap alternatives to free VPNs that are safe for your use. Better be safe than sorry. Our suggestion is to stay safe online and use a proper paid VPN, even if it’s a cheap one to avoid letting your data getting exploited. Pay a few dollars every month and save your data or save a few dollars and pay by your precious personal data. The choice is yours.