The idea of a free VPN is always tempting. Imagine getting acceptable security and privacy without paying a dime. But it can also put you at risk.

You never know who they may sell your data to or, worse, leak it online. Still, can you use free VPNs under specific circumstances? Is a paid VPN always a better option? 

Free VPN VS Paid VPN: Which One Should You Get?

Let’s take a detailed look into this free vs. Paid VPN debate. 

What Is A Free VPN? 

As the name suggests, a free VPN is a VPN service that charges no money. You don’t have to pay any monthly, quarterly, or annual charges. It’s absolutely free of cost. But, how exactly is it possible? 

 

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After all, a VPN relies on a massive network of servers in different world locations. Maintaining and operating this huge network of servers isn’t possible without spending significant money. 

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Although free VPN service providers don’t charge any fee, they still have to make money somehow, right? That’s where the root of all problems with free VPNs lies. 

How Do Free VPN Service Providers Make Money? 

Below are the three main avenues of money for free VPN service providers:

Bombarding You With Ads

Ads are a popular revenue generation technique for any online service, which holds true for free VPNs. They show ads on their apps in different forms. Some of these ads come from outside sources, while others are built into the app itself.

Each time a user taps on an ad, the service provider gets a revenue share. Now, if they have a million users, this can be enough to sustain the entire infrastructure. 

Pushing You to Upgrade Your Free Version

Most free VPN service providers use this strategy. They offer you a free trial with limited features and some data restrictions. Once the free trial period or data limit is reached, they stop their services in a bid to push you to upgrade your subscription.

Many apps use this procedure to attract new customers, and free VPN service providers are no exception. 

Selling Your Data

In today’s digital age, perhaps nothing’s more valuable than the personal data of users. In fact, data brokerage companies purchase user data from various sources (including free VPN service providers) for a hefty price.

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Afterward, they sell this user data to advertising companies. User data is a very high in-demand commodity. As VPNs track online user behavior, they sell this data (with your consent, mind you!) to make cash. 

The Benefits Of Free VPNs

Below are some benefits of Free VPNs:

No Cost – As they are FREE, you don’t have to spend any money using the service. Simply download a free VPN and start using their service without paying a dime. 

Anonymity – Free VPNs offer anonymity to some extent. They are not very reliable in maintaining anonymity, though.

Semi-secure – Free VPNs are semi-secure. That means you can use them for a limited time without any worries. 

Disable geo-restrictions – In terms of geo-restriction removal, they are just as effective as their premium counterparts. 

The Drawbacks Of Free VPNs 

Poor security 

Why use a VPN if it can’t provide you with good security? A VPN is meant to secure your online identity. Because of poor infrastructure, free VPN service providers don’t offer the level of encryption you need to secure your online traffic. 

Limited Performance 

Free VPNs come with limited cybersecurity features. They don’t provide the same performance as a premium VPN. Your internet speed will be slow, server connections will be limited, and some important features like Kill Switch may be disabled. 

Limited Servers 

Free VPNs usually come with limited servers. To keep their operating costs low, they have to keep the server network bare minimum.

This increases the chances of a server going down and disrupting the entire service. That’s why Free VPN services have less reliable uptime. 

Lack of Security and Privacy

While it’s okay to use a free VPN for a limited time (such as accessing a particular website blocked in your region), they lack security features.

A hacker, third party, or even the service provider itself can sell your data. So, privacy and security are non-existent. 

The Benefits and Drawbacks of Paid VPN Services

Benefits

Extensive Server Support

Paid VPN service providers manage a vast network of thousands of servers all over the world. Nord VPN operates approximately 5200+ servers in 50 countries to give you some idea.

Besides, it has specific dedicated servers for different purposes like P2P servers, Obfuscation Servers, and Double VPN servers to give each category of users a needs-centric performance. 

Top-Notch Security

Paid VPN services use military-grade encryption to protect user data. This makes it hard for third parties to understand your data, even if they somehow manage to get their hands on it. Most paid VPN servers today use AES 256-bit encryption. 

Strong Privacy

Unlike free VPNs, premium VPN services don’t need to sell your data to make their money. In fact, some of them even come with a strict no-logs or zero-logs policy that keeps no record of user activity even for a few days. Therefore, these services offer excellent privacy. 

Premium Features

Premium VPNs come with premium features. They have plentiful server locations, mobile apps for android/iOS, an integrated Kill switch, anonymous DNS servers, multiple simultaneous connections, router, and OpenVPN support, 24/7 customer support, and more features to improve your online experience. 

Drawbacks of Paid VPNs

Cost You Money

Paid VPNs charge money. Even the best cheap VPN services like Surfshark costs around $2.30 per month. Usually, you can reduce the cost by opting for the yearly subscription package. 

Can Slow Down The Speed

Yes, even the premium VPN services can slow down your internet speed. However, you can reduce the speed loss to a minimum with a good-quality VPN.

For example, Hotspot Shield slows down your internet speed by just 0.41%. 

Conclusion

Hopefully, we have settled the Free Vs. Paid VPN debate for you. While a free VPN is undoubtedly appealing, you have to risk your privacy and security for using it. Free VPN companies have to generate income one way or another.

In some instances, they do so by selling your data. Paid VPN services charge money for a reason. It helps them maintain their extensive server infrastructure and offers you online security and privacy.

We believe using a free VPN service is fine for short durations (accessing a website). Still, they are not reliable for longer periods (like online gaming or streaming). A premium VPN service is always a better option if you can afford the cost.