Free VPNs seem more appealing than other VPNs as they supposedly come at no cost. Who wouldn’t want that? But before you take that offer, read this.
The technology that powers VPN connection comprises complicated software and infrastructure that are expensive to maintain. Also, they need to be constantly updated to keep up with the fast-paced changes in the internet privacy world.
Offering this kind of service free of charge will surely have hidden costs, and you, the consumer, might end up on the receiving end.
A free VPN service might have its advantages, but its disadvantages outweigh them. They appear to be free, but the hidden costs associated with their use make them extremely dangerous.
Free VPN providers frequently use shady methods to make their business profitable and keep the service free for their users.
These methods, however, do not guarantee the VPN’s promise of privacy. Instead, it exposes its users to more cyber security threats and makes them prime targets of malicious agents.
It is recommended that you consider and seek alternative VPNs if you use free VPNs for the following reasons:
1. Significant decrease in internet speed
VPN connections involve a third party between your device and your Internet Service Provider. This third party is called the VPN server. All your browsing data is encrypted by this server and rerouted to the ISP. This is how it protects your browsing data. However, this process results in slower internet speeds.
Newer technology has made the lag in the speeds negligible or non-existent. Free VPNs will usually not use these kinds of technology. So you will waste more time waiting for web pages to load than you will enjoy the browsing session.
2. Personal data is not protected
Free VPNs do a bad job at fulfilling their promises of online privacy. The connection is susceptible to different kinds of data leaks. Sometimes, it can be due to the use of outdated technology. Hackers with sophisticated tools can easily steal your data.
Free VPNs cannot help protect your data from sophisticated online tracking techniques, such as browser fingerprinting. This technique identifies website visitors using certain characteristics of their browsers.
3. Online activity is tracked
A common reason people use VPNs is to avoid online tracking. You find that most free VPNs are the chief perpetrators of this act.
A study found that about 72% of free VPN service providers embed trackers in their service. These trackers monitor online activities and collect your online browsing data.
They then sell the collected data to the highest bidding advertiser. The VPN provider profits, and the advertiser is well equipped to target you with ads. All this happens without your consent or knowledge.
4. High bandwidth for certain activities
As explained earlier, a VPN connection results in slower internet speed. A consequence of this is more bandwidth than necessary will be required to access the internet.
When visiting video streaming websites, the effect is felt even more. Research suggests that your bandwidth usage increases by 4 to 20% depending on the VPN protocol you are using.
Free VPNs worsen this because of ads. Multiple unwanted ads will always interrupt your browsing sessions. They add to the already increased bandwidth needs. They also significantly weigh your system down and ruin the browsing experience.
Some providers even sell your bandwidth to external parties without your consent. Hola VPN is an example of this.
5. Exposure to Malware
There are a lot of vulnerabilities in free VPNs. Many of these free VPN programs contain bugs that make your device vulnerable to viruses and malware. Ads are common forms of malware associated with VPNs.
Using free VPNs could make you less safe online and ruin your internet experience. It is always better to seek better choices of tested and trusted VPN services if you have to use a VPN. Also, alternatives like anti-detect browsers offer better protection than VPNs.
So if you want a secure and safe internet experience, avoid free VPNs. Your data and online activities are never really as private and secure as you think when you use them.
Paul Cawthon has been passionate about content writing since 2010. During his career he has managed to accumulate a lot of experience in covering various fields, while focusing on cyber security and technical writing. Paul has always been fond of technology and the digital world, thus, conducting in-depth research and learning what’s happening around is a major part of his everyday life. Currently, he is a content director at Incogniton, where he enjoys helping the staff to better their skills and come up with catchy and useful content for the audience.