4 Reasons Why You Actually Pay More For a Free VPN

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As the world progresses further into digitization, a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is becoming more in demand by people wanting to have the best and safest experience floating through cyberspace. From the safety and privacy of your invaluable data to unlimited access to your favorite Netflix streams, people have found numerous advantages of subscribing to the service.

With the growth of competition among VPN providers, companies resort to other business models to give them leverage. However, there are schemes that deviate from the core principles of a VPN service; hence, providing false advocacy to its consumer base. An example of this gimmick is Free VPN.

Sounds like a bargain, right? Well not quite. Sounds like it’s too good to be true. Worldwide VPN providers spend a fortune setting up multiple server stations all over the world. This fact alone should already be a red flag from companies promoting “free” VPN. Because as we know, there’s no such thing as free lunch.

VPN providers usually earn through subscription from clients. Some cost for as low as $7 a month for the basic packages, whereas there are services that offer much comprehensive options for around $70 a month. Free VPN really doesn’t charge you a dime, but it comes at a cost. There are 4 reasons why FREE VPN costs you more.

SECURITY BREACH

Premium VPNs manage your data by scrambling it and tunneling it through government filters and internet service providers to where it needs to go. As it exits the virtual tunnel and enter the open web, it becomes impossible to track where the data came from. As an extra layer of security, proper VPN providers do not have logs or access to their client’s data. However, FREE VPNs are known to have less robust tunnels where poorly encrypted data may leak. In fact according to a CSIRO study, a fifth of VPN apps do not encrypt data prior to tunneling despite its commitment to security. This results to exactly what you don’t want to happen.

DATA AUCTION

This might come as a surprise, but if you subscribe for a free VPN service, you likely aren’t the main customer, but rather, the commodity. FREE VPN providers earn by selling your information to other parties. Interested clients include surveillance agencies, advertising services and third-party user tracking. Ever wonder how marketers “randomly” contact you through your personal phone or email? Yep, you guessed it. Marketing and advertising companies are so aggressive to get their products to reach specific consumer base that some resort to trafficking confidential information such as phone numbers, emails, personal preferences, home address, and much more. You’re lucky if it’s just an annoying telemarketer ringing your phone. But if the FEDS are knocking on your door, then you’re in for a real treat. Submitting your private logs and information to a provider that secretly sells it to the highest bidder could land you as an exit node to a cybercrime. This means that criminals can use your IP address to direct police focus to your location.

BANDWIDTH AND SPEED CAP

Another way they make money is by imposing limits to your bandwidth. Yes, they can do that. If you initially had unlimited data capacity prior to subscribing, they would chop it into packages and plans. Aside from limiting bandwidth capacity, some providers are known to impose annoying internet speed restrictions, for which you have to pay to upgrade to a higher plan – Duh!

SHARING WITHOUT PERMISSION

This is definitely one of those cases where sharing is definitely not caring. If you’re using a free VPN, chances are that your bandwidth is shared with our VPN users that have subscribed to that level-up plan that they keep poking you about. This means that you’ll spend more time watching that gray buffer line struggle to gain lead from the red one, than enjoying film. This was exactly the case back in 2015 when Hola was caught trafficking its subscribers’ bandwidth to interested clients. What’s worse is that you might get involved into legal and investigation proceedings if your IP was found to be used during the cybercrime.

THOSE PESKY ADS

If you think YouTube Ads are bad, then you haven’t seen the worst of it. These providers don’t just allow ads to pop-up once in a while, they can go as far as to allow third-parties to impose restrictions and gain bandwidth priority which result to a limited and slow browsing experience.

One thing I’ve learned about carelessly clicking ads is that they contain malware that gives you more things to worry about. If you don’t treat these worms and trojans serious enough, it could cause permanent damage to your unit. Fortunately, there’s also an ad about anti-malware software, courtesy of the same VPN provider, of course – What else were you expecting?

SUMMARY

FREE VPN providers aren’t guilty of false advertisement. They really do offer VPN services. However, it is at the cost of convenience, transparency, security, and quality. This fact makes them counterproductive to what they were originally designed for.

These scam industries take advantage of the consumers’ thriftiness and turn it into greed with advertisements that mask their true sinister intentions. The only guarantee we have to avoid gimmicks like these is by doing research about the product/service and by staying informed about its terms. I personally just hit the accept button when a ‘Terms and Condition’ prompt box, but for this instance, it is wise to review a specific portion of the provider’s T&C and privacy policy.

While some hide their intents to traffic your data, others disclose it through their policies stating that some information may be used by third-parties or advertisers. This information alone should be a pivotal factor to you when choosing a VPN service provider.

But in general, you’ll have less trouble worrying about these concerns with paid VPN services, much less for Premiums. Subscribing to proper VPNs allows you to better your internet experience, making it faster, safer, freer. (But if you don’t mind the ads or the potential risk of being mistaken as the biggest online crook for the sake of free stuff, then by all means, go for it!)