With internet security such a hot topic, there are many Virtual Private Network (VPN) providers in the marketplace, and it can be hard to choose which provider offers the best service. Should you pay for your VPN or sign up to a free service? The importance of carefully researching the various alternative available before selecting a VPN provider cannot be overstated.
Connecting to a VPN is a smart way to use the internet with an added layer of security and privacy. There may be good personal or business requirements for additional security of your data and, of course, VPNs offer extra protection from snooping and hacking.
Connect to the internet via a server run by your VPN provider and enjoy full encryption of all the data between your computer, laptop, tablet or mobile device and the VPN server. In this way, you can
- keep your online activity private from your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and other agencies, including the government, and evade censorship
- get around restrictions to accessing geographically restricted internet services, for example when you’re travelling
- secure your data from unauthorised access, for instance in public WiFi hotspots
- safely perform Peer-to-Peer downloads
If you’re looking for a VPN provider, it’s always worth checking out each of the features offered as well as the terms of business and the subscription costs. Unfortunately, as far as security is concerned, free services are not the most secure, and trying to saving money here may be a false economy.
Of course, you’ll find many free VPN providers in this crowded market place tempting you to sign up with them – but why are they free? Is there a catch? Free VPN providers still have operating costs and the only way to keep them low is by reducing company spending on advertising, customer care and the quality of the network. In any case, the cost of subscription is generally not very high.
Here are the main 4 reasons why using a free VPN is not recommended.
1. Unreliable connection
Given that both online security and performance are key, do you really want to trade one off for the other? With a paid VPN service, your speed will be reliable and constant, but with a free service you may find one or the other severely limited.
Imagine trying to watch your favourite US TV programme with an intermittently slow connection, or trying to download content and the connection keeps dropping out. You would soon get fed up.
2. Compromised security
Improved security is the main reason for using a VPN – but how secure are free VPN service providers? Would you trust a free provider who has made no commitment to your security not to sell your data?
In some cases, free VPN providers have been known to sell access to anyone willing to pay for an anonymous IP service which may divert through your connection. So, not safe then.
3. Tracking and anonymity
In order to protect their users’ privacy, most paid VPN providers don’t keep logs. However, free VPNs are free to pass your details on if they so choose. Tracking is a serious concern as it can mean other traffic can be diverted through your connection, meaning you could be held responsible for whatever activity takes place.
To ensure the highest levels of security for your connection, paid VPNs will provide you with a choice of security protocols including the most common and popular PPTP, L2TP and OpenVPN. This does not apply to free VPN providers.