Free VPN vs. Paid VPN – Which Is Right For You

Posted on Dec 13, 2018 by Sean Doyle
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free vs paid vpn

Everyone loves free stuff, but when it comes to a virtual private network (VPN), can you trust that a free VPN will keep your data safe and secure? On this page, we compare free VPNs vs. paid VPNs to see which one shines in important categories.

Pricing

A free VPN is free. Isn’t that better than paying for a VPN service? Not quite. When it comes to a free VPN, you get what you pay for. A free VPN service must make up for overhead and this is done by keeping logs, monitoring your activity, and selling your browsing activity and data to third-parties for marketing purposes. When you use a free VPN, you become the product.

A reputable paid VPN does not keep logs, monitor your activity, or sell your browsing activity and data to third-parties.

Winner: Paid VPN

Reason: Does not sell your browsing activity to third-parties

Anonymity

The good thing about a free VPN is that you don’t have to sign up or use a form of payment. Even if a free VPN asks you for details, you can usually use fake information. On the other hand, a free VPN service will keep track of your IP address, monitor your traffic, and keep logs.

The bad thing about a lot of paid VPN services is that you have to sign up using your real information and a form of payment such as a credit card. Fortunately, some paid VPN services allow you to use anonymous payment methods such as gift cards and cryptocurrencies.

Winner: Both

Reason: You don’t have to provide your information and can pay anonymously

Privacy

The last thing you want is for a free VPN service to log your browsing activities; However, that’s what a free VPN does. They keep track of what you’re doing online. They record the sites you visit, the stuff you search for, the apps you use, and other browsing data in order to sell it. Furthermore, if you get into legal trouble you can expect a free VPN service to hand over your information.

Most paid VPN services do not monitor or log user activity. You pay for their services so there’s no reason for them to sell you out.

Winner: Paid VPN

Reason: Does not monitor or log user activity

Protocols

Most free VPN services only use PPTP. Reputable paid VPN services give you the freedom to choose between PPTP, L2TP/IPSec, SSTP, and OpenVPN protocols.

PPTP is one of the oldest protocols that is still being used by VPN services today. It’s easy to configure and offers a fast connection but the low level of encryption and the long history of vulnerabilities dating as far back as 1998 make it insecure and easy to compromise.

In comparison, OpenVPN is a secure open source protocol that uses AES 256-bit encryption. Since OpenVPN is open source, the code is routinely tested by the security community for potential security flaws.

Winner: Paid VPN

Reason: Uses secure protocols

Speed

There are downsides to using a free VPN service even though most of them use PPTP. A free VPN service can slow down your connection speed for various reasons.

  • Overcrowding
  • Lack of bandwidth
  • Unstable connections
  • Injecting scripts on your computer to show advertisements

A free VPN service is usually overcrowded, lacks expensive bandwidth because they offer a free service, is unstable, and will inject scripts onto your computer in order to show advertisements. All of these can be at fault for slowing down your connection speed.

Paid VPN services invest in bandwidth and servers which can fix overcrowding and the lack of bandwidth that you face with a free VPN. In addition, a paid VPN service will not inject scripts onto your computer in order to show you advertisements.

Winner: Paid VPN

Reason: Can afford the appropriate resources

Support

When you pay for a VPN service you can expect someone to answer your report tickets, respond to your emails, and answer the phone when you call. The same cannot be said about a free VPN service.

Winner: Paid VPN

Reason: Provides support

In conclusion, nothing beats a paid VPN service. Use a paid VPN service if you want to remain private, want to browse the web using a fast connection, and want your support questions to be answered. A free VPN only really benefits the free VPN developer and puts your data at risk.

About Sean Doyle

Sean Doyle has been involved in the cybersecurity industry for many years and has written for several publications. Twitter: @Botcrawl

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