Who doesn’t like free stuff? And since VPNs are such useful online tools, it’s pretty hard to resist the temptation of pressing “Install” when you see a free VPN app on Android.
We know how attractive that offer is, but you have to stop and wonder first – is the VPN safe to use? Does it actually work as the marketing copy says, or will it only put your data at risk?
Unfortunately, free VPNs aren’t as risk-free as you’d like to think. We’ll take a more in-depth (but quick) look at that in this article. Also, we’ll show you how you can actually get VPNs for dirt-cheap prices.
5 Reasons Why Free VPNs Aren’t Worth It
Let’s leave aside the “free” tag that got your interest, and let’s take a look at what problems you might experience if you use free VPNs:
1. Speed Limits
Most of these apps promise “fast speeds” in their description, but the reality is completely different. Instead of a smooth streaming or browsing experience, you only get tons of buffering, overcrowded servers, lots of lag, and high ping – not to mention capped bandwidth.
Well, the VPN is free – how do you expect them to afford multiple high-speed servers and unlimited bandwidth?
So if you do get a free VPN, don’t expect to binge Netflix for hours on end whenever you want. Instead, get ready to keep a close eye on how much data you use after each episode.
2. Awful (Or Non-Existent) Support
It’s the same problem – if the service is free, how can the provider afford professional 24/7 support through live chat?
We have seen countless Reddit threads where free VPN users complained about never hearing back from support reps, annoyingly slow response times (72+ hours through email), and just downright rude behaviour.
Bottom line – if you ever experience an issue (like not being able to unblock Netflix or connect to a server), you’re on your own.
3. Having Your Data Sold
Even if we leave customer support and server speeds aside, the VPN still has a lot of other costs to deal with – branding, marketing, taxes, etc.
So how do they pay for them?
Well, they don’t. Instead, your data does.
Basically, the provider keeps usage and connection logs, so they know what you use the VPN for (what sites you browse). They then sell that data to third parties (usually advertisers). That’s pretty much the opposite of what a VPN is supposed to do, really.
4. Hijacked Bandwidth
If you use a free VPN that works on a peer-to-peer model, the provider could hijack and sell your bandwidth to third parties.
That already happened to Hola users. Their devices were essentially added to a botnet, meaning their bandwidths were used in DDoS attacks without them even knowing.
5. Malicious Code
Some free VPNs might even include malware. Once you install them on your device, they can infect it, and eventually take over all your data.
Research shows this is usually a problem on Google Play. Many free VPNs were found to contain malicious code (especially adware). Also, they had access to device status information, user location, and the ability to send secret SMS messages.
All in all, really risky business.
One Simple Hack to Save Big on VPN Plans (Great Free VPN Alternative)
Don’t be bummed out – just because you can’t get a free VPN doesn’t mean you can’t save a lot of money on legit services. True, most of them have steep prices – but that’s only when you consider the monthly subscriptions. Once you look at the long-term plans, the prices are almost slashed in half.
Take ExpressVPN, for example. The monthly plan is $12.95 per month, but if you get a six month-plan, the price goes down to $6.99 per month. And with Surfshark, you pay $12.95 per month with the monthly subscription, but only $2.21 per month with the two-year plan.
But long-term plans aren’t the “hack” we mentioned. VPN deals are instead! Providers lower their prices significantly during certain periods (Black Friday, Halloween, Christmas, etc.), and you can often get extra months for free too.
Finding the best deals can be a bit tough, however, so we’ll make things simple for you. You can find everything you need in ProPrivacy’s list of the best deals for VPNs. It’s an article listing the current promotions offered by the top VPN providers on the market. And here’s the cool part – some of those offers are exclusive to ProPrivacy, so you get to save even more money!
Examples of Legit Free VPNs
Not all free VPNs are out to get you. Some of them are actually legitimate services, but there’s one big difference between them and the free VPNs we discussed so far – these providers actually have a legitimate business model. They don’t only rely on the free VPN service as a source of revenue.
So they have enough financial resources to stay afloat on the market. Also, their free VPN plans come with some limitations (which is to be expected).
Here are two examples:
- ProtonVPN – Their free plan is limited to one VPN connection (so no parallel connections), servers in 3 countries, no P2P support, and medium speeds. Besides running a VPN, the company behind ProtonVPN also owns ProtonMail, so they can afford to offer free plans.
- Windscribe – When you sign up, you automatically get a free account with 2GB bandwidth per month and access to 10 servers. If you add and confirm an email address, you get upgraded to 10GB. You can also get more bandwidth through social media, referrals, and Reddit. The provider can afford to do that since they mainly run a paid VPN.
How Do You Feel About Free VPNs?
Are they worth a shot, or will your privacy just end up suffering in the end? We’re talking about freemium VPNs, of course, not the legit ones we just mentioned. Also, do you know other ways to get cool discounts when buying a VPN?
Please let us know in the comments below or on social media.