Whether you’re concerned about privacy or just want to download free movies online, you most likely have been tempted to try out a free VPN service. But in the age of Wikileaks and government surveillance, can you truly be sure that your favorite free VPN service can be trusted with your information?
When evaluating a VPN service, free or otherwise, there are several different factors you should look for, such as: Speed, Support, and (most importantly) Privacy. Here’s why:
Aside from how the program itself is written, one of the things that affects a VPN’s speed is the number of servers its using and how many people are using it.
When using a premium VPN (i.e. one that you paid for), you can reasonably assume that the service of your choice will have plenty of servers to handle the traffic generated by its users. But with a free VPN service, that’s not always the case.
You have to remember, operating multiple servers in multiple countries costs money. If you’re not paying for your VPN service, then that means the people running it are most likely on a limited budget; which typically translates to fewer servers for you, and other users, to choose from.
Couple that limitation with the fact that you’re going to be dealing with more users than what premium VPN service handles (because who doesn’t like free?), and you’ve got quite the technological bottle neck. To put it another way: fewer servers + more users = a slower experience for everyone.
An often overlooked aspect of the VPN experience is customer support. When everything is working great, you hardly notice it. But when things aren’t going quite like they should, that’s when you start to understand its value.
With a premium VPN, you can (usually) rest assured that the service of your choice has a dedicated support staff ready and able to help any issues you may encounter. After all, it’s one of the reasons why you pay your monthly subscription fee.
But with a free VPN, constant support is not always guaranteed. As with our previous example, most free VPN services simply don’t have the funds necessary to keep a dedicated team of support staff to answer your technical questions. You might have one or two individuals, but with thousands of users you can’t be sure that you will receive the attention you require.
This isn’t true for EVERY free VPN, just like not every premium VPN service has a quality support team, but on average you will find that free VPNs offer lower quality customer support than one you would pay for.
One of the biggest reasons people turn to VPNs is for increased privacy. In a word where everything we do it tracked and monitored, privacy is a previous commodity; which is why you need to take a hard and serious look before you start using a free VPN.
Simply put, if you are worried about your online privacy and security, do not use a free VPN.
The first reason why is that many free VPN services use a method for implementing VPN connections known as Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP). Without getting bogged down in the technical details, PPTP is essentially an extremely outdated and obsolete method; which means its incredibly easy to hack. If you’re worried about your privacy, that’s a big no-no.
But even more troubling is the fact that many free VPN services will actually keep logs of your activity and SELL your data to advertisers. Some free VPN services, like Hola, will even use your bandwidth for other users. Not only does this slow down your computer but if that other user does something illegal online, you may be held responsible.
Remember: if you are not paying for the product, you most likely ARE the product.
In the end, while using free VPN services sounds like a quick and easy way to get around spending a few dollars, you wind up paying a bigger price in the end. You’re much better off paying for a VPN service that you know and trust.