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Don’t use a free VPN — you’ll be putting your data at risk

A close up of a computer monitor displaying a generic VPN.
Digital Trends

With money tight, it’s super tempting to go with a free VPN, right? You really shouldn’t. At least not for long-term use. Sure, some of the best free VPNs could be worth checking out if you’re desperate but for the most part, you really need to sign up to the best VPN that costs money. Once you’ve delved into knowing exactly what a VPN is, it should make a lot of sense why going a paid route is a better option. If you’re still not sure, read on while we break it down for you.

A free VPN is rarely truly free

Okay, we’re not saying that signing up for a free VPN will cost you money but have you ever thought about how such a service can be free? Simply put, there’s always a catch.

Many free VPNs make money from two potential sources and neither is good for you. Some earn money by inundating you with advertisements, meaning you’ll see more ads while you browse online. That soon gets incredibly irritating and against the spirit of using a VPN in many cases.

Worse, some free VPNs make money by selling your data and personal information. Oftentimes, people sign up for VPNs so they can enjoy a more private browsing experience without companies tracking their every move online. Many retailers use that information to suggest products to you or even manipulate their prices in particular ways. By using a free VPN that sells your data, you’re missing out on one of the best features of a VPN — privacy.

There’s also the issue of leaks. A free VPN rarely provides the quality of service you would see from a paid VPN. Besides missing out on useful security features like split tunneling or DNS leak protection, a free VPN may well also keep logs of your activities. All well-respected paid VPNs would never do this, but a free one may leave you open to being tracked or monitored, all in a bid to make a profit somewhere.

A free VPN isn’t always reliable

The best paid VPNs offer thousands of servers to choose from. They also often support circumventing georestrictions thanks to having the best servers possible. A free VPN rarely offers any of this. In some cases, you may only have the option of a handful of servers. If they all run slow or are not able to get around georestrictions, you may have just lost some key reasons as to why you even need a VPN.

A free VPN is often not under any form of regulation so you can’t guarantee the quality of the service, or where the company is based. They’re both key things you need to consider when signing up for any VPN.

Basically, you get what you pay for.

Sometimes, a free VPN will suffice

A free VPN is generally a poor time investment and sometimes even dangerous for you to use, but there are some small exceptions. If you simply need to use a VPN for a few minutes, it could be okay. It’s still a risk but if you don’t plan on logging into any sites or using internet banking or similar, you should be okay.

We’re not recommending it. In all cases, a paid VPN is always a better option but we’re also not saying that using a free VPN briefly is the worst thing ever. Think of it as a very makeshift solution.

Remember — you get what you pay for

Your data is far too important to make available to anyone interested. That’s why it’s vital to have a VPN set up and why it’s even more important to choose a good quality paid VPN service.

While the average user may not be prone to many hacking attempts, it’s very easy for a nefarious free VPN to track your browsing habits and potentially even steal your data. It’s simply not worth the risk for any more than a couple of minutes of basic browsing.

Jennifer Allen
Jennifer Allen is a technology writer with over 10 years of experience. She primarily writes about the best deals coverage…
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