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Free VPN vs. Paid VPN – Is Free Worth the Cost?

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Did you know that you can get a VPN for free? Yes, it’s possible to enjoy a VPN service without spending a dime, and you’ll be surprised by the many VPN services offered at no cost that promise you all the benefits of a paid service.

Free VPN vs. Paid VPN - Is Free Worth the Cost?

But truth be told, there’s really no such thing as free lunch. And in the case of free VPNs, it’s ironic that someone would consider a security service that actually puts your privacy in potentially more risk than using no VPN at all.

So if you’re thinking you can secure your online privacy with a free VPN service, keep on reading to know why we strongly recommend against it and why a paid VPN such as ExpressVPN is a wiser option.

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Free VPNs

You’ve probably come across hundreds of free VPN ads online, promising you a secured connection each time you use their service. The truth is, a company that offers free VPN is still a business. And for a business to keep running, it has to earn enough money to sustain its operations.

So how can a free VPN service maintain a large network of servers, employ the right op-sec(security) employees, and still earn a profit without charging you a subscription fee?

Free VPNs tend to make their money by selling your online activities to ad agencies, marketing companies, consumer research groups and other firms that gather online consumer data. Others act as data brokerage firms that gather your personal information and then sell it to third-party groups for a fee.

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If you think this isn’t concerning enough, think about having someone track your financial transactions, online purchases, credit card information, and all other personal data that you want to keep from the prying eyes of anonymous people. 

There’s also the additional possibility that you could be constantly bombarded by intrusive and annoying ads above and beyond what you would normally come across. This is typically due to free VPN companies inserting additional ads on top of your normal browsing experience

In other words, you allow the free VPN provider to profit from your online activities and still expose your devices to viruses that can corrupt your files.

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Disadvantages of a Free VPN

Why should you avoid free VPNs?

1. Free VPNs do not offer stable connections and fast speeds.

If you haven’t used a free VPN before, you’d be surprised to know how much it can slow down your connection speed. Their ads would claim to provide you with at least 60 Mbps speed but in reality, it’s way lower than that. And if you’re impressed with the fast speeds during the first few minutes, wait until it suddenly drops and stays lower. Don’t expect to stream a YouTube video without buffering!

2. Most Free VPNs have limited data allowance. 

Yes, it’s free but there’s a data cap for most free VPNs. Some limit your allowance to 500 MB per month, while others have lower caps. And if a free VPN service promises unlimited allowance, wait until you get frustrated with the turtle-paced speed it offers.

3. Free VPNs do not have enhanced security features.

Security tools are expensive and it’s the least concern of free VPN companies since their main goal is to profit at the least possible cost. So, don’t expect best-in-class encryption to be in their vocabulary anytime soon. The truth is, your connection is also shared with others using the same server, and this should concern you enough.

4. Free VPNs cannot unblock streaming services.

If you want to bypass geo-restricted streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney+, then don’t expect to watch your favorite shows that are offered in your local catalog using a free VPN. With very limited servers, it’s impossible to unblock restricted sites at all.

5. Free VPNs don’t ensure your privacy.

As mentioned above, your data is sold to third-party groups. Free VPN companies successfully monitor your online activities by embedding a source code in the system so that every click, every site that you visit, and every information that you enter and download are all captured.

Paid VPNs

Unlike free VPNs, a paid VPN such as ExpressVPN offers more bandwidth and a high level of encryption to fully secure your connection against would be hackers. You can also be assured of fast and stable connections with very minimal drop in speed.

In addition, your online experience is free from irritating ads and pop-up messages that are likely to redirect you to malicious sites.

And because paid VPN providers earn their revenue from subscribers, it wouldn’t be very wise to risk their reputation by selling your information to other data companies.

Advantages of Paid VPN

Using ExpressVPN as an example, here are some of the benefits to using a well reputed VPN.

1. Highly stable and super-fast connection

Any type of VPN will typically slow down your connection to a certain extent, but the better paid VPNs won’t let it drag just like their free counterparts do.

2. Better security features

You get nothing but AES-256 bit encryption to transform readable data into cryptic form using the AES algorithm. It is the most mathematically complex to date, which makes it very difficult to crack by brute force.

3. Huge number of servers across different countries and cities

Take advantage of more server locations distributed in different regions. You will never run out of options to choose from North America to Asia. You can change your IP address to basically any location you’d like across the globe.

4. Can bypass geo-restricted streaming services and websites

Bypass censorship in countries that restrict certain types of shows, media, and content. If you travel abroad and notice that the streaming service you are using only allows local content, just turn on your VPN and select a server from a specific country that does not censor the content you want to access.

5. Protects your privacy

A true paid VPN service does not keep logs of your browsing activities. This will keep your sessions private and maintain your anonymity each time you use the service.

6. Excellent customer service 

Whatever concerns and issues you have, paid VPN services offer 24/7 customer service. This can be in the form of live chat, phone support, or email.

7. Multiple device use

Paid VPNs offer multiple use on different devices using a single account. If you’re living with your family or friends, you can sign up for one plan only and enjoy the service using different devices.

Free VPN vs. Paid VPN

So, given these points, which VPN is right for you? Here’s a quick summary plus a few more factors that you can use to compare free VPN versus paid VPN.

FeatureFree VPNPaid VPN
SpeedVery slow;
frequently drops off
Fast
BandwidthLimitedUnlimited
EncryptionNone256-bit AES
Keeps logsYesNo
Total ServersLimitedMany
Https BrowsingNoYes for safer browsing
AdsManyNone
PrivacyNoneGuaranteed
Kill SwitchNoneYes to prevent data leaks
when you are suddenly cut off
Bypass
geo-restrictions
NoYes
ThrottlingYesNo; not even
your ISP can detect
your activity
Customer SupportNone24/7 live chat,
phone support or email

From the table above, it’s clear why you should settle for a paid VPN.

Remember though, it shouldn’t just be any VPN. You need to research the features that they offer research and benchmark them against other services.

Ready to use a paid VPN? Try ExpressVPN!

Start making each browsing experience safe and sound by choosing your ExpressVPN plan today. Enjoy the internet with privacy and security!

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Disclaimer: Some pages on this site may include an affiliate link. This does not effect our editorial in any way.

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