You must have heard about VPNs by now. Just in the past 3 months, Russia has outlawed several websites and social network leading to a huge surge in searches for them. VPNs are becoming almost a necessity in some countries (take China for example which essentially blocks the entire western internet making it impossible for travelers or expats to connect to vital services like Facebook or WhatsApp). People all over the world are looking for the best VPN service that adequate their needs. Some are looking for the best free VPN in the world and are willing to invest a very small amount of money for a much better quality of service and product.
Search Volume of Phrases related to VPN Increase
Above you can witness the amazing phenomena of people who searched online for phrases that includes the word VPN in the past 12 month in Russia. As you can see, the trend was quite steady until recent events. The search volume for ‘VPN’ phrases has quadruple itself! Not something you see every day. The attention that a VPN drew in that last few month, due to the policy of a few leading countries in the world, is unprecedented.
Why Pay for a VPN which is Offered for Free?
Most people looking for a VPN would start off by searching for “free VPN”, which makes sense. Why paying for something which is offered, for free, right? Most likely you are wrong! It really depends on you needs and use.
When to Use a Free VPN?
If you need a VPN for a one-off simple use (say, seeing how a website looks from a different location) then you can use one of several online proxy sites, like LocalBrowsing.com. It’s simple, easy, requires no download, and is foolproof. On the other hand, it can only be used to surf certain websites, and it’s slow so you can’t use it to stream movies or anything of the like. Additionally, the nature of online proxy websites is that they tend to go offline often (shut down by web host due to abuse of servers, or just experiencing too much traffic to handle). That could be annoying by itself. Another disadvantage of these proxy services is when you use an online proxy site, your behaviour is logged by that website and the level of cyber-protection you get is minimal.
If you need something a bit more advanced than online proxies, then you should be looking at a downloadable VPN. A VPN masks all your communication and, unlike online proxy sites:
- Tends to be very fast, enabling people to download heavy files or watch streaming video.
- Have a lot more IPs to choose from. Leading companies in this industry have as much as 53 distinct locations to choose from based on this NordVPN review.
- Protects you, at least to a partial degree, from government surveillance and hacker espionage.
- Never offline. If a VPN company goes offline often, it will bankrupt very quickly.
When to Use a paid VPN?
So once you have established the idea you want to actually use a VPN software, we go back to the original question. Why would you spend money on one when there are multiple companies offering a free VPN version? Here is the “why”.
- First of all and above all is the level of security. Companies who provides both paid and free VPN, invest many resources in cyber security. A paid VPN had better data encryption and more sophisticated algorithm to conceal your online activity than a free VPN, to ensure to surf the web safely. It definitely important for your peace of mind.
- If you already decided to go down the VPN path you don’t want to be limited by the amount of information or media you consume. However, free VPN are have very limited protocols and bandwidth caps, normally to as little as 100-200mb, which in today’s world is close to nothing.
- Free VPN usually have no obligations to privacy laws and companies often sell your data to third parties, to make some money out of their “free VPN” service. When you are using a paid VPN, most companies assure you they don’t sell your data to third parties and even keep no logs tracking.
- With fewer available IP address, free VPN are slower than paid for VPNs by a whole lot. You might experience slower connection speed, data transfer limits and even connection drops when using a free VPN.
- Free VPN may use special advertising techniques and show you ads while using their free VPN service, sometimes even malicious ads, since they are not supervising this service the way the are doing with the paid one. You won’t experience that when you pay for a reliable VPN service.
- Free VPN don’t have the same location options. You would normally have a few locations to choose from. That can really interfere you if you are seeking for a specific IP address somewhere in the world.
- Customer support is usually not available for free VPN users. Some Companies offer 24/7 online support for paid VPN customers.
- Your likeliness to be recognized as a botnet is much higher when you are surfing using a free VPN than a paid VPN.
- A good VPN can cost as little as $50 a year. Maybe even $30 if you try hard. That’s not a lot and not worth getting a sub-par product to save, isn’t it?
Free VPN vs Paid VPN
|Free VPN||Paid VPN|
|Level of Security||Low||High|
|Data Transfer||Limited||Almost Unlimited|
|Selling Data to Third Parties||Some Companies Do||Most Companies Don’t|
|Presenting Commercial Ads||Sometimes||Rarely|
|Be Recognized as a Botnet||Frequently||Seldom|
|Locations||Limited Options||Dozens of Options|
|Cost||Free||About $50 per Year|
In conclusion, a free product is not always the best choice. A free VPN is good for a one time use or for a very limited usage. Do not expect it to work smoothly and efficiently. If you are ready for the next level of VPN services, without a lot of effort or investing to much money on of the three paid VPN providers in the table below might suits you.
I hope this article has helped you reached the same conclusions as I did. Did it?