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).
Most people looking for a VPN would start off by searching for free ones, because why paying for something which is offered, for free, right? Wrong.
If you need a VPN for a one-off simple use (say, seeing how a website looks from a different) then you can use one of several online proxy sites, like LocalBrowsing.com. It’s simple, easy, requires no download, and is foolproof, but 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 or just experiencing too much traffic to handle), and that could be annoying by itself. Another disadvantage of these 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.
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 version? Here is the “why”.
- 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. But free VPN are very limited, normally to as little as 100-200mb, which in today’s world is close to nothing.
- 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.
- With fewer available IP address, free VPN are slower than paid for VPNs by a whole lot.
- 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?
I hope this article has helped you reached the same conclusions as I did. Did it?