The use of VPNs has increased over the past few years, mainly because of the rising geo-restrictions of streaming websites. But the use of proxies isn’t a new concept. VPNs have been out there since 1996, and people have used them for ad blocking, secure gaming, bypassing censorship, and web scraping.
In this post, we’ll draw a clear comparison between free and paid VPN services, and which one should you choose.
Free vs. Paid VPN: The Difference
The difference between free and paid VPNs goes beyond the pricing. The security of your data remains questionable. When using a free VPN, you’re always at risk of losing your data to hackers and scammers. Most free services don’t include security options, which can be a topic of concern.
The quality of service is another issue with free services. Most free services come with speed limits. They also have frequent downtimes. Besides, free providers generate revenue through advertisements, so your browsing activity would often be interrupted.
That said, you shouldn’t completely rule out free services. There are benefits to using free VPNs, too. In all, it depends on your requirements.
Let’s delve deeper into the advantages and disadvantages of free and paid VPN services.
Free VPN Services
Free VPN providers offer their services for free, often with some limitations. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of using free VPN services.
1. Free of cost: Of course, the primary benefit of free VPNs is that you don’t have to pay any money to use them. They’re free to use, and you can use them for as long as you want without hindering your wallet.
2. Unlock Blocked Sites: If you’re a regular internet user, you’ll do fine with free VPNs. These services can unblock geo-restricted content. So, if you’re trying to access a website blocked in your country, you can access them using free VPNs. Such providers also mask your IP address so that you can get a seamless streaming experience.
3. Easy-to-Connect: Free VPNs are shared among numerous people, so they’re often available 24×7. You can easily connect with a free VPN server if you want to hide your IP address or enjoy Netflix in your country.
There are advantages to using free VPNs, but there are some drawbacks, too. Here’s why you should avoid using free VPNs.
1. Security Concerns: The sole purpose of using a VPN is to protect your IP address, so hackers and unauthorized bodies can’t access it to locate you. However, a study conducted on free VPNs suggested that 38% of free VPNs contained malware.
2. Lack of Privacy: Again, the aim of using a VPN is to make your browsing experience private. But when you use a free VPN, you agree to share your private information. Many free VPN providers also embed third-party trackers in their app, which can be a threat to your privacy.
3. There are Limitations: Free VPNs always have some limitations. They can be in the form of speed, data usage, or the number of servers. Most free services provide a free version just to entice you to upgrade to a paid plan.
Paid VPN Services
Paid VPN services come with a small monthly or yearly subscription fee. But the benefits you receive in exchange for that cost are worth it.
Here are some pros and cons of using paid VPN services.
1. Superior Security: Premium VPN services include advanced security capabilities like SSL encryption, Layer 2 Tunnel Protocol (L2TP)–IPsec combination, and 256-bit data encryption. Free services, on the other hand, only offer PPTP, which is outdated and less secure.
2. No Speed Loss: Unlike free VPNs, paid VPN services don’t reduce internet browsing speed. They don’t feature net throttling, the practice of intentionally slowing down the connection speed. Therefore, you can enjoy high-speed internet without any speed limitations.
3. Quality of Service: Paid VPN services come with dedicated servers that offer superior uptime and quality of service. Imagine your VPN going down in between for a web scraping task. All your efforts will go into vain. Premium VPNs ensure the quality of service so you can get a high-quality browsing experience.
4. No Advertisements: Lastly, paid VPN apps don’t have annoying advertisements to interrupt your browsing. You can, therefore, enjoy a seamless streaming and browsing experience.
1. Cost: The only drawback of using a paid VPN service is that it comes with a subscription fee. And some best-known premium VPN services are quite expensive. So, be prepared to put in a few bucks every month if you want to enjoy a premium proxy experience.
If you’re a regular internet user who wants to unblock Tumblr, Netflix, or other geo-blocked platforms, free VPNs aren’t a bad pick. But if your purpose of using a VPN is more critical, such as web scraping or online banking, using a premium VPN service would be ideal.