In this digital age, online privacy is increasingly becoming a priority for most. And one of the easiest ways to ensure your privacy online is by using a Virtual Private Network to mast your online activities. Of course, VPN’s are also a very instrumental tool to bypass geo-restrictions in case you live in countries with these punitive censorship laws.
There are countless VPN services available today. Some work better than others, some have questionable ways of handling user data; there’s something for every case. Today, let’s look at the differences between Free and Paid VPN services.
Read More: The difference between a Proxy and a VPN
What are Free or Paid VPNs
At the end of the day, these VPN service providers are in business and out to get a profit. They also have to rent/acquire servers all over the globe and maintain them to offer you the tunneling services.
To get this profit, some VPN services require users to purchase a plan (monthly or annual plans) that will allow users access to their services. Some offer hybrid services where they offer a free trial or a free bandwidth allocation after which, one has to pay for more.
Free VPNs rely on other ways to monetize their service. This could be anything from pushing ads to you as the user, or leaking your data to advertisers, or worse still, organisations like governments or data centres. Either way, the cash to maintain these services has to come from somewhere.
Why would you want to go for a Paid VPN ?
The Paid VPNs offer some level of assurance that your data is not leaking and their servers are of good quality. Some services like Nord VPN and TunnelBear even open up their servers to auditors, just to offer their users that peace of mind that their servers are sound.
Paid VPNs usually have 1000s of servers across many different countries, not just the big countries. If you’re keen to tunnel your connection through even the remotest of locations, you might want to go for a Paid VPN.
Paid VPN servers are usually less crowded so you can be assured of decent speeds.
Are Free VPNs that bad?
So why would anyone go for these Free VPNs? Well, the Paid VPNs are usually rather expensive to begin with. In countries where internet connections aren’t cheap to begin with, asking users to fork out even more cheddar for a VPN service isn’t exactly realistic.
True, Free VPN services are under little to no obligation to secure your data. As long as your connection is tunneled to a different location, their job is done. For many users who’s activity online is not really sensitive, or if their operations are low-risk, Free VPNs will do the job just fine.
For users that aren’t really hardcore on using VPNs, there are a bunch of Free VPN services that have a good track record of managing user data and these will work.
The whole idea of a VPN service is to keep you safe online by masking your real identity and encrypting your connection in the process. Some Free VPNs are just bad and this defeats the purpose.
To be fair, there are very good Free VPN services out there too. You might want to do your homework properly before fully relying on one specific VPN service. Also, the hybrid services that offer both free and paid services are generally more secure than the outright Free services. Services like Windscribe, ProtonVPN, Nord VPN and even TunnelBear will work fine for the casual VPN user so if you’re not keen to spend money on VPNs, try their free services.
Paid VPN have an obligation to deliver what they promised. They are obligated to actually keep your data safe, to properly encrypt you data and offer you a decent variety of servers to connect to, and at good speeds. If you’re big on all things cyber security, you might want to spare some funds for a Paid VPN service. For everyone else, there are very good options out there.