If you’ve already learned about the benefits of using a VPN, it’s now time to choose one. You might be tempted to go for a free VPN, which doesn’t have a subscription fee. On paper, it looks simple. You just download an app or install a plugin in your browser and all your privacy concerns are solved?

Not so fast, a free VPN can negatively affect your internet speeds, and expose you to other vulnerabilities and even data theft. In this article, we’ll talk about the key differences between free and paid VPN, and why paid VPN is always the best choice for you. .

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5 Major Risks of Using a Free VPN 

1. Tracking and selling your browsing data 

A free VPN goes against the very principle of using a VPN. Most users want to use a VPN to hide their IP and online activities from their ISP or regulators. While a free VPN will hide your IP, it might collect and sell your browsing data to advertisers and marketers. 

This is how free VPNs make money. They’re not charging you a monthly subscription fee, but they’re selling your personal data to marketers, who can use it to target you with specific ads. 

These days, data is the most valuable asset in the world. Free VPNs can track your browsing details such as what type of products you search for online, how long you stay online, and even your device details. They got your consent through that long ‘Terms and Conditions’ pages you never read but clicked “I agree” before installation. 

While VPNs are supposed to increase your online privacy, free VPNs end up compromising your privacy for their own financial gains. 

2. Weak Security 

A VPN is meant to increase your online security, but a free VPN might take you in a different direction. Most free VPN providers don’t have a decent server infrastructure or sufficient encryption which leaves you vulnerable to hackers. 

Most free VPNs only support a WEP encryption level. Such weak security is an open invitation for malware and hackers, especially when you connect to a public network. 

3. Annoying pop-up ads 

Most free VPN providers monetize their free service by displaying ads in the app. Sometimes you’ll have to watch a full ad to be able to connect or disconnect from the VPN. Also, you might have to watch an ad for connecting to a specific location. 

Every time a user clicks on these ads, the VPN provider gets their share of profits. So, you end up seeing a lot of these ads during the entire time you’re connected to the VPN. 

4. Slowing down your internet connection 

While using a VPN does have some impact on your internet speed, it’s barely noticeable with the paid VPNs. Also, paid VPNs end up protecting you from bandwidth throttling. So, you might actually experience a faster connection speed in some cases.

However, with most free VPNs you’ll lose significant speed. The constant ads and limited server resources with such VPNs will further slow down your connection speed. No matter how fast your internet connection is, you’re only as fast as the slowest point. 

5. Give other users access to your connection 

Many free VPNs operate as P2P networks. It means that they send your data through another users device, and route other users traffic through yours. This kind of network puts your device at a high risk of malware and DNS attacks. 

Some VPN providers even sell your unused bandwidth on the global data market. So, instead of masking your IP from regulators, they’re actually selling it to 3rd party vendors. It’s not just unethical, but downright dangerous. 

Why a Paid VPN is Better? 

Most paid VPNs have a simple business model. They charge users a monthly/annual subscription fee. So, they don’t have to sell your data to 3rd parties or bombard you with annoying ads. 

Paid VPN providers make a profit from long-term users. They want users to stay with them for a long time and pay recurring subscription fees. As a reason, paid VPNs have a strong focus on quality. They release new updates and add new features frequently to make the user experience better. 

Unlike free VPNs, most paid VPNs have top-notch encryption. They’re not interested in your data, as they’re more focused on restricting third parties from accessing or viewing your internet traffic. Paid VPNs mostly use advanced AES 256-bit encryption. This is high-level security encryption that turns your data into untranslatable gibberish, so nobody can monitor you.  

Also, free VPNs won’t have more than a couple of servers for you to connect to. You might be able to choose from only a handful of locations and countries. So, your options are pretty limited if you want to access geo-restricted content. 

However, paid VPNs have an extensive server network. Such VPNs can change your location between more than 60 countries and thousands of servers. So, you can access content from almost any country around the world. 

Popular paid VPNs like Surfshark has over 3200 servers in 65+ countries. So, with paid VPNs, there’s no shortage of locations and servers for you to connect to. 

Free VPNs won’t also let you bypass heavy restrictions. In some countries like China, Russia, or Iran, accessing the Internet is highly restricted and censored. It means blocking out most social media platforms and various popular websites and apps. 

However, most of these restrictions aren’t a match for paid VPNs. It can easily bypass such heavy restrictions and allow you to surf and browse almost any content on the internet. 

Let’s Wrap It Up 

The only advantage of a free VPN is that it’s free. It might not cost you any money, but it costs you something far more valuable, which is your privacy. The risks of using a free VPN far outweighs its small benefit. 

Your online browsing experience will only degrade with a free VPN, while a paid VPN will enhance it. Most paid VPNs also come with a trial period, so you can always try them for free before making any financial commitments. 

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