Free vs. Paid: Which VPN Is Right for You?
Finding the right VPN is key if you want your data to stay safe and secure online. There are a number of different VPN services out there, some free and some paid. Which VPN is right for you?
Many people opt for a free VPN, obviously, for the price. Some free, or even partly free options are actually owned by reputable security companies, so they might make a good choice for some. In fact, some free VPN services allow the user complete anonymity because you don’t have to provide much personal/financial information, or even sign up for an account in some cases. However, the service must be reputable and trusted before you assume that you are safe.
A free VPN could be the right choice for a casual internet user, but it may not always be the right choice for a company/freelancer who wants guaranteed protection from prying eyes. Paid services may cost $12 per month, or $100 for a year. The prices will vary depending on factors such as transmission speeds, level of customer service provided, and so on.
Although a free option might be a good choice for some, it’s worth noting that with some services you will get what you pay for in terms of security. Many free VPN services provide only one kind of VPN connection - the Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP). This is supported by most computers, but unfortunately, isn't all that secure anymore. This might be a good choice if your main concern is streaming videos from other countries, but it won’t protect you from spies. Some free services won’t tell you which protocols they use or support, in which case, you’re better off avoiding them.
Paid users tend to have more options, such as OpenVPN or the Layer 2 Tunnel Protocol (L2TP) and IPsec combination. Bear in mind that some free services may offer OpenVPN, but that still doesn’t mean it’s your best option. Knowing what protocols the VPN service uses will help you to make the best choice.
A free service still has bills and overheads to pay, and this revenue might come from selling your browsing activity to third parties. In this case, your data is not totally private. Some may just pay the bills by displaying advertisements.
It is not unheard of for free VPNs to store and sell user data, whereas paid subscriptions are far less likely to have this type of policy. This is something you’ll want to look into before you make your decision. Partly free services are usually reputable and can be trusted, but may put a limit on how much data the user can have, as well as transmission speeds.
In general, those who pay for a VPN service will usually get much better customer service and data security. Unlimited data is the norm, and delivery rates tend to be fast with a paid service. Plus, you will usually get tech support from a paid service if you need it.
If a free VPN service says that it logs user activity, or doesn’t state their policy, they are usually better avoided. Keeping track of where you go online and when you’re connected is not something you want your VPN to do.
It can also be a good idea to see where the VPN is legally based, as this will affect how they handle your account based on the government regulations there. A service that is based in Russia, China, or even the United States is probably worth avoiding altogether.
Some VPN services are registered in places like the British Virgin Islands and Panama, and in these cases it can be tough to figure out where the service originates. If you’re dissatisfied with the service from a VPN registered here, it can be difficult to get your money back. It can be great if you’re trying to hide something illegal, but not so much for anything else.
Both free and paid VPNs have their uses, and the one that is right for you will entirely depend on how you are browsing the internet and how safe you want your data to be. If you need to be 100% sure that your data is secure and you’re totally anonymous, then a paid service will likely be best. For the casual internet user who simply wants to stream videos from other countries, a free VPN service will likely suffice.