Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are all the rage with the existential threats on cybersecurity. The massive amount of private information held on servers across the globe is constantly under attack by hackers. Cybersecurity has become the hottest topic in the tech world and has made its way to discussions around the dinner table.
As VPNs have become more popular, more and more of them are hitting the market. The Google Play Store alone has over 250 of them available. Downloading a VPN app (for example such as this one) to an Android phone is undoubtedly a recommended way to protect owner’s digital privacy.
With the flood of VPNs in the market, many of them are free. There are even free options from some big names in the cybersecurity business. Why pay for a VPN app if there are free versions available?
There are some serious risks associated with free VPNs in addition to some other reasons they may not perform as one would hope. As the saying goes, “Nothing in life is free.” Here is an examination of why those free VPNs may not be as inexpensive as they appear.
Running a VPN is Expensive
A VPN requires serious digital and physical infrastructure. This does not come cheap and is indeed not free. This alone indicates that a free VPN is likely of low quality, at best.
Free VPNs offered by large security companies are often stripped-down versions of the paid edition. This can mean slower connections, fewer server options, and limited encryption tools. These factors make the free VPNs provided by these companies almost useless and encourage consumers to purchase the full version.
A free VPN offered by a lesser known developer would have to find the funds somewhere to pay for itself. This revenue can be produced by ads. In a more negative case, the VPN could raise money by selling data like activity logs for the use of marketing companies. In a worst-case scenario, users’ personal information could be sold.
The thought of a free VPN is counterintuitive, and users should take heed to the typical expenses of providing a VPN. Downloading a VPN to an Android phone is certainly recommended, but a free VPN is likely useless or worse.
Security Threats Abound
It seems crazy to think that a VPN, even a free one, would pose a higher security risk than not having one. Unfortunately, analysis of free VPNs has shown that many of them contain malware.
Malware is a frightening term, but much of the malware found on free VPNs simply generate extra ad revenue. However, this is not always the case. Some of the malware found could be used to steal private information from the device – a situation most users downloaded the VPN to avoid.
Some free VPN providers even use users’ computers to provide the “tunnels” to send information through. This practice could lead to stolen IP addresses and allow someone to fraudulently use the address for bad behaviors.
Using a free VPN can quickly become cumbersome and inconvenient. The quality of a free VPN is typically sacrificed for the possibility to get a “free” product in front of consumers. This poor performance presents itself in several ways.
Slow connections are a consistent problem with free VPNs. This is caused by multiple factors. First, a free VPN is often quite limited regarding server availability. The lack of server access means more users are accessing the network at the same place.
Additionally, some VPNs intentionally slow connections to persuade users to purchase the full service. Slowing free connections also provides paid users with faster access.
A free VPN with limited servers could also present challenges for a user looking to access geo-restricted content. As free VPNs rarely have servers in a multitude of regions, it can be difficult to find one with a server in the required area.
The cost savings of a free VPN are quickly made insignificant by the poor performance issues most face. From lacking in actual security to making browsing impossible, a free VPN rarely meets consumers’ needs.
There are no free rides when it comes to downloading a VPN app to your Android device. In one way or another, users are faced with some form of sacrifice to make. From poor performance to creating security vulnerabilities, free VPNs can cost users in the long run. With this understanding, it becomes clear that purchasing a high-quality VPN is worth the investment.