Are VPNs Free?
Updated: March 28, 2016
Yes, there are a number of free VPNs available.
But there is a big caveat to this one. Because although there are a number of free VPNs available, there is usually a compromise users have to accept. Often there is a limitation on the amount of traffic you can use through the VPN in any one month, while others will naturally priorities the traffic of paying customers and so users will often have to put up with slow connections. There is also less guarantee of privacy as your data is a way in which companies can make money in exchange for you using their service.
So, if you want to use a VPN on the odd occasion for specific tasks, a free VPN is a worthwhile tool. But if you plan to use your VPN for streaming content, downloading content, or for all of your online activity day-to-day, we strongly recommend you to part with a pretty small amount of cash each month for a much better service.
In this day and age everyone is looking to get something for nothing, or as close to nothing as they can get away with. We download music and films for a fraction of the price we used to pay for DVDs and Films; nightclubs are closing down as people choose to buy alcohol in shops and drink at home; and bargain basement supermarkets are thriving at the expense of their costlier rivals.
So it is no real surprise that one of the most frequent question posed to the Fried.com teams is whether free VPNs are available, and whether they are worth the effort?
There are some pretty quick and simple answers to the questions but to give you the whole picture, we really need to explain a number of hazier areas, and I would strongly recommend you read this article in its entirety before doing anything else.
Can I get a VPN service for free?
Yes, you can. There are a number of providers who offer a free VPN service and as the demand for VPNs continues to grow this number is only likely to increase.
So why on earth would I pay for one?
Just because one thing is available for free and another one costs money doesn’t mean the two are comparable. The simple fact is that VPN providers are running a business and have to make money from somewhere to cover their costs if nothing else.
This means that if you are getting your service for free, there must be another way that the business is making money. In other words, you will have to compromise or sacrifice something in order to get a free service.
What sort of compromises do you mean?
In our experience, if you are signing up for a free VPN, there are three areas where you service might be inferior to a paid VPN service.
a. Quantity: A number of free VPNs will limit the amount of traffic free VPN users can use in a month. This means that the free service is effectively like a trial run, allowing you to see how good the service, in the hope that you will quickly use up your capacity and decide to upgrade to a paid package to keep the VPN working.
This type of free VPN service is ideal if you just want to undertake certain simple activities online with the added security and privacy a VPN offers you. They are no good for downloading or streaming content, or regular everyday usage.
b. Connectivity: Many free VPN services are offered by the same providers that have a number of paid packages as well, and if they do not limit the amount of traffic free users are allowed, they are likely to be offering you a slower service.
This is because, quite understandably, their paid customers are more valuable to them, and therefore if their servers are busy, it will be the paid customers who take priority. Slow and interrupted connections are not uncommon with all VPNs, and most providers will not be too worried about this, as customers not paying for a service have little scope for complaint.
c. Security: Perhaps the biggest sacrifice many free VPN users are making is with their own security and privacy. Most people sign up for a VPN to help them surf the web anonymously and with the increased security that a VPN usually offers.
However, a look at the small print of a free VPN agreement will often show that the provider is still entitled to keep logs of your online activity and can use this data commercially. Why would they do this? Well such data is quite valuable, and if you are not paying for your service, this is how they can meet their costs and make a profit from your business.
So should I use a Free VPN at all?
Make no mistake, a free VPN is still better than no VPN at all, and you are adding an extra level of security and online privacy that you wouldn’t have otherwise.
And we do of course appreciate that for some internet users, even the cheapest of paid VPNs might still be out of their price range. For those users, we would certainly recommend using a VPN, and suggest you take a look at our guide to the best free VPNs to help you make your choice.
But if you can afford to spend just a few dollars’ month on a paid VPN service, we would strongly recommend it for the extra level of privacy and security they offer, as well as fast and reliable connection speeds and unlimited usage amounts. It really is a service that offers terrific value for money.