Each and every day, countless people around the world rely on the internet as their number one source of information, communication, entertainment, and assistance. Through our various connected devices, the many sites and services of the net can help us stay informed with world events, chat with our friends, carry out our work effectively, stream all kinds of entertainment media, and so much more.
But in spite of all of these advantages, the internet isn’t perfect, nor is it entirely safe. There are countless risks associated with everything from online banking to uploading your photos on social media sites, and it’s vital to think about one’s online safety and privacy, taking the necessary action in order to stay safe an protected for all of our online activities. The best way to do this is with a VPN.
VPNs are able to encrypt and safeguard our internet connections, masking our IP addresses and effectively shielding us against hackers, cyberattacks, and even the prying eyes of our very own internet service providers. There are plenty of VPN providers out there, including some who offer their VPNs absolutely free. Are free VPNs worth it? What are the differences between free and paid VPNs? And how do free VPN trials work? This guide will answer all of those questions and more.
An Overview of Free VPNs
So how do free VPNs work? Well, they basically follow the same principles and systems as paid VPNs. For the uninitiated, a VPN works by securing and encrypting your internet connection so that nobody can view your online activity or track your download history, and they also help to make it much harder for any hackers to access your personal files or steal your identity.
There are many VPN providers out there. Some of them charge money for their services, while others offer their VPNs for free. If the idea of a free VPN sounds a little too good to be true, well, as you might expect, there are a couple of catches to be aware of.
Put simply, free VPN providers need to make money somehow. They can’t pay for server operating costs and everything else involved with running a VPN without some form of income. So, in order to make their money without giving users a fee to pay, they often feature ads that will pop up on your screen and have to be viewed in order to access the service.
Why Would I Want a Free VPN?
A free VPN can offer a lot of uses and benefits, and the first and most obvious reason why you might want to get one is because it’s free. Usually, VPNs come with paid subscriptions that can cost anywhere from a few bucks to $12+ per month. A free VPN, however, has no fees to worry about and no need to enter any bank details.
The Pros and Cons of Free VPNs
- A Great Entry Point – Free VPNs represent a great starting point for those who want to see what a VPN has to offer and get a taste of the various advantages and uses of a VPN without signing up for a 3-year plan or anything like that.
- Free – Obviously, one of the best advantages of these free VPNs is that they’re totally free, ideal for those who have a limited budget or just don’t like the idea of having to spend extra money on their internet protection.
- Some Protection and Anonymity – Free VPNs may not necessarily offer the same levels of security and privacy as their paid counterparts, but they will still give you at least some form of online security and it’s better to have a free VPN than no VPN at all.
- Compatible Across Many Platforms – Most of the best free VPNs work across various devices and platforms, including PCs, Macs, laptops, phones, and tablets, letting you access the internet safely and securely on any device.
- No Need to Enter Banking Info – One of the best plus points of a free VPN compared to a paid VPN is that you don’t need to enter any bank details or give away any payment information.
- Data Limitations – One of the ways in which free VPNs differ from paid VPNs is that they usually come with data limits, only allowing you to use the VPN to protect you for a certain amount of data. Once you hit the limit, the VPN will deactivate.
- Ads – A lot of free VPNs make their money through ads, which will appear on their sites, in their software, and on their mobile apps. These ads can be frustrating and obtrusive to deal with.
- Potential Security Flaws – Since free VPN makers don’t have the same budgets and standards as the big paid VPN companies, they often aren’t able to invest in the same state-of-the-art security and encryption systems.
- Performance Issues – Some free VPNs may also struggle with performance and speed issues due to their older or weaker technology and smaller network of servers. For the user, this means your download speeds may be reduced.
Who Are Free VPNs Best-Suited for?
Overall, since free VPNs have a few flaws and limitations, we can mainly recommend them to people who only feel the need to use a VPN sparingly. Maybe you only want to use a VPN while traveling in order to bypass geo-restrictions, for example, or perhaps you only want to use it while in public places.
Things to Think About Before Getting a Free VPN
Before getting a free VPN, we recommend considering the following factors:
- Level of Protection – Think about what level of protection the VPN actually offers and whether it’s strong enough for your needs.
- How Is It Making Money? – Is it using ads to make money or is it doing something else, like potentially selling user data?
- Does It Keep Logs? – You definitely don’t want to choose a VPN provider that logs user data, as this defeats the whole point of having a VPN in the first place.
Are Free VPNs Safe?
There are plenty of totally safe free VPNs out there, yes. However, there are also some free VPNs that are regarded as unsafe and may even collect user data and sell it on to third parties in order to make their money, so we only recommend downloading and using trusted free VPNs.
Can I Use Free VPNs on Different Devices?
This depends on the free VPN you choose, but it’s certainly possible to find free VPNs that work across multiple devices. Many of them are primarily aimed towards the Windows market, as this represents a large percentage of all desktop and laptop users, but there are also plenty of free VPNs out there that work on Mac, Android devices, iOS devices, and more. Check out the compatibility options on the official website of your chosen free VPN to learn more.
Are Free VPNs Really Worth It?
So, given that free VPNs can come with a range of issues like annoying ads and even security flaws, are they really worth downloading in the first place? Well, the answer to that question really depends on your own personal needs and situation. If you want to be safe and protected online, a free VPN isn’t as good as top rated paid VPN, but it’s still better than nothing.
As long as you choose a trusted and recommended free VPN, you’ll still be getting at least some form of protection with it that can help to keep you safe from hackers and cyberattacks. So, in that respect, they’re definitely worth it. Plus, they’re also a good way to test the waters of the VPN world and see what a VPN can do for you before potentially upgrading to a paid variant.
In many ways then, free VPNs are definitely worth a try, especially if you’re someone who wants to see what a VPN can do or enjoy at least some form of limited protection without having to pay for the privilege. Just remember to read reviews and choose carefully, as there are plenty of free VPNs out there that simply are not worth your time or attention.
What About Free VPN Trials?
We’ve seen that free VPNs have their ups and downs. Some of them are actually quite interesting and offer some great advantages, while others fail to meet the standards we tend to expect of a modern VPN. So what about free VPN trials?
It’s important to make the distinction between free VPNs and free VPN trials. A free VPN is one that is simply free to use, usually with restrictions on data. A free VPN trial, however, is where you can actually test out a paid VPN for a set period of time, usually 30 or 45 days.
With a free VPN trial, you get to test out a proper paid VPN and see what it can do for you for about a month, or maybe longer. If you’re happy with the service during that time, you can then proceed to pay for a full subscription and carry on using it. If not, you can cancel and move on.
We strongly recommend downloading free VPN trials of the best VPNs out there, as these trials offer awesome opportunities for those who want to see what uses they can get out of a VPN without any kind of limitations or restrictions.