VPN apps are great! They give you the ability to surf the internet anonymously, stream geo-restricted content, and safely download stuff on sites, such as The Pirate Bay. Used the right way, a VPN app can be a source of privacy and security, but only if it is a premium version. Free things aren’t exactly free because just as they say if you are not on the table, you are the menu. Here are five reasons why you should never use a free VPN.
- Free VPN Apps Are Not Safe
The main role of a VPN app is to help you surf the Internet anonymously. To do this, a VPN app depends on a complex set of hardware and software configurations that require tons of money to install and operate.
So, when using a free app, you’ve got to ask yourself whose paying for all that? The simple answer is that your data pays for all that. The VPN service provider collects as much data from anyone who uses their service for free and sells it to the highest bidder.
If you are conversant with some of the reasons people use VPN apps, this practice might strike you as being very dangerous and reckless. Imagine yourself as a government critic in Sudan, China, or North Korea, for instance, and have your data sold to the highest bidder. You might end up in jail or disappear without a trace.
If, on the other hand, you are into downloading copyrighted stuff on sites, such as The Pirate Bay, you might find yourself in the crosshairs of agencies, such as the FBI and the Motion Picture Association of America. That too could land you in jail or lead to hefty fines.
Perhaps the greatest risk that comes with using a free VPN is that some free VPN providers do sell ‘anonymized IP addresses’ except that the anonymous IP address diverts through your connection. This means that whatever illegal activity someone else might be up to, it can be falsely attributed to you. If you still can’t see how serious that is, think of a terrorist using an IP address that can be directly linked to you. The danger is real.
Premium VPN apps have features, such as kill switches, obfuscated servers, military-grade encryption and such that add to the level of security in-app. It might cost you a few bucks, but reducing the risks of getting caught are worthwhile in this case.
- Internet Throttling
A free VPN app will make it virtually impossible to use your internet connection for several reasons. The first reason has to do with how VPN apps work. They reroute traffic through a network of servers that are scattered around the globe and the greater the distance between the servers, the slower your internet speed is going to be. Now, when the service is free, you really don’t expect servers that are new or that are maintained at all by happy and well-compensated staff. In fact, you expect the exact opposite.
The second reason also has to do with maintenance. Old servers are likely to constantly break down or suffer from infections that make them impossible to operate. They also probably run on outdated technology. So, if you want a VPN app that will not make it impossible to surf the internet, try a premium version.
- Better Protocols
In order to work, VPN apps require a protocol that makes it possible for various servers to communicate with each other. They also require an encryption technology that encrypts the data passing over the network. The thing with free VPN apps is that they do not have the best protocols or encryption technologies available to them. The reason for this is that some of the technology is hard to come by, and with the app generating zero income for its creators, there is no incentive to buy the technology or adopt the latest in VPN technology.
- Poor Support System
VPN apps can be very technical. If, for instance, you want to switch between different protocols, you might be interested in knowing which protocol is more secure or fast. Knowing that it might be easy when you have a customer care system that is available on a 24/7 basis, but when you are using a free app, there is little to expect in the way of customer care.
- Aggressive Advertising
As earlier noted, if you are not on the table, you are the menu. Free apps, whether they are VPN apps or cleaner apps for Android, still need to make money for their developers. They do this by way of selling data or by delivering targeted ads. These ads can be super annoying and unless you are ready to go premium, there is little that you can do about them.
The popup ads that are shown by free VPN apps also involve gross violations of privacy because the VPN app tracks your browsing history when privacy is your main concern, hence the reason for using the VPN app in the first place. One way to keep your data safe from being misused by free apps is to install a PC cleaning software that will erase your browsing history and make data inaccessible to third parties.
So, those are the five reasons you should never use a free VPN app. And while you might fall into temptation, keep in mind that nothing on the internet is ever free. You either buy something or are used as the product. The choice is yours. If you would like to learn more about VPN apps, and VPN technology in general, you can check out this PC tips and tricks guide where there is always something new to learn.
Mathew Ngatia is a computer scientist who currently works as a content specialist at Softwaretested.com. He writes on topics related to tech, VPN, digital marketing, gaming, SEO and more. Outside of work, Mathew is interested in artificial intelligence and programming in general and is an avid book reader.