“But why should I pay to use a VPN? A legitimate question when you know that there are many free VPN providers, and you may have already asked yourself when choosing which service to use to secure your internet connection.
Confidential, or reserved for very specific uses a decade ago, the VPN has now become an essential cybersecurity tool. A tool that has been taken over by the general public, and today populated by hundreds of actors. Among them are fairly well-known names like NordVPN, which provide their services for cold hard cash. But there are also a host of VPNs that offer their services for free.
While the temptation to switch to a free VPN provider may be strong, in most cases it is actually a bad or very bad idea. For what ? Because the main purpose of free VPNs is not to preserve your data or your anonymity on the internet. Quite the contrary.
What exactly is a free VPN?
As the name quite explicitly suggests, a free VPN is a service that provides you with access to a VPN without you having to pay a dime out of pocket. They thus oppose paid VPNs like NordVPN, which provide their services for a few euros each month (logical).
Free VPNs generally come in two forms:
- totally free services: with these VPNs, a simple account creation is enough to access a wide range of features (IP address relocation, data encryption, multiple connections, etc.);
- freemium services: these VPNs work with a formula halfway between paid and free. They offer part of their service for free, but these are often limited (data volume, server speed, etc.). To access the best they have to offer, you will need to checkout and opt for one of their offers.
While most free VPNs can be considered safe, the same is not true of their free counterparts. This for a simple reason: money, and more generally the remuneration of these services.
To work, a VPN needs many servers spread across the world, customer service, and staff to make sure everything is running smoothly. An important infrastructure which necessarily has a cost and which must be financed by a profitable service. However, if the paid and free VPN model is quite simple to understand (you get a service for a fee), that of free VPNs is much less so. How, indeed, to finance a service which one offers to its customers?
Funding VPNs: If it’s free, you’re the product
There is a simple answer to the question of funding free VPNs, and you probably won’t like it if you’ve ever used one of these services. To make money, free VPNs monetize the only thing at their disposal: your personal data.
As you probably know, personal data has value for many companies. And free VPNs find there an almost inexhaustible financial windfall. Many companies, especially data brokers, are more than happy to buy your personal data to resell it for a substantial profit.
Browsing history, personal information, shopping habits: all this information (and more) can be collected by a free VPN and resold to third parties without your consent. Without you even knowing it. Information that will then be used to send you targeted ads, in the best case.
Another way free VPNs make money is often to cut corners as well. Number of servers and countries accessible, bandwidth, dedicated streaming servers, level of encryption: all these elements are mostly mediocre (when they are not non-existent as for encryption). Choosing a free VPN therefore often means opting for poor service and taking the risk of seeing your data misused.
What are the main risks of using a free VPN?
An independent survey
on more than 25,000 free VPNs delivers quite edifying results on the practices of this type of service. Among the most common risks of using this type of VPN, you may face:
- the monitoring, collection and resale of your personal data: we have already mentioned it before, this is the most common threat. Many free VPNs block the secure HTTPS connection protocol in favor of HTTP. They can thus know what you consult, even record data as confidential as your passwords or banking information;
- to a massive flood of advertisements: this is the other great specialty of free VPNs. Many of them are capable of injecting code into your browser, or altering data in your browser. Enough to inundate you with annoying advertisements and notifications, which can even target you directly (thanks to the recovery of your data);
- to malicious programs: while free VPNs are likely to inject code for advertisements, they may also inject code to include malwarewithout even being aware of it;
- making your connection available to third parties: some free VPNs work on the principle of peer to peer giving you access to the connection of another subscriber located in the country you have targeted. A good idea on paper, but with a big security concern.
NordVPN: a safe solution to guarantee the protection of your privacy
If you really want to protect your personal data, and your privacy when browsing the net, opting for a paid VPN is the most logical and safest choice. At NordVPN, for example, you benefit from a complete, efficient and proven service in exchange for only a few euros per month.
Basically, NordVPN is:
- a solid infrastructure: with more than 5,700 servers in 60 countries around the world, and speeds among the best, including streaming or gaming;
- a strict data protection policy: NordVPN is all about protecting your data and privacy. As such, it practices a policy of not logging its users’ data. Understand that your browsing history, logs or any other information that passes through NordVPN will not be stored, sold to third parties or used against you;
- a complete ecosystem: NordVPN is not just a VPN. The proposed solution also includes an effective antivirus, and complementary services such as NordPass (password manager) and NordLocker (secure cloud) to protect your data;
- an easy-to-use service: thanks to its application, NordVPN is extremely simple to use. An intuitive user interface allows you to manage your account or connect to a server in seconds. Better, this application is compatible with most operating systems and browsers;
- protection for the whole family: NordVPN allows up to six different devices to connect simultaneously. Enough to protect computers, smartphones and even televisions with a single subscription;
- efficient customer service: If anything goes wrong or if you have any questions, NordVPN’s professionally-mannered customer service is available 7 days a week.
If despite all the arguments made above, you are still reluctant to commit to a paid VPN, NordVPN has a solution for you. You may not know this, but NordVPN offers a 30-day money-back guarantee. Which means you can test out a VPN and experience its benefits without paying anything if you find it unsatisfactory. And all this, without ever jeopardizing your data or your privacy. Not bad is not it ?