Why Using Free VPN is a Terrible Idea
The two broad categories of VPNs out there are those you pay a fee to access and those that don’t charge you a penny (free VPNs). Often people are persuaded by the idea of getting service without having to spend money.
Unfortunately, many don’t understand that in the digital world, ‘free’ is a misnomer. In other words, the word doesn’t really mean what many think it means. It doesn’t mean that you are not going to incur a cost. It only means you are going to pay using something other than cash.
Indeed, there is no digital product that you don’t pay for. And that makes sense because they have operational costs and the need to make a profit. The only question always is how you end up paying for it. And that applies to VPNs.
The other way to put is that ‘If you’re not paying for it, you become the product.’
It is either cash, attention, or data.
There are three ways you can pay for a VPN service, or any other digital service.
The first one is paying through cash, and that includes credit cards, bank transfer, PayPal, cryptocurrencies, and even paper money. Usually, you pay as a weekly, monthly, annual, or a one-off purchase. The company that gives you the service will use the money to pay for their operational expenses and also make a profit.
The second way you can pay for a VPN is by using your attention. The service provider expects you to look at or watch ads as you use their platform. The advertisers pay them for this, and they use that money to pay for their operational expenses and make a profit for the shareholders. Many ‘free’ VPNs use this model.
The third way you can pay for a VPN service is by using your personal or business data. Indeed, data is the new gold, and many online enterprises are happy to accept it as payment for their goods and services. Of course, they never tell you that you are going to pay with your data. They tell you it is a ‘free VPN,’ and then they proceed to quietly harvest your data after you’ve signed up.
The VPN company sells the data to third parties who need it to develop AI algorithms through machine learning or use it later to advertise to you on other platforms. The company uses the proceeds to pay for operational costs, and the difference is the profit the company owners take.
It is the second and third models of payment that are deceitfully marketed as ‘free VPN.’ Often these two happen together. Meaning, a VPN company displays ads to you and also collects data to sell to other organizations.
What is the real cost of a free VPN?
While paying with your attention or data might seem convenient in the first instance, it often turns out to be very expensive. In fact, a lot more costly than when you pay using cash. And the cost comes in the form of what you sacrifice.
When you use your attention to pay for the service, you have to put up distractions from the ads that your service provider serves you. It is also possible to be served with ads that will install the malware in your device. This can compromise not only your security but also your resources.
For instance, the ads can drive up your device’s data consumption, and if you pay for your internet connection according to the amount of data, then the financial cost you incur can really go up. One research has shown that ads consume up to 79% of mobile user’s data.
Your connection can also become very slow because of the traffic from the ads, and the malware they plant in your devices can significantly congest your traffic.
The cost of paying with data
If you are paying for a VPN with your data, your security and privacy are compromised a lot more than when you are not connected through any VPN.
The company sells the data to third parties. In fact, these third parties can get even more detailed data than what they would have received if they did surveillance on you themselves. Indeed, nobody can assure you of how the third parties will use the data they buy from your VPN service provider.
They can sell to others up a chain, and the more entities get hold of your data, the more risks you face. These could be mild things like a profile being created to target you with ads on other platforms to it being used to hack your financial accounts.
In a nutshell, using a free VPN often exposes you to more risks than what you face without them. Your user experience also deteriorates with the tons of ads sent your way and the slow speed due to the congested network. For example, if you are interested in speed of navigation, one of the fastest VPN on the market is Cyberghost, and you will hardly find such a quality for free.
A VPN that charges you a fee is less likely to sell your data. Indeed, the higher the price you pay for your VPN in cash, the less the risk for your data being sold. And that is because the service provider can pay its operations costs and also make a profit from the money you pay them. My final word; always use a VPN you are paying for because