The Problem with Free VPNs

Categories VPN

The Internet has taught us many things, but it has also trained people to expect something for nothing. Although there indeed is nothing wrong with getting a thing for free when it is of high quality, and there are no strings attached, most of us have come to realize that is very rarely the case.

One of the things that many people look for at no cost is a VPN. I’m sure you have seen offerings for a virtual private network that promise everything a pay service does for free. Call me skeptical, but how can that be the case?

Now before I go any further, I will say there are at least a couple free VPNs that I know are legitimate and open about how they pay for their infrastructure costs: CyberGhost and TunnelBear. There may be a few others too that I haven’t yet discovered. So you can assume anything I say for the remainder of this article does not apply to these.

A free VPN has downsides

That said, in general, using a free VPN is opening your device and your entire network up for a wide variety of problems. Providers may offer you the service at no cost, but in the background, many scary things may be happening. And before people realize what’s going on (if they ever do at all), it is often too late. The following are some of the issues involved with using a free virtual private network.

Potential Issues With a Free VPN

  • Tracking – In most cases, a free VPN is going to keep tabs on all of your online activities, and they may do so for some pretty shady reasons. Some providers can run multiple tracking libraries. This may result in any data that passes through to be stolen, including your passwords, credit card numbers and anything else that you enter while connected (assuming an HTTPS connection is present). Even though these services claim that they are protecting your security and privacy, that is typically far from being the case.
  • Malware – Another severe issue typically associated with a no-cost VPN is malware. In fact, the majority of those providers tend to contain it. And as I’m sure you know, after your device is infected, it can a challenge to clean. Once the malware is installed on your device, all your information is subject to scrutiny from outside sources. Those sources can target you with specific ads and emails. They can also go as far as hijacking your accounts, stealing your money, and locking you out of your device and demanding a ransom.

    Device infection is a free VPN risk

  • Bandwidth – Depending on the service you end up using, it may be possible that your bandwidth is being stolen and used by others. Some companies even operate secondary companies that are used to sell the bandwidth they steal from their users. This business model is how services like Hola operate.
  • Fraud – Perhaps one of the more severe problems associated with a virtual private network offered free of charge is the potential for fraudulent behavior. When you enter your credit card information while connected to the network (again, assuming no HTTPS), you might just find that all of a sudden there are thousands of dollars worth of charges on your card showing up out of nowhere. It is complicated tracking this type of activity, but it has been reported in more than one case.
  • Hijacking – One other way that a free VPN may make their money back, even though they claim to offer their service for free, is by hijacking your browser. When you try to go to one website, you can end up automatically transferred to a different site which is a partner of the VPN. That isn’t even to mention the pop-ups and other sneaky redirects that may occur as you browse the Internet.

The bottom line is, it may seem beneficial to save by using a free VPN, but they are risky (minus the aforementioned CyberGhost, TunnelBear et al.). The best way to protect your online privacy is to get a good, high-quality paid service. Some cost as little per month as a single cup of coffee, and it will be money well spent.

The Art of Picking a Good VPN Provider

Categories VPN

When it comes to VPN providers, there are many out there pick from. That is both good and bad. It’s good since as a consumer, you have a choice. It’s bad because out of all those providers, you somehow have to settle on one. And if you don’t know what you’re looking for exactly, your head can start to spin very quickly.

There are checkboxes every decent VPN provider should hit. Among others, they should have a good selection of protocols, a whole lot of servers to choose from, the right security and privacy features, and offer good bang for the buck. We will talk in greater detail about these important aspects below, and we will help you make the right choice.

Selecting the fastest VPN service


A VPN protocol is a bit like a language that your computer uses to talk to a VPN server. Some of the more common options include OpenVPN, PPTP, L2TP, and IPSec. The primary purpose of these protocols is to provide you with a secure and encrypted connection.

Each protocol has its advantages and disadvantages. These include issues like security, speed, and easy of use. Most VPN providers will provide you with several choices.

We recommend using OpenVPN whenever possible. It is by far the most secure protocol of the bunch and will keep your data safe in situations where other protocols may not. While not native to most operating systems, OpenVPN is widely supported and easy to use.


VPN providers maintain servers in many parts of the world. Some may offer servers in 3 or 4 countries, while for others, that number can be 60.

Before you pick a provider, you should know which countries you would like to connect to. For example, if you’re keen on watching the BBC’s streaming service, then servers in the UK are a must.

The other aspect to consider is server speed. No matter what purpose you’re getting a VPN for, fast performance is a must. As part of your selection process, take a look at several high speed VPN tests to make sure you don’t end up with a service that’s frustratingly slow to use.


Your primary reason for using a VPN service could be privacy. If that is the case, the first thing you should check with each provider is their logging policy.

Using a VPN will hide your online activities from outside onlookers. However, the VPN vendor can always know what you’re up to. They can easily figure out when you connect to which site and what resources you access.

If the VPN service keeps logs, then there exists a history of your activities that can be turned over to third parties. On the other hand, if there are no logs then even if the provider were required by law to turn over your data, there would be nothing for them to give.

VPNs help improve online privacy


Because a VPN uses encryption, it protects your data transmission from eavesdroppers. However, this will not protect you from things like malware.

If you’re confident in your abilities to navigate the web without getting into virus trouble, you have nothing to worry about. However, if you’re even a little unsure, opt for a VPN provider that includes anti-malware scanners and NAT firewalls as part of their service. These features will keep you safe.


There are several free VPN providers, but we recommend you stay away from them. Their features will never be as complete as the pay services, and free providers cannot be trusted to keep your data private.

The good news is that there are pay vendors for any budget. Typically, the more you pay, the better the service will be. But even the cheapest of the bunch will still be a much better choice than a free VPN.

If you find a VPN provider you’re happy with, remember that most offer significant discounts if you commit for a longer period. The price may sometimes drop as much as 50% when you compare paying month to month with prepaying for an entire year.

These tips should make your VPN selection process a little easier. Just remember that if you end up with a provider you are not happy with, you can always cancel and go with someone else. Don’t worry too much about making the absolute perfect selection the first time you try.