According to Go-Globe’s infographic on The State of VPN Usage, 25% of users have recently used a virtual private network. This is no surprise that the VPN industry is predicted to be worth $27.10 billion this year. In 2022, it is expected to gain $35.73 billion worth of revenues. Indeed, VPN is a lucrative business! However, is using a free VPN safe?
In the previous post regarding Free VPN Isn’t the best VPN, I already shared a few reason why a free VPN is not exactly the ideal option for you. Now, I will enumerate more reasons for you to not immediately jump on the free VPN bandwagon.
3. What? More Ads?!
You used a VPN to be secure, but you end up in a more deadly territory because of the pop-ups that suddenly appear. It’s very counterproductive to use a VPN that exposes to more annoying ads that you are avoiding in the first place. Moreover, these free VPNs are sneaking in trackers, which can still snoop and follow all the digital footprints that you leave behind.
A notable example for this is AnchorFree Inc’s Hotspot Shield VPN. In 2017, there was an FTC complaint regarding privacy violations by providing ads. It was found out that Anchorfree Inc sold personal data to third-party firms. In number 14 of the complaint, Hotspot Shield uses this information to “identify [a user’s] general location.” Not only that, Hotspot Shield also collected “unique device identifiers, and other application information” on a regular basis.
AnchorFree stated that, “the free version… is funded by ads.” Since then, Anchorfree has been posting annual reports, which are accessible to the public.
4. Constant buffering would mean more waiting.
Why would people get a VPN? Because they want to access streaming sites even when they are away from home. Usually, some countries ban sites and these include streaming services such as Netflix, Disney+, HBO Go, Vudu, and more. In some cases, websites block your access if they found out you are in another location. So, how are you supposed to watch the video on a premium subscription site when your connection is slow to be begin with?
A free VPN would mean a very slow connection. Don’t expect to be able to flawlessly stream your favorite shows overseas. Often times, free VPNs only have a few servers available, meaning you spend more time waiting and bouncing between different over-crowded servers because paid users get more priority than you.
Also, subscription websites are doing their best in identifying users who are trying to sneak in their sites. They won’t hesitate to block IP addresses leeching of their premium services. Free VPNs won’t be able to provide you with a new IP addresses every time you go online. So, it would be pretty hard to log in a streaming site if your VPN is merely a free version because you’re stuck with an old and worn IP address.
In looking for the right VPN for you, please do read the post regarding the 4 Factors to Consider when Choosing a VPN. Don’t immediately choose it because a VPN is free. Remember, ransomware attacks are continuing to increase each year. In 2019 alone, Kaspersky Lab noticed a 60% growth in vicious attacks, which are targeting passwords and other personal credentials.