Virtual private networks have quickly become one of the most wanted internet supplements worldwide. VPNs can come with a large number of useful tools that satisfy the needs of one’s protection, privacy, anonymity and more.
Millions of people worldwide are currently browsing the internet with a VPN to watch their back, so to speak. Millions more are just waking up to the great benefits that they offer to virtually anyone. They are also becoming increasingly popular in Singapore. However one of the most frequent questions that newcomers tend to ask is – can I get one for free?
This question is quite understandable from many perspectives. VPNs offer you anonymity from your ISP and from potential hackers. They allow you to transfer and receive sensitive data that ought to be for your eyes and ears only.
In other words, a VPN gives the kind of online security that one ought to expect for free. Internet protection ought to be a right, and not a privilege.
Unfortunately, this just isn’t the case. Just as padlocks for your locker cost a little extra money, so do VPNs for your internet connection.
It is true that there are free VPN services, but the reality is they are never as good in any category – except when it comes to the price.
The Pros of a Free VPN
We say “pros” but we really mean “pro” – singular, not plural.
It is true that VPNs can become costly. This mostly depends on how long of a subscription you sign up for, and partly, on which VPN you choose. One single month can cost up to $12.95 and an entire year can be as much as half that per month.
There is also the growing issue of online payments leaving behind something of a paper trail. Paying with a credit card, Paypal account or almost any other form of payment can be traced back to you. So much for remaining completely anonymous.
The only known way to completely circumvent this is to pay in cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. We do understand that this can be a major inconvenience as not every VPN accepts Bitcoin and not every person has Bitcoin themselves.
If you used a free VPN, you would be relatively safe but only in the beginning. Things get a lot dicier once you actually start to browse the internet.
There is no such thing as a free lunch. And if the product is free, you become the product. Operators of free VPNs have to fund their operations as well. And they will do that by injecting advertising or selling your personal information and browsing habits.
The Pros of a Paid VPN
The fact of the matter is, just about any paid VPN will be much better than any free one. The reason why the best VPNs cost money is so that they can fund their operations and keep their servers running.
Virtual private networks are relatively easy to use from the consumer’s point of view but are actually quite intensive to manage from the corporation’s perspective. To put it another way, you get what you pay for, even if you pay for nothing.
Online safety and privacy are arguably the main reasons why most people start using VPNs in the first place. People don’t just want decent protection that may or may not work on a given day. They want something that is as reliable as possible.
One of the biggest ways paid VPNs show how dependable they are is in the amount of security protocols they offer. Most free VPNs only offer PPTP (Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol). Technicalities aside, PPTP is no longer considered state of the art and is relatively easy to crack through. If one were trying to mask their online activity from their ISP or their government then PPTP simply won’t cut it.
Paid VPNs offer a wide variety of protocols to choose from. L2TP and SSTP are common ones that offer far greater connection security and are much harder to crack. In other words, they do a great job of keeping your identity secret.
Encryption is also very important. Most free VPNs use AES-128 bit, which like PPTP, is considered outdated. If you want to have AES-256, the current standard of encryption ciphers, then you will have no choice but to choose a paid VPN.
Paid VPNs are also more likely to give you extra features that only make your online experience even safer.
An internet kill switch is a tool that will instantly shut down your internet connection in the off chance that your VPN loses connection. If this ever happened then your real IP address would become vulnerable. With a paid VPN this is not much of an issue as the kill switch feature acts as a last resort plan to account for this unlikely event.
Free VPNs might be okay for simple tasks like trying to stream videos from different countries. As long as one doesn’t tread over any copyright infringement lines then your ISP shouldn’t care too much about that even if they are monitoring you. The problem is that even for simple activities like this, a free VPN still might not cut it.
What a lot of people still don’t know about free VPNs is that they are much slower than paid ones. Maximum download and upload speeds are seriously hindered by the inferior connections they provide.
One of the reasons why speed is so sluggish is due to the very nature of how they keep your privacy. Take a famous example like Tor, perhaps the most popular free VPN there is. Tor keeps your true IP address masked by constantly moving or rerouting your location every single time you access a new website. This takes a lot of work from the software and puts a heavy dent in how fast data can load or be downloaded.
With a paid VPN like
This means that even streaming videos from Netflix or Hulu can be irritating on a free VPN. You’re far more likely to encounter buffering when your max download speed has been reduced. This is doubly true if you plan on watching content in high definition. Torrenting is almost completely out of the question since Tor only works as a web browser out of the box and doesn’t affect external applications.
The best VPNs will offer data speeds that will be more than enough for whatever your ISP bandwidth is. A free VPN has never been able to provide rates of 50-100mbps. Even basic internet browsing like text articles or Youtube have been known to be noticeably slower on a free VPN. If you want the benefits of a VPN and keep the convenience of swift browsing you’ve already grown accustomed to than a paid service is really the only way to go.
3. Diversity of Servers
This is one aspect of paid VPNs that is actually overlooked by people when they start out learning about virtual private networks. One of the many great features that paid VPNs offer is the wide range of locations you can access from the simple push of a few buttons.
VPNs aren’t always just about privacy and security. For many people these aren’t their primary concerns. What they do care about is accessing as much worldwide content as possible and this is best done with having as many servers in as many countries as possible at their disposal.
Many of the most popular VPN services on the internet will tell you exactly how many countries they are located in. It could be 50 or it could be 100. The total amount of servers could be anywhere in the thousands. What this means for you is nothing but good news.
Access region-locked content
Let’s say you wanted to access content or programs that are only available in certain countries. It could be the American library of Netflix or Hulu or it could be the United Kingdom’s
Unfortunately, companies like Netflix have been cracking down on VPN shenanigans. Some locations have been successful in blocking the bypassing techniques that VPNs offer. This is why having as many servers in any given country as possible is a good thing and it’s a feature that paid VPNs can offer only. For example, if the Boston server doesn’t give you Netflix access you can easily just try a different city like New York or Houston.
Virtual private networks, both free and paid, are a great way to maximize your internet privacy and get the most out of your internet experience.
As much as one can be indebted to free services offering us some utility and security, the fact remains that paid services are far more reliable. They are more likely to have useful tools like the kill switch. They have superior customer support chat rooms, and they have the ability to offer great download and upload speeds to match your bandwidth needs.
By all means, go out and try a free service temporarily if money is an issue right now. But if you are planning on using a VPN for all of your internet needs, whether that’s browsing or streaming or torrenting, a paid service is truly the only way to go.