I know what you’re thinking from the title: “Of course it’s worth it! It’s free!”. But the answer to this question isn’t as black-and-white as you may think. Free VPNs have a bad reputation among cybersecurity experts and tech-savvy Internet users alike, and there are many reasons for it. From free VPNs simply not working properly to more controversial news surrounding them.
So sit down, get a drink, and allow me to tell you why free VPNs are not only not worth it, but in fact, should be avoided entirely.
Free VPNs Rarely Work
Before we dig deep into the controversial news that surrounds free VPNs, let’s go ahead and set the precedent that free VPNs don’t work. That means they rarely deliver what they set out to do: unblock websites, hide your IP address and encrypt your traffic.
Free VPN providers do everything in their power to trick the user into thinking that their service is doing something, such as showing them a notification that they’re connected, using a bunch of bells and whistles to make the app look official, and various other tricks. These marketing strategies work, and they work well, which is why many free VPNs have stuck around despite their controversial nature.
Now that we’ve exposed that little free VPN secret, why don’t we go into detail about the controversies surrounding free VPNs and why you’re better off waiting for a decent VPN deal if you’re looking to save money.
The Controversies Surrounding Free VPNs
Let’s start with everyone’s favorite company, Facebook.
Sarcasm, if you couldn’t tell.
Once upon a time, Facebook released a VPN called Onavo. Onavo was touted as a free VPN available to all Facebook users. It would be easy to set up, be user-friendly, and overall be a good choice that could rival paid VPNs.
See, the whole Onavo thing didn’t really work out. As it turns out, Facebook was using Onavo to snoop on the users who used it, gathering data from via the VPN software. The data it collected? App usage, network information, device information, and various other pieces of information.
Now, you may hear this and think that Onavo is only one of the hundreds of free VPNs. I wouldn’t blame you for this line of thinking; after all, I would love to use a free VPN that worked. Unfortunately, most free VPNs offer nothing but problems and security issues, as we’re about to see.
Let’s take a look at top10vpn.com, who ran their own investigation on free VPN apps. According to the site, 90% of free VPN apps on the Google Play Store and App Store contained privacy flaws, and nearly 60% of these apps were secretly Chinese-owned.
When it comes to Apple’s App Store, “80% of the top free VPNs in the App Store are also in breach of Apple’s data sharing ban.” I don’t need to tell you that 80% is a big number, and it seems the number is going tog row larger, as many people don’t know the ill effects of using a free VPN.
Free VPNs incorporate various techniques to extract your personal information. Some free VPNs use trackers in order to gather geographical data and your day-to-day routine. Others, like Onavo, center their efforts on extracting personal information from your device and network, in hopes of learning what your interests are in order to sell you items and personalize ads towards you.
My point is, don’t use free VPNs (if that wasn’t clear enough). Yeah, paying monthly for a VPN may not seem ideal, but it’s a much better option than letting a third-party track every step you take online, and for what? These free VPNs rarely even work, so you’re using a broken product while having your information stolen. It’s a lose-lose situation.
If you’re worried about price, shop around for a good VPN deal, as those are common, especially during Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. Otherwise, you might be better off without a VPN than using a free one.