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BlogThe Dark Side of Free VPNs: Risks and Limitations

The Dark Side of Free VPNs: Risks and Limitations

In recent years, there has been a surge of free VPNs, you’ve likely come across advertisements for those. The downside is that in most free VPNs, you pay the price with the risks and limitations that come with the service. Let’s take a look at those limitations and see what we’re up against.

What is a VPN?

Before we dive into the limitations of free VPNs, we need to answer a critical question: what is a VPN? To explain briefly, VPN stands for Virtual Private Network, and it is a technology that enables a secure connection between two networks or devices over the internet. How it works is that it establishes an encrypted tunnel between your device and a remote server to provide you with security and privacy.

Risks of Free VPNs

If you’re considering using a free VPN, it’s best to take a look at the risks associated with them.

Data leakage

Whenever you use a VPN, you trust that provider with your personal and sensitive data and online activities. That is why it’s important to use a provider that has robust security precautions and most free VPNs don’t have that. This can lead to data leakages that put your sensitive data at risk.

Malware and viruses

Some free VPNs might include malware and viruses that can infect your device and put your data at risk of being compromised. Moreover, the malware installed on your device with untrustworthy free VPNs can even use your device as part of a botnet to launch cyber attacks on other targets.

Selling user data to third parties

There is a concerning reason why some VPN services are free – they sell your data to third parties to make money. Given that you use a VPN for security and privacy, this practice defeats the purpose of VPNs. You also do not know which third parties have your data and how they’ll use it, which is a risk that can cause problems in the long run.

Lack of security and encryption protocols

Free VPNs generally do not have the incentives or resources to employ robust security features. This results in a lack of security and encryption protocol. Even the ones that have these protocols can use outdated ones since the service is free, which can put your sensitive data at risk.

Limitations of Free VPNs

In addition to risks, free VPNs also come with a set of limitations.

Speed

Free VPNs usually provide a bandwidth limit to users, which results in increased latency and low speed. The reason behind the low speed is that lots of people use free VPNs at the same time, creating an overload on the servers. The issue of outdated encryption protocols mentioned previously is also a reason behind the low speed, as more resources are required to encrypt and decrypt data.

Functionality

It is only natural that free VPNs often have limited functionality when compared with their paid alternatives. These limitations on functionality can include a limited number of server locations, restricted bandwidth, and slower connection speeds. The limited functionality also affects security, as they mostly include weaker encryption protocols and no kill switch as well. These limited functionalities are generally caused because the service is free, and the company wants to encourage people to buy premium subscriptions.

Limited simultaneous connections

Many free VPNs limit the number of devices you can use the VPN service on at the same time. For example, if you want to use the VPN on your laptop and phone at the same time, you’ll need to disconnect from one of the devices. This means that if you’d like to use VPN on multiple devices, you’ll need to upgrade to a paid subscription.

How to Choose a Reliable and Secure VPN Service

If you do not want to deal with the risks and limitations of VPN services, you might want to take a look at the paid ones and choose a service that is both reliable and secure.

Research

Since you’ll be relying on the chosen VPN service with your sensitive data, it is important to do thorough research on the VPN service and its functionalities. Below are the factors you need to consider when choosing a VPN provider.

  • Security: The VPN provider you choose should have robust security protocols and a no-logging policy with your data. This helps you make sure that they won’t be selling your data to third parties.
  • Speed and performance: For high speed and performance, the VPN provider needs to have fast and reliable servers. This is something you’d want to pay attention to especially if you’ll be downloading large files, streaming, or playing games when using VPN.
  • User-friendliness: A VPN service with a simple and intuitive interface will always make things easier for you, especially if you are a beginner.
  • Customer support: It is important to choose a VPN service that offers reliable and responsive customer support, including email, live chat, or phone support in case things ever go south and you need help with an issue.
  • Price: Just because you’ve decided to use a paid VPN service does not mean that you need to pay a hefty price for it. You can compare the prices and features of different VPN providers to find the best value for your money.

Another thing you can pay attention to while choosing a VPN provider is choosing a provider that is reputable and has been in the business for several years. You can also check out user reviews to see what people think about the VPN service you are considering. You should read both positive and negative reviews to get a good idea of people’s perceptions of the provider.

Final Words

Free VPNs may look like a good option, but they usually have limitations and security risks that jeopardize your online privacy and security. They often perform slowly and less effectively than paid services, and the absence of security features and encryption protocols can leave your data open to hacking and breaches.

Although purchasing paid VPN services may be costly, they are ultimately well worth it due to the increased security and privacy benefits. You should compare different VPN providers, read user reviews, and select a VPN that fits your demands and budget to choose a reputable service.

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