VPN is the best digital tool for helping to surf internet privately when using a public Wi-Fi or connecting to a public hotspot. However, not all VPNs are built equally well and not all of them will actually protect your data.
There are many free VPN providers out there. However if you haven’t properly familiarized yourself with their terms and conditions then you may be putting your privacy at more risk then by browsing the internet without a VPN connection.
What is a VPN service?
VPN users have a special software that creates an encrypted connection between their device and a server operated by their VPN provider. The network activity passes through a protected tunnel. It makes your personal data and information online safe. Furthermore, it also hides your original IP address and glean of your current location from the internet advertisers and online snoops. If anyone tries to access your online activities and information, then they will see an IP address that is provided to you by your VPN provider. Which is from another location where you are connected to.
You can imagine it this way: When you leave your house, anyone can stalk you by following your car. Therefore, the follower will know where you are going and how long you were there. Using a VPN software is like driving into a closed area, switching your car to a different one and driving out. Now the follower has lost you and have no idea where you have gone as your original car hasn’t left the closed space.
VPN to Unblock Sites
VPN is one of the best tools to unblock sites and bypass censorship. As previously mentioned, VPN lets you to hide your original IP address, connect to a server in another country and it changes your IP address to the location you are connected to.
Many countries have a very strong online censorship. Due to, they block several services that are available all around the world. For example, China has one of the countries known for its restrictions online. Popular sites like Facebook, Google, Twitter and many others are not available for Chinese netizens. The only way around is to get another IP address from a place where these services are available. In China, a great option is to get an American IP address. Hence, it allows you to access most of the blocked US services. A VPN is a perfect tool, cause not only it lets you to unblock sites, but also keep your online identity anonymous.
Another thing that the internet users experience a lot is a Geo-blocking. This means that some of the online content and services are only available in certain regions. For example, if you wish to get access to BBC iPlayer when travelling abroad, you will need a VPN service. Because BBC iPlayer isn’t available outside of the UK. By getting a British IP address, it will let you to unblock and watch BBC iPlayer from anywhere in the world.
How private is your data?
By choosing a wrong VPN your data may not be as secure and private anymore as you thought it would be. Not all the VPNs are very safe to use, especially if you sign up with a free one.
Why free VPNs aren’t good?
The best VPNs allow you to surf internet privately and it protects your online data from retention. Furthermore, it also allows you to access geo-restricted content when working remotely. To do so, VPN providers have to make sure they have a right software and they have servers in many locations around the world. To provide all of this, it can cost a lot of money. So, how do free VPN service providers can afford providing their service and all of these features to the users? Typically, free VPN providers track your data while you’re browsing the internet, they keep the information and sell it to third parties anonymously or not. Most of the free VPN providers promise to save you from online hackers, but they are the hackers themselves.
The main way to avoid this is to read VPN company’s logging policy and terms & conditions. Some of the few things that free VPN service may track is:
- Your IP address and it’s time stamps
- What is the duration of the service
- Your activity online (what websites you are visiting and services you are using)
That is the main reason why you choose to subscribe to a VPN service to protect this information, so signing up with a free VPN can do more harm than good.
Other disadvantages using a free VPN
If you are lucky and sign up to a VPN that actually protect your data, then you have definitely struck a good deal. However, there are other downsides of using a free VPN. It includes the user experience. When browsing the internet you may start experiencing following:
- Increased number of ads on the web browser
- Reduced bandwidth speeds
- Mostly hidden data
- Outdated encryption of the data
This may not sound too bad in a trade off for a free VPN that secures your data. But here are a few questions that you should ask before signing up:
- What if you accidentally click on some of the ads but it redirects you to a website that automatically installs malicious software on your computer?
- Will reduced bandwidth allow me to finish my tasks in the time I am supposed to?
- How quickly am I going to run out of my data cap until I need better and more secure data to keep my private and safe?
- Is the encryption strong enough to keep me safe from hackers and third party from stealing my private information?
These are some of the most important things you have to consider when choosing a VPN. If this VPN service can do a good job or will put me in more danger than I would be without a VPN or using one that is cheaper but offer more stability.
Don’t choose just any other VPN provider
Even if you are finally convinced that a paid VPN service will do a better job, it’s still important to do your homework and learn which are the best ones and that would make sure your personal information is in safe hands. The most important is safety.
Some of the paid VPN services also track your online activities (even if it’s only an IP address). Some of the users trying to avoid the law in their country decide to sign up with a VPN, but if they have signed up with a provider that keep logs, then law enforcement agencies may go after VPN companies to obtain the saved data. The best VPN services usually fight for your privacy. Therefore, they have a strong logging policy. Also, they do not retain data for your internet activities, keeping your online identity safe and anonymous.
Which are the best free VPN
When it comes to choosing a VPN it’s important to look at few main factors of the service and features that it provides.
Here’s a list of things you should be looking at:
What is the reputation of the VPN provider – VPNs with years of experience in security and support is a much better choice over a completely new VPN provider. VPN service providers with a good reputation will have a strong customer support, your network encryption will be as secure as possible, it has major financial resources, which means that it won’t stop the service right after your subscription.
Which countries VPN servers are based in – if you are looking for a VPN server to bypass internet restrictions, and unblock sites and services online, then you’ll most likely want to have a VPN service with many server locations. In this way, you it will need to be able to access most of the sites and content available online, plus it will provide you with a faster speed than VPN providers with limited server locations.
How many anonymous IP address VPN offers – similarly like the previous point, it is important that your VPN provider have several IP addresses per location, the more IP addresses it has the faster VPN service it can provide.
How good is the encrypted connection that is provided by the VPN software – this is very important if you are looking for a VPN to protect your identity when surfing the internet. The stronger encryption, the more secure you are.
Does a VPN offer strong logging policy – this is under the company privacy law, if a VPN provider keeps logs it means that certain information about your online activities is stored by the service provider. If you are getting a VPN to protect your internet identity, then signing up for a VPN that doesn’t track and keep logs is the best idea.
How good is the VPN speed – this is especially important for anyone who’s got a VPN service to unblock sites and stream live sports or watch other videos online.
How many devices can be used simultaneously – if you own a few devices, then it is important that with one VPN subscription, you can take care of all the devices including your computer, tablets and smartphones. All the best VPN providers let you to connect 3 to 5 devices simultaneously.
Is it compatible with Windows, Linux OS and Mac iOS – not every VPN provider supports all operating systems, some of the free VPN providers have software only for Windows, but doesn’t support Mac OS, therefore it is important to do a proper research about the VPN service you sign up with, so you don’t encounter an unexpected disappointment.
Does VPN have a free mobile app for Android and iPhone, iPad and iPod – many free VPN providers offer their software only for computers, but they don’t have anything for smartphones and tablets. But if you own at least one of these devices, then it is important that you protect all of it from a potential harm when surfing using a public Wi-Fi network.
Does a VPN allow P2P file sharing – many people use VPN to download files through torrents, but what if your VPN provider doesn’t support torrenting and p2p file sharing? The consequences can be exactly as using without having a VPN subscription.
If unlimited server switches are allowed – this is important if you use a VPN to access Geo-restricted sites. You may want to regularly switch your location, but if your VPN provider restricts server switches, then your experience won’t be as enjoyable but rather limited.
What is the best use of the VPN – is it for secure internet browsing, remove access, unblocking Geo-restricted websites and content, is it good for steaming and torrenting?
How easy is to use the software and mobile apps – most of the best VPN providers offer a very easy to install and use VPN software for both computers and smartphones. Some of the free and not as recognized VPN providers have a very complicated software and it takes a lot of technical knowledge to use it.
What is the customer and technical support, is it 24/7 live chat or just via email – very important if you need an assistance, most of the best VPN providers provide an excellent customer support.
What are the payment options, if it’s allowed to use Bitcoin – one of the best way to keep your online identity secure even from your VPN provider is to use a Bitcoin for the purchase of the VPN. If Bitcoin is offered, it is a sign that it is a legit service provider that cares about your online privacy.
How many days is a free trial or money back guarantee – this is important if you first intent to try out the service. Most of the best VPN providers have 15 to 30 day money back guarantee policy.
When choosing a right VPN is important to consider main reasons for its purchase. If you are looking for full security, then free VPNs may not be the best options. Free VPNs may me selling your personal data to advertisers which will put you in more danger than browsing the internet without a VPN connection. To make sure you get a full security of your internet identity, choose one of the best VPN services that will make sure your data is always secure.