Almost daily we receive questions here in the IP Address Guide and on our YouTube channel if we can recommend a free VPN (instead of the VPNs we recommend). So, in order to answer that question, we decided to write this article. Because maybe you like the sound of a free VPN. But, then it is important to know that nothing is free… Facebook isn’t free, Gmail isn’t free, and neither is searching the web. And even though the price tag of a VPN might be $0, the actual price might be very different.
Most people would agree with the fact that Facebook is free. You can register for free, you can send messages for free, you can publish photos for free, and you can arrange a video conference for free. You can even create groups, fan pages, and arrange all sorts of events and activities on Facebook. And in the midst of this, you do not have to pay a dime. So, why do we claim that Facebook isn’t free?
When you first created your Facebook account, did you notice that you got some very accurate friend suggestions at once after you signed in for the first time? How is that possible?
Facebook knew a lot about you, even before you registered. Did you register your phone number during the process? Facebook has stored caller information from other people’s phones (and yours if you have installed the Facebook app on your device and given it access to your caller records). So, when Facebook will see that your phone number is registered, it will at once check through the call history of other members, and when it discovers that the person has called your number, it will be natural to recommend them as friends to you. After all, you most likely know each other if you have spoken to one another on phone earlier.
Facebook is still free, but they know a lot about you, don’t you think? They also know when you were born and where you live. And do you know who loves such information? Companies and businesses! Because Facebook own so much data, they can use Facebook as a perfect tool to advertise directly to those in their priority group. Do you know why Facebook has become such a success and a rich company? Because they own this data that we have all given them for free. And now they can sell this data and information for millions of dollars every single day.
Skip Facebook – what’s up with those free VPN services?
In order to explain what’s up with all those free VPN services, we had to explain a principle. That principle is nothing less than the fact that nothing comes for free. Operating a VPN costs a lot of money, and the more servers available, the more expensive. Would you run such a business without any income? If your name is Bill Gates, then maybe… or? If your name is Bill Gates, then you are smarter than to give away something for free that costs you a lot of money (even if you can afford it).
Considering the fact that nothing comes for free, there are a few things we can know for sure about all VPN services, including the free VPN services.
- They are making money in some kind of way.
So, how are they creating a profit from their so-called free service?
How are the free VPN services covering their costs?
There are different ways to cover your costs if you run a free VPN service. Here are the most popular versions.
The free version of your VPN is VERY limited
Many free VPN services allow you to register for free, but, you are only allowed to use 100-500 MB for free. After that, you will need to upgrade to a different plan (which is no longer free). Besides limitations to your bandwidth usage, they often limit the number of servers available to you, meaning that you can only connect to a couple of servers and not all the servers available with the free VPN.
It might be useful to know that 500 MB of bandwidth is enough to watch 30 minutes of video on YouTube or Netflix, and that is it. The number is normally the total number of upload and download, meaning that if you upload a file of 250 MB, you only have 250 MB left (if the limit is 500).
You get some “gifts” included with the VPN application
A way to finance a free VPN is by allowing some third-party apps to be installed to your device together with the VPN application. Many companies will pay a lot to have their apps installed on your device, and that is why they pay big money to the “free-VPN” companies to include their apps in the installation package of the VPN.
What we have just described is the “nice” version. But, many install programs on your device without your knowledge. This can be spyware, malware, and other programs that will spy on your activities, steal your data, and make your device more vulnerable to attacks… the total opposite of what a VPN should do. It isn’t a coincidence that Google has recently removed lots of free VPN and proxy server apps from the Chrome Web Store… exactly because they are dangerous to people installing them.
In the end, the free VPN is making big money by selling your data, stealing your data, and making your device vulnerable to hacking attacks.
A free VPN is just the a pay-VPN in disguise
Have you ever read about a bargain in a store, only to end up in the store without the product available. Since you are there, you still decide to buy something else, something better and more expensive, since you first visited the place. That is also the strategy of many free VPN services. They need the money, so their goal is to bring you to their place, and when you have been invited in, they will tell you that there really isn’t any free version, so find your wallet and pay!
The free VPN services will give you terrible speeds on few devices
While most VPN services today will let you use one subscription on 5-10 devices, most free options will only let you use your account on one single device. But, since the free users only can connect to a few servers, the load on these servers are very heavy, resulting in slower speeds and lack of stability. This is often informed about even before you start and create a free user, but it is worth being prepared for this. The companies know that you will be fed up with slow servers, which hopefully, will lead to you purchasing a premium subscription instead.
If I still have to recommend some free VPN services, which would it be?
First of all, if you still want to use a free VPN, do not just search in the Chrome Web Store for free proxy or free VPN. Instead, listen to the advice given right here and use a VPN that is known to be good, is owned by a real company, and that will keep their promises and take care of your privacy and confidential information. There are a few honest attempts at creating good free VPN services (where you of course will like it so much that you will pay in the end), but until you reach that level, you should still be able to have a good time using the free option.
ProtonVPN is described as one of the best free VPN services among lots of bloggers and tech-sites online. After creating your user for free, you are even offered a seven-day free trial of the premium version, but you can easily say no and go on with the free version.
The free version of ProtonVPN includes the following:
- 1 VPN connection
- Servers in 3 countries
- Medium speed
- No logs/No ads
What you miss out on with the free version:
- Filesharing/bitorrent support
- Secure Core and Tor VPN
- Advanced privacy features
- Access blocked content
To be honest, you might miss out on the ability to unblock Netflix and other streaming services, but if all you want is to secure your connection online, the free version will actually do you quite well. Hopefully, your speeds will not be slowed down too much. In other words, ProtonVPN is definitely worth a try if you really want to use a free VPN. If you first decide to buy a ProtonVPN subscription, it is very nice to know that it is brilliant for unblocking Netflix in many countries.
Click the button above if you want to visit the ProtonVPN website today!
TunnelBear is an example of yet another free VPN with a fairly good reputation online. They will give you access to their full product in the free version, but with some limitations.
The screenshot above shows me using the free version of TunnelBear. The most important thing here, is the text which tells me that I have 499 MB remaining this month. In other words, you can use 500 MB of TunnelBear for free in the free version. If you want to use more than that, you will have to upgrade to a paid for version.
Now, if you really just need a VPN to change your IP address for a second or a minute, then this is perfect. But, if you plan on doing anything else, you will quickly meet the wall, that is, you will reach 500 MB of bandwidth usage. You should be able to watch approximately 1 hour of Netflix in a good resolution with this bandwidth, but this might vary quite a lot.
If you decide to upgrade, you will be able to use one subscription on 5 devices at the same time, and you will also get your support questions answered way faster.
What you get with the free version of TunnelBear
- 500 MB of bandwidth
- Access to all servers
- Great download speeds
- A nice bear to keep you company
- The account can be used on one device
What you don’t get with the free version of TunnelBear
- Simultaneous use of one account on five devices
- Priority customer service.
TunnelBear is great if you just want to surf securely. But, if you want to use TunnelBear to unblock streaming sites and to keep you safe and encrpted for hours, you will quickly be in need of a premium subscription of some sort.
Click the button above to visit the TunnelBear website today!