Every time I subscribe to an online service with a monthly payment, I get a little more anxious. $10 may not seem like much, but what about the service I subscribed to a month ago for $6? What about the service I barely remember subscribing to half a year ago for $15? It all starts to feel like it is adding up and one day I’ll be paying through the roof for a ton of low-cost subscriptions!
This is why subscribing to a VPN is such a difficult decision, even though it only costs $10 a month at most. It’s just another thing to pay that you’re going to forget about. It will continue coming off your credit card indefinitely, along with your payments for extra cloud data, domain names, streaming services, and so on.
The good news is that you can get a free VPN. There are, however, drawbacks in using free VPNs. Some free VPN services are practically useless. You need to know how to identify which free VPNs will do what you need them to do.
Here is what you need to look out for.
Finding a Free VPN: What to Look Out For
An ad-free experience
When it comes to VPNs, ads are more than a minor annoyance. Targeted advertising renders a VPN useless. The entire point of a VPN is to encrypt your data and hide who you are. If they are making money through targeted advertising, this is a sure sign that your data isn’t being kept all that anonymous.
Targeted advertising only works if the advertisers have an idea of who you are and what you do online. Don’t trust free VPNs that use targeted advertising, no matter how good they otherwise seem.
Enough speed and bandwidth
Remember the days when a few gigabytes could get you through the month? Or when your speed was capped at something like 2MBPS? Of course you do, because they’re not so long gone. However, they’re far enough in the distance as to be relics of the past.
Now, even if you’re not streaming content, you need faster internet and lots of data available. If you are streaming content, especially video content, you need exponentially more.
Many free VPNs only provide a small amount of bandwidth a month. Some are as low as 500MB. Others provide 10GB. Even 10GB is not enough, and ultimately you’re going to end up using the internet without the security of a VPN.
The same is true of speed. If a VPN caps your speed and asks you to pay more for higher speeds, you’re going to end up giving up on it. Because websites and online services are so much more bandwidth heavy these days, you need the extra speed. Again, if you’re streaming, it is a non-negotiable.
Look for a free VPN that doesn’t cap you on bandwidth or speed, so that it is actually useful.
Free trials help
The best option is to try a free trial until you are convinced of the need to pay for it. In many cases, you can pay for the first month or so, with a money back guarantee, no questions asked. If you switch from one service to another, you can get a good few months out of them, until you’re ready to choose which service to stick to.