With rising cases of government surveillance and data breaches across the globe, more Internet users are now turning to VPNs. They consider it the most reliable solution to their online privacy and security concerns.
The VPN market is also growing at a fast rate to meet the demand. Presently, there are thousands of free VPN services promising to keep your online activities secure and private at no cost.
But are the free VPNs trustworthy? Are they really worth downloading and do they live up to their promise?
In this post, I’ll tell you why you can’t trust a free VPN for streaming and downloading content over the Internet. This is of course if you value your online privacy and security.
How Free is a Free VPN?
Just like the name suggests, a free VPN is a virtual private network that promises to give you some level of online privacy, security, and anonymous browsing free of charge. To most people, getting a full VPN without paying a cent sounds like a great idea. But the freebie comes with some dangers that you may not be aware of.
The idea of offering a free VPN is either used to entice you to sign up for a paid version or to make money out of you. They do this by selling your bandwidth and running ads on your device. Or even in some cases selling your data to third parties.
A completely free VPN is actually too good to be true. Keep in mind that it’s quite expensive to establish, run, and maintain the entire VPN infrastructure and related services.
VPN companies need expensive software, servers, and a great deal of investment to keep everything running smoothly. Not to mention salaries and other overhead costs. They also need to keep their software and servers updated with the fast-changing world of Internet privacy.
These companies wouldn’t last long in the market if they offered people free services without getting anything back in return for their services. They have to find ways to make money from the so-called free VPN services.
The free VPN providers are in business and therefore must find a way to cover the costs of running the VPN and turn a profit. They generate their revenue from the free VPN users using hidden tools, software, and unethical tricks.
At the end of the day, the free VPN isn’t really free as you probably thought. These services are known to use malicious third parties. This way, they collect and snoop your personal data as you browse the Internet or use their free VPN for streaming and content downloading purposes. What you may not be aware of is that the free VPN service could even be using your connection to conduct illegal services online.
You may think that using a free VPN for streaming content on your TV or computer makes you safe. But the truth is that it makes your Internet experience less secure.
Let’s look at a few reasons why you cannot trust a free VPN for streaming and downloading content on the web.
Attention: Read before you continue
Governments and ISPs across the world monitor their users online activities. If found streaming or browsing content on your Fire TV Stick, mobile or PC, you could get into serious trouble. Currently, your IP is visible to everyone. We strongly recommend you to get a good VPN and hide your identity so that your online experience doesn’t take a bad turn.
We use IPVanish which is the fastest and most secure VPN in the industry. It is very easy to install on any device including Amazon Fire TV Stick. Also, it comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee. If you don’t like their service, you can always ask for a refund. IPVanish also runs a limited time offer where you can save 73% on your VPN and they allow you to use one account on unlimited devices. This is a flash sale that can expire at any time.
1. Free VPNs Come with Limited Data
One of the most common and annoying features of free VPNs is their paltry data allowance. Don’t expect to get unlimited data allowance in a free VPN as is the case with paid VPNs.
Most free VPNs won’t give you enough data to stream content on your device. For instance, some of the most popular VPNs with free versions, such as TunnelBear, only provide you a low monthly data of just 500Mb.
If you compared this extremely limited data with an average household’s broadband demand of around 174GB per month, you’ll see how TunnelBear’s monthly allowance of 500Mb cannot even cover a single day. With such low data limits, the free VPN is of little or no use for your streaming and downloading needs.
2. Slow Speeds
One of the most critical features of a VPN is the amount of bandwidth it gives its users. Bandwidth isn’t only important in downloading and uploading content but is also important for your streaming needs. If you want to stream content from Netflix and other companies, you should have at least 5Mbps of bandwidth. This is for streaming in standard resolution or up to 25Mbps for 4K streams.
The speed you get from a VPN depends on the quality of the network, the number of servers they own, and how close the server you’re using is to you. Free VPN services don’t have the funds and resources required to maintain such a network of servers.
Some of them are even candid enough to state upfront that you may not get the best speeds for streaming content online when using their free VPN for streaming. Expect to get extremely limited and more sluggish bandwidth when you sign up for a free VPN for streaming or downloading online content.
3. Get Ready to be Bombarded with Endless Ads
One thing you should expect when you sign up for a free VPN is an endless stream of ads. This is because users of free VPN don’t pay monthly subscription fees. Yet the VPN company needs to make money to finance its operations.
They’ll, therefore, find another way to make money from their free VPN users by showing ads from advertising networks.
Some providers of free VPN such as Betternet claim on their website that they don’t have ads. But you’ll see ads pop up every time you connect to the VPN. Others such as HotShield have apps riddled with ads. These ads aren’t only annoying but can either slow down your Internet connection. They could even come with malware.
Advertisers like to target customers with specific ads by installing cookies on your device. This form of retargeting raises privacy concerns which is the reason you chose to use the VPN in the first place. If your free VPN is showing you ads then they are probably sharing your details and online activities with third parties.
4. The Free VPN Could Be Selling Your Bandwidth
Besides showing you ads, some free VPN providers also make money off their customers. They allow paying customers to use your device’s processing power.
A good example of a company with such practices is Hola VPN. This one states on their website that they generate revenue by selling a paid version of their VPN through their Luminati brand so that they can continue offering the free service.
The company further states that users who want to enjoy the Hola network “without contributing their idle resources” can join the premium service. This is for a monthly subscription of $5 or $45 annually.
5. Limit to the Number of Devices You Can Connect to the Free VPN
Another common feature of free VPNs is a limit to the number of devices that you can connect to the VPN.
Some providers have a restriction of as few as three or even one device. It makes no sense to protect one device in your network and leave the rest exposed or unprotected.
6. Inability to Unblock Netflix
At present, there’s no free VPN service that can unblock Netflix. As the most popular streaming service for blockbuster movies and TV shows today, Netflix has one of the toughest geo-blocks in the whole world.
In fact, most of the premium VPN services have a hard time breaking through Netflix geo-blocks. They are flagged as soon as you try to connect using a VPN.
Only a few VPNs succeed in unblocking Netflix. If you use a free VPN to access another country’s Netflix content don’t expect to get anywhere beyond the error message. There is practically no way you can use free VPN for streaming Netflix.
7. A Free Way to Get Malware Infection
There have been many reports about free VPNs not really being as secure as their providers claim them to be.
In fact, it would be a surprise for a company that uses its free user’s browsing data to run targeted advertising for revenue. Or even sell its customer’s data to third parties to have ethical business practices. Some free VPN providers have been found to have adware and other forms of malware in their apps or VPN client software.
You should be very careful when using a free VPN. You never know what the provider has installed on your computer as a way of making money off their users.
When you consider all the issues discussed above, you’ll agree that a free VPN is definitely worth it. A free VPN for streaming only creates more problems than solutions. You cannot trust a free VPN for streaming. This is because they cannot even unblock Netflix and other popular content streaming services.
A premium VPN such as IPVanish, on the other hand, comes with numerous benefits. These include bypassing geo-blocks, unlimited bandwidth, ability to protect multiple devices, faster speeds, and industry-leading, military-grade encryption security, and great value for money.
Let us know what you think about free VPNs in the comments section down below.