5 Reasons Why Free VPNs Just Don’t Cut It

Joel Lee 23-02-2017

VPNs are all the rage these days. Experts left and right constantly sing praises, claiming that VPNs protect you from all manners of evil and that you’re essentially an idiot if you aren’t using one (in nicer words, of course). But if you’re thinking of going the free route, please reconsider.


To be fair, we’ve covered the fastest free VPN services The 5 Fastest VPN Services (One Is Even Completely Free) Looking for a fast VPN but don't want to pay too much for it? Here are the fastest VPN services that we've tested. Read More and the best free VPNs for privacy 8 Totally Free VPN Services to Protect Your Privacy Free unlimited data VPNs don't exist unless they're scams. Here are the best actually free VPNs around that you can try safely. Read More in the past, and we recognize that these can be useful in certain circumstances. But we also believe that they come with risks — risks that may not be worth taking, even if you’re paying nothing for it.

Why You Should Be Using a VPN

For those who are uninitiated, there are three main benefits to using a VPN. If you’re already convinced of the value of a VPN, feel free to skip down to the next section. But if you don’t know much, then you should at least know why VPNs exploded in popularity over the past few years:

These three benefits can be applied to dozens of situations. Here are some of the most common examples of when you should be using a VPN 8 Instances You Weren't Using a VPN but Should've Been: The VPN Checklist If you haven't already considered subscribing to a VPN to secure your privacy, now is the time. Read More . But in this article, we’ll explain why free VPNs don’t live up to these promised benefits.

5 Reasons to Never Use a Free VPN

It’s one thing to recognize the benefits of a VPN. It’s another to place your trust in them with all your heart. There are many VPN-related myths 5 Common VPN Myths and Why You Shouldn't Believe Them Planning to use a VPN? Not sure where to start, or confused about what they do? Let's take a look at the top five myths about VPNs and why they're simply not true. Read More that just aren’t true and VPNs have a handful of risks and flaws that you must be aware of, especially for VPN services offered free of charge.

1. Unreliable Service

I’ve tried a bunch of free VPNs over the years but still haven’t found one that I actually enjoy using. As with most things, free options are rarely as performant or polished as paid options, and that’s absolutely true when it comes to VPNs.


We have to remember that VPNs are a service. They require upkeep, maintenance, and constant attention in case something goes wrong. And since free services don’t make money, they usually can’t afford around-the-clock support. If there’s an outage, it could take days or weeks to fix.

5 Reasons Why Free VPNs Just Don't Cut It vpn on mobile device failure connection
Image Credit: Denys Prykhodov via Shutterstock

2. Data, Speed, and Usage Caps

Bandwidth may be cheap now compared to years ago, but it still costs money — especially if you’re providing a free service that’s in high demand. Not only do you need enough bandwidth to serve thousands of simultaneous connections, you need servers that can handle the processing load.

Which is why most free VPNs have limits. One might give you a set amount of data for the month. Another might restrict the speed of your connection. And another might have a login queue that limits the number of users on the VPN, meaning you have to wait for a slot to free up before you can log on and start using it yourself. These are all inconvenient, to say the least.


3. Restricted Regional Options

As discussed above, one of the big reasons to use a VPN is to reroute your traffic through another country so you can access region-blocked content. Or maybe there’s a routing issue and you want to bypass it by hopping through a different VPN server. Either way, server locations are important.

But each additional server location costs more money, and as we’ve established, free VPN services don’t have much of a budget. Most will likely offer at least one American server and one European server, but beyond that, it’s a crapshoot — and they may have login queues!

5 Reasons Why Free VPNs Just Don't Cut It vpn on computer mac desktop
Image Credit: Denys Prykhodov via Shutterstock

4. No Privacy Guarantee

This is the main dealbreaker for most people. Think about how a VPN works: your traffic is routed through the VPN’s servers. You have to trust that your VPN host is doing right by your data, that they aren’t intercepting, peeking, logging, or even altering your packets.


How much trust can you put in a free service? You aren’t paying them a dime, so it’d be naive to think they have your best interests at heart. Any free VPN that promises privacy and security cannot be trusted 5 Ways Your VPN Is Not as Private as You Think It Is Your VPN is not as secure or private as you think it is. We explain why you and your browsing history might not be anonymous after all. Read More — even if they offer encryption! Truth is, your activity is probably being sold to marketers.

5. Malicious Intent

Let’s say you find a free VPN service that doesn’t suffer from any of the above. It’s reliable, it’s fast, it’s unlimited, it’s available in dozens of countries, and it can somehow guarantee logless privacy. At this point, you have to ask yourself: why are they offering this free of charge?

If you can’t come up with a good answer, then you’re probably the one being exploited. For example, back in 2015, Hola VPN was caught selling the bandwidth of its users, allowing their computers to by third parties for botnet purposes, all without the users themselves knowing.

Free services are rarely offered out of true altruism, most of all VPNs. Don’t fall for it.


Paid VPNs Are the Way to Go

Let’s be clear about one thing: a paid VPN can be just as bad as a free VPN. Just because you pay money doesn’t mean the service will be good, that they’ll delete your activity logs, or that they’ll keep your best interests at heart.

But they are more likely to do so. They want to keep your business, after all, and the best way to do that is to maintain a great reputation and deliver on their promises. If you cherish privacy above all else, we recommend these paid logless VPNs 6 Logless VPNs That Take Your Privacy Seriously In an age where every online movement is tracked and logged, a VPN seems a logical choice. We've taken a look at six VPNs that take your anonymity seriously. Read More . Otherwise, check out our compilation of the best VPN services we’ve found The Best VPN Services We've compiled a list of what we consider to be the best Virtual Private Network (VPN) service providers, grouped by premium, free, and torrent-friendly. Read More , which includes such big bitters as ExpressVPN.

How do you feel about free VPNs? Are you now convinced that paid VPNs worth the money? Or do you think all VPNs are rubbish regardless? Let us know in a comment down below!

Image Credits: Ditty_about_summer/Shutterstock

Related topics: Online Privacy, VPN.

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  1. Shen
    May 16, 2017 at 3:39 pm

    Well they are more likely to not maintain the logs in the first place if they aren't in a region like USA. The ones is USA are kinda helpless because they're bound by laws to keep 'em, so despite their best intentions, their hands are tied. A prudent idea here would be to go for something that isn't operating from or bound by the US, like ivacy pvn or express as you said.

  2. Steven
    February 27, 2017 at 10:29 pm

    Only use a free VPN if you dont mind infecting your browser with malware. If you care even the slightest about your privacy, go PAID. I use Expressvpn - no logs, no malware. I think they were the top VPN in HuffPost, too.

  3. Kori
    February 27, 2017 at 2:28 pm

    I started using FrootVPN when it was still free. I don't want to pay for a vpn before that's why I tried it out then after months of being free it became paid. But because I was satisfied I accepted the fact that its for a better service, and besides the pricing is cheap and a bargain for me who don't like to spend a dime haha. So up until now, I'm still using it. Service is great, there are some small issues but their team is really working hard to fix it asap. I am just a proud and loyal FrootVPN user here! I'd love to recommend it to everyone. I am a gamer by the way, I need great speed and I am getting what I need from it.