As threats to online privacy continue to increase, more and more people are turning to VPNs in a bid to stay safe and secure online. Connecting to a VPN lets you encrypt your online traffic and hide your internet activities from your ISP, government authorities, and cybercriminals. VPNs also help you to bypass censorship and geo-restrictions to access sites and services like Netflix and BBC iPlayer from anywhere in the world.
Although you’ll have to pay to get a premium VPN, you can also enjoy significant benefits with a free VPN service. However, you need to be extra careful when selecting a free VPN service as some can frustrate you or even compromise your privacy. This guide will provide you with the criteria for choosing the best free VPN.
Factors to Consider when Choosing a Free VPN
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Business Model: How They Make Money
Like all other companies, free VPN service providers have to generate revenue to sustain their operations. The issue of concern is not whether they make money, but how they make money.
Some free VPN services bundle ads. Others choose to limit the amount of bandwidth you can use to prompt you to upgrade to a paid subscription. All these are great ways to generate revenue.
However, several other providers resort to shady dealings like selling your data in a bid to shore up their coffers. If a provider claims to offer a free VPN service without any limitations, then you should be cautious.
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Level of Protection: Encryption & Protocols
Security should be your top priority unless you just want to beat some geo-restrictions. While you won’t always get the best security features with a free VPN, you should still pay close attention to the encryption standards and the protocols it supports.
We recommend getting a VPN that uses AES 256-bit with Open VPN protocol. IKEv2 and L2TP/IPsec protocols are also worth considering, but by all means, avoid any free VPN that comes with PPTP and SSTP as its only protocols.
Trustworthiness & Logging Policy
Remember, whenever you use a VPN, you are trusting the provider with all the data that you are hiding from your ISP. It’s therefore vital to read through the fine print and ensure your provider does not keep any sensitive logs.
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Speed and Connectivity
Slow speeds can be frustrating. It doesn’t matter how secure a free VPN is or how much you get to save on monthly subscriptions. If a VPN has slow and unstable connections, you may find yourself unable to browse comfortably, leave alone stream media online.
We recommend looking for a VPN that doesn’t cap your speeds preferably has some servers near you.
Good Enough Server Network
Most free VPNs only offer a few servers. However, some providers are more generous than others, and this translates to a more stable connection. If you need to bypass geo-restrictions, check whether the VPN offers free servers in the region you want to access.
The best free VPN is the one that matches your specific needs. If you are a streaming fan, for instance, you want a service that can guarantee fast and reliable connections. For privacy-conscious users, encryption and logging policy are the top priorities. Factor the above aspects, and you’ll be better placed to find the best free service for your needs.