Free or paid VPN: which one to choose?

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In fact, there are objective differences between free and paid VPNs.

If antiviruses do the job by blocking the majority of threats, whether paid or not, free VPNs too often forget to do what is expected of them. It is therefore difficult not to make a mistake when choosing your VPN; you can of course always turn to expert sites like VPNpro, but let’s already see here what distinguishes these two types of services.

Free VPNs: Limited to Basic Needs

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to save money in general, but don’t expect great things from a free VPN service in terms of:

  • streaming,
  • torrenting (file sharing),
  • and other enhancements to your digital life.

At the same time, it’s really your security and privacy that a VPN should take care of first and foremost. And in this area, free services can sometimes fulfill their role.

Free, the only advantage of free VPNs?

Being able to use a VPN service without paying a penny is undeniably a big advantage.

But it would be wrong to say that this is the only benefit of free virtual private network services. Indeed, it is possible to ensure basic security with a free VPN, by changing your IP address and by encrypting your personal data.

Using a free VPN if you just want to be able to browse the internet with peace of mind is possible. But you have to know how to choose the right service, because too many free services pose a danger to their users, as revealed by an Australian survey in 2017.

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Free VPNs: Too Dangerous?

To say that all free VPNs are dangerous would be an exaggeration, but you have to know how to choose your free VPN provider.

Since maintaining a high-performance server network, being technologically up to date, or offering decent customer service is expensive, the advice we can give you is to turn to a freemium service. Indeed, if they do not have a base of paying customers to finance themselves, then the risk is great that your free VPN will finance itself by reselling your browsing data for marketing purposes.

Freemium VPNs are free versions of paid services.

You don’t get all the features and performance of the full version, you can’t unblock streaming catalogs or download torrents, but this free version should still offer the same security and privacy guarantees.

To make sure, you can check the presence of some essential elements for a good VPN:

  • Military-grade encryption (at least AES 256-bit, or XChaCHa 20)
  • A clearly identified tunneling protocol, at least OpenVPN or WireGuard
  • A kill switch, or network switch in case the VPN program fails
  • A no-logs policy that ensures the VPN doesn’t resell your data

Paid VPNs

Premium VPN services, on the other hand, usually offer many more advantages, and depending on your needs on the Internet, it can be much more interesting to invest a few euros per month in a reliable and efficient service.

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Again, be careful, a VPN service is not necessarily reliable, simply because it asks you for money.

How to choose the right VPN?

To know how to choose a paid VPN with which you will not regret your investment, it must meet some simple but essential criteria:

  • Offer complete security and anonymity. So it needs to have the same security foundations as the free VPNs above. But also additional assets such as Double VPN (chaining of VPN servers), Tor over VPN (to couple your VPN to the Tor network), ad blocker and trackers, etc.
  • Offer streaming capabilities. With thousands of servers in dozens of countries and high speeds, your VPN could allow you to unblock the geoblocked catalogs of streaming platforms like Netflix, Disney+ or Amazon Prime Video. It can also allow you to access your favorite TV channels from abroad.
  • Allow torrent downloads. By encrypting your IP address, a VPN allows you to download torrents without risk. Again, your serve should be fast. The best VPNs offer dedicated torrenting features like split tunneling (to protect only your torrents), or port forwarding.
  • Be easy to use. Gone are the days of private corporate networks that only the IT expert in the office could configure. A good VPN should have a clear, simple and pleasant interface.
  • Provide responsive customer service. In computer science as in mechanics, it is always good to find someone to talk to when you encounter a problem. Having customer service available via chat any time of the day or night is infinitely valuable.
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How much to invest in your security?

So how much should you invest in a VPN to be sure of making a good investment?

The paid VPN market offers offers ranging from less than 2 €uros to more than 13 €uros per month. Quite a difference which, frankly, does not always reflect the difference in quality of these different services.

Nowadays you will find complete VPNs, really powerful and easy to use between 2 and 5 €uros per month if you choose their long term plan. Paying more doesn’t really make sense since the performance of the most popular services on the market is all more or less equal.

To conclude

With data breaches, government surveillance, and online censorship on the rise, subscribing to a VPN service is a real necessity.

Choosing the service to which you can entrust the security of your data and with which you can fully enjoy the Internet should not be taken lightly.

If you just want to anonymize your browsing when you check the latest news online or your emails, the free version of a freemium VPN may be enough for you, even if your connection will probably be significantly slowed down. For all other uses, turn to a reputable paid VPN provider.

Their subscriptions don’t cost more than a coffee or two a month, and they often offer a money-back period so you can try them out.

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