You might have heard people on the Internet talking about a VPN. Can it be useful to you? The answer is yes, and you can get one no matter your budget. Explore this article to break down what a VPN is, how you can get one for free, and the benefits and drawbacks of using a free VPN service.
What Is A VPN?
A VPN—which stands for virtual private network—is one of the best ways to protect your privacy online. As the name implies, a VPN creates a private network from a public Internet connection, giving you anonymity anywhere and everywhere. Unlike a standard Internet connection, a VPN conceals your IP address, keeping your location and actions off the digital radar.
But a VPN has far more extensive benefits than privacy alone. A VPN connects securely between your device and Wi-Fi hotspots in a way that's stronger than a normal connection. Unsecured, public Wi-Fi networks can expose your information and Internet habits to other people on the network. Using a VPN ensures that your Internet activity is safer.
How Does A VPN Work?
Virtual privacy networks use encryption tools to alter data as it transmits over your network. They make it seem as if you are in another location via a “data tunnel” between your actual network and a different point of exit in a different place. Because it appears as if your Internet activity is occurring from elsewhere, the IP address that shows up as the point of origin for your searches isn’t really yours. That lack of a correct IP address means it would be extremely difficult for someone to track down the activity and connect it to you. Your browsing history, searches, and personal information are as secure as they possibly can be.
The Benefits Of A Free VPN
In many ways, a free VPN works just as good as a VPN that requires a payment plan. Some of the benefits of using a free virtual privacy network include:
1. Your browsing history is private.
Who wants their browsing history known by another person? Even if it’s just your data or Internet provider, your browsing history doesn’t have to be shared online if you use a VPN. As mentioned above, using a different IP address will obscure your location and, therefore, keep your history with you where it belongs.
2. Your identity is secure.
Identity theft is a huge problem online, especially if you’re using a public or exposed Wi-Fi network. Using a secure VPN will ensure that nobody else can access your personal information from the network, whether you’re using public Internet from the library, government, school, or a doctor’s office.
3. You can change the location of your IP address to access entertainment content.
Most popular digital entertainment platforms, such as Netflix, use your IP address to determine what country you’re in. Sometimes, different countries offer different movies or TV shows. Netflix Canada or UK might have the most recent season of your favorite television show, whereas Netflix USA hasn’t released it yet. Without a VPN, there’s no easy way to change your IP address, but some free VPNs allow you to choose where you want your “new” IP location to be. The IP address will appear to be from somewhere outside of your home country, and you’ll be able to access all kinds of new content.
4. You won’t have to pay for the benefits of using a VPN.
While this is probably the most obvious benefit, it’s still worth pointing out. Paid VPNs have all of the aforementioned qualities, but you’ll be paying out of pocket for security, private browsing history, and new TV shows. The quality of free VPN services might not always be as good, but you can’t beat the price.
The Drawbacks to a Free VPN
Not every costless VPN you encounter is worth using. Before clicking the ‘download’ button on the first free VPN you find, consider the drawbacks:
1. You might experience advertisements.
Like other free services, a free VPN might show you advertisements. These are annoying, but unfortunately, they can be part of the tradeoff for paying less or nothing for a VPN. They shouldn’t directly interfere with your browsing experience in any serious way, but they can be obnoxious.
2. Some free VPNs collect your personal information themselves.
Your information is still protected from other people on the Internet with a VPN, free version or otherwise, but there are a few free VPN providers that will collect your information themselves. The companies will keep your information on file as a customer and consumer of their product. You shouldn’t be at any risk for losing your identity to the VPN provider, but it’s still a risk that you might not want to be taking.
3. Some free VPN services aren’t free forever.
There are VPN services in existence that don't ask for any money from users. However, there are also a lot of quality VPNs that offer extended free plan trials for months at a time. These free VPNs won’t stay the same price, but they offer you enough time to see if you like the services that they provide. Many of these free VPN services still only cost a few dollars per payment, so while they aren’t entirely free forever, they’re still an excellent deal.
4. You may encounter connection problems, and the services aren’t unlimited.
Because these VPN services are free, the providers don’t put as much effort into making sure all the traffic can be properly and efficiently handled on the VPN servers. There are fewer server locations, which can slow down your Internet service. Disconnections and disruptions are more frequent. Furthermore, even if your VPN never costs you anything, they often have limited versions of “paid” services—for example, a costless VPN may have a data limit that can hinder you from doing all you’d like to on the VPN.
Where to Find an Inexpensive or Free VPN
There are a lot of VPNs and VPN apps that you can find online. The question is, are they any good? Whether you’re looking for a VPN for your laptop or for your Amazon Firestick, we have you covered with quality recommendations to download on your device or from the app store. Some are free forever, while others provide free trials for months at a time, but all of the following come highly rated.
Free VPN for iPhone: ExpressVPN
Free VPN for Android: TunnelBear
Free VPN for Chrome: NordVPN
Free VPN for Windows: Unlocator
Free VPN for Firefox: Browsec VPN
Free VPN for Netflix: UrbanVPN
Free VPN for Firestick: Windscribe
Free VPN for Mac: ProtonVPN