Free Vs. Paid VPNs: Which One is Better?

By: Marcus Stern

Free Vs. Paid VPNs: Which Should You Choose?

There are many pros and cons for using a free or paid virtual private network (VPN) service. It just remains how much you are willing to invest in keeping your privacy and data safe from prying eyes.

Be aware:

Data privacy has become a burning issue following Congress decision to roll back rules allowing ISPs to sell customers data without their consent.

Let’s face it, this has ramped up the need to use a VPN service provider to provide anonymity and security from prying eyes. VPNs will definitely keep your data private and safe.

While VPNs have always been appropriate for untrusted networks, like unsecured Wi-Fi at places like coffee shops and airports, this change now means that we must all think about our home network connections as untrusted as well.

-Jarret Raim, Head of Strategy and Operations, Rackspace Managed Security

Depending on the level of security you desire will influence your choice of a VPN service provider. A search on Google Play or iPhone app store will offer a list of many free options, which is always tempting. But you have to ask yourself the question:

Are free VPNs safe and reliable just like the paid option?

Let's compare their features here to find out.

Free or partly "free" VPNs

Let’s look at what the free option offers:

1. Some but not all are supported by reputable security companies and offer anonymity

2. You get what you pay for, the free option leaves much to be desired when it comes to the security of your data. The most common ‘free’ VPN services is the Point-to-Point Tunneling protocol (PPTP) and is not considered secure. For watching streaming video it is fine, but leaves you open to prying eyes.

3. You can expect to get only 128-bit encryption with the free VPN.

Personal data encryption

Personal data encryption

4. You can expect the quality of your service to suffer with: ads, bandwidth speeds are bottle-necked, monthly data usages capped and lack data encryption.

VP of an IT consulting firm Atlantic.Net said that if a free service supports Open VP it is better although not ideal, but you certainly should avoid the ones that only offer PPTP. Most free VPNs display ads because the need to pay their bills.

5. Free VPNs can log user activity i.e. keep track of when you log in and where you go. It is best to avoid the companies who say they log user activity and especially if they don’t disclose it in their logging policy.

Login details

Login details

6. Free VPNs can outsource a third party to monitor and operate systems and servers and write code.

Paid VPNs

Now we will explore the ‘Paid’ VPN’s options

1. A good VPN will give you 256-bit data encryption (compared to 128-bit for free). With more options like OpenVPN that uses SSL encryption or Layer 2 Tunnel Protocol (better security).

2. With a paid service you get better quality of service with unlimited data together with hundreds of connection points plus delivery rates aren’t throttled.

3. Outrages and meltdowns are less likely, overall a paid VPN offers a more robust service.

4. Most paid VPN’s offer customer support.

5. Users sensitive data interests are protected.

Internet security

Internet security


The above is a quick and easy explanation of some of the pros and cons when deciding to choose for a paid or free VPN service provider and how much you value your privacy.

You can go ahead and check our comparison of top VPN service providers to see which one is best for you.

The bottom line?

A VPN service provider is crucial in giving you some kind of protection from prying eyes.