What To Look For (And Avoid) In A Free VPN

The benefits of using a VPN far outweigh browsing the internet with no protection

Few good things come free, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t find worthwhile freebies. When it comes to software, “free” is usually paid for by targeted ads. Smartphone games constantly show you videos between levels. Productivity apps always remind you how great it would be to upgrade to a higher plan. And some freebies are only free for a limited time.

What about VPNs? VPNs are perhaps the most important software products in today’s world.

Instead of putting all your information on a plate for the first hacker who looks, your location is hidden and your data encrypted. Will you be able to find a good free VPN? The good news is that there is a range of options available. Here’s what to look for and what to avoid.

How to choose a VPN

Look for expert reviews

There are thousands of free VPNs available if you just search the Android store. However, studies have revealed that most of these don’t actually do anything at all! In other words, because the work a VPN does is behind the scenes, it is easy for them to fool people into believing the software works.

However, that doesn’t mean all free VPNs are duds. Look for those with expert reviews. This means that at the very least, the VPN is sending their product out to independent reviewers who test VPN for weaknesses.

Don’t just choose a random VPN. Find one that is popular and well-reviewed.

Avoid VPNs with ads

Targeted ads might be the biggest privacy risk these days. They take your data and use it to identify what you might like or look for, then they advertise to you. In the wrong hands, that information can be used for nefarious means.

This is the sort of thing that a VPN is meant to protect you from. VPNs that are free but have targeted ads just aren’t worth it. Maybe they do what they say, but they risk undoing all of the good work by providing your data to advertisers.

VPN Ad Blockers

High speed and bandwidth

Many of the best free VPNs are free versions of paid services. They work exactly the same way as the paid version does. But they throttle your speed and limit your bandwidth. This makes it possible for you to use the VPN when necessary (like when in public), but much of the time the service won’t serve you.

However, some options provide just enough that they may be worthwhile. Windscribe, for example, offers high speeds. While they cap bandwidth, they only do so at 10GB a month. This is far more than any of their competitors. 10GB a month is still probably not enough, but if you turn it off while streaming video content, it may just get you through.

Free VPNs are an excellent option before you transition to a paid version. The service is a necessity these days and not a luxury. Try one now, and see where it takes you.

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Published on May 4, 2019 by Steve Marks; modified on January 13, 2021. Filed under: , .

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