Comparing Free vs. Paid VPN Services: Which Is More Secure?

Cybersecurity continues to be a major concern as we spend more and more time on the internet. You’ll want to keep your data secure whether you’re at work, at home, or using public WiFi. With so many VPN services to choose from, how can you settle on the best one for you? Do you really need to pay for a VPN when you can just get one for free?


Other than price, there are several factors to consider when comparing free vs paid VPNs. In this article, you’ll learn the difference between the two, which one we recommend and why. But first…

What is a VPN

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a service that protects your virtual identity and encrypts your online traffic. VPN services do this by connecting to a vast network of servers in different locations. 


VPNs keep your data secure as you interact online. Your online traffic is kept private, ensuring that no one can track the websites you visit over time. A VPN also allows you to access sites that are unavailable in your geographical location. For instance, many shows on Netflix are only available to users in specific countries. Using a VPN allows you to watch these shows even if you’re not physically in those countries.


VPN services can be free or paid. Both options offer different features and have varying security levels. Let’s take a deeper look into free vs paid VPNs and find out which one you should choose.

Advantages and Dangers of Free VPNs

The only real advantage of using a free VPN is that it’s free to use and accessible to everyone. Other than that, it’s risky to use these services. Operating a VPN service involves running numerous servers simultaneously, which is expensive, and also requires staff to tend to this server network and keep the VPN active. With this in mind, the question becomes, “Isn’t a VPN that encrypts your data for free too good to be true?”


The answer is yes. Free VPNs have to make money in some way. They do this by:


  • Tracking your browsing data and selling it – Free VPNs may share your browsing session data with marketers and advertisers. The advertisers then send you targeted ads to get you to purchase from them.
  • Nudging you to pay for an upgrade – Some free VPNs will deliberately give you access to limited features and services to get you to pay for the upgrade. They also set data caps to make it challenging for you to fully operate without upgrading.
  • Pumping ads to your device – Free VPNs also make money by showing you ads. Whenever you click on an ad, the VPN service gets paid by the advertiser. This is the least harmful way free VPNs make money. 


As Iskander Sanchez-Rola, director of privacy innovation for Gen rightly said, “If something like this is free, then the user is the product.” When free VPNs sell user data to third parties, it does not matter if you are hiding your IP address. Chances are high that your privacy will be compromised in some way.


Free VPNs offer poor security and weak encryption since they can’t afford to invest in quality server infrastructure. This makes it easy for hackers to get to your data. Using a free VPN service also means you might not get the most up-to-date cybersecurity features. This can compromise your connection speed and make streaming a never-ending buffering nightmare.


It’s interesting to note that 50% of VPN users have a free plan. However, two-thirds of them report experiencing performance issues with their free service. Therefore, people are steadily moving towards paid options to avoid similar challenges.

Free vs Paid VPN Services: Which Is More Secure?

Considering all the dangers of using a free VPN service, it’s safer to use a paid one instead. Paid VPNs are already making money from subscription fees. This allows them to invest in the best servers and the latest cybersecurity features. 


They also have extensive server networks to cover users from across the globe with ease. For instance, reputable brands like Nord VPN operate over 5,500 servers in 59 countries. They also hire skilled personnel to keep the service running and customers happy. These premium services keep your connection strong with no data caps. It’s also compatible with Synology NAS, making it great for people with lots of data to store.


What’s more, unlike free services, paid VPNs do not sell your data to third parties. The data is encrypted and kept away from prying eyes. The privacy policies of these services also clearly state how the service intends to use the data. They also list who it may be shared with for the service to operate optimally. That way, you can be assured that your data is secure from hackers, cybercriminals and advertisers. 


Paid VPN services are strong enough to unblock regional restrictions. Most free VPNs cannot do this because they have poor infrastructure with limited services. In addition, many paid VPN services offer unlimited bandwidth. This means that they do not limit the amount of data you can use through them. Therefore, if you have a premium service, it’s recommended that you leave your VPN on to keep your data secure at all times.


The best paid VPNs according to Cloudwards also invest in ensuring you get the best user experience because their survival depends on retaining long-term users. Therefore, they’ll do all it takes to keep you happy and satisfied. This includes 24/7 support to address any challenges or issues that you may encounter while using the service.

Which Is the Best VPN For You?

Paid VPN services offer extensive feature sets and robust security for your online activities. Free VPNs are enticing because you don’t have to spend to use them. However, when the deal is too good, think twice. These services tend to find other ways to generate the income they need to keep running. 


Investing in a paid VPN service is worthwhile. These services are good to use for personal and work-related tasks. Your data privacy is guaranteed and your IP address remains secure. You also get full access to websites with geo-restrictions. This allows you to browse the web with peace of mind. And if you use NAS for secure data storage, paid VPNs let you access your files because they are compatible with NAS.  


A VPN is essential for ensuring that your data is secure and your internet activity remains private. While free VPN services are highly available and tempting, they don’t offer adequate security to protect you from cybercriminals. They also might sell your data or pump your device with ads.


Paid VPN services are the better alternative. They offer top-notch security, advanced features, multiple server options, and high-speed connections. What’s more, your data will not be sold to third parties, keeping you safe as you browse the web. 


Consider investing in a paid VPN service to ensure your personal and work data remains safely tucked away from prying eyes.


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