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Is a free VPN safe?

When coming across a VPN that claims to be free, you should pay close attention. Every VPN provider has expenses, it costs money to keep this kind of software running and up to date.

What are the expenses of a VPN?

First of all, servers are a very important part of a VPN. Normally, each VPN provider has several servers spread in different countries. And maintaining those servers running is necessary, and definitely not cheap. There are some expenses related to servers, such as the bandwidth and speed. The more capacity they have, the more expensive they are.

It’s also expensive to build and continue developing the VPN software itself. There’s also need to hire security experts because encryption isn’t a simple matter. Expert professionals will certainly charge for their services.

You should consider what the provider is gaining from this service, because they are definitely having expenses. One thing is for sure, they will get their money back, they are not in the charity business.

How can a free VPN profit?

There are several ways how these services can recover the money they have invested. They may be making money with publicity, selling your data to advertisers. That way, they know exactly which ads to show you, according to your preferences (behavioral marketing). It also happened that these free VPNs were selling log activity from their users to monitoring entities. Also, a free VPN provider can even be a hacker trying to get your personal data.

Let’s go a bit further and analyze a real free VPN, one that does not sell your data. Even in such case, which is rare, that provider will have serious limitations, such as:

  • keeping your log activity
  • limiting your bandwidth,
  • not allowing P2P file sharing
  • extremely low speeds
  • low level of protection
  • very limited amount of servers

The most common situation is that a “free VPN provider” also has a paid version, a premium version. As you can imagine, the main objective is to try to get you to sign for their paid version. Let’s have a look at their method of getting new paying costumers. This is the most common scenario:

Sign up for our premium version and we will no longer keep your activity logs

In other words, this is a free trial with limitations. We do not see these free trials as secure and honest, because they may keep your activity during that trial. Also, they advertise themselves as a free service, and the only goal is for you to upgrade to a paid version.

We highly recommend that you choose a service that is 100% honest with you from the beginning. A VPN is not expensive, and if you have a tight budget, there are very cheap options from good providers, such as PureVPN. We recently wrote a very useful blog post where we selected the cheapest VPNs for BitTorrent, have a look.

Conclusion

If you want a free trial, don’t go for the ones that offer you a free version of their software with limitations that can risk your privacy. The best VPN providers have a money back guarantee with no questions asked. You can try for a few days, a week, even a month, depending on the provider.

Instead of having limitations, you will see exactly how that VPN works and you will have a safe trial of the product. In the end, it’s the same as a free trial because you can have your money back, making it free. This can avoid you some serious headaches. So, do your research, read reviews, compare the different providers, and decide which one is the best for you.