Torrenting unprotected allows your ISP and other agencies to see what you are doing. You may even get a nasty letter from a copyright monitoring group.
A free VPN may appear to provide a convenient solution for anonymous torrenting but there are potential dangers. Before deciding to save money with a free VPN, understand the potential drawbacks.
What Are the Expenses of a VPN?
It’s important to start by talking about expenses. Our point is that you realize that, like any other business, free VPNs need to make their money somehow. A VPN has quite some expenses and one thing is for sure, they are getting their money back.
First of all, servers are a very important part of a Virtual Private Network. Usually, each VPN provider has several servers spread in different countries. And keeping those servers running is necessary, and definitely not cheap. It mainly comes down to bandwidth and speed of their servers. The more capacity they have, the more expensive they are.
It’s also expensive to build and continue developing the VPN software. Encryption isn’t a simple matter and expert professionals will certainly charge for their services.
How do Free VPNs make money?
There are a few ways how these services can recover the money they have invested and generate profit.
1. Selling User Activity Logs to Third Parties
An overwhelming percentage of free VPNs track online activity. In other words, they keep log files of their user’s activity. And there are plenty of entities making business with such VPN providers, buying these logs. Marketing agencies are a good example. After knowing what you are searching online and what sites you are visiting, they will know what type of advertisement to show you.
But there are others, governments may also request these logs for various reasons, such as investigating someone.
VPN logs contain a variety of details about your activity, including:
- Browsing history
- Torrenting activity
- Connection times
- IP addresses
- Customer info
Whether you choose a free or paid VPN, always learn more about their logging practices. If you do not want the VPN service keeping a record of your activity, look for services with a no-logging policy.
2. Free VPNs May Sell Your Bandwidth
Besides selling activity logs, free VPNs may sell your bandwidth. They offer the bandwidth to premium customers, allowing them to enjoy faster download speeds.
To use the bandwidth of free users, the VPN service tunnels traffic through their computers. This can lower download speeds and bring additional security risks. With traffic routed through your computer, a paying customer may perform illegal online activities through your IP address. This practice also increases the chance of users getting exposed to malware and botnets.
This has happened a few times, botnets took over every computer connected to a specific free VPN service. With botnets, hackers gain access to the resources of infected computers, using them to conduct additional malicious activities or mine for bitcoin.
3. Including Advertising-Related Malware in Their Software
Other types of shady deals with marketing were uncovered in the past. Free versions of a Virtual Private Network have included advertising malware in their software. Naturally, that was after being paid by marketing agencies.
Some of these ads are completely harmless while others may contain malware. When using a free service, the ads typically appear in the settings and user interface but may also include annoying pop-ups.
Free VPN vs Paid VPN
Besides the security risks, free VPNs tend to provide an inferior service. You will very likely get slower Internet speeds, data caps, fewer features and a limited selection of servers. You are also likely to see a lot of invasive advertisement.
But we also want you to understand that not all paid VPNs offer superior service compared to free VPNs. There are still sketchy paid services that keep logs, limit bandwidth, and display ads. However, there are also reliable VPNs that are light years away from shady free services. What they offer can make all the difference when it comes to your security and anonymity.
1. No Logging
Paid VPNs are more likely to offer no-logging policies, meaning that they do not track your torrenting activity. You remain anonymous unless someone hacks the encryption.
2. Better Encryption
Luckily, paid services tend to provide better encryption. They use the latest security protocols and encryption methods to keep data private. With free services, there is no guarantee that data remains encrypted.
3. More Servers
Another benefit of choosing a paid service is access to more servers. With more servers, also comes greater reliability. You have more options when choosing your destination country, which is useful when trying to access geo-restricted content.
4. More Important Features
Dropped connections are less common but still a potential issue with any VPN service. Losing the connection with the VPN server exposes your normal IP address and location.
Many paid VPNs provide a kill switch. The switch terminates your Internet activity before anyone has the chance to track your real identity and IP address.
5. Faster Connections
When torrenting, Internet speeds matter. The bandwidth of the peers on the network already limits your download speeds. With a reliable VPN, you tend to get faster speeds, which is one of the most important details when the goal is to download torrents.
A Good VPN Doesn’t Have To Be Expensive
Many paid VPN providers offer reasonable monthly rates. Some of them are surprisingly affordable. That allows you to enjoy the benefits of better encryption and security without spending too much.
Here Are a Few Cheap and Reliable VPNs:
Basically, using a free VPN may put your identity and torrenting activity at risk of exposure. If your ISP catches on to your downloading habits, they may throttle your bandwidth or even cancel your services.
Free VPNs also tend to offer slower connection speeds and fewer server options. Overall, the potential risks of using a free VPN do not outweigh the advantage of not having to pay.
There are many affordable VPN options with no logs, faster connections, and more servers. Having decent protection does not have to be expensive, all it takes is good research.