Free VPN products are tempting, but their use is not trouble-free. The functionality of free products may be more limited than that of paid full versions. They can also slow down your internet connection. Some free VPN apps limit the amount of data transferred.
Few people may think that you have to give something in exchange for free use. Many free VPN products do exactly what people use a VPN product against. You may have to give your personal information to the service provider, who can resell it. You have to accept annoying advertisements on your screen. There even have been cases in the public eye where a free VPN service included malware.
Free VPN services usually do not include support. Companies incur costs for offering support services, and that’s why support is not included in free alternatives. If problems arise when using the product, you’re on your own.
In this article, we’ll talk about the features to look for in free VPN services and why it might make more sense to pay for a VPN service.
Privacy on the internet isn’t something to be taken for granted. Companies, advertisers, internet service providers, even governmental bodies and cyber criminals collect data about internet users. Your browsing details, private messages, files, user IDs and passwords can be of use to these parties.
By using a VPN service you hide your internet connection from prying eyes and protect your privacy online. VPN stands for virtual private network. A VPN encrypts your IP address, so you can use the VPN service to access the internet anonymously. A VPN is like a private tunnel within which all traffic passes.
Using a VPN service is easy and does not require technical know-how. For most services, clicking just one button is enough and you can browse the web safely.
Read more: What is a VPN?
A VPN creates an encrypted tunnel from your device to the server of the VPN service provider. From the VPN server, your network traffic is routed to the services you want, meaning that no one can see the real source of the traffic.
Without a VPN, traffic travels directly to the internet and is visible to potential observers. When you use a VPN, you can change your IP address and virtual location, meaning that your actual location remains hidden.
With a VPN, you can access geographically restricted contents, bypass state censorship and ensure your anonymity online. With a VPN, you can set your virtual location to another country and, for example, watch selections of country-specific streaming services.
A VPN secures your internet use and hides it from external parties. If you trust a free VPN service, your personal information may be at risk. What information of yours does a good VPN protect?
A VPN service protects your virtual location, i.e. your IP address, the websites you visited, your personal messages, your files, your photos, your online banking login details and other IDs and passwords. A VPN ensures that your digital identity remains secure and private.
When using some free VPN services, you have to give up your privacy and give the service provider rights to access your information. So find out exactly what you are agreeing to when you start using a free VPN.
You should also read the terms and conditions and privacy policies of paid VPN services, so that you know what data is stored about you and what it is used for.
VPN secures your internet access over unsecured public Wi‑Fi networks. Unsecured networks can be accessed without a password and can be found almost anywhere we go, including cafes, public transportation, shopping malls, airports and hotels.
Connecting to password-protected wireless networks could be risky if the password is shared, for example on a coffee shop wall. Your personal information may be at risk on public networks.
It is easy for a cyber criminal who connects to the same network to access your information. You can also inadvertently connect to a misleadingly named Wi‑Fi network set up by a criminal and give them access to your information.
When you use a reliable VPN service, you encrypt your information from external parties and can use public networks without any worries.
A VPN service is often used to bypass network censorship and geographical content restrictions. Access to streaming services and other online content may be restricted for copyright reasons. Some states, workplaces and educational institutions restrict the use of certain internet services.
With the aid of a VPN service, you can enjoy movies, series, music, sporting events, games, new sites and other favorite content no matter where you are.
For example, if you want to watch US Netflix content in the UK, you can change your virtual location and IP address to a server located in the United States. Your connection appears to come from the US and you can watch Netflix content as if you were in that country.
You may have sometimes used a free VPN service for the duration of a trip and been disappointed when you couldn’t access the online content or services you wanted. Streaming services, such as Netflix, do not work with all free VPN services. Free services cannot always get around the restrictions of streaming services.
A free VPN is often more limited than paid services. There may be fewer virtual locations to choose from or the bandwidth available may be limited. It may be that you can’t find the country that you want in the locations, or that your connection is so slow that it’s impossible to enjoy the content.
The job of a VPN service is to guarantee your privacy and online security. When you start using a VPN service, your service provider receives all the information related to your internet use. Therefore it’s important that you trust your VPN service.
Your VPN service provider gets to know, for example, your location, IP address, device, browser and the websites you have visited. This information is valuable to advertisers and cyber criminals, for example.
Companies that offer free services incur costs for providing such services. When considering a free VPN service, you may want to consider how that company finances its operations. You often pay for a free VPN service with your personal information. A free VPN can be a data collection tool that sells your private information to advertisers.
In the privacy statement, the company must tell you what information is stored about you, what the information is used for and whether your information is passed on to third parties. The privacy statement also tells you how long your information will be kept. It is extremely important that you understand what you are committing to when you start using a VPN service.
The promise of “zero logs” is commonly used in the marketing of VPN services, which means that the service does not store any information about its user. This statement is not to be believed because all services must store certain user-specific information in order to function.
Information that is not necessary for the operation of the service includes your browsing history, the files you download, your private messages, and information about what you download on your device or what you purchase. Read the privacy statement to find out whether if the service stores this information about you.
A VPN can improve your data security by encrypting all your network traffic. You can visit websites anonymously and surf public networks safely.
In addition to this basic functionality, the best VPN services also include other security features. A high-quality VPN blocks tracking attempts and visits to harmful sites.
When you start using a VPN service, you expect your network security and privacy to improve. However, the opposite may happen in the case of free VPN services.
Free VPN services usually do not have additional security features and many services have been found to have serious security vulnerabilities.
Because your VPN service provider will have access to your personal information, you should carefully consider which applications you trust. Free VPN apps often involve risks that few want to be exposed to.
Free VPN services have been found to collect data about their users through malware. According to a CSIRO study, 38% of free VPN apps for the Android operating system contained malware. As many as 75% of the apps included code that could be used to track users.
Free VPN providers use your data to make money. Based on your information, you may become a target for advertising, spam, the hijacking of your user accounts or even blackmail.
Data breaches and leaks targeting VPN services have also been discussed in the media. Although intrusions are difficult to prevent, you should make sure that your VPN service provider has security know-how and that they handle personal information carefully and securely.
Free VPN services may have data restrictions, may slow down your internet access, and may offer fewer server locations.
Some companies offer a free version of their paid VPN service with limited data transfer. By paying for the service, you get rid of irritating data restrictions.
Free versions have a lot of users and the handling large amounts of network traffic can slow down servers.
Because server maintenance is expensive, free VPN services often offer a very limited number of servers. If the servers are not located near you, your VPN connection may slow down. Paid services provide access to multiple servers. If one of the servers feels slow, you can easily switch to another.
A large number of servers is not unequivocally a positive thing, as poorly maintained servers can pose security risks. Paid VPN services can invest more money in server maintenance and speed.
A free VPN can also slow down your internet use because your service provider sells your bandwidth to others. Worst case scenario, you unknowingly become part of a criminal botnet.
When choosing a VPN service, find out the home country of your service provider. The origin of free VPN services may be difficult to find out because this information is not always shared publicly.
The home country of a VPN service matters because a country’s legislation determines how the privacy of users is handled. For example, in EU countries people’s privacy is protected by strict regulations.
In some countries, public authorities may require VPN service providers to disclose their users’ information without a court order. A VPN service registered in such a country jeopardizes your privacy instead of safeguarding it.
If the home country of your VPN service belongs to the 14 Eyes intelligence community, user information may be disclosed to intelligence services in other community countries. Your information may be disclosed without your consent.
The countries that belong to the 14 Eyes community are: Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the USA.
Many companies offering free VPN services are based in China. In China, freedom of speech and citizens’ rights to privacy are severely restricted. Censorship on the internet has increased year after year. Think carefully about whether you are handing over your information to a company that comes from this country, which is an enemy of internet freedom.
Free VPN products may do exactly the things that VPN products are used against. The business model of free VPN providers may be based on selling their users’ information to third parties, acting as an advertising platform or turning users into paying customers.
Some services push their users who have tried free use to pay for the full service, for example by providing more features or removing bandwidth restrictions.
If you want to take advantage of all the features of a VPN service, be sure it works and keep your privacy, we recommend that you use a paid VPN service from a trusted provider. The best paid VPN services do not disclose information to advertisers and other third parties.
Paid VPN services are not expensive, but you can get most of the services for a monthly fee of a few euros. The best VPN services are risk-free because you can try them for free and they include a money back guarantee.
A paid VPN service also usually also includes customer service and technical support. You can contact support at any time for assistance in resolving your issue. The best VPN services offer support in your own language. Free VPN services often include no support at all, or limited support.
A reliable paid VPN does not sell your information and tells you openly what information is stored about you and why. For a monthly fee, you get maintenance, user support, more features, and a safer and faster service.
Independent comparisons help you choose a reliable and secure VPN service. Independent testing is performed by organizations that do not sell the tested products.
There are plenty of comparison sites online, but most of them are commercial. Part of the sales made through commercial comparison sites is paid to the site administrator. The site should give good ratings in comparisons to the products that pay the best sales commission so that they sell even better. It’s clear that such tests are not impartial.
Because of these affiliate marketing comparison sites, it can be difficult to find unbiased tests online. Commercial sites market their own product comparisons very aggressively and unbiased tests do not rise to the top of the search results. It may be impossible for the average consumer to know when claims are marketing and when there is a genuine, impartial test behind them.
You can also find comparisons of free VPN services in the search results, but in reality, the products compared are usually the same paid services that can be found on the commercial comparison sites mentioned above. Big VPN providers market their products as being free, but in reality you end up paying for the product and the service only offers a money back guarantee. Many VPN products cannot be tried out free of charge.
There are hundreds of VPN services available, but finding reliable information about service providers is difficult. Many products that market themselves as a free VPN service are actually paid and do not even offer a free trial version. It is difficult to distinguish impartial comparisons from dozens of commercial tests. How to choose the best free VPN in the UK in 2021?
The best VPN for you depends on your needs. Consider whether you want to pay for a service or risk losing your private information. Consider at least the following when choosing the best VPN service for you:
The features of the VPN service
VPN service provider background
Protects your privacy
Read more about the topic in our article “Best VPN 2021”.
F‑Secure FREEDOME VPN is a reliable Finnish VPN service. FREEDOME VPN protects your privacy online and hides your traffic from prying eyes. With FREEDOME VPN, you can securely access public Wi‑Fi networks and enjoy your favorite content despite geographical restrictions.
FREEDOME VPN includes more security features than most other VPN products. Browsing protection blocks the opening of harmful websites. The Tracker Mapper feature lets you see who is trying to track your activity online.
FREEDOME is one of the few VPN services that tells you how it protects your traffic. You can see at one glance from the main display how many harmful sites, applications or tracking attempts it has blocked.
FREEDOME VPN is provided by F‑Secure. F‑Secure is a public company listed on the Helsinki Stock Exchange that has been operating in the information security industry for over 30 years. Millions of users trust F‑Secure products. F‑Secure FREEDOME VPN has passed the following unbiased tests:
FREEDOME VPN respects your privacy and does not store your browsing information. According to Techradar’s test, F‑Secure’s privacy statement is the clearest on the market and other companies should follow suit. The FREEDOME privacy statement provides a concise and simplified explanation of what information about users is stored and why.
F‑Secure is registered in Finland, which has some of the strongest privacy laws in the EU area and very low levels of corruption. Information about the users of FREEDOME will not be disclosed to the countries of the 14 Eyes intelligence community. EU law also protects FREEDOME VPN users.
FREEDOME user data cannot be seized without a court order. F‑Secure has won a battle in the court of appeal against the National Bureau of Investigation of Finland, for the right to seize FREEDOME users’ data. F‑Secure has also defended users’ right to privacy in the British Parliament.
The server network of the FREEDOME VPN service is comprehensive, but the number of servers has been limited for security reasons. The location and IP address are easy to change. Your most recent locations are stored in shortcuts, where you can find them quickly.
You can use the FREEDOME VPN service on iPhone and Android devices, as well as PCs and Macs. You can use the product on all your devices with the same subscription.
FREEDOME VPN is a paid product because we want to guarantee the security and high quality of the service. However, you can try FREEDOME completely free of charge for five days*. When you buy FREEDOME through the F‑Secure website, you can get your money back for 30 days if you are not completely satisfied.
You can use the FREEDOME VPN trial version for five days completely free of charge, without registering or providing credit card details. The free FREEDOME VPN trial version works on iPhone* and Android phones, PCs and Macs.
You can try the full version of FREEDOME VPN without any restrictions on speed, features or server locations. This will allow you to assess if FREEDOME VPN is the best VPN service for your needs.
*The iOS version has a 7-day free trial. It requires you to purchase the product from the App Store and to cancel your order before the free trial expires.