Which is better, free VPN or paid VPN? In this comparison article, I’m going to take a look at the advantages of free VPNs vs. paid VPNs so you can decide which is the right decision for you–to go paid or free?
I understand that you might be new to VPN, hell, you might not even be sure that you need to use VPNs in the first place–so why not start free? I completely understand. It’s a reasonable and somewhat logical thought process to have, but this way of thinking is only seen in people who are new to VPN.
Let me draw you a semi-accurate comparison. In the same ways that you wouldn’t buy used underwear or worn out shoes, you also wouldn’t buy a free VPN. Brand new shoes and underwear aren’t that expensive, and it’s sketchy to think of using “used” underwear.
It’s also a bit tricky to find “used” underwear, whereas it’s much easier to go out and just buy some decently paid underwear. Used underwear could give you some disease, a rash, or just smell bad.
OK, enough about underwear. Let’s talk about how that comparison applies to free VPNs vs. paid VPNs.
Free VPN vs. Paid VPN – Should I Use Free VPN?
So what are some advantages to using a free VPN?
Well, it’s free, so unless you accidentally purchase an upgrade, you won’t have to spend any money. Free VPNs are pretty good for testing out what the “idea” of VPN is, and understanding what it’s like to use one.
Free VPN Disadvantages + Paid VPN Advantages
So while there aren’t ANY advantages to using a free VPN besides that–well, it’s free, there are plenty of disadvantages.
- Limited protocols
Free VPNs have limited protocols for you to use. This means you most likely won’t be using the best protocol, OpenVPN, and instead, you will be forced to use protocols that aren’t as secure like PPTP. To see more information about protocols and which ones you should use, check out this resource we made covering PPTP, L2TP/IPsec, OpenVPN, and more.
Paid VPNs on the other hand, usually use OpenVPN which is the newest, fastest, and most secure protocol option.
- Slow speeds
Free VPN providers often give the “free” version of their VPN very limited speeds. Most free VPN providers offer a paid plan, and they draw you in with the free model and then try to convert you to paid so you can get more speeds.
Other VPN providers who are only “free” have other add-ons and additions, but the result is always the same. If you want speeds, you have to pay, and if you use a free VPN, it’s ALWAYS going to be slow or severely restricted regarding bandwidth–which leads me to the next point.
With a paid VPN provider, you can get much better speeds, even though it does vary between providers. TorGuard, Private Internet Access, GhostVPN, and ExpressVPN are some of the fastest VPN providers I’ve tested.
- Limited bandwidth
Besides limited speeds, free VPNs also ALWAYS have a bandwidth cap that limits how much you can use it. Most free VPNs can only be used for a day since the best free VPN providers like Tunnelbear offer only a 500 MB cap on bandwidth use!
Paid VPNs never have limited bandwidth!
- No torrenting
I haven’t found one free VPN provider that works well with torrenting. Most free VPN providers limit their free versions, so users will be more incentivized to switch over to the “paid” option to torrent. See this article here for more information about torrenting with free VPNs.
Most paid VPNs allow torrenting, but there are a few exceptions out there–so watch out. For torrenting, I’d recommend TorGuard since it comes with a free BitTorrent proxy which is super convenient.
- Limited support
Free VPN providers don’t care as much about their customers since they aren’t getting paid. When money is involved, there is more incentive to give good customer support, and usually, if a VPN provider is paid, it means they are making more money to spend on customer service reps who give a damn.
Paid VPNs usually have much better support, but it can also be a hit or miss. TorGuard has great support, and it’s one of the few VPNs to have 24/7 live chat, but other VPNs like ExpressVPN also have live chat hours as well as decent support and refund policies. PIA can be a bit tricky with Bitcoin returns, and a lot of other VPNs–like NordVPN, simply refuse Bitcoin returns.
- Limited security
Free VPNs usually have limited protocols which hinders the strength of your OPsec by a lot, but they also often have limited encryption options and security features than paid VPN providers who often offer the best security like 256-AES encryption, IP leak protection features, secure RSA keys, secure IPs, and no logging policies.
Free VPN providers often log information and sell it to advertisers, or in the worse cases, use users in the network for bandwidth or information–like HolaVPN, one of the most popular free VPN providers out there.
- Limited server connections
Free VPNs have limited servers to connect to since the VPN company isn’t incentivized to create a lot of free servers since it cost them money to do so. Paid VPN providers have much more servers since they can afford to support them and are incentivized to make the servers have the best experience for their customers.
Conclusion of Free VPN vs. Paid VPN
As you can see, there are a lot more disadvantages with using a free VPN than a paid VPN. Free VPNs are like used underwear. They are often dirty, unsafe to use, and just not as good or convenient as paid underwear.
The only disadvantage of a paid VPN is that it cost money, but that isn’t really an issue since most VPN providers are so cheap now. You can get Private Internet Access for $6.95 a month, or TorGuard for $29.99 for 6 months.