To Pay or Not to Pay: Should Developers Choose a Free or Paid VPN?

Petter Lagson Vpn

Most people expect privacy when using the internet. However, Big Tech companies have disregarded users’ privacy for years. They have been exploiting people’s personal information to build their surveillance capitalism economy.

Internet users have zero privacy, except for what special privacy tools can bring. Using the internet without a VPN is like having someone hang over your shoulder. They can read everything you see and record every click. Hence, the rise of free VPNs.

But we have learned that nothing is truly free. How do you know whether an offer for a “free” VPN is on the level?

Why Do Developers Need a VPN?

A VPN provides a shield between your online activities and your devices. This shield has two primary objectives: safeguarding your privacy and protecting you from harm. It also offers:

  • Encryption for Unsecured Public Wi-Fi: You may have to send a few quick emails or fix an urgent problem while away from the office. Cybercriminals love public Wi-Fi hotspots where they can launch MITM attacks. Only log into apps, cloud storage, or financial apps after encrypting the connection with a VPN.
  • Cyber Protection: Developers receive a vast amount of phishing and spam emails. An advanced VPN can identify and block links that lead to dangerous or spoofed websites. It can protect you from a significant portion of the most common malware and ransomware attacks.
  • No Irritating Ads: Developers are often online and tend to have massive digital footprints. But why make it easy for data brokers to collect and sell information about your online activities and preferences? A VPN can block unnecessary cookies and trackers while you work or surf.
  • Testing Websites From Other Countries: Web developers must ensure their websites work efficiently and look good in different countries. They need to test the website’s functionality and features from global locations. A VPN lets you simulate browsing from another country to test the website’s performance in that location.
  • Safeguarding Intellectual Property From Cybercriminals: A data breach can provide competitors with an edge by disclosing designs and concepts before they are supposed to be released. A VPN will encrypt your data transfers to prevent data leaks.
  • Securing Remote Work Teams: Web development teams often use multiple networks. A VPN ensures the integrity of data transfers. And in some countries, remote team members may be locked out of platforms such as WhatsApp, YouTube, or Facebook. A VPN can help remote workers access restricted websites without fear.

When Not To Use a VPN

VPNs can lock down your internet connection but can also have drawbacks. For example, it might slow down your internet speed because it adds an extra hop to your connection. The location of the VPN server can increase the delay in data transmission, known as ping. The delay may not be noticeable if you have a fast internet connection. However, it can be problematic if you regularly play for very high stakes in competitive online gaming!

You may be perfectly happy allowing your apps to connect directly via your local ISP. But you might want to make an exception for your browsing traffic. There is a solution: You could use your VPN browser extension. For example, a Chrome VPN extension uses a proxy and will only handle Chrome browser traffic. All other online activities will interact directly with your ISP’s servers using your local IP address.

The Free vs. Paid VPN Controversy

The topic of free versus paid VPNs is controversial. While free VPNs may seem tempting, it’s essential to consider the trade-offs. Someone has to foot the bill for the servers and maintenance. This means you’re paying for the “free” service in other ways.

Completely Free VPNs

Free VPNs are often slow, unreliable, and lack advanced features. However, the critical factor is that VPN servers are expensive. If a provider isn’t charging you for their services, they’re collecting and using your data to generate revenue. Free VPN providers monetize their services by collecting and selling your browsing data to ad networks.

It utterly defeats the purpose of using a VPN. And, since your network traffic passes through their servers, they have full access and control over your data stream. This puts you at risk of data breaches and phishing scams.

The most effective option is a reputable VPN service that values privacy and security.

Risk of Malware

There is also the problem of malicious free mobile phone VPN apps in app stores. Despite Google and Apple’s efforts, malware masquerading as free VPN apps keeps ending up in the app stores. To fight against malicious VPNs, Google introduced a new badge in the Play Store. It highlights independently audited VPN apps. Google’s message is clear: Smartphone users should avoid unaudited apps with no privacy record.

Data Caps

Some VPN companies provide a limited free VPN service. The purpose of the free service is to attract customers and later convert them into paying customers. The free services are slower, have fewer server locations, and have a strict data cap. You only get a bare-bones false IP address, not the full benefits of a VPN.

It’s a great freebie, even if the data allowance is limited. There’s enough to connect in an emergency, download a few emails, or send messages when you’re away from your home or work network. You’re unlikely to be able to indulge in streaming videos, and the slow speed would make attending online meetings difficult. Paid versions are faster, off more servers in more countries, and have additional privacy and safety features.

Free Full-Feature VPN Trials

Most premium VPNs offer a free trial to help people decide if they like the product. In the past, VPN providers offered a trial period of between 7 days and a month without requiring any upfront payment. However, the leading VPN providers have changed the free trial model. Nowadays, they usually provide a pre-paid month-long trial period with a full money-back guarantee. During the trial, you get the full benefits of the premium functions.

Premium VPN Solutions

Premium VPNs don’t restrict your data usage. They offer more servers running much higher capacity in more parts of the world than free VPNs. You could even find servers optimized for gaming, P2P file transfer, or watching HD movies.

Free VPNs restrict the number of devices that can be connected simultaneously. However, with a paid VPN, you can connect multiple devices simultaneously. You can also secure your router with your VPN and then route your smart devices via the router to secure them. It will prevent hackers from entering your network via your appliances.

Industry-leading VPN companies offer ad-blocking and tracker-blocking. They also offer other sophisticated features like split tunneling, a kill switch, and creating private servers for file sharing or gaming events. A browser addon for Chrome VPN can even match your device’s system clock to the timezone of the VPN server you’re connected to. The industry leaders are racing to increase their range of antivirus functions and malware protection continuously.

Some Final Thoughts

A VPN is essential for defending your privacy and security while browsing the internet. However, reading the fine print and understanding the potential trade-offs is crucial before using a free VPN. While paid VPN services may cost a little more, they offer advanced features, better performance, and more robust security. Do your due diligence and weigh each option’s benefits and drawbacks before entrusting your privacy to a VPN company.