If you are considering installing a Virtual Private Network, you probably want its free version. We do enjoy a free ride in life sometimes. Psychologists discovered that we experience different emotions towards the same object, depending on its availability and perceived value. And apparently, we do not always desire more what we cannot have. It might sound counterintuitive to us, since we are convinced that people chase more actively what escapes them, that a forbidden fruit is not always more covetable and sweeter.
Psychologists say that the theory of an unattainable, and therefore more desirable, fruit does not always explain our behavior. Often, the opposite is the case. What we can get for free and effortlessly becomes more valuable in our eyes. We might not be particularly fond of donuts, for example. We might go for days and even weeks without ever thinking about donuts. But once we are given that donut for free, we gladly eat it. For some people, a free donut’s value so skyrockets that they are willing to spend hours waiting in a queue to get it.
If people become so enthusiastic about an item that costs $1.40, how would they feel about receiving an expensive program or software free of charge? Doubtless, everyone would find an opportunity to use for free costly programs and services highly alluring, especially when payments for them should be made every month. A free version of software would save people money and would free them from monthly payments. It is not surprising, then, that when considering installing a VPN, users look for its free version, trying to obtain the best free VPN for PC that is offered from time to time by VPN providers. Yet if a free donut does not contain less tasty ingredients than a donut we buy for money, a VPN given for free might offer less benefits to users than a VPN that they purchased.
To see why the free Virtual Private Network provides less benefits than the bought one, it is important to understand what functions this software was created to perform in the first place. The VPN was invented to allow people to access the web safely and privately by routing their connection through a server and hiding their presence online.
When users start their VPN software from their VPN service, it encrypts their data. What makes this encryption successful is the VPN’s ability to move faster than users’ Internet Service Providers. Outrun by the VPN, the Internet Service Providers become unable to identify users’ real location. The encrypted information then goes to the VPN and, through it, to users’ intended online destination: a certain blocked website, Netflix’s American library, or even Google. With the help of the VPN, Netflix is fooled into seeing users’ data as arriving from the VPN server rather than from their computer.
Both paid and free VPNs perform the function of camouflaging users’ online identity. But there is a difference. Free VPN services provide only PPTP VPNs; that is, Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol. This is the original protocol invented by Microsoft’s Gurdeep Singh-Pall in 1996. Till now, many people are convinced that the PPTP is the fastest of all protocols. Yet they are mistaken: designed for dial-up access, the PPTP has the lowest level of encryption. The PPTP utilizes MS-CHAP V2, which is easily hacked. Paid VPNs services provide not only PPTP VPNs but also L2TP/IPSEC, SSTR, SSH, and Open VPN. All of them are more secure than the PPTP.
Free VPNs also have lower speed than paid ones, simply because more people use them. There is also not enough bandwidth in free VPNs, which, obviously, slows down their speed even more. Bandwidth is expensive, ranging from $5 in America to $100 in Australia. Those providers that do not charge for their services do not have funds to invest in bandwidth. Their VPNs thus move unpleasantly slow. By charging for their VPN services, other providers accumulate enough money to put in bandwidth and thus guarantee that their VPNs will run quickly. With high bandwidth, customers also have fewer disconnections. This ensures the availability of the VPN.
The enhanced security and higher bandwidth are the qualities that recommend paid VPNs to users. The third is better customer service. Providers of paid VPNs have money to hire employees who take care of the software’s malfunctions. Every time something goes wrong with their paid VPNs, customers have the right to ask for help and expect their problems to be solved. If users do not pay for their VPNs, they simply cannot demand support from service providers.
Free VPNs are, therefore, not always the best option. Although they preserve users’ anonymity, which paid platforms do not do, free VPNs are slower and less secure and do not presuppose support with the software’s malfunction. You need to weigh all pros and cons of the free version of the VPN and then decide whether your anonymity trumps the software’s poor speed and low security.
Working as a cyber security solutions architect, Alisa focuses on bug bounty and network security. Before joining us she held a cyber security researcher positions within a variety of cyber security start-ups. She also experience in different industry domains like finance, healthcare and consumer products.