Free vs paid VPN: Which is best for you?

Free VPNs give you enough data for a slow connection but you lack fast payment options, server space, and data.

Whether you want to protect your privacy online or just want to hide your privacy while using public Wi-Fi, VPNs put another layer between your device and the Internet. The best VPNs work by running your internet connection through a VPN server before accessing the rest of the internet, establishing a secure path between your device and the servers you’re streaming data from. VPNs are a great way to give yourself peace of mind online.


Free VPNs, however, are hard to trust because, at the end of the day, someone has to pay for those servers. Most free VPNs are offered as full service trials with restrictions that make them impossible to use regularly. Even so, these free VPNs can be great for downloading multiple emails or sending messages when you’re away from your home or work network.

Free VPNs have data and speed limits

The most important limitation is free VPNs and data. Free VPNs usually give you enough data to surf the web or access email without worry, but if you try to download large files, you’ll find that your data runs out quickly. Video marketing and online conference attendance can also increase rapidly.

One of the best free VPNs, Hotspot Shield, comes with 500MB per day on the free plan. That’s less than an hour of Disney+ with the quality set to Save Data. If you plan accordingly, however, and use it sparingly, these free VPNs can be the best way to protect yourself online as long as they are from reliable providers.

Proton VPN, on the other hand, has no data cap, but speeds can be lower than premium accounts, and advertising is not supported. The paid version comes with faster VPN speeds and more servers in more countries. Using a paid unlimited VPN means you can leave it connected all the time without losing speed or worrying about running out of data.

Paid VPNs have many servers

A VPN is nothing without its servers, and in most cases, the best servers are reserved for paying customers. Proton VPN, for example, has over 100 servers in 3 countries for free users but 2,900+ servers in 65 countries for paid users. The number of these paid servers can be high, but in general, there are plenty to go around. If you take a look at Proton VPN’s server page, you’ll also notice that the free servers are often very close to full capacity, which means speeds can suffer. Proton VPN’s paid servers also support P2P file transfers, such as BitTorrent and Tor.

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Whether you’re trying to view websites blocked in other regions or save money on products sold cheaply in another country, a VPN with multiple servers will give you the best chance of success. Some VPN services also specify servers for streaming and additional storage to avoid being blocked.

Protect your privacy

While many free VPNs enjoy the same level of privacy as their paid counterparts, some companies can give you an advantage. VPNs may not be as secure as they seem, and at the end of the day, your internet traffic is going through the VPN, so you want to be sure the company isn’t keeping records longer than they should. proven track record of respecting user privacy.

Your browsing data is valuable and can be used to learn more about you in addition to what you buy. A free VPN needs to make money in some way to keep it running, so you want to make sure it’s not doing this by selling your data. Advertisers hate to waste their money, and if they can already identify a purchase intent based on your browsing experience, their ads can be more effective.

A free VPN needs to make money in some way to keep it running, so you want to make sure it’s not doing this by selling your data.

You can no longer know with complete confidence whether your stored data is being stored securely. If your data is not properly protected, a bad actor can also use it to facilitate fraud, such as providing a false guarantee for a product you may have purchased. Although most of us are well versed in technical matters, one mistake in sharing important information can cause headaches for weeks.

Popular VPN providers tell users how long they keep logs and what kind of content is saved. In most cases, premium VPN providers do not keep any logs beyond what is required to sign you into their software, helping you to keep your usage private. If you’re considering a VPN, make sure you know what kind of data it’s storing and how long the provider is storing it.

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Paid VPN extensions

Most free VPNs severely limit the number of devices you can connect to one account. If you want to access multiple devices online at the same time, a paid VPN will come with multiple connected devices, so you can have your phone, tablet, computer, etc. protected by the same VPN. You can get a router with VPN support to protect multiple devices without having to log into everything.

Aside from the basics, many paid VPNs have evolved into a full-featured version with anti-malware protection and ad blocking. For example, Surfshark offers an ad blocker and cookie pop-up blocker with its basic package. The browser’s cookie pop-up automatically rejects cookie requests on websites, so you don’t accidentally accept anything you don’t want.

Of course, you can disable ad blocking if you don’t want it or if it causes problems when visiting the website.

You don’t need to use a VPN for everything

VPNs sound like a great solution from the hype, but they can also mess up your online experience in other ways. The first is speed. Even with the latest protocols, you can slow down your internet speed when connected to a VPN.

You’re also adding another hop to your connection on the way to the destination, which can cost ping time. Ping is the time it takes for data to be sent between your device and the Internet. A low ping is important for online gaming, and while a high-end VPN only adds a few milliseconds to your internet connection, it can still affect your gaming experience. A VPN can be a reliable way to connect to servers in another region, but for most people, it should be left to play.

Which VPN should you choose?

When it comes to choosing the right VPN, it comes down to what you need. If you’re just catching a few emails on public Wi-Fi, a reliable free VPN should do the trick. A free VPN is also great for general browsing but it can fall down when it comes to transferring music or videos. Free VPNs can also struggle to host a video conference if the server is close to full, which can cause interference.

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Hotspot Shield is one of our favorite free VPNs because it offers great information updated daily. A 2Mbps connection may not be good for streaming, and 500MB of data, but to shoot a few emails at the airport or use financial programs on an unknown Wi-Fi network, Hotspot Shield is a good choice.

Hotspot Shield

Hotspot Shield is free and easy to use with a hard data limit of 500MB per day at up to 2Mbps. Although it has one free connection, this VPN has enough data and speed for secure browsing and sending emails from the public domain.

Check out Hotspot Shield

If you’re using a VPN at work, it’s always a good idea to check with your company to see if they already use a VPN. Many companies and institutions, such as colleges, will have VPNs on their networks for work or student traffic. You can pre-pay for an antivirus package or Google One.

Finally, a paid VPN makes sense for someone who wants to download large files using BitTorrent, protect multiple devices, and run without worrying about usage. Paid VPNs support more servers than free VPNs, so you can find a server with less load or in a location that works best for your needs to maintain high performance. If you want to stream video from another country, a paid VPN with well-optimized servers will give you the best experience.

One of our favorite paid VPNs is Mullvad, which has many servers to get a strong connection in different countries. If you’re hesitant to pay for your VPN with a card, you can also pay Mullvad with cryptocurrency, bank wire, or cash if you send it. You do not need to provide an email and phone number to. Mullvad is everything connected to your account number that you created.


Mullvad is a cheap VPN with over 650 servers in 43 countries. Mullvad accepts multiple payment methods including credit card, cryptocurrency, bank wire, and even cash.

$5+/mo in Mullvad

The truth is, most of us don’t need to use a VPN all the time, and features like two-factor authentication combined with common sense are the protection most people need. However, a VPN is a good backup option when you’re using public Wi-Fi that tracks your usage, or a connection you’re not sure is secure.

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