As the adage goes, “if you are not paying for it, you’re not the customer; you’re the product being sold.” The truth is that there’s no such thing as a free VPN. It’s impossible to get something for literally nothing. So, if you aren’t directly paying for VPN access with money, your VPN provider must resort to alternative measures to drive revenue. Usually, these measures completely defeat the purpose of a virtual private network.
Data Collection and Selling
Operating a virtual private network isn’t cheap. One of the ways free VPN providers turn a profit is by monetizing your data. When you’re connected to a free VPN, your free VPN provider can log and monitor your online activity, including your browsing habits. Once this data is compiled, your provider sells it to third-party bidders.
Advertisers are some of the most notable data buyers. In exchange for your internet traffic, they form an affiliate partnership with your free VPN provider to serve you ads. These ads are often placed inside your free VPN provider’s app, but will continue to appear when you’re not connected to your provider’s network.
Affiliate partners also fund free VPN providers’ ventures through traffic manipulation. As part of their partnership, free VPN providers will prioritize traffic to affiliated websites. This includes diverting your traffic away from specific retailers, redirecting it to advertisers’ URLs, and throttling your connection on competitor domains.
What does a free VPN get you?
When it comes to free VPN providers, you get what you pay for. Not only do you sacrifice your privacy and security, you also subject yourself to poor VPN performance. These shortcomings manifest themselves in a plethora of ways.
Lack of Servers
A quality virtual private network should operate on a global scale and include a long list of servers and server locations to choose from. Unfortunately, this is not the case for free VPN providers. Their networks typically include low server counts and a limited number of countries and cities.