Surfing the internet, I’ve made it my priority to experience it as fully and as safely as possible, thus having a VNP came in naturally. Having used both paid and free versions of VPN made me quite opinionated on the topic. So is it worth paying for a VPN?
Paying for a VPN is worth it! There is a reason why companies offer free and paid versions of the same product. Even if the product is free, the company still has to make money off it. This usually comes in the form of showing you ads or worse, selling your data. How you pay is up to you.
Now, that we’ve established there is no such thing as a free lunch, in order to better answer your question, we should take a look at other important variables. How often are you on the internet, do you need better encryption, what company would you buy it from? Here are some answers to all of that to help you make the best decision.
The Difference Between Free And Paid VPN
|Service||Free VPN||Paid VPN|
|Extensive server base||No||Yes|
|Hidden IP address||Mostly hidden||Always hidden|
|Stable VPN connection||Mostly stable||Always stable|
|Data encryption||Mostly encrypted||Always encrypted|
|Bandwidth limit||Limited||No limit|
|Dedicated IP address||No||Yes, optional|
|Multiple simultaneous connections||No||Yes|
|24/7 customer support||No||Yes|
No matter how you slice it, the drawback of a free VPN is bigger compared to its paid counterpart. Paying, on the other hand, usually comes with better speed, enhanced encryption, and extra features. The only real downside of a paid VPN is that you, well, have to pay.
Companies that sell VPN look at paying customers as a base to their business. Money earned is used to better their product, provide good customer service, and overall, enhance the experience.
Free versions of VPN have poor security, which is mostly due to bad server infrastructure. In turn, this means they have weak encryption, and your privacy is at stake. On top of that, they tend to sell customer data, and that goes against everything a VPN stands for.
To add to that, limited performance is another big issue. Free VPNs will never offer the speed a paid version would. Why should they, especially when speed is a key paid feature? And we all know what slow speed means – unreliable data streaming or playing online videogames.
You can compare some of the main features in the table provided here. Information stands true for most of the companies selling VPN.
Average Cost Of A VPN
Most VPNs follow a subscription model when it comes to purchasing. It goes without saying that the longer you subscribe for, the less you are going to pay. Roughly, the starting price for a month of subscription is around 11.99$. Here is another handy chart breaking down the pricing of some popular choices.
|Service Provider||Monthly price||Max number of devices||Servers and countries|
|Pure VPN||$10.95 / month||10||6500 + servers across 140+ countries|
|NordVPN||$11.95 / month||6||5200 + servers across 60 countries|
|Private Internet Access||$11.95 / month||10||33000 + servers across 78 countries|
|ExpressVPN||$12.95 / month||5||3000 + servers across 94 countries|
|CyberGhost||$12.99 / month||7||7400 + servers across 90 countries|
|Surfshark||$12.95 / month||Unlimited||3200 + servers across 65 countries|
|IPVanish||$10.99 / month||Unlimited||1900 + servers across 52 countries|
|ProtonVPN||$10.00 / month||10||1200 + servers across 55 countries|
|Hotspot Shield||$12.99 / month||5||3200 + servers across 80 countries|
|TunnelBear||$9.99 / month||5||1800 + servers across 41 countries|
*please note price may be subject to change – chart for informational purposes only
How Do You Choose The Right VPN? (3 Steps)
The first thing evident when it comes to picking up a VPN is that there are many. Picking the correct one is a daunting task. But lucky for you, there are some simple steps you can take to simplify the process.
1. Why do you need a VPN?
To start with, you need to realize what do you need a VPN for?
Want to stream media? Go for the VPN with the least speed loss, reliable connection, and unlimited bandwidth.
If you need one for your household, look for a router-based VPN.
Using public Wi-Fi networks? Then, the highest security VPN with many servers all around the globe is what you are looking for.
2. Comparing perks
Once you have a few candidates compare their perks. But don’t stop there. Make sure you also check what locations they cover, see if their user interface is friendly and what devices are compatible.
The most popular VPNs cover all the main platforms (Windows, Mac, Android, Linux, and IOS) but sometimes some are excluded for one reason or another.
3. Payment method
By covering all of the above, you are left with the payment itself. The best way about this is to commit to a longer subscription plan to get the best value for your money.
Customer support also plays a huge role in making sure you will get whatever information is needed. Live chat is superior to emails and tickets, mostly for the time spent waiting.
A money-back guarantee is also an important part of a good VPN deal. It adds legitimacy to the choice and if you don’t like what you paid for you can simply back off the deal. The top-tier VPNs offer a trial period as an additional statement to their good service.
Simple VPN Alternatives
By this point, if you are still reluctant to purchase a VPN don’t be alarmed. There are some things you can do to protect your data, be online, and keep your wallet closed. Heck, even if you do purchase a VPN subscription you can still apply these methods to enhance its purpose.
Keep in mind though, these won’t offer you the luxury of changing your IP address thus geo-restricted content will remain unavailable. This doesn’t make them a negligible addition to your defense arsenal.
Use A Private Email To Conceal Your Identity
Most of us have a single-digit number of email addresses. But we mostly use the same mail for the majority of our online accounts. This makes for an easy way to collect our private data. Now, I’m not saying you need to create a new email every single time you are about to subscribe somewhere but the more the merrier.
Furthermore, there are some browsers like Mozilla Firefox that offer you the option to create an email alias that forwards messages to your original mail. This way your mail is kept private, spam is being reduced and there are fewer hacking attempts.
Limit Social Media
Social media such as Facebook and Instagram track most of your web activity. Then, the information they gather is being tied to your social media profiles. Even if you don’t have an account they still create shadow profiles that question their intentions regarding privacy, to say the least.
There are extensions for the most popular browsers that limit the information popular social media can collect. Features such as embedded media are blocked and that way your data is protected. The less information they have the less they can sell, potentially for wrongdoing.
How Much Is Your Personal Data Worth?
Now that you have a better understanding of why paid VPNs are worth it compared to free versions, it’s up to you to decide on getting one. After all, it’s kind of a no-brainer if privacy is supposed to be valuable or not. Remember, you rarely have a choice about collected personal data; however, you always have more control over the data you choose to share.