What is the problem with free VPN providers?

Offering a free VPN service is an honourable task. VPNs should be an essential part of everyone’s web browsing experience. A lot of the time though the old saying “You get what you pay for” rings true when it comes to free VPN services, but what is the problem with free VPN providers exactly?

Relatively recent revelations have found the likes of probably the most popular free VPN provider on the internet, Hola, has in fact been selling the bandwidth of its millions of users. What Hola does exactly is use your PC as an exit node if your internet speed is fast enough, so if you are idling and leave Hola running on your PC anybody that pays can use your internet without your knowledge. This means anyone can be using your internet at any time and you will have no idea what for. That non-existent price tag doesn’t sound so tempting now does it?

TorrentFreak reached out to Hola in order to gain the truth on the matter and there was in fact absolutely no denial from the company, to quote: “We have always made it clear that Hola is built for the user and with the user in mind. We’ve explained the technical aspects of it in our FAQ and have always advertised in our FAQ the ability to pay for non-commercial use,”

How do free VPN providers get away with it?

The majority of people don’t bother to look into what exactly these companies are really about. Running a VPN service isn’t something you can do with no overheads. There are servers to purchase and maintain, bills and what have you to pay for so usually free VPN providers have to offset these costs some other way and you will find the majority of the time the users themselves are the ones that have to pay but in ways they don’t actually know.

Is it wrong to do what Hola did? Essentially yes but they knew they could get away with it because nobody takes the time to actually do research on what a company actually stands for. They just want access to a service as quick and cheaply as possible and in the end a lot of the time you end up paying a lot more than if you just took the costs up front and bought into a service you can really trust.

Sometimes the trade-off is a lot more visible to the user with many free VPNs including more tangible limits like bandwidth speed or the amount of data you can use. Many also use a time limit or even worse force you to watch ads whilst you use the service.

To summarise the problem with free VPN providers is they have to pay to keep the service running and they are always looking to offset that cost to you, the consumer, usually in ways that aren’t really all that nice. People see that low barrier of entry and they take it when usually the slightly higher one whilst initially costing you more, works better in the long run.
Even after this news you will find people still flocking to the service. It sadly can’t be helped but we here at CactusVPN like to think of what we do as not only as a service but a way that we can help people stay secure online and not screw over customers because we all get enough of that from our respective governments.

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I have been a writer since I was 14 and even since that age I have been an advocate for privacy, especially on the internet. Working at CactusVPN allows me to write about what I am passionate about the most, security.

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