The Virtual Private Network (VPN) market has exploded in the last decade. Demand for VPN services has grown along with increasing fears about online privacy and security, a desire to circumvent archaic censorship and global content licensing limitations, and the illegal download of copyrighted materials via BitTorrent.
The market is now very mature with a number of well-established VPN service providers offering relatively low-cost subscriptions that enable users to safely and securely browse the web, download content or skirt around censors via anonymous IPs in countries all over the world. Want to watch Hulu in the US or Netflix in the UK? A VPN service will trick these services into thinking you are visiting their site from a local IP address. Or if you are in China a VPN will prevent the authorities from filtering your web traffic.
As with many digital products or services there is a certain expectation that one or more providers will have found a way to provide free service to those you can’t afford to pay for a premium. This is certainly true of the VPN market, where demand for free VPNs has grown exponentially in the last decade according to Google search trends.
To try and capitalize on the growing search demand for “free vpn” many of the best providers have started to advertise free plans to attract consumers to their site. This despite being unable to provide a VPN service for free without imposing such heavy restrictions that the service is unusable for anything but the lightest of requirements.
Search for the best free VPN providers and you will find a plethora of articles comparing the best free services, but read the fine point closely and you will soon see that the limitations make these offers very impractical:
- Limited bandwidth usage, so it will only work for so long.
- Limited access points, likely not the most important ones.
- Limited browsing speed, so the internet will appear slower than usual.
Ask any regular web user, and anyone of these issues is likely to be a showstopper. Combine them and a so-called free VPN service becomes an unrealistic proposition. Indeed, the free service may become more expensive in terms of your time and frustration. The service providers know this and use these plans as hook to encourage users to install their VPN app, knowing that eventually most will give up or will upgrade to a paid subscription. The convenience and peace of mind of a good user experience comes with a price.
As the saying goes, there is no such thing as a free lunch, and this is certainly true here. Instead of looking for a free VPN service, the smarter web surfer looks for the best VPN service for their needs. Whether they are after the best VPN for torrenting or want to access their usual social networks while traveling in China, there is no chance that a free service will provide the best experience so best to consider the options based on actual features and reviews from paying customers.