I write articles about VPN services all the time. One of the most frequently asked questions as I publish such articles is if I can recommend a free VPN instead? Wouldn't it be great to get all the advantages of a VPN, without having to pay?
So, the question I am about to ask right now is whether it is worth paying for a VPN subscription? Why would someone pay between 2 and 13 USD per month to have a VPN? Is it worth it?
What is a VPN all about?
To understand the question, let us first take a look at what a VPN is all about. VPN is an abbreviation for Virtual Private Network. I guess some people have stopped reading already, but it really isn't that hard to understand what a VPN is all about.
Below you can see two illustrations taken from the following article: https://www.ipaddressguide.org/what-is/what-is-a-vpn-connection-for-dummies/
This illustrates a normal Internet connection when your device is connected to a router, and from there, your data is sent to the World Wide Web.
This illustration shows your connection to the Internet using a VPN. It is sent through a so-called VPN tunnel, to the VPN server, and from there to the World Wide Web. What happens in the tunnel is encrypted, meaning that nobody can spy on your activities. And when the signals reach the Internet, they seem to originate from the VPN server and not from your device. As a result, your IP address will change, and your local ISP or people near you using the same Internet connection will not be able to spy on you.
Why is a VPN useful?
The VPN is useful because of what I have just explained. It will hide your activities online, and it will change your IP. Why is this useful?
Can you imagine visiting a country in which Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube is banned? That would be kind of bad, wouldn't it? Or maybe you don't care, because you are 100% using Hive, and don't care about other websites? No matter what, if you use a VPN, the government will not be able to spy on you, and thus, they will not be able to stop you from visiting such websites as you connect to a VPN server outside the country. And since they cannot see which websites you are visiting, they cannot punish you for what you are doing either.
That is why a VPN is so incredibly important for those who want access to unfiltered information, and for those who want to share information freely online.
But, that isn't all...
A VPN can also be used to access content online not available at your location. There are TV shows available on NBC in the United States that can only be streamed by people in the USA. In the same way, BBC iPlayer can only be streamed by people in the UK, and so on.
These regulations are set by the local streaming services and TV networks in order to not break copyright laws. However, you can in such situations use a VPN to manipulate and change your IP address. This will make NBC, BBC, Netflix, Hulu, and other similar sites believe that you are located somewhere else, which might give you access to the sites no matter what. Of course, it needs to be taken into consideration that many VPNs are blocked by these sites, meaning that it isn't enough to have a UK IP address to watch BBC online, as most VPNs and proxy services are blocked by BBC. But, by default, a VPN should make you able to bypass such geo-blocks.
What is the difference between a free VPN and one you have to pay for?
There are big differences here, but not always. For example, most free VPN services have limitations to how many servers you can connect to, and even more, they have limitations when it comes to bandwidth usage. Maybe you can use 500 MB per month, but if you have ever streamed a movie on Netflix, you know that this isn't enough even to watch a movie.
Another problem with free VPN services is that they need to make money in one way or another. Why would they give away a service for free? Facebook is free, but you pay them every single day. How? By creating content, publishing, by searching, by looking around. Your data is a gold-mine to Facebook, and that is what makes them successful. So, when you use a free VPN, you shouldn't believe that it is free. They are making money in some way, and most likely, it is by making usage of the data you give them, by adding some spyware to your device, or by selling your data.
One way or another, what might sound like a free solution, will normally not end up being free. And if you want to use a VPN to unblock services, all those free options are discovered and blocked by the popular streaming services already.
The VPN services you have to pay for earn their money from your subscription fee, and thus, they will do their uttermost to protect your data and keep you a happy (paying) customer. Since you pay to use the service, it is also important for them to have servers running that work with the streaming services you are interested in, and that is why these services often work way better for unblocking purposes than the free VPN services.
Do I have some VPN recommendations?
Of course, I do, but it is very important to know your motivation for using a VPN before I make the recommendation. For example, maybe all you want is to be able to bypass The Great Firewall of China (while there). If that is so, then using a VPN service such as VyprVPN or ExpressVPN will do you well. But, do not forget to buy your VPN subscription before you arrive in China! Do you know why? The websites of these VPN providers are blocked in China, meaning that you cannot actually visit them to buy a subscription after your arrival.
Would you like to use your VPN to stream content online? If that is so, then SurfsharkVPN and ExpressVPN are the two best on the market, especially when it comes to Netflix. SurfsharkVPN (link to the website) is also very cheap and you can use one subscription on an unlimited number of devices at the same time. So, if you take into consideration that you get a 2-year plan for less than 50 USD, and then you can split the cost with 5 people, then the price is 10 USD per person for 2 years of a VPN. That isn't much? If you decide to pay it all yourself, then the price is still only 2 USD per month. Considering how this will give you access to Netflix content in more than 10 countries, give you safety and encryption online, and so much more... it isn't that expensive at all, do you think?
Do you want to read more VPN reviews? Want to find a VPN suitable for you? Check the VPN reviews in the IP Address Guide.
Are you using a VPN? Are you curious about what a VPN service can do for you? Do you have a favorite VPN? I would love to hear from you in the comment field!