Everybody loves a bargain. And that is as true in Taiwan as anywhere. So, when you learn that you learn that there are free VPNs available, you might think it is a no-brainer to sign up to one of those. After all, why pay money for something you can get for free?
But the truth is that there is no such thing as a VPN. There are VPNs that don’t charge a fee to use their service. But they will still be earning money from you in other ways. And usually, they are putting your online security and privacy at risk to do so.
There are plenty of reasons why free VPNs are just not worth the risk, and in this article, we are going to explain the main ones. Once you have finished reading, you will quickly realize that paying a few NT$ a month for a premium VPN like NordVPN or Buffered VPN offers much better value for money than risking everything with a so-called ‘free’ VPN.
The risk of Malware
Most people know about Malware, malicious software which can damage and steal your device and files. Almost all of us use anti-virus software to try and avoid it. But, if you download a ‘free’ VPN it is quite likely that you could be downloading malware too.
When you download a ‘free’ VPN it will often try to download other software too. This extra software is often malware, but sometimes even the VPN itself contains malware. A study by Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization found that 38% of the 234 free VPNs they analyzed contained malware.
Sometimes this malware is tracking and harvesting your online data. But sometimes it is up to even nastier things like stealing your personal data. The risks of being infected with malware when using a ‘free’ VPN is high and it’s just not worth the risk.
Selling your data
VPNs are supposed to keep your online data private and secure. All the ones we recommend on this site do just that. But many ‘free’ VPNs do not. Data is worth a lot of money and is the most valuable asset a VPN has. ‘Free’ VPNs have to make money somewhere, and many do so by selling their user data to advertisers and other third parties.
One of the worst offenders is Facebook’s Onavo Security. Facebook’s privacy settings recommend this free tool and suggest it is a VPN. But it is actually a surveillance tool which records details of your internet and app use for Facebook to use.
Many other ‘free’ VPNs do the same. Most people sign up for a VPN to keep their data private. ‘Free’ VPNs do the exact opposite.
Ads, ads, and more ads
Another way ‘free’ VPNs will often make money is throughadverts.Some sell user data to advertisers. Others just plague their users with adverts. These can appear on your VPN platform or on your browser. And if you wonder why your favorite site suddenly starts to have more adverts on it, many VPNs will inject their own ads into other web pages too. This is not just annoying, but it can slow down your internet connection and even create security issues too.
Can’t stream geo-blocked movies and TV shows
Many VPN users want to be able to watch TV shows or movies from other countries and use their VPN to get around geo-blocking. But ‘free’ VPNs can make this difficult. Many limit the amount of data you can use, which makes streaming impossible. Others are so slow that streams quickly become unwatchable. Premium VPN users rarely encounter these issues. With ‘free’ VPNs, they happen all the time.
Data limitations don’t just affect streaming. It can affect a lot of different online activities. Many ‘free’ VPN users find it impossible to play online games, download or torrent files, and even watch short videos on social media or YouTube. Even if you just browse the internet a lot, you can find yourself hitting that data limit quickly.
Because ‘free’ VPNs have low budgets, their servers are often a lot slower and outdated than premium VPN providers are. They also often put a lot of users on each server at any one time. The result is that their service is often very slow and unstable. Not only is watching videos and downloading files slow, but even opening a web page can take forever.
Outdated servers don’t just mean slow speeds. It can also mean their VPN is very insecure too. Most ‘free’ VPNs have been found to have security vulnerabilities. Many of these are severe enough to reveal the user’s internet activity and true identity online. And often, these vulnerabilities are not even fixed when they are found. A premium VPN will have no such vulnerabilities and any issues that are found will be quickly fixed.
Not even a real VPN!
Believe it or not, quite a few ‘free’ VPN’s aren’t actually real VPN at all. Some are just proxy services. This means they redirect your data through another server, but don’t bother to encrypt it on the way. A proxy service is much cheaper to run, but a lot less secure than a VPN, leaving users vulnerable to hackers and other security and privacy threats.
Stealing your internet connection
It’s true.At least one ‘free’ VPN, Hola VPN, has been found making money by selling its users excess bandwidth. Your internet connection will have some extra capacity, and Hola VPN was using that as a server for their other customers to use. It’s a scary thought! It means anyone using Hola VPN could be connected to your internet and doing anything they like. If they are doing something illegal, the chances are that you would get in trouble for it.
The alternative to ‘free VPNs’
So, there are at least 9 good reasons why a ‘free’ VPN is just not worth the risk. They offer little online security or privacy, deliver a lousy service, and often put you at more risk than not using a VPN at all.
While a ‘free’ VPN might sound good. It is clearly a bad deal. And why bother, when you can sign up for a ‘premium’ VPN for such a low fee.
For just a few NT$ a month, you can enjoy a full subscription to VPNs like NordVPN or Buffered VPN. They provide state-of-the-art online security, perfect privacy protections, and a great range of services.
If cost is still a worry, there are other ways you can save money too:
- Sign up for longer – The longer you subscribe, the more money you can save. For example, our top recommended VPN for Taiwan, NordVPN, are currently offering a 2-year subscription for just US$79.00 (NT$2,410) which is just $3.29 (NT$100) a month.
- Sign up together – All our recommended VPNs allow you to use multiple devices on one account. One provider, IPVanish, allows 10 connection to every account. So, why not share a subscription with family or friends and save even more!
However you decide to sign up for a VPN, there is one rule to remember above all others. Avoid using Free VPNs at all costs!