Normally when you connect to the internet the servers and the bandwidth for it have a cost. Therefore, you cannot expect the best internet access from a free service. With this in mind, it is immediately clear what a free VPN service will reduce on: the number of servers and the bandwidth. That means that you either have a very limited internet speed (too little to stream in HD video) or you have monthly a limit of data, which of course also makes streaming and downloading large files, very difficult.
Another aspect where free services offer (much) less than the paid services is when it comes about unblocking geo-blocks. This is also due to the limited number of international servers that you can use. In addition to the limited unblocking function, it also means that you cannot always establish the best/ fastest connection, and that many people use the same servers at the same time.
To conclude, there is usually a strict limit on the number of devices that you can use at the same time. Usually, you can only go safely online with one device at a time.
So, what do free VPN services do?
In most cases, free VPN services are especially suitable for occasionally making yourself anonymous online. Think about safe internet via public Wi-Fi networks, or the occasional download via P2P networks. With a daily use (and then you don’t even have to be a “power user”) you quickly hit the limits.
How reliable is a free VPN?
The first thing you’ll notice when you try out free services is that connecting to a VPN server is many times slow. Especially at peak times, it can take a few seconds to a minute for your device to connect. In the case of Atlas VPN, it even meant that sometimes we only got a connection in the evening with a non-American server.
The connection with Atlas also disconnected a number of connections when we wanted to use certain public Wi-Fi networks, which is precisely the reason why you want to be able to rely on a VPN network. With Proton-VPN the connection even dropped down very often.
How Fast is a Free VPN?
The biggest blow we experience with most free VPN services is the surfing speed. With our connection, we get around 250 Mbps without a VPN. With Proton VPN enabled, we can be happy if we reach 9 Mbps. That is enough for surfing and watching SD YouTube, but that is all. It works, but just don’t expect an optimal experience. Hide.me gave us a much more acceptable 80 Mbps, but then you have a monthly data limit of 10gig.
How Secure is a Free VPN?
A good test for a VPN is the so-called Leak Test. This means that an external server tries a number of times to find out where and with which IP address you are on the internet. And then here again, free turns out not to be so great. Several VPN services, including Proton-VPN failed the Leak Test, and our real IP address and country of origin were visible to the external server. That is unfortunately not encouraging.
Which personal information does free VPN services store?
With most free VPN services, it is just enough to provide your email address and no other personal information is requested. What actually is not always clear is what happens to your browsing history or your internet behavior.
When is a free VPN a good choice?
A free VPN is only really interesting if you rarely need a secure connection. All free services have limitations that in the end it becomes more attractive to use a paid service.
The best reason to use a free VPN is to access a safe internet via public Wi-Fi networks. If you are a lot outside, and you need access to the server of your job and you’re accounting or internet banking, for example, a free VPN is usually enough, although our leak tests show that they do not always establish a 100% secure connection.
If you really want to be able to make a full use of all the features (such as unlimited video streaming or anonymously downloading torrents), you cannot escape a paid option. However, you can try these without risks. For example, the NordVPN free trial is a very good option.
Also read about: Top List of Free And Paid VPN Services