12th May 2017

Are free Virtual Private Networks or VPNs worth it?

Will cutting back on costs mean cutting back on protection?
Ryan Boutland

In the age of technological advancement and government monitoring, many Australians are using Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) to protect their privacy and identities online.

A VPN is basically another computer elsewhere in the world which will redirect internet data to you.

When you use a VPN and then visit a website, the data from this website will be sent to the VPN first and then on to you. This means that the website will only see the IP address of the VPN computer, rather than yours. 

Another common use for VPNs is to access online content which is unavailable to certain countries, e.g. watching BBC online from Australia by using a British VPN.

So, for a VPN to operate, several specified computers with high speed internet connections must be serviced and running at all times. This is, of course, expensive to set up; a large scale VPN could have hundreds of computers running throughout different countries.

When a VPN is offering services for free, they have to be making money in some other way. Usually it is either: (a) the free service is a limited trial of the paid version or, (b) they are making money by advertising to you or selling your private data.

For example, popular free VPN, Hola, was discovered to be selling the use of users’ computers which were then used in online hacking, without owners realisation.

If privacy is what you’re looking for in a VPN, then a free one is probably not the right option, as your privacy might be more violated than it would have been without the VPN.

If you’re looking for a VPN to access overseas content, a free VPN will be unlikely to perform fast enough to satisfy you.

A free VPN might be a suitable short term solution, but if you’re planning on using it for the long term, it’s probably worth looking into a premium option. I’d recommend using a free trial first so you know what quality of service you can expect.

Have you ever used a VPN?

Related articles:
Using your smartphone to navigate
Your technology glossary
Police drop investigation over welfare recipient’s data


To make a comment, please register or login
18th May 2017
Fancy having to pay something to prevent your own government spying on in you
Polly Esther
18th May 2017
Oh my goodness me, whatever will they think of next, I do not understand it anyway :)
18th May 2017
Our VPN which allows up to 5 computers to connect to it, is only about $45 a year. Not a huge cost to protect your privacy. There are several different modes on it that enable file sharing, streaming, online privacy and another I cant remember. The online privacy is good because you don't get so many ads from places you visit.

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