VPNs are an excellent way to secure your online privacy and unblock any site you want. They’re the perfect tool to complement all the other useful apps you have on your iPhone.
Of course, many of those apps are free. So it’s only natural to ask yourself – are VPNs also free?
Well, some of them are. And we’re not just talking about free trials, but actual free VPNs that don’t cost a thing.
Time to head to the app store and download one, right?
Not so fast. Just because free VPNs are convenient doesn’t mean they also get the job done. Or that they don’t put your privacy at risk. In fact, there are plenty of reasons you shouldn’t use a free iPhone VPN:
1. They Might Sell Your Data
“Free” is just in the title. No VPN can truly be free without a legit business model backing it up. You can’t just publish a VPN app on iTunes, make it free, and expect to run a successful business.
Because running a VPN is actually pretty expensive. A VPN provider has to deal with tons of costs:
- Server expenses (renting costs, purchase costs, maintenance fees).
- Staff salaries.
- Marketing, PR, and branding.
- Affiliate deals.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. But it should be enough to show you that VPNs can’t really function on a “free” business model.
So, for them to offer you a service, they need to make money somehow. And they often do it by logging and selling your data to third parties (usually advertisers). That kind of defeats the purpose of using a VPN in the first place.
2. They Might Sell Your Bandwidth
If you find a free VPN that works on a peer-to-peer model, it might end up hijacking and selling your bandwidth for a profit.
That’s what happened to Hola users, at least. The provider pretty much added their devices to a botnet, and their bandwidth was later used in a DDoS attack.
And Hola is still available on the iTunes store.
3. They Likely Offer Poor Security
According to one security researcher, if you use free VPNs, your data might be intercepted and decrypted. That’s not really surprising. If a free VPN truly is “free,” it doesn’t have a lot of funds to pay experienced developers to optimize their servers properly.
So, you end up with poorly-configured encryption that is either very weak or just doesn’t work.
But let’s say the VPN offers decent encryption. There’s still one more problem – it might suffer leaks (IPv6, WebRTC, or DNS). If that happens, your IP address and DNS queries will leak outside the VPN connection, meaning any run-of-the-mill hacker could eavesdrop on them with packet sniffers.
4. Your Experience Will Be Ruined by Ads
One of the “less harmful” ways a free VPN can make money to survive is by exposing their users to ads. Unfortunately, they’re often intrusive, so they get in the way of your VPN experience – so much so they might annoy you too much, causing you to uninstall the app.
And if you’re extremely unlucky, you might be exposed to malicious ads. If that happens, you could accidentally infect your iPhone with malware if you interact with them (yes, even closing them counts as interacting with them).
5. Bandwidth Caps and Slow Speeds Are the Norm
Paid VPNs usually offer unlimited bandwidth because they can afford it. However, free VPNs often use bandwidth caps to stop their users from using up too much data.
Kind of ironic when you consider many people use VPNs to stop their ISPs from throttling their bandwidth.
And if the free VPN doesn’t use bandwidth caps, you’ll still deal with slow speeds. Again, the service is free, so the provider can’t really afford to rent high-speed servers. Instead, they have to settle for cheaper alternatives that slow to a crawl when they get overcrowded.
And since the VPN is free, it will eventually become very popular. So their servers will almost always be overcrowded.
6. There’s Little to No Support
If you can’t unblock Netflix, experience frequent disconnects, or the VPN app crashes, you normally turn to the provider’s support team. They should be able to help you solve the issue, right?
Yes – if you’re using a paid VPN. With free VPNs, customer care isn’t exactly their strong point. They’re free, remember? So how could they afford to pay a dedicated support team that works 24/7? Or offer live chat for that matter?
If you use a free iPhone VPN, you’ll, unfortunately, have to settle for slow response times – anywhere between 72 hours and a week (if not more). And even when you get a response, it will not be very helpful. Most of the time, it’ll be a copy-pasted response that tells you what you already knew – that the VPN is experiencing problems.
Paid iPhone VPNs Are Clearly the Better Option – But How Do You Find a Good One?
There are quite a lot of them on the market, after all. We can easily remember coming across at least over 100 VPNs in our experience. Even if you only focus on the top providers, that still amounts to around 20-30 VPNs.
Sure, you could research each one of them individually and compare the ones that spark your interest. But let’s be honest – who even has the time to do that?
Luckily, we have a cool shortcut for you: ProPrivacy’s complete guide to the best iPhone VPNs (https://proprivacy.com/vpn/comparison/best-iphone-vpns). Check it out, and you’ll surely find the right VPN for your iPhone.
How Do You Feel About Free iPhone VPNs?
Do you think they’re trustworthy, but do you just need to do plenty of research beforehand to make sure the service is legit?
Or do you believe they’re all involved in shady backroom deals that put their users’ privacy at risk?
Please tell us your opinion in the comments below or on our social media pages.