Should You Use a Free VPN to Access Public Wi-Fi?

A lot of VPN providers mention the risks of connecting to public Wi-Fi when marketing their services. This is because public Wi-Fi is really risky in terms of protecting your data online. However, a lot of us still connect to unfamiliar Wi-Fi. On the one hand, they implement a certain level of security, but on the other hand, there is too much risk.

But should you use paid VPN providers when connecting to public Wi-Fi? Or can you get more protection using a free VPN?

Why is public Wi-Fi dangerous?

If you’re unfamiliar with the risks of public Wi-Fi, we’ll quickly review them before we start using a free VPN in connecting to such networks.

The main problem with public Wi-Fi is just that: public. Your home Wi-Fi network can be password protected, meaning only people with the correct credentials can access it. But public Wi-Fi can often be accessed immediately or by pre-entering some publicly available password or contact details.

This means that anyone can join public Wi-Fi networks, including malicious individuals. As a result, it is much easier for cybercriminals to access your data through various techniques, including phishing, phishing and malware distribution networks. You also run the risk of your online activity or identity being stolen when using public Wi-Fi, so it’s safe to say you’re in significant danger. when using it.


So, why would anyone use a VPN when connecting to public Wi-Fi?

Benefits of Using a VPN on Public Wi-Fi

The core purpose of a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is to keep your online data private and secure. This is done via remote server and encryption. When you use a VPN, you connect to a remote server, be it in your country of residence or elsewhere, which then encrypts both your online traffic and your IP address. yours.

This means that your ISP, the government, and other third parties have no way of knowing, geographically, what you’re doing online, and where you’re doing it from. It also greatly reduces the chance of your data being stolen by an attacker, especially when you are using public Wi-Fi.

Let’s say a cybercriminal is looking to access your sensitive data over a public Wi-Fi network by placing them between your server and your ISP. Since your data is fully encrypted by the VPN at this point, they have no way to decrypt it and use it to their advantage. It’s important to note that VPNs can be hacked, but this is very difficult to do.

You may have heard of some popular VPN providers before, such as ExpressVPN, SurfShark, and NordVPN. These providers offer high-quality service with top-notch VPN features, but they come with a price tag. To use a well-known VPN provider, you almost always have to pay a flat fee or a monthly subscription to do so.

Given that many of us are already paying a considerable amount for a lot of online subscriptions these days, it’s natural to find ways to save some money if possible. This has given way to the proliferation of free VPN companies.

Why you shouldn’t use a free VPN to connect to public Wi-Fi

There are various free VPN providers, such as Betternet and Psiphon. For the uninitiated, dodging fees while getting online security seems like a no-brainer. And, while each free VPN provider has different features and privacy policies, there are some core issues associated with using free VPN services in general.

1. Some VPNs Keep Logs

The important thing to remember about free VPN providers is that they are still businesses, so they still need to find a way to make money. Given that these providers do not charge users directly for their services, they have chosen other avenues through which they can profit. This includes keeping VPN logs.

The VPN log is a database of online user traffic. They can keep information about user activity, connected devices, and even IP addresses. Of course, this completely defeats the point of a VPN, as someone can still see where you are and what you’re doing online.

Some free VPN providers take these VPN logs and then sell them to third parties for their own profit through user data. This can be a lucrative business and provides free VPN companies with an alternative revenue stream.

2. Weak security features

Another weakness of free VPN providers is that their security features can sometimes be subpar. Since a VPN focuses on online security, it’s important for you to know if the provider you’ve chosen really offers you the protection you’re looking for.

Many free VPN providers put their users at risk because they lack features like DNS protection, IP masking, and sometimes even no encryption of your traffic. Free VPNs are also generally at higher risk of attack, as they are not well equipped to combat sophisticated cybercriminals.

Many free VPN users don’t even know that their chosen VPN isn’t protecting them properly, as such providers don’t exactly advertise features they don’t have. So when an individual accesses public Wi-Fi with a free VPN, they may be putting themselves in a very vulnerable position without even realizing it.

3. Slower connection time

If you use a VPN regularly, you’ve probably noticed that it can affect your connection speed. Free VPNs can slow down your speed even more. This, again, is because they are simply sub-par and sometimes even apply a connection speed limit to your device, which can be incredibly limiting.

Furthermore, public Wi-Fi networks can already be slow due to high user numbers, so applying a free VPN’s speed limit on top can result in a very uncomfortable online experience.

All in all, a free VPN is a no-go

While free VPNs can sometimes be legit, this is not a frequent occurrence. A lot of these providers simply can’t protect internet users enough to protect them from online attackers and this is why it’s always safer to choose paid VPN services. Good setup can give you the highest level of security when you are surfing the web.

vpn map on external laptop screen

Free vs Paid VPN: Which Should You Choose?

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