Globally speaking, our collective online presence is continuing to expand in both scope and scale. Every day in every way, our online connections are becoming central to the successful management of our home life, business activities, and social reach. Our evolving worlds of online traffic are getting busier and busier all the time, which means that safety should be a primary concern for all of us moving forward.

One of the safest methods of managing all of our online traffic is using a VPN. There are many VPN services out there—including several free VPN services. But before we dig any deeper, let’s tackle the basics.

What is a VPN?

A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is one of the safest and most reliable methods of connecting to an Internet server privately. When running a VPN on any device—tablet, mobile phone, game system—all network traffic to and from your server connection is comprehensively encrypted 24/7 as it travels from your server access, through your VPN, and then finally to you as an end-user. Encrypting your network traffic in this way entirely and comprehensively stops not only cybercriminals from gaining access to passwords, sensitive financial information, and all other private or personal data but also government organizations and regulatory bodies from observing your every move. Learn more about data privacy issues and practices on this blog.

The immediate benefits of any VPN are twofold:

  • Reliable Online Privacy

Your VPN replaces the IP address of your device(s) with a functionally untraceable IP address, effectively concealing your location from any possible hacker or regulatory authority.

  • Reliable 24/7 Online Security

Your VPN securely encrypts 100% of your data as it’s distributed through your Internet or server connection. This encryption ensures that all third parties—including hackers and regulatory authorities—are denied access to your information. They will have no power to steal or corrupt your most sensitive, personal data.

The extended benefits of online safety and security moving forward are always clear to any unfortunate victim of cybercrime or ID theft. Which is to say—it’s far easier to stay out of online trouble than to get out of online trouble!

Whether it’s for gaming or simply online browsing, a VPN is one of the most straightforward yet reliable first lines of online defense in a world full of loopholes. After all, the online world is not as secure as it seems.

→ Dig Deeper: Top 10 Benefits of a VPN in Everyday Use

Are There Really Free VPNs?

There are free VPNs offered in the market today. But there are only a few VPNs that actually provide useful features for free. Some companies offer limited trials, while others offer completely free VPNs with limited features.

Are Free VPNs a Bad Choice?

The effectiveness of a free VPN will depend on your online activities. A free VPN is a bad choice if you’ll constantly use it for gaming, streaming, and torrenting, as it will only offer slow connections and limited access to servers. Free VPNs are only advisable for casual or occasional browsing and streaming.

Are Free VPNs Legal?

VPNs, even free ones, are not illegal. Some countries, however, banned the use of VPNs. The use of a VPN is perfectly legal in most countries, but that doesn’t mean that you are allowed to conduct illegal activities while using a VPN’s features for privacy and anonymity.

Why a Free VPN?

Beyond the rather obvious economic advantage of a completely free VPN—and they do exist—there are several solid reasons to explore your free VPN options. Of course, first, we suggest you align your needs with your expectations when exploring your gratis options.

Among these reasons to go free includes the following terms:

  • There’s a reliable range of reliable services– Any quick Google search will pop up a top-ten list for your research purposes, and you can take it from there.
  • A free VPN can be the most straightforward initial adopter choice– If it’s your first time running a VPN on your system(s), a reliable free service may offer you all the basic needs.
  • Depending on location, this may be your best alternative– A great deal of online security depends on your location options. A free VPN service in a highly restricted or regulated location may be your best choice.
  • It will provide some level of solid online security– While it may not sound like much, when it comes to online security, any VPN is almost certainly superior to no VPN at all!

Yet, many of us who believe that you get what you pay for may be uncomfortable with the idea of a free online security system. Indeed, many reliable and affordable VPN services have emerged online since the need for a high level of rock-solid security is on the rise. You can take advantage of these free and affordable offers, but here are also some serious downsides to be considered when getting a free VPN:

Among these downsides:

  • Many free VPN services come with hidden costs
  • Almost all free VPN services will be limited until you pay. In this way, free service is a bit more of a marketing tactic than a long-term option.
  • Your browser may become subject to annoying ad invasion. Continuous pop-ups may well be in your online future.
  • Your data may be sold to third parties. One of the things you should try to avoid in the first place with any VPN.
  • Your device may be used as an exit node for other VPN users. Your system may be used to create a gateway for other encrypted traffic flow.

To be sure, the latter downsides can become either a significant or simply annoying hindrance to your Internet speed and browsing experience. It can either disrupt your overall system activity or possibly create openings for traffic flow. You can avoid all of these downsides by choosing a reasonably priced subscription VPN service.

What Your Free VPN Service Should Offer

We trust that with proper research, a reasonable understanding of your technical needs, and reasonable expectations, a free VPN can and should not only avoid the downsides mentioned above but also deliver a reliable level of online security you can count on.

The primary features that you should be looking for with any free VPN service should include:

  • Reasonable data and speed limits
  • Secure core servers
  • Secure streaming
  • P2P support
  • Connection Profiles for server switching

There are additional features that can be helpful with any VPN service, of course, but for those online players searching for bargains, we trust that it’s best to begin here. Manage your expectations before getting a free VPN.

Which Is the Best Free VPN?

Since a free VPN only offers limited features, the best option depends on the type of device you have and how you use the Internet. To identify the best free VPN options, check the effectiveness and duration of the limited features they offer and see if they can satisfy your needs.

Final Thoughts

A free VPN, despite its limited features, can still offer basic functionality. But even the best free VPNs are only applicable for occasional use. If you need more layers of protection and limitless features, it’s best to download a paid VPN subscription with all-inclusive features. McAfee’s free VPN trial version offers 500MB of free data every month.