The Downsides of Free VPNs

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( — December 10, 2020) — While it’s generally a good rule of thumb to seek out the best deal for your dollar, you should always think twice about using a free product. This is especially true online where malicious software like viruses and worms can come embedded in the product without your knowledge.

Case in point: free VPNs. While a Virtual Private Network is supposed to let you browse the Internet safely and anonymously—and many providers like Malwarebytes deliver on that promise and keep your files safe with superior antivirus protection for PC or Mac—a free VPN is likely resulting in the opposite. Here are three reasons why.


Many free VPNs use adware to track your browsing history and bombard you with targeted ads to boost their profits. You’ll be saddled with so many cookies from third-party sites it’ll feel like a crowd of people is watching your every click.

Your system will likely slow down under the weight of so many messages and cut into the important work that brought you to a VPN in the first place. Save yourself any headaches by using a VPN with ad blockers and an antivirus program that proactively neutralizes threats from reaching you. 

Bandwidth for Sale

While free VPNs rely mostly on ad revenue, some of the sneakier ones will actually sell any of your computer’s idle processing power to the highest bidder. This will not only slow down your system even more, it also opens you up to infection and cybercrime. 

For example, a hacker with nefarious purposes may orchestrate a large-scale botnet attack on a hospital or government network.  A botnet is a group of computers, possibly including yours, under the control of a central operator who instructs them to act on command. The operator may use your computer or Internet connection to engage in clickfraud, spread spam or phishing emails, or spy on users with the intention of extracting financial information.

Cryptocurrency miners also engage in botnet activity when they purchase the processing power of thousands of computers, work them non-stop, and line their pockets with bitcoin.  

If your Internet connection isn’t lightning fast like it used to be, your free VPN may be to blame. 

Simply Unsafe

A VPN will always claim to protect you by encrypting your information while you’re signed in. Whether it follows through or not is anybody’s guess. The truth is, many free ones contain malware that won’t make its presence felt until it’s done its damage.

As soon as you hop on to a free VPN’s server, you may have already exposed yourself to a virus that can exploit your system’s vulnerabilities and quickly saddle you with a hefty bill at the computer repair shop.

The Solution

Find yourself a VPN with built-in antivirus software designed to protect you from the full spectrum of cybercrime. It’s the only way to keep your passwords, essential files, and personally identifiable information safe from hackers looking to make a quick buck.