Understanding the disadvantages of using a VPN and appreciating what it can and can’t do is a crucial part of keeping yourself safe online. In this guide, we introduce the 5 most important Disadvantages of Free VPN.
Using a high-quality VPN service is a reliable way to secure your privacy and maximize your freedom online.
A good VPN hides your IP address, encrypts your web browsing activity, and lets you unblock websites that are censored in your location.
But a VPN won’t solve all of your problems. It’s important to understand the limitations and Disadvantages of Free VPN to keep yourself safe online.
Despite the clear benefits, a VPN isn’t a universal solution for all internet privacy issues. Thinking that it is could put you at risk.
In this guide, we explore the five main Disadvantages of Free VPN.
1. A VPN Will Not Make You Completely Anonymous
Even the best VPNs can’t guarantee your anonymity online. Your browsing behavior can still reveal you’re true identity in ways that your VPN service cannot control. So this is one of the Disadvantages of Free VPN.
If you’re logged into a Google or Facebook account, a VPN won’t be able to stop those companies from monitoring your activity.
There’s also a collection of techniques that advertisers use to track you across the internet. These include:
- Web trackers and cookies: Websites use trackers and cookies to tailor their service to your specific needs. They store details about you, such as your name and geographic location, and can be used to identify you despite a VPN connection.
- Browser fingerprinting: Most browsers reveal small pieces of information unique to you and your session. Authorities and advertisers can collate this information to build a ‘fingerprint’ that identifies your online presence, even when you’re using a VPN. Learn more about browser fingerprinting in our best private browsers guide.
To maximize your anonymity, you should pair your VPN with a genuinely private browser like Mozilla Firefox.
Consider also using an anonymous search engine like DuckDuckGo, and think carefully about your behavioral patterns online.
2. Your Privacy Depends On Your VPN Service
One of the key reasons to use a VPN is to stop unwanted individuals from observing what you do online.
Just as you wouldn’t let a stranger watch you from the window of your house, you don’t want strangers spying on you online.
However, by protecting yourself with a VPN, you’re still handing your browsing activity over to someone else: your VPN service.
All your traffic is routed through the VPN provider’s servers. If it wanted to, it could see who you are and what you’re doing online. That’s why it’s crucial to look at the VPN’s logging policy before you start using it.
Your privacy is entirely dependent on how trustworthy the VPN service is.
You need a VPN that will not log any personally identifiable information about you or your activities. Ideally, its logging policy will have been independently verified by a third-party audit. So, If you use Free VPN then it will reveal your identity, So this is one of the Disadvantages of Free VPN.
Without a no-logs policy, a VPN is a threat to your privacy and is probably unsafe to use. Learn more about logging policies, and see a list of genuine zero-logs VPNs, in our guide to VPN logs.
3. It’s Illegal to Use a VPN in Some Countries
VPN apps are legal in most countries around the world, but there are still a small number of places where using a VPN is either illegal or restricted.
The countries that ban or regulate VPN use are:
- North Korea
- United Arab Emirates
You could therefore be breaking the law by simply using a VPN, and you may be prosecuted if caught. So this is one of the Disadvantages of Free VPN.
In China, for instance, anyone found using a VPN service, that has not been explicitly approved by the government, can be fined up to 15,000 yuan (equal to around $2,300).
To learn more about global censorship, see where in the world VPNs are legal or illegal.
NOTE: Using a VPN to perform illegal activities is still illegal, regardless of where you are in the world.
4. Good VPN Services Cost Money
The unfortunate truth is that a high-performing, safe VPN will cost money.
It doesn’t have to break the bank, though. The average price of our most-recommended VPNs is just under $4 a month, with the cheapest option priced at $1.11/month.
For a full-price comparison, take a look at our analysis of how much VPNs cost.
While the best VPNs don’t necessarily cost the most money, you’re unlikely to find a service that’ll do everything you want for free.
The overwhelming majority of free VPNs are either poor quality or genuinely dangerous to use So, so this is one of the Disadvantages of Free VPNs. When it comes to your privacy and security, it’s just not worth taking the risk.
That said, we have found a handful of trustworthy free VPN apps. These services are very good, considering you’re not paying a cent. However, their performance is limited. For example, most of them cap how much data you can use each month.
5. Using a VPN Slows Down Your Connection Speeds
Using a VPN service almost always slows down your connection speed. This is because, once you turn the VPN on, your connection starts to take a longer route to the internet, via your chosen VPN server.
With good-quality VPNs, the speed loss is minimal, to the extent that you won’t even notice it. For instance, Hotspot Shield delivers a speed loss of just 0.41%. So this is one of the Disadvantages of Free VPN.
However, poor-quality VPNs can slow download speeds and increase latency to an unusable degree. This can be a major issue if your internet connection is already quite slow or if you’re doing something speed-sensitive, such as streaming, gaming, or torrenting.
EXPERT TIP: Very occasionally, a VPN will improve the speeds of certain activities by helping you to overcome ISP bandwidth throttling.