Free VPN vs Paid VPN: Which One Is Right for You?

VPN has gained popularity in recent years due to the increasing incidents of data theft, ransomware attacks, and hacking. When it comes to VPN apps, there are two options: free and paid. In this comprehensive guide, we will compare free and paid VPN apps to help you make an informed decision.


Privacy is the primary reason why most people choose VPNs. With paid VPNs, you have the freedom to choose from servers in multiple countries, with some countries offering multiple server options. On the other hand, free VPNs often connect to random countries or have a limited list to choose from.

This matters because some countries, like India, have strict VPN rules that require data collection and sharing with their IT departments. Free VPNs may not allow you to manually change IP addresses, putting your privacy at risk.


Free VPN providers used to rely on obsolete PTPP technology, but most have now switched to the more secure OpenVPN. However, paid VPNs offer more encryption options and typically provide 256-bit encryption, while free VPNs usually offer 128-bit encryption.

Paid VPNs like NordVPN offer advanced security features such as CyberSec and Threat Protection, protecting your computer from malware, pop-up ads, and botnet control. Some paid VPNs even offer double VPN, ensuring double encrypted servers for added security.


Many people use VPNs to access content that is not available in their region. Paid VPNs like Smart DNS Proxy have servers in various geographical regions, allowing you to change your IP address and stream content securely. Free VPNs are suitable for browsing the web and accessing blocked websites but may not provide the bandwidth required for streaming high-quality content.

Data Collection and Ads

Free VPNs often collect user data and sell it to advertisers to generate revenue. Some VPNs display ads, while others collect data without users' knowledge. This compromises privacy and can result in targeted ads and data breaches. Paid VPNs have a sustainable revenue model and do not rely on selling user data or displaying questionable ads.

Revenue/Business Model

Free VPN providers sustain their services by collecting and selling users' browsing activities to advertisers. This data is used to display targeted ads and generate revenue. Paid VPNs have a solid revenue and growth model, relying on subscriptions to their premium services. Freemium VPNs offer both free and paid plans, with the free version having limited features and incentivizing users to upgrade.

Customer Support

Paid VPNs can afford to provide 24/7 customer support, while free VPNs usually offer limited support. Paid VPNs employ experts in different time zones to ensure timely assistance, whereas free VPNs often rely on standard email support with delayed responses.

Free or Freemium VPNs

Proton VPN and TunnelBear are examples of VPN providers that offer impressive features in their free plans. Proton VPN, based in Switzerland, ensures privacy by not displaying ads, collecting data, or logging user activity. TunnelBear offers several features in their free plan but limits bandwidth.

Pricing, Platforms Supported, and Devices

Free VPNs are often limited to specific operating systems, while paid VPNs support multiple platforms. Paid VPNs ensure their apps are developed and updated for popular platforms, including Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS. Additionally, paid VPNs offer browser extensions, support for smart TVs, and dedicated client apps.

How to Choose Between Free VPN vs Paid VPN

While free VPNs may suffice for occasional use, paid VPNs are recommended for those who value privacy, deal with sensitive data, and prioritize security. Paid VPNs offer advanced features, better customer support, and sustainable revenue models. However, if you only need a VPN for occasional access, free options like Opera can be suitable.

In conclusion, consider your privacy and security needs, as well as the value you place on customer support and advanced features, when choosing between free and paid VPNs.