Free OR Paid, Research All VPNs You're Considering
Having worked with various VPNs for years, here are some critical tips:
1) Investigate any/all VPNs you're considering before using them or buying into their service. It doesn't matter if they're free or paid. They may be brilliant, or they may be outright criminals.
[I bought into one VPN that was part of a 'bundle' of software and services that turned out to be a 100% fraud. They were great and sprucing up their website to look professional, but their service was literally non-existent. It never, ever worked for anyone. I was kindly given my money back by the bundle provider.]
2) Make certain that the VPN service logs nothing. Nothing. Any logging at all for any period of time, no matter how brief, means your activities on the Internet can and will be handed over to any interested authority or marketing organization. Expect it. Some VPNs are infamous for lying about their logging behavior. PureVPN is one of them. The fact that they're located in China (yes, Hong Kong is part of China) is bad enough. That they lied to all their customers and turned over secret logs to requesting authorities knocks them out of contention.
3) Never use a VPN service that resides within the 'Five Eyes' countries. They have a pact to share among themselves all citizen behavior on the Internet. Supposedly, that is limited to inter-country Internet activity, versus intra-country activity. But proof provided by Edward Snowden proved entirely otherwise. The Five Eyes countries are:
- New Zealand
4) Be certain to look into the verified SPEED (bandwidth) quality of each VPN as well as its list of available EXIT NODE countries on the Internet.
- The speed you need is dependent upon the work you need to do on the Internet. Email needs little bandwidth. Video uploading requires maximum bandwidth.
- Your required exit node on the Internet is also dependent up on what you need to do on the Internet. For example, nearly every country blocks access to copyrighted material available within their country (with some very kind exceptions of international news services, etc.). Therefore, if you need to do some work in a particular country, you may be entirely blocked from accessing resources in that country if your listed source IP address is outside that country. Using an Exit Node via a VPN that exists within that country may solve the problem.
5) Always use a full VPN service when you're connecting to the Internet at a wide open, unencrypted WiFi hotspot. That may include your library, your local coffee shop, your village's free WiFi service, etc. If you don't have to use a password to get into that service, you're wide open to surveillance and robbery of your unencrypted data. Take this very seriously!
The VPN business is currently full of crooks and liars as well as brilliant, thoroughly respected providers, free or paid. It doesn't actually matter.
One FREE VPN provider I vouch for is ProtonVPN out of Switzerland. The free version of their VPN may be all you want or need. But they have higher tiers of service for professionals and those with wider requirements. I also recommend their FREE encrypted email service, ProtonMail, accessible via the web.