The Pros and Cons of Using Free VPN Services as a Remote WorkerReading Time: 4 minutes
Should people working from home use a VPN? You’re probably tempted to plump for a free one, but here’s what you need to know first.
Free VPNs are accessible and convenient. A quick Google search will return thousands of options for different platforms, including web browsers, Android devices, iPhones, and desktops. You can download and install one within minutes.
Although they’re handy for bypassing certain restrictions, you might have reservations about using them for work. Can remote workers really rely on free VPNs? Before using free VPN services to access sensitive company data, you need to familiarize yourself with their pros and cons.
Pros of Using Free VPN Services for Remote Work
Despite some negativity about free VPN services, using them while working remotely has several pros, like bypassing geo-restrictions and securing confidential files.
1. Free VPNs Provide Decent Data Privacy and Security
Free VPNs are often limited plans with premium counterparts. Although you won’t get the full features, you can use the same secure encryption keys and tunneling protocols. Your results will still get encrypted and protected from cyberattacks like Man-in-the-Middle (MitM) attacks.
Just make sure you regulate your activities beforehand. Legit VPN service providers never provide unlimited data for free, so use your allocation sparingly. Only turn it on when necessary; say, when your work is confidential. Otherwise, you’ll run out of data and get switched to a more congested, slower server.
2. You Can Use Free Apps in Place of Company-Provided VPNs
Not all companies provide their employees with premium VPN services. Team plans can get quite pricey, and startups managing remote teams for the first time might not have enough funds yet.
Of course, you can buy a paid VPN subscription yourself. But if you don’t feel it’s fair for you to shoulder these expenses, you could use free VPNs as an alternative. Turn them on whenever you need to access confidential files through unsecured networks.
3. Free VPN Servers Let You Bypass Firewalls And Geo-Restrictions Quickly
Although geo-blocking helps site admins and content creators protect digital assets, it also makes it more challenging to research overseas data. Let’s say you’re crafting an ad campaign for a foreign market. Since you live outside the country, you won’t have access to many local resources.
Fortunately, there are several ways to bypass geo-restricted pages, and perhaps the quickest is to use a free VPN. You can set up your preferred app within minutes. Download and install reputable free VPNs until you find one that lets you choose your desired server location.
4. You Can Run Free VPNs to Access Public Networks Securely
One advantage of remote work is you can work almost anywhere. As long as you have your laptop and a stable internet connection, you’d likely have no problem accomplishing your deliverables.
Most employees prefer using cellular data over public Wi-Fi hotspots for security reasons. However, there are instances wherein you might have no choice but to use public Wi-Fi, especially if you spend a lot of time on the road.
If you suddenly lose cellular data access, quickly download and install a free VPN before connecting to a public network. It will at least hide your requests from snooping hackers.
5. Free VPNs Are Easy to Download and Set Up
If you seldom need VPN services at work, think twice before paying for premium plans. It won’t make sense to get unlimited data if you only need to circumvent a few firewalls now and then.
Spend your money on other cybersecurity systems. You can install and download free VPNs any time you need. For instance, if you get an urgent work notification in a country with heavily monitored networks, set up a VPN to work around restrictions.
Just remember that free VPNs are limited. You might have to create several free trial accounts if you need VPN services for extended periods.
Cons of Using Free VPN Services for Remote Work
Although free VPNs provide decent protection and let you bypass site restrictions, they have several limitations. Consider the cons of using free VPNs before running them.
1. Using VPNs Typically Requires You to Watch Ads
Free VPN service providers use ads to fund their technologies. You won’t have to pay anything, but you’ll watch, click, and view dozens of ads. Some VPNs even show more than 10 ads per hour.
Some people might not mind closing a few ad pop-ups. However, for most remote workers, having videos and banners popping up every couple of minutes could be distracting. If you hate ads, stay away from free VPNs.
2. Shady VPNs Might Sell User Data to Third Parties
You’ll encounter some VPNs that offer unlimited data for free. Don’t blindly sign up for their services. VPN service providers need money to sustain their platform, which they generate through either ads or subscription fees. If the app has neither, it’s likely a scam.
Shady VPNs sell the user data they collect to third parties, and they entice their victims with free services.
Stay away from any offer that looks too good to be true. Otherwise, you’ll compromise both your personal and work data, endangering the overall security of your remote employer.
3. Free VPNs Have Weak Encryption and Limited Geo-Restriction Bypass
Free VPNs provide limited security. Their encryption methods and tunneling protocols lack the sophistication to combat targeted attacks. You can’t rely on them to combat hackers.
Likewise, free VPN services can’t circumvent all geo-restrictions. Some geo-blocking techniques will require you to choose the best VPN server location, which you can’t do with free VPNs.
4. Expect Slow Internet Speed on Free Servers Run by Third Parties
Free VPNs often use the same third-party servers. To minimize costs, the hosts simultaneously accommodate thousands, if not millions, of users. Unfortunately, congested servers will drastically slow down your internet speed.
So remote workers who need fast, stable internet connections 24/7 should use free VPNs sparingly. They load data much slower. You might not even be able to hold a 30-minute call without getting disconnected.
5. Users Often Get Dirty IP Addresses on Free VPNs
Free VPNs typically assign users dirty IP addresses since they can’t invest in fresh ones regularly. Browsing with stale IPs has varying consequences. Most will just get blocked by firewalls and receive CAPTCHA requests, but others might get targeted by cybercriminals. Either way, you won’t want Google to associate your work traffic with dirty IPs.
Should You Use Free VPNs for Remote Work?
Free VPNs are great for tasks like accessing geo-restricted content or bypassing firewalls now and then. You should have one installed and accessible at all times. Just note that they provide limited protection and run especially slow servers, so you can’t depend on them too much. Ideally, remote workers should use premium VPNs to secure confidential files offline and online.
With that said, not all premium VPNs provide reliable protection. You might end up regretting your purchase if you blindly opt for the most popular or the cheapest service you find. Extensively research prospective VPNs before shelling out money. Research the different types of VPNs, see which ones might suit your work, and sign up for free trials to gain first-hand insights.