Getting a safe VPN as an expat while keeping it completely free can be a difficult task (we’ll get into why soon enough). For now, you can follow the link above for several decent choices. Some free trial options were included to give you a taste of what a full-fledged VPN is capable of.
As for why free VPNs aren’t a great idea most of the time, just scroll on for the details.
Three Reasons to Not Use a Free VPN
While you can’t complain about the price tag (who doesn’t enjoy free stuff?), the security and privacy issues affecting most free VPNs can end up costing you even more than a yearly subscription. Here’s what you need to keep in mind if you want to do your own research:
#1 Most Free VPNs Will Sell Your Data
Ever thought about how any “free” service makes money? Customer data is pretty valuable to advertisers, and free VPNs pretty much have access to your entire browser history, which network apps you use, and so on. It’s easy to put two and two together here and see how free VPNs profit off your data. Or pay for the server and maintenance costs, at the very least.
#2 Your Data Could Be Leaked Online
Far worse than having your browsing history sold off to some shady ad companies, is having it leaked online along with other sensitive network data. For instance, 20 million free VPN users woke up one day to find that their emails, physical addresses, payment info, and more were leaked online. The worst part is that all seven free VPNs involved in the leak claimed they kept no user logs.
#3 Your Device Could Get Infected with Malware
A study by CSIRO found that at least 38% of free Android VPNs outright contain malware or other forms of malicious code designed to extract data. Free VPNs on the App Store didn’t fare any better, as many of the top 20 providers don’t even follow Apple’s data collection guidelines.
Why Free VPNs Make Sense for an Expat
As you can see, choosing the right provider can feel like navigating a minefield. Nonetheless, there are still several good reasons to use a free VPN if you’re an expat. Go with one of the providers recommended at the start of the article, and you can:
- Benefit from a modicum of security on potentially unsafe public networks. Free VPNs may be a security hazard most of the time, but the right provider can still keep your data relatively safe.
- Bypass Internet censorship during social media blackouts – especially if you’re currently living in a restrictive country like Turkey, for example.
- Get around pesky firewalls at work and other public locations that block the “fun” parts of the Internet.
- Unblock some online content (albeit in a more limited capacity than subscription-based VPNs). These mostly include news sites and business pages still outside of GDPR compliance, blocked YouTube videos, specialized local websites (such as home banking services), and others.
No Netflix or other content platforms, unfortunately. Free VPNs are frequently blocked on streaming sites, due to how easy it is for companies like MaxMind and IP2Location to aggregate their IP ranges for blacklisting purposes. You might have a better time with free trial VPNs instead, so give those a shot if you can’t afford a paid plan at the moment.