VPN – Is it Worth the Money?
Are free services just as good?
VPN, or Virtual Private Network, services are intended, among other things, to improve the security of those individuals or companies who use the internet for the transmission of private or sensitive data between remotely connected computers. The increasing popularity of VPN services is due, in large part, to the privacy and security it offers to internet users as they surf the web, carry out transactions, and exchange information.
Businesses may provide a VPN server to employees who are out of the office, for whatever reason, in order for them to remotely access company resources on a private LAN. Generally speaking a Virtual Private Network is a service that is paid for in a similar way to that of an ISP with a small monthly fee. There are however, now a number of free services that offer the same anonymity that is integral to any VPN service.
There are a number of free services that offer anonymity to internet users – probably the best known is TOR. This program is able to anonymise IP addresses via a network of volunteered connections as users visit websites or other internet resources. For those individuals who only require occasional anonymity this may offer a good solution. However, any individual with enough skill, time, and resources can easily track an IP address provided by TOR back to its original source.
Generally speaking, none of the free services that claim to provide anonymity to internet users offers the same principle and significant advantages of a VPN service that carries a monthly fee.
Paying for a VPN
For those individuals who choose to switch to a paid VPN service, having previously used a free service, the first improvement they will notice is the speed. Those companies offering Virtual Private Network services generally compete based on the speeds they can offer customers wishing to access the internet. Free services, such as TOR, are recognised as being extremely slow – particularly during peak periods.
Free services do not offer the same levels of encryption as those provided by a paid VPN provider – for business users especially, obscuring of an IP address is not sufficient to protect sensitive information and data.
Of course paying for the use of a VPN means that the provider is accountable in the event of any of problems or difficulties experienced by its customers – this is of particular importance to commercial users. The lack of tech support and assistance when using a free provider means this is not a choice suitable for commercial internet users. The failure of a free service could well cause major problems for those engaged in business via the internet.
Using a VPN provider that charges a monthly fee is a much better option for both businesses users and private individuals. The company behind the service will provide assistance in the case of difficulty, tech support, as well as accountability.
For those requiring occasional anonymity when using the internet, a free VPN provider may well be sufficient – for anyone else a paid service is the only realistic option.