Free VPNs help millions protect their data and keep their online activities secure. Small business owners can leverage this security technology to safeguard their team members from bad actors and improve their company’s cybersecurity. Here’s what you need to know about free VPNs and how to choose one that’s right for your business.
What is a Free VPN?
A virtual private network (VPN) is a tool that builds a secure connection between the user and the internet, providing security and privacy to the user. It’s comparable to a tunnel where encrypted user data passes through, away from prying eyes or snooping. VPN users benefit from a hidden IP address and data encryption that help shield them from bad actors or third-party tracking apps.
A free VPN provides all of these services to users for no charge. Small business owners and their teams can benefit from secure and private browsing for different tasks. With the popularity of remote work setups, many workers bring their work while they travel. This can entail connecting to public connections, which may be compromised. VPNs help encrypt all information before the data reaches the internet service provider.
While free VPN has less flexibility than paid VPN services, it’s a safe option for businesses still weighing the pros and cons of using paid services in their daily operations. With rising global cybersecurity risks, erring on the side of caution is a good thing.
How to Choose a Free VPN?
Small business owners would be wise to use a VPN if they’re serious about protecting the online safety of everyone on their team. Here are some qualities to look for in a free VPN.
- Safety: Aside from keeping IP addresses hidden, a free VPN should also keep online data encrypted to ensure a safe browsing experience for its users. VPNs use various protocols to boost safety with heavy encryption. These protocols safeguard against unscrupulous bad actors and tracking apps always after user data.
- Security: Visible IP addresses can expose users to various risks online. Bad actors can use exposed unprotected IP addresses to perform denial of service attacks, impersonation, access restriction, personalized spam distribution and many more. A free VPN hides IP addresses, making it harder for malicious parties to access other people’s data and location.
- Publicly Audited: Many VPN companies promote their services and encryption quality to get more subscribers and earn more money. However, they might be telling tall tales. Business owners should consider VPN companies that submit themselves to third-party audits. Public audits show how companies keep their promises of delivering data encryption, privacy and quality service.
Free VPNs vs. Paid VPNs
Free VPNs are excellent for small businesses since they cost nothing to maintain. Some websites restrict who can access their content based on the user’s location. Team members can access geo-blocked content and focus on important work like doing research and presentations. Teams that have free VPNs can bypass the restriction and access the information.
Although free VPNs sound like the complete package, they still have limitations. Free VPN providers often set limits to their app’s speed or functionality and use ads to support their operations. Other barriers include slower loading times and data caps that can limit the data users can access with the free VPN service. However, some VPNs have free subscription trials that allow users to try their apps with full access to all features.
Still, free VPNs can help small businesses in many ways. They offer encryption and secure online browsing to users for free. Businesses with budget constraints can benefit from free VPN services before scaling to paid subscriptions as their businesses grow. Free and paid VPNs offer unique value to every small business owner. It’s just a matter of deciding which features can help the company reach its potential.
Free VPN Recommendations for Small Businesses
Many free VPNs are out there, but only some are honest about what they offer. Here are some trusted VPN companies that we recommend.
The Good: Proton VPN is popular among users who prefer a free VPN due to budget limitations. While there is a paid subscription with more features, free accounts can access servers from three countries and enjoy strong privacy protection, fast connections and zero data cap. Prospective users will also be happy that free accounts have no ads to ensure distraction-free browsing.
The Bad: Free account users can enjoy only one simultaneous connection and users closer to countries with dedicated servers will get faster connections.
The Verdict: Overall, Proton VPN is a solid choice for users who want faster speeds and unlimited access to VPN.
The Good: A household name in VPN services, Nord VPN has earned a reputation for quality features. The company can consistently service many users thanks to over 5,000 servers scattered across many countries. Users can expect quality encryption and fast connections from a free Nord VPN account.
The Bad: Nord VPN allows only six simultaneous connections and offers a 30-day money-back trial period instead of a forever free account.
The Verdict: While Nord VPN is only technically free for the first 30 days, the service offers many features and wide coverage to many users with steady connections. It’s a viable option for businesses with a budget wanting to scale their operations later.
Tunnel Bear VPN
The Good: Besides the catchy name and animated bears, Tunnel Bear offers excellent services to freemium subscribers with its many global servers. Free accounts can enjoy unlimited simultaneous connections and excellent privacy policies. The VPN company also subjects itself to independent audits to ensure it follows strict privacy and service guidelines.
The Bad: Every Tunnel Bear feature sounds promising and they are, but it still has a significant drawback. Users can only enjoy 500 MB monthly, although they can bump it up to 1.5 GB by posting about the company on social media.
The Verdict: Small business owners needing occasional VPN access can benefit from Tunnel Bear’s services like unlimited connections. They just have to be wary of the data cap.
The Good: Privado VPN offers an almost unlimited free VPN experience with 12 servers. Small business owners can enjoy ten simultaneous connections and split tunneling to access different sites simultaneously and divide traffic from their devices into separate channels.
The Bad: The VPN company gives free accounts 10 GB of data monthly, which is more than enough for casual encrypted browsing. The system automatically throttles connection speeds when users use up the data allowance instead of cutting the service entirely.
The Verdict: Privado VPN is still a solid choice for business owners who can limit their monthly use within the data allowance. The split tunneling feature is also excellent for those who want a more secure connection.
Free VPN: Keeping Your Data Safe and Secure
It’s better to be safe than sorry, especially with the rising cybercrime rates worldwide. Small business owners can add another layer of protection to their daily operations by considering a free VPN that covers all their needs. Data privacy and security should be a priority for businesses regardless of size and industry.
About The Author
Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her re-reading the Harry Potter series, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or hanging out with her dogs, Bear and Lucy.