Probably everyone knows what a VPN is. Not least of all, it was influenced by the blocking of Telegram in Russia. Users willy-nilly were forced to learn how to work either with proxies, which very often fell off, or with VPNs. Of course, many chose free services, because they couldn't afford to pay for "just Internet access" through a supposedly secure gateway. This is understandable, because the cost of subscribing to some VPNs really bite. But to tell you the truth, there really is a lot to pay. Honest to goodness.
VPN is literally translated as virtual private network. Such services act as a kind of gateway that encrypts users' traffic and does not allow it to be read by either ISPs or third-party web services. They simply run it through their own servers and return it already encrypted. That is, their main purpose is to keep users' web surfing safe, regardless of the connection they use or the sites they visit.
Why a VPN can't be free?
Of course, running millions of terabytes of traffic every day is not only not free, but it's not even cheap. Owners of VPN services have to operate a huge number of data centers, keep them running, employees, developers, utilities, and much more.
So it's no surprise that they're asking you to pay for it. Somewhere it's 200 rubles per month, and somewhere it's 600. It all depends on the range of data centers you can connect to for faster internet performance.
Despite this, there are a large number of free VPN services. As a rule, they offer fewer servers, are not as fast, but most importantly, they are often quite negligent with user data, leaking it to advertisers.
After all, this is an incredibly valuable treasure trove of information about the preferences and interests of everyone who uses such services, and the advertising networks are very happy about it. Yes, on the one hand, VPN services encrypt user traffic, but they encrypt it only for ISPs, while they themselves have free access to it.
The best proof of how much the owners of free VPN services don't care about your security is proved by the recent case with leaks of GeckoVPN, SuperVPN, ChatVPN and other users' data.
These are all free services. According to CyberNews cybersecurity experts, the total number of people affected could be as high as 21 million. This is actually one of the largest (if not the largest at all) VPN user data breaches in history.
Which VPN to choose?
Some will say that even paid VPN services are not 100% leak-proof. Undoubtedly, this is true. But the whole difference is that free services do not risk anything at all, and paid services can lose the audience that provides their work. Accordingly, it's in their interest not to let anything like that happen, which means that, in theory, the likelihood of them having a leak is generally lower than free services.
If you care at all about your own security (and if you use VPN services, you probably do), I'd recommend you choose something paid. No, not because I am such a snob and think that you need to pay for every sneeze you have on the Internet, but because even among the paid services there are many that offer quite favorable terms.
For example, I myself use WindScribe or TunnelBear. They allow me to collect free traffic, which can be used without paying. By some simple manipulation it can be increased up to 50 GB, which is a considerable amount, and only if it is not enough, can you start paying.
All people should understand that a free service means that its users are not customers, but commodities. After all, they aren't charged just because they pay for access to these kinds of services with something else.
It is usually personal data that the services sell to advertisers, undermining people's right to privacy and often even the secrecy of personal correspondence. So you have to think about it and decide what is more important to you: freebies or security?