In the market economy, we are led to believe that quality grows along with the price. This may be true for some software products, including VPN. But should you really base your choice of VPN solely on the price and go straight for the most pricy one, hoping that the price matches the quality?
What are the risks?
First of all, when choosing a trusted VPN provider, you need to familiarise yourself with a full list of ways your VPN may be used against you. After all, VPN is just another piece of software you trust your personal data with.
The most obvious of issues when choosing your VPN is privacy, and specifically what kind of information your VPN provider keeps about you. Traffic logs kept by VPN providers can become a serious dealbreaker. If a VPN provider does not state explicitly that it has a no-logs policy, you may safely assume that they log quite a lot of information about how you use VPN, about your browsing and downloading habits. Most reasonably good VPN providers write down their logging policy and clearly state what sort of metadata they collect from you: at a bare minimum, it would be times when you log in and log out. A serious issue arises if the VPN provider keeps a log of your IP addresses (real or spoofed), your browsing history, or DNS queries. Depending on the jurisdiction (where the VPN provider is based territorially), law enforcement may have more or less straightforward access to all these data. Even VPN providers that had stated previously that they had a no-logging policy, sometimes would be revealed to have kept quite a lot of detailed information on their users.
If the VPN is suspiciously cheap or free, ask yourself: how are they maintaining the business? Are they selling my data to advertisers or just keeping them for a rainy day? Are they selling my bandwidth? A trustworthy VPN provider might offer free service alongside paid plans, with a free account having a monthly data cap or other limitations.
What do you need this VPN for?
Secondly, ask yourself what is your primary reason for acquiring a VPN? Is it to get access to geo-blocked entertainment content? Is it because of privacy concerns and the need to mask your IP from your nosy ISP? Or is it because you need a secure virtual private network for business and personal use?
Some VPN providers might be more focused on one aspect of VPN functionality than another. Security-minded VPN provider may ensure that your network is 100% malware-proof, but this doesn’t mean they will also adhere to the no-logging standard. It works the other way round too: a VPN can be extremely privacy-conscious but utter rubbish when it comes to network security. The cheap price might be an indicator of this – for half the normal price you effectively get just half a VPN.
But if you strapped for cash and looking for a VPN that fits all your privacy and security concerns but can also be acquired on a modest budget, Private Internet Access is one of the best solutions when considering cheap VPN service. This PIA review may give you a better glimpse into its functionality. PIA market themselves as an ‘anonymous VPN service provider’, clearly focusing on privacy more than on anything else. Protecting your identity and bypassing censorship are the main selling points of PIA, and the price is extremely affordable.
PIA does not offer a free subscription plan. The cheapest commitment you can get is a 2-year subscription at $2.91/month. Otherwise, $6.95 is a monthly fee for a full-feature PIA plan that includes P2P support, up to 5 simultaneous devices, no logging, unlimited bandwidth, adblock and anti-tracking, and multiple gateways.