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Why a cheap VPN is not the best choice

When shopping for a VPN, you’ll find all kinds of options — from expensive and popular to obscure and cheap. But are the drawbacks of cheap VPNs worth it? In this article, you’ll read about the pricing, features, benefits, and drawbacks of differently priced VPNs.

Stephen Levine

Stephen Levine

Dec 22, 2020 · 5 min read

Why a cheap VPN is not the best choice

The disadvantages of a low-cost VPN

An online VPN service is a privacy and security tool that encrypts your traffic and changes your virtual location. It does so by routing all your internet traffic through a remote server. That way, nobody — not even your internet service provider — can observe what you’re doing online.

A VPN directly handles all your online traffic, including your sensitive data. So it’s a tool you must trust to use. However, even the best cheap VPNs aren’t trustworthy enough.

How does a cheap VPN make money?

Like any business, a VPN needs to make money to cover its operating costs and perhaps even make a profit. A VPN provider has to operate, maintain, and secure many servers all around the globe. It must also hire excellent technical personnel (sysadmins, infosec experts, software engineers) to provide a fast and secure service.

The cheapest VPNs hardly ever make enough money to cover their bills. So they turn to other streams of revenue — your data. They can observe your traffic, collect your sensitive data, and sell it to the highest bidder.

If a VPN isn’t independently owned and operated, its low price may result from the fact that it's not trying to make money. Its main purpose may be collecting and handing your data to the corporation or government that owns the VPN.

Even a good and cheap VPN that respects your privacy may show you intrusive ads or hide crucial features behind a paywall. Freemium VPNs may severely slow your internet until you agree to pay for their service.

Are cheap VPNs secure?

Imagine you found the cheapest monthly VPN, it's supported by donations, and it's very transparent about its finances. You have no reason to suspect it will sell your data. But can you trust its capacity to keep you private and secure?

An inexpensive VPN isn’t inherently unsecure. But to understand the risks, you have to be aware of the asymmetric nature of cybersecurity. VPN developers have to find all the vulnerabilities and patch them. On the other hand, a hacker has to find just one vulnerability to exploit it. For a VPN to be secure, it’s not enough to put out 99 fires out of 100.

A VPN provider must hire penetration testers and cybersecurity experts to make the service as secure as possible. That’s beyond the means of most low-cost VPN services.

A quality VPN can afford to innovate, use next-generation encryption, and prevent user data leaks — something even the best budget VPN can’t offer its users.

The advantages of a top-tier VPN

NordVPN is a market leader with over 5,000 servers in 59 countries. We employ next-generation encryption and offer a 30-day money-back guarantee. You can use NordVPN on 6 devices at the same time on every major platform — that’s protection for the whole family.

It’s not only one of the best but also an affordable VPN service. Depending on the plan you choose, it can cost you as little as a cup of coffee a month. You can find the best price for a VPN plan that suits you the best. Plus, you can always make use of frequent NordVPN discounts.

Top-notch transparency

NordVPN is independently owned. We’re the flagship service of Nord Security — an internet security company that also offers password managers and secure cloud storage.

Our business is internet security and nothing more. NordVPN adheres to a strict no-logs policy, tested by a Big Four auditor every few years.

Trustworthiness comes at a cost, but it saves you money in the long term.

Blazing speed

You’d be hard-pressed to find a cheap and fast VPN. The reason is simple — the connection speed depends on the quality of the encryption, your distance from the VPN server, and the VPN server load. You can’t expect amazing speed from a low-cost VPN provider with few servers in a couple of locations.

With NordVPN, you can always find a VPN server that’s near you or one that's under low load. You can choose from over 5,000 servers worldwide, so the server load won’t cause you connection problems. We also built an advanced VPN tunneling solution — NordLynx — that made NordVPN the fastest VPN service on the planet, as confirmed by the latest speed tests.

Best of all — you can get the fastest VPN on the planet for a fair price.

Ultra-secure connection

NordVPN employs the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) with 256-bit keys to secure your online data. Governments, cybersecurity experts, and cryptographers recommend AES with 256-bit keys because no known practical attack can break it.

On top of that, NordVPN regularly upgrades its infrastructure. We recently have:

  • Launched a bug bounty program — a reward program for independent cybersecurity experts who report any bugs they find in our service.
  • Introduced colocated servers, which are fully owned, maintained, and managed by NordVPN.
  • Upgraded to diskless servers, which store no data or configurations on site.
  • Undergone an exhaustive assurance engagement assessment, performed by a Big Four auditing firm. It included employee interviews, server configuration inspections, and technical log inspections.

If you want to get the best value for your money, this is the VPN for you.

Extra (but necessary) security features

A VPN is irreplaceable if you want to secure your online traffic or change your virtual location, but some threats are beyond its protection. That's why NordVPN offers extra security features, like CyberSec.

CyberSec comes with NordVPN at no additional cost. Here’s what it does:

  • Blocks dangerous websites. If a website is known for hosting malware or performing phishing scams, it’s automatically blacklisted.
  • Protects from botnet control. Your device won’t join the bot army to attack an unsuspecting victim.
  • Hides intrusive ads. No more pop-ups that cover your whole screen the moment you enter a website.

Instead of looking for the best low-cost VPN, consider all the benefits and advanced features you’ll get if you pay a bit more for a first-rate VPN.

Reputation matters

NordVPN is one of the most widely used and trusted VPN providers on the planet, with over 14 million users worldwide. Cybersecurity experts vigilantly observe our business practices, tech innovations, and solutions. They advise, praise, or criticize us.

In turn, we work under immense pressure to provide the best service possible. We have no hope of hiding our flaws, so we must fix them and improve. And we do — NordVPN reviews speak for themselves.

We’ve built our reputation by providing a top-quality service. Smaller-scale VPNs can cut corners, but we can’t. So if you’re looking for the best, avoid the cheapest VPN services.

Paid vs cheap VPN

How much should you pay for a VPN?

It depends on your needs. If you need a VPN for a short term, it’s best to look up a straightforward VPN price comparison online.

You can buy a quality VPN for $5-12 per month. But you can get a much better deal! If you buy NordVPN’s 1-year or 2-year plan, you’ll pay 2 or 3 times less than that.

Weigh your options and explore all the features that a VPN service offers.

Is there a 100% free VPN?

It’s best to avoid free VPNs for the same reasons you avoid cheap VPN services. However, you can try NordVPN for 30 days and get your money back (no questions asked) if you find that you don’t need a VPN.

Try NordVPN risk-free for 30 days to discover why a premium VPN is worth it.