Right. Let’s be honest. People don’t want to pay for WiFi. Get to the airport and, if you connect and find there’s some insane pricing structure, you’ll probably decide to keep the credit card firmly in your wallet. So, if there’s a free alternative, you’re probably going to go for that, even if you have to sign into Facebook and “Like” the place.
Trouble is, you pay in a different way. You pay for your internet connection by sharing a whole heap of data, and all that data you’re sending over that “free WiFi” can be tracked, searched and stored.
A VPN is a simple thing really. It might sound a bit techy and a bit complicated but it’s basically something you need to consider if you want to keep your web usage secure and safe. Get an app, start using it and it’ll encrypt your web usage so that the provider giving you WiFi can’t see what you’re up to.
Worse still, it might not just be your local cafe that’s using the WiFi to slurp a bit of data for promotional reasons. No, it could be some guy with a laptop next door who’s set up a WiFi hotspot to grab your private info. Identity theft is stupidly easy in this instance so a VPN is a really important safeguard. VPNs encrypt your data and hide your location so that hackers have immense difficulty getting into it. It’s not foolproof, but it’s the best you’ll get. Also, hackers are much more likely to target easy victims.
Many TV shows talking about these security problems will show someone in a web cafe on a laptop, but let’s not forget that smartphones also need VPNs. But with reports saying that most VPNs developed for Androids are duds, how do you go about choosing one that works? Is there a surefire way to find the best VPN for Android?
Start with reputation
The first thing you need to do is disregard a lot of VPN app claims. Unfortunately, there are many people willing to be unabashedly unscrupulous. They make false claims that are difficult to prove. Most internet users will have no idea whether their data is actually being encrypted or not. That “Super Great VPN app” might not be as good as it makes out.
Look instead at reviews from experts. Find out which VPNs are reputed to work, and only then look at their apps. If they have a good reputation and good apps, go for it!
You’re going to have to consider cost. Yes, it’s another monthly bill, but those “free VPNs” aren’t always the solution. Ultimately, you shouldn’t be paying more than £10 per month really. If you can go for annual plans, you pay a lot less and there’s usually offers on too.
There are free VPNs for Android, but as I mentioned before, they might be best avoided. Either their reputation will suck, or they’ll give you technical problems and awful (or no) customer support.
The worthwhile free VPNs are generally limited versions of reputable paid services. They’ll work fine – except you’ll find your bandwidth capped and end up using the internet without a VPN. If you barely use any bandwidth, they’ll do the job. But smartphones generally use a lot of data no matter how lightweight your usage is. Data services are far vaster than they used to be, and much more data heavy.
The main takeaway should be that you need to be specific in the VPN you choose for your Android device. Don’t go for the first one that pops up in a search. Do your research and make the commitment to pay for your safety.