Why you shouldn’t just use any free VPN for Popcorn Time, what free services are ok to use and what the alternatives are.
Why use a VPN with Popcorn Time?
It’s illegal to share copyrighted material and that’s exactly what you’re doing watching something with Popcorn Time. Popcorn Time uses P2P for distribution which means you’re downloading whatever you’re watching from other users and at the same time someone else is also downloading from you.
P2P is great for serving enormous amounts of data without expensive servers but it also means you’re sharing. Consequently, you’re helping with the illegal distribution of copyrighted material and if caught you could get a hefty fine.
VPN (Virtual Private Network) uses sophisticated encryption technology to both secure and anonymize the user. The latter is done by hiding the person’s public IP-address which can otherwise be used to trace the individual.
This is why so many Popcorn Time users are using a VPN. It makes it impossible to trace that you’re downloading or sharing anything.
Learn more in our comprehensive piece on VPN for Popcorn Time, where you’ll also find a shortlist of recommended services.
Can you use a free VPN?
A good VPN costs money but if you do a google search for “free VPN” you’ll get a gazillion results. There are plenty of (allegedly) free VPNs to choose from and they all claim to be just as good as their paid for counterparts.
This is a good time to remember the old saying that if something’s free, you’re the product, because this is exactly a case of that. Running a VPN service costs money, a lot of money.
As an example, the excellent VPN provider Private Internet Access has over 3000 servers in their network. Even at a relatively low cost per server we’re talking about expenses measured in millions of dollars each year.
Free VPN monetarization tactics
Looking at the cost of running a VPN service should alone be enough to convince you that the free alternatives have to come with one or more big “buts”. That money has to come from somewhere and if you’re not paying for the subscription there are only a few other options.
In addition to more or less dubious business models, free VPN services simply can’t offer the same kind of service as those you pay for. That translates to fewer servers, slow downloads, poor software, bad protection of privacy etc.
One of the most common and transparent ways to make money with a free VPN service is ads. The method is very straightforward and works by “injecting” ad blocks in to your browser where you’ll hopefully find them interesting enough to click on which generates a revenue for the VPN service.
We’re already shown ads everywhere online so that doesn’t sound too bad but unfortunately this type of free VPN provider usually doesn’t allow P2P. Since Popcorn Time doesn’t use the browser there’s no place to show ads and thus no way to make money.
As a result, allowing P2P would be to shoot themselves in the foot raising cost without also raising the income.
Another less innocent source of revenue for these “free” VPN providers is information. That means logging what websites you visit, your searches and of course also your downloads and selling the information to the highest bidder.
If you’re only using the internet for finding cupcake recipes and looking at cat videos it’s all good. If you’re taking part in illegal filesharing that could possibly turn out very bad.
A third and similarly unsafe (for you) way to finance a free VPN service is to sell off your bandwith. That means the VPN software also acts as a gateway for whoever has bought themselves access your internet connection.
Thus, it also means that whetever they choose to do with it will be traced back to you. Also not such a good idea.
The final motive is simply to lure you in so you’ll hopefully exchange your free subscription to a paid one. This type of free VPN is totally safe to use but there’s usually some kind of catch. It’s usually either limited traffic, low speed, no P2P or a time limit.
VPN providers with free options worth recommending
Although few and far between there ARE a few free VPN solutions we feel comfortable recommending:
Hide.me is a great VPN service that offers perfect privacy with a strict no-logging policy. It’s a paid for service but they offer a traffic limited (2 GB/month) subscription that you can have for free.
Admittedly, 2 GB isn’t much but it is enough for a movie or a couple of episodes depending on the filesize.
They won’t collect any data about your use of the service or show you any ads, but hope they can convince you to get a real subscription once you see just how good the service is.
These guys don’t collect any data either so there are no records of how you used their service. That’s great in terms of privacy since it means nothing can ever be traced back to you.
Freedome can be used for free without any limitations for a full two weeks without giving up anything else than your email address. This is, of course, also meant as a way to win you over to a paid subscription once you get used to their awesomeness.
While Freedome allows P2P it’s not on all servers so pay attention to that before complaining that it doesn’t work.
Alternative ways to get free VPN
Another way to get VPN for free is to take advantage of a money back guarantee. That means initially paying for the subscription and requesting a refund before the allotted period runs out. It’s a bit of a hassle and since you can only do it once for each provider it’s a bit of work but that’s what you’ll have to suffer if you don’t want to pay.
Completely anonymous (no logging) and P2P friendly VPN services with no questions asked money back guarantee:
- ExpressVPN (30 days)
- VPN.ht (30 days)
- Cyberghost (30 days)
- TorGuard (7 days)
- Private Internet Access (7 days)
There are a lot of other options with money back guarantee just waiting to be exploited but make sure the guarantee doesn’t come with limitations of use before you get started.
If you want to learn more we recommend our main article on VPN for Popcorn Time.