Running a VPN costs money, a lot of money. This is why free VPNs come with severely limited features and are generally not recommended except for very specific cases. Their purpose, in essence, is to get you acquainted with the service in the hopes of charming you to upgrade to a paid account.
When it comes to paid apps, two models are available: either a periodical – monthly, yearly, bi-yearly, etc – subscription package or a one-time payment purchase, commonly referred to as a lifelong subscription.
Not many VPNs offer a lifelong subscription deal, but a few do – a quick google search will reveal some seemingly irresistible offers; we’ve seen prices as low as $18.
The acronym refers to the phrase “Cash Flow Is More Important Than Your Mother”, a famed maxim in the business world, and one that certainly holds true when it comes to VPNs. As we mentioned above, VPNs incur a lot of running costs – developing for new platforms, constantly updating existing apps, running servers across the world (NordVPN, for instance, runs more than 1400 servers; ExpressVPN has 1500+), bandwidth, marketing, and tech support are some of the ongoing expenses that VPN companies need to plug.
With this in mind, one should be reasonably suspicious of lifetime subscriptions, and here’s why:
It is Hard to Sustain
Companies that offer lifetime subscriptions need to be constantly acquiring new users to stay afloat. So what happens when the demand plateaus or drops? Evidently, these companies will have to look for alternative sources of cash.
They could introduce ads into their apps or they might resort to selling your data straight up to third parties. Worst of all, the company might be forced to shut down. Not so much a ‘lifetime’ subscription in the end.
Overselling is another point of concern. Faced with a cash shortage, a company offering unlimited subscription VPNs are very likely to try to sell as many subs as they can while trying to cut down on cost as much as possible. This may mean utilizing affordable – read: below par – servers; their server to user ratio might be so skewed that it results in slow and sluggish connections.
Paying Upfront Leaves Little Desire to Keep You Satisfied
It would be very unwise for any company to falter when it comes to after sale support – word of mouth travels fast on the internet. But it’s easy to see how a company might choose to focus more on acquiring new users than on keeping no-longer-cashable ones happy. So don’t be too surprised if their support staff isn’t as helpful as the competition.
It’s Not All Doom and Gloom
Offering a lifetime package does not necessarily mean that you should cross off a VPN provider. You should, at the very least, be cautious. There are valid reasons for offering this option.
Not all lifetime subscriptions come cheap; some are quite hefty. Particularly for an up and coming company or a company looking to grow quickly, a cash injection could prove very useful to boost development, marketing, and so on.
What’s more, offering lifetime subscription – perhaps for a limited number of downloads and/or time – could result in good publicity and highlight the brand.
Similar to free VPNs, a good rule of thumb is to avoid lifetime subscriptions. A big part of using virtual private networks is to ensure privacy and security, so why risk it? Additionally, the best VPN services out there are still fairly affordable. Take a look at our favorites:
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