Following their announcement back in April, the browser maker Opera Software has rolled out their free VPN services on all platforms. They now offer VPN applications for Android and Apple iOS and very recently rolled out the feature to the v40 of the Opera Browser. Premium grade VPN service with multiple geographical locations for free. What's the catch?
Running a popular VPN service costs serious money. Bandwidth and other resources don't come cheap. Opera's VPN technology comes from their purchasing of SurfEasy, a VPN provider company. If are now giving the service for free, then where does the money come from?
According to Opera, they currently do not have plans for monetizing the feature on the desktop browser. Opera has a tiny market share and their motivation is to differentiate their offering from competition. The Opera Browser however is ad supported. For example they get paid for sending traffic to search engines. BTW, their browser offer technically is not a VPN at all. It is a secure HTTPS-proxy, that will encrypt your browser traffic and hide your real IP-address, but not a VPN. Some people are speculating, that maybe Opera is collecting data at the proxy after all and selling it to third parties, but I don't think anyone has confirmed that.
Opera VPN for iOS & Android
While there are currently no adds in the iOS app, Opera Software has said that they will "likely" add some in the future. It does however feature an ad-blocker, so eliminate content producer's ads and include your own?
For the mobile version, Opera had confirmed that they will collect and sell user data to third parties.
SurfEasy -- now a division of Opera Software -- will also sell anonymized collections of data acquired from users of Opera VPN, said Houston. "This information is made available to third parties who are interested in better understanding the mobile ecosystem and how it's evolving," he explained.
Opera's free VPN is a useful service, while not suitable for maximum security and privacy.
- The VPN does encrypt your traffic. Useful protection against WiFi hotspot spoofing and other man in the middle attacks.
- It unblocks geographically restricted content (Not Netflix) and may get you through corporate firewalls, or other network usage limitations.
- It has a fairly well working ad-blocker. I've seen some ads getting through, which makes me wonder whether Opera's blocker has a white list, or are they inserting them as I go.
- Opera's VPN is rather fast and a lot faster than your usual free offer. It remains to be seen will the performance stay on current level if their services become mega popular.
- You get a trade-off in privacy and security. You are protected from third parties, but subject to the monetization efforts of Opera Software. It is also worth mentioning that Opera has Chinese ownership, so put your foil hat on.
Personally I am using Opera as a secondary browser to unblock foreign but free sports streams, and it works great for that purpose.
Get all the goods from Opera.com