Opera is a small player in the global browser market, but it’s no spring chicken. It predates Chrome, Edge, and most of the other modern browsers. Opera has been rolling out new apps and features in an effort to gain market share, and its latest effort is a free, unlimited VPN in its Android browser. Free VPNs are a risky proposition, but Opera seeks to reassure suspicious Android users that it’s safe.
A VPN, or virtual private network, routes all your web traffic to and from a device. So, someone observing your connection (like your ISP) won’t see the sites and services you use. Instead, they just see a lot of traffic flowing to and from the VPN connection. That means the VPN can see all your traffic, so it’s important you trust the company providing the service.
Traditionally, free VPNs have been a bad idea. If you’re not paying for the service, the VPN provider is probably doing something with your data to make money. That ruins any potential privacy advantages of using a VPN. Some people might still be fine with a free VPN for specific uses, like making a website think you’re in a different location than you really are.
Opera first experimented with a free VPN service as a standalone app. However, it discontinued that app in 2018. Now, Opera’s VPN has found its way into the main Android browser app after a brief test in the beta version. Opera v51 in the Play Store adds a 256-bit encrypted VPN service with various server locations. You can choose to have the VPN active only in private browsing tabs and bypass the VPN for searches so you get more relevant local results.
The Opera VPN is completely free, and you don’t even need to set up an account to use it. According to Opera, its VPN does not log user data or attempt to monetize any aspect of the VPN. Opera just really wants people using its browser.
Since there are no accounts and it doesn’t log data, you can use it as much as you want. In our testing, the Opera VPN is extremely fast for downloads, but uploads were noticeably slower than a direct connection. It’s still much better than other free VPNs, so it’s a good option if you’re willing to believe Opera that it isn’t tracking or selling your data. The updated Opera with the VPN is currently rolling out in the Play Store.
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