cracked VPN are they safe to use

Simply put, “cracked” software refers to modified versions of an app designed to circumvent built-in usage restrictions. For instance, it’s fairly easy to find cracked versions of Windows that’ll let you install and use the operating system without entering a registration key. Cracked VPNs, then, claim to allow you unrestricted access to premium VPN apps, with no payment information required.

The problem is that these services almost never work. In fact, they’re usually just an attempt to scam you out of money or personal information. Even though you’re attempting to improve your digital privacy by using a VPN, you could actually be putting yourself at risk by cutting corners.

Here’s the short version: cracked VPNs pose significant risks to you and your system, and most of the time, don’t even function. Instead, we’d recommend signing up for a reputable paid service like those below:

  1. NordVPN: The best alternative to using a cracked VPN. Versatile no-logs service with first-class security tools and 24/7 support. Offers a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee.
  2. Surfshark: Our top low-cost VPN. Boasts extremely high speeds and can secure every device you own. Pick the two-year plan for a significant discount.
  3. ExpressVPN: Beginner-friendly VPN with servers in 100+ countries. Strong performance and streaming ability, plus it works flawlessly in China. Recently added anti-tracking functionality.


NordVPN is offering a fully-featured risk-free 30-day trial if you sign up at this page. You can use our top-rated VPN with no restrictions for a month. This gives you plenty of time to try it for yourself and see if it’s right for you. 

There are no hidden termsjust contact support within 30 days if you decide NordVPN isn't right for you and you'll get a full refund. Start your NordVPN trial here.

How do cracked VPNs work?

Realistically, there are two ways of getting access to a VPN that you haven’t paid for. The first is by installing a cracked app, which bypasses the login page entirely.

Any VPN provider worth its salt will double-check the user’s credentials before allowing them to connect, so it’s extraordinarily unlikely that you’ll be able to do more than explore the app’s interface. Even if you can connect, would you really trust a VPN with such lax security to keep you safe?

The other way people “crack” VPNs is by selling stolen account credentials, or purchasing subscriptions using stolen credit card details. Not only is this highly illegal, but it’s actively worse than just signing up yourself. After all, the original owner can log you out remotely, or simply remove your access entirely by changing their password. Assuming their credit card was stolen, they just have to dispute the transaction and your VPN account will be terminated.

Are cracked VPNs safe?

In a word, no.

Cracked software, as a whole, is usually only available from sketchy websites. Worse still, you usually have to create an exception in your antivirus program to get cracked apps to run, since it can tell that something isn’t quite right and will block the process. As such, there’s a solid chance you’re actually installing a Trojan and specifically telling your PC not to worry about it.

Let’s assume you’ve installed a cracked VPN app. Even if it appears to work properly, you have no way of knowing what’s going on in the backend. Whomever cracked the app could have modified it to spy on users or implant malware. How do you know your data is actually being encrypted? For that matter, how do you know that it is actually using the legitimate provider’s servers and not simply storing every site you visit on a hacker’s computer? You don’t. 

Still not convinced? Look at it this way: how much is your time worth? If your identity is stolen as a result of using a cracked VPN, you’ll spend hours on the phone with banks, have to reset several passwords, and be forced to keep a very close eye on your credit record. You can get a trustworthy VPN from as little as $3 per month. Considering the stakes are this high, that seems like a pretty good deal to us.

Why else should I avoid pirated VPN apps?

For the sake of argument, we’ll say your cracked app works perfectly. Believe it or not, you’re still getting a worse experience than people using the real version of the software. Since you don’t have a registered account, you won’t have access to one-on-one customer support. On that note, if any issues do arise, you won’t know if it’s because of the VPN service or an error in the cracked app itself.

VPN apps tend to update fairly regularly, sometimes to add new features and sometimes just to fix bugs or vulnerabilities. At any moment, VPN providers could introduce new verification measures that render cracked software completely unusable. Of course, there’s always a chance that your cracked app’s developer decides to roll out a malicious update and infect your device.

For the avoidance of doubt, cracked VPNs come with a whole lot of risk and minimal reward. That’s why it’s best just to avoid them entirely.

Alternatives to cracked VPNs for people looking to save money

The good news is that it’s possible to get a high level of online privacy without spending much at all. There are even a handful of security-conscious VPNs that are completely free! Here’s how to protect yourself without breaking the bank:

Free services

You have to be pretty careful with free VPNs. In one study, researchers found that almost 40 percent of the apps they examined contained traces of malware, and18 percent didn’t even bother to encrypt the user’s traffic. Further, our research proves that free VPNs often request more system permissions than they need, such as the ability to access your phone’s camera.

Luckily, a few reputable services buck this trend. We’d suggest trying out ProtonVPN – free users can only choose from a handful of servers but there’s no bandwidth limit and its speeds are pretty reliable. Most importantly, every user is protected by a true no-logs policy, which ensures ProtonVPN doesn’t record what you do online.

Our team has also had good experiences using Windscribe, TunnelBear, and However, these only allow a few gigabytes of free data each month.

Paid VPNs with a long-term discount

If you’ve experienced sticker shock when shopping for a VPN, that’s understandable! Popular services often cost around $13 USD per month, so it’s not exactly an insignificant cost. Still, if you’re willing to commit for a longer period up front, you can dramatically reduce the amount you’ll pay.

We’ll use NordVPN as an example. A standard one-month subscription costs $12.99, but if you’re able to pay for the two-year plan upfront (currently $95.76), that cuts the monthly price down to just $3.99. We even have an exclusive NordVPN coupon that throws in a little something!

Almost every paid VPN offers a money-back guarantee. In other words, you can purchase a subscription, use the VPN without limits for a month, and then just get your money back if you decide it’s not suitable for your needs.

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