Say goodbye to free Opera VPN

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Opera VPN
Olaf, the friendly Viking mascot of Opera VPN, is sad.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

The end is nigh for a free VPN service for iOS and Android. Opera VPN will close at the end of this month. No reason has been given.

A Virtual Private Network protects users by hiding their IP address, making it much harder to be tracked. Opera Software’s version would even let you appear to be in another country.

In addition to the privacy advantages, a VPN can be used to watch TV programs not available in your current area. Almost all the streaming services have geographical limitations, and a VPN gets around those. Opera VPN offered five different country options.

The fat lady sang

The official statement about the closure was without explanation. Opera Software said simply “We’re discontinuing the Opera VPN app for iOS and Android on April 30, 2018.”

The reason is likely to be the most basic of all: money. It costs a lot to run a VPN. All the internet traffic of every user has to run through the servers of the company maintaining it. Opera Software probably just found it too expensive to offer this service for free. 

Paid alternative to Opera VPN

Opera VPN launched with much fanfare in 2016. An Opera Gold option debuted in 2017 with faster speeds for $30 a year. Clearly this wasn’t enough to keep the service afloat. 

Opera Gold subscribers are being given a free 1-year subscription to SurfEasy Ultra VPN, a $77.88 value. This makes sense, as SurfEasy is owned by Opera Software.

These who used the free version of Opera VPN are being offered an 80 percent discount off SurfEasy Total VPN, which is normally $4.99 a month or $47.88 a year. 

SurfEasy was already handling the VPN traffic for Opera, so this is just cutting out the middleman. And the free option.