VPNs or virtual private networks encrypt your online traffic so that you have a secure and safe connection to the internet. VPNs hide your IP address, protect your data, and allow for the safe use of public networks. VPNs can also gain access to website restrictions and regional censorship - creating a private route through the internet.
There are free VPNs and paid VPNs. Paid VPNs are usually faster, as well as being able to choose from more servers/countries. When browsing online, there are a variety of paid VPN options for users, the majority requiring a monthly subscription or fee. These also tend to be the safer option, as paid VPNs offer more reliability and security.
Free VPNs come with risks, such as security and user privacy but can be okay for casual usage. It is essential to be aware that companies offering "free" VPNs must make their money somewhere and can sell browsing activity to third parties for advertising. So, your data is not entirely private. Using a free VPN may be a good choice if you need to use public Wi-Fi briefly, but it isn't recommended for long-term use due to the potential risks involved.
Some browsers also have VPN options as well. Opera and Brave browsers have a built-in function you can enable in the settings to use the built-in VPN.
There are a variety of pros and cons to using a VPN. When selecting your own, it is important to research to find the best fit for you and your needs.