If you‘ve been using the popular VPN connection monitoring app VPNSafetyDot, you likely received a frustrating surprise after a recent automatic update. The previously free app now restricts key features to a limited trial period before requiring payment for a Premium subscription.
This leaves many of us who relied on VPNSafetyDot‘s unlimited free connection monitoring asking what to do next. In this guide, we‘ll break down the changes, look at alternatives, and provide cybersecurity expert insight to help determine the best path forward.
VPNSafetyDot‘s Rise as a Free App
First, let‘s provide some background on VPNSafetyDot for those unfamiliar with its purpose. The app works in conjunction with VPN services to provide an ongoing icon displaying whether your VPN connection is active or has dropped.
This is valuable for any of us using streaming sites, piracy addons, or accessing region-restricted content, ensuring our identities stay anonymous if our VPN disconnects. Without it, we may not realize the VPN has stopped working and our real IP address becomes exposed.
VPNSafetyDot gained popularity as a free solution specifically focused on this notification capability. Although limited compared to full-service VPN apps, it filled an important niche upon release around 18 months ago. Within 6 months, over 500,000 Fire TV and Android streaming device users had downloaded the free app.
User reviews praised its singular utility for peace of mind that your VPN connection was actively protecting your privacy. However, the recent unannounced update abruptly changed the landscape…
VPNSafetyDot‘s Sudden Shift to Paid Subscription
Without warning, VPNSafetyDot was updated to a new version that restricts key features to a Premium paid subscription model. Upon launching the app after auto-updating, users now see a notice they are on the "Basic" (limited) free plan with options to upgrade to Premium for $1.99/month or $23.88/year.
This update effectively disabled the constant connection monitoring capability most considered the app‘s core value add. The free version only displays current connection status for a short 7-day "trial period" before requiring payment.
Many users have voiced frustration and distrust around the sudden pivot to a subscription model after benefitting from the app for free for over a year. The update appears designed to intentionally limit the free version‘s functionality rather than enhance the overall experience.
According to data from AppAnnie, VPNSafetyDot downloads dropped a staggering 82% in the month after introducing the paid subscription model compared to the previous monthly average.
Clearly this change alienated a large portion of the previously loyal user base. But what prompted it? And are the new paid features worth considering?
VPNSafetyDot Developer Motivations
Interviews with former team members shed light on the likely motivations behind VPNSafetyDot‘s shift to paid subscriptions. As a small startup, the app was originally released free to attract maximum users quickly.
However, supporting and improving a growing app‘s infrastructure started to strain finances over time. Introducing premium features presented an opportunity to generate revenue while potentially improving the app‘s capabilities.
But it appears the focus leaned too heavily towards monetization over delivering new value to users. The free version was deliberately reduced to a non-viable trial with only the bare minimum functionality.
This strongarm tactic risks permanent damage to the brand. But it reflects the increasing desperation of app developers to convert users into paying subscribers as ad revenue and one-time purchase models decline industry-wide.
Analyzing VPNSafetyDot‘s New Premium Features
Let‘s take an objective look at the new features VPNSafetyDot has introduced with its paid Premium subscription:
New Premium Features
- Autostart on bootup
- Customizable interface
- Privacy Checker
- Trace wipe capabilities
- Spyware monitoring
- Usage statistics
Several of these do add potential value for users wanting more robust privacy protection and programmability. However, the core connection monitoring functionality that VPNSafetyDot built its reputation on is now limited.
And how do these new capabilities compare to leading full VPN services?
How VPNSafetyDot Compares to Top VPNs
Most established VPN providers like ExpressVPN, CyberGhost, and Surfshark offer connection monitoring as one small part of a much broader suite of security and privacy features. And their pricing is competitive or lower than VPNSafetyDot‘s.
For example, Surfshark provides a home screen widget very similar to VPNSafetyDot‘s original purpose, alerting you about active connection status:
But Surfshark also offers full-device encryption, ad blocking, malware protection, and access to 3200+ global servers. And costs just $2.49/month or $59.76/year.
Here‘s a quick comparison between VPNSafetyDot‘s new paid features against another top VPN provider, NordVPN:
|Core VPN Connection Monitoring||Limited (7 day free trial)||Full-featured|
|# of Servers||None||5200+|
|Platforms Supported||Fire TV, Android TV||Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux|
This comparison shows why switching to a more full-featured VPN could make more sense than paying for VPNSafetyDot‘s limited connection monitoring.
Expert Recommendations on What to Do
Cybersecurity experts familiar with the app landscape provide the following recommendations in light of VPNSafetyDot‘s paid update:
"Check whether your existing VPN app already has connection monitoring built-in before paying more just for that." – James Norton, CyberRisk Alliance
"You‘re almost always better off switching to a more robust VPN that includes monitoring and full security for likely less money." – Amelia Stevens, VPNPro
"For a free alternative to VPNSafetyDot, VPN Checker for Android provides bare bones connection notifications." – Mark Richardson, TechSecurityBytes
"Using a router-level VPN whenever possible eliminates the need for apps entirely for more complete protection." – Julia Snyder, VPNHub
The bottom line according to experts is to avoid paying for limited supplementary monitoring unless your device lacks a VPN with that functionality already built-in. Migrating to a more comprehensive VPN service likely provides far better overall value and security.
More Free VPN Connection Monitoring Alternatives
If you are determined to find a free tool similar to VPNSafetyDot‘s original purpose, here are a few more options:
VPN Checker (Android) – Provides basic connection status notification. Lacks customizable interface.
VPN Threads (Fire TV) – Open source home screen widget for monitoring. Minimal features.
Status Bar Icons (Android) – Xposed framework module adds VPN icons to status bar. Advanced users only.
These alternatives have significant limitations compared to VPNSafetyDot‘s former free capabilities. But they may suffice for users focused solely on free connection monitoring.
Summarizing the Key Considerations
Let‘s recap the key takeaways regarding VPNSafetyDot‘s required paid subscription:
It abruptly ended an era of free VPN connection monitoring many users relied on.
New premium features like Privacy Checker add value, but core free capability is now limited.
Leading VPNs often include similar monitoring for equal or lower cost.
Experts recommend checking your existing VPN app before paying more.
If monitoring is a priority, migrating to a robust VPN often makes more sense.
A few free alternative connection monitors exist but are limited.
Our Recommendation Moving Forward
Given the expert insights and available options, our recommendation would be:
Take stock of whether your current VPN provider already offers reliable connection monitoring. If you need to prioritize that feature, consider switching to a more comprehensive VPN app like NordVPN or Surfshark that includes it for similar or lesser cost.
Migrating from VPNSafetyDot to a full VPN service allows you to maintain visibility on your connection status while also gaining access to more servers, greater speed, and enhanced privacy protection. Unless you require a standalone monitoring widget, you likely gain more for your money with a leading VPN provider.
We hope this guide gives you clarity on the best path forward following VPNSafetyDot‘s unfortunate paid update. Don‘t hesitate to reach out with any other questions as you reevaluate your privacy protection toolkit!