Free or Paid Internet Services?

The range of services available on the Internet today is inconceivable. From basic information websites, search engines, to web-mail, social networking applications with hundreds of applications, on-line games, chatting tools, photo albums, virtual storage drives even complete powerful office suites and business applications. What should be even more inconceivable - and is not - is the fact that most of these are free to use! It is somehow expected nowadays that things should be free on the Internet. How can something be given for free when is really free of cost?

Just try to provide a basic service from scratch over the Internet and will immediately realise that it costs. It costs to actually develop the whole thing (both labor and equipment),  it costs to host it, it costs to maintain it and it costs to support the users. Not to mention that there must be some reward to whoever came up with the idea or concept. So how can all this be given for free? Well, in our opinion nothing is free…

Some services ask you to pay them some fee for using their service whereas others allow ‘free’ access in return of handling your personal data at their discretion. Also portion of your screen may be controlled by them for throwing advertising content etc. As a user, we believe one should really evaluate how much personal data, own content, online privacy, and control are really worth. Would you “sell” all your personal data for $9.99 ? That is the actual comparison. A paid service may charge you such an amount once or periodically whereas a free service will get the ‘rights’ for trading you personal data or push content anytime anywhere or both. 

Of Course there are always cases where free services are indeed of great value and harmless. Therefore, we vote for the ‘free’ as long as they are not ‘cruicial’ to our on-line life and as long as they don’t require unconditional use of our personal data, content and behaviour patterns. For important services such us our email or storage involving sensitive or valuable data or productivity applications we vote in favour of paying. Some say “What you Pay is What you get” and in many cases we prefer peace of mind instead of the $9.99.

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