Frequent travelers know that a virtual-private-network (VPN) client is a must when traveling overseas, but such protection often comes at a cost. Beginning today (March 30), however, you can get up to 500MB of VPN data per month for free on your Windows laptop or Android device, thanks to German antivirus firm Avira's new Phantom VPN service.

Credit: David Molina G/Shutterstock
(Image credit: David Molina G/Shutterstock)

A VPN encrypts all your Internet traffic and routes it through a secure server anywhere in the world, and can protect your PC or phone from malware and snoopers as well as mask your location. Having a VPN service is especially handy when you need to use the Wi-Fi at a hotel or restaurant, but don't trust the wide-open nature of the network.

"As more people bring their laptops into cafes and log into banking sites and online accounts from their smartphones, they need to have secure and encrypted connections to the Internet from anywhere," said Avira's Melanie Weber in a statement.

MORE: How a Virtual Private Network Can Boost Your Security

Other VPN services can cost up to $10 per month, or $75 per year, per device. So it's helpful to have a service that lets you use up to 500MB per month — which doubles to 1GB of data per month if you register with Avira — on an unlimited number of devices.

If you'd like unlimited data, you'll have to pay $78 per year for Phantom VPN Pro. That might be worth it for the business traveler who wants to watch American Netflix while in Germany — or vice versa.

Avira currently has VPN servers in Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States. The software runs on PCs running Windows 7 and up, and smartphones and tablets running Android 4.0.3 Ice Cream Sandwich and later.

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