The internet is full of websites that block content geographically or collect data as you browse. Therefore, there is no reason for anyone to browse the internet without the additional protection you get by using a VPN. However, many VPNs available require a subscription, and some can be quite expensive. We’ve researched and tested the top VPNs that offer free service and compiled a list of the best ones for you.
Free VPNs Worth Downloading
This is a compiled list of the best free VPN providers we could find. We cherry-picked them after our extensive testing.
Safe to use and offering unlimited data, ProtonVPN is open-source software that comes highly recommended. Although it only offers three server locations, the company is reputable, and its service is both reliable and fast. In addition, your privacy is ensured as you don’t even need to enter any details about yourself, and it has a minimal logging policy to keep your privacy. You can normally use this software all day, and the only drawback is that you cannot use it for streaming services (such as Netflix) or torrenting. Of course, the paid version is the better option, but if you don’t intend to use it for streaming, then the free version is just as secure and fast.
Probably the most well-known VPN available, Hotspot Shield offers users a free version of their software. Be warned, however, that the free version is ad-supported and has a lower speed (throttled). Nevertheless, it allows users to access data from several locations, and the service is impeccable. Extra features include split tunneling, which allows you to choose whether you want traffic to go through the VPN – a feature that is useful for accessing websites that don’t allow the use of a VPN (such as banks). Users can also use Hotspot Shield for torrenting or streaming, which can come in handy. If you’re willing to endure a few ads, this is an excellent option for getting over geographic firewalls.
Although it does not offer unlimited data, the excellent speeds make up for it. Windscribe allows users to unblock several streaming sites (Netflix, Amazon Prime, and others). It comes with many features, and the offered bandwidth is still considered high at 10 Gigabytes (if you register using your email, otherwise it is just 2GB). Also, the company uses a large network of proxy servers. Subscribers can access 63 countries (110 cities), but free users get access to only 11 servers. We also know that this network is growing, hopefully adding to the free servers as well. It can be used on multiple devices and different routers or even smart TVs. They provide superior privacy and excellent speeds, encryption, and all for free.
For a free VPN, Betternet is incredibly effective at masking your IP and protecting your privacy. It uses high-level encryption to avoid security breaches and direct traffic through US servers. To access streaming services, you will need to upgrade to the premium version, but otherwise, it works well. Although the bandwidth is limited, a generous 500 MB per day is not too bad for a free service. We found that the speed fluctuates between fast and moderately fast but remains acceptable throughout the connection. You can use the app on one device only, but it is available for many platforms and devices. There are a few ads displayed, but they aren’t intrusive or annoying at all.
We were surprised to find that this VPN has airtight security and a rapid connection. The generous bandwidth is capped at 10 GB, and most users are allowed P2P sharing (unless you’re in the United States, Australia, or the United Kingdom). Users can also use the split tunneling feature to whitelist some websites and access them without a VPN, as some websites do not allow the use of VPNs. On the other hand, the app has a feature that allows you to choose apps and websites that cannot be visited without a VPN connection – this is handy if you need to frequent a website that you are not entirely sure is trustworthy. We found no security concerns whatsoever in this app, and we liked that the free version was not limited in protocol access. The connection speed was moderately high.
This is an excellent option to keep your data private, as TunnelBear does not log your data at all. The app was audited to prove that, so we felt secure using the app. Users with the free version can use 500MB per month, which is enough for browsing. Because there is no data logging, you can be sure that the app will never be forced to give out your data. You may not be able to use it for streaming, but it has excellent speed for browsing purposes it works remarkably well. It is a safe, free option to protect yourself while surfing the internet.
A simple, secure app providing the basic privacy and protection protocols that the average user should expect from a VPN, Avira Phantom uses advanced encryption, and it does not ask you to log in anywhere. There is no data logging, further protecting your right to privacy. Free users are limited to a maximum of 1 GB bandwidth, but the high-speed connection is not throttled at all. As expected, Netflix and other streaming websites will not work if you are using this provider. However, you can use it on many connections (unlimited), which is simple enough with its user-friendly interface.
If you’re looking for a free VPN service that will allow you to connect to Netflix, ZoogVPN is for you. The high-speed connection is highly encrypted, protecting your privacy and securing your data. It is a safe, entirely free option that works consistently well. There is no data logging, not even your IP, and you can trust that there are no data leaks. You can browse the internet for up to 11 GB per month, using three different servers (paid version gets 50 servers), and as we’ve previously mentioned, it works with streaming services. You can also use the service with torrenting. Overall it’s a great free option, and if you want to upgrade, the price is less than $2 a month if you sign up for a two-year plan.
Kaspersky Secure Connection
From the well-known antivirus and antimalware software company Kaspersky, this VPN connection is consistently fast, and it is very easy to use. If all you need is a secure and private connection with no fuss and extra details, that’s exactly what you’ll get here. The user interface is tremendously simple, and the developers chose to forgo configurable options in favor of ease of use. Users can get around 6 GB of browsing for free, split into 200 MB a day, without the need to enter any personal information. Overall, it’s a reasonable option for free.
We found that VPNBook is a feature-packed service that performs extremely well. It allows p2p activities and gives users access to 8 servers across Europe and the United States. The networks are highly secure, offering a high level of privacy to users. This is mainly due to the high level of encryption standards that the service meets. The browsing speed is moderate but within acceptable levels for a free service. You can expect to use this service without any data leaks or other security risks. Although torrenting is allowed, the speed is less than ideal for torrenting.
This is a relatively fast service that can be accessed via the Opera browser. It does not require any registration, and for a free service, it is fast enough for most browsing purposes. OperaVPN is easy to use, as you only need to click on it to work, and it also offers unlimited bandwidth so you can browse free all day without any issues. It’s a simple extension, so there aren’t any complex features. It works as a good proxy to redirect your traffic through one of its three (nonspecific) servers, but that’s pretty much it. It does what it promises to do, with no extra hassles.
This is a great VPN service that offers 1000 different servers in 18 countries around the world for free users. All its servers are very fast and encrypted fairly well. There are very few configurable options (even in the paid version), as it is designed for users who prefer to just click a button and have everything work automatically. In our testing and research, we found that there is minimal logging, but the company strictly complies with not selling your information, so you shouldn’t worry about your privacy. Bandwidth is uncapped, so you can browse freely without worry. It also works in China (a country notorious for difficulty working with VPNs) and allows torrenting. As for streaming, we found that some services work while others don’t (Netflix can’t be accessed).
This VPN provider exceeded our expectations in every way possible. It uses excellent encryption and OpenVPN. We researched and found that it does not keep logs of your information, and for a free server, the connection is at an exceptionally good speed. You can use the VPN with torrent providers, but keep in mind that it requires some technical knowledge to use. We wouldn’t say that it is user-friendly by any means. Nonetheless, we recommend it for the speed and reliable, secure private connection. We would have preferred a little bit more transparency from the company, but we realized that we can’t have it all.
ZenMate VPN (Chrome Extension)
We were sincerely impressed with ZenMate as it comes with many features, and you could say that it rivals some of the paid VPN providers. Free users are given access to four servers with a high level of security and privacy. The company is transparent in every way possible, and we can only comment on the speed by saying it was as fast as lightning. Users can access torrenting while using this VPN, and the service can be used to unblock streaming services (even Netflix, which is known to be harder to bypass). The allowed bandwidth is not capped, so users can enjoy as much secure and encrypted browsing as they want. There is no data logging, so you can rest assured that you are entirely anonymous and untraceable. Even if you one day decide to opt for the paid subscription, this app won’t break the bank as it is merely a couple of dollars every month.
Offering moderate encryption and safe browsing using proxy servers, DotVPN is a reliable free service for users who need a VPN, mostly for gaining access to blocked content. It allows you to switch servers as much as you like and does not place a limit on bandwidth. It can also serve as an ad blocker, and the service does a good job at eliminating trackers and analytics. The speed is acceptable but could be higher, and the interface is user-friendly.
The Problem With Using Free VPN Instead of Paying for It
Two of the most common problems that people face when using a Free VPN in lieu of paying a subscription are speed and bandwidth. Free VPN providers often try to cut costs by using lower-speed servers, and many even use this as a marketing strategy to lure consumers into paying the monthly subscription (for faster browsing). Also, free VPN services are sometimes limited by a daily bandwidth cap or a monthly bandwidth cap. If you’re continuously worried about the diminishing bandwidth allowance, you won’t be able to enjoy your browsing experience even if you have access to everything you want. These are some other factors to keep in mind:
- Free services can sometimes sell your data, so be sure you are using a reputable VPN provider.
- High-level encryption is not usually included on the free version of a VPN
- Streaming services are hard to unblock, and only a handful of free VPNs offer the use of streaming services (like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, etc.
What Is a VPN (Virtual Private Network)?
A Virtual Private Network is a type of software or technology that transmits network data over another network. In other words, it allows users to access the internet by directing all their traffic through another network, effectively masking their Internet Protocol (IP) to make it difficult to trace the original user’s location and grant them access to websites that only allow certain IP addresses. To further clarify, a VPN allows users to access websites using an IP address other than the real IP of the computer the users are on.
What is an IP address?
An IP address is a number used by a computer when it is accessing a network. This number signifies the physical location of the computer and can also be used to identify the computer (or the network).
Why Do You Need a VPN?
VPNs offer anonymity and encryption, which keeps all the data exchanged when you browse the internet safe and secure. You may not realize it, but when you login into your email, bank account, or basically anything while you’re on a public Wi-Fi network, you are giving out private information to the websites through that network. While the websites you visit are (hopefully) safe and secure, shared networks are vulnerable to hackers, and thus your data is at risk.
Another reason people use VPNs is to get over geographical firewalls. Many websites limit access based on geographical location, and VPNs give you a different address so you can access websites freely.
Advantages of Using a VPN
There are so many advantages to accessing the internet using a VPN for privacy, protection, anonymity, and access.
Keeping Your Browsing History Private
Everything you do online can be considered part of your browsing history, and websites actively keep logs of this data, selling to marketing teams for big brands and many more. If you’ve ever searched for something and two days later found a related sponsored ad showing up randomly, the data logged about your initial search was sold to the company that marketed their product to you in the sponsored ad. While this is useful, it may not always be welcome. Using a VPN service eliminates this problem by keeping your browsing history anonymous and allowing you to browse through different servers.
Many streaming services provide different content based on the geographic location of the user. For example, Netflix USA has different shows than the ones provided on Netflix UK. While this is great for providing more relevant content, sometimes you want to watch something that isn’t available for your location. In other cases, you may have already paid for your subscription in one area (let’s use the US as an example) and find that when you travel to other locations, you can no longer access video streams that you’ve paid for. Using a VPN helps you get over these problems by allowing you to mask your real location and “pretend” to be somewhere else (where the VPN server is).
Protecting Data Saves On Your Devices
Any time you use a shared network, your device is vulnerable, and any data saved on it can be accessed by cybercriminals. Accessing the internet through a VPN makes it more difficult for the average hacker to gain access to your device’s data. The better the VPN’s encryption level is, the harder it is for cybercriminals to access your data.
For example, these cybercriminals can access your devices and collect your data with the intention of stealing your identity. There is no reason to take identity theft lightly. People with malicious intent can use your information to impersonate you and rack up credit card bills in your name, or worse. Note that while VPNs can help protect your data from intruders, it is not a foolproof method to prevent identity theft. Cybercriminals are always finding new and innovative ways to conduct their malicious business.
Hiding Your Physical Location
This may not be an everyday concern for most people, but if you do not want someone to find out where you are (for any reason), a VPN service is an ideal way to access the internet without giving up your physical location. In this case, you should ideally look for a VPN that does not keep logs of your IP address so that no one can trace your IP address back to your physical location.
Keeping Your Online Activity Private
Everyone has a right to access the internet privately, but most internet service providers keep a log of your browsing history or what is known as your online activity. If, for some reason, someone wanted to know what you were searching for online, they could access it through the internet service provider’s logs. Usually, these logs are encrypted. However, they can be handed over to the government or by court order. Using a VPN keeps you safe because the internet service provider will only be able to log that you visited a VPN and will have no further access to your online browsing activity.
After the pandemic, more people started working from home to keep in line with safety measures recommended by the government. However, many companies still have their information stored on a local network in the office. Using a VPN will allow you to access information that is on your work device safely and securely, so no sensitive information is ever exposed.
Saving Money by Avoid Trackers
More often than you’d think, websites collect your data (IP address, too) for future reference. Some websites will use the fact that you’ve already visited their webpage to give you higher prices. A prime example of this is the case of airline companies. If you book a flight using a VPN, the airline company will not be able to store any real information about your location. So the next time you are looking for flights, they will give you a lower price, assuming you are a new customer.
Another way to save money is by subscribing to services that are available at a lower price in other locations. For example, some streaming services provide the same content at a lower price in some locations. You can use a VPN to subscribe at a cheaper location. Note that while this works in theory, there are other factors that come into play that may not make this worth trying at times.
Escaping Data and Bandwidth Throttling
Many internet service providers tend to throttle your data or your bandwidth when you reach a certain pre-set limit. This can be done by others that have control over your internet service as well. In any case, you can bypass the throttling by using a VPN.
Features To Look For in a VPN (Free or Paid)
While you’re shopping around for VPNs, whether you are considered a free version or subscribing to a paid service, there are some things you should take into account. These are the features we think you should be looking for in a VPN:
If you are a heavy internet user, you may find that bandwidth caps are unsuitable for you. So take into consideration how much data you expect to be using and whether the VPN you are researching has any limits on bandwidth.
Privacy and Data Logging
One of the main reasons people use a VPN is for privacy. If a VPN is logging your data, then some of your privacy is compromised. Some VPN providers sell this data log, which makes the whole purpose of using their service pointless. If you value your privacy, make sure you are using a highly recommended VPN that does not keep track of your data. Some VPN providers even go as far as never asking you to enter any information about yourself in an attempt to respect your privacy fully.
Servers – Number and Location
The location of servers may or may not be significantly important to you, depending on the websites you intend to visit. For example, some music streaming services (such as Spotify) are not available in every single country in the world. If you want to access these services, then you need to use a server that is in a location where the service is available,
As for the number of servers, this is important as it gives you more options and may give you more speed. Some servers are faster than others, and VPNs that give you access to more services are inherently better.
Security and Encryption Protocols
Ideally, you should only use the most current protocols available. At the moment, open-source software such as OpenVPN is the highest standard of VPN security and encryption.
Devices – How Many Can You Connect On One Server?
Nowadays, most people tend to use more than one device to connect to the internet. Think about it; you may be using a smartphone, a tablet, a laptop, a gaming console, and a smart TV. Some VPNs limit their service to a single device, while others give users the option to connect multiple devices up to a specified limit. Obviously, the best option would be VPNs which allow unlimited simultaneous connections. It’s best to compare the features between different VPNs and decide which is the most suitable for your needs.
What Type of Devices or Operating Systems Are Supported?
If you intend on using the VPN on your laptop, then you need to look for VPNs that support your operating system. Not all VPNs offer support for mobile devices, so that is another thing to consider based on your requirements.
Additional Features To Look Out For
These are some of the additional features that some VPNs offer that may influence your decision.
- Adblocking in VPN software is common. This further increases your privacy and gives you a better browsing experience.
- Split Tunneling is a feature that allows you to filter some websites to be accessed without a VPN. Some banks and other websites do not allow access to VPN servers, so you may need this feature if you do not want to keep switching the VPN on and off.
- Kill switches are scripts within the VPN that end the connection to a website if, for any reason, the VPN connection is dropped. In the moments it takes your device to reconnect to a secure server, your device is vulnerable and exposed, and your activity can be tracked through your internet service provider. The kill switch does not give the device a chance to revert back to an unsecured connection if it loses the VPN server.
Using a VPN has many uses, and some free options perform remarkably well. Keep in mind that the paid options will always be better, and these days many are available for a very low monthly subscription fee. Also, we would like to remind you that the use of VPNs may be illegal in some countries, so be sure to check what your local authorities have to say about the use of VPNs, just to be on the safe side. There is no reason to browse the internet on an unsecured network and risk your privacy.