VPNs provide users with a chance to surf the web privately and more freely. A VPN takes your data and sends it through an encrypted tunnel which hides it from your ISP and spies that may have accessed your network. Your IP address is also hidden, giving you extra online anonymity, and the ability to view geo-blocked content by using a new IP.
At VPNSurfers, we recommend individuals the best VPN services based on security, VPN features, and value for money. There are paid-for or free VPNs and the quality of service you get from each can vary greatly. Although we usually advocate for using a paid-for VPN, since they are generally safer and more effective, there are many great VPNs available at no cost.
We’ve done the research on free VPNs so that you don’t have to. Here is a guide on free VPNs and the best free VPN providers.
Whether it is free or paid-for, a VPN encrypts your internet traffic and makes you untraceable online. VPNs can be used by anyone and are great for people who often log onto public wi-fi networks, frequently access confidential information online, or want more internet privacy.
Free VPNs are more common than you’d think, with many providers offering free versions of their paid subscription plans. Popular providers such as NordVPN and ExpressVPN don’t offer free VPN plans, but they have refund policies that essentially allow individuals to try out the services for a month.
It’s common for free VPNs to have scaled-back services. Since the VPNs are free, the protocols used and features offered may be extremely less advanced. There also may be a bandwidth limit, which can be problematic for users who want a VPN to carry out online tasks that require a lot of data consumption.
What’s more, it’s hard to always know if a free VPN is actually free. Many free VPN providers make money in other ways, either by in-app advertisements or, worse, by selling user data. Since VPNs are built to protect user privacy, it is counter-productive to use a free VPN service that stores customer information and profits from selling it.
The best free VPNs are usually those that have been created by well-known VPN providers, such as ProtonVPN and TunnelBear. Although the free versions of these VPNs are severely limited in what they offer, they provide customers with access to a good VPN service and allowing them to try one out before committing to a paid plan. At VPNSurfers, we would always advise going with these free VPNs over other options.
Price usually reflects quality, which is why it’s sensible to be cautious when using a free VPN. Although there are many free VPN services, not all of them are safe. Free VPNs are known for using less secure protocols like PPTP. This protocol is great for a fast connection but is insecure and can be cracked easily by hackers. This means all your online activity could be deciphered by a third party and cause issues for you.
Furthermore, free VPNs don’t always have the best speeds. Even though most free VPNs employ the PPTP protocol, which is known for being fast, it is the oldest protocol on the market. This means it can’t compete with the new VPN technology that’s being created, including open-source protocols like OpenVPN and WireGuard. These protocols offer good protection and speed, two essential features of VPN software.
So, free VPNs are generally not considered the safest unless you get one from a reputable provider that uses first-rate encryption and good protocols.
If you have decided you want a VPN, but you aren’t sure whether to go for a free or paid plan, then there are several things to consider:
We’ve researched several free VPN providers to give our readers an in-depth look at the top free VPN services. A decent free service should have great privacy features and enable customers to carry out online tasks regardless of whether there is a data limit. Here are our choices for the best free VPNs.
ProtonVPN is the product of Proton Technologies, a Swiss security company. The VPN has a few paid versions of its VPN services and a free version for users who want to test out the product before paying for it.
When it comes to fast speeds, you can get these with a ProtonVPN subscription if you’re willing to pay a little extra. However, on the free plan, ProtonVPN clarifies that speeds will be a bit slower than on its paid versions. This is because users only have access to three server locations, which means there is a higher user load on each one. This, subsequently, leads to slower speeds, despite the unlimited bandwidth that users get.
The servers that users can use are located in three countries: the USA, the Netherlands, and Japan. So, if you want a VPN that can unblock streaming services in a different location in the world, you won’t be able to do so with ProtonVPN’s free version. In fact, the speeds won’t be fast enough for gaming or streaming, and torrenting is completely blocked on the ProtonVPN free plan. It might be worth checking out Proton’s Plus plan if you want a VPN for any of the above reasons.
We really like that the ProtonVPN free plan doesn’t skimp on security. It uses IKEv2/IPSec and OpenVPN protocols and provides users of its free plan with a kill switch. There is also DNS and IPV6 leak protection, and ProtonVPN even has a split tunneling option on its free version.
Overall, ProtonVPN is the most reliable and advanced free VPN on our list. We’d recommend trying out the free version to get an idea of whether you like Proton or not and then upgrading to one of its paid plans if you want access to more of the great features the provider offers.
Hotspot Shield has been offering users its free VPN for quite some time, and it’s one of the best free VPN services out there. Although it is limited in some ways, it provides customers with a taste of what a paid Hotspot Shield plan can offer.
Hotspot Shield is a trusted VPN provider that has a good reputation. Its free plan is limited but has some great features. Firstly, it uses AES-256 data encryption, the industry standard. If security is a priority for you, then you’ll be fully protected with Hotspot Shield’s free VPN.
The plan offers users breakneck speeds, which is quite incredible for a free subscription. This means that you could enjoy streaming, with some limits due to the bandwidth allowance. There is a 500MB per day data limit, which adds up to 15GB per month. This is enough for online banking tasks, sending emails, and checking a few websites.
Customers can protect one operating system at a time and have access to one server based in the USA. This is good for US residents, who will probably enjoy a fast internet connection when using this server. However, this may be impractical for customers who live far away from the USA and want to enjoy a larger server network.
Users of this VPN provider can expect to have the following information logged:
What’s more, users of the free version of Hotspot Shield may have their data, such as the unique advertising ID, sold to third parties. This is disappointing to see but not unusual with free VPN services. However, browsing data is never stored, which is the most important thing to remember.
There is limited customer service on the free plan, and individuals won’t have access to the 24/7 customer support that paying customers get. However, the client is user-friendly, and the VPN is compatible with Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS systems (iPhone and iPad).
TunnelBear is a smaller VPN provider, but that doesn’t mean its free version is less effective than others. TunnelBear is owned by McAfee, an online security powerhouse that is a reassuring indication of the provider’s effectiveness.
TunnelBear is an appealing VPN with a free version that is limited by its small 500MB per month bandwidth limit. This means you can use the VPN for fundamental online tasks, but it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to game, stream video content, or spend long periods of time online with only 500MB a month available.
The client is appealing, and fans of kitschy bear designs will enjoy the interactive app’s appealing look. Honey pots adorn the home screen to show server locations, where there is also a data counter to let customers know how much of their free bandwidth limit they have used up. It is easy to use and creates an overall positive user experience.
Security is pretty good with TunnelBear, with AES-256 encryption and OpenVPN as the default protocol. If privacy is a concern, then you’ll be pleased to know that TunnelBear has upped its logging policy. While TunnelBear still logs the monthly bandwidth usage, which TunnelBear apps are being used, and the operating systems used during a session, it never stores browsing data.
Another thing we like about TunnelBear when it comes to privacy is that the company carries out annual security audits by third parties. This is great to see, especially since VPN privacy policies can be difficult to understand. Having annual audits is a transparent way for VPN providers to reassure users of their online anonymity commitment.
Overall, TunnelBear doesn’t have the best free VPN, but it’s definitely worthy of being on this list. There are definite speed limits due to the small data allowance, which will affect your overall browsing experience. You can download the VPN from TunnelBear’s website and enjoy protection on any of your devices, including Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS systems.
Windscribe is another one of the best free VPN services that has apps for all the major operating systems, including Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS.
Windscribe is one of the best free VPN services available to people. As long as you don’t mind a 10GB data limit per month, you can enjoy encrypted internet browsing and access to ten VPN servers in countries around the globe. These servers are located in countries such as Germany, the USA, the UK, and Hong Kong.
It works with many devices, including Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS systems, including iPad. There is also a browser extension for Chrome that is user-friendly and ensures your browsers are protected. However, people are only allowed one device connection at a time, which is something to bear in mind if you use the internet over several devices.
Since Windscribe offers users various servers based in various countries and a data limit of 10GB per month, this free VPN service can be used to access streaming services. Thanks to the server locations, people can potentially bypass geo-blocks and enjoy foreign Netflix libraries on their devices.
Although there is no 24/7 customer support on any of Windscribe’s subscription plans, the provider is excellent in protecting user privacy. Windscribe doesn’t store data, IPs, or connection logs. However, it logs which server each user connects to and for how long, but this information is wiped soon after the VPN session has ended. Also, to enjoy the free plan, customers must create an account and sign up with an email address.
Although we’d like to see more advanced customer service and perhaps a longer money-back-guarantee on its paid plan, the free service is good. 10GB per month of data provides customers with a good way to see if they like Windscribe’s services, and we like the fact that it offers several server locations to its customers.
As the name suggests, Speedify provides customers with fast speeds on its servers, even on its free VPN service. There is a data limit per month, which may lead customers to try out one of Speedify’s paid plans.
Speedify is very fast, which makes it one of the best free VPNs on our list in terms of speed, and you’ll be guaranteed fast speeds even on a public wi-fi connection. Something we love is the fact that Speedfiy has many servers in server locations around the world. What’s more, customers on both the free VPN plan and the paid plan can access all of these servers.
There is a 2GB monthly data limit, which is less than other providers on this list, such as ProtonVPN and Hotspot Shield. This means that individuals can’t effectively use Speedify for streaming or torrenting since the data allowance is too small.
The privacy rules are a little suspicious, especially since Speedify states it does provide governments with data when required to by law. As the VPN provider is a US-based company, we’d proceed with caution if you wanted to use Speedify to download copyrighted material or do anything else confidential.
Another free VPN with a 10GB per month data limit is Hide.me. This VPN provider is all about online anonymity and keeping your internet data completely private.
Last but not least is Hide.me. This VPN provider is big on keeping your data private, and that’s why it offers a free VPN to customers who can’t afford the premium plan. Hide.me is dedicated to protecting customers and so doesn’t make any money from its free plan by selling data to third parties or using advertisements.
There is a 10GB data allowance, sufficient for customers to carry out daily tasks online. However, it isn’t enough for streaming, and Hide.me acknowledges on its website that the free plan doesn’t support streaming.
With multiple servers to choose from, thanks to the 5 server location limit, individuals across the globe can enjoy Hide.me VPN’s services. Hide.me is supported by all major operating systems and has great mobile apps for Android and iOS users.
We really like the fact that there is 24/7 customer support for all subscribers, even those on the free VPN plan. This is really rare to see, and considering that some VPN providers, such as Speedify, don’t even have customer service, it’s very impressive.
So, with several servers available to free VPN customers and secured browsing ensured, there are many reasons why Hide.me is a good option for customers who want a free VPN experience.
Mozilla VPN is the product of Mozilla’s efforts to create a standalone VPN service that would rival others in the industry. Although Mozilla is better known as an internet browser, it offers a solid VPN service to customers.
What began as a browser extension VPN on Mozilla now has a desktop and mobile client for Windows, Android, and iOS users. Although the server size is small, with just over 200+ servers in 31 countries, this VPN’s features are great. So, why are we mentioning Mozilla on a free VPN list? That’s due to the confusion surrounding its payment plan.
Since Mozilla VPN started as a browser extension, many individuals are under the impression that it is a free VPN. However, this isn’t the truth, and prices start from $4.99 a month if you wish to download this VPN and use it on your computer or phone.
$4.99 isn’t a lot to pay when you consider what Mozilla has to offer. There is an in-built kill switch, 5 simultaneous connections, and split tunneling offered for those who don’t want to encrypt all of their surfing data.
More excitingly, Mozilla uses the most advanced protocol, WireGuard, which means your internet activity will be safer than ever before. With all of this on offer, it’s worth paying a little extra to enjoy all of these incredible features.
However, there is a way to try out Mozilla for free. You can create an account and use the VPN for 30 days, thanks to its refund policy. If at the end of 30 days you aren’t impressed, you can cancel your subscription. Although this is a little bit sneaky, it is a good way to test out Mozilla and see if you really want to commit to using its services.
Although this browser extension turned fully-fledged VPN isn’t free, it is still worth looking at and trying out.