Finding the best free VPN when there are hundreds of untrustworthy services out there can be difficult. Most tantalise you with just as many features as a paid provider without charging you a dime, but where you're not paying with money, you're usually paying with your data.
Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are versatile services, masking your device's IP address so you can browse anonymously and overcome geo-restrictions. Paying for a subscription always offers more, such as streaming your country's Netflix library while you're on vacation, but if you just need a bit more privacy, a free VPN should do the trick nicely.
Don't confuse a truly free VPN with one that's promising the world. The ones that give everything for seemingly nothing in return either collect your session data to sell it to anyone that'll buy it, bombard you with intrusive ads, or don't properly conceal your IP address - known as an IP leak. Not only does this invade the privacy you're trying to protect, these cowboy VPNs can put you in danger.
The first telltale sign of a good free VPN is that it comes with some kind of limitation. For instance, a service may cap your data usage, list just a few of their total servers, prohibit streaming services, or limit the technical support available. They're not as effective as the paid ones and are often meant to lead you into a subscription, but they're great for some basic, occasional protection.
Paid VPNs often come with free trials or money-back guarantees to try before you buy, and they'll net you more server locations, features like ad-blockers and password managers, and more encryptions. If you regularly use a VPN, it’s worth investing in a premium service. Otherwise, our chosen free VPNs will do the trick.
Let’s have a look at the best free VPNs out there.
Best Free VPN
- Proton VPN
Best free VPN - Proton VPN
When you say ‘free VPN’, Proton VPN is probably the first name that you would hear people recommend - and that’s with good reason.
To start with, Proton offers unlimited data, so you don’t have to worry about running out of protection. And with the max speed of 380Mbps, the service won’t bog you down. Plus, the VPN service has a ‘no-log’ policy - which means the company won’t track your activity.
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The basic free version of Proton gives you access to over 100 servers across three server locations - the US, Japan, and Netherlands. This is a bit limiting, but then again, you can unlock more features with the premium version.
With the free version, you get a kill switch, which combined with unlimited data, should ensure worry-free browsing. There’s also split tunneling which makes it easy to pick apps you want to use VPN with.
In case you decide to switch to Proton VPN’s premium plan, you can access Proton’s Secure Core, a shield that defends you from network-based attacks, the NetShield ad-blocker, the VPN accelerator, and a handful of other useful features.
Best free VPN for streaming - Privado
Privado is another popular free VPN service, and it’s one of the few VPNs that work well with streaming platforms like Netflix. So if you’re on a vacation anywhere on the planet, you still access your regional Netflix.
With that being said, Privado has two versions - the basic free and the premium one with advanced features. The free one offers access to 12 servers across 9 countries, which is quite generous when it comes to free VPNs. You also get a kill switch, which comes in handy.
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But of course, it has a catch - you get only 10 GB per month. When you exceed this 10 GB, the VPN would run at a speed of 1 Mbps, which might be slow for a lot of users. Plus, you can only use your free Privado account on one device.
If you’re planning to use Privado regularly, you can consider switching to a premium plan. With this, you can get access to no-log servers across 45 countries, unlimited data, unlimited devices, 10 connections, an ad-blocker, and other advanced features.
Best free VPN with ad-blocker - Hide.me
Hide.me is another free VPN that offers a ton of features in its freemium product. To start with, you don’t have to sign up or add payment details to get started with Hide.me. Plus, it has a no-log policy, so you don’t have to worry about your activities being traced.
Then, Hide.me offers five server locations, which is great, considering that it’s a free VPN. In addition to this, Hide.me offers P2P support in all these five locations. You also get useful features like split tunneling and a kill switch - something that easily rivals other VPNs out there.
Interestingly, Hide.me’s free version provides you with an ad-free browsing experience, which is rare with a free VPN. Plus, the service promises ‘no speed throttling’ - so you don’t have to worry about getting slowed down.
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Of course, the free VPN has some limitations, and in this case, there’s a cap on data and connections. The data limit is capped at 10GB per month, which is in line with what other similar services have to offer. Further, you can use the free VPN only on one device.
To overcome these limits and use some advanced features, you can check out Hide.me premium - which comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
With the paid version, you get access to over 2000 servers across 78 locations. You get unlimited data over 10 simultaneous connections as well as streaming support.
Best easy-to-use free VPN - TunnelBear
TunnelBear prides itself on the fact that it’s simple to use, which makes it beginner-friendly. And while the VPN doesn’t stress too much on technical details, it has in-depth annual audits to back up all the claims it makes about privacy.
In addition to this, TunnelBear is quite generous with server locations, more than 40 to be precise. The speed is 300Mbps, which is pretty standard for free VPNs.
However, there’s a catch - TunnelBear has a data cap of just 500MB per month, which is less than what most free services offer. But 500MB would suffice if you want to get something done occasionally.
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TunnelBear has a kill switch (named ‘VigilantBear), which is always a useful feature. Apart from this, the VPN also offers ‘SplitBear’, which is split tunneling. It has a stealth option that allows you to venture into the regions where VPNs are blocked.
The free VPN is available on Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android, but it can be used only on one device. You can unlock all the benefits by switching to the premium option.
If you’re looking for a free VPN that’s easy to use, TunnelBear might be the right option. However, the cap on data usage is a little too less for frequent use.
Best free VPN with unlimited data - Atlas VPN
Back in 2021, Atlas VPN was acquired by Nord VPN, one of the well-known digital security companies. With that acquisition, Atlas became one of the Nord brands - so you can expect quality services.
Atlas VPN is also one of those freemium services, so to unlock more features, you will have to shell out some cash. But even with the free version, Atlas has a lot to offer.
To begin with, you get unlimited data and there’s no cap on the speed - so you can enjoy a speedy connection. You can get Atlas VPN for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS devices - although you can use it only on two devices.
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Next, it comes with a kill switch, so in case of an unstable VPN connection, you would be shielded. You also get tunnel splitting in the free version, but it’s limited to Android devices.
If you are planning on globetrotting, then you need to check out Atlas VPN’s paid plans. With premium, you can access more than 750 servers across 45 locations on the globe.
Plus, you get 4K-ready streaming without compromising on speed. And of course, you get an ad-free experience, P2P connection, and a bunch of other features.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some FAQs about free VPNs...
1. Is there a completely free VPN?
While there are VPN services that claim to be free, they are not entirely free. For instance, most of the free VPNs offer a limited 'freemium' version - so you can access some basic features without paying anything. To unlock full features, you will have to pay a fee.
Then, some VPNs offer limited data or speed for free. For example, TunnelBear offers 500MB per month for free. For more data, you will have to switch to premium.
In worst cases, "free" VPNs might display ads, track your activity and steal data. Some might not even provide full encryption and expose your internet activity. So while free VPNs do exist, not ALL of them are genuine or reliable. The best way is to claim a free trial of a trusted product.
2. Are free VPNs safe?
However, if a VPN service seems to be offering extra features or some 'too good to be true' deals, then it's probably risky to use such VPNs. To dodge all these bullets, you can go for a free trial of a VPN.
3. OpenVPN vs WireGuard - What’s the difference?
Both OpenVPN and WireGuard are mainstream VPN protocols and have similar functions. However, there are some vital differences between the two technologies.
To start with, OpenVPN has been around since 2001, and it provides encryption with symmetric-key encryption and public-key encryption. Meanwhile, WireGuard was launched in 2016 and it uses only public-key encryption.
OpenVPN is flexible and customizable, and it can adapt to changes in the network quickly. On the other hand, WireGuard is simple to set up and faster than OpenVPN.