However, regardless of any risk to your privacy, it's important to understand that every free VPN has limitations, even good ones. Almost all of them impose some kind of data limit, speed limits and, at best, restrict it to a handful of servers. We've tried a bunch of the best free VPNs, and of all, Proton VPN Free impressed us the most. The Swiss provider is as close to being a free long-term VPN solution as we've discovered, and its track record of great privacy and security addresses many of the fears that arise along with free services.
First of all, what sets Proton VPN Free apart from the rest is the fact that it offers truly unlimited data: this is one of the only free VPNs that you can set up and forget without worrying about the amount of data you use. And, with maximum speeds of 380 Mbps in our tests, it's unlikely to slow down. While you won't have some premium features, such as Proton's Secure Core servers, you will have all the basics, such as the WireGuard and OpenVPN protocols, an automatic switch, access to the support team via email, and a complete knowledge base. As standard, Proton does not record logs, and will also have divided tunnels and useful leak protection.
Many paid plans don't offer this, let alone a free option with unlimited data. Of course, there are still some pretty big catches. You will only have access to 3 server locations (EE). In the US, the Netherlands and Japan), you can only use your plan on a single device at a time and, unlike some free competitors, P2P isn't compatible.
If you're looking for a VPN for streaming, you're not lucky either, and malware and ad blocking are out of the question. PrivadoVPN hasn't been around for a long time, but it's certainly made a splash, especially when it comes to free VPNs. In fact, PrivadoVPN Free can do something that very few services can do: unblock regional Netflix content. With a fairly generous 10 GB of unrestricted data, you can take advantage of it a little and, if you run out of resources, you can continue browsing privately, albeit at a very slow rate of 1 Mbps.
This is only available on a Dutch “emergency” server, but it's certainly better than nothing. However, in our tests, the most prominent feature was definitely the transmission results we mentioned earlier. Netflix is available in the US. US, as well as BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+.
That looks better than many paid VPNs, and unheard of for free providers. Of course, there are still limitations. You'll only be able to use your plan on one device, and the apps themselves aren't as comprehensive as Proton's. Nor is there an independent privacy audit.
Windscribe's premium service is excellent, and that also translates to its free Windscribe VPN offer. It's powerful, feature-rich, and will be an excellent choice for those who want flexibility in their free VPN. The data limit is tighter than in our two previous entries, with a fast 10 GB and no room for maneuver, but that should be sufficient for most users. And, unusually, you'll be able to install and use the same plan on as many devices as you need.
Here you don't need to chop or change. Windscribe is also quite generous when it comes to the servers that free users can use. With 14 locations in 11 countries, it has a wider range than Proton VPN and PrivadoVPN. In terms of speeds, it's pretty fast, with 240 Mbps.
That's not as good as that of our two main providers, but in reality, we're happy to see that the free version doesn't slow down speeds. However, we discovered that Windscribe Free could unblock Netflix from the UK and the BBC iPlayer, which again comes as a surprise. Overall, Windscribe is a powerful, simple and effective free VPN service, and while it can't match our two previous providers, it's still very useful. Recently purchased by the venerable NordVPN, in our full review of Atlas VPN, we found that the provider is a good choice, and so is their free VPN.
With a decent data limit of 10 GB per month and about mega 2 GB per day on Mac, Atlas VPN Free is a small useful tool for increasing privacy and changing your location to access geo-blocked websites. With a range of 3 servers, you won't have to travel around the world much, but it's enough to get ahead, and privacy lovers will be impressed by the fact that you don't have to enter an email to download or connect. The apps are attractive and, although they need a bit of work to look as polished as those of their premium rivals, they're stable and usable, and in our tests, we found that they're capable of offering speeds of around 320 Mbps, which is pretty good for a free VPN. Overall, Atlas VPN is worth considering, especially if data limits and a restricted server range don't bother you.
Download it now on the Atlas VPN website (opens in a new tab) Unfortunately, that's all Hotspot has going for it. You'll only have one EE server. UU. (nothing compared to the generous PrivadoVPN and Windscribe offerings) and, while 230 Mbps speeds aren't bad, they're not the best in class.
You don't have a kill switch on the Basic plan either, which seems like a bad decision considering the other limitations present. And, combined with Hotspot Shield's slightly excessive logging practices (bandwidth used, operating system, connection time, and more), those who want to use the VPN as true privacy software will certainly not like it. Plus, if you want to keep your VPN all the time and not have your connection speeds affected, even choosing a good, cheap VPN will work better than a free VPN. If a VPN service is based in the US.
In the US, it will be subject to search warrants filed by U.S. law enforcement agencies. In addition, all free VPN services record user connections, no matter what the service says. Today, the most popular VPN protocols are OpenVPN and several implementations of Internet Protocol Security (IPSec), which include IPSec alone or in combination with the Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP) or Internet key exchange (versions 1 and 2) (IKEv1 and IKEv).
The encryption and decryption of your data by a VPN can sometimes slow down Internet traffic by leaps and bounds. The best free VPN will have fast servers connected to huge data channels to minimize this decline in performance. They also have thousands of servers located in dozens of countries, from Albania to Zimbabwe. The best free VPN services are usually the “free versions” that aim to give you an idea of a paid product before asking you to hand over your money.
The best providers, such as Proton VPN (opens in a new tab) and Windscribe, do so by using data limits and server restrictions to create an incentive to upgrade. Many people do this, which pays for the company's overall costs. We recommend avoiding any free VPN that doesn't have a paid option. If there isn't a paying customer base that supports software development, who knows where the company gets its money from? A free VPN is likely shorthand for those looking to stream or download torrents, or for people looking for a VPN for gaming.
This is because these activities consume tons of data. If you have unlimited data with your VPN, that's not a problem, but if you only have 500 MB to play, it's only a standard definition episode on Netflix, and that's only if you can actually access the service. In addition, you may find that your connection speed is slowing down, and for gamers and torrent users, that's deadly. Those activities are based on having high speeds, and only the highest-paid fast VPN services can provide them.
Finally, some free VPNs have privacy issues, and adding ads can be a real problem for users. If you want the most secure service, you'll have to pay for one. At least that way, you'll know exactly how your VPN makes money, instead of expecting it to not use your information to profit. Basically, while it's perfectly legal to own and use a free VPN, it doesn't legalize illegal acts just because it makes crime harder to detect.
He's not a VPN editor at Tom's Guide. It monitors VPN content, privacy and cybersecurity on a daily basis, and also independently tests VPN services to ensure that its recommendations are accurate and up to date. When you don't get stuck in the thick of a VPN you've never heard of, you'll find him working on his Peugeot 205 GTi or watching Peep Show instead of finally putting up those shelves. Tom's Guide is part of Future US Inc., an international media group and leading digital publisher.
Visit our corporate site (opens in a new tab). The idea of using a 100% free VPN can be tempting, especially if you're on a tight budget and don't want to spend money on a monthly or annual subscription fee. But as demonstrated by frequent security issues, using even the best free VPN comes with risks. That's why it's safer to use the free trial or introductory versions available on our list of trusted VPN providers.
Surfshark is consistently ranked as one of the fastest VPNs available. That's why we were surprised that one of the only problems we had with Surfshark was in our speed test. While it's still one of the fastest VPNs we've tested (with an Internet speed loss of just 19%), we were disappointed with the inconsistent speed results we got in certain places. Speeds to Europe and Singapore were erratic (dropping to 9 Mbps to Singapore), while speeds to New York were slower than speeds to the United Kingdom and even Australia.
Surfhark is significantly expanding its server network and now offers more than 3,200 servers in 99 countries. Continuously expanding your server network could help bring more consistency to VPN speeds. Free VPNs can be very dangerous. Why? Because to maintain the hardware and experience needed for large networks and secure users, VPN services have to pay expensive bills.
As a VPN customer, you pay for a premium VPN service with your money or pay for free services with your data. If you don't order at the table, you're on the menu. Download ExpressVPN now (30 days risk-free) ExpressVPN isn't 100% free, but it's the best VPN on the market and covers every purchase with a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can try it out and still receive a full refund if you're not happy with it. However, it shouldn't take you long to realize why ExpressVPN is at the top of the industry.
It has the best security features, is the best VPN for streaming, torrenting and gaming, has the fastest speeds, and has easy-to-use applications for almost every device online. Proton VPN is hands down the best free VPN I've tried: you get unlimited data, access to 3 server locations, and pretty good speeds. It also includes improved security features, such as the perfect shipping secret, and has open source applications that have been inspected for security flaws. Upgrading to Proton VPN's premium plans adds more servers in more countries, streaming and torrent servers, faster speeds, up to 10 connections, an ad blocker, and more.
Windscribe also has pretty good speeds. During the tests, websites loaded quickly on local servers and took 3 to 4 seconds to load on distant servers, and all TV shows and movies loaded immediately, played in HD and without buffering, but in the end Windscribe's speeds weren't as fast as those from ExpressVPN or Proton VPN. On the other hand, upgrading your free plan to a premium plan with any of the VPNs I recommend or buying a subscription to one of the main VPNs on the market will give you access to unlimited data, a large network of servers, multiple connections, very fast speeds, additional features such as split tunnels and a blocker ads and full support for streaming and torrenting. In addition, most VPNs offer competitive pricing and back up every purchase with a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can try the product risk-free.
While all of the free VPNs on this list are decent, ExpressVPN is the best VPN on the market overall. It's not free, but it covers each plan with a 30-day money-back guarantee. ExpressVPN is ultra-secure, has the fastest speeds for browsing, streaming, torrenting, and gaming, and offers easy-to-use apps for all major platforms. But if you're just looking for a free VPN, I recommend the free VPNs on this list.
My 3 main options: Proton VPN, Windscribe and Hide, all have very good security features, a strict no-logs policy, and decent speeds. Windscribe Free works best in China when connected to the nearby Hong Kong server. It will also work in other censored countries, such as Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. In addition to standard VPN features, such as automatic switching and DNS leak protection, some of Surfshark's most notable features include camouflage mode (which hides the fact that you're using a VPN), creating split tunnels, NoBorders mode (which allows you to use Surfshark in regions where VPNs are located) restricted) and the VPN multihop connections.
Even if potential credit card fraud isn't a cause for concern, you don't need pop-ups or advertising delays to overwhelm you when you're already dealing with another major problem with free VPNs. In addition, Proton VPN is one of the few free VPNs for Android and iOS that comes with an automatic switch called “always-on VPN”. Yes, free VPNs (and premium VPNs) are perfectly legal in most countries, but there are a few exceptions: countries like China, Iran, Indonesia, North Korea, and a few others have banned the use of VPNs. It offers a wide network of servers, can unblock several streaming platforms, and comes with advanced security features, something that's hard to find with free (mobile) VPNs.
All of the free VPNs on this list are secure, offer some “extra features” and are easy to use. They can even be dangerous: some have harmful malware embedded in the app, while other free VPNs have even been discovered selling private data to third parties. Most content platforms, such as Netflix, devote a lot of resources to blocking VPN users, and free VPNs are often the easiest to identify and ban. The main problem is that free VPNs don't offer obfuscation, which means that the Chinese government can see that you're using a VPN and will block your connection.
However, most free VPNs (even free plans from major providers) don't have the full range of features offered by premium VPNs. The good news is that there are a lot of robust VPNs on the market that offer a variety of features, depending on your needs and budget. We're also sure to recommend their mobile app, as it has eliminated the use of some weaker security protocols, such as PPTP and L2TP, which are still used by other VPNs. .