Free VPNs have an obvious draw for many. They promise to match the unblocking capabilities of premium VPNs, completely protect your online privacy and security, and deliver top download speeds.
For many, free VPNs mark their first point of entry into the VPN world. These services give you the opportunity to get a taste of an anonymous browsing experience at no cost. But are they really worth it?
Having tested dozens of free VPNs for Windows, we’ve found that this isn’t always the case. Despite their grand promises, finding a free VPN for PC that is safe, fast, and reliable enough is difficult. In fact, free VPNs typically have one deficiency or other.
After extensive testing, we’ve come to the conclusion that something has to give when using a free VPN. Premium VPNs with free versions are often limited in their offering; limitations could range from bandwidth allowance to speed caps, limited locations and server, poor security, or limited device/software support.
However, VPNs which are touted as being truly free typically come with some hidden cost. Considering the cost of a running a VPN service, this isn’t surprising. Unfortunately, while the costs might be ‘harmless’ – think injection of adware into your browser, it could also be harmful.
For instance, sinister free VPN developers have been found to leak and/or sell user data in the past. Some have also been found to activate user devices as exit nodes (servers) for other users.
For this reason, we’d always recommend going with a premium VPN service provider like CyberGhost, which can be gotten for as little as £2.15 per month. And if you’d like something cheaper, you can always consider Surfshark at £1.49 per month.
So, in selecting the best free VPNs for PC, we’ve identified those with the most acceptable limitations.
With a server network of over 6,500 servers, CyberGhost is the largest VPN in the world by server size. It is also one of the most popular, and undoubtedly one of the best VPNs for Windows. While this VPN isn’t exactly free, it does offer a generous 45-day money-back guarantee that’s super easy to activate, allowing you enjoy it risk-free for a month and half.
CyberGhost is renowned for being extremely easy to set up and use. But that’s not the only reason why we love it. CyberGhost’s optimized servers make light work of streaming platforms and their geo-blocking technology. The VPN successfully unblocked Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, and Amazon Prime Video, among other popular and not-so-popular services..
Thanks to its beautifully laid out interface, all you’ve got to do is find the channel you wish to unblock on the list, and have CyberGhost auto-select the best server for you. CyberGhost also boasts servers optimized for torrenting and P2P sharing in over 80 locations across the world.
For those who would be interested in torrent downloads and 4k or Ultra HD streaming, CyberGhost’s servers deliver top speeds that make for a hassle-free experience. Of course, long distance servers like those in Australia are a tad slower, but still fast enough for HD streaming.
Online anonymity is assured thanks to a 256-bit AES encryption. This is paired with IP/DNS leak protection, an automatic kill switch, and a solid zero-logs policy to ensure your personal data is safe at all times. We also found the built-in ad, malware, and tracker blocker very helpful.
A CyberGhost subscription comes with an allowance for up to 7 simultaneous connections. Be sure to purchase a payment plan of not less than 6 months to enjoy the generous 45-day money-back offer.
One of the true Kings of the free VPN for Windows market, Windscribe offers free users a shot at 10GB of free data each month. Free users are offered an immediate 2GB data, which is upgradable to 10GB once you sign up on the platform.
We tried out Windscribe’s free plan and were super impressed by the number of servers available. Its server selection covered 11 countries, including places like Turkey and Hong Kong, as well as multiple servers across Europe, Canada and the USA.
Although 10GB doesn’t seem like a lot, it could stream over 10 hours of HD videos, and should successfully last you through the month if you’re only looking for protection while opening your mails and surfing the internet.
Interestingly, while its streaming optimized servers are only available to premium users, Windscribe successfully unblocks Netflix some of the time. So, feel free to give it a shot.
Online protection is assured with a combination of a 256-bit AES encryption, an automatic kill switch, and a strict no-logs policy. While R.O.B.E.R.T, Windscribe’s ad and malware blocker works well even on the free version.
Windscribe is admittedly a little bit clunky in its interface, but you should be able to figure it out quickly. There’s no 24/7 support, which could be a problem. However, we found it to be one of the best free VPNs for Windows all things considered.
One of the most popular free VPNs for Windows, Hotspot Shield gives users access to 500MB of data each day. Although this adds up to about 15GB per month, the daily cap means it’s fairly limiting – particularly for streaming. But that doesn’t mean it’s without its benefits.
Hotspot Shield is a great VPN for light users looking to stay safe while opening mails and surfing the net. A powerful 256-bit encryption and an automatic kill switch ensure your personal data is never intercepted and your anonymity protected.
Speed is a problem, though. While Hotspot Shield’s Catapult Hydra technology helps ensure connecting over long distances doesn’t wear down your speed, connections may remain slow due to server overload. With every free user granted access to just one server, this is very understandable.
Another concern is with data logging. Hotspot Shield doesn’t log personally identifiable information or browsing information. However, it does log data like bandwidth usage, OS type, and IP. According to Hotspot Shield, this data is deleted at the end of each browsing session.
Hotspot Shield’s free version also depends on ads pooled from Google who receive your approximate location. If you’re big on anonymity and this is a major concern, feel free to stay away from this VPN.
Swiss based ProtonVPN quickly became a favorite once we discovered it offers free users unlimited data and bandwidth. A very rare feature amongst solid VPN options, ProtonVPN makes a strong case for being one of the best free VPNs for PC.
Security is provided through a solid 256-bit encryption and a variety of VPN protocols. Users can easily select their preferred protocol from OpenVPN, L2TP/IPSec, and IKEv2/IPSec. Simply decide which is best for your needs, and connect accordingly.
It’s important to note that you’d be limited to just 3 servers on the free plan – Netherlands, US and Japan. There’s also no P2P support on the free servers. But with Perfect Forward Secrecy and a strict no-logs policy thrown in the mix, the VPN is great for everyday use.
The VPN is also quite decent for streaming, successfully unblocking Netflix on its free plan. However, other streaming services like Amazon Prime Video aren’t as easily unblocked. Server overload also makes streaming difficult, except you’re patient enough to keep your streaming for late hours when connection speed will be decent.
Feel free to take advantage of the ProtonVPN free download for PC option, or upgrade to a premium plan for even more features.
Owned by security giants McAfee, TunnelBear is a serious VPN with very serious infrastructure, which is also surprisingly easy to use. Unfortunately, its free account is the most limited on this list, with users offered only 500MB per month.
TunnelBear offers unlimited access to all of its servers. It’s hardly a surprise, then, that the VPN unblocks services like Netflix and HBO GO. Connection speeds are also generally great, although this is hardly encouraging with only 500MB available.
One of a handful of VPNs that work well in China, TunnelBear makes light work of VPN blocks and censorship using its GhostBear feature. This makes it a great option if you’re looking to unblock difficult websites and services.
For security, TunnelBear uses a 256-bit AES encryption and a kill switch. It also has a no-logs policy, and requires only your email for signup. Note, though, that you might have to do one or two adjustments to get the VPN going as you’d like.
As the name points out, Speedify was built with speed top of mind. Its proprietary, turbo-boosting Channel Bonding technology works overtime to ensure your connection speed stays at the maximum throughout your connection.
To achieve this aim, Speedify is able to harness multiple connections to increase your speed. This means it can draw on both Wi-Fi and 4G cellular data connections for even faster connections. Although this does work, you want to be wary of the overall long run cost.
Free users on Speedify are afforded 2GB of free data monthly, which refreshes after every 30 days. This may be more than TunnelBear’s limited offer, but it’s still very meagre. It makes up for this limited data by granting free users access to all of its 1,000+ servers in 50 locations around the world.
10GB of free data per month marks hide.me out as one of the more generous options on this list. Its free user account grants you access to servers in five locations, including Singapore, Canada, US East, US West, and the Netherlands.
hide.me doesn’t employ any form of speed throttling. This means streaming in HD is a breeze, with no buffer issues. The free VPN successfully unblocks YouTube and Spotify, but it does struggle with the likes of Netflix.
Security and privacy are assured through a combination of an AES 256-bit encryption, a kill switch, strict no-logs policy, split tunneling, and IP leak protection. The VPN is located in the privacy hotbed that is Malaysia, and doesn’t require any details for its free download option.
Once you’ve gotten the free VPN client for Windows, you’d be able to access its 24/7 live chat support. You can also set it up to connect upon startup, ensuring you’re always protected without manually setting it up every time you turn on your PC.
The decision to use a free VPN is largely dependent on your browsing needs. If you’re looking for a VPN for gaming, streaming or torrenting, a free VPN for PC may fall short due to bandwidth, data and speed limitations.
If you’re in need of a VPN for everyday use, or one for occasional usage, the free VPNs discussed here are very likely to match your needs. They’ll properly encrypt your traffic, ensuring your personal data is safe online.
There are a handful of good free VPNs for PC not discussed on this list, but you want to be uber careful when selecting any of these. After all, you don’t want a VPN that will leak or steal your personal data.
Put simply, it depends on your location. In most countries around the world, using a VPN is completely legal. However, countries such as China and Russia have outlawed VPN usage within their territories.
That said, any criminal activity done using a VPN is STILL a criminal act, and will be punished if discovered. Be sure to look up local laws when deciding whether to use a VPN – and what you’re legally permitted to use a VPN for.
No service is ever truly free. For most VPNs on this list, earning is possible through promotion of their premium packages. The hope is that the free plan is enough to convince you to take a plunge into the premium market. For some others, revenue is gotten through ads.
You want to be cautious, though. There are free VPNs out there which earn by selling your personal data. Be sure to do your due diligence before opting for any of them.
There’s always a catch when it comes to free VPNs for Windows – or any device for that matter. Ads, data or bandwidth restrictions, speed throttling, lack of streaming support… the list is endless..
Should you wish to try out the full range of a premium VPNs options at very little cost, you can check out CyberGhost. Strongly recommended by many, CyberGhost provides top of the line security, super-fast connections, torrenting support, superb unblocking capacity, and no data/bandwidth caps. Of course, you can always take advantage of the 45-day money-back guarantee to enjoy it for a limited time.
On the other hand, you could check out our overall best VPNs for Windows.