Finding a VPN that offers you complete and total privacy and security? That’s hard. Finding a free VPN that offers you all of that? Even harder! Still, a number of free VPNs have taken their place at the head of the table, offering complete anonymity for users at no cost.
At this point, we assume you already know what a virtual private network is. If not, you could check out this piece on the meaning and uses of a VPN. You know of its many merits, and hope to benefit from the protection it offers you while surfing on your phone, PC, tablet, or even your gaming console.
Now, though, you might wonder if free VPNs are any good.
Here’s the thing, most free VPN services come with a catch. Limitations on your bandwidth, server locations, data, and even connection speed, are all part of what you’d have to give when using a free VPN.
Indeed, not only do some free VPNs place limitations on their usage, they also allow data leaks that endanger your privacy – nullifying your reasons for using a VPN in the first place!
For our picks on the best free VPNs, we selected those that are more generous on their limitations, allowing you plenty of wiggle room around geo-blocked websites, sports watching, torrent downloads, and movie streaming – despite their limitations.
The best free VPNs NEVER expose your data to the government, nor do they store them somewhere for sinister uses. They are totally secure and free, do little to throttle your internet speed, and carry no hidden charges or risks. And here, we’d be telling you what they can and can’t do.
ProtonVPN stands out in the free VPN market for its high-level security, with a powerful AES encryption, split tunneling support, auto kill switch, and protection against DNS leaks. This Switzerland based VPN service makes your security its priority with a strict zero-logging policy.
Perhaps its biggest advantage over most free VPNs is that it places no cap to your data usage. This unlimited monthly data allowance means you can access all of your favorite movie and sports streaming sites, and stream away without worrying about running out of bandwidth.
The biggest downside to ProtonVPN, though, is that it limits free users to only three servers and virtual locations – US, Japan, and Netherlands – out of its 44 locations and 628 servers. This can sometimes lead to overloaded servers and slower connections, as every free user occupies one of the three available locations.
ProtonVPN is an easy to use introduction to the world of VPNs for any beginners. It offers ad-free solid connections to access geo-blocked and censored websites. However, it may be a little too slow when trying to stream during peak hours. It also limits you to just one device per user.
Hotspot Shield has made its name over the secure military-grade encryption it offers, which protects against any DNS leaks. It also enforces a zero-logging policy that keeps you completely anonymous, and offers support for every user – free or premium.
Unfortunately, the free version of Hotspot Shield isn’t meant for heavy duty usage. It supports only 500 MB of data usage each day and is supported by ads. This means no downloading of heavy files on the freemium version. It also offers no streaming support on the free version.
It’s interesting that Hotspot Shield’s total of 15 GB data per month is one of the most generous you’d find in the world of freemium VPNs. Freemium users also enjoy up to 5 simultaneous connections, one-click connection and stable connections.
However, you’re limited to the US virtual location when using the free version, despite the availability of over 3,000 servers in over 70 countries. To access even more features, you’d have to sign up for the paid version.
NordVPN is one of the most advanced VPNs on this list. It comes packed with a strong 256-bit encryption that provides state-of-the-art security for your internet surfing needs. It also offers total anonymity, with a no-logging policy since it operates outside of the 5/9/14-Eyes Alliance zone.
Talking of advanced features, NordVPN offers complete access to its 5,400+ servers in 59 countries. It works perfectly with your favorite streaming sites – HBO, Amazon Prime, Netflix, Showtime, etc. The VPN also offers secure access to ever-developing geoblocked content from multiple platforms.
Torrent downloaders will also benefit from its dedicated P2P servers that offer high speed internet access, ad blocking, and a secure Onion Over VPN.
Unfortunately, NordVPN offers all of these premium features because it is essentially a premium VPN. Free usage of the VPN is only allowed within a 30-day trial period, after which you’d have to pay to continue to access its features.
Still, NordVPN is great if you’re looking to try out a premium VPN before dipping in your pockets. And if you choose to go premium with it, it is one of the cheaper quality VPNs on the market.
Yet another very generous VPN on the list, Windscribe offers free users as much as 10 GB data usage per month, and up to 20 GB after meeting certain rather simple requirements. You get an extra 1 GB of data for every referral you make, and extra 5 GB for tweeting about Windscribe.
But Windscribe isn’t on this list simply because of its data allowance. Windscribe boasts a secure AES encryption and supports multiple VPN protocols to offer you strong online security. It also comes with a secure firewall that prevents access to traffic outside of its secure tunnel, as well as an ad and malware blocker.
And to ensure your privacy, Windscribe doesn’t store any logs of your IP, connection, or visited sites. Every last bit of data from your session is also erased within three minutes of your session coming to an end.
What then are your limitations as a free user? Besides the data limit, it also restricts the number of servers you can access, although it still offers access to servers in 10 countries. Its user interface is a little less friendly than most on the list, but it is still rather easy to use.
TunnelBear is widely recognized as one of the most intuitive VPNs on the market, with a friendly grizzly bear interface. It offers both a paid and freemium version, like most on the list, and is a great way to get started if you are new to VPN usage.
TunnelBear is secured using a rugged AES 256-bit encryption, has a no-data logging policy, and offers access to most geo-restricted sites. It also allows free users access many different server locations, with a reasonable connection speed.
However, free users will struggle with the 500 MB data limit every month. This means you can access only a handful of sites, and cannot stream any movies over the free connection. You won’t be getting access to any streaming websites either.
To lift the monthly data cap, you’d have to get the paid version.
Speedify was designed – and named! – with one goal in mind: top speed connection over a VPN. It achieves this goal with its Channel Bonding technology that routes your traffic over two different internet connections at once.
Oh, and this doesn’t come at the cost of your privacy. With a strong P2P tunneling, a no-logging policy, and a unique ChaCha encryption, it offers strong data protection that keeps you totally anonymous. Free users also enjoy access to all 50+ server locations in the Speedify chain.
Unfortunately, Speedify only allows free users access to 2 GB of data monthly. It also consumes your data at a much faster level in order to offer you faster connections
Want to truly hide from the internet? Hide.me offers complete anonymity by keeping no data logs of any sort – not even your email address!
Hide.me boasts a user-friendly interface, with a robust AES encryption, and an auto kill switch. It shows no ads, even on the free version, and allows access to 10 GB of data monthly. However, you may only connect one device at a time with the free plan, with connections allowed to only 5 servers.
Free users may get around content filters, enjoy P2P support, torrenting support, and workarounds from strong government censorship. Unfortunately, hide.me doesn’t offer access to geoblocked sites on its free servers, so you may want to consider another free VPN if this is your aim.
Tech junkies looking to use a VPN that gives them flexibility will find VPNBook to be an attractive option. Users have a choice between PPTP and OPenVPN connections. You’d also have to manually configure your PC for the VPN, considering it comes without any dedicated apps.
Don’t worry, all of this isn’t as complicated as it may seem. And once you get around it using the provided step-by-step guide on the website, you’d enjoy unlimited data access to a secure AES encrypted VPN with servers in UK, France, Canada, US, Poland, and Germany.
You’d also be enjoying a VPN that allows access to secure torrenting on some of its servers and censorship bypass. However, it is supported by ads and seems to struggle with unblocking sites like Hule and Netflix.
Users of Opera browser may already have come in contact with the SurfEasy VPN. SurfEasy doubles as both a standalone VPN and an in-built VPN with the Opera browser.
When using the built-in version with Opera, you’d enjoy unlimited data access. However, this trickles down to 500 MB with the standalone app. Users may also enjoy fast internet connection, regardless of the version, but connection speed seems to vary between servers.
If you’re a big fan of the Opera browser, you’d be sure to enjoy using the SurfEasy VPN on your favorite web surfing tool. And with allowance for up to 5 simultaneous connections, what’s not to like!
ZoogVPN is one of the weaker VPNs on this list, but for a freemium, it still does okay. It offers a reasonably secure connection that is even more secure with its paid version. And it doesn’tlog your internet traffic.
Users will enjoy up to 2 GB of data per month, with an extra 5 GB for every referral. Connection speed is also on the high, however, servers may quickly get overloaded – leading to slower connections. Free users will also be limited to one connection and three server locations – US, Netherlands, and UK.
It’s clear from the list above that free VPNs differ in their limitations and offerings. This makes it difficult to pick a single VPN as the best free VPN . In the end, you’d have to take a close look at the limitations of each free VPN, weigh these against your needs, and decide on which is best for you.
If you wish to enjoy complete anonymity and security over a VPN connection without any limitations, check out this list of the best VPN services of 2020.