With growing cyber threats, the demand for VPNs has skyrocketed. Despite offering less security, limited server selection, and bandwidth, free VPNs are hugely popular. It is exactly why there are literally thousands of supposed best free VPNs online.
But when there’s an endless pool of reliable and sketchy VPNs, how do you decide which one to pick.
I have tested over 100+ VPNs both free and paid over the years. In this article, I will mention 9 really free VPNs that are secure and trustworthy. I’ll also try and highlight the advantages and disadvantages of each of the free VPN apps that I’m going to discuss today.
Surfshark VPN – Use it Free for 30-Days
If you’ve ever tried a really free VPN service, then you know that you don’t get access to premium features. You only get to choose between 2-3 server locations and play around with limited bandwidth which can run out quite quickly.
That’s the only issue I have with free VPNs.
Paid VPNs on the other hand like Surfshark lets you try out all of its features without any limitations thanks to its extensive 30 day money-back guarantee. You can test out the service for 30-days and if you’re not satisfied, you can claim a full refund. It also accepts payments through bitcoin.
If you want to try a premium VPN service, then you should definitely give Surfshark a try. Surfshark only costs $2.49/mo and comes with premium features like Kill Switch, Clean Web (Ad-blocker), No logs, MultiHop, and much more. It’s privacy features also make it one of the best VPNs for Tor.
As for performance, while free VPNs are not all that fast and can rarely unblock heavily geo-restricted streaming service, Surfshark is quite fast and can easily unblock Hulu, Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Disney+ & Plex among other streaming & IPTV services. Overall, Surfshark is an amazing VPN service. You can read all of its pros and cons in my in-depth Surfshark review.
9 Totally Free VPN Services for 2021
Here are is the list of my top nine favorite free VPN service providers for 2021:
1. Windscribe VPN – Comes with 10 GB of free data every month
Advantages of the free version of Windscribe VPN
Windscribe is absolutely the best free VPN service with no hidden charges or shady schemes. The services offer 10 server locations in the free version.
The provider offers AES-256 encryption, ad and malware blocking as well as a firewall (kill switch) without charging you anything. it does support torrenting for free and also keeps no logs. Windscribe is compatible with iOS, Android, Windows & Mac as well. If you’re a mac user, here are some more free VPN apps for mac.
Disadvantages of the free version of Windscribe VPN
Windscribe’s free version restricts your data to 10 GB per month. This might not be enough for heavy users. Also, the free version of Windscribe doesn’t work with Netflix and other streaming services.
For more information, see this Windscribe VPN review.
2. ProtonVPN – Free VPN with unlimited data
Advantages of the free version of ProtonVPN
ProtonVPN is a rare breed among free options in the sense that it imposes no data or bandwidth limits. ProtonVPN is secure too. It is based in Switzerland and gives you access to over 1050 servers in 50 countries.
In addition to that, It offers apps for Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, and Android. As for security features, ProtonVPN offers a kill switch, split-tunneling features and it follows a strict no-logging policy.
Disadvantages of the free version of ProtonVPN
The fully free version of ProtonVPN give you access to only 3 server locations. Also, with the free version, you lose support for US Netflix and torrenting.
You can learn more about this service in our ProtonVPN review.
3. Hotspot Shield – Offers the best P2P compatibility
Advantages of the free version of Hotspot Shield
Hotspot Shield has a sleek and easy to use app interface. It has a no-logs policy and it’s also a good fit for torrenting. The VPN service’s app is compatible with most operating systems and devices. In fact, it has one of the best android apps in my opinion. Here are some more free VPN apps for android that you can check out.
It also offers a kill switch to protect your identity in-case of internet failure and offers 5 simultaneous connections too.
Disadvantages of the free version of Hotspot Shield
The only drawback of this VPN service is that its free version only allows you to connect to U.S servers. Moreover, it only allows 500MB of data per day which is not enough for avid streamers.
For more information, check out the Hotspot Shield review.
4. TunnelBear – No logs and a decently large server network
Advantages of the free version of TunnelBear VPN
TunnelBear is one of the best free VPN services out there. It offers over 20 server locations, more than what most other providers offer for free. Furthermore, it offers additional security and functionality with VigilantBear (kill switch) and GhostBear (for dealing with connection problems).
The VPN uses OpenVPN TCP as the default protocol, but you can change it to UDP by toggling off the “TCP Override” feature.
Disadvantages of the free version of TunnelBear VPN
The most disappointing fact about TunnelBear is that it only offers a 500 MB per month limit. If your VPN usage requirements are unusually low, then this limit is workable.
You can learn more about this service in our TunnelBear review.
5. Hide.Me – Offers 10 GB of free monthly data and fast speeds
Advantages of the free version of Hide.Me
Hide.Me is another absolutely free VPN provider. It comes equipped with a firewall (Stealth Guard), kill switch, and split-tunneling.
Moreover, it is one of the fastest free VPN in the industry. Hide.Me offers advanced protocols such as OpenVPN, IKEv2, SoftEther, and SSTP totally for free. It supports torrenting but doesn’t have the unblocking strength to work with streaming apps like Netflix, iPlayer, and others. Finally, the provider has a good logging policy and strong AES-256 encryption to help you stay safe and secure.
Disadvantages of the free version of Hide.Me
Its major limitation is that the free plan only supports 5 server locations. What’s more, you have no control over the server you want to connect to. The app does that automatically for you. Furthermore, the data transfer is capped at 10 GB per month.
You can learn more about this service in our Hide.Me review.
6. Speedify – Fastest free VPN provider
Advantages of the free version of Speedify
Speedify is not your average VPN service. It comes with a unique Channel bonding technology that uses different VPN protocols to improve connection speed over multiple internet connections simultaneously.
Speedify offers 2 GB of free data per month which is enough for casual usage but not ideal for torrenting or streaming content over Netflix.
As for security, Speedify uses the latest ChaCha and AES-based encryption, Packet loss & error correction, Automatic failover, and more. In addition to that, Speedify follows a strict no-log VPN policy.
Disadvantages of the free version of Speedify
The only downside of Speedify is that it offers 2GB monthly data. In addition to that, the free version can only be used on one device.
You can learn more about this service in our Speedify review.
7. OperaVPN – Comes built into the Opera browser
Advantages of the free version of OperaVPN
Unlike other free VPNs we’ve looked over so far, OperaVPN comes built into the Opera browser. You don’t have to download it separately. It’s like a free VPN extension. Since this VPN is browser-based, it will not protect the traffic sent or received via other browsers or apps. That’s something to consider with OperaVPN.
As for features, OperaVPN comes with malware protection, an ad blocker, and three virtual locations.
Disadvantages of the free version of OperaVPN
While OperaVPN is good for casual usage, the fact that it offers only three server locations makes it quite hard to unblock streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and more.
You can learn more about this service in our OperaVPN review.
8. Betternet – Requires no registration
Advantages of the free version of Betternet
Betternet is a pretty cool free VPN service, however, it’s not my first choice. It offers 500 MB of data which is not enough to stream HD content or download large torrent files. Betternet also only lets you connect to its U.S server locations.
But if we talk about security features, Betternet offers 256-bit encryption, fast speeds, perfect forward secrecy, and a few more features. In terms of performance, Betternet is pretty decent.
Disadvantages of the free version of Betternet
Betternet keeps some logs. It also displays quite a bit of advertisement which I find quite annoying. Also, it only offers 500 Mb data and allows you to connect to U.S servers only.
You can learn more about this service in our Betternet review.
9. VPNBook – Offers unlimited bandwidth for free
Advantages of the free version of VPNBook
The coolest thing about VPNBook is that it offers you unlimited bandwidth. Despite being truly free, VPNBook offers AES 256-bit encryption and multiple VPN protocols including OpenVPN.
If we talk about servers, VPNBook offers servers in the US, the UK, France, Canada, Germany, and Poland. One thing I like about VPNBook is that it keeps no activity logs whatsoever. VPNBook also works great with torrenting as per my testing.
Disadvantages of the free version of VPNBook
VPNBook offers no dedicated apps. You can only use it if you configure it manually on your phone or computer. In addition to that, VPNBook displays quite a few ads and doesn’t work with streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and others.
You can learn more about this service in our VPNBook review.
Methodology: How We Tested Free VPNs
All of the free VPNs that I’ve mentioned in this blog have been personally tested by me. I used a couple of tools such as speedtest.net and ipleak.org to determine how good or bad these VPN services are.
Free VPNs You Should Avoid
While researching, I found a couple of untrustworthy free VPNs that you should absolutely avoid. For privacy reasons, I strongly suggest avoiding the following dangerous VPNs:
Although the VPN service providers that I’ve discussed earlier are totally safe to use, there are some shady free VPNs out there that are known to either:
- Use your computing resources to power their server network
- Keep excessive logs
- Share your browsing data to facilitate targeted ads
- Inject malware into your system
- Offer no privacy whatsoever
Recommended Free VPNs For Different Purposes
As I mentioned earlier, free VPNs are only good for a few purposes. For instance, you’ll have to use one VPN for torrenting while some other VPN for general unblocking. After extensively testing so many free VPN providers, I have sorted out different free VPNs for different purposes below.
- Best Free VPNs for First-time Users — I would recommend trying TunnelBear.
- Best Free VPNs for Privacy & Security — If you want a secure free VPN, you should get ProtonVPN.
- Best Free VPNs with Unlimited Data — I recommend ProtonVPN.
- Best Free VPNs with Faster Speed — I would suggest trying Speedify.
- Best Free VPNs for Online Streaming — For streaming, you should try Surfshark.
- Best Free VPNs for Multiple Users — For unlimited device support, go for Surfshark.
Are Free VPNs Safe?
While free VPNs are super tempting to use, you should never look over the obvious privacy concerns. For example, free VPN providers make money by harvesting and selling your data to third-party advertisers. Also, with most free VPNs, you’ll get limited bandwidth to consume and a few server locations to choose from.
Truth be told, there are a lot of good reasons why free services aren’t recommended. Consider the following:
- Data retention, sharing, and selling — Free VPNs resort to shady practices like selling your data to third parties in order to make money.
- Malware, invasive permissions, & security problems — Research found that more than 30% of the free VPN apps tracked users through malware.
- Speed and bandwidth limits — Free VPNs implement bandwidth caps to throttle your internet connection speeds.
- Weak unblocking capabilities — Due to small server networks, free VPNs are unable to access websites that are geo-blocked.
- Unavailability of advanced features — Advanced features such as multi-hopping, obfuscation, etc. are almost always unavailable in free versions of VPN apps.
Overall, free VPNs are not ideal for streaming content in HD or sharing large files. For that, paid VPNs such as Surfshark are a much better option.
Server Locations Offered By Free VPN Providers
Unlike paid VPNs, free VPN providers only let you use a few server locations. For instance, other than TunnelBear and Speedify, all other VPNs discussed in this blog offer few server locations. Check out this table below to get an idea of what I mean:
|VPN Providers||Server Locations|
|ProtonVPN||US, Netherlands, Japan|
|Windscribe||US, UK, Netherlands, Canada, Hong Kong, Germany, France, Switzerland, Norway, Romania|
|Hotspot Shield||The US only|
|Tunnelbear||20 server locations including US and UK|
|Hide.me||US, Netherlands, Germany, and Canada|
|Speedify||North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Oceania|
|OperaVPN||Americas, Europe, and Asia|
|Betternet||The US only|
|VPNBook||US, UK, France, Canada, Germany, and Poland|
FAQs Regarding Free VPNs
Now that you know which free VPNs you can use, let’s check out some of the frequently asked questions regarding free VPNs.
Is there a free VPN with unlimited data?
ProtonVPN offers unlimited data bandwidth along with lots of decent features and that’s why it’s one of the top free VPNs in 2021. It offers the perfect combination of speed and privacy without charging a single penny.
How to get a free VPN?
Getting a free VPN is quite easy. Although you can search for a free VPN on Google yourself, I suggest you go for the VPNs I’ve tested and recommended in this blog post.
Is a free VPN better than no VPN?
Yes, getting a free VPN is way better than not using any VPN at all. Not only will you be able to remain somewhat anonymous on the web, but you’ll also be able to unblock some geo-blocked websites.
Can VPN steal your data?
Yes, some VPNs can steal your data. There are plenty of sketchy VPNs online that make money by harvesting and selling your personal data without your consent.
Why Free VPNs are bad?
While not all VPNs are bad, some free VPNs are infamous for injecting malware and tracking tools on to your devices. Therefore, it is super important to choose a free VPN wisely due to privacy concerns.
How free VPNs make money?
Free VPNs make money through advertisements or by selling your data. While you get to use their service for free, VPN providers that offer their service without charging you anything make money by recording what you do online and then selling that information to advertisers who use it for targeted ads.
Are free VPNs safe?
Free VPNs usually may not be safe, but the ones I have mentioned are absolutely safe and secure. Always do your research before deciding to use a free of cost VPN on your device.
Will a free VPN keep me safe on public networks?
Yes. Similar to premium VPNs, free VPNs also keep you safe on public networks found in locations like airports, universities & libraries, etc. However, not all free VPNs are secure, that is why you should only use one of the secure free VPNs that I have mentioned above.
Which free VPN is compatible with smartphones?
There are thousands of free VPN apps compatible with Android and iOS smartphones. Among all the options, I recommend Windscribe as the best free mobile VPN, but it has a 10GB/month data limit. The best option among free VPN apps with no data limits is ProtonVPN, but its performance is not as good as Windscribe on smartphones.
Can I install a free VPN on all my devices?
Yes, since most free VPNs are cross-platform compatible, you’ll be able to install any VPN app on all of your devices. Though, if you wish to use a VPN app on multiple devices simultaneously, I would recommend going with Surfshark which offers unlimited multi logins per account.
Are free VPNs worth it?
Considering that most free VPNs offer decent security features with unlimited bandwidth, I think that free VPN are totally worth trying.
Can I use a free VPN to watch Netflix?
Yes, you can use a free VPN to watch Netflix but the problem with free VPNs is that they offer limited bandwidth. However, there are some free VPNs that offer unlimited bandwidth like ProtonVPN, which makes it the best free VPN for streaming.
Will a free VPN hide my activity from my ISP?
A free VPN will keep you secure from the prying eyes of the ISP by keeping your online activities hidden and anonymous. However, you have to make sure that the VPN you’re using doesn’t keep logs.
Why Free VPNs are legal?
Free VPNs are legal because they offer you free service in exchange for your personal data. That is something any free VPN user is aware of before signing up.
What is the Best Free VPN That I Recommend?
Since all of the totally free VPNs I’ve discussed in this blog lack in some feature or the other, I can only recommend Surfshark which comes with all the features you can ever imagine.
To give it to you straight, most free VPN services have bandwidth limitations, show you loads of ads, or sell your data to third parties. If the risks associated with free VPN apps are too much for you to tolerate, you can always go for paid options that offer 30-day money-back guarantees.
You can purchase Surfshark, try out all of its premium features, and if you’re not satisfied, you can claim a full refund within the 30-day refund period.