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.
If you don’t want to be bothered by the limitations or privacy risks that come with free VPNs, I would suggest getting ExpressVPN which offers a 30-day money-back guarantee. You’ll be able to test out all of its features such as unlimited bandwidth, 3000+ servers, military-grade security features, and much more. Another cool thing about this VPN is that ExpressVPN also offers a 3-months free subscription if you go for its 12-months plan.
Why Free VPNs Are Discouraged and Risky to Use?
Free VPNs are highly discouraged by most privacy-conscious users. The reason being is that free VPNs are known to sell user data to third parties, who then use it to target us with annoying ads. Free VPNs are also infamous for:
- Collecting user’s browsing data and selling it to third parties.
- Offering limited servers that can be annoyingly slow.
- Bombarding your browser with unwanted ads.
- Offering limited bandwidth that not sufficient for streaming or torrenting.
This is why paid VPNs are always the best option. Paid VPNs don’t collect user logs and offer top-notch security features that won’t compromise your privacy. You’ll also get access to unlimited bandwidth which is perfect for endless streaming and torrenting. Paid VPNs like ExpressVPN offer 3000+ servers, which free VPNs don’t. If you want a hassle-free and risk-free browsing experience, purchase ExpressVPN.
Here are some paid VPNs that offer better-unblocking performance and privacy features than any free VPN:
10 Totally Free VPN Services for 2021
Here are is the list of my top ten 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 an Internet 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.
Apart from Internet Kill Switch, it also offers Port-Forwarding and Split Tunneling feature. The software has a user-friendly interface, with a choice of customer support options including live chat and setup guides. Single-click connect makes it super easy to get started. All the major streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, BBC iPlayer, and Amazon Prime Video is accessible with this provider.
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 Internet Kill Switch, split-tunneling features and it follows a strict no-logging policy. It also offers AES-256-Bit military-grade encryption with DNS protection.
It is easily compatible with devices such as Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, and Linux. It is also a great companion for watching geo-restricted content such as YouTube, Spotify, ESPN+, CW, NBC, and Hulu.
Disadvantages of the free version of ProtonVPN
The fully free version of ProtonVPN gives you access to only 3 server locations – the US, Japan, and the Netherlands. 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.
The simple, user-friendly interface makes it easy to get started on macOS, Windows, Android, and iOS devices. Also, military-grade encryption protects your internet activity from all sorts of outside threats and prying eyes.
Although Hotspot Shield has 3,200 servers in 80 countries, the free version only gives you access to the US virtual location. Only just one server can still help you escape government censorship and bypass content filters at school or work so you can access your favorite websites and social media apps from anywhere.
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 (Internet Kill Switch) and GhostBear (for dealing with connection problems).
It is probably the only free VPN provider that has been audited independently. Like other providers in this list, it also uses AES 256-bit encryption and guarantees no data logging.
This VPN can unblock most geo-restricted websites and bypass pesky content filters without a hassle on your devices such as Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Chrome, Firefox, and Opera.
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 but if your purpose includes streaming, torrenting and P2P download then you might want to consider subscribing to a premium VPN provider.
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 advanced features such as a firewall (Stealth Guard), Internet Kill Switch, and split tunneling. Along with additional features that include 24/7 customer support and ad-free browsing.
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.
However, you can use the free servers to circumvent content filtering at your workplace or school and bypass tough government censorship. Plus, Hide.me is a perfect companion for P2P and supports torrenting for both free and paid users. However, you are limited to the amount of file-sharing you can do with the 10 GB data cap.
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, Hulu, or Amazon Prime Video.
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.
While it is compatible with all the major platforms currently, it encourages you to upgrade to a premium account. However, the provider is committed to keeping the free version ad-free. This is great for your security because it means that Speedify doesn’t have to share any of your information with third-party advertisers.
Disadvantages of the free version of Speedify
The only downside of Speedify is that it offers 2 GB monthly data. While 2 GB monthly data is enough for web surfing and social media access, it is nowhere enough for streaming or torrenting. 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
OperaVPN is the name of the built-in VPN that is available in the Opera browser. It masks your IP address while you are browsing different sites and restricted content. To use this VPN, you will have to enable the VPN in the browser settings. Think of it as a browser extension that will secure your internet activity while you are surfing the net.
In addition to its free VPN service, it also features a built-in ad blocker and malware protection. While using any public Wi-Fi networks, this VPN is very essentials for hiding your online identity and keeping you anonymous. You can choose from only three virtual locations: America, Europe, and Asia.
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. As it is operating as a browser extension, your emails and banking apps aren’t protected with this VPN.
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.
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 with compatibility with popular operating systems such as macOS, Windows, Android, and iOS.
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 of data and doesn’t allow you to do streaming on its free account.
With a single available location on the free account (The US), you can not access geo-restricted websites of other regions or countries. It also doesn’t offer any Internet Kill Switch feature which is a quite common feature these days.
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 security protocols including PPTP and 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.
The company operates out of privacy-friendly Romania and doesn’t collect any activity logs, but it does retain some connection logs for up to a week. It is compatible with operating systems such as Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Linux.
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 claims to unblock Netflix and Hulu, but I couldn’t access either of them when I tested it.
You can learn more about this service in our VPNBook review.
10. Zenmate – Free VPN with 2 MB speed limit
Advantages of the free version of Zenmate
Zenmate offers a free version for Chrome, Firefox, and Microsoft Edge. It offers 4 server locations including Germany, Romania, Singapore, and the US, and during our testing, it was only able to unblock Netflix US. There aren’t any data or bandwidth limitation with this provider and it supports a zero-log user policy, that means your online activity and privacy will be secure and safe from prying eyes.
As security features, ZenMate offers strong 256-bit AES encryption along with industry-standard VPN protocols like OpenVPN, IKEv2, and L2TP/IPsec. Although these protocols are more than enough for any user, However, I still wish they would have offered more.
Its paid subscription comes with 3,000+ servers in 79+ countries and offers support for all the major operating systems.
Disadvantages of the free version of Zenmate
There’s no free version of the application that you can try before subscribing to a premium plan. Also, the free plan only allows a speed of 2 MB, which can barely let you watch a Netflix show in HD quality.
Its headquarter is also located in Germany, which is a part of the 14-eyes alliance. Therefore, it wouldn’t be my first recommendation to trust your online security and privacy.
You can learn more about this service in our Zenmate 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 that you should avoid and Why?
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.
Questions to ponder on before choosing a Free VPN?
While the idea of a free VPN is very tempting, we recommend that you at least ask yourself the below five-question before you download and use any free VPN.
What will be the repercussion?
Every business is conducted to make a profit. If free VPNs are not charging you a single penny then must be making the profit off something else. Most of the free VPN provides are known for selling user data and private information to different third-parties organizations for revenue.
How does it protect my PC?
Although most providers offer a desktop application that encrypts your data while you are surfing the web. Your device can still be identified by different tracking tools that are enabled by most of the websites. A few free VPN providers, including WIndscribe, will protect you from these tracking tools by integrating the equivalent of a super ad-blocker.
What do I lose with a free VPN?
When you are using a free VPN, you’d expect it to have some corners cut. Most of them place bandwidth restrictions on the accounts, while others offer very few locations and features such as ad-blocking, P2P, and firewall support.
Does your free VPN log anything?
This is probably the most important question out of the five. It is imperative that the provider doesn’t log anything about you or your connection that can lead anyone back to you someday. You can usually check that in the terms and conditions page or the end-user license agreement, commonly known as EULA.
Can I register with the service anonymously?
Having a provider that can register you to the service without an email address and accept cryptocurrency payment methods is not too much to ask. In terms of privacy and security, these are pretty much the basics you can expect online.
Major issues with Free VPNs
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 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 geo-blocked websites.
- 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 ExpressVPN are a much better option.
Does Free VPN worth your Money?
To be honest, there isn’t any straightforward answer to this question. Ultimately it depends on your purpose for using a free VPN. If you are looking for something that can offer you a tiny bit of encryption when using an unsecured Wi-Fi connection then it will do the trick for you.
But if your main purpose is to have a streaming VPN say, or want to use it while downloading terabytes of torrent files, a free VPN just isn’t going to do the trick.
Most of them assign a data and bandwidth limit to your accounts that are nowhere sufficient for carrying out high-bandwidth tasks such as torrenting, streaming, and gaming. While most don’t have the kind of easy access support or server range required to make those activities easy with a virtual private network.
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. Still, it can never match the qualities of a world-class premium provider like ExpressVPN.
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. You can directly install their application and register to start using their services.
Can VPN steal your data?
Yes, some free VPNs can steal your data. There are plenty of sketchy free VPNs online that make money by harvesting and selling your personal data without your consent to different third-parties organizations.
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 ExpressVPN which offers five simultaneous connections per account.
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.
Are free VPNs Legal for use?
Yes, it’s completely legal to use a free VPN in most countries. While the VPN technology isn’t illegal itself, few activities carried with the help of VPN can be considered illegal. Also, few countries such as Russia, Seria, and China have banned VPNs, and using a VPN can be considered illegal by the law.
What is the Best Free VPN That I Recommend?
Since all of the totally free VPNs I’ve discussed in this blog lack some feature or the other, I can only recommend using a premium VPN provider like ExpressVPN which comes with all the features a free VPN can never offer.
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 premium options that offer 30-day money-back guarantees.
You can purchase ExpressVPN, 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.