You’ll seldom find bait as tempting as a free VPN. Free online anonymity and undercover browsing? Of course, you’ll bite. You get a free VPN download and bingo, you’ve unblocked all the restricted content in your region and merrily downloading torrent.
Happy days, huh?
1000s of free providers have now flooded the market. And many of them have a money-making business model that’s shady and clandestine. A huge section of these free service providers are sophisticated, money-grubbing crooks. They form a growing mafia, selling and sharing colossal amounts of data.
Don’t believe me? Check this.
The popular free VPN Hola, who claims to ‘unblock any site’, were caught selling users’ bandwidth without their knowledge.
If things have gotten so bad that even VPNs may not be effective in protecting your privacy, what can you do to have autonomy over how your data is accessed and used by people who have no business nosing into your personal details?
Well, it’s not entirely hopeless. There are some absolutely free VPN providers that are reliable, but have some limitations. I’m going to discuss these VPNs shortly, but first let’s quickly go over some of the most serious problems generally found in free VPNs.
Free VPNs – A Lion’s Den?
There are a lot of good reasons why free services aren’t recommended for people that are even a little bit concerned about keeping their privacy intact from all sorts of threats on the web in the present day. But the most serious problems associated with the use of VPNs available for free are:
- Data retention, sharing, and selling: Free VPNs do not have any direct means of making money. Since they do not charge anything upfront, they resort to shady practices like selling your data to third parties in order to make money and bear the costs of keeping their servers up and running.
- Malware, invasive permissions, & security problems: A research analyzing mobile VPN apps available on the Play Store found that more than 30% of the free VPN apps tracked users through malware, 18% didn’t encrypt user traffic, and 80% requested permissions to sensitive information such as messages and user account information.
- Speed and bandwidth limits: Since these providers don’t usually have paying customers, they can’t afford to deliver bandwidth and speed without enforcing caps. This makes them unsuitable for most practical purposes.
- Weak unblocking capabilities: The small server networks that free providers operate renders them unable to access websites that are geo-blocked and which use proxy/VPN detection techniques to deny access.
- Unavailability of advanced features: Even the best and reliable free VPNs only offer basic IP-changing features along with standard encryption. The advanced features such as multi-hopping, obfuscation etc. are almost always unavailable in free versions of VPN apps.
With these problems, free VPNs don’t feel like such a great idea after all.
But that’s not the end of it. There are some legitimate VPNs out there that are available for free and can effectively boost your privacy.
Best Free VPN for 2020
The following providers offer really free VPN apps. These have some limitations, but are totally safe to use if you’re as privacy-conscious as you need to be in 2020:
1. Editor’s Choice – Surfshark – Unlimited bandwidth
Surfshark is our top choice as a free VPN. Strictly speaking, Surfshark actually offers a 30-day money-back guarantee which you can utilize to access this VPN free of cost for a whole month, if you claim a refund within this period. Since it costs only $1.99/mo for a 2-year subscription anyway, you’ll probably find it well within your budget to continue your subscription for the long-term.
There are several good reasons why you might want to do that. For starters, Surfshark has an impressive network of 1,040+ servers located in 60+ countries. You can unblock pretty much any popular streaming service with these servers including US Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video and much more.
If you want to access torrenting websites and download these securely, you can rely on Surfshark for this purpose as well. The no-logs policy and advanced encryption of AES-256 ensures watertight privacy and security of users while you surf the web.
With valuable features like WhiteLister, CleanWeb, MultiHop, and kill switch to boot, Surfshark is the best VPN you can have for free for a month.
For more information, see this Surfshark review.
2. Windscribe – 10 GB/month
Windscribe is a totally free VPN service that offers 10 GB of bandwidth per month. This might seem small, but Windscribe is actually one of the more generous providers in this respect, as most other alternatives have much lower bandwidth caps. There are 10 server locations available in the free plan. Moreover, the provider uses AES-256 encryption for all traffic passing through its VPN tunnel.
Windscribe’s free version doesn’t work with US Netflix and other streaming services with strict firewalls and VPN-blocking technology. However, it does support torrents, which is great for users that are looking for better privacy while downloading torrents.
The logging policy of this VPN deserves praise among free providers as it only stores minimal information (username, server, and bandwidth) which is removed within three minutes after you stop end your VPN session.
Therefore, Windscribe is an impressive VPN to have if you don’t want to spend money but need better online privacy and decent unblocking power.
For more information, see this Windscribe VPN review.
3. ProtonVPN – Unlimited bandwidth
ProtonVPN is a rare breed among free options in that it is an unlimited free VPN. You can use as much data as you want without worrying about running out of the limit.
In addition to this, it has a strict no logging policy, which will appeal to users looking for enhanced digital privacy. Nonetheless, there are some limitations which you have to expect considering it’s totally free of cost. For instance, ProtonVPN has 3 server locations which include: US, Japan, and Netherlands.
Also, it doesn’t work with US Netflix nor does it support torrenting unless you get the paid version. Still, ProtonVPN is great for users that primarily want to boost online privacy on the web.
You can learn more about this service in our ProtonVPN review.
4. TunnelBear – 500 MB/month
Behind the cute, furry name is a powerful platform (Toronto based) providing an iron-clad and secure, free VPN download. You get high-speed connections with minimal loss of speed. This means, with TunnelBear you enjoy almost the same speed as your local server.
However, it has a 500 MB/month limit, which is fairly low for most users. If your VPN usage requirements are unusually low, then you’ll find this VPN pretty useful. TunnelBear also offers over 20+ VPN server locations free of cost.
With a beautiful user-friendly interface, it offers some of the best security features. You can even do your banking and online shopping over public WiFi with peace of mind.
Unfortunately, it’s not great for streaming as it couldn’t unblock US Netflix or Hulu. But worked with HBO GO. Also, it doesn’t support torrenting.
You can learn more about this service in our TunnelBear review.
5. Hide.Me – 2 GB/month
Hide.Me is a pretty decent VPN available for free. It offers 5 server locations including: Singapore, Canada, Netherlands, US East and US West. The bandwidth is capped at 2 GB/month, so your usage will be limited to activities where data consumption is on the lower side.
This VPN can unblock torrenting websites, but doesn’t have the unblocking strength to work with streaming apps like Netflix, iPlayer, and others. However, it does have a good logging policy, decent speeds, and the strong AES-256 encryption offers strong protection of users.
You can learn more about this service in our Hide.Me review.
What is the Best Free VPN for Privacy and Security?
The top recommended free of cost VPN for attaining maximum online security is Surfshark. The provider is based in British Virgin Islands, a country with strong privacy-oriented laws. On top of this, it adheres to a zero-logging policy, so that no user-related information is stored by the provider.
But Surfshark doesn’t stop here. It also offers extra features such as Camouflage Mode, MultiHop, kill switch, and Clean Web. With the Camouflage Mode, you can hide the fact that you are using a VPN and obfuscate yourself. Even your ISP won’t know that you’re using the web under the protection of a VPN.
MultiHop feature gives a solid security boost by routing your traffic through not one but two distinct VPN servers. This is especially useful for users that are only willing to surf the web with utmost security. WhiteLister is basically a split-tunneling mechanism to choose which programs in your computer you don’t want to be using the VPN.
Finally, CleanWeb keeps you from online trackers, adware, and other forms of malware on the web. This is an exceptionally strong range of privacy and security oriented features that can effectively turn you into a ghost online.
Which Free VPN is the Best for iPhone?
The iPhone app of Surfshark is the best if you’re looking for free options for two reasons. First, Surfshark offers a 7-day free trial for iPhone users, and second, it has the perfect balance of speed, unblocking power, and privacy features.
The app has a rating of 4.4 based on 741 user ratings on the App Store. As such, it is hard to find a better alternative than Surfshark if you need a free VPN for iPhone.
What is the Most Reliable Free VPN App for Mac?
For Mac users, Surfshark offers an excellent feature-rich app that is designed to offer military-grade online protection at a single click. It is perfectly compatible with all MacOS Sierra, High Sierra, Mojave, and Catalina. For privacy-focused users, Surfshark is the best free Mac VPN available.
Which Free VPN Works Best for Android?
If you need a completely free Android VPN, you can look into ProtonVPN which offers an excellent, streamlined app for Android phones. It has an unlimited bandwidth and is a pleasure to use with its superb usability. The app has a rating of 4.4 on the Play Store.
Unfortunately, it is not so good for unblocking Netflix and other streaming services. For that, you’ll have to check out other providers.
What is the Top Free VPN provider for Windows?
For Windows, Surfshark is an extremely powerful VPN that can be used virtually for free for the initial 30 days. It is packed with features that can enshroud you in a cloak of invisibility, perfectly safe from anyone interesting in spying on your online activities. The OpenVPN and IKEv2 protocols it offers make sure that your traffic and data remains well-encrypted, making it a great choice as a free Windows VPN.
Are there Kodi Compatible Free VPNs?
PureVPN is a free VPN app for Kodi that also offers a dedicated add-on for it. This makes it extremely convenient to run a VPN from within Kodi’s native interface in order to bypass geo-restricted on streaming add-ons.
Which Free VPN Works with Firestick?
Surfshark has a rating of 4.1 on Amazon Store and is one of the few free VPNs with a dedicated app for Firestick. It is compatible with all second generation Firestick devices and works exceptionally well for bypassing geo-restrictions on Firestick SVoD and IPTV apps.
Which Free VPN is Best for Netflix?
Urban VPN is a completely free VPN app that unblocks US Netflix. This is a very surprising feat to achieve in 2020, as there are hardly any free proxy/VPNs that can get past Netflix’s powerful VPN-blocking technology.
However, it is not the best option as far as security is concerned. If you need more effective options, see this article on free Netflix VPN services.
Are Free VPNs Good for Torrenting?
There are several VPN services available for free that can be reliably used for torrenting. However, it is much safer to use a premium VPN with a money-back guarantee for torrenting purposes because these usually have specialized servers for torrenting to ensure high speed and max security. Ivacy is among top free VPNs compatible with torrenting with many p2p-optimized servers, but it is only free if you utilize the 30-day refund period.
Free VPN Reddit Reviews
Before you download free VPN, be sure to check out what Reddit community has to say about. The experience of actual users is important to consider before you decide to pick a VPN. Here’s what redditors generally think of free VPNs:
It’s evident that redditors aren’t quite fond of free VPN services.
Free VPN Online
An “online VPN” is just a deceptive name for a free proxy. These can be easily found by a simple search on Google. However, proxies are generally insecure and can expose your data as they don’t use proper encryption nor do they follow any proper privacy-oriented logging policies.
In fact, some might even sell your data to third parties. Therefore, you should stay away from free VPN proxies at all costs and only opt for legit VPN services like the ones mentioned above.
Which is best free VPN?
Surfshark is the best free VPN service since it has a 30-day money-back guarantee (for desktop apps) and 7-day free trial (for smartphones). It offers the perfect combination of speed and privacy at the most affordable costs.
Is there a completely free VPN?
There are several absolutely free VPN apps available, but be very careful as only a few of these are safe. The reliable ones include Winscribe, ProtonVPN, TunnelBear, and Hide.Me.
Are free VPNs safe?
Some free VPNs are safe, but same may not be safe. Always do your research before deciding to use a free of cost VPN on your device.
There’s no such thing as free lunch. Free VPNs are free for a reason. Many have a clandestine business model that’s not benign and often illegal. It’s best not to use VPN rather than using shady VPN providers, at least you know who’s collecting your data.
Free VPNs also typically use less secure protocols, leaving you vulnerable to hacking and malware. If you’re serious about privacy and want to enjoy freedom of the internet, then I strongly advocate you get a paid plan.