Free VPNs for Windows are a dime a dozen. But where there’s variety, there naturally arises the question of quality. Unfortunately, many free VPNs are extremely limited in functionality, and those that do have all their features intact often engage in data harvesting practices.
As such, this problem is prevalent for users of all devices. Users have to make a decision between allowing their privacy to be sold by these providers in exchange for free VPN access, or settle for half-baked free VPN apps that don’t even work as they’re supposed to.
But in this pile of fraud and substandard solutions, there are a very few standout providers offering free VPN apps for Windows that are completely legitimate and effective, in a limited way, for various purposes.
Best Free VPN Software: Quick Overview
|Free VPN app||Speed Cap||Data Transfer Limit||Number of Free Server Locations|
|Windscribe||None||2GB/mo (10GB/mo with confirmed email address)||10|
|Hotspot Shield||Yes||500MB/day||US only|
Best Free VPNs for Windows 10 for 2020
The following VPNs are all capable free services albeit, with some limitations. If you need full-fledged VPNs with all their features unblocked, see this article on paid Windows VPNs.
Let’s now focus on the best free VPN apps for Windows:
1. ProtonVPN – Top Free VPN for Windows
ProtonVPN is a great choice as a free Windows VPN, primarily because it is one of the few reliable providers that offer unlimited data for free.
The Windows app of ProtonVPN is easy to use and offers an appealing interface design. It is indefinitely free, meaning you can use it for as long as you want without your free license ever expiring. There are three server locations in the free plan: US, Japan, and Netherlands.
While these servers are good for unblocking websites hosted in the server’s locations, these are largely ineffective when it comes to bypassing restrictions on web services that actively filter VPN traffic such as Netflix, Hulu etc.
Nor can you access torrents with any of ProtonVPN’s free servers. You’re going to need a paid subscription for that. So, as far as activities like torrenting and streaming are concerned, ProtonVPN, like most other free providers, won’t be much good to Windows users.
What ProtonVPN does offer is strong security and decent privacy. The provider keeps no logs of privacy-sensitive information of the user and implements AES-256 to encrypt user encryption.
For these features and benefits, ProtonVPN is one of the best free VPN apps for Windows out there.
You can learn more about this service in our ProtonVPN review.
2. Windscribe – Feature-Rich Free Windows VPN App
Windscribe is an excellent free VPN app for Windows based in Canada that is easy to use. The provider offers 10 different server locations, which is a number higher than free VPN providers typically provide. It offers great connectivity and it’s super-simple to establish a VPN connection with any server of your choice.
The Windows app of Windscribe uses OpenVPN with 256 bit encryption and a privacy-affirming logging policy to ensure your privacy remains safe. Since Windows is not a very privacy-friendly operating system, you can at least protect some of what you can while connected to Windscribe during your online sessions.
In fact, it also offers a feature known as R.O.B.E.R.T which works as a configurable ad/malicious website blocker among other uses. You can access R.O.B.E.R.T through your user control panel on the main Windscribe website. Any change you make to R.O.B.E.R.T will automatically reflect on Windscribe’s Windows app that you’re using.
Windscribe offers a light-weight but appealing app for Windows and provides good enough speeds. The only disappointment is the 10 GB/monthly data limit, which is still pretty good compared to what other providers offer. Windscribe’s free version does not work with Netflix. You will have to get the premium version if you want to enjoy change your region on Netflix with Windscribe and access all shows/movies.
See this Windscribe VPN review for more details.
3. Hotspot Shield – Decent Free VPN Available for Windows
Hotspot Shield is one of the most widely used free VPN services. Unlike most other providers, Hotspot Shield enforces a daily data transfer limit. There’s a 500MB/day limit, which is decent enough for a free VPN. This limit is renewed every day so if you run out of data one day, you can still continue using it afresh by tomorrow.
The Windows app features a sleek design of black and blue, and is an overall user-friendly VPN. Users can only connect to US servers in the free version, though the premium subscription offers more than 3,200 servers in 70+ countries.
Hotspot Shield also publishes an annual transparency report, which is rare for a free VPN. In terms of speed, it offers decent performance but not outstanding, as typically expected for free providers.
You can unblock some US-based websites and services with Hotspot Shield but the free version is not very reliable for accessing websites that limit VPN traffic such as Netflix, HBO, Hulu, BBC iPlayer etc.
Overall, Hotspot Shield is a decent choice for Windows users with low data usage requirements.
See this Hotspot Shield review for more details.
4. Hide.Me – Secure Free VPN for Windows
Hide.Me is another decent provider available for free download for Windows 7, 8, and 10. It guarantees zero-logging of user data and provides AES-256 encryption. The provider offers 5 server locations including Singapore, Canada, Netherlands, US East and US West. Hide.Me is not known to unblock US Netflix at the time of this writing.
You can learn more about this VPN in our Hide.Me review.
5. TunnelBear – Safe Free VPN with 500mb/month
TunnelBear is another free VPN available for Windows. It hosts 23 server locations for free that can be easily accessed in the Windows app featuring a cute bear burrowing around different locations
The service has a good logging policy that guarantees user privacy. Although it is pretty good for digital security and privacy for Windows users, it imposes a 500 MB/month limit which is pretty low.
Therefore, you should only use this VPN if you need better privacy and have minimal VPN usage requirements.
For more information, see this TunnelBear review.
Free VPN Server Locations
Free VPNs usually offer a small selection of servers as compared to their full subscription. Some providers offer only a handful few, while others like Windscribe and TunnelBear offer more.
|VPN Provider||Server Locations|
|ProtonVPN||US, Japan, Netherlands|
|Windscribe||US, UK, Canada, France, Germany, Switzerland, Norway, Romania, Hong Kong, Netherlands|
|Hide.Me||US East, US West, Netherlands, Germany, Canada|
|TunnelBear||US, UK, Germany, Canada, Italy, Australia, India, Japan, France, Spain, and more|
How to choose the Best Free VPNs for Windows?
To make sure you get a good and well-performing free VPN for Windows, here are a few essential things to bear in mind:
No logging policy
Since the primary purpose of a VPN is to guard users’ privacy, it is important to how much user data they collect. Some VPN services have a highly secure logging policy like Surfshark and Windscribe. However, there are some free providers like Hola VPN and Betternet which collect more information than they should relating to users.
Compatibility & apps
Nowadays, anything less than a dedicated GUI-based app is unacceptable for a VPN. The VPNs described above all have well-designed free windows apps which you can install very easily through the Play Store.
Free providers often impose bandwidth restrictions. That can’t be helped. However, what you can ensure is to choose a VPN that offers a reasonable amount of internet bandwidth, such as those mentioned above.
Some VPNs can slow down your connection speed, preventing you from surfing the web smoothly. The list of VPNs above aren’t the fastest in the industry, but considering they are free, you can still get decent enough speeds.
Do I Need a Free VPN service for Windows?
To get a free VPN or not, that is the question.
There’s no denying that free services carry a lot of appeal, especially with so many online threats lurking around the web. A tool capable of protecting our privacy and security from these threats free of charge would be a godsend.
What’s more, the need for VPN services is also strongly felt when you encounter Geo-restrictions on websites, especially streaming services. With so many enticing streaming platforms surfacing on the web such as Disney+, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video etc. there’s nothing more frustrating than being denied access simply because you happen to live in a different country.
As such, the need for VPN services for Windows as well as other platforms is only increasing with time. The tragic reality is that, although the demand for free VPNs is high, there aren’t many competent providers that are available for free. In fact, these VPNs may pose a risk to your security.
This is why if you’re unwilling to compromise on your online privacy, the safest bet is to use a paid VPN service for Windows which have a proven record boosting users’ privacy on the web.
Here’s why some free VPNs are risky
Over the years, there have been many cases about VPN services compromising your privacy rather than protecting it. For instance, the popular free VPN, Hola, which is available for Windows as well as other platforms, was found involved in selling your bandwidth to execute a botnet attack.
Similar instances of malicious VPN apps (most of which are free) have caused grave concerns about the security many of these tools with a free tag.
Even if you manage to find a VPN that won’t infect your PC with malware, you still have to deal with the fact that these VPN provider might sell your data to third-parties in order to make a profit. Since they must finance their operations somehow, they resort to these tactics in the absence of paying customers.
Thus, if you are looking for a free unlimited VPN for Windows 10 that is completely safe, you might as well quit looking.
Nonetheless, there are still some VPNs that are safe and available for free, with the caveat that they offer limited features. Since I would always prefer a service that is safe but has a limited set of features over one that is insecure but full of fancy features, I’m going to discuss only the reliable ones that you can use on your Windows system.
Free VPNs for Other Devices and Platforms
If you’re not a Windows user, you can find recommended VPNs for other platforms and operating systems in below articles:
How to Improve your Privacy on Windows 10?
There are three major functionalities (on the surface, at least) in Windows that use your personal data: general apps, Cortana, and personalize ads.
Here is how you can prevent these from compromising your privacy.
- Open Privacy from Settings. A series of 13 selection screens will appear one by one, allowing you to turn off any that you want.
- Now from “General” tab, you can select which apps you want to allow access to camera, messages, calendar etc.
- You can also turn of Cortana’s data collection from Speech, ink, & typing tab and clicking “Stop getting to know me”.
- To turn off data-gathering for the purpose of ads, you must visit https://choice.microsoft.com/en-gb/opt-out. From there, turn off “Personalized ads in this browser” and “Personalized ads wherever I use my Microsoft account”.
While these changes can improve your privacy on Windows, it is still very much possible that the operating system collects user data from other sources that might not even be controllable for the user.
To enhance your privacy further, there is nothing within the Windows environment itself that can help you. Instead, you will require some outside assistance in the form of tools like VPNs.
Is setting up a free VPN on windows difficult?
No. Setting up a free VPN on your windows devices is very easy since most of the VPN services offer a dedicated free VPN software for windows. Moreover, the providers also offer guides and tutorials that are very easy and simple to follow.
Are free VPNs for windows safe?
Most of the free VPN services aren’t safe because there’s no guarantee for your privacy and they also sell user data to third party companies. Fortunately, the ones I have listed above are the best and safest free VPNs.
How do free VPNs earn money?
Most free VPN companies earn by displaying ads on their apps. Some also collect and log user data and sell it to third party companies for monetary returns. But the VPNs I have listed above are 100% safe to use.
Can users use a Window VPN on multiple devices?
If the VPN you are using supports multi-logins, then you can definitely use your Windows VPN on other devices.
Can anyone track you if you use a VPN?
VPNs make it difficult for anyone to track you online, but it’s still not impossible. Hackers and agencies with sufficiently advanced capabilities might still be able to track someone using a VPN, but it’s not going to be easy.
Does Windows 10 come with a VPN?
Windows 10 does indeed come with built-in VPN functionality, but it will only work as a basic, no-frills VPN. It is also quite difficult to set up if you’re not tech-savvy.
Can I watch Netflix with a free VPN?
Unfortunately, no free VPNs work with Netflix. Your only reliable option is to get a paid VPN that is known to unblock Netflix’s anti-VPN technology.
The VPN services described above are all fairly competent tools when it comes to elevating your privacy on Windows systems. Surfshark’s trial version is the top free VPN for Windows if you’re looking for a tool to use free of cost for a whole month.
However, if you want VPNs for a longer term, you can consider other options such as ProtonVPN and Windscribe to unblock websites on the internet and maintain your privacy.
See Also: Best VPN Apps for Windows Phones
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