Istvan Kiss

Istvan Kiss

April 19, 2018

A free VPN is an online service that lets people unblock websites. A reliable free service provides privacy and security for its users. By concealing a user’s real IP address (location) they can overcome local censorship and website restrictions, or access foreign services and streams. There are many free VPNs available to download on the market, but most are either rubbish or can’t be trusted. Our experts have tested and reviewed over 150 VPNs in the last 5 years in search of the best free VPN downloads available. The providers listed below are secure and will permit you to pretend to be in a different country. 

What’s a Free VPN?

A Virtual Private Network is one of the most versatile and popular online services in the world. VPNs provide digital privacy for their users by encrypting all their internet traffic. This stops ISPs and the government from being able to snoop on their web browsing habits.

In addition, a VPN is the most liberating service available online. It allows people to conceal their real location (which is also excellent for privacy) and pretend to be in a different country. This lets people access geo-blocked content and services such as BBC iPlayer or US Netflix. A top-notch VPN costs between 55 and 75 dollars per year – which isn’t much to pay considering what you get.

A free VPN is just a VPN service that can be used without paying. However, there are limitations and restrictions involved with them and sometimes even risks that must be considered.

What are the Best Free VPN Services?

Many free VPNs create a revenue stream by retaining data about their users to sell to third parties, usually advertisers. These cowboy VPN services must never be used for privacy!

For this reason we recommend using a trusted VPN like ExpressVPN.

Why not make use of their hassle-free 30-day money-back guarantee?

10.0/10.0

ExpressVPN Homepage
PROS:
  • Special Offer: 49% off today!
  • Servers in 94 countries
  • No Logs
  • P2P: Yes
  • Super fast for streaming
  • Free for a month
  • Software for all platform
CONS:
  • Not much

Although it isn't completely free, many people who are looking for a free service do decide to test ExpressVPN using the 30-day money back guarantee. A full premium VPN like ExpressVPN (one of the very best VPNs in the world, if not the best) is much much better than a regular free VPN. This is because it is not limited or restricted in any way. During the 30-day money back period you get full use of ExpressVPN's 94 servers. You also get the highest levels of OpenVPN encryption available on the market. Speeds are incredible, so you will be able to stream in HD or do gaming... your options are endless. Express is also zero logs so your privacy assured. At then end of the day this VPN is free for a month, and it will give you a taster of what a premium VPN service is like - it blows all the other free services out of the water. Finally, you need not worry at all - ExpressVPN ALWAYS honors its money back guarantee with no questions asked.

Get our favorite VPN today!

Visit ExpressVPN »Connect up to three devices!

10.0/10.0

Hotspot Shield Homepage
PROS:
  • Free VPN with 750 Mb per day
  • Free Chrome Extension with ad blocker & cookie blocker
  • Easy to use
  • Fast speeds
  • Plenty of features
CONS:
  • Privacy policy could be better

Hotspot Shield is an awesome free VPN that has literally helped millions of people in their time of need. It was the most used VPN during the Turkey coup and the Arab spring. For free, user's get access not only to the VPN but also a Chrome extension. The VPN permits connections to the US only, but the extension permits connections to 14 countries (but not the US). The result is that for free Hotspot Shield users can unblock content in 15 countries! What's more, Hotspot Shield's free plan lets people have 750 Mb of download use per day. That is a massive usage allowance considering it is free.

Although Hotspot Shield has come under some criticism for serving users adverts, we think that for free this VPN is pretty amazing. If you don't want to be served adverts then by all means opt for a VPN further down this list. However, if unblocking and bypassing censorship are your biggest priorities: this VPN is worth a try! With millions of happy users worldwide, it definitely gets the job done.

9.4/10.0

TunnelBear Homepage
PROS:
  • Cyber Monday Deal: 58% off annual plans
  • Simple setup, incredibly user friendly
  • Excellent encryption
  • Can connect up to 5 devices
  • 500MB of free data every month
CONS:
  • No peer-to-peer (P2P)
  • Few advanced settings
  • Usage capped

TunnelBear VPN is a free service that constantly impresses people. This VPN is super secure and even opened up its software to third-party analysis this year! The outcome? Security researchers found the VPN to be secure and reliable. It also keeps no logs. The service is restricted to just 500 Mb per month. Despite this, it is brilliant for people who need a VPN in locations with severe censorship and where privacy is essential. It is perfect for securely unblocking news, for example.

TunnelBear has plenty of server locations to choose from, located in 20 countries. Free users may use all of the servers that it offers apart from Australia. This makes it great for unblocking a whole range of websites and services. Having said that, because of the data limit it will be difficult to do much streaming with this VPN company. One of the best VPN providers around and one of the most secure services you will find for free! Finally, this VPN provides fantastic speeds.

9.0/10.0

hide.Me Homepage
PROS:
  • Cyber Monday Deal: 35% off all plans
  • Strong encryption
  • Servers in 3 countries
  • Zero logs
  • Superb privacy policy
  • Highly experienced customer care
CONS:
  • Doesn't unblock Netflix US

This awesome Malaysian VPN provider has an excellent free service. Although users are limited to just three server locations (Singapore, the Netherlands, and Canada), users get a whopping 2 Gb per month of free use with this VPN company. That's a very reasonable allowance, and because of the fast speeds that this VPN provides, we think this is an excellent choice for people who want a complimentary VPN service.

When reviewing Hide.Me, sadly, we found the lack of server locations means that it isn't as good for unblocking content from all over the world. If you need US or UK servers, or those in other locations, please look elsewhere. On the plus side, this VPN has a strong privacy policy and provides robust encryption to keep your data secure. It is also available on all popular platforms. As such, this VPN is ideal for protecting your privacy both at home and on public WiFi. With one of the best data caps we've seen, we definitely recommend this service!

8.2/10.0

ZoogVPN Homepage
PROS:
  • Excellent for streaming
  • Fast service
  • Free service
  • Useful servers
  • Strong encryption
CONS:
  • Logging practices unclear

ZoogVPN is an excellent service that is both secure and free. Free users get to use just 3 servers located in New York, London, Amsterdam. That is a nice spread of servers that will certainly come in handy for geo-spoofing reasons.

Free users get 2Gb of download usage per month, which is better than with many free VPNs. Sadly, however, the firm will impose bandwidth limits at times when servers are too highly subscribed.

A fast service that is great for streaming for free.

7.8/10.0

ProtonVPN Homepage
PROS:
  • Fast connections
  • Excellent encryption for privacy
  • Lots of features
  • No logs
CONS:
  • Fewer server locations

ProtonVPN is a service created by the developers of the secure email service Proton Mail. It is a brand new service that has really impressed us. Encryption is strong and it has a (almost) no logs policy. That makes it exceptional for privacy, especially for a free VPN. This VPN also has no limitations, so if you want a free VPN you can use all the time it is a great option.

As with all free things, there are some drawbacks. For free users get access only to servers in three countries. So if unblocking in particular countries is needed, this VPN might not be the ticket. P2P is also not allowed on the free plan, but overall this free service is blinding.

Free VPN FAQs

Are Free VPNs safe?

If you unblock content in a country where it is illegal, such as Vietnam – and the authorities find out – you could go to prison. That is why it is important not to go for an untrusted VPN that is bad for privacy in certain places. Using a world-class premium VPN will protect you completely, but free VPNs must be evaluated on a case by case basis.

Some free VPNs are only good for unblocking content at times when there are very few risks, and when privacy isn’t an overruling concern (Hotspot Shield, for example). Other free VPNs can be used for unblocking and for privacy: because they provide a limited and restricted free service as an advertisement (loss leader) for the full VPN.

On the whole, it is true that a very high percentage of free VPNs do not provide good privacy. In fact, the only free VPNs that do provide good privacy tend to be ones that are highly restrictive and are only there to entice users into buying a premium subscription.

Free Vs Paid VPN

Providing fast servers for VPN users to connect to all over the world is not easy, and it costs money. That is why there are dangers involved in getting a free VPN. Most VPNs that are free (even some famous free services such as Hotspot Shield) – have very serious limitations and risks attached to them.

A paid VPN can promise to protect its user completely because it has a genuine revenue stream. This permits it to update the VPN software to ensure it has the latest VPN encryption innovations and implementation. It also permits the VPN to have a privacy policy that keeps either no logs – or only minimal aggregated connection logs.

Conclusion

In this article, we’ve described everything you might need to know about using a free Virtual Private Network. These free services have a lot to offer. Our top VPN provides 500 Mb of downloads use per day – but is not good for privacy. The others provide privacy but are restrictive because of bandwidth limits and download limits.

Most free VPNs make a profit from their subscribers by harvesting their web browsing habits to sell to third parties. This is exactly the opposite of what a VPN should do. If you require a real VPN that provides privacy and unlimited use: your best option is to pay for a cheap VPN. If you want something a bit better then consider a VPN for a specific use of your choosing.

All of the VPNs in this article are free, and each offers varying levels of services: so please look at the summaries carefully.

To understand more about Hotspot Shield (and who may or may not want to use itplease read this article in its entirety. Each VPN in this guide provides slightly different features and restrictions on its free service. So please take a good look at the provider summaries in order to make the best decision for your needs.

Finally, remember that these services are free – so if you want to use all of them, go right ahead!