If you want the benefits of a VPN, but don’t have the room in your budget for another subscription, you’ll probably be happy to discover the best free VPNs. There are a wealth of free options available from a wide range of providers, but it’s worth keeping in mind that they won’t be quite as robust as their paid counterparts.
Of course, before diving into the wonderful world of free VPNs, it’s important to learn how each works before trusting it with your data. Naturally, even if a VPN is free, it still costs its provider money to run, so it’s important to identify any potential hidden costs or caveats associated with seemingly free services. This includes agreeing to your gaming PC becoming an exit node for other users, intrusive browser ads, and the risk of your data being logged and sold to third parties.
That said, there are still free VPNs out there that can provide a great service without paying a monthly fee. While you’ll still need to pay to experience the best VPN subscription and all its intrinsic benefits, you should still be able to find a good balance between usability and security when using a free version of a VPN.
Here are the best free VPNs:
Free VPNs might often come with catches and caveats, but ProtonVPN provides one of the most comprehensive ad-free services on the market. Better still, the free version also features no data logging or bandwidth restrictions, making ProtonVPN a great choice for anyone looking for a privacy-focused, catch-free experience. In terms of limitations, ProtonVPN’s free option gives you just three server locations; France, Japan, and the USA, meaning your global mileage may vary.
Sadly, the free version of ProtonVPN can’t access regional Netflix libraries – its only real limitation when compared to the others on this list so if you’re looking for a cheap way to access overseas streaming services, you might want to look at Windscribe below.
ProtonVPN’s free version also only supports one device at a time – one of the main constraints that keeps your wallet out of the conversation. Of course, signing up for a ProtonVPN Plus grants you access to a plethora of enhanced features, like support for up to ten devices, up to 10Gbps server speeds across 61 countries, and secure core servers that defend you against network-based attacks.
|Locations||23 servers in 3 countries|
PrivadoVPN may be relatively new to the VPN scene, but in that time it’s done a fantastic job of establishing itself and if you’re specifically after a free VPN for windows, then you can’t go wrong here, as it is well optimised for the platform. The free version of PrivadoVPN shares all the same privacy assurances as its main plan, including a no-logs policy, which means it’s not keeping tabs on what you do – although without an independent audit, this is something we can’t necessarily verify.
All the free plan does is limit the amount of devices you can use to one, add a 10GB monthly data cap, and restricts access to 12 servers across eight countries. Since these servers are a part of the main network, however, you still get great speeds and can use P2P traffic.
Like with most free options, PrivadoVPN’s free plan aims to be a gateway into a fully-fledged subscription, and it even offers you a 38% discount on Premium with a 30-day money-back guarantee if you change your mind. This removes the data cap, gives you far more servers, and the ability to unblock streaming services.
|Locations||12 servers in 8 countries|
If you’re after a free VPN for Mac, we’d recommend AtlasVPN, which has specially-made, well-optimised apps for macOS. While some users may be concerned that this is a US-based VPN, the service offers a no-logs policy, meaning there’s nothing stored for the CIA and FBI to get their hands on. AtlasVPN also uses IKEv2 encryption, so you won’t need to worry about prying internet eyes gazing at your activity.
Naturally, AtlasVPN comes with compromises, which mostly affect the utility’s speed. The free side of this VPN is up to five times slower than its paid counterpart, so if you’re looking for something snappy, you might want to look elsewhere.
Just like many other entries on this list, you’ll also need to pay for AtlasVPN to circumvent Netflix’s region lock measures. However, if you’re looking to dive into some peer-to-peer networking, this free VPN’s up to the task. That said, you might be affected by those previously mentioned slow transfer rates, so best keep that in mind.
|Locations||3 servers in 2 countries|
|Data limit||up to 10GB per month|
TunnleBear isn’t beefy when it comes to functionality, but if you’re looking for something that you and other members of your household can use simultaneously, this could be the one to go for. This particular option might sound cutesy, but it’s actually part of the McAfee family, so you can rest assured that this virtual network is part of a well-established infrastructure. In terms of exchanging personal information, all you need is your email address, so you won’t have to worry about divulging much data to get started.
Feature-wise, TunnelBear’s free version gives other VPNs a run for their money, with no logging, support for up to five devices, and a choice of over 20 server locations. Security and speed are at the core of TunnelBear’s virtual infrastructure, and its free version is no exception. AES 256-bit encryption isn’t an option here; it’s a standard, and features like GhostBear help hide your VPN activity from the likes of your ISP.
The catch? Well, the service comes with a stingy 500MB per month limit, which makes this option only suitable for light use. If Tunnlebear’s data cap isn’t enough to inspire you to subscribe, you can also grab an extra 1GB in exchange for a Twitter shout out, which should help you stay online for a touch longer.
|Locations||20 servers in 47 countries|
|Data limit||up to 1GB per month|
Finding a free VPN that can bypass regional blocks on Netflix can be tough, but the free version of Windscribe can scale the streaming service’s walls. Although it’s worth noting that this isn’t a guarantee, as Netflix is forever changing its internal workings. But hey, at least you won’t have to buy before you try in this instance, as Windscribe gives you 2GB of free access without handing over as much as an email address. You can also trade your mailbox deets for an extra 8GB if you’re not too fussed about confirming your address.
One of the best things about Windscribe is the number of servers available to free customers, as you’ll be able to select from ten different locations, including the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, and Germany. The free service also comes with an ad-blocker, a firewall, and no logging, making a compelling, light usage option.
That said, if you find that 10GB doesn’t stretch far enough, signing up for the paid version obliterates this data cap entirely. You can even build your own plan, which essentially lets you pay for the features you want.
|Locations||10 servers in 10 countries|
|Data limit||up to 10GB per month|
Hide.me is another great example of a free, feature-packed VPN that could keep the need to subscribe at bay. For starters, the utility comes with a generous 10GB monthly data allowance and does so without resorting to ads. Hide.me also says it has independent certification to prove its system can’t store user data, so you don’t need to worry about it sneakily selling your info to recuperate costs.
Just like other costless VPNs, Hide.me also has its limits, as you’ll only be able to use it on one gadget at a time, and its server location list only features five countries. Unfortunately, you’ll also need to fork out for the paid version if you want to access international streaming services. Still, the elevated cap should help you surf the web undetected for longer, especially if you’re loading video content through Twitch, Facebook, or YouTube.
|Locations||5 servers in 5 countries|
|Data limit||up to 10GB per month|
We hope that this proves to be a useful point of reference for anybody looking for a free VPN. We’ve carefully studied the features, benefits, and performance of each of these VPN providers in the hopes of narrowing down the best options as accurately as possible. We believe ProtonVPN to genuinely be the best free VPN, though each of the others has their benefits, as described.
Turn your attention to our guide on the best VPNs, should you want to venture into the world of paid VPN services.