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It’s not always easy to find a reliable VPN without paying, but these services do exist, as long as you know where to look. ProPrivacy.com’s experts have put together this guide on the best free VPNs - and the worst

What are the best free VPNs?

If you want a quick answer, here's a preview of who made our best free VPN list:

    Hide.me - offers 5 free servers and 2GB data cap per month Windscribe - offers 10 free servers and 10GB data cap per month ProtonVPN - offers 3 free servers and and no data cap TunnelBear - offers 19 free servers and 500MB data cap per month Hotspot Shield - offers 1 free US server and 500MB data cap per day

The Best Free VPNs: Detailed Comparison

Why are these the best free VPNs?

There is a lot of negative press when it comes to free VPNs. Most comparison sites will urge you to stay well clear of them. We'll be the first to put our hands up and say this was our standard advice for a long time too. That's because there were (and still are) a lot of awful VPNs out there that take advantage of their users' data for their own gains. About 95% of the free VPNs available on the market are either useless or even dangerous.

But the truth is the market is changing and there are now a few providers that do offer genuinely excellent free products. They do come with certain caveats compared to their cousins, but as long as you are aware of the differences between the two offerings, a free VPN can be a hugely powerful and useful tool - both on mobile and desktop. The VPNs in the list above were selected by ProPrivacy.com’s experts, who carefully reviewed every free VPN on the market. All of our VPN recommendations are transparent about how they handle user data. They also provide up-to-date encryption implementation that can be trusted to protect your privacy and hide your internet activity at all times.

During our research, we considered the following attributes:

  1. Encryption availability and implementation
  2. Privacy policy and data handling
  3. Server locations and availability
  4. VPN speeds and performance levels
  5. Reputation and history
  6. Relationships with third parties such as advertising and marketing firms

All the free VPNs that we selected for you offer a VPN plan that is completely free . None of them require you to hand over your credit card details to download and use their service.

Free VPNs Explained | TunnelBear, Hotspot Shield & More | ProPrivacy

How to get a paid VPN for free

If you want to experience a full-featured VPN for a short period of time with no limitations, ExpressVPN’s service is ideal, as the company offers a money-back guarantee. Free VPNs can sometimes be restrictive (download limits and/or speed limits), but with ExpressVPN you can enjoy a full service for 30 days.

You will need to pay a subscription fee to use ExpressVPN‘s service, but doing so will give you full, unrestricted access to the company’s servers, and ExpressVPN always honors its money-back guarantee (without fail). With ExpressVPN you will enjoy:

  • The ability to stream in HD and unblock Netflix
  • A choice of servers in 94 countries
  • Unlimited downloading via BitTorrent
  • The fastest VPN speeds and free unlimited VPN use

See our free VPN trial page for a list of premium services that you can try for free.

How a free VPN works

The free VPN app connects your device (such as a PC, Mac or smartphone) to a server run by the VPN provider. All data that travels between your device and the VPN server is encrypted to ensure that no-one else can see it. The VPN server acts as a gateway to the internet, and all your internet data is routed through it.

how a VPN works

Free VPN servers

Some VPN providers advertise connections to free VPN servers. With some VPN providers, this is to differentiate between the number of servers available on the premium (paid) plans and the free plan. Some VPN providers that offer a free plan restrict access to free users to only a smaller selection of free servers. For all intents and purposes, however, a VPN with free servers is exactly the same as a "free VPN".

The benefits of free VPNs

A free VPN is a useful tool for people who need access to online information or websites that are blocked. When governments block websites - including social media platforms, or Voice Over IP (VoIP) messengers such as Skype - a VPN will help you to:

  • Access blocked news websites
  • Enhanced security when using public Wi-Fi
  • Most free VPNs offer multi-platform support including VPN apps for Android and iOS VPNs
  • Access websites from foreign countries (bypass geo-restrictions)
  • Access apps that are blocked on your local app stores (such as the Google Play store)
  • Watch YouTube videos, or other streaming videos that are blocked in your region. It is important to note that you will need a fast VPN in order to unblock Youtube videos, or stream content, therefore a free service may not be suitable at peak times.

When you travel overseas for business or pleasure, a VPN will let you access websites from back home and allow you to:

  • Use online banking services that are restricted to your home country
  • Log into online services that are only available in your home country
  • Watch regionally restricted online TV channels while you are on vacation

A VPN provides online security at home and on public WiFi. No matter whether you are on vacation or using the internet in a local coffee shop, a VPN:

  • Protect your login and passwords
  • Stop cybercriminals stealing your credit card details
  • Connect to any WiFi, at any time, without worrying about ‘evil twin’ hotspots
  • Protect against KRACK vulnerability
  • Finally, a reliable free VPN will stop your ISP and the government, from keeping tabs on what you do online. It can also hide your IP address from online marketing firms and websites that attempt to track you.

Some of the worst free VPNs

If you use one of ProPrivacy.com’s recommended free virtual private networks, you do not need to worry about privacy and online security. All of our recommendations offer the same level of data protection, encryption, features (such as a killswitch or DNS leak protection), and watertight privacy policies - on both paid and free plans.

This is not always true of every free VPN provider. We've scoured the policy terms of all the providers and listed some free VPNs you should avoid at all cost.

Provider Why avoid? Extra info
Hola Can sell data to third parties* Shares emails with marketing partners. Sells traffic data to sister firm. Shared anonymized data to third parties. Fraudulently steals & resells user bandwidth through sister company Luminati . DNS and WebRTC leaks detected.
Betternet Can sell data to third parties.* Allows advertisers to cookie users' browsers. Displays targeted advertising. Parent firm can access all data. Lets advertisers track and log user data. IP Leak in Chrome browser extension. Contains 14 tracking libraries in total (according to CSIRO report ).
Hotspot Shield Free Can sell data to third parties.* Redirects users to affiliate sites when browsing. Displays targeted advertising in-app and on websites. Uses 5 different third-party tracking libraries. Shares data with third-party affiliates and partners. Shares all data with parent company.
Psiphon Can sell data to third parties.* Allows ad partners to track users. Displays targeted advertising. Shares data with their advertising partners. Shares data with third-party affiliates and partners. Shares all data with parent company.
HoxxVPN Can sell data to third parties.* Isn't a VPN (it's a ShadowScos proxy service). DNS and WebRTC leaks. Tracks user activities and works with authorities. Keeps logs and sells them to third-party partners. Shares data with third-party affiliates and partners.
SuperVPN Willing to disclose information to authorities. Reports of it being infected with malware. Tracks user activities and works with authorities. Extensive access to user's sensitive information. Stores session logs in the UK and US.
ArchieVPN Reports of being heavily infested with malware. Performs real-time analysis (claims this is for troubleshooting only).
Onavo Project Can sell data to third parties.* Uses user info for advertising and marketing. Displays ads to users. Belongs to Facebook. Shares and sells user data with third parties.
HatVPN Has no available privacy policy. Reports of being heavily infested with malware. Invasive app permissions Could be doing anything they want with user data. Developed and based in China.
VPN by Apalon Invasive app permissions. Shares data with third parties for marketing purposes. Displays ads.In-app purchases.
Private Pipe VPN Shares data with affiliate partners. Displays targeted ads on websites. Confusing privacy policy (claims no logs, but contradicts this claim).
Tuxler VPN Can sell data to third parties*. Uses logs to target ads at users. Shares user browsing data with advertising firms.
GO VPN Can sell data to third parties*. Admits to using customer data to build out their database. Displays targeted ads through the platform. Belongs to Chinese firm Talking Data. Willing to sell usage logs to third parties and partners. Extremely invasive app permissions.
Hexatech Can sell data to third parties*. Allows advertisers to track and log user data. Advertisers can access user data whenever they want. Created by Betternet (belongs to a marketing firm). Displays ads to users.
TouchVPN Can sell data to third parties*. Adds Cookies, Pixel Tags and Web Beacons to user browsers. Shares anonymous data with third parties.
Faceless.me Doesn't work. The privacy policy is too ambiguous to be taken seriously. Has no support if you have concerns or questions.
FinchVPN Can sell data to third parties*. Reports of being heavily infested with malware. N/A
Cross VPN Reports of being heavily infested with malware. N/A
VPN OneClick Free Reports of being heavily infested with malware. Outdated PPTP encryption on Android. Based in the UAE.
Flash Free VPN Invasive app permissions. Uses 11 third-party tracking libraries.
Fast Secure Payment VPN Reports of being heavily infested with malware. N/A
sFly Network Booster Reports of being heavily infested with malware. N/A
IP-Shield VPN Contains third-party tracking software. N/A
WiFi Protector VPN Uses 5 tracking libraries. N/A
TigerVPNs Fraudulently steals and resells users bandwidth. N/A
Private WiFi Appears to have poor or no encryption. N/A

* according to the privacy policy

Free VPN restrictions and limitations

If you pick one of our recommended free services, the VPN will be likely to be a more limited service than one of our premium (paid) VPN subscriptions. This is because many (not all) trusted free VPN plans are often there to tempt consumers into purchasing a subscription. Free VPN plans may do some (or all) of the following:

  • Cap the amount of data you are allowed to download via the VPN
  • Limit the bandwidth (connection speed) making your internet too slow to stream, etc
  • Only provide access to a few server locations (that many people use and become congested - causing more connection speed problems)
  • Limits what you are allowed to do with the VPN (blocks Netflix or disallows torrenting)
  • May not provide full customer support because you are a free user

Using a free VPN for streaming

People who want to unblock streaming services using a VPN require a service that provides high speeds. Streaming with a VPN also requires a VPN with a large network of servers that don’t suffer from congestion. Free VPNs do not always support highly in-demand streaming sites such as BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime Video.

If streaming is your main desire, a free service might not always suffice. However, because these recommended VPNs cost nothing - it will do no harm to try them.

Using a free VPN for torrenting

A free VPN is not likely to be good for downloading via BitTorrent. This is because there's no such thing as a truly unlimited free VPN. Free VPN download limits and speed restrictions can make downloading via Peer-to-Peer time-consuming and difficult. If you want a VPN to torrent with ease, you will need a VPN with unlimited data and no speed restrictions. Why not check out our Torrenting VPN to see our recommendations.

Using a free VPN service to bypass censorship

Free VPNs have shown their worth time and time again when governments around the world block websites. During times of political upheaval, as well as during protests and riots, governments often block websites. In some countries, websites may be blocked on religious or moral grounds. A VPN can help people bypass these restrictions. Free VPNs have helped many people in acute times of need.

However, please remember that accessing government-restricted content could land you in trouble with the authorities . In the very worst cases, you could go to jail, or worse. For this reason, it is wise to consider your local environment.

If you are in a ‘high risk’ location such as China, UAE (Dubai), Saudi Arabia, Iran, or Pakistan - and plan to visit high-risk websites, great care should be taken to ensure you only use a secure VPN with strong encryption. The free VPNs in this guide should provide what you need to bypass censorship securely (please check each summary carefully), but if you have concerns feel free to contact us via the link at the end of this article.

If you are wondering whether a free VPN will unblock sites, such as Popcorn Time, The Pirate Bay, putlocker - or other websites blocked by ISPs - the answer is yes!

FAQs