10 Best Free VPN in 2021 – Our Top Recommendations, Along With a Word of Caution!

Free VPNs come with a limited data allowance, they have relatively small networks, and you’re often limited to a small number of simultaneous connections. Therefore, make sure to go into this process by being aware of what to expect. Of course, there are other things to keep in mind, which is why we’re here to help. So, let’s talk about the best free VPN in 2021.

First of all, you should know that we’ve tested several premium VPN services. By having a paid account, we were able to check each VPN’s capabilities without any restrictions. However, this is also how we’ve discovered a group of VPNs that come with free-of-charge plans (and tested those as well). With this said, we’ll present the best options available right now.

What you also need to know is that the following free VPNs can be trusted with your private data. Some of them might log some information, but there are those that keep you 100% anonymous online – which has become a rare thing to find in today’s VPN world. To learn more about why you need to be careful when choosing a free VPN, make sure to carefully read the following warning.

Tip

In general, free VPNs aren’t safe to use. The majority of those applications log your private data with the goal of targeting you with advertisements. Several free VPNs are found to leak DNS data as well, which beats their primary purpose. Therefore, make sure to be very careful when using free-of-charge VPNs.

We’ve created a list of trustworthy VPNs that come with free plans, based on our hands-on testing and after checking their privacy policies. Still, keep in mind that only a premium-priced VPN can keep you 100% anonymous online, without any limitations.

These Are the Best Free-of-Charge VPN Services in 2021!

Here’s what you want to know. These are the 9 best free VPN services (that you can still trust with your data). 

1. ProtonVPN – Best Free VPN (Overall)

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ProtonVPN is a VPN service that has a free tier, introducing some limitations. You will get to connect to servers in only three countries, and you can only use one device (no simultaneous connections).

However, it’s also interesting to note that ProtonVPN doesn’t impose bandwidth limitations, which is extremely rare to find in the world of free VPN providers. Still, you can expect some throttling since the fastest servers are reserved for customers of premium plans.

So what about the other positive features that ProtonVPN offers? Well, this VPN offers a strict no-logging policy, powerful encryption, and unlimited bandwidth. On top of that, you can use the company’s support system that consists of online resources, FAQs, and you can open support tickets. Live chat is, unfortunately, missing.

In case you’d like to learn more, here’s our ProtonVPN review (keep in mind that we’ve tested the premium version).

Note

You can use the link provided above to sign up for ProtonVPN’s free account. This will also get you a 7-day free trial of the VPN’s premium plan. Once the trial ends, you’ll be downgraded to the free tier – which comes with several limitations, as noted above.

2. Windscribe – Best for (Limited) Media Streaming

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Windscribe isn’t just sold as a privacy solution, but also as an ad-blocker. This is interesting since even the free tier includes the ad-blocking features. Therefore, it’s clear that this is not an ad-supported free VPN (which is certainly refreshing to see).

The free tier is called the ‘Limited’ tier, and it shows up in the feature list (to learn about the premium options, here’s our Windscribe review). When it comes to the available data allowance, you get 10GB of monthly data if you sign up with a valid email address. If you want to go fully anonymous, you’ll only get 2GB of data.

You will also get to pick from a handful of locations – while paying customers can access servers in 60+ countries. Lastly, you get an unlimited number of devices per one account.

While it is a pity that the total bandwidth is limited to 10GB a month, it’s a greater pity that there’s no OpenVPN support. Don’t forget, though, Windscribe’s data limit is one of the most generous free VPN caps we’ve seen.

3. Speedify – Best for Mobile-First Users

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We have so many VPNs today, making it harder to differentiate them. However, Speedify has approached this problem in an interesting and unique way. This VPN service combines several types of Internet connections to speed up and enhance your Web browsing experience.

With this said, it’s clear that Speedify is oriented toward mobile users, even though it comes with desktop applications as well.

This VPN comes with a free plan called ‘Starter Plan.’ You get 2GB of monthly data, and you can use it on a single device. Interestingly enough, you also get the VPN’s highly secure encryption, access to all of its servers (35 countries), and more.

What makes Speedify interesting is the fact that you get advanced features included as well (such as channel bonding, packet loss corrections, and a ‘streaming mode’), which is this VPN’s way of advertising paid plans, hoping to persuade you into getting a subscription.

Finally, make sure to check our Speedify review to learn more about its free and premium plans.

4. Hide.me VPN – Best for First-Time VPN Users

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Hide.me makes the same claim we often hear from many free VPN providers. They claim that they’re the fastest in the world. You see, that selling point doesn’t really apply to the free tier.

If you choose to go the no-money route, then the bandwidth on offer is ‘best effort,’ which means you’re sharing free bandwidth with all the other free users (which isn’t the case with paying customers, as noted in our Hide.me VPN review).

Apart from this, you’re also giving up the following features. You get access to four countries (5 servers in total) while paying customers are getting more than 60 locations. Also, you’ll only have 10GB of data every single month. And finally, you can use Hide.me on one device per one free account.

On the plus side, this free VPN includes 24/7 customer support in every package. There’s also no-logging on any of their tiers. Hide.me also promises 99.9% uptime on all tiers, which is not often the case with free VPN offerings.

5. Avira Phantom – Best Cross-Platform Free VPN

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There sure are a lot of VPN providers who want to invoke ghostly imagery. So, Avira Phantom is in good company with its supernatural naming convention.

This is another free VPN that doesn’t depend on ad revenue in order to fund itself. There are just two tiers of Avira: Free and Pro (here’s our Avira Phantom Pro review). So let’s see what you’re not getting via the free tier of the service.

If you register for an account using your email, you will get 1 GB of data every single month (anonymous users get 500MB/month). Therefore, if you’re looking for a way to get started without registering for an account, Avira Phantom provides a convenient solution. Of course, doubling the available bandwidth by registering for an account is also an option.

And also, you don’t really get to pick a VPN server location. Instead, Avira Phantom will connect you to the nearest server. As a way to lure you into paying for a subscription, you will see a sizeable library of locations – but all of them will be labeled ‘PRO.’

6. TunnelBear – Best for Quick Web Browsing Sessions

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Unlike the majority of free VPN services, TunnelBear differentiates its free and paid products by way of data cap and not by cutting certain features out. So the only real sacrifice is the 500MB per month cap (you can get 1GB for tweeting about this VPN service).

In other words, TunnelBear not a good solution for 24/7 VPN coverage. The strict data limit doesn’t leave a lot of room for bandwidth-intensive applications like streaming or peer-to-peer file sharing. It would work pretty well for mobile browsing or when you specifically need the privacy this VPN offers.

On the plus side, while your data cap lasts, you get access to a whole bunch of premium VPN features that usually cost money. Clearly, the correct attitude to have when using the free TunnelBear tier is one that favors quality over quantity.

Finally, you will get to pick from numerous servers around the world, connect up to five devices, and enjoy the company’s no-logging policy. In case you’re willing to spend a bit of money on a monthly basis, here’s our TunnelBear review.

7. Betternet – Best for Ease of Use

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One of the unique aspects of Betternet is their business model. Instead of bombarding you with adverts directly, the company makes affiliate revenue by offering sponsored mobile apps. Every time you install a recommended app through the Betternet app, they get some money.

The other channel of revenue Betternet uses is sponsored video content. Before your connection to the VPN server is initiated, you’ll have to watch a video. For each video that you watch, Betternet gets a few cents. However, we have to note that this situation is better on desktop platforms than on mobile devices.

This is less intrusive than most other ad-supported free VPNs, and according to Betternet, this makes enough money to cover the basic costs of their VPN server setup. It’s not enough to cover all their costs, though, which is why they offer a premium version (here’s our Betternet Premium review).

Besides, you can’t choose a location using Betternet, as you’re always automatically connected to a server found in the USA. As such, Betternet is an excellent example of a free VPN that imposes numerous restrictions and hoops that you have to jump through – just to get a bit of protection online.

8. Hotspot Shield – Best When Speed Is Needed

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Hotspot Shield is being marketed as a free VPN first and is built around an ad-supported model. The paid tier of the service is referred to as Hotspot Shield Elite (click on the link to read our review) and comes with better features (many of which might actually seem essential to begin with).

The free version (also known as ‘Hotspot Shield Basic’) grants you access to the company’s servers in the USA. However, don’t get your hopes up about using Netflix or Hulu, as the free tier doesn’t support media streaming. On top of this, you get 500 MB every single day, which really doesn’t seem like much.

What you need to know about Hotspot Shield is that this VPN provider is ad-supported. That means that you’ll see advertisements as you browse the Internet, and clicking on those (or even serving them) is how the company earns money. This can be somewhat annoying, but that’s the price you need to pay in this case.

Finally, you should also know that Hotspot Shield Free offers some customer support as well. You can solve any problems you might be having via the company’s knowledge base or by opening a support ticket.

9. Kaspersky Secure Connection – Best Registration-Free VPN

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In March 2019, we received news about Russia banning VPN services. Not willing to comply with a new set of data-logging requests, many VPNs removed their servers from Russia. However, being founded and located in Russia, Kaspersky Secure Connection decided to implement certain changes. So, if you connect to Russian servers using this VPN, be prepared to have your data logged.

This is yet another premium-priced VPN that comes with a free tier. You can download it from its official website without having to supply your private information. This gets you 200MB per day, or 300MB if you register with a valid email. Also, you can’t select a country, as Kaspersky Secure Connection does that automatically for you.

As noted in our Kaspersky Secure Connection review, this VPN comes with numerous problems, mostly related to data logging. So, we can only recommend it to those who wish to unblock certain websites. Those interested in total privacy protection should be able to easily find a better option out there.

10. Opera VPN – Best Built-In (Free) VPN

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Lastly, we have a bit different VPN. Instead of being a standalone VPN service, this one is integrated into Opera. As you probably know, Opera is a popular Web browser, always trying to do things differently. Therefore, it’s not surprising to know that this browser comes with a free-of-charge VPN, helping you protect your privacy.

When it comes to Opera’s VPN, know that you won’t find any limitations. In other words, you get unlimited data allowance and unlimited speed. However, that doesn’t mean that Opera’s VPN can replace a premium VPN. During our time with this VPN, we’ve encountered unpredictable performance – which was sometimes fast but can often be very slow.

In terms of its server selection, you don’t get to pick a precise location. Instead, you can choose from the following options: Europe, the Americas, and Asia. With that said, this isn’t a VPN for unblocking media streaming websites. Instead, we recommend it for general Web browsing only.

Is It Really a Good Idea to Use a Free VPN? Can They Harm Your Privacy?

In this day and age, it’s imperative to think about the safety of your digital data. And with that said, there’s no better way to protect yourself than by using a VPN. However, this is where we have to highlight the risks of using free-of-charge VPN services.

In the past, we’ve seen many dangerous situations surrounding VPNs. For example, there’s Hola VPN – a still very popular free-of-charge VPN. Not too long ago, it was discovered that Hola is exploiting its users by using them as exit nodes for obscure platforms. Also, know that Hola VPN isn’t actually a VPN – as it doesn’t bring any encryption. Instead, this is nothing more than adware.

We’ve also seen numerous malware campaigns disguised as free-of-charge VPNs. If you want an example, we have Pirate Chick. What was advertised as a free VPN turned out to be a propagator for the dangerous AZORult malware, stealing sensitive user information.

Warning

Think Twice Before Using a Free VPN! – More often than not, free VPNs will try to target you via ads, collect your personal information, or take advantage of you in some other way. Therefore, make sure to do your research well, and never trust any marketing messages.

What Are the Dangers of Using Free VPNs? What Should You Realistically Expect?

In this article, we’re talking about software tools that have a direct impact on your privacy. With that said, here are the most common dangers and downsides to using free VPNs.

  • Free VPNs Can’t Keep You Safe Online: Expect to encounter a limited selection of VPN protocols, coupled with less secure levels of encryption. It takes a lot of money and knowledge to build a secure VPN app backed by secure infrastructure – which is why free VPNs are no match for paid VPNs.
  • Free VPNs Impose Crippling Data Caps: The only free VPN to come without a data cap is ProtonVPN. However, even in the case of this VPN, you’ll face limited performance. There’s no such thing as a free and unlimited VPN service. And if you find a free VPN promising just that, it’s a scam.
  • Free VPNs Make Your Web Speed Slower: Even the most reputable paid VPNs will slow your Internet connection down up to a certain point. That’s just the way VPNs work. However, this is very noticeable with free VPNs, which can be used only for quick Web browsing sessions.
  • Free VPNs Collect Your Private Data: These applications generate their revenue by either showing you ads or collecting your private data. It’s no secret that free VPNs come with trackers in their software. In the end, your data will end up in the hands of a “partner company.”
  • Free VPNs Can’t Unblock Streaming Platforms: If you’re looking for a VPN to stream Netflix, Hulu, Disney Plus, or some other platform – know that free VPNs won’t help you. They come with data caps and performance limitations, making media streaming an impossible task.

What’s the Difference Between Free and Paid VPNs? Is It Worth Paying for a VPN?

Even though they might appear the same on the outside, there are substantial differences between free-of-charge and paid VPNs. These differences run wide and deep, and they directly affect your online privacy and security.

Free VPN vs. Paid VPN – Comparison

Free VPNs Paid VPNs
VPN Protocols WEAK STRONG
Encryption WEAK/LIMITED STRONG
Data Cap YES NO (UNLIMITED)
Number of VPN Servers LIMITED THOUSANDS
Connection Speed LIMITED UNLIMITED
Technical Support LIMITED UNLIMITED & TIMELY
Security Guarantees NO YES
Data Logging Policy VARIES NO-LOGS POLICIES
Torrenting (P2P) Support NO YES
Media Streaming Support NO YES

As the table found above shows, free VPNs come with numerous limitations. To avoid expanding this topic further, we’ll say the following: free-of-charge VPNs can be used – but only for quick Web browsing sessions. If you’re serious about protecting yourself online, the only way to go is by using a paid VPN service.

If you’re considering a paid VPN, allow us to give you a recommendation. After having tested more than sixty VPNs, our team believes that ExpressVPN is the best VPN available right now. To learn more, here’s our hands-on ExpressVPN review. And also, here’s how to create a risk-free ExpressVPN trial account for 30 days.

Are There Any Free-of-Charge VPNs That You Should Definitely Avoid?

The majority of free VPNs aren’t safe to use – and we recommend avoiding them. However, there are certain free VPNs that come with a very problematic nature, affecting your online privacy and security.

With that said, we’ve wanted to draw your attention to several free VPNs, which we believe should be avoided at all costs. Take a look at the table found below.

Free VPNs You Should Avoid

Hola VPN A P2P network, basically. Endangers your privacy and safety.
MySafeVPN A well-known VPN scam. Not really a VPN service.
CrossVPN A malware-infected VPN that could damage your device.
EasyVPN Intercepts your Web traffic to serve ads in other apps.
Phisphon VPN Forwards your data to marketing-related partners.
Inter VPN A fake VPN serving password-stealing Trojans.
Pirate Chick VPN A fake VPN designed to serve AZORult malware.
Hoxx VPN Not a VPN service. This is a proxy instead.
Onavo Protect Facebook-owned spyware. Doesn’t protect your data.
Touch VPN Collects and shares your private data.
Archie VPN Proven to contain malware.
SuperVPN Contains malware. Collects your personal data.
EarthVPN This is a broken VPN service, no longer operational.

You should also know that many free-of-charge VPNs are nothing but scams. We’ve seen that happen many times before, with fake VPN websites spreading malware (while being marketed as free VPNs, of course). This is something you need to keep in mind even with premium VPNs. For example, there was a fake NordVPN website injecting banking Trojans.

Lastly, we’d like to provide a couple of useful resources, helping you avoid the pitfalls of free VPNs. First of all, beware of these VPN scams – often designed to extract your personal data. And also, you’ll want to know how to avoid fake VPNs.

FAQ

Are Free VPNs Safe to Use?

In general, free-of-charge VPNs aren’t safe to use. There were numerous examples in the past of free VPNs, either serving malware or coming with built-in trackers. Therefore, they can endanger your privacy and security and even damage your device.

Are Free VPNs Legal to Use?

VPN services are legal across the world, except in a few countries. So, if VPNs are legal in your country, this makes free-of-charge VPNs legal. In other words, you won’t get into trouble with the law for using this kind of software.

Are There Any Benefits to Free VPNs?

If you have correct expectations, free VPNs can help you protect your most sensitive Web activities. However, you need to know exactly what to expect and adjust your expectations accordingly.

Our editorial team recommends using free VPNs only during those times when absolutely needed. You power on a VPN, connect to a remote server, do your thing on the Web, and disconnect. That’s the ideal scenario of using free VPNs.

How Do Free VPNs Earn Money?

Some VPN providers will insert ads into the websites you visit. If you’re OK with having a permanent banner advert stuck on everything you do, then these VPNs can be a good way to open up the Web for you.

Most of the time, a free VPN represents the lowest tier on the pricing structure of the service. The providers will limit the free tier in comparison to their paid levels of service. The idea is obviously to have you try the VPN for nothing and then up-sell you on the better features. In other words, the free VPN is part of a sales technique to get customers through the door.

What’s the Best Free VPN for Torrenting?

There’s a small number of free VPNs that support P2P traffic. Those are Windscribe, Hotspot Shield VPN, and Hide.me VPN. However, all of them come with data caps and performance limitations.

To learn more, here’s our article on the best free VPNs for torrenting. That would be a great place to start your search and get to know your options.

What’s the Best Free VPN for Media Streaming?

Media streaming is an online activity that requires a lot of bandwidth. On top of that, VPNs use sophisticated techniques to unblock and access streaming websites. None of that is what free VPNs offer – so you have no other option than to use a paid VPN.

If you’d like to review your best options, you’ll want to check our guide to the best VPNs for streaming.

Is There a Free VPN With Unlimited Data?

At the moment, ProtonVPN is the only free-of-charge VPN with unlimited data. However, keep in mind that this VPN will limit the speed of your Web connection. In all fairness, there’s no such thing as a completely unlimited free VPN.

This is where we end our article on the best free VPN services in 2021. We sincerely hope that you’ll manage to find something interesting – and that you’ll be happy with your choice.

However, we’d like to remind you again that using a premium VPN is the only way to stay protected online. So, you’ll also want to check the best VPN services right now – hands-on tested by TechNadu’s team.

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