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.
Running a VPN is a costly endeavor due to high maintenance costs. Instead of charging their users, free VPN services rely on alternative revenue channels. That's why most free VPNs collect and sell your data to marketing agencies. Also, many inject ads as you browse the Web. One thing is clear - free VPNs don't protect your privacy. In fact, they can endanger it.
In other words, free VPNs go against the primary purpose of a VPN service - to hide your data and safeguard your privacy. That's why we recommend going for a VPN free trial instead, which is an excellent way to get premium features for a limited time without any risk. Of course, we hope you'll decide to become a paying customer in the long term.
In this article, we offer 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 the best VPN (a premium-priced one) can keep you 100% anonymous online without any limitations.
Top Best Free VPN Services - Our Shortlist
- ProtonVPN – Best Free VPN with No Data Caps
- Windscribe – Best Free VPN for Media Streaming
- Speedify – VPN Suitable for Mobile Users
- Hide.me VPN – Top Free VPN for Beginners
- Avira Phantom – VPN Service with Unlimited Connections
- TunnelBear – Free VPN App with Premium Features
- Betternet – Easy-to-Use Free VPN
- Hotspot Shield – Best VPN for US-Based Users
- Kaspersky Secure Connection – Free VPN with No Registration
- Opera VPN – Free VPN with Unlimited Data and Unlimited Speed
How to Get a Free VPN Trial
To get a free trial of a VPN, subscribe to any VPN provider that offers one. These are the steps you need to take alongside our VPN recommendation:
- Subscribe to a VPN-free trial (we recommend ExpressVPN’s risk-free trial).
- Download and install the VPN app on your device.
- Open the VPN app and log into your account.
- Connect to a VPN server that suits your needs best.
- Now, you can browse the Internet from another location risk-free.
The Best Free VPN Services in 2023
If you want the best free VPN, you need to look for one that offers a free plan in addition to its paid tiers. Make sure to find a free VPN with the largest number of servers compared to its competitors - some give you access to one server, while others offer more. Most free VPNs have low bandwidth, so try to find one with a more relaxed bandwidth cap. Lastly, make sure the free VPN allows parallel connections on more than one device at the same time.
Based on the criteria mentioned above, here are the 10 best free VPN providers:
In case you need a free VPN service suitable for a specific platform/device, digital service, or for use in a specific country, take a look at the following recommendations:
Proton VPN is the best free VPN service at the moment, featuring a free tier with some limitations. You will get to connect to servers in only 3 countries, and you can only use 1 device (no simultaneous connections).
However, it’s also interesting to note that Proton VPN 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, which consists of online resources, FAQs, and you can open support tickets. Live chat is, unfortunately, missing.
Windscribe isn’t just sold as a privacy solution but also as an ad-blocker. This is interesting since even the free tier includes 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 appears in the feature list. 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 account.
We'll also mention that this free VPN app offers occasional promos. You can use those to increase your monthly limit. So, be prepared to jump through some hoops.
We have so many VPNs today, making it hard to differentiate them. However, Speedify has approached this problem in an interesting and unique way. This free VPN 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 the '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.
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.
Apart from this, you get access to 4 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 free account.
On the plus side, this top 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, even with the best free VPN services.
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 ads to fund itself. There are just two tiers of Avira: Free and Pro, and both of them come with unlimited connections. So, let’s see what you’re not getting via the free tier of the service.
Registering for an account using your email will give you 1 GB of data every month (anonymous users get 500MB/month). Therefore, Avira Phantom provides a convenient solution if you're looking for a way to get started without registering for an account. Of course, doubling the available bandwidth by registering for an account is also an option.
Also, you don't really get to pick a VPN server location. Instead, this VPN 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.'
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 is 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 this VPN's privacy.
So, why is this one of the best free VPNs? Well, 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 5 devices, and enjoy the company’s no-logging policy.
One of the unique aspects of Betternet is its 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 this free VPN 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.
Besides, you can't choose a location using Betternet, as you're always connected to a server found in the USA. On top of that, you'll be limited to 500 MB per day.
Hotspot Shield is being marketed as a free VPN first and is built around an ad-supported model.
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.
In March 2019, we received news about Russia banning VPN services. Not willing to comply with a new set of data-logging requests, most 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.
In all honesty, 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.
Lastly, we have a bit different VPN. Instead of being a standalone 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, which is why it's among the best free VPNs. 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 streaming websites. We recommend it for general Web browsing only.
Is It Really a Good Idea to Use a Free VPN?
No, it's not a good idea to use a free VPN. That's because most top free VPNs aren't designed to safeguard your privacy. On top of that, they all come with all kinds of limitations.
In the past, we've seen many dangerous situations surrounding VPNs. For example, there was Hola VPN - a still very popular free VPN. Not too long ago, it was discovered that Hola was exploiting its users by using them as exit nodes for obscure platforms.
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.
Are Free VPNs Safe?
No, free VPNs are not safe. You might find one or two with a somewhat satisfactory level of encryption, but that’s it.
The biggest reason why free VPNs aren’t safe is that most of them sell their users’ data to third parties as compensation for offering the free VPN service.
Also, even the best free VPNs can also inject your device with ransomware. This compromises your device(s) and allows your data to be extracted. Free VPNs usually don’t have any form of encryption, leaving you vulnerable online.
There are a few other reasons why free VPNs are deemed unsafe and risky. Make sure to use the provided link to learn more.
What Are the Dangers of Using Free VPNs?
In this article, we're talking about software tools that directly impact your privacy. 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 to build a secure VPN app backed by secure infrastructure - which is why free VPNs are not a match for paid VPNs.
- Free VPNs Impose Crippling Data Caps: The only free VPN to come without a data cap is Proton VPN. 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. However, this is more noticeable in 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 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.
Is a VPN Free?
Yes, there are plenty of free VPNs on the market, but we don’t recommend them as they have weak security and privacy features with limited speeds and bandwidth caps.
With a free VPN, you’ll be able to access some features that premium VPN services offer. For example, you can change your virtual location by connecting to a server in a different country. However, most free VPN providers offer a limited range of countries and servers, leaving you with only a few options - sometimes just one.
Few quality VPNs offer a truly free option; they usually offer free trials or money-back guarantees that allow you to use the VPN and get a full refund if you don’t like it.
Most premium VPNs offer 30-day money-back guarantees, but you can also find some that extend up to 45 days. So, instead of using a free VPN that might compromise your identity online, we recommend taking advantage of a premium VPN’s free trial.
What's the Difference Between Free and Paid VPNs?
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 VPNs||Paid VPNs|
|Data Cap||YES||NO (UNLIMITED)|
|Number of VPN Servers||LIMITED||THOUSANDS|
|Technical Support||LIMITED||UNLIMITED & TIMELY|
|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, we'll say that free-of-charge VPNs can be used - but only for quick browsing sessions. If you're serious about protecting yourself online, using a paid VPN service is the only way to go.
If you're considering a paid VPN, allow us to give you a recommendation. After testing more than sixty VPNs, our team believes that ExpressVPN is the best VPN available. Here's how to get ExpressVPN's free trial, backed by this VPN's 30-day money-back policy.
Do Free VPNs Provide Unlimited Bandwidth?
No, free VPNs don’t provide unlimited bandwidth. On the contrary, they typically have low daily data caps that can dip to 300MB, which isn’t enough to do much of anything. Some free VPN providers offer higher daily bandwidth limits (up to 10GB), but they are few and far between.
Providing unlimited bandwidth is a tough feat for free VPNs because they don’t have the resources to support it. They’d need recurring income aside from what they make on their paid plans. In the long run, providing free unlimited bandwidth is unsustainable.
Are There Any Free 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.
|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 resources to help 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.
Even the top free VPN app is suitable only if you want to do something small, like browsing the Internet or watching a few low-quality videos. Other than that, free VPNs aren’t suitable for streaming or keeping you safe online.
Even the best free VPNs can’t offer the connection speeds or content unblocking necessary to watch all your favorite content, and they usually have low bandwidth caps. If you want to use a free VPN that has all the services you need, you should try a premium VPN free trial.
We recommend ExpressVPN’s 30-day risk-free trial, as it will allow you to experience premium VPN services risk-free for 30 days. With ExpressVPN’s blazing-fast server network spread all over the world, strong content-unblocking abilities, and impressive security and privacy features, you’ll be able to game, stream, and surf the Web without restrictions.
Are Free VPNs Legal?
Yes, free VPNs are legal. However, we don’t recommend them due to their limited capabilities. Instead, sign up for a premium VPN that offers a free trial period.
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.
How Do Free VPNs Earn Money?
Some VPN providers will insert ads into the websites you visit. Also, most VPNs collect and sell your data to marketing agencies, which means they don't respect your privacy.
What’s the Best Free VPN Service?
The best free VPN service is Proton VPN. It offers unlimited bandwidth, which no other free VPN brings. However, its speed and overall performance are limited.
What’s the Best Free VPN for Torrenting?
There's a small number of free VPNs that support torrenting. 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 VPN for torrenting.
What's the Best Free VPN for 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, check our guide to the best VPN for streaming.
Is a Free VPN Worth Getting?
No, a free VPN is not worth getting. Most of them come with low data caps and no security features. Some might sell your data to third parties as compensation for providing a free service. We recommend taking advantage of a free trial of a premium VPN.
That's all for our guide on the best free VPN services. If you have any questions for us, let us know via the comments section below. Thank you for reading!