Many web users prefer to use a free VPN rather than a paid service. Although keeping data private and bypassing geo-blocking is now a necessity for most, financial restrictions mean that not everyone can afford top-quality services. But, if someone selects a free VPN option, they need to note that there are limitations. Even the very best free VPN services no longer work for accessing the US Netflix library abroad, or Sky Sports and BBC iPlayer to name a few. We aren’t saying that free VPNs are necessarily bad because more often than not, they get the job done. The issue is, no service is truly free. Users should be aware that they will be paying with something other than money – your privacy and security. Many free VPN providers have been proven to log and sell user information.
In light of the above, we recommend signing up to a free VPN trial to enjoy all the benefits of paid subscriptions for no cost.
Free VPN vs Paid VPN
A free VPN Service offers much of the same features as their paid counterparts, but for no financial cost. They are ideal if you’re on a budget or are downloading something for one-off use. However, while free VPN options still provide increased privacy, anonymity, and access, the difference from paid subscriptions is more than just the price tag.
The primary drawbacks of a free VPN server are usage restrictions and low-quality connections. Whether you are protecting your online information or accessing blocked content, an unstable network that frequently drops out defies the point of using a VPN altogether. Another drawback of using free VPN software is the lack of tech support that one can expect to receive. Most only offer an email contact, and it’s likely you’ll have to wait for a response – which can be vexing as the products are prone to malfunctions.
For users looking to access Netflix content from overseas libraries, the streaming service has succeeded in blocking all free VPN providers from bypassing their restrictions. Netflix geo-blocks each program, so certain regions have access to significantly less content than others. As the company continues to fight VPN use, the best options to unblock Netflix changes regularly. In 2017, free VPNs were completely blocked. However, we have an interesting alternative to propose below.
It is because of these reasons that payment-free choices rarely feature in lists of best VPN services. However, many highly-rated paid subscriptions offer VPN free trial periods with complete refunds guaranteed. Using this loophole, you can benefit from the platinum quality of leading providers. We recommend using these (somewhat) free VPN proxy alternatives for accessing Netflix’s full catalog, along with other channels such as Sky, Channel 4, BBC iPlayer and NOW TV.
- Encryption Levels
- Connection Stability
- Customer Support
- Number of Servers
- Minimum logs kept
- Not all unblocked
- Low quality
- Email only
- Usage capped
- Slow speeds
- Zero-log policy
- All unblocked*
- High quality
- Email, phone, and live chat
- All available
- Fast speeds
*Please see specific brands for Netflix
Best Free VPNs Reviews – Totally Free VPNs, Free Trials and Money-Back Alternatives
Be it that you choose a paid VPN provider or a free VPN client, at the end of the day, it comes down to your needs: how private and secure you want your connection to be, as well as what you are using the VPN for. A free VPN proxy, for example, is useless if you need to access certain channels. But fear not, there is a whole array of free VPN download software available and is absolutely free of charge. You can even levy a VPN free trial for a service that is usually paid, or take advantage of a paid VPN’s money-back guarantee.
If you are wondering how to get a VPN free, here are just a few examples of free VPN providers that are either free or offer a money-back guarantee…
Best Free VPN Services 2018
#1 ExpressVPN 30 Day Trial Money Back Guaranteed
Although not an entirely free VPN provider, ExpressVPN has long been rated as one of the top 10 VPN services, continuously providing first-rate connection speeds and unlimited bandwidth. Users can freely try the industry leader of VPN providers for one month by taking advantage of its money-back guarantee service.
5 Best Features:
- Available on all devices and operating systems – including apps
- Fast and efficient 24-hour customer support
- Guaranteed high-speeds
- Secure connection ensures no one can access your data – 256-bit AES encryption
- No activity or connection logs
#2 ProtonVPN (Totally Free VPN Service)
For those wondering how to get a VPN free, Proton VPN could be your answer. For a free VPN provider, ProtonVPN has pretty good connection speeds and many innovative security layers, however, they are slightly lacking in the customer service department. The Swiss-based team is very transparent in all that they do and have decided to offer access to their VPN service to anyone absolutely free of charge. On top of that, it has one of the best free VPN apps on the market. One factor to be wary of is that it only caters to Windows consumers, so if you use anything else, you are out of luck. It is possible to install third-party software to make it available on Mac, Linux, or your mobile, but this can be a lengthy and tiresome process. There is also an option to use a paid version of Proton VPN, where users can experience faster speeds and more features plus access to more server locations. Overall, this is a top-notch free VPN client.
5 Best Features:
- No logging
- AES 256-bit encryption technology
- Secure core architecture – blocks surveillance by governmental agencies and hackers
- Unlimited amount of usage free of change
- Located in Switzerland where there are the world’s strongest privacy laws (as in, ProtonVPN won’t be coerced to share user data)
#3 HideMe (Totally Free VPN Service)
HideMe is another anonymous free VPN offering a free web proxy to surf the web privately and access blocked sites. When choosing a VPN provider, security is a top factor. With HideMe, an auditor has confirmed that even the free version keeps no activity or connection logs at all. By subscribing to the paid plan, users can take advantage of up to five simultaneous connections. Users should also keep in mind that the free version offers limited protocol options and does not allow for OpenVPN or SoftEther.
5 Best Features:
- Very simple and fast setup
- Apps for Windows, Mac OS X, iOS, and Android devices
- Kill switch
- 256-bit key AES encryption
HideMe’s paid version offers a 14-day money-back guarantee as well as a 1-day totally free trial, for users who wish to try out the paid plan and note the differences.
#4 TunnelBear (Totally Free VPN Service)
With any free VPN download, unlimited data is a definite plus. While Tunnelbear is a great anonymous free VPN it only offers 500 MB of free data every month. The only way to access unlimited data would be to sign up for the paid version. Overall TunnelBear is a highly secure VPN, though users should note there have been some issues with speed being slightly on the slow side.
5 Best Features:
- High-quality security (OpenVPN, 256-bit AES, and IPSec)
- User-friendly interface
- Up to five devices can be used simultaneously (including the free version!)
- Available on Windows, Mac OS, Android, and iOS
- Very easy to use for non-techy users
TunnelBear offers a seven-day free trial so that users can experience the paid service free of charge.
#5 HotSpot Shield Free VPN Service
With over 500 million users, HotSpot Shield is the largest VPN provider in the world. With citizens in highly censored countries such as China and Egypt using its services, HotSpot Shield has found ways to keep users secure via its free software. The reliable service also offers unlimited bandwidth. However, it proves less reliable when it comes to its customer support, along with its transparency of available servers and encryption strength. There have also been suspicions that the server uses user information to serve advertisements despite claiming ‘no data logging’. With no formal investigation, it is difficult to separate rumors from the truth.
5 Best Features:
- No data logging
- Supports anonymous torrenting
- Available on Android, Windows, Mac, iOS and Google Chrome
- Very fast speeds
- Great user experience – beautifully designed
HotSpot Shield offers a seven-day free trial to get the entire unrestricted experience (of the paid version).
#6 SurfEasy (Totally Free VPN Service)
SurfEasy is a free fast VPN that is reliable. It has some of the lowest prices on the market for its paid version that you can find. An honest and transparent company, it provides a totally free version with a 500 MB data cap. For those who want a hassle-free and easy-to-use platform, this is a great choice. While SurfEasy it’s a free VPN UK-ready, one thing to note is that the performance can be lacking with some of the servers (such as those in the UK-US), where they have less than impressive speeds of 9Mbps.
5 Best Features:
- Users can get 500 MB extra free data for every friend they refer
- Compatible with Mac, iOS, Windows, and Android
- Great security – OpenVPN protocol
- ‘Wi-Fi Security’ feature will automatically protect users when using WiFi
- Easy to install
SurfEasy has a seven-day money-back guarantee on its paid plan for those who want to test it out and compare against the free version.
Using a Free VPN Service – Main Considerations
After weighing up the pros and cons of a free version versus a paid VPN, users should choose a plan that is suitable to their needs. Users should note that the majority of free VPN plans have limitations when it comes to data caps. As well as this, there can be further limitations of speeds and access to all of the servers. Many free VPNs cannot gain access to certain geo-restricted channels.
In order to make your decision easier, here at Secure Thoughts, we have nicely summarized for you all of the main areas where users utilize VPN services, to see if it will or won’t work with a totally free VPN service.
Free VPN for Windows 10
For those of you wondering whether the VPNs mentioned in this article are available for Windows 10 users, you are in luck. All of the VPNs mentioned in this article are in fact available. So if you want a VPN for Windows 10 you could try ExpressVPN or ProtonVPN. With any of these VPNs installed on your PC or laptop device, you can browse safely and effectively even on Wi-Fi networks. If you’re having trouble connecting, make sure that you have a VPN profile on your PC or device, you should be able to create a VPN profile on your own, by visiting the Microsoft Store for an app for that service. Once installed there should be no issues.
Free VPN for PC Users (Windows and Mac)
No one wants to download a VPN, only to realize that it’s not compatible with their device or software. Fortunately, users with a PC, it is very difficult to come across a VPN that is not compatible with a PC. You can get a VPN for PC through the services of CyberGhost and HotSpot Shield, along with nearly every other VPN provider. In fact, we couldn’t find a VPN service that isn’t compatible with PC on the market.
VPN providers deliver high quality and use cutting-edge technology to keep your connections private and secure. Mac users can often get complacent when it comes to security, but with Apple computers being increasingly targeted by cybercriminals, users should never let their guard down. Fortunately, the majority of VPNs are compatible with Mac, notably the ones that are mentioned on this page. A great free VPN for Mac is ExpressVPN as well as SurfEasy.
Free VPN for Laptops
When using a laptop, sometimes a VPN connection can be rejected, either due to Wi-Fi issues or the inability to establish a tunnel. When choosing a VPN, make sure that you choose a free VPN for laptop use. A great example of this would be ProtonVPN.
Best Free VPN for Android
Not every VPN is available for Android devices and some are known to perform better than others. If you are looking for a VPN for Android then look no further than HideMe VPN and SurfEasy. Both of these VPNs are among the best free VPNs that will secure and encrypt your connection across all Android devices. HideMe has a special feature on its Android app that will stop and reconnect users should the internet connection be interrupted – providing an extra layer of security.
Free VPN for iPhone
Looking for a VPN that will work wonders on your iPhone? A great VPN for iPhone or even your iPad is TunnelBear. TunnelBear’s simple design makes it easy to connect and disconnect from the VPN. According to its site, it’s “so simple, a bear could use it.” We aren’t so sure about that, but we certainly found it easy to navigate. With strong AES 256-bit military grade encryption, the VPN will be sure to keep all data and activity safe and secure. A majority of the VPN’s mentioned here are compatible with iPhone, apart from ProtonVPN. Here, a separate configuration file needs to be downloaded for it to function properly (a bit of a headache). This is honestly a waste of time if there are already VPN’s out there without the need for downloading separate files.
Free VPN for Netflix and other Streaming
It’s a real cat-and-mouse game when it comes to the streaming giant Netflix and VPNs. VPNs have been working really hard since Netflix started cracking down on them in early 2017. Nowadays, it’s extremely difficult to find a Netflix VPN server that has managed to crack the code. Luckily there are still a few able to break through Netflix’s firewall along with BBC iPlayer’s and various other sports channels. If you look hard enough, you can find a VPN for sports streaming and gain access to watch premier league live stream outside UK waters. But we’ve done the hard work for you; VPNs that have knocked down these barriers include, HotSpot Shield and CyberGhost. Unfortunately, the majority of other VPNs haven’t quite cracked the code.
Free VPN for Torrenting and P2P File sharing on BitTorrent
Torrenting is an easy way to use peer-to-peer (P2P) sharing to download just about anything. From music to series, to your favorite movies, search engines such as The Pirate Bay and BitTorrent can be used for all needs. However, due to copyright laws, much of torrenting is considered illegal and abusers can expect hefty lawsuits and charges if caught. Hence the need for a very secure VPN for torrenting. ExpressVPN is one of the best VPNs for torrenting and allows torrenting, unlike other VPNs. ExpressVPN has a zero logging policy and boasts relatively high speeds; perfect conditions for torrenting. It is very rare to find a totally free VPN that supports torrenting, out of the ones listed here, only HotSpot Shield supports it, but be aware: it does log customer IPs.
Free VPN to Travel
VPNs are the perfect tool to use when traveling, where unfamiliar networks, particularly Wi-Fi, are teaming with potential hackers. Using a VPN abroad will also allow users to access all of their favorite shows while abroad. It is important, however, to make sure that your VPN of choice is available in your destination countries. If you want to get the best free VPN for Germany, or a VPN for the USA, most free VPN’s will allow you to use them there.
If however, you want to find a free VPN for China or a VPN for Dubai, it is important to know that most VPN’s are blocked due to strict legal reasons. HotSpot Shield VPN is a free service provider that can knock down China’s great firewall. A high-level obfuscation method makes it very difficult to block the VPN provider, making it simple to watch UK TV abroad or watch US television while traveling in mainland China.
So What’s the Price to Pay with a Free VPN Service?
Although more often than not, a free VPN service can get the job done, the question is, at what quality and cost? They can be of good use depending on the needs of the user, and each one as seen has different available features. However, there are a few limitations when using a free VPN, namely the caps on the amount of data that can be used. There are also limitations when it comes to the number of servers available, the number of devices that can be connected at once as well as speed caps. It is also very difficult to find a free VPN that can unlock the US Netflix library. A paid version, on the other hand, will bypass most of these limitations, depending on your chosen VPN of course. On top of that, it is very rare to find a free VPN service that allows for torrenting, whereas a paid VPN, will usually allow for it.
For these reasons, we would highly advise taking advantage of ExpressVPN’s money-back guarantee, so you can get the best of both worlds. This way you can have all of the advantages of a paid VPN and get a whole month free of charge. At the end of the day, the decision is yours. Be sure to take advantage of free trials and money-back guarantees to find the VPN that suits you.