Best Free VPN Services Available That Are 100% Free
While an increasing number of web users putting their faith in free VPN services, rather paid ones, these priceless tools are coming under the microscope.
Cybercrime is increasing at a rapid rate, making most internet users aware of the necessity of using a VPN to protect their identity, and keep their data private while bypassing the occasional geo-block or two. Free VPN options are attractive to those experiencing financial restrictions but what you save in dollars you often lose in privacy.
Most of the free services available to cybersurfers have limitations and, according to one report, around 90% are actually data farms, collecting and selling user data to fund their underhand data gathering services. The 10% that are genuinely offering a service and believe in the anonymity of the web often have limitations, either in terms of the server coverage free users can access, or the amount of data clients are allowed to use per month. Additional problems come when attempting to access geo-restricted sites such as Netflix or BBC iPlayer.
Free VPN vs Paid VPN
A free VPN Service offers many of the same features as their paid counterparts, but for no financial cost. This makes them ideal for those on a budget or who simply want to download 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.
In addition to usage restrictions, free VPN services often rely on low-quality connections or simply don’t have the international server coverage of a paid service, like ExpressVPN, for example, which boasts a phenomenal 2,000 servers in 94 different countries. 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, especially if no kill switch is featured in the product. Another drawback of using free VPN software is the lack of tech support available to consumers. 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 will struggle with a free VPN service as the streaming service is relentlessly changing its restrictions. In the past, Netflix succeeded in blocking all free VPN providers, meaning internet users in certain regions have access to significantly less content than others. As the company continues to fight VPN use, it’s turned into something of a cat-and-mouse game between the streaming service and the top VPN services. According to our latest research, the most effective service to access the geo-restricted site is ExpressVPN, with their number one rival, NordVPN, coming in a close second.
These restrictions have contributed to the poor image of free VPN services and you’ll find very few featured in lists of best VPN services. However, we have an interesting alternative to propose. With many highly-rated paid subscriptions offering VPN free trial periods with complete refunds guaranteed, it’s possible to use this loophole to 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.
*Please see specific brands for Netflix
The Best Free VPNs
#1 HotSpot Shield
HotSpot Shield, is one of the largest VPN providers in the world, boasting over 650 million users. 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. Users wishing to access sites such as Netflix, however, will struggle unless their sign up for one of their paid packages. Nevertheless, their free service provides users with 500MB per day and excellent malware protection.
On the downside, you can only connect one device at a time and server access is restricted to those in the US. What’s more is you’ll be inundated with advertising which is how the company earns enough revenue to offer a free service.
Although Hotspot Shield has an impressive track record and a top-class VPN protocol, they have also come under attack from the Center for Democracy and Technology who claimed the VPN provider was redirecting user traffic to their partner websites, including online advertising companies. While Hotspot Shield has denied any such behavior, they’re still struggling to regain their reputation as a reliable service committed to user privacy.
5 Best Features:
- Supports Mac, iOS, PC, and Android
- Excellent speeds
- Live chat customer support
- Generous data cap
- User-friendly interface
HotSpot Shield offers a seven-day free trial to get the entire unrestricted experience (of the paid version).
Unlike ProtonVPN, Windscribe does place some restriction on their free users’ bandwidth, but at 10GB per month, it’s a generous allowance and, with it, customers get access to more than double the number of servers provided by ProtonVPN. Windscribe’s free VPN service gives users access to 10 of their worldwide servers which total over 50. Although comparatively new to the VPN scene, Windscribe’s commitment to privacy is impressive, especially amongst the free services available. To download their free VPN, all you have to enter is a username and password – you don’t even have to reveal your email address if you choose not to. Although Windscribe’s premium service has been successful at negotiating Netflix’s evolving geo-restrictions, its free plan hasn’t been so fortunate. This is one of the limitations of the free service, another of which is that they only provide coverage for one device. On the upside, privacy isn’t compromised and the company practices a vigilant no-logging policy for all its clients.
Another nice feature offered by Windscribe is that, should you Tweet about them or invite a friend to join, they’ll reward you with additional data. Over the years, Windscribe has developed their free VPN to be compatible across all platforms, having recently launched an Android app to add to their stable.
5 Best Features:
- Generous data cap
- Access to eight servers
- No activity or connection logs
- Multi-platform support
- Over 2,000 servers worldwide
With excellent security, strong customer service including a 24/7 live chat option, Windscribe is giving some of the more established free VPN services a run for their money. Another tempting feature is that, should anyone you refer choose to upgrade to their premium, paid service, Windscribe will give you the same subscription for free!
ProtonVPN is known for its exemplary no-logging policy and its free service is remarkable for the fact that it places no restrictions on bandwidth or usage. This world-class VPN software provides a secure online browsing experience for its non-paying clients, although it restricts them by only providing access for one device and to just three countries. Consumers using the free option will also experience greater fluctuation in speed, as paying customers are given priority. Another drawback is that no P2P or Tor support, both of which are offered in their premium services. ProtonVPN’s free package is fully adaptable and compatible with a wide range of devices, including Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android.
ProtonVPN is a reputable and reliable company which has been providing internet security since 2014, so you know your personal information is in good hands. The only negatives about the service are that, unlike most of their competitors, ProtonVPN don’t have a 24/7 live chat option on their website and can therefore only be contacted via the online support form or via social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.
5 Best Features:
- Access to three countries
- Multi-platform support
- Based in Switzerland so is outside the fourteen-eyes surveillance network
- No bandwidth restrictions
- Free 7-day trial of Plus account
ProtonVPN offers a 7-day free trial version of their Plus package so you can test it out before committing. Both the Plus and free packages are easy to download and install and you’ll always have the option to boost your internet experience with ProtonVPN’s safe, anonymous, and private service. And if you do sign up for the premium version, they offer a 30-day money-back guarantee.
One of the best things about Tunnelbear is that, while it’s rather cute design may put off the more computer-savvy users out there, your girlfriend will love it! In addition to their furry logo, Tunnelbear is extremely user-friendly giving the most technically challenged surfer safe access to the internet. While the data restrictions are quite severe, limiting free users to just 500 MB per month, this is sufficient for those just wanting protection while they do their online banking and shopping. To compensate for this, Tunnelbear allows all their users, including those using the free package, to connect on five devices at the same time, a rarity among free VPNs.
5 Best Features:
- High-quality security
- 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.
If you felt that Tunnelbear’s data cap was tough, then you’ll find HideMe’s 2GB per month even more miserly. In fact, pretty much everything about HideMe’s free VPN service indicates that they really don’t want to offer one at all. Not only is the data limited, but subscribers to the free package can also only connect one device at a time and only have access to three of HideMe’s 45 or so servers. In addition to their free VPN service, HideMe also offers a free proxy service for people wanting to visit a specific site anonymously. While the proxy will mask your IP address effectively, there is no encryption in the connection, reducing the level of security considerably. Nevertheless, it’s a nice feature and one you can use without signing up.
Clients signing up for their free VPN service, however, will benefit from HideMe’s reliable connections and high speeds, as well as having access to their efficient customer support service. 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:
- No logging policy
- Multiple platform compatibility
- Kill switch
- Fast and easy set-up
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.
Which Type of VPN is Right For You?
Whether you choose a paid VPN provider or a free VPN client very much depends on your specific needs: how private and secure you want your connection to be, how much you use streaming services and how often you connect via unstable public WiFi hotspots. A free VPN proxy, for example, is useless if you need to access certain channels. But fear not, there is a whole array of downloadable VPN software available that 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.
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. To give you the peace of mind you need when entering the murky virtual world of the internet, we’ve selected the best free VPN services of 2019 for your perusal. Other alternatives available to the budget-conscious include signing up to a free VPN trial.
Many companies offering paid VPN services make free trials and 30-day money-back guarantees available to draw in new customers. If you feel you only need a VPN service for a limited period, this can be one way you can enjoy all the benefits of paid subscriptions for no cost.
Devices and Services
All of the VPNs mentioned in this article are compatible with both desktop and laptop computers, so if you’re looking for a Windows VPN you could try ExpressVPN or HotSpot Shield. 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 device, you should be able to create a VPN profile on your own, by visiting the Microsoft Store for an app for that service.
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 Windscribe. 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.
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 navigate. The majority of the VPN’s mentioned here are compatible with iPhone, apart from ProtonVPN. You can still use ProtonVPN with an iPhone but you will need to download a separate configuration file which is a bit of a headache.
Netflix and other Streaming
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 ExpressVPN.
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, search engines such as The Pirate Bay and BitTorrent can be used for all needs. However, due to copyright laws, many torrenting options are 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, with high speeds and a zero logging policy. 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.
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’re looking for the best free VPN for Germany or a VPN for the USA, you’ll be able to use almost any of the free VPN services mentioned in this article.
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.
Although a free VPN service can usually get the job done, the question is, at what quality and cost? The data limitations can be frustrating, while the restrictions on server access and speed caps could negatively impact on your browsing experience. 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. 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.
Also, ExpressVPN has a special deal: 3 months free with 49% savings on their annual plan!