The 5 Best Free VPN Services in 2020

Last updated: September 1, 2020

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When it comes to free VPN services, everybody wants the best. But is there any free VPN that can serve you best and be a worthy opponent against a paid VPN? Well, in a sense.

If you’re not willing to spend money on a VPN, that doesn’t mean you can’t get one. There are more than a couple of free VPN services for you to try.

A great free VPN service can usually be used, without major risks, to spoof your IP address to access censored web content or stay secure while using your banking app on a public wifi hotspot. Yet to get even that much, you need to steer clear of all the terrible free services out there – and that’s why I’m here to help you out.

In this article, you will learn about the free VPN providers, their advantages, and their limitations. I will also tell you how to choose a free VPN that best suits your needs. Finally, I will recommend you the best services to choose from.

For those who are not up for reading the whole article, I can already tell that the top-rated free VPN is ProtonVPN. What I like about it most is the lack of data limits and excellent security. Sure, it’s kinda slow and allows only one device, but these cons are easily outweighed by the above-mentioned pros.

As you can see, even the best free VPNs come with their own limitations. Therefore, you shouldn’t be surprised if there are only a few servers to choose from or if both streaming and P2P are unavailable. And more often than not, you’ll be paying with your privacy and personal data. Having in mind that this is contrary to what VPNs were built for, I encourage you to get a paid service if you can afford it. Even among the best overall VPN services, you can find options for less than $2.00/month.

Best VPNs for free – full analysis & comparison

Below you will find the Top 5 free VPN services. None of them are perfect, so this table will help you figure out which one of them suits your needs the most.

You figure out which one of them suits your needs the most.

Speed limitData limitServer locationsStreamingTorrenting
ProtonVPNNoNo3 countriesNoNo
Atlas VPNNoNo3 countriesNetflix US and NLYes
Windscribe VPNNo10 GB/month10+ countriesNoYes
Hide.me VPNNo10 GB/month5 countriesNoYes
TunnelBearNo500 MB/month20+ countriesNoNo

After some rigorous testing, I came up with a conclusion that ProtonVPN is the best free VPN, closely followed by Atlas VPN. The other three free VPNs, namely Windscribe, Hide.me VPN, and TunnelBear have monthly data limits and thus automatically belong in a second-tier.

I evaluated a number of different criteria, some of which didn’t make it to the table above, even though they are crucial for every VPN, be it free or paid one. The most important one of all is the data limit. It effectively decides what you can do with that VPN – browse some news sites with encrypted traffic and hidden IP or torrent safely to your heart’s content. 

Then comes the speed limitations – most free VPNs won’t give you the best possible speeds and some may be slow because of their poor infrastructure. Speaking of which, the number of available server locations in different countries is another crucial criteria. After all, what’s the point of using a VPN that doesn’t offer you the one region that you need?

Streaming and torrenting are also very important for a free VPN. After all, most users get one to be able to unblock Netflix and use P2P. Unfortunately, only a few VPNs offer one or another and there’s only one named Atlas VPN that gives you both.

Moving beyond this free VPN table, we find security features, such as encryption, protocol selection, and kill switch. When it comes to privacy, a jurisdiction should be outside the Fourteen Eyes alliance and data retention laws. The VPN itself should have a no-logs policy.

Last but not least is the customer support. It would be naive to ask a free VPN to provide you a 24/7 live chat, but Atlas VPN does that, in fact. However, even a ticket system can work fine if you get a reply within a few hours.

1. ProtonVPN – the #1 best free VPN service

Company location
Company location: Switzerland
Protocols
Protocols: OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPsec
Support
Support: Email
  • Strong encryption
  • User-friendly apps
  • No Secure Core and Tor over VPN features
  • VPN for one device only
  • Slow
  • Torrenting not allowed

ProtonVPN, unlike all other free VPNs on this list, doesn’t limit how much you can download, how quickly, or how often you can switch servers. Sadly, this provider won’t let you torrent, something that most other VPNs on the list allow. However, ProtonVPN is still a decent choice for any VPN user, who doesn’t download or stream but uses enough traffic to exceed any monthly limit. Besides, it’s the only free VPN without a data cap that has desktop apps.  And that’s precisely why ProtonVPN is at the very top of our list.

What the ProtonVPN free version also has is solid security fundamentals: military-grade encryption, industry-standard tunneling protocols, and a reliable kill switch. However, the more advanced security features like Secure Core multi-hop and Tor over VPN are left behind the paywall. But even without them, ProtonVPN’s free version has no match in terms of security.

Additionally, with the free version of ProtonVPN, you’ll just have one device per user account, fewer servers to choose from, and fewer features to use. And they’d be really nice features to have, so you wouldn’t be a fool to pay for them. The good news is that you can download the free version on Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, and Android.

To sum up, this is really the best free VPN you can get, despite its low country count and no support for P2P or streaming. But for $4.00/month, you get the full list of 1000 servers in 50 countries plus Netflix, Hulu, and torrenting.

For a deeper investigation of ProtonVPN, read our ProtonVPN review.

2. Atlas VPN – popular free VPN for Netflix & P2P

Company location
Company location: United States
Support
Support: 24/7 email
  • Good security
  • Military-grade encryption
  • Automatic public wifi protection
  • Easy-to-use VPN app
  • Fast connection times
  • Netflix US and NL
  • Limited number of servers
  • Speed cap

Atlas VPN is a free VPN solution that offers what ProtonVPN doesn’t – Netflix and P2P. So why this VPN is #2 if it has everything that #1 hasn’t? The answer is simple – Atlas VPN has apps for iOS and Android only. But if that’s not a deal-breaker for you, you won’t find a better free VPN.

This service protects you on public hotspots, where you’re most likely to use a portable device like a tablet or smartphone. This free and lightweight tool will make your connection safe with AES-256 encryption and IKEv2 tunneling protocol.

Even if safety isn’t your primary concern, you could still make use of Atlas VPN. With this software, you’ll be able to go unblock Netflix US and the Netherlands libraries. You would be hard-pressed to find another free VPN that can pull that off. Even premium VPNs tend to struggle when it comes to streaming. Despite the limitations, speeds are good, too, so HD streaming should be possible, but 4K is reserved for the premium clients.

What’s more, Atlas VPN allows torrenting and is safe enough to protect your P2P traffic. Unfortunately, neither SOCKS5 proxy nor port forwarding is available. 

Atlas VPN offers excellent service with no hidden fees. That has its own price, though – you will have a speed cap and only three locations to choose from. For initially $4,99, you can remove the cap and access servers in all 17+ countries. Finally, premium users are eligible for 24/7 email support.

For a deeper investigation of Atlas VPN, read our Atlas VPN review.

3. Windscribe VPN – 10 GB/month and great set of features

Company location
Company location: Canada
Protocols
Protocols: OpenVPN, IKEv2
Support
Support: Email
  • Generous bandwidth limit (10GB)
  • No-logs policy
  • Great set of free security and privacy features
  • User-friendly and easy-to-use clients
  • 10+ countries
  • Based in a Five Eyes country
  • Average speeds and occasional connection drops
  • Earn extra free data with tweets and referrals
  • No Netflix

Although Windscribe VPN is based in Canada, a Five Eyes country, it comes with a strict no-logs policy. In fact, they have received over 30 law enforcement data requests and had nothing to give them.

What’s more, the free version has a full set of Windscribe’s security and privacy features. Those include a kill switch, ad blocking, secure hotspot (turns your phone into a wifi hotspot), multi-hop, STunnel (Stealth mode), DNS/IPv6/WebRTC leak protection, and timezone spoofing. This is almost unprecedented for a free VPN.

Moreover, the Windscribe app is extremely well-designed and easy to use. You can download dedicated apps for all major platforms – Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS. Additionally, there are clients for Amazon Fire TV, Nvidia Shield, and Kodi. Sadly, free Windscribe won’t help you stream your favorite shows on a big screen because it doesn’t unblock Netflix.

Windscribe’s average speeds and occasional connection drops might frustrate some users. However, the privacy that you get combined with a SOCKS5 proxy certainly makes it one of the best options for torrenting safely. You won’t be able to download much, though, because of the 10 GB/month limit. 

For $1.00/month, you will see the bandwidth limit lifted off, in addition to access to 480 servers in 60 countries. But most importantly, you will be able to stream Netflix US, UK, Canada, and Japan. The list can be extended to BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime, and other platforms by getting a dedicated IP address.

Overall, free Windscribe VPN may be good for browsing or occasional torrenting, as well as for gaining extra layers of security when accessing sensitive content via unsecured wifi hotspots.

For a deeper investigation of Windscribe VPN, read our Windscribe VPN review.

4. Hide Me VPN – good speeds but 10 GB/month only

Company location
Company location: Malaysia
Support
Support: Live chat
  • Strong security features
  • No-logs policy
  • Decent speeds
  • Torrenting allowed
  • Generous 10 GB monthly bandwidth limit
  • Access to only three VPN servers
  • Can’t unblock Netflix
  • VPN for one device only

Located in Malaysia, a country with no data retention laws that doesn’t belong to the Fourteen Eyes, Hide.me VPN has a true no-logs policy. What’s more, my tests have shown that it has no IP or DNS leaks. Furthermore, you can block WebRTC on Hide.me’s browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox.

Moving on to security, this VPN comes with military-grade encryption and top-notch protocols in WireGuard, OpenVPN, and IKEv2. An app-level and connection-level kill switches are also here, just as SOCKS5 proxy and split tunneling. The latter two will enhance your torrenting experience, which should be pretty good anyway thanks to relatively fast speeds. Of course, with a 10 GB/month limit, you won’t be using P2P that much.

How about Netflix and other streaming services? Unfortunately, those are unavailable on Hide.me VPN free version. While this service has never been known as great for streaming, the website declares that Hide.me can give you access to the most popular streaming services and then some.

Hide.me VPN is easy to use. There are clients for Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Amazon Fire TV & Fire Stick. You can also set it up on Linux and routers. The main difference is that a free service allows one simultaneous connection compared to ten that premium users get.

Are there any more reasons to upgrade to premium Hide.me VPN plan for $4.99/month? Yes, there are. You will get 1800 servers in 72 countries, static IP, and port forwarding. Unfortunately, premium users don’t get any privileges in customer support. This can be quite a nuisance knowing that there’s no live chat and a reply can take hours if not days.

Overall, Hide Me VPN can be a great free VPN service. It all depends on your needs, actually. If you don’t plan on torrenting large files or watching Netflix, this VPN provider could be right up your alley.

For a deeper investigation of Hide Me VPN, read our Hide Me VPN review.

5. TunnelBear – biggest server list and smallest data cap

Company location
Company location: Canada
Protocols
Protocols: OpenVPN, IKEv2
Support
Support: Email
  • Military-grade encryption
  • Kill switch
  • Relatively big server list (20+ countries)
  • Very low monthly bandwidth cap (500MB)
  • No Australia server
  • Doesn’t unblock Netflix or other streaming services
  • Doesn’t allow torrenting

TunnelBear VPN is usually the top choice for most free VPN lists, but due to its extremely low 500 MB monthly bandwidth cap, I consider it just a teaser for getting the paid version. While you can get an extra 1 GB for tweeting about TunnelBear, most people that don’t have Twitter will probably skip that. What’s more, this VPN is known for logging more than a minimum, which doesn’t look good knowing that TunnelBear is registered in Canada, a Five Eyes surveillance alliance member.

With that said, the free version of TunnelBear VPN offers almost everything you’ll find in its premium version, at least feature-wise. You get strong encryption, solid tunneling protocols, obfuscation (Stealth VPN), and a kill switch. 

The TunnelBear apps are also very user-friendly, with a few tongue-in-cheek design decisions thrown in to make using them joy, especially when connecting to servers in faraway countries. There are apps for Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android plus browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera.

I recommend free TunnelBear for beginner VPN users to read and unblock web content, secure their internet traffic when using public wifi, or to simply spoof their physical location by changing their IP address. But should you upgrade to premium afterward?

For $3.33/month you will get unlimited bandwidth, 5 simultaneous devices, and priority support. Is that worth the price, given that neither streaming nor torrenting won’t be possible? Well, you be the judge.

To sum up, free TunnelBear is great if you need more countries to choose from when compared to the rest of the competition. Other than that, it’s hard to recommend this service when there are four better options available.

For a deeper investigation of TunnelBear, read our TunnelBear review.

When is free VPN a good option?

A free VPN can be good or even the best option in many scenarios. The answer depends mostly on your needs. If you have more than a few of those, chances are you will need more than one free VPN.

Choosing a free VPN is a good idea if you want:

  • Security. Best free VPNs have military-grade encryption and latest tunneling protocols that will make sure your data is safe from hackers, ISPs, and governments. 
  • Privacy. A free VPN is enough to hide your IP address and location. Is it reliable enough to not log it and not sell it to third-parties? Only time can tell.
  • Avoid geo-blocking. This works only if your desired content is in the US, the Netherlands, or the UK because that’s about what most free VPNs give you. The exception is TunnelBear – you get all [country_list]+ countries.

Can a free VPN be a good option for streaming and torrenting? Unlikely. ProtonVPN offers the latter but the speeds are slow, while Atlas VPN gives you both but on mobile only.

When premium (paid) VPN is a better option?

In general, a paid VPN is always a better option because it doesn’t have the limitations of a free version. Of course, you don’t always have to pay for a VPN, especially if your needs are limited to browsing and hiding your IP address. Having said that, let’s look at the cases when it’s worth upgrading to premium.

Using a paid VPN is a good idea if you want:

  • Torrenting. While Atlas VPN gives you unlimited bandwidth and support P2P, the speeds will be average at best. This service is good enough for torrenting safely but lacks port forwarding and SOCKS5 proxy. Other providers either limit your monthly traffic or don’t allow P2P at all.
  • Streaming. Of all free VPNs, there are virtually none that unblock Netflix, not to mention other streaming services. Some do that on purpose to push users to go premium, others have but a few servers that are easily blocked. While Atlas VPN unblocks Netflix US and the Netherlands, it works on Android and iOS only.
  • Customer service. Most free VPNs will take their time to answer your questions. If that wasn’t enough, you can forget using live chat, not to mention a 24/7 one. So if a problem occurs, it means you’re probably on your own. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule when customer service is the same for both client types. However, this scenario doesn’t involve live chat or any type of 24/7 support.
  • No logging and no ads. Most free VPNs log extensively and sell your data to third parties. Even if they don’t, you get to see annoying ads all the time. There are only a few that fall under any of those two categories but the price of that is some severe limitations, like the number of GBs per month.
  • Best privacy and security. If you want to buy a VPN anonymously and create an anonymous account, there’s no way other than to go for some of the safest providers. They will be registered in privacy-friendly jurisdictions, have their no-logs policies court-proven or independently-audited, offer physical servers and features such as multi-hop and Tor over VPN. 

 

Is paid VPN always the better option? Yes, unless you don’t spend much time online and need only basic protection or your budget is too low.

5 free VPN selection criteria: what’s important when choosing a free VPN?

No matter why you’re looking for a free VPN, you should take your time to evaluate the following criteria. Not all are equally important when picking a free VPN for yourself, but you should nevertheless have them in mind to avoid possible risks.

When choosing a free VPN, consider the following 5 criteria:

  1. Business model. The majority of free VPNs supposedly ask for nothing in return, which means they are logging and selling your data. If they show ads, it’s less likely they are selling your information as well, though you should check that first. Finally, the best option is when a reputable VPN creates a free version with some limitations to promote paid service.
  2. Reputation. There are many popular free VPNs that have a poor reputation, for example, Hola VPN. Make sure you check on your selected provider first to see if it has been caught in some scandals and what the users on Reddit and other platforms have to say about it. Most importantly, don’t forget that if an app is on Google Play Store, has good reviews, and many downloads, it can still be malware.
  3. Logging policy. Virtually all VPNs claim to have a no-logs policy. However, some have put some effort into proving that by calling independent audits. Others were tested in court or by getting requests from law enforcement. So if torrenting is illegal in your country, you better make sure that your free VPN doesn’t log identifiable data.
  4. Limitations. Most free VPNs, even those that don’t offer a paid version, will come with some limitations. Usually, that will be the number of available servers and countries. And because they will be overcrowded, the speeds will be average at best. Premium VPNs like to limit your traffic to a few GBs per month, so even if they support torrenting, you won’t be able to download to the heart’s content. Finally, only a couple of free VPNs unblock Netflix.
  5. Security credentials. Paid VPNs usually don’t water-down security of free versions, which is why they will be a better option than most free VPNs. Anything below military-grade AES 256-bit encryption is unacceptable and tunneling protocols like L2TP/IPSec or PPTP shouldn’t be used anymore. Finally, a kill switch and leak protection are the other two essential security features of every free VPN.

Free VPNs without limitations – is this possible?

It’s virtually impossible to offer a free VPN without limitations. No matter what business model you choose, you will either sell user’s data, show ads, or do both. And if you will use free version to promote a premium plan, it will have to be limited in some way.

The most popular free VPN limitation is bandwidth. There are only a few examples that give more than 10 GB/month and most will throttle your speed too. Additionally, you will likely get only one device per free VPN account and some platforms, such as browser extensions, may be unavailable. Finally, free VPNs usually offer just a few servers in several countries to connect to.

However, there are free VPNs that beat one or a few of these debilitating limitations.

Free VPN with no speed cap

Speed caps are especially crippling because a VPN reduces your speed due to encryption. You can expect to have around 50% of your original speed when connecting to a server in another continent, but with a speed cap, the result will average at best.

Luckily, there are free VPN services without speed limits. Among those, we find TunnelBear, Hide.me VPN, and Windscribe. However, the latter is known for connection drops. While connection speed depends on a number of factors, such as your location, device, and ISP, I’d say that from those four, you may get the best results with Hide.me VPN.

Free VPN with no data cap

Data cap is another popular method for limiting free VPNs. Imagine getting a below-minimum wage and trying to live a whole month without a chance to make money on the side. That’s how a free VPN data cap feels. Usually, it’s 10 GB/month tops, with rock-bottom at 500 MB..

At the moment, there are two free VPNs with no data caps that are worth your time. The first one is ProtonVPN and the other is Atlas VPN. Choosing any of those means your VPN won’t disconnect unexpectedly and you will be able to actually use torrenting. In the case of Atlas VPN, it also means binge-watching Netflix.

Free VPNs for multiple devices and unlimited connections

Most VPNs allow at least five simultaneous connections while others don’t put any limit at all. This is important if you want to use a VPN on all your devices, which may include your smartphone, laptop, smart TV, and game console. So, what’s the situation with free VPNs?

The most likely scenario is that a free VPN will allow one connection per account. Therefore, you will have to delete it from your phone to have it working on your computer and vice versa. While this may not sound too bad for some, it really is annoying. 

Are there free VPNs that allow multiple or even unlimited connections? The short answer is no. While there can be some shady services that will give you more than one simultaneous device, all reputable providers offer just one. At least the free versions usually don’t limit the number of supported devices.

Free VPN extensions for browser

A lot of free VPNs come in the form of a browser extension, which is actually a free proxy. The difference between these two is that a VPN protects your whole traffic and proxy is limited to your browser. 

Many premium Virtual Private Networks offer apps for Chrome and Firefox, but they often require a desktop or mobile version installed first. For example, you can use Hide.me VPN browser extension without registration but without the app, you get only Canada, Germany, and the Netherlands. And while Windscribe has a really powerful free proxy, multi-hop is available with the proper app only.

What’s more, browser extensions are usually the last to get updates and offer just a few features compared to major platform apps. For example, TunnelBear’s free Chrome extension dates back to October 2019 and allows only to switch servers, whereas Hide.me proxy includes WebRTC blocking, SOCKS5, and always-on mode. Finally, the best free service, ProtonVPN, doesn’t have any browser extensions.

Unlimited server locations

Among all free VPNs that are worth your time, only TunnelBear offers all server locations. However, this probably has to do with the fact that this VPN has only 1000+ servers in 20+ countries in total and they won’t get overcrowded because of a strict 500 MB/month limit and no access to P2P and streaming.

Other providers offer up to 10 countries for free users, with an exception of Windscribe – this service allows you a few more. Among those, you will often find the US because it’s the most popular destination and the one that has arguably the best Netflix library. You can expect to get locations on both East and West Coast.

The Netherlands is another popular destination because of its lax laws when it comes to torrenting. Canada, Germany, and the UK are also quite popular. You shouldn’t expect any servers in South America, Africa, or Australia. Even Asian locations are not that common – most likely it will be a server in Hong Kong.

Overall, European and North American servers dominate the free VPN market and will likely continue doing so in the near future.

Free VPNs to avoid at all costs

While you can reliably use all the best free VPNs that I listed above, I strongly recommend you to stay well away from the rest.

Here are the worst free VPNs that you should avoid at all costs.

1. Hola VPN

This Israel-based VPN service is built on a volunteer-powered P2P network. If you join, you practically have to share your IP address and bandwidth with other free and premium users as well. You should also know that Hola VPN collects data about you and your traffic, such as your IP address, which is the easiest way to trace you to your physical location.

2. VPN Gate

This Japanese free VPN keeps an extensive log about you and your online activity. What’s more, VPN Gate is also a free service that is built on volunteers where all individual peers can spy on your traffic and log whatever information they want. Even if these logs are supposed to be deleted every two weeks, does it sound like a great online privacy tool?

3. Betternet VPN

This provider logs your connections, creates tracking libraries for third-party advertising, and since there’s no kill switch, chances are it may leak DNS and your IP address as well. In other words, if you use Betternet for sensitive internet traffic, you could risk being exposed.

Free Android VPNs to avoid

We’ve discussed three of the worst free VPNs for desktop, but there are plenty of dangerous “VPNs” for Android that you should avoid. Here are some of the most popular ones:

  • Easy VPN
  • SuperVPN
  • CrossVPN
  • Archie VPN
  • One Click
  • Fast Secure Payment

These Android VPN services may contain malware like Trojans, adware, riskware, and spyware, but that is only part of the security risks you may face. These VPNs usually have vague privacy policies and may keep connection and usage logs as well, including your true IP address and the list of websites you visit.

Risk-free VPN trials: try paid VPN for free

When using free VPNs, it won’t be long till you start to really notice their drawbacks. These inevitable handicaps will probably make you want to try a premium VPN service sooner or later. Luckily, most providers offer a chance to try their products risk-free. Usually, that comes in the form of a money-back guarantee though some VPNs still offer free trials.

Here are some of the best VPNs that you can try risk-free:

  1. PrivateVPN – 7-day free trial, 30-day money-back guarantee
  2. ProtonVPN – 7-day free trial, 30-day money-back guarantee
  3. Surfshark – 7-day free trial for mobile devices, 30-day money-back guarantee
  4. Ivacy VPN – 1-day or a 3-day free trial, 30-day money-back guarantee
  5. PureVPN – 7-day trial for $0.99, 31-day money-back guarantee

As you can see, you’ll have plenty of time to reconsider and get a quick refund in case you change your mind. You can find more risk-free offers on our Best VPN with a free trial page.

Free VPN FAQ

What is a free VPN

Free VPN services work just like paid VPNs but tend to offer fewer features and less quality. They use one or combine two of these three business models – selling user’s data, displaying ads, or promoting a premium version.

In general, free VPNs are pretty much like the paid ones: they encrypt your online traffic and route it via their servers which can be located anywhere in the world. They also hide your IP address from third-parties that include your ISP, hackers, and the government. However, free VPNs tend to be less safe to use and generally slower.

While unblocking streaming services and allowing to torrent safely are two popular reasons why people use VPNs, most free versions won’t allow either. Even if they do, a strict data cap will prevent you from watching in HD or downloading GBs of data.

Are there any hidden costs with free VPNs?

If a free VPN doesn’t promote its premium version and doesn’t show ads, most likely it is selling your data to third parties. This is probably the highest hidden price to pay because your data can easily end up at the hands of cybercriminals. Other than that, you will easily see that the price you’re paying is slower speed, data caps, and poor customer service, to name a few.

However, some paid VPNs may present themselves as free services that you can try for a week or even a month. Most likely they are talking about a risk-free money-back guarantee. This means that you will have to enter payment details first before you can use the VPN. When the trial period comes to an end, you will be automatically charged for the next month or even year.

Is free VPN safe?

Most free VPNs aren’t safe. In the best-case scenario, you’ll see plenty of ads, and your data will be collected using various trackers. In the worst-case scenario, a free VPN will be used to steal your bandwidth and personal information, while injecting malware into your device.

There are only a few trustworthy free VPN services and you can see them in the video and also listed above. By installing any of them, you can be sure that nobody’s going to steal your bandwidth or personal data. What’s more, these providers constantly update their apps, meaning that there’s less chance for hackers to exploit known security holes.

What’s more, just because a VPN is free, that doesn’t mean it uses less secure technologies. All of our recommended free VPNs come with military-grade encryption and the latest tunneling protocols. They also have kill switches and zero IP or DNS leaks.

Do free VPNs suit me best?

Free VPN is the best choice for you if you’re on a tight budget but want to add security and privacy to your online presence. If you don’t need features like Tor over VPN or port forwarding, you should be fine with any of our top free VPNs. They all provide virtually unbreakable security and hide your IP address just like the premium ones do.

If you already have access to Netflix and other streaming services, you won’t have to worry about the fact that free VPNs won’t unblock these for you. The same goes for torrenting, which will be severely limited by data caps. That is unless you choose Atlas VPN.

How free VPNs work?

Free VPNs work the same way as paid ones do – they encrypt your traffic and route it through their servers, effectively hiding your location and IP address. Tunneling protocols are used to secure your data and most free VPNs offer either OpenVPN or IKEv2 – the industry standard. Some even walk the extra mile, implementing the next-gen WireGuard protocol. 

The only difference is the business model. Paid VPNs sell subscriptions and free VPNs usually sell user data, ads, or promote premium services. All best free VPNs use the latter model which is also the best for the user. Instead of using a shady service or seeing annoying ads, you get a service from a reputable provider that provides customer support and constant updates.

Benefits of free VPNs

When you go for a free VPN instead of a paid one, there’s an obvious difference in the quality of service. With that said, you may still find free VPN services useful for certain activities when you may not need maximum security, privacy, or lightning speeds. You can mainly use a better VPN service for:

  • Unblocking websites – to access geo-restricted content
  • Securing public wifi – not to leak sensitive data
  • Gaming & Torrenting – if speed and latency allow
  • Hiding your IP – to fake your geolocation

This doesn’t mean that with one single free VPN you’ll be able to enjoy all of these features, although our top 5 picks should essentially cover them. Nevertheless, there may be other free services that are more suitable for a specific usage or platform while they fail at others.

What is the best free VPN for Netflix?

Atlas VPN is the best free VPN for streaming services, such as Netflix. In fact, it’s the only one we can recommend because no other free Virtual Private Network unblocks Netflix. With Atlas VPN, you will be able to watch the US and the Netherlands libraries easily.

Another great thing is that Atlas VPN doesn’t have bandwidth limitations and the speeds should be enough to stream in HD. However, you will need a premium version for 4K streaming. Additionally, Atlas VPN has only Android and iOS apps at the moment, so you won’t be able to watch your favorite movies and shows on a big screen.

How to know if a free VPN will sell my personal data?

You can never be 100% sure unless you find well-documented data about that VPN selling users’ data before. That’s why you should do your own research before installing any suspicious apps. More often than not, a website of a VPN can tell if they are serious about their business or just looking for some quick cash.

Another step is reading the VPN’s privacy policy. Sometimes it plainly states that your data is monitored and logged, or even sold to third-parties. If there’s no such thing and you see ads in the client, more likely they will be profiting from your clicks. What’s more, if the ads you see are about enlarging your vital organs and instantly winning in online casinos, that probably means your VPN provider is from the lowest-tier.

Finally, a free VPN from a premium provider will most likely not sell your personal data. There’s simply too much to lose and a reputation can be quickly tarnished by shady deals. Most companies that use free VPNs to promote paid services have been running for years, have thousands if not millions of users, and are reviewed by A-list media from all over the world.

Back to best free VPNs list

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  1. Eric

    I’ve used a free VPN called “Luna” for about a year. It isn’t listed as good or ban in your article. Have you looked at it in the App Store?


  2. Martin Johns

    I would say, that this article really reflects the reality. ProtonVPN defenetly deserves 1st place, especially since they went open source!


  3. Carrie

    I wonder can Netflix detect VPN? Can they realize that you’re using one? I want to use one to unlock netflix US and UK but I don’t want to get into some sort of trouble or something.


    1. OctaNine

      Yes, Netflix can detect VPN. Fortunately they can’t detect every VPN out there. There are plenty that can fool Netflix into thinking you’re from the US or UK when you’re not. What is the safest VPN for Netflix? You can choose from NordVPN, ExpressVPN, CyberGhost or Surfshark. They are all safe and will unlock anything on Netflix. Just pick one of them and you’ll do great. A personal tip: pick NordVPN because they have great prices and a LOT of servers you can use for Netflix or torrenting.


  4. Eleonor

    Does anyone know how do free VPNs make money? I see there are a lot of them around, some good and some not so good, and I was wondering how do they actually make money? How can they still afford to offer their services for free? Are free vpn safe? I mean really safe and should you be using them? I have heard of people saying good things about free vpn and also bad and very bad things and I want to know more about this. I want to stay safe when I’m online and if there’s some sort of hidden agenda these companies have I want to know about it so I can avoid them. Thanks a lot.


    1. mitchel

      what are the good vpn i can not get any so can you help ???


    2. Eleonor

      Thank you for explaining this to me. I can now see that free vpns are not FREE at all. They come with a lot of baggage and I don’t want to have to carry that ;). I will get a paid vpn thank you very much. No more free vpn for pc for me from now on.


    3. Cpr

      Eleonor, free VPNs will always try to make money from you. They aren’t giving you anything for free. They will try to sell your info to the highest bidder or show you ads all over the place. Considering how cheap it is to get a paid vpn, free ones shouldn’t even be an option. It is worth paying for VPN. Especially if the VPN is very good.


    4. Adam

      “How do free VPNs make money?” They make your PC an exit node for paying users so while you’re using their service for free, you’re actually paying a price for it. They sometimes have ads showing, and they also rely on the fact that some of these free users will eventually become paid ones. They don’t actually make money from a free users, but from paid users, but free users help with that. Some shady VPNs give your email away to other parties to be used for who knows what (from spamming to phishing and so on). I do not recommend you use free VPNs because your data is not safe with them and your private life will remain private no more when you use them. Is it worth paying for VPN? Yes, it sure is but make sure you go for a known one that you can rely on.


  5. Collin

    Is it worth paying for VPN? I mean there seem to be a lot of free options out there but the question is can free VPN be trusted? Now there’s the question. From what I can tell ones like Windscribe and ProtonVPN are a good choice but not if you need something serious, for torrenting for example. Then you may need a paid option. But if you don’t do this, is it worth paying for VPN? I don’t know.


    1. Moggi

      Stop looking for the best free vpn for torrenting. Have you ever wondered “are free VPN safe?” Well, if you didn’t, let me tell you they aren’t. Most free VPN will sell your email and contact details like it’s nothing. They just care about the money they can get for your information. They will also use your IP as an exit node for their paying clients. If you though you are getting this for free you’re wrong and the price you will pay is just way too high. Just pay for a reliable vpn and you won’t have to worry about this. Go with Nord, ExpressVPN, Surfshark, CyberGhost. Any of these will do just fine and make you invisible when you’re online no matter what you’re doing.


      1. Collin

        Thank you for all the replies. I appreciate them. I didn’t know a free vpn for pc is not a good idea. I was actually thinking it would be nice to find the best free vpn for torrenting and use it but now I’m thinking I shouldn’t do that. I was mistakenly thinking that if it’s free, you should take it and it seems like that’s not the case at all when it comes to vpn. I will take a closer look at the options you guys talked about and pick one I feel works for me.


    2. SamMas

      A free vpn for pc is better than nothing but it’s not a great option. Many people look for the best free vpn for torrenting but that’s a mistake. Torrenting requires a lot of protection and free vpns can’t offer that. If you want to torrent safely than you need to invest in a good, reliable vpn. And it’s not that hard to find a very affordable option that will keep you safe online. You can usually find a 2 year deal for around $100. And there are those VPNs like NordVPN that offer a 3 year deal for just $108 which is just amazing! Plus, NordVPN is considered one of the best vpn for torrenting and overall.


    3. Mitchel

      Well, I wouldn’t use a free vpn for Kodi, for example. Never. It’s way too risky for me. I would never do torrenting without vpn for the same reason. I like to do things the smart way and that is almost always by paying a bit of money to get the most secure vpn no matter what you’re doing. I just like to be and feel safe when I’m online, even when I’m just browsing. I prefer to pay $10-$15 monthly and make sure I am safe from prying eyes and I can also use torrents without problems. Some people don’t like paying money to get such services and they will just have to take the risks that came with this decision.


  6. Brody99

    Which is better NordVPN vs ExpressVPN? I know this is a page on free vpn services but while I believe free has its place, in most cases, we need paid VPNs like these two to stay safe. Using a free vpn might be fun but it’s surely not safe. I think Nord and Express offer the greatest value per dollar and are probably the most secure vpn now. Does anyone have any opinion – good or bad – about these two companies.


    1. Nomanhere

      There’s no free vpn for pc that is good for torrenting so that shouldn’t even be an option. When it comes to torrenting you need the best protection not a free vpn. There are little differences between ExpressVPN and NordVPN. These 2 services are very closely matched both offering a lot of benefits and very little disadvantages. If you care about your budget then ExpressVPN is not your choice, Nord is. You can opt for the Nordvpn 3 year deal that is one of the best vpn deals on the market where you get 3 years of service for a measly $108. Considering the value you get from Nord I would say this is easily the best deal for any vpn. If money is not important, you may want to go with Express which offers more secure connections. On the other hand, Nord has a lot more servers world wide so there are things that each of them do better than the other.


    2. Todi

      I have an opinion, and although this is not the page for it, I will share it. I had the opportunity to test both of them and I have to say they are very strong, both of them. If it weren’t for the price difference ExpressVPN would probably win it by a nose. From what I saw, Express seems to be the best vpn for torrenting. They offer great speeds no matter where you’re located, have plenty of servers, and are probably the most secure vpn out there. NordVPN is cheaper (on a bigger plan), has more servers, great speeds as well and is very secure as well. So, in my opinion, NordVPN wins it because it offers almost what Express is offering and at a much better price. If price was not an issue then I would pick ExpressVPN because I know they have high standards and will only get better with time.


    3. Ethan Payne Author

      Hi Brody, we’ve made a comparison review regarding the NordVPN vs ExpressVPN battle. In a nutshell, you can’t go wrong with either of these two.


  7. Cameron

    Do you guys know which is the fastest free vpn for android right now?


    1. Ethan Payne Author

      Hi Cameron, that would be Hotspot Shield. Their free bandwidth limit isn’t great, but the free VPN itself is really fast.


      1. Dwayne

        I second that. Hotspot Shield is reliable and fast and best of all, it’s free. It’s probably the fastest free vpn for android so give it a try. There are others as well and you’ll find them by doing a search on Google but I only recommend Hotspot because I’ve tried it and trust it.


  8. Doreka

    What free VPN works with Netflix? Is there such a thing because I’ve searched for a bit and I can’t find anything like that. I don’t know, maybe I can find those or that vpn that does this.


    1. Roberto95

      What free VPN works with Netflix? Answer: none. Why? Because it’s not easy to bypass their trackers and a lot of people want to have access to better libraries like the US one or the UK one. Plus are free VPN safe? I don’t think so and I wouldn’t risk it when I can pay for much better service.

      If you want to unlock Netflix anywhere you need a paid vpn like NordVPN, ExpressVPN, etc. Don’t waste anymore time on this and just pay a few bucks and get a good VPN that can unblock Netflix and make sure to ask them if this is possible before you order. Some paid VPNs still can’t unlock Netflix so make sure you get what you want. If you really want a great deal, you’ll need to go for a 2 or even 3 year plan with either Surfshark or NordVPN. Anyone of these will do fine.


      1. Doreka

        So there’s no free vpn for pc that works with Netflix? Well, that’s a shame because now I have to fork over some money to get a paid one :)). I thought I could get Netflix US for free but it seems not. Oh well, that’s ok. Now I just have to figure out which vpn works well with Netflix US. any ideas?


        1. Roberto95

          Yeah, no free vpn for pc that will work to unlock Netflix. Just go for a decent one like Surfshark, or NordVPN which might be expensive if you pay month by month but drastically go down in pricing when picking a long-term plan. You can easily find a vpn for $2 monthly or even less. Surf shark vpn is an example. Look it up and you will see. There are also others that may be cheaper but not all of them work well with Netflix so be careful and ask their support staff before ordering.


  9. AgoraR

    If I use windscribe does it mean I will have free unlimited vpn for windows? Windscribe seems too good for a free option so I am a bit skeptical but that doesn’t mean I won’t give it a try. I hope it goes well but I have nothing to lose since it’s free. I want to use the best free vpn for pc so if this is it then I want to use it. I may also try ProtonVPN since that is considered the second best free option on this site.


    1. Costa

      If you read through this site you’ll realize that while a free unlimited vpn for windows sounds like a nice thing, it isn’t. Free always comes with a catch or two or three. Paying for a solid VPN is so, so much better even if you do have to spend a bit of money. For that money you get the protection you need and deserve when you are on the internet.


    2. Daniel Stevens

      Windscribe is great for free but it’s the paid plan that’s where it really shines. Free vpn like Windscribe or ProtonVPN are great, for a FREE option. But they won’t protect you against everything and won’t work for certain things like torrenting. You need to search for the best vpn for torrenting if you are into that. Otherwise, free options might work or you can get a cheaper vpn that is somewhere in between. You can go for the paid Windscribe plan, they have one that’s around $1 per month (if you pay for 1 or 2 years in advance). Check it out and also look at other vpn options out there and see which ones you like.


  10. Franco91

    Is there a browser with built in vpn? I’ve tried Opera vpn but wasn’t really happy with it. I don’t want to try any free option out there. Just want to know if there’s a decent browser that has a vpn built in.


    1. Benny

      Try the Epic Browser. It tries to offer extra privacy to its users by having different servers you can use when you’re online. It is interesting but I would never put my trust in such a browser with built in vpn. A solid, paid vpn is always much better. I use it as my 3rd browser and it’s good for when I need it which is not very often. It’s a no brainer for me to not invest $20-$50 in a good VPN (for 1-2 years of service) and stay safe whenever I’m online, torrenting, browsing, working. There are so many good vpns and their prices are very competitive that it makes it a perfect time to join one.


      1. Franco91

        Thanks, Benny. Never heard of Epic Browser but it does look interesting. Have already started using it as my second option and it’s a good browser with built in vpn. It works pretty well considering it’s free all the way. I am using it when I’m browsing around the net but I will also start considering getting a paid vpn for other things like torrenting. Now I need to see which one is the best vpn for torrenting. From what I can tell, there are plenty of options and it all comes down to personal preferences and budget. On a low budget, NordVPN, Surfshark or Windscribe look very good. I’m thinking of testing each of them for a month to see what the differences are and then I can decide on a bigger plan. I think a month should be enough to test one out and realize which one is a better fit for my needs.


        1. Dona

          Epic Browser is nice as a browser with built in vpn and you should also take a look at UR Browser. What’s most interesting about it is this: “compared to Chrome, the UR browser doesn’t affect the system performance heavily” – this is very important for me and maybe it is for you as well. Chrome is a real heavy hitter on my PC. This browser is not very well known like opera vpn for example, but it’s very good. Try it out and you’ll thank me.


  11. Sammy

    If you’re looking for a free vpn for pc, then try out Proton VPN. It’s just great. Probably the best free vpn for windows 10 out there. Been using it for a long time and I’m very happy I can browse safely. It’s not good for torrenting but I don’t use that so I don’t mind. If you just need to stay safer online then this is a great, free option. Now, are free vpn safe? Well, this one is. Most free options are not.


  12. Janine P

    I’m a huge fan of ProtonVPN (I use it with Protonmail as well). I feel they offer a great 100% free unlimited VPN software that’s very powerful and simple to use.


  13. Darius

    I thought ProtonVPN was the best free option but you’ve gave a better rating to Windscribe. Been using Proton for a few months now on windows 10 and it works great. The software is easy to install, I found a very good vpn server that works very well with my location and I get good speeds so I am happy but if Windscribe is better I must test it.


  14. Mark

    Very nice, thank you for compiling the great details. I was exactly looking for a best free vpn for android. Actually I want to use vpn for free on my mobile device because I do not use desktop computer a lot. I will give a try to your listed vpn services.


  15. Saleh

    That’s what I liked most about ProtonVPN software; it is the only VPN server that has both a good free version as well as a good paid one. These top 4 free VPN service picks are really the best VPN’s right now based on security as well as usability. Very nice to read this post!


  16. Mandy Robinson

    I have been wondering about getting a Free VPN List. I need one that is desktop safe for sure, though. I am really enjoying all of the help that this site has given me. I was so overwhelmed trying to do it on my own. Now I think I can figure it out.


  17. Pearson

    You show all of these VPNs on a mobile phone but do they also work on a desktop computer? I only have a stationary desktop and no laptop and I have no use for a VPN on my phone at all. If they are desktop-accessible I’m thinking the TunnelBear would be the best fit for me due to the great VPN client.


    1. Ethan Payne Author

      Yes, Pearson, all services on this best free VPN List work on desktop devices – you can safely download any of these apps and spoof your IP address by connecting to a VPN server. They’re all safe, secure, and – best of all – free.

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