Everyone likes free stuff, right? Who wouldn’t accept a free massage or use free software? However, when it comes to Virtual Private Networking (VPN) services, we advise you to tread carefully because it is a dangerous field full of landmines.
But that’s exactly why we are here: To help you find your way out of this maze of VPN protocols and features so that you can go with the best possible choice for your privacy or geo-unblocking needs. “The best is good enough” could be our slogan, because we would never settle for less.
Free VPN for Windows 7, 8, 8.1 and 10
Before unveiling our top 3 free VPNs for Windows 7, 8, 8.1, and 10, let us remind you that a free service always comes with compromises; the level of security, features, number of servers, speed, or versatility will probably be affected. In general, it is quite unlikely that you can use a free VPN for torrenting, Netflix, Hulu as well as any activity that would require maximum anonymity.
It costs a lot of money to maintain a VPN network. So, how on earth could it be free? Well, the provider has to make just enough bucks somehow to keep the service running, right? Or, did you think that VPNs and Charity walk hand in hand? Let us burst this pink bubble right here, right now.
Whether it’s a free or a paid VPN service, “it’s all about the money”; sorry, Jessie J, your Price Tag ain’t gonna resonate with the VPN market.
This is exactly why you should never use a completely free VPN because it will either show you annoying third-party ads (tracking cookie alert!) and videos or sell the personal data it logs about you and your online traffic, not to mention the lower quality of service you may get.
What’s even worse, hackers, cybercriminals, and governments can create their own free VPN services to lure unsuspecting computer users into a trap of full surveillance. You’d better avoid all the shady ones if you plan to protect your privacy.
It’s much more secure to use a free premium, or as it is also known, a freemium service, which is a limited version of a paid VPN. Of course, in this case, your service will still be limited in certain ways (time, traffic, speed, number of server locations, and security features), but you will get the best possible level of online privacy.
We kept two main criteria in our mind while ranking free VPNs for Windows: Your online security and usability.
Since there’s no difference between the VPNs for Windows 10 down to Windows 7, you can use the Windows client you download for whatever version of Windows OS you may have. Well, definitely not Windows XP, though, which is not even supported by Microsoft anymore. If you want to be safe in your virtual world, you’d better keep all your programs, including your OS, up-to-date anyway.
Let’s see now what we managed to come up with when ranking free VPNs for Windows.
Top 3 Free VPNs for Windows
It’s not that easy to rank free VPNs since if we were to change our criteria a bit, we could end up with a different ranking or even other services may show up in the top 3 list. As for now, we are quite certain about the first two positions, though; however, the bronze medalist free VPN for Windows 7, 8, 8.1, and 10 could be replaced by a few other choices. So, here’s what you can protect yourself with on the virtual highway if you don’t see why you should spend money on a premium VPN service just yet.
How about a free service that comes with unlimited bandwidth? Yep, no data limit whatsoever. This is one of the main reasons that make ProtonVPN our number 1 pick for Windows as it was also the gold medalist free VPN for Android, too. The other main reason is, of course, its great level of online security and privacy thanks to its features (e.g., the kill switch) and encryptions used.
Of course, it’s not all a bed of roses since you can only use 3 servers with 1 device for free and torrenting is not really possible without the dedicated servers. As we have said, there are always limitations, i.e., a price to pay for a free VPN service. Still, we believe that ProtonVPN is certainly worth a try if you want the best possible quality service in the free category.
#2 Windscribe VPN
Windscribe VPN limits your monthly data, so you can only use 10GB every month through this provider. It certainly cannot be compared with having unlimited bandwidth, but still enough for your everyday needs like IP spoofing, reading and watching geo-restricted web content, or even more.
This VPN also comes with good security and privacy features; however, you may suffer on the speed front.
#3 TunnelBear VPN
The favorite choice of many reviewers, and we also need to acknowledge that TunnelBear is a colorful contribution to the whole VPN palette. It has a jovial approach to UX with its genuine interface for all major platforms. But looks and ease of use are probably not the most important factors when choosing a free VPN for Windows 10 or whichever Windows OS you have, right?
Fortunately, TunnelBear VPN also provides you with IP/DNS leak protection through its kill switch (VigilantBear) and obfuscation through its GhostBear feature. There are two fronts where this free app bleeds out: Its 500MB monthly data cap and speed. This monthly data limit can be expanded by 1GB if you tweet about the company on Twitter, but it is still not enough for any decent geo-blocked HD video streaming unless you want to drain your monthly limit in a few hours.
Nevertheless, if you only want to unblock censored or restricted websites to read content that is not available for you at your location, feel free to give TunnelBear a try.
6 ways to use a Free VPN
We need to emphasize that we are not fans of free when it’s in one sentence with VPNs because anonymity, as in online security and privacy, is of utmost importance to us just like good download and upload speeds without possible annoying interruptions, such as connection drops.
There are more or less 6 ways to use a free VPN, and if you’re lucky, our above top 3 picks for Windows qualify for all these in one. You can successfully use a decent, high-quality free service:
- To fake your IP address, i.e., location
- To avoid the spying of your ISP, cybercriminals, and governments
- To protect your personal data
- To make using a public WiFi hotspot safe
- To stay anonymous on the virtual highway
- To access geo-blocked web content
But before you rush to install and use a free app for Windows 10, 8.1, 8, or 7, you may want to consider why it may not be a good idea in the long run.
Why Free VPNs are not such a good idea
There’s nothing wrong or bad about trying a paid VPN service for free so that you can have first-hand experience with regard to the ease of use, speeds (remember that the free versions are generally slower), connection times, possible drops, level of security and privacy, general usability, and versatility. By all means, try a premium service for free or use the 30-day money-back guarantee most top-notch VPNs offer to make sure you choose the best and most cost-effective service for your needs.
Nonetheless, there are obvious drawbacks for using an average free VPN as we try to keep pointing these out:
- slow or useless speeds
- third-party advertisements
- possible malware included
- logging and selling data to third parties
- lack of features and customizability
- possible IP/DNS/WebRTC leaks
- no support for P2P file sharing (torrenting), Netflix US/Netflix UK, and Hulu
With that said, we also cannot claim that the hundreds of millions of free users are making a huge mistake by exposing themselves to cybercriminals, hackers, ISPs, and government while believing they’re protected. It all boils down to what you want such a VPN service for. Make sure your needs match your choice, that’s all.
Click here to explore our Best VPN for Windows picks to have a broader view of your choices.