One of the most important tools for online gamers is a virtual private network (VPN). It’s a great way of tightening up your data security and privacy, which are always at risk whenever you use the internet. It can also protect you from DDoS (Distributed Denial-of-Service) attacks, which are becoming painfully common in e-sports tournaments.
VPNs also provide other advantages, too: the ability to access content restricted to different locations, as well as the possibility of reducing connection lag. However, it should be noted that free services are never the perfect solution and come with a boatload of limitations. If you truly care about quality – check out our Best VPN for gaming list and choose the best premium provider for your needs.
What should the best free VPN for gaming feature?
- VPN security: will it protect you against DDoS attacks and privacy violations?
- Performance: does it provide speedy connections or limit your bandwidth?
- Entertainment: is it any good at bypassing geo-restrictions?
- Reliability against firewalls and censorship: is it any good for users in regions where internet access is heavily repressed (i.e. China)?
- Ease of use and customer support: is this a VPN for beginners or experts?
Best Free VPN for gaming overview
It should come as no surprise that free VPNs for gaming come with certain limitations that make them cumbersome to use. The most frustrating of which are data caps and bandwidth limitations. However, these shouldn’t interfere too much if you’re not planning weekend-long gaming sessions. Otherwise, we recommend opting for premium gaming VPNs instead.
Regardless, below you’ll find detailed descriptions of the top four free gaming VPNs that are worth considering.
1. Atlas VPN – the best free VPN for gaming
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- WireGuard tunneling protocol
- Internet kill switch
- Bypasses geo-restrictions and content filters
- Only three server locations in two countries
- One connection per account
Atlas VPN is the best free VPN for gaming. It offers the wicked-fast WireGuard tunneling protocol on top of reliable security features for any circumstances.
For starters, it provides strong military-grade encryption and a kill-switch to ensure an IP-leak-free gaming experience. And if the games you’re after are blocked in your country, you can utilize the two available countries – the USA, and the Netherlands – to get around that blocking. Atlas VPN uses WireGuard and IKEv2 tunneling protocols for safe and fast connections.
Atlas VPN is based in the US, a member of the Five Eyes alliance. Not necessarily a concern for gamers, but still something worth considering. On the other hand, they do minimal logging which doesn’t include identifiable information.
Finally, because this VPN is not completely free, premium users gain access to faster servers. The free servers are by no means slow, but you’re definitely not getting peak performance, which is what you might be aiming for while gaming. Additionally, the free plan only provides 10GB of data per month, which might not be enough for long-lasting gaming sessions.
Despite these minor flaws, Atlas VPN is still a great choice for gaming and their premium option is fairly cheap too.
For a deeper investigation of Atlas VPN, read our Atlas VPN review.
2. ProtonVPN – privacy-focused free gaming VPN
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- Unlimited bandwidth
- Strong encryption
- WireGuard tunneling protocol
- Only three server locations
- One connection per account
ProtonVPN is one of the best free VPN providers available today. The fact that it was developed by former CERN scientists should give you an indication of how comprehensive this service is.
Right off the bat, gamers should be enticed by the fact that ProtonVPN does not impose any bandwidth limits on its users. This means that your connection will not be overly affected by throttling or lags like with many other free VPN providers.
Its security credentials also largely stand up to scrutiny. It uses AES-256-bit encryption, which makes your connection invisible, impenetrable, and, most importantly, unhackable. ProtonVPN also supports the WireGuard protocol to ensure your connection remains totally secure and fast at the same time. OpenVPN and IKEv2 are available as well.
Better yet, it features a reliable kill switch within its arsenal, which protects your data in the event of server connection loss. Its Swiss registry also places it outside the jurisdiction of the Fourteen Eyes alliance, and its independently-audited no-logs policy is a huge privacy plus.
The catch with ProtonVPN is that it isn’t a free service, but a paid service that offers a “freemium” package. As with all VPN providers with this feature, there are certain limitations on the free package.
For one thing, the free package only grants access to three server locations (America, Netherlands, Japan) within the ProtonVPN server infrastructure. This not only means that there are only a few regions in which it can bypass geo-restrictions, but also that it isn’t an ideal choice if you’re not close to these regions.
Additionally, some of the fastest servers are only available to premium users only. This isn’t necessarily a speed limit, but a way to ensure quality and that the best available servers are not overcrowded.
Regardless, ProtonVPN is still an excellent choice for gaming and will ensure that your gaming sessions are more secure than ever.
For a deeper investigation of ProtonVPN, read our ProtonVPN review.
3. Hide Me VPN – free gaming VPN with four server locations
- Good security features
- Strong encryption
- 10GB/month of data
- Four server locations
- 1 connection per account
Hide.Me VPN is not a perfect choice, but it’s still a great alternative if you’re looking for more options to test out while gaming.
First off, like all of its predecessors, Hide.me uses strong military-grade encryption to ensure a secure and hack-free gaming experience. Tunneling protocols include: OpenVPN, IKEv2, SoftEtherVPN, SSTP, and WireGuard for premium users.
The free version of the app gives you four locations to choose from – USA, Canada, Netherlands, and Germany. Not great, but if you live in one of those countries then you’re in luck.
Hide.me also has a split tunneling feature, which allows you to decide which apps should go through the VPN tunnel and which should go around it. A kill switch is also available to prevent any IP leaks in the case of an unexpected loss of connection.
In the case of privacy you shouldn’t worry too much as this provider is based in Malaysia. Though not very famous when it comes to privacy havens, it’s not a member of the Fourteen Eyes alliance and has no mandatory data retention laws.
Unfortunately, Hide.Me shares the same problem with Windscribe – a bandwidth limit. It’s the same number at 10 GB/month, which might not be enough if you need the app often. However, in the case that you use up the 10 GB before the end of the month, you’ll still be able to use the app, but you’ll be connected to a random server.
You also won’t be able to make use of the WireGuard protocol, which would be a great speed boost. Sadly, it’s only available to premium users.
For a deeper investigation of Hide Me VPN, read our Hide Me VPN review.
4. Windscribe – free gaming VPN with excellent server variety
- Great security features
- 15 server locations
- Unlimited connections
- 10 GB bandwidth allowance
- Average speeds
Windscribe is another great alternative for gamers. Despite some nagging flaws, it also offers a significant amount of features that most free VPN plans do not. Still, we believe that no bandwidth limitation is very important for gamers and so this provider is only the third-best option.
You can use Windscribe with a lot of different tunneling protocols, including IKEv2, OpenVPN TCP/UDP, Stealth, and WStunnel. This in conjunction with their strong military-grade encryption makes it a great and versatile option for any use case.
They also offer a significantly wider array of 15 server locations to choose from. This means that there’s a better chance you’ll be able to choose a server close to your location.
One factor that may worry some users, though, is that Windscribe is registered in Canada. This is a Five Eyes country that cooperates with other member states to spy on its citizens; anyone who runs a server in this territory is required by law to comply with all data requests from the authorities.
However, Windscribe adheres to a strict no-logs policy. This claim is verified through its warrant canary, which states that out of hundreds of thousands of DMCA requests, Windscribe has complied with exactly none due to “lack of relevant data.”
Not only does it bypass geo-restrictions rather easily, Windscribe offers timezone spoofing as a feature. Above anything else, this allows you to obtain early access to some content!
Unfortunately, Windscribe, as with many other free VPN providers, has its limitations. Its bandwidth allowance is limited to just 10 GB per month, and the speeds aren’t great on the free plan because you can’t use the WireGuard tunneling protocol.
Granted, 10 GB is more than what a lot of free VPN providers offer (TunnelBear only offers 500 MB/month), but considering the amount of data gaming chews up, it may prove frustrating for many players.
While it isn’t the best free VPN for gaming, Windscribe is still a viable choice if you only need it every so often. Additionally, you can earn more bandwidth by tweeting about Windscribe and/or recommending it to a friend!
For a deeper investigation of Windscribe VPN, read our Windscribe VPN review.
As you can see, there aren’t that many great free VPNs for gaming. Usually, it’s either speed, security, or a bandwidth limit that turns out to be the deal-breaker. So don’t skimp out on essential security when playing games online and get yourself a proper VPN service.
Ethan is a security researcher and digital privacy advocate. He spends his time unraveling various anonymity and security tools, plus contributing to open-source projects. Otherwise, he keeps a low profile by hiking or cycling around the countryside.