Are you worried about your privacy and security, but not quite ready to cough up the bucks for a paid VPN? Using a free VPN can be better than having no extra protection, so we’ve come up with a list to help you figure out the best free VPN services. You do need to be aware that although free VPNs can be better than nothing, they offer nowhere near the level of privacy and security of a trusted and paid-for VPN.
Why Do I Need a VPN?
The glory days of the internet are over. It’s no longer the wild west where anything goes. Now, we know that our ISPs could be logging anything we do, the government is looking over our shoulders and cybercrime continues to flourish. Especially in times when our lives are so intertwined with the online world, it’s important that we have ourselves protected to be able to keep our data secure and stay anonymous.
Normally, we would recommend a paid VPN such as ExpressVPN for those who have serious privacy and security concerns, however we understand that it isn’t in everyone’s budget. Free VPNs have serious limitations over some of the better paid VPNs, however the right free VPN is still better for your security than no VPN.
Considerations For a Free VPN
When choosing a free VPN, you need to do your research and make sure that you are using a reliable company. Be aware of what service they offer as well as what level of protection or security they will give you. It’s also helpful to know how the free VPN provider makes their money, because some sell your data to third parties. You need to be careful to choose one that will protect your data, rather than exploit it. You may have to check their terms and conditions to make sure that their service is private and secure.
Other downsides to free VPNs can include a large amount of advertisements, capped data usage, poor encryption or throttled bandwidth. All of these aspects can seriously affect your web experience and security, which is why we tend to recommend people use a reliable paid service, like ExpressVPN.
Not all free VPNs are created equal, so we’ve come up with this list to help you find out the best that is on offer, so that you can at least have a little bit of protection and piece of mind.
Best Free VPN Services Summary
If you’re really short on time, here is a quick look at our rankings. Scroll down further for more information.
#1 & Editor’s Choice: TotalVPN
TotalVPN offer both a free and premium service. Their premium service costs $4.99 per month and comes with substantial features, but the free service they offer is one of the best in its price range. Of course, a free service isn’t going to perform as well as a paid one and it won’t have as many extras, but TotalVPN is a good choice for those who are short on cash.
It’s very easy to sign up for TotalVPN and get it up and running. Their service doesn’t appear to sell off your data, nor are there any ads. They limit your bandwidth and your data transfers, which may mean that you will be unable to stream HD videos through their VPN. Other restrictions include only offering three servers for their free package and only allowing one device, instead of multiple simultaneous devices.
CyberGhost is another service that is quite impressive for a free VPN. Again, they can’t compete with the top paid providers, but they still offer a reasonable experience that doesn’t take logs, has a good support team, solid encryption and different servers to choose from. Users might get frustrated by the connection speeds of some servers and having to queue may prove an annoyance to some.
TunnelBear is a fun brand that also offer good service for a free VPN. They are upfront about their privacy agreement, so it seems like they really care about their users. Unfortunately, TunnelBear won’t work out so well for the pirates amongst us, because it is a Canadian based company and P2P is not allowed through their service. The real problem with TunnelBear is that they only offer 500MB of data transfer each months. This might be okay for light users, but for anything more heavy duty, it’s not going to work out.
Windscribe might be a new service, but they are hardly a slouch in the free VPN game. They offer reasonable connection speeds that are much more reliable than many other free VPN services. Windscribe are a bit more generous than TunnelBear and they offer their users up to 10 GB of data each month, which is great. One of the limitations is that Windscribe doesn’t allow its free users to access all of its servers. Their customer support is also quite poor at the moment, but it may improve in the future. Windscribe is a service that certainly isn’t for everyone, but there will be a number of users who are quite satisfied by what this free VPN can offer.
Rounding out our top 5 is VPNGate. It was set up by the University of Tsukuba in Japan and is run by volunteer relays across the world. The entire project is open source and it is continually being updated and improved. It began as a way to help people who struggle to access the open internet due to strong government censorship. Because of its university background, no P2P or illegal activities are allowed through the service and they keep full logs in order to make sure that no one is violating their terms. This will rule out the service for a lot of users, but for those who are happy to keep things legit, VPNGate can be a good choice. It may not have the fastest speeds, but they aren’t bad, either.
The Final Rundown on Free VPNs
If you decide to go with a free VPN, it’s important not to get complacent with it. Instead, you need to accept its limitations. You can’t just start using a free VPN, then start hacking the Pentagon and think that no one is going to find out. Like everything, you get what you pay for. We strongly recommend to most users who really care about their privacy and security, that they get one of the better paid for VPNs, such as ExpressVPN. These companies are more reliable and offer a premium level of services.
In saying that, for certain circumstances, a free VPN will be better than nothing. If you just want to unblock content that is censored by your government or ISP, one of the above choices will be fine. If you plan to use a VPN heavily, be aware that many of the free choices have either data caps or speed throttling. Feel free to try out any of the above options, but be aware that paid services are generally best for any serious VPN usage