Table of contents
- Are Free VPNs Safe to Use?
Top 8 Best Free VPNs of 2023
- 1. PrivadoVPN: Best free VPN for Windows and Mac Users
- Verdict on PrivadoVPN's Free Version
- 2. Proton VPN: Best free VPN with unlimited data and many extra benefits
- Verdict on Proton VPN's Free Version
- 3. hide.me: Best free VPN in terms of customer support
- Verdict on hide.me Free
- 4. TunnelBear: Best free VPN if you’re looking for many server locations
- Verdict on TunnelBear's Free Version
- 5. Windscribe: Best free VPN for fast connection speeds
- Verdict on Windscribe Free
- 6. Atlas VPN: Best free VPN for Android and iOS
- Verdict on Atlas VPN Free
- 7. ZoogVPN: Best free VPN with a ‘Refer a Friend’ program
- Verdict on ZoogVPN's Free Version
- 8. Hotspot Shield: Best free VPN with a generous data limit
- Verdict on Hotspot Shield Free
- How Did We Determine Our Top Eight Best Free VPNs List?
- Free VPNs vs. Paid VPNs
- Free VPNs You Should Avoid
- Conclusion: What Is the Best Free VPN?
Free VPN services can help improve your online privacy and hide your location, but it is important to choose a good VPN. With certain free VPNs secretly collecting your browsing data or butchering your internet speeds, you could be in for a bad time.
Luckily, there are some good free VPN options out there. After testing over 16 popular VPN free subscriptions, these are the best free VPNs in 2023:
- PrivadoVPN: Best free VPN for Windows and Mac
- Proton VPN: Great VPN free plan that offers unlimited data
- hide.me: VPN that has very good customer service for free and paid plans
- TunnelBear: Free VPN plan that offers a wide range of server locations
- Windscribe: Free VPN that is superb for those in need of high internet speed
- Atlas VPN: Great VPN to use for free on Android and iOS
- ZoogVPN: A free VPN that offers a referral program that gives you an extra 5GB for every person you refer
- Hotspot Shield: A VPN that provides a high data limit with its free plan
These VPN providers offer excellent protection 100% cost-free. Unfortunately, they still come with limitations, like speed caps and data limits.
If you want an affordable VPN without restrictions that is fast, secure, and great for streaming, we recommend Surfshark. Surfshark is one of the few top VPNs that offer a free trial (if you sign up from your mobile device) and a 30-day money-back guarantee on all paid packages. It’s definitely worth a try!
Are Free VPNs Safe to Use?
You always need to be careful with “free” products and services, and VPNs are no exception. Although some free VPNs perform very well, other VPNs can offer a bad experience or even put your privacy in danger. Here are a few examples of the shady, predatory tricks some free VPNs might pull on you:
- Some free VPN providers monitor the websites you visit, so they can sell this data to marketing agencies. Hoxx VPN and Psiphon Pro are VPNs that track your traffic and share it with third parties.
- Free providers might lend your connection to other customers, so everything these users do will be connected to your IP. For example, Hola VPN sells your data connection to other customers.
- Free VPN software may contain malware. For instance, Turbo VPN was flagged for containing adware and harmful spyware.
- Some free VPNs have compromised and leaked their users’ data. This pertains to VPNs like SuperVPN, GeckoVPN, ChatVPN, and QuickFox.
Does this mean you can’t use free VPNs without putting yourself in danger? Not at all. If you stick to the top choices recommended in this article, you’re minimizing any potential risk.
Worth considering: Premium VPN free trial for 30 days
Free VPNs are generally limited in some way, whether it’s a traffic cap or speed limit. Premium VPNs, on the other hand, are more secure and offer more options, such as:
- Unlimited data
- Unlimited speed
- 24/7 (live) customer support
- Access to streaming services from all over the world
- Many more server locations
Luckily, you can try certain premium VPN services for free. We have run extensive tests on Surfshark and have discovered, that apart from its great security features it’s also really cheap.
You can get a Surfshark free trial with their 30-day money-back guarantee. Just ask for a refund before those 30 days are up, and it won’t cost you a dime. Plus, Surfshark offers a pretty good deal if you do decide to invest in a trustworthy VPN that can do it all.
For less than $3 per month, you get all the advantages of a premium VPN: Try Surfshark VPN now with a 30-day money-back guarantee!
Top 8 Best Free VPNs of 2023
If a free VPN is what you’re looking for, there are a few reliable options. You won’t even have to provide your payment information or make use of a money-back guarantee with the options below. Free really is free with these VPN providers.
Eight of the free VPNs we tested were good enough to make our list.
All these free VPNs have their strengths and weaknesses. Read on to find out which one fits your needs best.
1. PrivadoVPN: Best free VPN for Windows and Mac Users
PrivadoVPN is the best free VPN on the market and our editor’s choice. PrivadoVPN promises to keep your identity private, and it delivers on that promise. There are many reasons why this provider ended up at the top of the list, so let’s dive right in.
|Server locations||The United States, The Netherlands, Canada, Mexico, Switzerland, Germany, the United Kingdom, Argentina, Brazil, and France|
|Data limit||10 GB per month|
|Speed cap||No speed cap for the first 10 GB of monthly data, after that a speed cap of 1 Mbps|
|Unblocks streaming services||✔ (Unblocks most big streaming services, except Netflix US)|
|Website||Visit the PrivadoVPN website|
What makes PrivadoVPN a good free VPN?
Devices: PrivadoVPN has some great features that make it one of the best free VPNs out there. To start, it has apps for Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, and Android TV. There even is a Fire TV Stick App, which is pretty cool!
Servers: There are loads of server locations available for free users, especially compared to other free VPNs like Proton VPN and Atlas VPN. This makes PrivadoVPN one of the more suitable free VPNs for circumventing geographic restrictions on the web.
Using the free version of PrivadoVPN will grant you access to servers in:
- The United States
- The Netherlands
- United Kingdom
This means you can use PrivadoVPN to easily gain access to websites, apps, and streaming platforms that work in those countries.
Fantastic privacy standards: During our tests, we were impressed by Privado’s privacy and security features. This VPN provider is based in Switzerland, which is known for its strong privacy protection laws. As such, PrivadoVPN can guarantee users a strict zero-logs policy, which means that the provider does not keep track of your browsing behavior. Exactly what we’re looking for!
Military-grade security: PrivadoVPN offers AES 256-bit encryption and top-notch protocols like IKEv2, WireGuard, and OpenVPN. In layman’s terms: it protects your data properly. PrivadoVPN Free also comes with an automatic kill switch. This means that, if the VPN connection drops, it will block your access to the internet so your data isn’t spread online. These are essential security features often found only in paid VPN services. The fact that you get it all for free with PrivadoVPN is commendable.
Works with streaming: PrivadoVPN works wonders with most streaming services. We were able to watch HBO Max, Disney Plus, and Amazon Prime, as well as non-US Netflix libraries. However, like many VPNs, PrivadoVPN did struggle with the US version of Netflix at times. The data limit might result in further struggles, as we’ll discuss in more detail below.
Allows torrents and P2P: If you’re old-school and into P2P file sharing, you’ll be happy to know that PrivadoVPN allows its users to torrent to their hearts’ content. We tried downloading some torrents and didn’t encounter any throttling issues, which made us very happy.
Limitations of PrivadoVPN
Speed restrictions after hitting the 10 GB monthly data limit: This is where things get messy. PrivadoVPN offers unlimited speeds — as long as you stay within the monthly 10 GB data limit.
While most free VPNs will simply cut you off after reaching your data cap, you can still use PrivadoVPN after depleting your 10 GB of monthly data. Even though that’s great in itself, there is a catch: you’ll be limited to just one server and a 1 Mbps connection speed. This is something we wouldn’t wish on our worst enemy: agonizingly slow internet! Take our word for it, a 1 Mbps connection speed can be very frustrating, especially when streaming!
No Linux support: We have some harsh news for Linux lovers: PrivadoVPN has no dedicated Linux app. Linux users are better off using a free service like Windscribe.
One connection at a time: You can only use PrivadoVPN’s free version on one device at a time. This means you cannot use the same free PrivadoVPN account on several devices simultaneously. However, you can easily circumvent this issue by creating multiple accounts using different (anonymous) email addresses.
Overall, PrivadoVPN performed exceptionally well in our tests and has several impressive features you wouldn’t expect from a free service. We also tested Privado’s premium version, if you’re curious about our take on their paid VPN plan.
Verdict on PrivadoVPN's Free Version
PrivadoVPN has a beautiful app, works intuitively, and is fast and user-friendly. It’s currently the best free VPN out there for Windows and Mac, but only for “light” users that stay within the 10GB monthly data limit. If you exceed that 10 GB, the experience becomes quite excruciating because of the capped speeds.
PrivadoVPN’s strengths and shortcomings can be summarized as follows:
- Great for privacy: Does not keep user activity logs
- Lots of servers available to free users
- Kill switch (Rare on free VPNs!)
- Easy to use
- No Linux application
- 10 GB monthly data limit: when you hit the limit, PrivadoVPN greatly reduces your server options and connection speeds
- Not great for extensive streaming due to the data limit
2. Proton VPN: Best free VPN with unlimited data and many extra benefits
Proton VPN is one of the most well-known free VPNs, with a huge user base and solid reputation. This provider is ideal if you need unlimited data to browse the internet for as long as you like.
|Server locations||The US, The Netherlands, and Japan|
|Unblocks streaming services||✖ (Only on premium subscription plans)|
|Website||Visit the Proton VPN website|
What makes Proton VPN Free a good choice?
Works on many devices: ProtonVPN works well on almost all of your devices. You can install it on Mac, Windows, Android, Android TV, iOS, Linux, Chromebook, and even on certain routers. Its great device support is not its only perk, however.
Fantastic privacy and security: This popular provider from Switzerland offers user-friendly software, an excellent free package of security tools, and high-level encryption.
Proton VPN is also one of the few VPN apps that are open-source, which means that a community of developers works to improve the software regularly. This process makes Proton VPN safer and more transparent, even for free users. Not to mention, Proton VPN apps are also audited by cybersecurity professionals to guarantee a high degree of online safety.
As you might expect, Proton VPN doesn’t keep any logs of user data. As long as your VPN connection is activated, you’ll be safe and anonymous. In addition to a kill switch, Proton VPN sports these secure VPN protocols:
- Stealth (to help overcome censorship)
No data limit: Most notably, Proton VPN Free has no data limits. That’s a huge thing: Proton is the only reliable free VPN that offers this. It also doesn’t have any speed limits, so you can use this free VPN for as long as you want.
Access to the complete Proton security suite: Creating a Proton account gives you access to a whole suite of other security services. These include:
- Proton Mail: a secure email service
- Proton Calendar: a feature with end-to-end encryption
- Proton Drive: free secure cloud storage of 1 GB
If you choose to upgrade to a premium Proton VPN plan, you get upgrades for all these services, making it a great all-in-one online privacy provider.
Limitations of Proton VPN Free
Low connection speeds: Although the free version of Proton VPN doesn’t have a speed cap, it can be quite slow at times. This makes sense, considering the large volume of free users using the rather limited number of free Proton VPN servers. Internet speeds can dip as the servers struggle to handle all the traffic.
The Proton website openly advertises the speed of their free VPN as “medium,” while their paid subscriptions all have “high speeds.”
Lack of server locations: Free users are not spoiled for choice when it comes to Proton VPN’s server locations. You’ll be able to connect to 38 servers in the Netherlands, 8 servers in Japan, and 22 servers in the United States. Since there are only three countries with free servers, Proton VPN’s unblocking capacities are a bit limited when compared to, for instance, the free version of PrivadoVPN. Unfortunately, server variety is something you’ll often have to sacrifice when using free VPNs.
One connection at a time: You can use Proton for free on one device at a time. Seeing as it’s a free service, however, you could theoretically register multiple accounts with different email addresses. This way, you can protect every device you own with a separate free account.
No torrent support for free users: Torrent lovers will have a bad time with Proton VPN free, as it doesn’t support torrent downloads. This means you cannot safely download files even from the best torrent sites when you are connected to a free Proton VPN server. However, if you choose to upgrade to the premium version, you will be able to torrent with Proton VPN.
Lousy streaming capabilities: Are you a streaming enthusiast? Then avoid Proton VPN’s free version. We did not succeed in getting Netflix or any other major streaming services to work properly. Proton VPN is useful if you want more privacy, but it’s not the best pick for entertainment and streaming purposes.
Verdict on Proton VPN's Free Version
Proton VPN is one of the best free VPNs currently available, thanks to its great security features and unlimited bandwidth. We also reviewed the premium version of Proton VPN, if you’re curious about upgrading.
Proton VPN’s strengths and shortcomings can be summarized as follows:
- Unlimited data usage
- Great reputation for privacy and security
- Works well on most operating systems (Windows, Apple, Android)
- Comes with great additional privacy products
- Limited server selection
- Low speeds
- Not good for streaming or downloading torrents
3. hide.me: Best free VPN in terms of customer support
Hide.me is a trustworthy VPN that allows P2P file sharing and has excellent free customer support. If you’re a beginning VPN user who likes to torrent safely, this is the best free option for you.
|Simultaneous connections allowed||1|
|Server locations||United States (East, West), The Netherlands, Germany, and Canada|
|Data limit||10 GB per month|
|Unblocks streaming services||✖|
|Website||Visit the hide.me website|
What makes hide.me a good free VPN?
Extra goodies during first week: If you’re curious about hide.me’s premium servers and features, their free version is all you need. During the first week of your membership, you’ll be able to try hide.me premium with a seven-day free trial. After that, you’ll be limited to the free features.
Great customer support: As part of our review process, we always check a VPN provider’s customer support – and Hide.me delivered. The customer support representative was quick to respond to our query and their advice was on point. If you need assistance, you can count on hide.me to follow through.
Solid privacy protection: Hide.me is a zero-logs VPN, which is certified by independent third parties. This means the provider doesn’t store any information about your internet activities, which is good news for the privacy-conscious. Not to mention, hide.me is based in Malaysia, so it doesn’t have to deal with invasive privacy laws like VPN providers that are headquartered in 14 Eyes countries.
Torrent support: In the past, hide.me didn’t allow free users to download torrents. Luckily, hide.me changed this policy, and free users can download safely via torrent sites now. Do keep in mind the monthly data cap of 10GB!
Compatible with many devices: hide.me has an app for most major operating systems, including Windows, iOS, macOS, Android, Linux, and even Fire TV Stick.
Decent security and encryption protocols: Unlike many other free VPNs, hide.me offers plenty of different VPN protocols to choose from:
Our tip: Go for WireGuard. It’s the most advanced protocol hide.me has to offer and will ensure solid speeds and good protection.
Limitations of the free version of hide.me
Very few free VPN servers: The free subscription of hide.me only gives you access to five servers in four countries: one in the Netherlands, Canada, and Germany, and two in the USA (East and West). Not very impressive, but still quite okay for a free provider.
Not good for streaming: Hide.me free VPN does not work with Netflix US. We tested this ourselves and weren’t able to unblock any geo-restricted shows or movies on Netflix. The hide.me website mentions that their free version can’t unblock most streaming sites. This is a real shame, but not surprising, considering this is a free service.
Not great for binge-watching and downloading: Another drawback of the free version of hide.me is that it has a data limit of 10 GB per month. If you want to stream or download anything, you will reach this data limit quite rapidly. If streaming is important to you, a premium VPN option like Surfshark or NordVPN is a much more compelling alternative.
One connection at a time: Similar to most other free VPNs, you’ll only be able to protect one device at a time with hide.me.
Annoying upsells: One thing that made hide.me drop in ranking for us, was that it can be pushy with its upsell campaign. There’s always a button that urges you to switch to premium when using the free version of the app. Moreover, if you click on any premium feature, you are pressed to upgrade. Some users might find this annoying – we sure did!
Verdict on hide.me Free
While hide.me’s free version is not the best free VPN out there, it definitely has its merits. It has a relatively generous data limit and is our go-to suggestion for anyone looking to torrent without paying for a subscription. Our full hide.me review dives into the additional features of its premium version, in case you’re interested.
For now, here’s a roundup of the best and worst parts of the free VPN offered by hide.me:
- Free premium trial during first week
- Perfect for torrenting
- Strong privacy protection and encryption for your data
- Incredibly helpful customer support, even for the free version
- Small server network
- Doesn't work for unblocking streaming services like Netflix
- Data cap limits the use of this VPN
- Pushes its premium version through ads
4. TunnelBear: Best free VPN if you’re looking for many server locations
TunnelBear gives the best combination of a practical VPN with many servers and a fun VPN with a lot of cartoon bears. While it has a narrow data limit, people who enjoy a lot of choice in server locations, as well as a good interface, will have a great time with TunnelBear’s free service.
|Simultaneous connections allowed||5|
|Server locations||42 countries, including the US and the UK|
|Data limit||500/1,500 MB per month|
|Unblocks streaming services||✔ (Except Netflix US)|
|Website||Visit the TunnelBear website|
What makes TunnelBear a good free VPN?
Huge server network: The main reason why TunnelBear is one of the best free VPNs, is because of its huge server list. Even with the free version, TunnelBear allows you to choose from all of its available servers in 42 countries, including the US, the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain, France, Brazil, India, and Italy. They give you the same experience as with their premium version, which is unique among free VPNs.
Many options for streaming: We tested TunnelBear to see if it can unblock online streaming sites with those countless servers. The results were a resounding success. TunnelBear was able to circumvent geo-restrictions from sites like Hulu, BBC iPlayer, and YouTube. While it cannot unblock all versions of Netflix, we were even able to enjoy Netflix UK with TunnelBear’s free VPN!
Extremely fun and user-friendly: Who said VPNs need to be boring? As you can tell from the screenshots in our TunnelBear review, this VPN’s software is clear, fun, and easy to use. The visual style is unique and engaging, and the app is very easy to install. Our editors are big fans of all the bear-related puns in this app.
Solid security and encryption: TunnelBear’s security and encryption are also very solid. This free VPN offers some great extra features like a kill switch (VigilantBear) and obfuscation technology to hide the fact you’re using a VPN (GhostBear). This means you’ll be able to unblock more streaming services with TunnelBear VPN Free than with any of its competitors.
Simultaneous connections: TunnelBear Free is available for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS, and can be used on multiple devices at the same time, just like their paid one. Would you like a “bear” on your phone as well as your computer? No problem. Although this might make you wonder… What’s the catch?
Limitations of the free version of TunnelBear
500 MB data limit: The biggest disadvantage of using TunnelBear is the data limit, as you only get 500 MB per month. Most people would surpass this data limit in a day, especially when streaming videos. You can add 1 GB of free data to this limit if you tweet about TunnelBear, but that’s not ideal for people looking for more online privacy.
Limited customer support: Customer support is limited for free users, with paying customers getting “priority customer service.” So you might have a harder time getting help without TunnelBear Premium. If you’re looking for active customer support, hide.me might be a better option for you.
Torrenting not allowed: Unfortunately, TunnelBear doesn’t allow P2P traffic on its servers, so you won’t be able to torrent using TunnelBear.
Can’t unblock Netflix US: Another drawback is that, while TunnelBear did great with unblocking streaming in most cases, it didn’t work consistently. Moreover, we couldn’t access Netflix US at all. Your best bet for that is still a premium VPN.
Verdict on TunnelBear's Free Version
The free version of TunnelBear is high quality, but only suitable if you don’t mind the tight data restrictions. The unpaid package can suffice if you occasionally want to safely log in on a public Wi-Fi network. Other than that, you’ll need to pay up.
Here are the main pros and cons of TunnelBear Free:
- Big server network: choose from locations all over the world
- A fun experience with a cute bear-themed design
- Unblock countless streaming services
- Strong security and extra features like obfuscation (Rare for free VPNs)
- Very limited data: you will likely run through the 500 MB in a day
- Doesn't work with torrenting
- No access to US Netflix (although you might get lucky once in a while)
5. Windscribe: Best free VPN for fast connection speeds
Windscribe is a good, popular, free VPN that works on almost all operating systems and devices, including Linux. It also offers fast servers and a reasonable data limit. We conducted a thorough Windscribe review and found that even the free version mostly lives up to the hype.
|Simultaneous connections allowed||Unlimited|
|Server locations||United States, United Kingdom, The Netherlands, Canada, Hong Kong, France, Germany, Switzerland, Norway, and Romania|
|Data limit||2 GB to 10 GB per month|
|Unblocks streaming services||✔ (But cannot unblock Netflix)|
|Website||Visit the Windscribe website|
What makes Windscribe a good free VPN?
World-class security measures: This service’s security measures are world-class, even though news broke in July 2021 that Windscribe hadn’t updated some of their servers for years. They’ve clearly moved past that hiccup and are now back on track.
Works on all major operating systems: A big reason why Windscribe is considered one of the best free VPNs is because it works on all major operating systems: Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, and even FireTV Sticks. For Linux users, especially, Windscribe is the perfect free option.
Unlimited simultaneous connections: You can use Windscribe on as many devices as you want at the same time, so the entire family can be protected with just one account.
Servers in many countries: The free version of Windscribe has fewer options than the paid package. For free users, Windscribe only provides 11 servers in a handful of countries. Paying customers have access to servers in as many as 63 countries. However, for a free VPN, the number of server locations is still surprisingly high.
Fast and seamless browsing and downloading: Windscribe servers are very fast, which is our favorite part of this VPN. The servers maintained good speeds when we used them for browsing, even while downloading torrents.
Respected security protocols: The privacy-conscious users among us will also appreciate that Windscribe offers multiple strong security protocols:
Extra security features: Windscribe VPN free offers some great extra (security) features, like an ad blocker that will prevent ads with malware from reaching your device and a kill switch. You even get a split tunneling option. This allows you to determine what part of your traffic should pass through the VPN, which is something you rarely see in a free VPN.
Limitations of Windscribe free VPN
2 GB data limit: This free VPN service has a data limit of 2 GB per month. However, if you choose to share your email address with Windscribe and verify your account, you get 10 GB a month.
Keep in mind that this is technically a payment: you “pay” with your email address and get more data in return. Unfortunately, Windscribe can use your data for marketing and might share it with third parties. That’s why we recommend you use an anonymous email address to sign up for Windscribe.
On top of that, it’s important to remember that 10 GB might be enough to scroll through Reddit and Twitter, but not much else. You’ll burn through pretty quickly, especially if you stream movies or download content.
Annoying interface and software: Windscribe’s software is not as easy to use as that of some of the other free VPN providers listed above. Most of the buttons in the software take you to your account page on their website, which feels very ineffective. We would prefer it if you could change your account settings in the VPN application itself.
No Netflix streaming: Unfortunately, we were unable to access Netflix with Windscribe. While this is a downside, it is rare to see a free VPN that can unblock Netflix these days. However, you can easily watch Netflix with a VPN offered by premium providers.
Verdict on Windscribe Free
Windscribe’s free VPN package is really solid, especially if you’re a Linux user. The speeds are great, although the data limits are strict. That being said, Windscribe isn’t a great pick for people who enjoy watching Netflix with their VPN, as it can’t unblock the streaming giant. If you like Windscribe but want more out of your account, try Windscribe’s premium version.
Here’s a summary of the best and worst parts of Windscribe’s free version:
- Windscribe is a true Speedy Gonzales: really fast connection speeds!
- One of the best free VPNs in terms of security and privacy
- Has been around for a long time, with countless satisfied users
- Not ideal for Netflix and other streaming services
- Interface could be improved
6. Atlas VPN: Best free VPN for Android and iOS
Atlas VPN Free comes with generous bandwidth and some great features for mobile devices. It’s the perfect option if you need a VPN on the go and don’t feel like spending money on it.
|Simultaneous connections allowed||1|
|Server locations||The Netherlands and the United States|
|Data limit||10 GB per month|
|Unblocks streaming services||✖ (Streaming only on premium subscription plans)|
|Website||Visit the Atlas VPN website|
What makes Atlas VPN a good free VPN?
Great mobile apps: Atlas VPN is a relatively new provider, but they’re already excelling when it comes to their mobile software. It’s very easy to use, as you can connect with a single tap, and it even comes with some exclusive features. On top of that, you can use the free version of Atlas VPN immediately after installing the app: you don’t even have to create an account or sign in.
Split tunneling: One of the features offered on mobile is split tunneling, which allows you to use the VPN connection on some apps but not on others. This way, you can protect your online activity while browsing social media, but enjoy high speeds when streaming content. This is a unique feature to be offered by a free VPN service, so if it strikes your fancy, Atlas VPN might be the choice for you.
No speed limits: With Atlas VPN, you get a cap of 10 GB per month, without any speed limits. This isn’t as good as the unlimited data that Proton VPN free offers, but it’s still enough for everyday use. Just don’t expect to use Atlas for lots of streaming and torrenting.
High speeds: Free users can access three locations: the Netherlands, Los Angeles, and New York. Our speed tests indicated that Atlas VPN offers pretty high speeds across all of these servers. While you may be limited in the number of locations you can choose between, at least you won’t have to deal with long waiting times and loading wheels.
Top-of-the-shelf security: In terms of security, Atlas is considered one of the best free VPNs, as your data is protected by AES-256-bit encryption and the highly secure WireGuard protocol, as well as IPSec/IKEv2. That may sound technical, but it just means that strangers won’t be able to read your data, no matter how hard they try. The free version also offers a kill switch, which you can enable from the settings menu.
Limitations of Atlas VPN’s free version
Only three server locations in two countries: Compared to other options, like TunnelBear, the three servers spread over the US and the Netherlands offered by Atlas VPN Free might feel quite limiting. There’s simply not a lot of choice!
Can’t unblock streaming services: Unfortunately, we weren’t able to unblock Netflix or any other streaming services when using Atlas VPN’s free servers. If you’re looking for a great streaming experience, you’ll want to look elsewhere.
Not suitable for long streaming sessions or downloading: While a 10 GB data limit is quite generous among free VPNs, it can become a problem if you plan on using your VPN constantly. Especially if you like binging TV shows or enjoy torrenting (which is allowed with Atlas VPN), you’ll quickly find yourself reaching that ceiling and being left without a VPN connection.
Collects data: Although Atlas VPN claims to be a “no logs” VPN, it does collect some data, such as device identifiers, which is a code attached to your smartphone, computer, or any other device. The VPN is also based in the United States, a 5 Eyes country, which means the US may share user data with other member countries. This is a real bummer for us, since we’re all for online privacy.
Malfunctioning kill switch: During our tests, we experienced a few technical issues, the biggest of which was that the kill switch didn’t work properly. We can’t be sure that will happen to you when you try Atlas VPN, and we trust that the provider will fix this bug as soon as possible, but for the sake of transparency, we wanted to mention it, anyway.
Verdict on Atlas VPN Free
Atlas VPN is one of the best free VPN services, with high speeds and solid security. It is a great choice for iOS and Android users, but can be a bit too restricting for some. If you’re interested in the features included in their paid version, you can read our Atlas VPN review for all the details.
Here’s a short overview of the good and the bad of Atlas VPN’s free version:
- Great smartphone apps that include split tunneling option
- No speed limits: servers are fast and reliable
- Solid security protocols that will protect your data from snooping strangers
- Part of the Nord Security group, one of the industry leaders in encryption and privacy
- Few servers available for free VPN users
- Not a great option for streaming
- 10 GB data limit might be frustrating for some users
- Kill switch might malfunction
7. ZoogVPN: Best free VPN with a ‘Refer a Friend’ program
ZoogVPN is a free zero-logs VPN provider with a useful referral program. Unfortunately, its security isn’t as good as that of other free VPNs (it doesn’t use 256-bit encryption) and the free version can only be used on one device at a time.
|Simultaneous connections allowed||1|
|Server locations||The US, The UK, and The Netherlands|
|Data limit||10 GB – 50 GB per month|
|Unblocks streaming services||✖ (Only on premium subscription plans)|
|Website||Visit the ZoogVPN website|
What makes ZoogVPN a good free VPN?
Multiple encryption protocols: ZoogVPN is known as one of the best free VPNs, because it offers multiple encryption protocols. Free users can choose between IKEv2 and OpenVPN. Paying subscribers have more options, but OpenVPN is good enough for the average internet user. ZoogVPN free doesn’t have as many VPN protocols as some of the other entries on this list, but it’s still secure enough when compared to most free VPNs.
Available for many devices: ZoogVPN has apps for Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, and smart TVs. This makes it very versatile. We found it a real plus that we could test this VPN from whatever device we wanted, and you can do the same!
Kill switch: While testing the free application of ZoogVPN, we noticed it also offers a kill switch. This feature ensures that all internet traffic is interrupted when the secure VPN connection unexpectedly drops. In other words, it protects your data so it doesn’t leak without you noticing. Excellent news for your privacy!
Limitations of ZoogVPN
Lower levels of encryption: One downside of ZoogVPN free is that it uses 128-bit encryption, instead of the AES 256-bit offered by most other VPNs. 128-bit encryption is still good and won’t be easily breached by anyone, but it’s a miss when compared to the other entries on this list.
Access to just five servers: With ZoogVPN’s free package, you can only access five servers: in the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany, the Netherlands, and Singapore. This is a limited number, even if the server locations are nicely spread out over the globe.
One connection only: You can only use the free version on one device at a time, so if you want to use it on both your phone and your computer, you’ll have to turn it off on one the moment you connect on the other.
10 GB data limit: ZoogVPN has a data limit of 10 GB per month. Data limits are always a bummer, but ZoogVPN has a nice workaround: every paying customer you refer to ZoogVPN will get you an additional 5 GB of data, and you can earn up to 50 GB per month. While 10 GB is a limiting data cap, it’s not as bad as most of the other free VPNs, especially if you have a lot of friends willing to subscribe to its paid plan.
Inconsistent internet speeds: The VPN servers of ZoogVPN are quite fast, as seen in our ZoogVPN tests, but when they are under heavier loads, free users will be the first to notice.
Can’t unblock Netflix: When we tested ZoogVPN’s free servers, Netflix did not work, and we experienced considerable lag at times.
Verdict on ZoogVPN's Free Version
ZoogVPN might not be the number one VPN on our list, but it is still an excellent option among the hundreds of free VPN options on the market. ZoogVPN held its own when we put it to the test, so it deserves a spot on our list of the best free VPN services.
ZoogVPN may have its fair share of limitations, like every free product out there, but it remains a decent free VPN. You can find a ZoogVPN free download link by clicking the orange button below.
Here’s a quick overview of the pros and cons of ZoogVPN:
- Available on many devices and operating systems
- Kill switch will protect your data at crucial moments
- Subpar encryption compared to competitors
- Speeds might drop at busy times
- Only a handful of servers for free users
8. Hotspot Shield: Best free VPN with a generous data limit
Hotspot Shield is a popular free VPN with some of the most advantageous data limits. However, it uses 128-bit encryption, and the free version of the app is not very user-friendly. It also caught some flak over the years for its lack of data protection on free plans. Even so, for a free service, it offers some interesting features you might like.
|Simultaneous connections allowed||1|
|Server locations||The US, Singapore, The United Kingdom|
|Data limit||500 MB per day|
|Speed cap||2 MBps|
|Unblocks streaming services||✖ (Only on premium subscription plans)|
|Website||Visit the Hotspot Shield website|
What makes Hotspot Shield a good free VPN?
Unique VPN protocol: Hotspot Shield is one of the best free VPNs, as it uses a proprietary VPN protocol, Hydra, which is based on the industry standard of OpenVPN.
Extra security options: This VPN features amazing security features not available on most free VPNs. These include IP and DNS leak protection (to prevent third parties from seeing your data), traffic obfuscation (to disguise your internet traffic), and DNS filtering. If you’re looking for a secure free VPN, Hotspot Shield is one of the most feature-rich choices.
15 GB data per month: Hotspot’s free VPN has the best data limits (after Proton VPN) if you add them all up. With Hotspot Shield, you get 500 MB per day, which means you have around 15 GB per month if you use it well.
As with every free service, there is a catch. Let’s talk about Hotspot Shield’s downsides.
Limitations of Hotspot Shield
Not the best speeds: Hotspot Shield VPN free had decent speeds when we tested it, but it was not the fastest VPN.
Limited daily data: Your unused daily data doesn’t roll over to the next day of using Hotspot Shield for free. So even if you just used 100 MB in a day, the 400 MB left are lost. The next day, you’re back to a cap of 500 MB. This might not be a problem if you want to use the VPN to browse social media, but it’s a real bummer if you want to download anything that’s larger than 500 MB. In that case, you’ll need a different VPN.
Lots of ads: The free version of Hotspot Shield isn’t too user-friendly. It pushes ads on you, and a lot of users reported random disconnections, although we experienced none of that when testing the app.
Based in 5 Eyes: Hotspot Shield’s parent company Aura is based in the US, a 5 Eyes country with an equally bad record of protecting their citizens’ privacy. You can find out more about this in our Hotspot Shield review.
Verdict on Hotspot Shield Free
However, some users won’t mind the data sharing on Hotspot’s part as long as they’re getting a functional free VPN. For those people, Hotspot’s ample limits, decent speeds, and extra security features can make it a great free VPN.
Want a summary of the good and the bad of Hotspot Shield’s free version? Here you go:
- Some nice extra security and encryption features (unique for free VPNs)
- Decent accumulated monthly data limit
- Privacy of users is a concern
- Parent company based in a 5 eyes country (that's bad)
- Ads! Who doesn't hate them?
How Did We Determine Our Top Eight Best Free VPNs List?
Our top criteria for these eight best free VPNs was that they had no direct or hidden subscription costs. VPNs with free trials that automatically turn into a paid subscription were not included in our list.
Additionally, we felt it was crucial that the VPNs on our list don’t collect your information extensively. That’s a common problem with free VPNs, so we disqualified any app we found that didn’t take data protection seriously. Here are the other criteria we considered during our research:
- Encryption: A VPN provider needs to have secure encryption protocols and be able to safeguard your data effectively.
- Data limits: If you use the internet frequently and for data-heavy activities like gaming, you must ensure that a free VPN provider will offer an acceptable data limit to cover your daily needs.
- Speed caps: Decent speeds are important for most online activities as they give you an uninterrupted experience. A free VPN service that offers that is a winner in our books.
- The number of available servers and server locations: The more servers and locations provided by a free VPN, the better. This will allow you to access websites that may be unavailable in your location, like a specific streaming platform.
- The maximum number of simultaneous connections: If you want a free VPN for all your family members, one that offers you the choice to connect many devices at the same time is a sure winner.
Free VPNs vs. Paid VPNs
You need to be careful when using free VPN services. Many free VPNs don’t protect your data properly. The apps may keep logs of your activity or even collect more data to sell for marketing purposes. These apps may request access to all kinds of sensitive information, such as your contacts, photos, and social media. Some free providers even infect your device with spyware and other malware.
Apart from these unsettling facts, many free VPNs have other disadvantages that paid VPN services don’t tend to deal with. Here’s a brief overview of the main differences and similarities between (good) paid and unpaid VPNs.
|Free VPNs||Paid VPNs|
|Don’t always hide your IP address properly||Will generally hide your IP address (unless your VPN has a leak)|
|Encryption isn’t always robust and VPN protocols are limited||Solid encryption (256-bit) and multiple VPN protocols|
|Often enforce data limits between 500 MB and 10 GB per month||No data limits|
|Speed caps are generally enforced||Don’t actively enforce speed limits|
|Often have a relatively small server network with few locations||Massive server networks, often with thousands of servers|
|Very low speeds (server overcrowding, limited choice)||Excellent speeds due to high-performance server infrastructure|
|Lack extra features such as obfuscation technology, double VPN connections, or split tunneling||Tend to offer more extra features|
|Often only allow one connection at a time||Allow for multiple simultaneous connections|
|Usually, can’t unblock popular streaming services such as Netflix US||Can easily unblock all major streaming services|
|Might sell your data or have questionable data logging practices||Are unlikely to sell your data, and many have a strict no-logs policy|
As you can see, premium VPNs often offer features and options you’re not likely to get even with one of the best free VPNs. Plus, some paid VPN subscriptions are quite affordable, with a few absolute bargains out there. Best of all, most of them offer a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can try them without committing to a plan.
Like with free VPNs, not all paid VPNs were created evenly. Some offer all the best features and options and go beyond the advantages mentioned above, while others might be worse than some of the free VPNs listed here. We only recommend the very best VPN services. If you’d like to know more, you can have a look at our full VPN review ranking list.
There are large price differences between paid VPNs. Some premium VPN providers may shock you with their price tag. Luckily, there are several that offer very good VPN connections for low prices. Occasionally, a good cheap VPN turns out to be just as good, if not better, than a VPN with a higher monthly fee.
For just a few dollars a month, you can get a really good VPN and enjoy peace of mind regarding the safety of your internet connection and data. A good example of a great VPN that costs very little is Surfshark.
Free VPNs You Should Avoid
There are also numerous free VPNs out there that you should avoid. Many aim to track your data and sell it to others. Their usage harms your privacy instead of protecting it.
Some free VPNs even sell your connection to other users. Your bandwidth is given to premium users of the service, who in turn use your connection and IP address as their very own “VPN server.”
Below you’ll find an overview of some unsafe free VPNs that are relatively popular and why you should avoid them.
|Free VPN||Why it’s best not to use it|
|Hola VPN||Hola VPN sells your bandwidth to paying users. This enables paying users to use your internet connection to access the web. As a result, your IP address could end up being connected to suspicious activities.|
|SuperVPN||SuperVPN keeps track of your data to fulfill DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act) requests. If you’re looking for a way to download anonymously, you’ll be better off with a different VPN.|
|Psiphon Pro||Psiphon Pro allows partner companies to track users. It also shares data with commercial partners, other partners, and the Psiphon Pro parent company. In other words, you’ll have a hard time staying anonymous with this VPN.|
|Touch VPN||Touch VPN adds different types of trackers (cookies, pixel tags, web beacons) to a user’s browser and shares data with third parties.|
|Betternet||Betternet allows advertisers, among other third parties, to track user data.|
|AnonyTun||AnonyTun allows advertisers to place cookies and build user profiles.|
|Turbo VPN||The free version of Turbo VPN is filled with adware and allows advertising partners to place cookies and track users.|
|TuxlerVPN||Tuxler VPN’s free version is very unsafe. It collects user data and shares that with third parties. On top of that, it’s also incredibly slow.|
These aren’t the only unsafe free VPN providers out there. Many VPNs in the App Store and on Google Play don’t have clear policies regarding data processing and privacy.
If you come across such a VPN yourself, always be careful. Don’t assume you’ll be able to browse the internet anonymously with these VPNs. Feel free to let us know in the comments about other VPNs to avoid and help us further protect our visitors.
Conclusion: What Is the Best Free VPN?
At the moment, the best all-around free VPN is PrivadoVPN. This provider is the absolute best choice when it comes to security, as it has a strict no-logs policy and features such as those that enable torrenting.
Proton VPN is the best VPN if you’re looking for unlimited data, while Windscribe performs best when it comes to speed. TunnelBear is the most user-friendly free option that also offers the best server network, and Atlas VPN is your best bet for a free smartphone VPN.
The table below includes the best free VPN providers at this moment for specific purposes and criteria:
|Criterium||Best free VPN|
|Ease of use||PrivadoVPN|
The free VPN services recommended in this article generally support multiple platforms and operating systems. So, whether you’re looking for a free VPN for iPad, Android, or iPhone, the recommended VPN services should work for your device.
However, the moment you start using a free VPN regularly or for streaming, you will quickly run into data limits and speed caps. Similarly, you will often experience restrictions when you try to download shows and movies with a free VPN.
In such cases, you’ll be much better off with a cheap, paid VPN. You can also experiment a little bit with different free VPN trials.
If you’re looking for a free VPN service, make sure to choose one of the trustworthy providers listed in this article – especially since many free VPN apps in the Play and App Store don’t work properly or are a threat to your privacy and security.
If you want to know more about the best free VPNs for different purposes, have a look at these articles:
Do you have a question about free VPNs? Click on one of the frequently asked questions below to read the answer.
Yes, some VPN providers offer all or some of their services for free. Some decent VPN providers include Proton VPN, Windscribe, and TunnelBear. If you want to check out other truly free and safe VPN providers, take a look at our article on the best free VPNs.
You might be able to watch Netflix with a free VPN, but it’s not a guarantee. Free VPNs offer just a handful of servers, so Netflix probably has them on its radar already. Some free versions of VPNs, such as Proton VPN and ZoogVPN, occasionally work with Netflix. But you’re never guaranteed to unblock any site with a free VPN. Plus, none of the free VPNs we tested were able to unblock the US version of Netflix.
If you want unlimited access to Netflix with a VPN (to get access to American Netflix, for example), you’ll be better off with a good premium VPN.
Some free VPNs are safe to use. However, other free VPNs might endanger your personal information. They won’t make you anonymous, and some will sell your private data to other companies or even install malware on your phone or computer.
If you want to use a free VPN, you should always make sure to pick a safe one. Check out our article, for an overview of the best, safest free VPNs right now.
Some (free) VPNs earn their money by collecting your user data and selling it to other parties. In such cases, you may not pay money to use the VPN, but you do pay with your personal information instead.
Luckily, not all VPNs do this. Proton VPN, for example, has a safe free version, which is supported by their premium service. If you want to know more check out our Proton VPN review.
There are several good free VPNs that you can use safely, although they often have data or speed limits. Your personal preferences determine which one is best for you. However, Proton VPN might be a good choice as it offers unlimited data.
If you’d rather have a free VPN with many server locations or high speeds, other options are a better fit. Read more about the best free VPNs in our comprehensive article.
Yes, there are 100% free VPNs and they’re some amazing ones as well. Our top two picks, PrivadoVPN and Proton VPN, offer strong 100% free VPN plans.
If you want to start using a free VPN, the most important consideration is your online security. Can the VPN be trusted? Be sure to look at the various features different free VPNs offer. Many free VPNs have a data or speed limit.
However, it might be worthwhile to purchase a cheap premium VPN, such as Surfshark.