VPNs have always been an important tool for the internet age, but in the last few years they have become increasingly popular and talked about.
More and more people have become interested in VPNs, for a variety of reasons.
There are always those who wish to protect their privacy, whether for practical reasons (such as journalism) or simply because they like their privacy.
There are those who want to avoid government snooping without really affecting their internet browsing.
There are those who just want to stream content they can’t in their location.
And there are those who are simply getting sick of increasingly creepy advertisements.
I love VPN technology, and I’ve used my fair share of them over the years.
In the end you’ll need to experiment with some to figure out for yourself what “clicks” best. But hey, there’s no way you’ll know if you want to use
VPNs, or know which VPNs you want to use, if you can’t do it easily…or affordably.
Whether you want to experiment with VPNs to find one worth investing in, or if you just want some affordable options to secure your privacy, this list should be a good place to start.
A common problem you might run into with free VPNs is you generally have to make a few trade-offs: some have more bandwidth or unlimited bandwidth, but sacrifice speed, whereas others are very fast and high performing but put caps on how much bandwidth you can use.
But, free is free!
As long as you weigh the pros and cons that matter to you judiciously, any of these options are worth a try.
Option 10: VPN Proxy Master
VPN Proxy Master is a very popular VPN for mobile users, likely because of its free version. It works well, but a VPN with ads is disappointing.
It is popular, however, and its good performance has earned it a spot on my top 10 list.
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Pretty fast
- A lot of servers are available, and there are no switching limits
- Contains ads. This almost defeats the point of a VPN, but free is free
- No versions for PCs yet, just Macs, iOS, and android
Option 9: Avira Phantom VPN
Avira is a very reputable name in the software world. Avira is best known for Avira Antivirus, which is enormously popular for having a great free antivirus suite.
Among VPN nerds, Avira is also known for its VPN. Avira Phantom VPN has a free version that is overall pretty solid, but low data caps do bring it down significantly.
- DNS leak prevention
- Can be used on multiple devices
- Can connect to servers in 36 locations
- 500MB per month limit
- Speed isn’t always bad, but often mediocre
Option 8: SurfEasy
SurfEasy is one of the stronger mid-range free VPNs. It’s well-featured and has good performance, but the bandwidth caps bring down its ranking.
- Can be used on up to 5 devices
- Customer support included, but not 24/7
- Access to over a dozen countries
- Overall fast
- Only 500MB a month, but adding your email gives you another 100MB and logging in on a second device adds 250MB.
Option 7: ProtonVPN
ProtonVPN is a VPN I’ve always wanted to like more. I like the design, and I like all free VPNs that don’t put monthly bandwidth caps.
Unfortunately, ProtonVPN’s free version is pretty slow. The general lack of features wouldn’t matter as much if the speed also weren’t lowered.
But hey, at least there are no bandwidth limits.
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Nice design, very user-friendly
- Can only use on one device
- Pretty slow
- 3 countries to choose from
Option 6: Tunnelbear
I’ve noticed many people and websites rank Tunnelbear as the #1 free VPN.
I think Tunnelbear is great, but it unfortunately has a pretty low monthly bandwidth allowance.
Although everything else about it is good, this low amount puts it behind the other options in my book.
- Very reliable service, good speeds
- Multiple countries to choose from
- Up to 5 devices
- Only 500MB of bandwidth a month. You can get an extra 1GB if you tweet about TunnelBear.
Option 5: Opera
Just to be clear, I’m not talking about an independent VPN called “Opera.” Or in a sense, maybe I am: Opera the browser has a VPN function.
Opera’s VPN often gets ranked lower on free VPN lists because its performance isn’t as good as full-on VPNs (software designed explicitly and solely to be a VPN).
Because Opera is a browser first, this is understandable.
However, I personally like Opera a lot because it comes with much fewer strings attached than most other VPNs.
Opera isn’t trying to make you upgrade to a paid version, it won’t advertise to you, and it’s free. For that reason, Opera trumps a lot of VPNs in my book.
Free. By which I mean, the product itself does not have a premium version it’s trying to sell you.
- Some people might want the option of upgrading, but my view is that if you’re looking for a free VPN, then a VPN built to be free is top notch. If you want the option of paying for a VPN, then every other option on this list has that.
- Unlimited bandwidth.
- Doesn’t perform as well as other VPNs; can sometimes be slow (though not always)
- Not as fully featured as other VPNs because it’s a VPN feature built into a browser
Option 4: Speedify
Speedify is, like most VPNs, primarily interested in getting you to buy its full product.
Luckily it’s free version manages to give you most of the good features of its larger products, just with a few limitations.
If Speedify allowed for more bandwidth per month, it might be the best free VPN around.
- 5GB of monthly data
- Channel bonding: unique to Speedify, this combines multiple internet connections (e.g., WiFi, cellular data, Ethernet connections) to increase reliability. Luckily, you can deprioritize certain types of connections. For example, if you have limited cellular data, you can set Speedify to only integrate it in time of an emergency or not all.
- Redundant mode (sends your data across all available connections to increase reliability).
- Automatic failover (if one connection fails, Speedify goes to the next available one).
- Lots of servers around the world
- Overall fast
- Can only use on 1 device.
Option 3: Hide.me
Hide.me is popular, but less so than a few other VPNs.
Hide.me is certainly one of the strongest free VPNs around—as a matter of fact, it’s one of the most generous free VPNs that doesn’t also sacrifice speed.
Hide.me focuses a lot on the privacy aspect of VPN use—more so than streaming, though of course they make a point of that as well.
- 24/7 customer support, even for free users
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Good speeds
- 2GB data transfer limit
- 3 server locations (Singapore, Canada, Netherlands)
- Can only connect one device at a time
Option 2: Hotspot Shield
Hotspot Shield is easily one of the most well-known VPNs, for both its free and paid services.
Hotspot Shield performs very well, providing reliable speeds and sturdy connections.
However, it is very commercialized, which for many is a serious flaw.
- Very fast.
- 500MB limit per day. Doing the math, that’s roughly 15GB a month.
- Pushes you to upgrade.
- You can only use one country.
- The free version is ad-supported, which almost seems to defeat the purpose of a VPN. For some people this would disqualify Hotspot Shield so much it would go at the back of the list—but it is tremendously popular and performs very well, plus the data allowance is generous. However, if this is a deal-breaker for you—you have been warned.
Option 1: Windscribe
Windscribe has only been around for a few years, but almost no one talks about the best free VPNs without mentioning Windscribe.
And yet, for some reason, I rarely hear Windscribe get placed #1 for free VPNs. Well, it’s certainly my personal favorite for free options—you can read more about Windscribe here.
I’ll admit: Windscribe doesn’t have the best speeds of all the free VPNs, but as I see it, it’s a small trade-off. Here’s why…
- 2GB a month automatically. If you register with an email address, you can increase that to 10GB a month. It’s pretty easy—you could do it with a throwaway email address, there isn’t a lot of verification involved. Tweeting about Windscribe gets you an extra 5GB.
- Over a dozen server locations to choose from.
- Overall fast, even if not the absolute best.
- Secure.link generator, which lets you see how invasive a page is.
- Can be used on multiple devices, and very easily as well. One of the reasons I like Windscribe so much is you can use it on a variety of devices with a single account: as a web browser extension, as a desktop application, as a smartphone app, etc, and each time is a very seamless installation.
- Doesn’t push you to upgrade. You use it as if you had paid for it.
- Includes adblock.
- Bandwidth isn’t unlimited. If it were, it would be perfect, and an unbeatable free VPN.
Conclusion: My Verdict
There are more free VPN options—there are quite a few actually—but sifting through them to find the best can be tough.
This list should be mostly accurate, as I measure based mainly on two important things: performance (speed, consistency, etc) and bandwidth allowance.
I mentioned it at the beginning, but the list really shows the nature of trade-offs with free VPNs. Usually, something has to give—features, performance, or bandwidth.
If nothing does, you might want to be a little suspicious of it.
However, these drawbacks don’t need to end your VPN hunt. You can still use the internet securely and privately without opening your wallet.
My verdict is Windscribe.
Windscribe is highly praised, but still not praised enough. It is unfortunate to have a bandwidth cap, but at least you don’t need to worry about why it’s free.
They’re good with privacy and their no-logging policy, plus they have a ton of features and great performance.
As long as you know what you can or can’t tolerate, you should have something on this list to meet your needs.