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Best Free VPN for PC

David Hughes
By David HughesUpdated
Microsoft Windows Laptop and Desktop Computers

If you own a PC it’s likely where you spend the majority of your time online. A PC is also where a VPN is most essential.

If you want to protect your privacy but don’t want to spend money doing it you may well wonder: which free VPN is the best for PC? We’ve tested nearly 100 VPNs, the very best of which work on your desktop PC, keeping you safe no matter what you do.

When it comes to free VPNs for PC, these choices are the best at hiding activity and protecting your privacy.

The Most Important Factors When We Review a Free VPN for PC

  1. Excellent experience on PC desktop
  2. Best possible speed performance
  3. Solid privacy with minimal logging policies
  4. Has the biggest data allowance possible
  5. Well-designed and easy to use apps

Wondering why you should trust our reviews? Take a look at How We Test VPNs

Read More Information on Our Top 5 Best Free VPN Services for PC

Ranked #1 out of 99 VPNs

Works with

Torrenting

Available on

  1. Windows
  2. Mac
  3. Ios
  4. Android
  5. Linux
  1. Reliable local download speeds
  2. Good selection of servers
  3. Strong logging policy
  4. Extremely easy to use
  5. Available on lots of devices
  1. Data usage is capped
  2. Could be better for streaming
The Bottom Line

We call Windscribe’s Free app “probably the best VPN on the market.” That’s true for PC users, too.

There’s a 10GB limitation, but it’s more generous than most VPNs.

Windscribe remains great for privacy, collecting very minimal information and is just as secure as the premium version.

Windscribe limits the streaming servers to paid subscription, which is a blow. On the plus side, torrenting is available on every Windscribe server. Just keep in mind the data limit.

Ranked #2 out of 99 VPNs

Works with

N/A

Available on

  1. Windows
  2. Mac
  3. Ios
  4. Android
  1. Great local downloads of up to 69Mbps
  2. User-friendly custom apps for popular platforms
  3. Kill switch and IP leak protection
  4. Live chat support
  5. Minimal logging policy
  1. Can only access three server locations
  2. P2P not permitted on any servers
  3. No access to Netflix or BBC iPlayer
The Bottom Line

Unlike many free VPN services, Proton VPN Free has absolutely no limitations on data use.

Not only that, but performance and privacy are on par with its paid version. ProtonVPN also has an incredibly user-friendly app for PC.

But it’s not perfect. You’re only allowed access to three servers, and ProtonVPN Free can’t unblock Netflix or BBC iPlayer if you’re looking to stream on your PC.

Ranked #3 out of 99 VPNs

Works with

Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, HBO, Torrenting, Kodi

Available on

  1. Windows
  2. Mac
  3. Ios
  4. Android
  5. Linux
  1. Local downloads of 80Mbps
  2. Strict zero-logs policy
  3. Loads of security extras
  4. Ad-free service
  5. User-friendly custom apps
  1. 2GB monthly data cap
  2. Only five server locations
  3. Bad international performance
The Bottom Line

Hide.Me has a monthly data cap of 2GB. Not great.

It’s the security and privacy of Hide.Me that should catch your interest.

Encryption is the best around and there are a lot of security extras. Hide.Me also has a super-safe logging policy.

Like TunnelBear Free, Hide.Me will suit undemanding tasks in which privacy is a top concern. Just don’t expect to stream hours of your favorite Netflix shows.

Ranked #4 out of 99 VPNs

Works with

N/A

Available on

  1. Windows
  2. Mac
  3. Ios
  4. Android
  1. Local downloads of up to 63Mbps
  2. User-friendly apps for popular devices
  3. Minimal logging policy
  4. Connect securely to 22 countries
  5. VPN kill switch and DNS leak protection
  1. Stingy 500MB monthly data cap
  2. No access to Netflix or iPlayer
  3. No live chat support
The Bottom Line

TunnelBear Free limits users to a measly 500MB per month, but it’s still got a lot going for it.

A fun and well-designed app works great on PC. More than that, almost everything else comes straight from the Premium version of the service – good security, strong logging policy, and a decent server network.

You won’t get a lot from TunnelBear Free in terms of streaming due to the data limitation, but for simple online tasks that you want to perform safely (and free!) TunnelBear Free is one to consider.

Ranked #5 out of 99 VPNs

Works with

N/A

Available on

  1. Windows
  2. Mac
  3. Ios
  4. Android
  1. Peak local download speeds of up to 31Mbps
  2. Custom apps available for four popular devices
  3. Unlimited simultaneous connections
  4. Minimal logging policy
  5. Connect securely to 25 countries
  1. 1GB data limit
  2. Missing a kill switch
The Bottom Line

Avira Phantom Free is good for newcomers. It’s super-easy to use and works very well on PC.

However, a 1GB data limit prevents Avira Phantom Free from doing anything other than general browsing.

While it doesn’t log information, the absence of a kill-switch on Avira Phantom Free might be a put-off for privacy-oriented activities, such as torrenting.

How We Picked the Best Free VPN for PC

Our top free VPN picks for PC all have one thing in common: all deliver an excellent experience on PC desktop, with sleek, modern custom apps making them accessible even to VPN newbies.

These VPNs offer the best possible performance on both local and international connections. They have a solid, extensive set of VPN privacy features and minimal logging policies, and we even check out the customer support on offer to make sure it’s up to scratch.

We run regular tests on all the VPNs featured on our site to make sure we’re giving you the most up-to-date information we possibly can. Our proprietary speed test tool is constantly running across a variety of locations worldwide, providing us with real-time information about the kind of performance you can expect from each VPN.

How To Use a Free VPN for PC

Before you start using a VPN on your PC, you need to make the decision as to whether you’re going to install the software at router level or download individual apps onto each device you wish to protect. There are pros and cons to each.

If you have the VPN on your router, every internet-connected device in your home will benefit from the protection of the VPN.

However, it can get a bit complicated if you want to change servers. Installing apps onto individual devices is the usual method for most users – as it’s a lot easier.

Watch out, though, some providers only allow you to use the VPN on up to 5 devices simultaneously.

Once you’ve decided on this, you then need to select your VPN protocol.

We’d advise choosing OpenVPN wherever possible as this offers the best compromise between performance and security. However, most providers will offer alternatives should you have a specific need for one (such as connecting out from a high-censorship country).

For the quickest speeds you’ll want to connect to a VPN server close to your true physical location – most providers will do this automatically, but if not, just choose one in the same country as you.

Once you’re connected to your chosen server, the VPN will run in the background and you can continue to use your PC as you normally would.

Make sure to turn on the VPN kill switch feature though, as this will prevent your true IP address from being leaked should the VPN connection drop for any reason. Also be aware that when you switch servers, your internet connection is likely to drop, but this is simply to protect you from IP leaks when you’re not connected to a VPN server.

Are Free VPNs Safe?

The reality is that many free VPNs are not safe and you should not trust them with your sensitive data.

We recently conducted two in-depth investigations on the most popular free VPNs and our findings revealed that a huge proportion of them had questionable links to China, as well as extremely worrying privacy flaws.

The above free VPN apps will protect you well, though. They hide your IP address effectively, are relatively fast, easy to set up, and provide good customer support.

Free vs Paid VPNs: Should You Pay for a VPN?

The free VPN services listed above all come with our seal of approval. We’ve thoroughly tested each VPN, making sure it delivers a speedy and secure service, and we’re happy with what we’ve seen.

The very best free VPN can’t compete with the majority of paid VPNs, though: fast speeds, extensive server options and extra privacy/product features cost money.

A good free VPN is great for newbies or casual browsers, but for the best experience we strongly suggest you subscribe to a paid VPN service – our best VPNs of 2019 or our best free VPN trials are good starting points.

What Is the Best Free VPN for Torrenting

Torrenting is an incredibly popular activity for PC users.

We put together a guide that should answer this question perfectly for you: Best Free VPN Services for Torrenting.

What Is the Best Free VPN for Windows?

All PCs run Windows, but so do many other devices. You can find out which is the best free VPN for Windows across devices with our roundup.

What Is the Fastest Free VPN?

Free VPNs don’t perform at the same level of premium VPNs when it comes to speed and consistency, but we all want to see how far a freebie can take us. From the free VPNs we’ve covered, these are the fastest when it comes to local download speeds:

How Do I Set Up a Free VPN on Windows 10?

If you’re looking to set up a free VPN on your PC, that means setting it up on Windows 10.

Simply visit the website of the free VPN in question, download it, install on your device, follow the instructions and contact the provider’s support on the unlikely chance that you get stuck.

We detail how to set up a VPN in our guide: How to Install a VPN on Windows.

How to choose a VPN: 5 Tips

There’s a good chance you aren’t only going to be using a VPN on a PC, so you need to choose a provider that offers a good range of custom apps for other devices such as your phone or tablet. Look for a VPN with software that’s well-designed, user-friendly and powerful and you will be much more likely to use it all the time.

We share the results of our hands-on testing of each VPN app in the Ease of Use part of its review. We spend all day testing VPN apps, so hopefully we know a thing or two.

The sheer amount of VPN jargon can be overwhelming, even if you really know your tech.

Be sure to look out for OpenVPN though, as this protocol offers the best balance of speed and privacy. Don’t get caught up in talk of military or bank-grade encryption and just look for AES-256, as that’s the gold standard.

Unless you know your DNS from your IPv6, a VPN killswitch is the main thing to look out for among security features as it will protect you from exposing your real IP address should your connection drop unexpectedly.

The nearer the VPN server to your physical location, the better the performance. A higher number of servers tends to mean less congestion and improved speeds but unfortunately this isn’t always the case. Take a look at our speed test results to get the best idea, especially if you’re looking to connect to a specific country.

All top-tier VPN providers offer dedicated apps for PCs. However, the quality of these does vary massively from one provider to the next.

Our top picks all have sleek, user-friendly desktop apps that pack in a ton of configurable manual settings without being too cluttered or confusing.

Most VPNs will tell you that they’re completely “zero logs” but in reality this is almost never the case. In order to deliver reliable performance across a global network, the majority of providers will need to monitor at least some connection details of their users.

The logging policy section of our reviews summarizes providers’ privacy policies and terms of service in plain English, meaning you don’t have to read through them all. Ideally you want to look for a provider that doesn’t log any personally identifying details, or even better, one that doesn’t collect any logs at all!