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Best Free VPN for Windows

By Simon Migliano | Updated October 14, 2019

Illustration of Microsoft Windows laptop computer and desktop computer

If you use your Windows PC to browse, stream, torrent, or do anything online you should be using a VPN.

Why?

Because if you don’t your ISP, the government, and any other malicious third party might be snooping on your personal data.

Aside from protecting your online privacy and security, using a VPN can also unlock a wealth of global content, like foreign Netflix libraries. Sounds good, right?

So, can you get a VPN for Windows without spending a cent?

You can indeed.

There are loads of free VPNs out there, but not all of them are safe to use. We thoroughly tested hundreds of free VPNs and the ones below are the very best for Windows 10, 8 and older versions too.

Like all free things, there are some catches, though – like VPN data caps and limited server locations.

So, if you want the absolute best VPN for your Windows computer follow this link to see our recommendations.

If not, read on to learn a little more about what we think makes for the best free VPN for Microsoft Windows.

The Important Factors When We Review a Free Windows VPN

  1. Simple & easy-to-use Windows VPN app
  2. Fast and reliable dowload speeds
  3. Privacy-friendly logging policy & no IP leaks
  4. Generous VPN data cap allowance
  5. Works with major streaming services like Netflix
  6. Safe for torrenting and P2P traffic

Wondering why you should trust our reviews?
See How We Review VPNs.

Best Free VPNs for Windows 10, 8 & Below

1. Windscribe Free

Ranked #1 for Free VPNs for Windows

  1. Intuitive & secure Windows VPN app
  2. Fast download speeds on nearby VPN servers
  3. Minimal logging
  4. Kill switch & no IP/DNS/WebRTC leaks
  5. P2P/Torrenting permitted on some free VPN servers
  6. VPN servers in 10 countries & unlimited simultaneous connections
  1. 10GB monthly VPN data cap
  2. Not reliable for watching Netflix
  • Top Speedi

    54Mbps same city speed

    Based on a 100Mbps test connection

  • Servers

    10 countries

  • Compatible with

    • Windows logoWindows
    • Mac logoMac
    • iOS logoiOS
    • Android logoAndroid
    • Linux logoLinux

The Bottom Line

Windscribe is the best free VPN for Windows users. In fact, it’s the best free VPN we’ve ever tested.

Windscribe’s custom VPN app for Windows computers is user-friendly and very easy to install and set up.

The complimentary version of Windscribe VPN’s software comes with the all-important VPN killswitch, 10 VPN server locations, and P2P-friendly servers.

We recorded no IP, DNS, or WebRTC leaks during our thorough testing, and Windscribe maintains a privacy-friendly logging policy.

As long as you connect to a nearby VPN server, Windscribe Free’s speeds are ideal for streaming and torrenting.

However, you’ll have to keep an eye on the 10GB monthly data cap and, unfortunately, Netflix is blocked.

Despite its flaws, Windscribe’s free Windows app is private and safe to use, unlike many other non-paid-for VPN services, and you can use it on as many other devices as you’d like.

For a more in-depth look, read our full Windscribe Free review.

2. ProtonVPN Free

Ranked #2 for Free VPNs for Windows

  1. User-friendly, intuitive Windows VPN app
  2. Good VPN speeds on nearby servers
  3. Unlimited data allowance
  4. Privacy-friendly logging policy
  5. Kill switch & no IP/DNS/WebRTC leaks
  6. Advanced features like split tunneling
  1. Limited to three VPN server locations
  2. P2P/Torrenting not permitted on any free servers
  3. Doesn’t work with Netflix
  • Top Speedi

    59Mbps same city speed

    Based on a 100Mbps test connection

  • Servers

    3 countries, 8 servers

  • Compatible with

    • Windows logoWindows
    • Mac logoMac
    • iOS logoiOS
    • Android logoAndroid

The Bottom Line

ProtonVPN’s free app for Windows is a top contender – it’s safe, secure, and quick.

The custom ProtonVPN Windows app is simple to download and use, and comes with plenty of security extras like a VPN kill switch and even split tunneling.

Unlike every other one of our top free VPN recommendations, ProtonVPN also offers unlimited data, so you can use it as much as you’d like.

However, the free version of ProtonVPN still comes with some flaws.

You can only access three server locations, none of which unlock streaming services like Netflix, and torrenting is also forbidden.

Another drawback is the one-device limit. Unlike Windscribe, you can only use ProtonVPN Free on one device at a time.

Nevertheless, ProtonVPN Free will do a great job of protecting your privacy while you browse online.

It doesn’t keep any personally identifiable logs and effectively blocks IP leaks.

For a more in-depth look, read our full ProtonVPN Free review.

3. TunnelBear Free

Ranked #3 for Free VPNs for Windows

  1. Simple, quirky Windows VPN app
  2. Quick download speeds on nearby servers
  3. 22 server locations to choose from
  4. Privacy-friendly logging policy
  5. VPN kill switch & no DNS/IP/WebRTC leaks
  6. Use on up to 5 devices at one time
  1. Very restrictive 500MB monthly data cap
  2. Doesn’t work with Netflix
  • Top Speedi

    52Mbps same city speed

    Based on a 100Mbps test connection

  • Servers

    22 countries

  • Compatible with

    • Windows logoWindows
    • Mac logoMac
    • iOS logoiOS
    • Android logoAndroid

The Bottom Line

TunnelBear Free is a great VPN for beginners who want to try out the Windows app (including all 22 premium server locations) before they commit to the paid plan.

This bear-themed Windows software is super easy to use, and it comes with security essentials like a VPN kill switch and DNS leak protection.

TunnelBear maintains a very minimal logging policy to further protect your online privacy.

TunnelBear’s free service is pretty fast too, and you can use it on up to five devices at one time.

However, TunnelBear Free’s biggest drawback is the highly restrictive 500MB monthly data cap. That means you can’t use the VPN to do much other than browse the web.

Torrenting is permitted but it’ll burn through your data allowance very quickly. As is the case with its premium app, Netflix is blocked.

Because of that, TunnelBear Free is definitely not a long-term solution, but should perhaps be used as more of a trial to see if a paid VPN is right for you.

For a more in-depth look, read our full TunnelBear Free review.

4. Hide.me Free

Ranked #4 for Free VPNs for Windows

  1. Beginner-friendly Windows VPN app
  2. Good VPN speeds on nearby servers
  3. Minimal-logs policy
  4. VPN kill switch & no IP/DNS/WebRTC leaks
  5. Torrenting permitted on some free VPN servers
  6. 24/7 live chat support
  1. 2GB monthly data cap is restrictive
  2. Just five server locations available
  3. Long-distance VPN connections are slow
  4. Not reliable for Netflix
  • Top Speedi

    81Mbps same city speed

    Based on a 100Mbps test connection

  • Servers

    4 countries, ? servers

  • Compatible with

    • Windows logoWindows
    • Mac logoMac
    • iOS logoiOS
    • Android logoAndroid
    • Linux logoLinux

The Bottom Line

Hide.me is one of the most private free VPNs we’ve tested, and it’s a decent choice for Windows users, too.

Its simple custom app for Windows comes with plenty of security extras like a VPN kill switch and it upholds a privacy-friendly logging policy too.

We clocked fast speeds during our tests, but only when we connected to nearby VPN servers. This may be difficult for some as there are only servers in the Netherlands, Singapore, and the US.

Hide.me’s 2GB monthly data cap is larger than TunnelBear’s, but it’s still a hindrance.

Even if you could watch Netflix with Hide.me Free – which you can’t – you’d only be able to stream around one movie per month.

If top-notch privacy is what you’re looking for, though, Hide.me is definitely worth considering.

It’s also the only free VPN on our list of recommendations that comes with 24/7 live chat support.

For a more in-depth look, read our full Hide.me Free review.

5. Avira Phantom Free

Ranked #5 for Free VPNs for Windows

  1. Simple custom VPN app for Windows
  2. Consistently good same-country speeds
  3. Minimal logging
  4. Use it on as many devices as you’d like
  5. Comes with free browser extension for Google Chrome
  1. Automatic VPN server selection only
  2. Restrictive 1GB monthly data cap
  3. No kill switch
  4. Can’t wait Netflix
  5. No customer support whatsoever
  • Top Speedi

    51Mbps same city speed

    Based on a 100Mbps test connection

  • Servers

    1 countries

  • Compatible with

    • Windows logoWindows
    • Mac logoMac
    • iOS logoiOS
    • Android logoAndroid

The Bottom Line

Avira Phantom is a decent free VPN for securing public WiFi, and its Windows app is super easy to use.

As well as Windows, you can also use the free VPN software on MacOS, Android, and iOS devices, too. There’s no limit to how many you can protect simultaneously.

Speeds are fairly quick on same-country connections, but you can’t pick an Avira VPN server location yourself.

The Avira Phantom Free will automatically connect you to the nearest server location, and if that happens to be far away you’ll naturally suffer slower VPN speeds.

The 1GB per month data cap is also restrictive, but Avira Phantom Free will do for general browsing while you’re out and about.

Avira Phantom Free doesn’t log personally identifiable user data, but the free app lacks a VPN kill switch, so it shouldn’t be used for privacy-sensitive tasks like torrenting.

Avira Phantom is really aimed at beginners who want to protect themselves on public WiFi. Anyone who’s serious about online privacy should pick one of our higher ranked VPNs.

For a more in-depth look, read our full Avira Phantom Free review.

Popular Questions

What Is the Best Free VPN for Windows?

The best free VPN for Windows is Windscribe.

In fact, Windscribe is the best free VPN, period.

It’s simple and easy-to-use without skimping on security, privacy, or performance.

Screenshot of Windscribe Free VPN app displaying server locations list

You can use Windscribe Free on a range of devices, in addition to Windows:

  • MacOS
  • iOS
  • Android
  • Amazon Fire TV Stick

But if you’re looking for the absolute best VPN for your Windows computer, without any data caps or server location restrictions, you’ll have to pay.

ExpressVPN is the best option for Windows users – it’s really reliable, fast, safe, and you get unlimited data, as well as unrestricted access to Netflix and torrenting.

Do I Really Need a VPN for My Windows Computer?

Illustration of hackers stealing credit card and identity, with a unlocked padlock on the computer screen

Your Windows PC might just be the single most important device to protect with a VPN.

Really, though, you should be using a VPN on every internet-enabled device you use.

Why?

For many reasons, but most importantly to keep you safe online.

Without a VPN your ISP, the government, or eavesdroppers can track what you do online.

In some countries, like the US, ISPs can sell your personal data to targeted advertising companies without your permission.

Then there’s the danger of public WiFi to consider.

Hackers can take advantage of vulnerabilities in public WiFi hotspots to steal your personal information, including bank details. Using a good VPN will help to prevent that from happening.

Online privacy and security aside, using a VPN can unlock the world’s content.

Websites previously blocked because of geo-restrictions or government censorship will be yours to peruse (that includes foreign Netflix libraries).

In summary, using a VPN on your Windows device is essential for both online privacy and the freedom to access what you want.

Are Free Windows VPNs Safe?

Like all free products, there are some good VPNs, and some bad ones too. But you need to be careful that you don’t end up using a dangerous one.

Not all free VPNs are safe to use.

There are loads of complimentary VPNs out there that use and abuse your personal data, selling it onto targeted advertisers or even handing it over to China.

Some free VPNs contain malware which will infect your Windows device, and others log everything you do online.

It’s pretty scary.

However, all the free VPNs we’ve recommended on this page are secure, private, and safe.

Stick to those and you’ll be fine.

Yes, in the vast majority of countries VPNs are perfectly legal to download and use.

So long as you don’t use them to cover up illegal activities.

Using a VPN doesn’t exempt you from local laws, and you might still get caught if you try to use a VPN for that purpose.

However, some high-censorship countries have banned the use of VPNs. These are:

  • Belarus
  • Iraq
  • North Korea
  • Turkmenistan

There are also some other countries that highly restrict VPN usage and actively block VPN connections:

  • China
  • Iran
  • Oman
  • Russia
  • Turkey
  • UAE

You can read more about these countries in our guide ‘Are VPNs Legal?’.

How to Install, Set Up, and Use a Free VPN for Windows/PC

The easiest way to use a free VPN on your Windows computer is to download a custom app – if your chosen VPN provider has one that is.

You just need to visit the VPN’s website and download the software from there.

Screenshot of TunnelBear download instructions

Follow the simple installation prompts and log in with your credentials. Most free VPN services require an email address and password, but they shouldn’t ask for payment details.

Before you connect to the VPN it’s best to take a look at the security settings and enable the VPN kill switch and IP leak blocking features (if the app has them).

If you can choose the VPN protocol we recommend you use OpenVPN as it offers the best balance between privacy and performance. You can read more about encryption and VPN protocols in our guide.

Once you’ve set up the security settings the way you like them to be, pick the server location and click ‘Connect’.

The closer the server is to your physical location the faster the VPN’s speeds will be.

If you want to set up the VPN manually (without using a custom app), you can check out our walkthrough on how to install a VPN on Windows.

How to Change Your IP Address on Windows

It’s easy to change your Windows computer IP address if you use a quality VPN.

Simply connect to any one of your VPN’s servers and you’ll be assigned a new IP, with your true IP address remaining hidden from prying eyes.

You can assume the IP address of any country so long as your VPN service has servers located there.

It’s always best to double-check that your VPN is successfully connected by running a VPN leak test.

We use browserleaks.com.

Screenshot of Windscribe's leak test results on browserleaks.com

This is what browserleaks.com looked like while we were connected to Windscribe Free’s Atlanta server

We test from the UK so it’s clear that Windscribe is effectively hiding our true IP address, replacing it with a US IP address instead.

What’s the Best Windows VPN for Netflix?

The free VPNs that we’ve recommended above are great.

They are safe and reliable privacy tools for someone who isn’t ready to take out a premium VPN subscription.

But there’s something these complementary VPN services aren’t so good for: watching Netflix.

Netflix actively blocks VPNs and most of the free VPNs on offer don’t provide solutions for getting around those content blocks.

If you try to use a free VPN to watch Netflix you’ll probably see the dreaded proxy error message:

Screenshot of Netflix error message

But the good news is that loads of premium VPN services do work with Netflix (and other streaming services like BBC iPlayer and Hulu).

You can see our most recommended VPNs for watching Netflix here.

All of our recommended VPNs for Netflix come with simple custom VPN apps for Windows computers, so you’ll be able to stream on your PC or laptop with ease.

What’s the Best Windows VPN for Torrenting?

You’ll need a good VPN if you’re a P2P user or torrenter. Why?

Because torrenting without a safe and secure VPN puts your online privacy at risk.

Thankfully, there are plenty of VPN services that work well with torrenting. The majority are paid-for VPNs, but you can torrent using a couple of free VPNs too.

Windscribe is our top free VPN for Windows, and it’s also our most recommended free VPN for torrenting.

Hide.me Free and TunnelBear Free are also options.

However, all of these free VPNs come with limited data allowances, which is a massive problem for downloading big files.

If you’re a regular torrenter, you should opt for a premium VPN subscription that comes with all the necessary security features – like a VPN kill switch and DNS/IP leak blocking – and a privacy-friendly logging policy.

The best overall VPN for torrenting is ExpressVPN, closely followed by NordVPN and IPVanish.

Does Windows Have a Built-In VPN?

Yes, Windows does have an built-in VPN client, but you still need to have a VPN subscription with a third-party provider in order for it to work.

In order to setup this Windows VPN client, you need to:

  1. Open up Settings and go to Network & Internet > VPN.
  2. Click ‘Add a VPN connection’.
  3. Within the ‘VPN provider’ dropdown menu select ‘Windows (built-in).

Screenshot of built-in Windows VPN app

  1. Fill in the fields labeled ‘Connection name’ and ‘Server name or address’. You’ll need to have already purchased a VPN subscription in order to do this.
  2. Select the VPN protocol – you can choose from PPTP, L2TP, SSTP, or IKEv2. Note that you’re restricted to whichever protocols your VPN service supports. PPTP is not secure, so you should avoid it. Using IKEv2 will require installing a root certificate from your VPN provider.
  3. Enter your username and password (assigned to you when you purchased the VPN subscription) in the relevant fields.
  4. Click save and close the settings app.
  5. Click the WiFi icon in the system tray and select the VPN connection.

We recommend using the VPN service’s custom apps rather than the inbuilt Windows client as they come with extra security features and you can usually connect through OpenVPN, our preferred VPN protocol.

About the Author


  • Simon Migliano Head of Research at Top10VPN

    Simon Migliano

    Simon leads our investigations into VPN safety and internet freedom research. His work has been featured on the BBC, CNet, Wired and The Financial Times. Read full bio