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Best Free VPN for Windows

Illustration of Microsoft Windows laptop computer and desktop computer
Simon Migliano Head of Research at Top10VPN

Simon is a recognized world expert in VPNs. He's tested hundreds of VPN services and his research has featured on the BBC, The New York Times, CNet and more. Read full bio

If you use your Windows PC to go on the internet, stream videos, or share and download files, you should be using a Windows VPN.

If you don’t use a VPN, your ISP, government agencies, and any other third parties can snoop on your web traffic. In some countries, they almost certainly are. Moreover, VPNs can also get round geo-restrictions and unblock foreign web content, like international Netflix libraries.

So, can you get a VPN for Windows without spending a cent? Yes you can, but sadly hundreds of free VPNs are not safe to use, and only very few are to be trusted. We’ve tested hundreds of free VPNs, and the three below are the very best for Windows 10, 7, and older versions too.

  1. Windscribe: The best free VPN for Windows PCs. The only free VPN to unblock US Netflix, BBC iPlayer and more. Also, its 10GB data cap is reasonably generous.
  2. ProtonVPN: What makes ProtonVPN so special is that its free app has no data cap. That’s extremely rare for a VPN of that provides high security and good speeds.
  3. Hide.me: The fastest free VPN we’ve tested on our Windows test devices. A 10GB monthly data allowance is good enough for light or infrequent internet use.

These free VPNs are far from perfect, though. They either have VPN data caps in place, limited server locations, or they don’t work with Netflix and other streaming services.

If you want the absolute best VPN for your desktop or laptop, consider using one of the five best VPNs for PC. The current best Windows VPN for 2020 is ExpressVPN.

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

5 Best Free VPNs for Windows in 2020

1. Windscribe VPN

The best free VPN for PC desktops and laptops. Fast, safe, and fully-featured VPN.

  1. Intuitive & secure Windows VPN app
  2. Fast download speeds on nearby VPN servers
  3. Works with US Netflix & BBC iPlayer
  4. Minimal logging
  5. Kill switch & no IP/DNS/WebRTC leaks
  6. Unlimited simultaneous connections
  1. 10GB monthly VPN data cap
  2. No human live support
  • 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

Ranked #1 Best Free VPN for Windows

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 VPN review.

2. ProtonVPN

A highly-secure and trusted free VPN for Windows with unlimited data.

  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 blocked on free servers
  3. Doesn’t work with Netflix
  4. Can only use it on one device at once
  • Top Speedi

    60Mbps same city speed

    Based on a 100Mbps test connection

  • Servers

    3 countries, 8 servers

  • Compatible with

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

The Bottom Line

Ranked #2 Best Free VPN for Windows

ProtonVPN’s free Windows client is another very good free VPN for PC. It’s safe, secure, and quick. The custom Windows app is simple to download and use, and comes with features like a VPN kill switch and even split tunneling. It also doesn’t keep any personally identifiable logs and effectively blocks IP leaks.

Unlike the other top free VPNs in our list, ProtonVPN doesn’t enforce any data usage caps, so you can use it as much as you want.

However, the free version of ProtonVPN still comes with some flaws. For example, you can only access three server locations, none of which unlock streaming services like Netflix, and none allow torrenting.

Another drawback is the one-device limit. That means that, 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.

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

3. Hide.me

The fastest free VPN for Windows PCs. A private VPN that allows P2P on some free servers.

  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. Generous 10GB data allowance
  1. Just five server locations available
  2. Long-distance VPN connections are slow
  3. Not reliable for Netflix
  • Top Speedi

    72Mbps same city speed

    Based on a 100Mbps test connection

  • Servers

    4 countries, Not disclosed servers

  • Compatible with

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

The Bottom Line

Ranked #3 Best Free VPN for Windows

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 monthly data cap is much larger than TunnelBear’s at 10GB, one of the most generous offerings you can get from any safe VPN. A data limit means you can’t watch and unlimited amount of Netflix but HIde.me’s data cap should go some way to satisfying your needs.

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 review.

4. TunnelBear

Popular free VPN client with over 23 VPN server locations available to free users.

  1. 23 VPN server locations to choose from
  2. Quick download speeds on nearby servers
  3. Privacy-friendly logging policy
  4. VPN kill switch & no DNS/IP/WebRTC leaks
  5. Simple & easy to use Windows VPN client
  6. Use on up to 5 devices at once
  1. Very restrictive 500MB monthly data cap
  2. Doesn’t work with Netflix or BBC iPlayer
  • Top Speedi

    52Mbps same city speed

    Based on a 100Mbps test connection

  • Servers

    23 countries

  • Compatible with

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

The Bottom Line

Ranked #4 Best Free VPN for Windows

TunnelBear is a great VPN for beginners who want to try out the Windows app (including all 23 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 also maintains a very minimal logging policy to further protect your online privacy.

TunnelBear’s free VPN 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 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 review.

5. Avira Phantom Free VPN

A decent free VPN from a trusted Antivirus company. Aimed at VPN beginners.

  1. Consistently good same-country speeds
  2. Simple custom VPN app for Windows
  3. Minimal logging of web activity
  4. Use it on as many devices as you like
  5. Free browser extension for Google Chrome
  1. Only one country server location
  2. Restrictive 1GB monthly data cap
  3. No option to pick VPN protocol
  4. Won't unblock Netflix or BBC iPlayer
  5. No VPN kill switch
  6. No customer support
  • Top Speedi

    51Mbps same city speed

    Based on a 100Mbps test connection

  • Servers

    1 country

  • Compatible with

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

The Bottom Line

Ranked #5 Best Free VPN for Windows

Avira Phantom VPN 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 free version of Avira Phantom VPN 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 VPNwill do for general browsing while you’re out and about.

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

Overall, Avira Phantom VPN is aimed at absolute beginners who want to protect their internet connections on free public WiFi. Anyone seeking a more complete VPN experience should instead select one of the free VPNs above.

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

Free Windows VPN FAQ

What's the Best Free VPN for Windows?

The best free VPN for Windows is Windscribe. In fact, Windscribe is the best overall free VPN for 2020.

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 also 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 Free VPN for My Windows Computer?

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.

illustration of a map of the world.

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.

You can view the ten countries with the harshest VPN restrictions, below.

Country VPN Status Social Media Blocks Censorship Surveillance
Belarus Illegal Moderate Extensive Extensive
China Restricted Extensive Extensive Extensive
Iran Restricted Moderate Extensive Extensive
Iraq Illegal Moderate Moderate Minor
North Korea Illegal Extensive Extensive Extensive
Oman Restricted Minor Extensive Moderate
Russia Restricted Moderate Extensive Moderate
Turkey Restricted Moderate Extensive Extensive
Turkmenistan Illegal Extensive Extensive Extensive
UAE Restricted Moderate Extensive Moderate

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

How to Set Up and Use a Free VPN for 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.

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?

Of all the things you could possibly need a VPN for, torrenting is probably number one.

Torrenting without a safe and secure VPN puts your online privacy at risk in a number of ways, from exposing all the files you download to your ISP to revealing your IP address to other torrenters.

Thankfully, there are plenty of VPN services that work well for P2P. 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.

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.

About the Author


  • Simon Migliano Head of Research at Top10VPN

    Simon Migliano

    Simon is a recognized world expert in VPNs. He's tested hundreds of VPN services and his research has featured on the BBC, The New York Times, CNet and more. Read full bio