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The Best Free VPNs of 2023

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Simon Migliano
24 Comments

Simon Migliano 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 and more.

Fact-checked by JP JonesAdditional Testing by David Hughes

EXPERT ADVICE: Most free VPNs are slow, insecure and can’t bypass streaming geo-blocks. Private Internet Access, a top premium VPN, delivers fast and secure connections that unblock most streaming platforms, including US Netflix. Try PIA VPN risk-free for 30 days.

The best free virtual private networks (VPNs) hide your IP address, securely encrypt your internet traffic, and unblock region-restricted web content.

After testing over 150 free VPN applications, only 35 proved to be safe to use. Of these 35 free VPNs, the ten below are the most secure, private, and reliable you’ll find.

What Is the Best Free VPN in 2023?

Based on our latest tests, the best 100% free VPNs to download are:

  1. Proton VPN Free: Best Free VPN Overall
  2. Windscribe Free: Best Free VPN for International Streaming
  3. PrivadoVPN Free: Best Free VPN for US Netflix
  4. Hide.me Free: Best Free VPN for Privacy
  5. Atlas VPN Free: Fastest Free VPN
  6. ZoogVPN Free: Best Free VPN for Beginners
  7. Hotspot Shield Basic: Free VPN with Malware Protection
  8. TunnelBear Free: Most Free VPN Locations
  9. VPNhub Free: Free Mobile VPN with Unlimited Data
  10. Avira Phantom Free: Free VPN with No Device Limit

Proton VPN is the best free VPN of 2023. It’s very fast, highly secure, doesn’t track or store user web logs, and doesn’t impose any limits on data usage.

Free VPNs are incredibly popular worldwide. Some applications have amassed hundreds of millions of combined installations on iOS and Android.

The issue is free VPNs perform much worse than the best premium VPN services. Most free apps are restricted by data usage caps, unreliable speeds, and streaming (unblocking) and torrenting limitations.

Even worse, many free VPNs are outright dangerous. 77% of the 150 free VPN applications we tested pose privacy and security risks.

With 72% of US and UK VPN users opting for a free VPN versus a premium one, recommending the most secure and trustworthy free services is key.

Comparison of the Best Free VPNs

The table below compares the most highly-rated (safest) free VPNs based on download speed, server locations, logging policy, and other data from our tests.

We hold free VPNs to the same high standard as premium ones. We never recommend free VPNs that log your web activity, leak your IP address, or otherwise endanger your internet privacy and security.

Why Trust Top10VPN.com?

We’re completely independent and focused on VPN software. We’ve spent thousands of hours testing and reviewing free VPNs using our impartial free VPN review process to recommend the best ones.

Here’s a summary of our free VPN testing statistics:

Free VPN Apps Tested150+
Safe Free VPN Apps35
Total Hours of Testing30,000+
Weekly Speed Tests3,000+
IP & DNS Leak Tests Performed9,500+
Streaming Platforms Tested Daily12

Best Free VPNs: Summary Test Ratings

Use the table below to see how the top free VPN apps performed in our key testing categories:

DID YOU KNOW? You can add any VPN we recommend to our VPN side-by-side comparison tool. Simply tick ‘Add to compare’ to add a VPN to the Comparison Tool Preview.

The Best Free VPNs by Category

Free VPNs are used around the world for many different reasons and on a variety of devices.

We’ve created more specific lists recommending the best free VPNs for each of the categories we test for. Follow each link below to discover our latest expert picks.

The Best Free VPNs for Entertainment

The Best Free VPNs by Device

Some free VPNs have limited features depending on your OS.

Find the free VPN services that work best with your device here.

  1. Best Free VPN for Windows
  2. Best Free VPN for Mac
  3. Best Free VPN for iPhone
  4. Best Free VPN for Android
  5. Best Free VPN for Linux

The Best Free VPNs by Country

The Best Free VPN Apps Analyzed

  1. 1. Proton VPN Free: Outright Best Free VPN

    The absolute top free VPN, with no data usage limits. Ideal for enhancing your internet security.

    Ranked #1 Free VPN
    Screenshot of Proton VPN's mobile app
     Rated 5 out of 5 
    2 user reviews
    Visit Proton VPN

    • No data usage limits
    • No payment info on signup
    • Kill switch and DNS leak protection
    • Minimal logging policy
    • Privacy-friendly Swiss jurisdiction
    • Android .APK file for side loading

    • Only 3 VPN server locations
    • Torrenting not allowed
    • Doesn't work with Netflix or BBC iPlayer
    • One simultaneous connection
    • No web browser plugins

    Overall Free VPN Rating: 7.5/10

    This overall rating is calculated based on the following subcategory ratings. To learn more, read our free VPN testing methodology.

    • 9.89.8/10
    • 9.29.2/10
    • 99.0/10
    • 11.0/10
    • 33.0/10
    • 00.0/10
    • 8.48.4/10
    • 8.18.1/10
    • 6.56.5/10

    Proton VPN is our most highly-rated free VPN. It’s the only free and safe VPN you can leave on all the time on all your devices.

    This is because the VPN doesn’t impose any data limits whatsoever. You can use Proton VPN as much as you want, completely free, and without adverts.

    The Proton VPN apps deliver fast connection speeds apps and use high security standards. They also protect against IP leaks, and operate under a privacy-friendly logging policy.

    While it’s an excellent VPN for security, the service only gives access to 3 free server locations. It also doesn’t work for streaming, or with P2P traffic.

    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. macosMac OS
    3. iosiOS
    4. androidAndroid
    5. linuxLinux
    Cheapest PriceFree
    Data CapUnlimited
    Logging PolicyNo Identifying Data
    US NetflixNo
    TorrentingNo
    JurisdictionSwitzerland (Privacy Haven)
    Data LeaksNo
    Works In ChinaNo

    Focused on privacy, not entertainment

    Proton VPN is an excellent general-use VPN thanks to airtight security and a minimal-logging policy.

    Sadly, the unlimited data can’t be used to stream unlimited video content, or for torrenting, which isn’t allowed by the service.

    The free version of Proton VPN doesn’t unblock US Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and most region-locked streaming services. The only major streaming platform it works with is YouTube.

    Independently-audited apps

    Proton VPN has subjected its apps to a full third-party security audit. It has also made them open-source to allow the public to scrutinize them for vulnerabilities.

    This level of transparency is the gold-standard in VPN security.

    You can use Proton VPN securely on Windows, Mac, iOS and Android devices. All apps use OpenVPN, and have a built-in kill switch for added IP leak protection.

    Moreover, Proton VPN is one of the very few free VPNs for Android and iOS that comes with a kill switch called ‘Always-on VPN.’

    This free VPN software is also very private thanks to its minimal-logs policy.

    Small server network and one device limit

    Proton VPN Free is very quick across short distances, despite its small network of free servers. Currently, it only has free VPN servers in the US, the Netherlands, and Japan.

    Proton VPN's list of free server locations

    Proton VPN’s list of free server locations

    While in the past speeds slowed down internationally, in recent tests long-distance speed performance has improved significantly.

    Frustratingly, you can only use Proton VPN Free on one device at a time. Windscribe, by comparison, allows unlimited simultaneous connections.

    Who is Proton VPN Free best for?

    You should use Proton VPN Free if:

    • You want unlimited data usage. Proton VPN Free doesn’t place any limits on your monthly data usage, which means you can leave it on all day, every day.
    • You don’t want to enter payment details. In addition to its strong security and privacy-friendly logging policy, Proton VPN does not require any payment details for a free account.

    You should not use Proton VPN Free if:

    • You plan on using a VPN for streaming. The free version of Proton VPN doesn’t work with Netflix, BBC iPlayer, or most other geo-restricted streaming services. It doesn’t support P2P activity, either.
    • You plan on using a free VPN regularly. Though highly-secure, Proton VPN Free does come with some big limitations. It includes just 3 server locations, has slow international speeds, and you can only use it with one device at a time.
  2. 2. Windscribe Free: Best Free VPN for Streaming

    Excellent free VPN optimized for unblocking international streaming content.

    Windscribe mobile screenshots
     Rated 5 out of 5 
    3 user reviews
    Visit Windscribe

    • Unblocks 6 Netflix libraries
    • Unblocks several streaming platforms around the world
    • Minimal-logs privacy policy
    • Built-in VPN kill switch
    • Unlimited device policy
    • 10 free server locations

    • 10GB monthly data cap
    • No human live chat support
    • No longer works with US Netflix
    • Speeds could be even faster

    Overall Free VPN Rating: 7.5/10

    This overall rating is calculated based on the following subcategory ratings. To learn more, read our free VPN testing methodology.

    • 9.59.5/10
    • 7.67.6/10
    • 8.18.1/10
    • 8.58.5/10
    • 5.85.8/10
    • 6.96.9/10
    • 8.98.9/10
    • 8.18.1/10
    • 9.69.6/10

    Windscribe Free is secure, fast and it’s the best free VPN for unblocking free movie streaming sites and geo-blocked services like HBO Max, Hulu and BBC iPlayer.

    Windscribe was for our long time our top-rated free VPN. However, slower speeds and loss of US Netfix access, combined with its data usage limitations, have impacted the service’s overall rating.

    The service has a privacy-friendly logging policy, robust security features, and it never leaked our true IP address in our tests.

    The free VPN comes with 10 server locations and a 10GB monthly data cap. While generous, this data usage limit isn’t enough for heavy internet use.

    Moreover, customer support needs improving. There is no live chat to help with complex issues, and the online knowledge-base and chatbot system can only help with simple queries.

    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. macosMac OS
    3. iosiOS
    4. androidAndroid
    5. linuxLinux
    Cheapest PriceFree
    Data Cap10GB
    Logging PolicyNo Identifying Data
    US NetflixNo
    TorrentingPermitted
    JurisdictionCanada (Five Eyes Member)
    Data LeaksNo
    Works In ChinaYes

    Works with 6 Netflix regions

    Windscribe is the only free VPN that consistently streams BBC iPlayer, making it the only option if you want to stream the World Cup for free.

    Windscribe also works with US platforms Hulu and HBO Max. It unblocks 6 international Netflix libraries, too.

    Using Windscribe Free with BBC iPlayer

    Windscribe Free works to unblock BBC iPlayer from abroad.

    However, its limited speeds and 10GB data cap will restrict the number of movies and TV shows you can watch, and US Netflix is no longer available.

    The free version’s speeds are about a third slower than the premium VPN, and there are only 10 free server locations available.

    These include servers in Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Switzerland, the UK, and the US.

    By comparison, Windscribe’s paid VPN gives access to 110 server locations.

    Privacy and security features suitable for torrenting

    Windscribe also allows P2P and torrenting traffic on most of its free servers, which is rare.

    The VPN software uses secure AES-256 encryption and the secure OpenVPN, WireGuard and IKEv2 protocols.

    In particular, Windscribe’s free PC VPN client, and a free Mac VPN app too are highly secure, thanks to the ‘Windscribe Firewall.’

    The Firewall tool prevents your real IP address and data packets from leaking outside the VPN tunnel in the event of a connection drop.

    Windscribe has never leaked IP or DNS data in our tests, and it doesn’t store any logs that would compromise your identity.

    Easy-to-use mobile and computer applications

    Windscribe Free works well on Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, and Fire OS devices.

    It’s by far our favorite free iPhone VPN, with a well-designed interface.

    Windscribe's app for iOS and iPadOS.

    Windscribe’s app for iPhone and iPad.

    The VPN has browser proxy extensions for Chrome and Firefox, too. Both browser extensions work with BBC iPlayer, but no longer with US Netflix, which is a shame.

    Consistently unblocks websites in China

    We tested Windscribe Free’s ability to unblock websites in China, and it’s still working.

    This is thanks to its ‘Stealth’ connection protocol, which uses the open-source ‘Stunnel’ algorithm to obscure your VPN traffic.

    The Stealth protocol is only available on the Windows, macOS, and Android apps, though.

    Windscribe Free works best in China when you connect to the nearby Hong Kong server. It will also work in other censored countries like Turkey and the UAE.

    Who is Windscribe Free best for?

    You should use Windscribe Free if:

    • You want to unblock Netflix for free. Windscribe’s free version unblocks BBC iPlayer, HBO Max, Hulu, and 6 international Netflix libraries.
    • You want a safe free VPN. Unlike many free services, Windscribe Free uses premium encryption and a no-logs policy. It works in China and supports P2P traffic, too.

    You should not use Windscribe Free if:

    • You want to unblock US Netflix. Though it works well with other regions, Windscribe Free doesn’t work to unblock US Netflix from overseas.
    • You need reliable customer support. Windscribe’s apps are easy to use, but the free version does not include access to live chat or any extensive troubleshooting resources.
  3. 3. PrivadoVPN Free: Best Free VPN for US Netflix

    Free VPN suitable for unblocking US Netflix and unrestricted torrenting.

    PrivadoVPN
     Rated 0 out of 5 
    No user reviews
    Visit PrivadoVPN

    • Unblocks US Netflix, HBO Max & Disney+
    • Unrestricted torrenting
    • No signup or payment details required
    • 13 servers in nine countries
    • Strong security & private logging policy
    • 10-device limit policy

    • 10GB of free data per month
    • No advanced settings & features
    • No servers in Africa or Asia
    • No browser extensions
    • Fire TV Stick app crashed often

    Overall Rating: 7.3/10

    This overall rating is calculated based on the following subcategory ratings. To learn more, read our free VPN testing methodology.

    • 99.0/10
    • 8.98.9/10
    • 6.96.9/10
    • 8.88.8/10
    • 5.55.5/10
    • 7.27.2/10
    • 7.77.7/10
    • 66.0/10
    • 88.0/10

    PrivadoVPN’s free version is one of the best we’ve come across. It consistently unblocks many American streaming platforms like US Netflix, and allows unrestricted torrenting on all free servers.

    It’s a safe option for free users, with a privacy-oriented logging policy and industry-standard security that includes AES-256 encryption, OpenVPN, and a working kill switch.

    Nine countries to connect to may not seem a lot, but it’s only less than Windscribe and one of the more diverse free server networks on the market.

    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. macosMac OS
    3. iosiOS
    4. androidAndroid
    5. linuxLinux
    Cheapest PriceFree
    Data Cap10GB
    Logging PolicyNo Identifying Data
    US NetflixYes
    TorrentingUnlimited
    JurisdictionSwitzerland (Privacy Haven)
    Data LeaksNo
    Works In ChinaYes

    The best free VPN for US Netflix

    Although Windscribe unblocks the largest number of Netflix regions, PrivadoVPN is the only top free VPN to work with US Netflix.

    Here’s a video of us unblocking American Netflix using the free version of PrivadoVPN:

    The free service is also great for streaming HBO Max, Hulu, and Disney+ / Star. Access to BBC iPlayer is less consistent, though.

    Similarly to Windscribe, there’s only so much you can stream with 10GB of free data. Only Proton VPN offers unlimited data, but it doesn’t unblock any streaming platform.

    Unrestricted torrenting on all servers

    PrivadoVPN is based in Switzerland, a good country for a VPN company to operate within because there are no data retention laws.

    Furthermore, PrivadoVPN doesn’t log any personally-identifiable internet data. It only collects total bandwidth used.

    The VPN uses industry-standard AES-256 encryption, the OpenVPN and WireGuard protocols (absent from macOS, though), and a functioning kill switch.

    Unlike Windscribe, PrivadoVPN’s free apps don’t come with any customization options, though.

    The free version of PrivadoVPN is particularly well-suited for anonymous torrenting and P2P file sharing.

    Every free server allows P2P traffic, which combined with fast download bitrates and privacy-friendly features, make PrivadoVPN an excellent free VPN for torrenting.

    Good-sized high-speed server network

    PrivadoVPN Free lets you connect to 13 cities in nine countries. The US is the only country with more than one city location.

    PrivadoVPN’s free VPN is very fast, and almost as fast as Atlas VPN, the fastest free VPN at the moment.

    Surprisingly, the free VPN recorded the same download speed of 91Mbps as the premium VPN. Connecting to the US from the UK, we recorded average download speeds of 68Mbps.

    Who is PrivadoVPN best for?

    You should use PrivadoVPN if:

    • You want to unblock US Netflix for free. Although Windscribe works with the most Netflix regions, PrivadoVPN is the only top free VPN that unblocks US Netflix.
    • You want to use a free VPN for torrenting. PrivadoVPN allows fast P2P file sharing on all its private and secure free servers.

    You should not use PrivadoVPN if:

    • You’re based in Africa or Asia. PrivadoVPN Free has servers in nine countries, but none of these are in Africa or Asia, which could affect your connection speeds.
    • You want additional customization options. Despite its strong security credentials, PrivadoVPN Free doesn’t include any advanced features or customization settings.
  4. 4. Hide.me Free: Best Free VPN for Privacy

    Private free VPN with a privacy-focused logging policy and P2P-enabled servers.

    Hide.me mobile screenshots
     Rated 5 out of 5 
    1 user reviews
    Visit Hide.me

    • Only 7% speed loss on short distances
    • Minimal logging policy
    • Strong privacy features
    • User-friendly custom apps
    • No bandwidth throttling

    • Very slow long-distance speeds
    • Only 5 VPN server locations
    • One simultaneous connection
    • 10GB monthly data limit

    Overall Free VPN Rating: 6.7/10

    This overall rating is calculated based on the following subcategory ratings. To learn more, read our free VPN testing methodology.

    • 9.89.8/10
    • 77.0/10
    • 8.58.5/10
    • 22.0/10
    • 5.55.5/10
    • 6.96.9/10
    • 7.57.5/10
    • 8.38.3/10
    • 6.26.2/10

    Hide.me Free is a private free VPN with a generous 10GB data cap. It’s one the fastest free VPNs on same-country connections, and it also allows P2P traffic on most of its free servers.

    However, it doesn’t unblock streaming platforms like Netflix.

    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. macosMac OS
    3. iosiOS
    4. androidAndroid
    5. linuxLinux
    Cheapest PriceFree
    Data Cap10GB
    Logging PolicyNo Identifying Data
    US NetflixNo
    TorrentingPermitted
    JurisdictionMalaysia (Privacy Haven)
    Data LeaksNo
    Works In ChinaUnreliable

    Fast download speeds

    Hide.me is a fast free VPN. We experienced a 7% speed loss connecting to a nearby server.

    The VPN performed well on longer distances too. We experienced a 25% speed loss connecting from the UK to the Netherlands. That’s not bad at all for a free VPN.

    While Hide.me Free doesn’t collect personal web data, it does keep temporary logs of your internally-assigned IP address (for the duration of your connection) and the total amount of bandwidth used per month.

    This isn’t perfect, but it’s a good logging policy that protects your identity and activity.

    Secure apps for most devices

    Hide.me Free works on most devices, including home routers. This lets you use the VPN on devices like Fire TV Stick, games consoles and Apple TV.

    The software’s apps are reasonably secure, too. They use AES 256-bit encryption and secure protocols like IKEv2, OpenVPN, and Wireguard.

    Protocol Selection Settings in the Hide.me Windows Client

    Protocol selection settings in the Hide.me Windows client.

    Only five server locations

    In addition to its 10GB data cap, Hide.me free can only connect to five server locations: the Netherlands, Canada, Singapore, and the US (East and West).

    This is a problem if you’re in India, Africa, South America or Australia. Speeds will be very slow because there are no nearby servers.

    Not recommended for streaming

    Hide.me’s free VPN app doesn’t bypass geographic restrictions on streaming services reliably.

    It very occasionally works with US Netflix and BBC iPlayer, but it can’t unblock Amazon Prime Video or Disney+.

    Despite its limitations, Hide.me is a good free VPN to secure your free public WiFi connections. It’s also a good alternative to Windscribe for light torrenting.

    Who is Hide.me Free best for?

    You should use Hide.me Free if:

    • You want a basic free VPN for public WiFi. Hide.me Free is a basic service with secure encryption, fast same-country speeds, and a good logging policy. If you need a simple free VPN for occasional use, it’s a good choice.

    You should not use Hide.me Free if:

    • You want to unblock streaming services. Hide.me’s free version doesn’t work to unblock geo-restrictions on most streaming services.
    • You need servers in multiple countries. Hide.me Free’s long-distance speeds are slow, and it can only connect to five server locations – none of which are in India, Africa, South America or Australia.
  5. 5. Atlas VPN Free: Fastest Free VPN

    Atlas VPN delivers the fastest connection speeds on its free and private servers.

    Atlas VPN mobile app
     Rated 1 out of 5 
    1 user reviews
    Visit Atlas VPN

    • Very fast download speeds
    • Secure AES-256 encryption
    • Private logging policy
    • Good option for torrenting
    • User-friendly apps
    • Works in China & Russia

    • 5GB monthly data cap
    • Doesn't unblock streaming services
    • Very small server network
    • Missing additional settings
    • No live chat support
    • No browser extensions

    Overall Rating: 6.5/10

    This overall rating is calculated based on the following subcategory ratings. To learn more, read our free VPN testing methodology.

    • 8.58.5/10
    • 9.59.5/10
    • 77.0/10
    • 33.0/10
    • 3.53.5/10
    • 7.27.2/10
    • 99.0/10
    • 8.68.6/10
    • 9.59.5/10

    Atlas VPN’s free service is secure and easy to use. What stand outs with the VPN are its exceptional speeds and the fact it even works in China.

    Atlas VPN Free’s shortcomings include a small server list, an inability to unblock most streaming services, and restrictions on features and customer support.

    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. macosMac OS
    3. iosiOS
    4. androidAndroid
    5. linuxLinux
    Cheapest PriceFree
    Data Cap5GB Per Month
    Logging PolicyNo Identifying Data
    US NetflixNo
    TorrentingUnlimited
    JurisdictionUS (Five Eyes Member)
    Data LeaksNo
    Works In ChinaYes

    Safe freemium option

    Atlas VPN is one of the safest free VPN services you can get. It’s an easy tool to change your IP address and hide your online browsing.

    It doesn’t collect any sensitive data about you and it uses the unbreakable AES-256 encryption.

    We tested the kill switch multiple times and found it to be a reliable way to prevent accidental exposures should the VPN connection drop.

    We also tested for IP, DNS, and WebRTC  leaks and recorded none when using Atlas VPN Free.

    However, the free version of Atlas VPN isn’t as advanced as the premium one. It doesn’t include the multi-hop servers, IP shuffle feature (ShuffleSwap), or ad blocker (Safebrowse Plus).

    Atlas VPN's app home screen on a free subscription

    Atlas VPN Free’s app is identical to the premium version.

    The fastest free VPN we've tested

    The free version of Atlas VPN delivers exceptionally fast local speeds of 97Mbps. This is much faster than Windscribe’s 54Mbps and Privado VPN’s 91Mbps.

    As for long distance speeds, we recorded 73Mbps connecting to Los Angeles from London – a great international speed result.

    Its server list is rather small, though, with only 3 servers in 2 countries: USA and the Netherlands.

    Poor for streaming but good for torrenting

    If you want a free VPN for streaming, Atlas VPN Free isn’t for you.

    Sadly, the free VPN didn’t work with any other streaming platform we tested, including US Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, HBO Max, DAZN, and Amazon Prime Video. It only unblocked Disney Plus.

    Atlas VPN Free’s chief strength is torrenting. Its free servers support P2P activity and its safe security and logging practices protect anonymity when sharing files.

    Who is Atlas VPN Free best for?

    You should use Atlas VPN Free if:

    • You want a secure free VPN with fast speeds. Atlas VPN’s free version is the fastest VPN we’ve tested on both local and international connections.

    You should not use Atlas VPN Free if:

    • You need a larger data cap. Unlike Windscribe and Privado VPN, Atlas VPN Free limits your monthly data usage to just 5GB per month.
    • You want a free VPN for streaming. Atlas VPN Free did not work to unblock any streaming platforms in our testing, except for Disney Plus.
  6. 6. ZoogVPN Free: Best Free VPN for Beginners

    A simple no-logs VPN ideal for beginners.

    Two screenshots of ZoogVPN's iOS app
     Rated 4 out of 5 
    3 user reviews
    Visit Zoog VPN

    • Fast nearby VPN connection speeds
    • No payment details required
    • No-logs privacy policy
    • AES 256-bit encryption

    • 10GB monthly data usage limit
    • Doesn’t unblock streaming platforms
    • Only five free servers locations available
    • One-device policy

    Overall Free VPN Rating: 6.3/10

    This overall rating is calculated based on the following subcategory ratings. To learn more, read our free VPN testing methodology.

    • 99.0/10
    • 8.18.1/10
    • 77.0/10
    • 11.0/10
    • 4.54.5/10
    • 6.56.5/10
    • 66.0/10
    • 6.56.5/10
    • 77.0/10

    ZoogVPN runs simple yet fast and private VPN applications for Windows, macOS, iOS and Android. It’s the only free VPN on this page with a 100% no-logs policy.

    It only offers a handful of advanced settings, though. This is why it’s good for VPN beginners, but not for more experienced users.

    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. macosMac OS
    3. iosiOS
    4. androidAndroid
    5. linuxLinux
    Cheapest PriceFree
    Data Cap10GB
    Logging PolicyNo Logs
    US NetflixNo
    TorrentingPermitted
    JurisdictionGreece (EU Member)
    Data LeaksNo
    Works In ChinaNo

    A very private VPN service

    ZoogVPN enforces a no-logs policy across its service. It therefore it doesn’t monitor or keep records of your web activity or your true IP address.

    In order to maintain the service running smoothly, ZoogVPN collects and aggregates all data transferred by all users on its servers.

    The only personal data the service does collect is your email address, which is common among most VPN companies.

    Furthermore, ZoogVPN performed very well in our VPN leak tests and we didn’t record a single IP or DNS leak while the VPN was running on our test devices.

    Five free global server locations and 10GB free data allowance

    ZoogVPN operates free VPN servers in five locations: the Netherlands, Poland, Singapore, the UK, and the US.

    ZoogVPN's server list

    ZoogVPN’s free VPN server list.

    Connection speeds to all free servers have so far been consistent and reliably quick. Connecting to nearby servers you should expect a download speed loss of just 12%.

    Torrenters can use two dedicated servers for P2P file sharing: Amsterdam and Warsaw.

    ZoogVPN’s free service allows up to 10GB of free data each month, the same as Windscribe and Hide.me. This is enough data for quick web browsing and the occasional file download.

    ZoogVPN's Android app displaying free data used

    ZoogVPN clearly displays the amount of monthly data used in its apps.

    No streaming & one device policy

    ZoogVPN has two major drawbacks: it doesn’t bypass streaming geo-blocks, and it only allows one simultaneous connection per free account.

    We tried accessing popular platforms like Netflix, HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+ with no luck. Even ZoogVPN’s premium service struggled to unblock many streaming services.

    The VPN’s one device policy means you can’t use the same free account on all your devices. Unless you upgrade to the paid service, you’ll have to create a new account for each device you want to use the VPN on.

    You should not use ZoogVPN Free if:

    • You need multiple connections with the same account. ZoogVPN Free limits free connections to just one device.
    • You want to unblock streaming services. Like many other free VPNs, ZoogVPN didn’t unblock any major streaming services in our tests.
  7. 7. Hotspot Shield Basic: Anti-malware Free VPN

    Secure free VPN with built-in malware blocker.

    Hotspot Shield mobile screenshots
     Rated 4.4 out of 5 
    5 user reviews
    Visit Hotspot Shield

    • User-friendly apps for popular devices
    • No registration details required
    • Allows torrent & P2P file sharing traffic
    • Extensions for Chrome & Firefox
    • Built-in malware blocker

    • Just four server locations
    • 500MB daily free data limit
    • Slow connection speeds
    • Logs some user data
    • macOS client lacks a VPN kill switch
    • Doesn't unblock streaming platforms

    Overall Free VPN Rating: 6.1/10

    This overall rating is calculated based on the following subcategory ratings. To learn more, read our free VPN testing methodology.

    • 7.57.5/10
    • 7.57.5/10
    • 8.98.9/10
    • 0.50.5/10
    • 33.0/10
    • 33.0/10
    • 8.28.2/10
    • 8.28.2/10
    • 7.27.2/10

    Hotspot Shield Basic is an above-average and secure free VPN service. All its apps are well-designed and very easy to use even by VPN newbies.

    What stands out about this VPN is its integrated built-in malware blocking solution, a rare feature among free services.

    While Hotspot Shield is secure, its speeds have slowed down considerably over time. It also collects some user activity data, so it’s not a good choice for the most privacy-conscious users.

    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. macosMac OS
    3. iosiOS
    4. androidAndroid
    5. linuxLinux
    Cheapest PriceFree
    Data Cap500MB per day
    Logging PolicySome User Logs
    US NetflixNo
    TorrentingPermitted
    JurisdictionUS (Five Eyes Member)
    Data LeaksNo
    Works In ChinaNo

    User-friendly & secure applications

    Hotspot Shield’s free apps have been clearly designed for simplicity and maximum ease-of-use.

    Once you connect to a server by clicking/tapping the large ‘On’ button on the home screen, the interface displays your new IP address, server load, the amount of data transmitted, and your speed performance.

    Hotspot Shield's free app for Mac.

    Hotspot Shield’s free VPN app for macOS.

    Like most free VPNs we recommend, you don’t have to submit your email address or payment details in order to use Hotspot Shield Basic.

    Security-wise, all apps use AES 256-bit encryption and include integrated ad, tracking, and malware blocker.

    In our tests, the ad blocker only worked on Chrome and Firefox, and blocked only 46% of ads and trackers. It’s not as effective as other VPN ad blockers we tested, but at least you’re not paying for it.

    In addition, all free apps other than on macOS come with a VPN kill switch, which you must actively enable.

    There’s also the option to automatically connect to a VPN server when the app detects an unsafe WiFi network.

    Hotspot Shield Free VPN Desktop App Settings

    Hotspot Shield Basic’s settings including a kill switch and WiFi protection.

    Not the most privacy-friendly VPN

    Hotspot Shield’s privacy and logging policy is rather disappointing. Despite recently improving its logging practices, the VPN still logs too much personal internet data.

    The VPN collects the your IP address, the domains you visit, and your approximate geographical location.

    We’ve been informed by Hotspot Shield that it logs this data to prevent fraud. The data is aggregated, encrypted, and not tied to specific accounts. IP addresses are deleted at the end of each session.

    Despite the good intentions, we don’t think Hotspot Shield should be logging all this data.

    Considerably slower speeds than before

    Hotspot Shield Basic used to be one of the fastest free VPNs available. Sadly, this is no longer the case. Worse than that, it’s now one of the slowest.

    While we were regularly registering a 0% speed loss up until recently, we’re currently experiencing slowdowns of over 60%.

    This may also be due to the company’s policy of throttling speeds on free servers being implemented in favor of traffic from premium subscribers.

    We never felt this policy was being implemented. Regardless, the reality is that Hotspot Shield’s have degraded significantly.

    You should not use Hotspot Shield Basic if:

    • You want to unblock streaming geo-restrictions. Sadly, the free version of Hotspot Shield doesn’t work with any streaming platform.
    • You need fast connection speeds. Hotspot Shield’s speeds are slower that most top-rated free VPNs we’ve tested.
  8. 8. TunnelBear Free: Most Free Server Locations

    A basic free VPN with the highest number of VPN server locations.

    TunnelBear VPN
     Rated 5 out of 5 
    2 user reviews
    Visit TunnelBear

    • 47 free VPN server locations
    • Streams US Netflix, HBO Max & BBC iPlayer
    • No personal web logs
    • Private DNS servers
    • Kill switch works effectively
    • Consistently good speeds

    • Limiting 500MB monthly data cap
    • No router support
    • No VPN browser extensions
    • Occasional VPN connection drops
    • No live chat support

    Overall Free VPN Rating: 5.7/10

    This overall rating is calculated based on the following subcategory ratings. To learn more, read our free VPN testing methodology.

    • 9.59.5/10
    • 8.78.7/10
    • 7.47.4/10
    • 77.0/10
    • 7.17.1/10
    • 33.0/10
    • 7.87.8/10
    • 7.47.4/10
    • 8.58.5/10

    TunnelBear Free is trustworthy, safe, and ideal for beginners and for occasional use. While the service is good, it’s severely limited by its 500MB monthly data usage cap.

    The free version of TunnelBear is exactly the same as the premium version. This means you’ll have access to all features and its 47 worldwide server locations.

    In recent times, the free VPN has also considerably improved its streaming capabilities. In the past it couldn’t unblock any streaming service, however it now works with US Netflix, HBO Max, and BBC iPlayer.

    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. macosMac OS
    3. iosiOS
    4. androidAndroid
    5. linuxLinux
    Cheapest PriceFree
    Data Cap500MB
    Logging PolicyNo Identifying Data
    US NetflixNo
    TorrentingPermitted
    JurisdictionCanada (Five Eyes Member)
    Data LeaksNo
    Works In ChinaUnreliable

    The highest number of free server locations

    TunnelBear operates one of the largest free VPN server networks.

    With servers in 47 countries, including the US, the UK and Australia, the VPN offers access to way more locations than Proton VPN and PrivadoVPN.

    TunnelBear VPN's server list

    TunnelBear lets you connect to 47 countries.

    Secure and private applications

    Like Proton VPN, TunnelBear has commissioned independent audits into all its VPN apps. In fact, TunnelBear was one of the first services to do this.

    It has also taken other important steps towards user privacy. This includes the use of first-party DNS servers, a VPN kill switch, and the release of an annual transparency report.

    The free VPN apps protect connections with AES-256 encryption on Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android.

    While the apps have limited security settings, we can confirm they are secure. we didn’t detect IP address leaks and the kill switch prevented sudden IP exposures.

    Restrictive 500MB data cap and limited compatibility

    Another shortcoming of TunnelBear is that it lacks the device compatibility offered by higher-ranked free VPNs.

    There is no Fire TV Stick app, no possibility of router setup, and no extensions for quick access from your web browser.

    Moreover, the service caps free data usage at 500MB per month. This is highly limiting, especially compared to the five to 10GB allowances we expect.

    With this tiny data cap, can only use the VPN for light web browsing. Streaming and file downloads will use up the data in a matter of minutes.

    Worth noting is that any unused data rolls over to the following month, with no cap on the total free data you accumulate.

    Overall, we found that the free version of TunnelBear mainly exists to trial the premium service before you subscribe.

    You should not use VPNhub Free if:

    • You want the VPN running all the time. With only 500MB of free data each month, you’ll use up your allowance quickly.
  9. 9. VPNhub Free: Free Mobile VPN with Unlimited Data

    Mobile VPN with good streaming capabilities and no data usage limits.

    VPNhub's app on iOS
     Rated 1 out of 5 
    1 user reviews
    Visit VPNhub

    • Free to use without registration
    • Unlimited free data allowance
    • Unblocks US Netflix & Disney+
    • Very easy to use on smartphones
    • Built-in VPN kill switch

    • Free apps for iOS & Android only
    • Only one free server location (USA)
    • Doesn’t unblock HBO Max, Hulu, or BBC iPlayer
    • Collects some connection data
    • Doesn't bypass web censorship

    Overall Free VPN Rating: 5.2/10

    This overall rating is calculated based on the following subcategory ratings. To learn more, read our free VPN testing methodology.

    • 7.97.9/10
    • 44.0/10
    • 66.0/10
    • 4.94.9/10
    • 11.0/10
    • 33.0/10
    • 99.0/10
    • 1.51.5/10
    • 11.0/10

    VPNhub is good free VPN aimed at mobile users. In fact, the free service is only available on iOS and Android devices.

    It’s surprisingly effective at unblocking American streaming apps, which combined with its unlimited data policy, makes it a good free VPN for US streaming.

    Compatible with
    1. iosiOS
    2. androidAndroid
    Cheapest PriceFree
    Data CapUnlimited
    Logging PolicyNo Identifying Data
    US NetflixYes
    TorrentingUnlimited
    JurisdictionUS (Five Eyes)
    Data LeaksNo
    Works In ChinaNo

    Consistently unblocks US Netflix

    A key benefit of using the VPNHub’s free app is that it works with several US streaming apps.

    In particular, VPNhub unblocks US Netflix and Disney+ consistently from any country we tested it from.

    VPNhub's free New York server accessing the American Netflix library

    VPNhub successfully unblocked US Netflix in our tests.

    VPNhub Free also works reliably with the Disney+ USA library, although it doesn’t stream HBO Max or Hulu.

    Unlimited free data on one US server

    Most free VPN providers have data caps that put a limit on how many gigabytes you can consume while using a VPN.

    VPNhub and Proton VPN Free are the only two free VPNs on this list that come with no limits on the amount of data you use.

    VPNhub's Android app server list. It's connected to a server in Seattle.

    VPNhub connected us to a random server in the US.

    A downside to VPNhub is that you only have access to one server, which will always be a random location within the US. As you can see in the image above, all other servers are locked behind a paywall for VPNhub Premium subscribers.

    Operates from privacy-unfriendly countries and collects some data

    VPNhub is operated from Cyprus, Luxembourg, and the US. This makes it subject to intrusive surveillance laws in the US and the EU.

    It also collects an unnecessarily large amount of aggregated data. This includes your mobile ID, operation system, browser type and version, network information, and your IP address.

    At least, this data is anonymized and deleted regularly. Additionally, the VPN service has a warrant canary in its privacy policy.

    If the warrant canary disappears, it would indicate that government authorities have requested user information from the provider.

    Also concerning is the fact that VPNhub is able and willing to sell (anonymized) activity data to third-party advertisers.

    You should not use VPNhub Free if:

    • You want to use the same VPN on multiple devices. Currently, VPNhub is only available on Android and iOS devices.
    • You want a more private free VPN. VPNhub isn’t the most private free VPN, since it collects some user data.
  10. 10. Avira Free VPN: Free VPN with No Device Limit

    A basic free VPN with unlimited simultaneous connections.

    Avira Phantom VPN Free mobile application
     Rated 0 out of 5 
    No user reviews
    Visit Avira VPN

    • Free VPN servers in 33 countries
    • Privacy-friendly logging policy
    • Works with US Netflix
    • Secure protocols & AES-256 encryption
    • Allows torrenting on self-owned DNS servers
    • Unlimited simultaneous connections

    • 1GB monthly free data restriction
    • Desktop limited to one server choice
    • Slow connection speeds
    • No VPN kill switch
    • Limited device compatibility
    • No customer support for free users

    Overall Free VPN Rating: 4.7/10

    This overall rating is calculated based on the following subcategory ratings. To learn more, read our free VPN testing methodology.

    • 99.0/10
    • 4.94.9/10
    • 7.27.2/10
    • 44.0/10
    • 7.17.1/10
    • 44.0/10
    • 66.0/10
    • 1.71.7/10
    • 2.82.8/10

    The free version of Avira Phantom VPN provides a basic level of privacy and security, thanks to its privacy-friendly logging policy and AES-256 encryption

    Surprisingly, the VPN unblocks US Netflix, and it allows unlimited simultaneous connections via the same free account.

    That said, there are plenty of drawbacks you shouldn’t ignore. There is no kill switch, no live customer support, and speeds on free servers are sub-par.

    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. macosMac OS
    3. iosiOS
    4. androidAndroid
    Cheapest PriceFree
    Data Cap500MB / 1GB
    Logging PolicyNo Identifying Data
    US NetflixNo
    TorrentingRestricted
    JurisdictionGermany (14 Eyes Member)
    Data LeaksNo
    Works In ChinaNo

    Simple apps with basic security

    Avira’s free VPN apps are simple to use and available on Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android. A Fire TV app, router support, and browser extensions are all missing.

    The number of settings available is generally very limited. There is also no VPN kill switch available to free customers, which is a bad decision by the company.

    At least, all applications use the highly-secure OpenVPN protocol apart from the iOS app, which uses IKEv2.

    There are secure servers to choose from, located in 33 countries. But, the desktop app will only let you connect to the nearest server with no option to connect to a specific country on PC or Mac.

    The Avira Phantom VPN iOS app

    The Avira Phantom VPN iOS application.

    Unlimited device policy but 1GB data cap

    Avira’s unlimited device policy is a benefit very few service, free and paid, offer.

    The problem is there’s only 1GB of data available each month, which is far less than the 10GB offered by superior VPNs like Windscribe and PrivadoVPN.

    1GB of data equals roughly 25 minutes of HD streaming. Clearly, this isn’t enough to do much other than very light and occasional internet use.

    To claim the full 1GB you’ll need to register an email address. Otherwise, the standard allowance is just 500MB per month.

    Avira Free VPN's app showing 1gb data cap

    Avira Phantom Free has a limiting 1GB data cap

    You should not use Avira Phantom Free VPN if:

    • You need a higher degree of internet privacy and security. Avira’s free VPN is too basic to satisfy higher online privacy and security requirements.
    • You want a free VPN for streaming. Avira Free VPN streams US Netflix, but very few other platforms. Also, 1GB data cap limits HD streaming time to roughly 25 mins per month.

Free VPNs to Avoid

Despite their worldwide popularity, the free VPNs below performed very badly in our tests and we strongly advise against using them.

Turbo VPN

Overall Ranking: #46 out of 56 VPNs

Overall Rating: 2.8/102.8

What we don’t like: Turbo VPN is infested with third-party adverts, has unsafe permissions, and we even detected malware in our security audits.

Betternet Free VPN

Overall Ranking: #47 out of 56 VPNs

Overall Rating: 2.6/102.6

What we don’t like: Betternet Free VPN is a slow VPN lacking many critical security features. It also leaks your DNS requests.

Thunder VPN

Overall Ranking: #50 out of 56 VPNs

Overall Rating: 2.4/102.4

What we don’t like: Thunder VPN suffers from slow speeds, enforces an invasive logging policy, and uses a very weak encryption protocol.

VPN Proxy Master

Overall Ranking: #53 out of 56 VPNs

Overall Rating: 1.9/101.9

What we don’t like: VPN Proxy Master doesn’t have adequate security features and we even detected dangerous functions and malware in its apps.

Hola Free VPN

Overall Ranking: #54 out of 56 VPNs

Overall Rating: 1.5/101.5

What we don’t like: Hola Free VPN is a terrible VPN service. It logs your internet activity, doesn’t unblock websites, and blocks P2P traffic. Hola VPN Chrome was even removed from the Chrome Store in 2021 after being labeled as potentially dangerous.

SuperVPN Free VPN Client

Overall Ranking: #56 out of 56 VPNs

Overall Rating: 1.0/101.0

What we don’t like: SuperVPN Free is the absolute worst free VPN there is. It has a dangerous logging policy, its ownership is very opaque, and its apps are full of adverts.

How We Test Free VPN Services

We regularly test every free VPN we review. If a VPN service offers both free and a paid versions of their apps, we will often test both versions as part of the same review.

In other words, we put free VPNs through the same exact testing process we apply to premium VPN services.

We test for speed, security, unblocking (including streaming), and torrenting. We analyze every privacy and logging policy in detail, as well as assessing a VPN’s ease of use and reliability.

Our VPN reviews and verdicts are completely impartial. We never accept compensation in return for positive coverage.

All free VPNs we recommend meet the following criteria:

  • No payment details required at signup
  • No personally-identifiable activity logs
  • No IP or DNS address leaks
  • Strong encryption and security settings
  • Reasonably fast connections around the world

We’ve bought a wide range of test devices in order to fully test a VPN service’s complete range of applications.

VPN Test Devices

Here is a list of most of the devices we test VPNs on:

  • Lenovo T480 & T480s (Windows 10 & Ubuntu Linux 20.04)
  • Apple iMac & MacBook Pro (macOS Monterey)
  • Apple iPhone 11 (iOS 16) & iPad Pro
  • Samsung Galaxy S9 & Samsung Galaxy A8 (Android 12)
  • Amazon Fire TV Stick (3rd Generation) & Apple TV 4K
  • Google Chromecast with Google TV & Sony KD65XE
  • Sony PlayStation 4, Xbox One & Nintendo Switch

Below is a specific breakdown of the factors that make up our free VPN testing process, and how we weigh each individual category:

1. Privacy & Logging Policy: 30%

Minimum Requirement: Any connection logs must be anonymized.
We Recommend: An absolutely no-logs logging policy.

We only recommend free VPN services that respect your internet privacy and provide a high degree of anonymity.

We scrutinize each VPN’s privacy policy to fully understand what information the service is collecting, why it needs it, and how long it stores it for.

We also expect to see transparent and detailed policies, written in plain language.

A VPN shouldn’t collect unnecessary or personally-identifying activity data, for instance your IP address or records of the websites you visit.

The most private VPNs operate a strict no-logs policy. We highly value a policy that has been independently audited by a trusted third-party, or has been confirmed by real-world events (e.g. VPN server seizures and court cases).

2. Speed: 25%

Minimum Requirement: No more than 40% loss in download speeds on local connections.
We Recommend: Local speed loss less than 30% and reliably quick international speeds.

A VPN slows down your internet speeds, at least marginally. This is because your internet connection travel via the VPN server before reaching the destination website or app, therefore it takes a longer round trip.

High data encryption can also slow down the speed at which the data travels through the VPN tunnel.

With free VPNs, the speed loss tends to be higher than with the best premium VPNs. However, that doesn’t mean you have to endure painfully slow connection speeds.

We run regular manual speed tests, measuring each VPN’s download speed, upload speed, and ping time.

We conduct speed tests around the world, connecting to local and international VPN servers, in order to get a full picture of the VPN’s performance.

The best free VPNs are almost as fast as many of the premium VPNs we review. You’re unlikely to notice huge drop-offs in speed, and you’ll able to stream high-quality video or torrent quickly.

3. Security, Encryption & Features: 10%

Minimum Requirement: AES-128 encryption and an internet kill switch.
We Recommend: AES-256, OpenVPN, WireGuard or similar, and obfuscation tools.

Testing the security levels of a free VPN is of particular importance. That’s because dangerous and ineffective free VPNs are much more common than risky premium services.

We make sure every free VPN we recommend is free of malware, actually encrypts your web data transfers, and does not collect personally-identifiable activity data.

The security standard and encryption levels used by a VPN application are equally important aspects we thoroughly analyze.

Most VPNs use the AES encryption cipher to encrypt web traffic. While AES-128 is secure enough, we do favor applications that use the stronger AES-256 encryption cipher.

Additionally, the VPN protocols used need to be highly secure and reliably fast. OpenVPN and WireGuard are by far our preferred default choices.

That said, we do value proprietary protocols, like ExpressVPN’s Lightway, that perform just as well. Crucially, we will never recommend a proprietary protocol without proper testing and inspection.

A VPN service must also have a working kill switch that prevents IP address exposures due to abrupt VPN connection interruptions. All the service’s main apps should come with this tool, and ideally enabled by default.

4. Unblocking Streaming Services: 10%

Minimum Requirement: Sometimes unblocks global streaming platforms and libraries.
We Recommend: Unblocks US Netflix and BBC iPlayer from anywhere in the world.

One of the most common reasons to use a VPN is for bypassing streaming geo-restrictions. By changing your IP address, you can access video content usually blocked in your geographic region.

Sadly, free VPNs are notoriously bad for streaming. Most content platforms, such as Netflix, dedicate many resources to blocking VPN users – and free VPN connections are often the easiest to identify and block.

We’ve run thousands of tests to see which VPNs unblock which streaming services. We regularly check multiple Netflix regions, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, Prime Video, Hulu, HBO Max, and more.

Although free VPNs have a very low success rate at unblocking streaming platforms, the best ones like PrivadoVPN and Windscribe are able to stream US Netflix and BBC iPlayer.

5. Server Locations: 7.5%

Minimum Requirement: A choice of free VPN server locations.
We Recommend: Several free VPN servers spread around the world.

We analyze each VPN’s server network in detail. We pay particular attention to the total number of servers, how well distributed they are across the world, and any specialized servers (e.g. P2P-, streaming- or Tor-optimized servers).

Larger VPN server networks give you greater chances of enjoying fast connection speeds and unblocking geo-restricted web content.

The greater the range of servers the less congested they’ll be and the more anonymous IP addresses you’ll have access to. Moreover, the higher the chance there will be a server close to your physical location, for increased speeds.

Free VPNs often have limited VPN server networks, both in terms of server count and server locations. However, there are free services with 10 or more global server locations.

6. Torrenting & P2P File Sharing: 5%

Minimum Requirement: Allows torrenting on some of the free servers.
We Recommend: P2P-optimized servers and an average bitrate of at least 4MiB/s.

Using a VPN is crucial for safe and anonymous torrenting. We first examine each VPN service’s P2P file sharing policy, as many don’t allow free users to torrent at all.

We then check for P2P-optimized servers, AES-256 encryption, and make sure the VPN kill switch is working effectively.

We also run IP and DNS leak tests to ensure the VPN won’t leak your true torrent IP address while you’re in the torrent swarm.

Finally, we run a series of P2P performance tests. Most importantly, we record the VPN’s average torrenting bitrate. Just because a VPN is fast for streaming, it doesn’t mean it’ll deliver fast P2P file sharing speeds.

The best free VPNs have an average torrenting bitrate of at least 4MiB/s.

5. Ease of Use: 5%

Minimum Requirement: Simple setup and user-friendly apps for popular devices.
We Recommend: All of the above, plus compability with additional devices.

A VPN service’s compatibility with many devices and operating systems is clearly very important. The more devices you can it on, the better.

Unless a VPN is specifically dedicated to mobile users, we expect every VPN service to have good native applications for Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android devices.

Installing and using these applications should be straightforward, even for a complete novice. Once the VPN has launched, finding and connecting to a VPN server should only take a few seconds.

Additionally, we rate even more highly VPN services that have built native apps for Fire TV devices, a user interface for Linux, and offer .apk installation files for increased Android compatibility.

The very best VPNs even the option for router setup, and include a Smart DNS service to use the service on Apple TV and games consoles. Most free VPNs do not offer the latter solution, though.

6. Customer Support: 5%

Minimum Requirement: Email support and online troubleshooting guides.
We Recommend: All of the above, plus 24/7 live chat support and detailed online manuals.

In our experience, the speed, knowledge, and reliability of a VPN service’s customer support makes a big difference.

The VPNs that provide 24/7 live chat support and maintain detailed setup and troubleshooting online guides are the ones that deliver the best experience to their existing and future customers.

Many free VPNs do not offer 24/7 live chat support, mainly for financial reasons. However, as a minimum, we expect a free VPN to offer email support as well as helpful online troubleshooting guides and FAQs.

7. Bypassing Web Censorship: 2.5%

Minimum Requirement: Includes obfuscation technology and bypasses moderate internet censorship.
We Recommend: Circumvents the strictest of internet censorship, particularly in China.

Bypassing internet blocks in high-censorship countries is one of the hardest things for a VPN to do. Many VPNs, free or paid, aren’t equipped to circumvent strict web filters.

Building adequate obfuscation technology and tools requires a high degree of commitment and investment.

To accurately test if a VPN works in a highly-censored country, we rent a remote-access server in China to replicate how an internet user in China would try to bypass internet blocks.

The process is the following: we install a VPN on the server and then regularly check if it can unblock popular websites known to be blocked (e.g. YouTube, Instagram, or Wikipedia).

Data Usage Cap Limiter

Minimum Requirement: 500MB per month.
We Recommend: 10GB a month or higher.

Data usage caps are one the most common drawbacks of safe, free VPNs.

The vast majority of free VPNs place restrictions on how much data you can use, which can hugely inhibit what you’re able to do with the VPN.

We thoroughly check every VPNs data allowance policy, and explore ways you can claim ‘bonus’ data for free (e.g. through ‘refer a friend’ schemes or by registering an email address).

The very best free VPNs let you use at least 10GB of data per month. One or two, like Proton VPN, have no limit at all.

After calculating the rating of a free VPN using the methodology above, we reduce it based on how limiting the service’s data usage cap is.

The percentage reduction we apply to the overall rating of a free VPN, based on its data usage cap, is the following:

  • 500MB per day: 5%
  • 10GB per month: 10%
  • 5GB per month: 15%
  • 1GB per month: 25%
  • 500MB per month: 30%

Why Some Free VPNs Are Dangerous

Many popular free VPN services are unsafe, and pose serious risks to your internet security and privacy.

Free VPNs are often riddled with aggressive advertising, or even malware. Many collect and monetize user data by selling it to third parties. Hola VPN, for example, was caught selling its users’ bandwidth to botnets.

Furthermore, numerous free VPN applications use weak encryption, and leak IP and DNS data.

Since 2016, we’ve regularly tested over 150 free VPN applications for security, privacy and trustworthiness. Our tests show that:

  • 77% of free VPNs are potentially insecure
  • 85% of Android free VPNs contain security and privacy flaws
  • 25% suffered from data leaks, including IP and DNS

The charts below illustrate some of the key findings of our free VPN research and investigations:

Dangers of Using a Risky Free VPN

We’ve listed below the three key dangers of using an unverified and unsafe free VPN:

1. Data Logging & Intrusive Advertising

Free VPN services need to make money to support their business. Most services do it through in-app ads, with third-party code that sends internet usage data back to the ad platform.

Some free VPNs even log your web browsing data and sell it to third-parties.

If you are using a VPN to use the internet privately, avoid those that have advertising.

2. Data Leaks & Weak Encryption

Strong encryption and a secure server network cost money. Many free VPNs are poorly maintained – as a result, they simply aren’t secure.

We see many popular free VPNs like YogaVPN and TurboVPN leak DNS and IP address information. Basically, free ‘VPNs’ like these are proxies that don’t encrypt your data.

3. Ownership & Accountability

We investigate which companies and individuals are behind a VPN service.

For example, our past research revealed how 60% of popular free VPNs had suspicious links to China, – including many free VPN services in Taiwan.

Most popular free VPNs on the App Store or Google Play Store belong to companies that do not prioritize user privacy. At the very worst, some actively harvest your data.

How Do Free VPNs Make Money?

VPNs aren’t free to run. There are development, infrastructure, and staff costs, to list a few. It isn’t really possible to run a VPN for free.

How a free VPN makes its money is really important. As the saying goes: if you aren’t paying for a product, then you are the product. These are most common ways free VPNs make money:

  • Being subsidized by a paid service (another VPN or security software)
  • Advertisements
  • Selling user data

It’s safer to choose free VPNs that are subsidized by paid-for VPN services. Freemium services like Windscribe, TunnelBear, and Proton VPN are good examples. These companies don’t have to monetize their free applications directly.

Other free VPNs generate income by running advertisements in their apps. This is most common with mobile-only free VPNs. These apps often prompt you to upgrade to an ad-free (paid) version of the VPN.

Advertisements aren’t ideal from a privacy standpoint. But many users make that trade-off in order to use a free service.

The worst free VPNs make money by selling your browsing data to advertisers and other third parties. At best, you’re made into a product for marketers. At worst, your personal details are sold online.

In short, premium VPNs are almost always better than free VPNs. They are faster, more secure, and don’t have data usage limits.

Limitations of Safe Free VPNs

Not every free VPN is dangerous, and certain free VPNs a very good for small and specific tasks like using public WiFi securely, or unblocking geo-restricted videos for a few hours.

However, even the best free VPNs are usually extremely limited compared to premium alternatives.

Limitations include small VPN server networks, poor streaming capabilities, and restrictions on bandwidth usage.

Moreover, it’s likely you’ll experience slow speeds, constant advertising, and difficulty maintaining a reliable connection.

Here is a list of the most common limitations of free safe VPNs:

  • Lack of streaming (unblocking) capabilities
  • Lack of torrenting and file-sharing support
  • Small free VPN server network
  • Slower (or capped) connection speeds
  • Daily/monthly data usage limits
  • Inferior encryption and security standards

Free VPN FAQs

What Is the Fastest Free VPN?

The fastest free VPN is Atlas VPN. It outperformed all other free VPNs in our speed tests.

Many free VPN services limit or throttle speeds to persuade users to upgrade to a paid subscription plan.

A limited number of free servers can also slow down speeds considerably due to server congestion.

For this reason, free VPN speeds vary a lot depending on what time of day you connect and how many other users are connected to the same VPN server.

In short, don’t be surprised if you encounter some large fluctuations in speed.

Can I Use a Premium VPN for Free?

Premium VPNs sometimes offer money-back guarantees and free trials. You can take advantage of these to use a paid VPN for free.

Paid VPNs like CyberGhost let you try the full VPN service for a set number of days without asking for payment details upfront. We explain how to get a totally free CyberGhost trial on every platform here, no tricks and no card details required.

Other premium VPNs, like ExpressVPN and NordVPN, offer risk-free money-back guarantees. You can use Surfshark for free for 67 days thanks to a 7-day free trial and a money-back guarantee that you can claim twice.

Refund guarantees let you try a paid VPN for a set amount of time. You’ll be charged on signup, but request a refund before the guarantee period ends and you’ll be promptly reimbursed.