Disclosure: We review VPNs independently, however we may earn commissions if you buy a VPN via links on our site.

The Best Free VPNs of 2023

Illustration of a credit card with a line through it and some coins
Simon Migliano

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 unsafe and can’t bypass internet geo-blocks. Instead, consider using Private Internet Access (PIA), an excellent premium VPN that delivers fast and secure connections that bypass most geo-restrictions. Try PIA VPN risk-free for 30 days.

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

After testing over 150 free VPN applications, we can only recommend the seven VPNs below, which 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: The Best Free VPN Overall
  2. Windscribe Free: Best Free VPN for Server Locations
  3. PrivadoVPN Free: Best Free VPN for Streaming
  4. Atlas VPN Free: Best Free VPN for Ease of Use
  5. ZoogVPN Free: Best Free VPN for Beginners
  6. Hotspot Shield Basic: The Fastest Free VPN
  7. Hide.me Free: Private Free VPN for Torrenting

The overall best free VPN of 2023 is Proton VPN. 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, with hundreds of millions of combined installs on iOS and Android. The problem is they perform much worse than the best premium VPN services.

Most free VPN apps are restricted by data usage caps, unreliable speeds as well as 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 our most highly-rated free VPNs based on download speed, server locations, logging policy, and more.

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 Apps7
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 most highly-rated 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 guides recommending the best free VPNs for each of the categories we test for. Follow each link below to discover our latest expert recommendations.

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

Analysis of the Best Free VPNs

  1. 1. Proton VPN Free: Overall 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 
    3 user reviews
    Visit Proton VPN

    • No data usage limits
    • No payment info on signup
    • 200 very fast free servers
    • Desktop & mobile VPN kill switch
    • Privacy-friendly logging policy & Swiss jurisdiction
    • Android .APK file for side loading

    • Only 3 VPN server locations
    • Torrenting not allowed
    • Doesn't unblock many video platforms
    • Only one simultaneous connection
    • No web browser extensions

    Overall Free VPN Rating: 7.0/10

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

    • 9.59.5/10
    • 9.49.4/10
    • 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 on its 200 free servers. You can use Proton VPN as much as you want, completely free, and without adverts.

    All 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
    JurisdictionSwitzerland (Privacy Haven)
    Data LeaksNo
    Works In ChinaNo

    Secure, Independently Audited Apps

    You can use the free version of Proton VPN securely on Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and Fire TV devices.

    All apps use AES-256 encryption, the OpenVPN and WireGuard protocols, 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.’

    Enabling Proton VPN's kill switch in the app

    Proton VPN Free includes a kill switch.

    Proton VPN’s free apps have undergone full third-party security audits, and are open-source to allow the public to scrutinize them for vulnerabilities.

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

    Focused On Privacy, Not Entertainment

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

    In fact, the VPN doesn’t monitor or collect any usage data that can be used to identify you.

    Being based in Switzerland also helps with the company’s position on privacy, since the country has strong privacy laws outside of the reach of the EU.

    Sadly, the VPN’s unlimited data can’t be used to stream unlimited video content. The free VPN doesn’t unblock any region-locked streaming service. The only major video platform it works with is YouTube.

    The service doesn’t allow torrenting, either. When we tried downloading a file using qBittorrent, the VPN actively blocked our P2P connection.

    Small Server Network & One Device Limit

    Proton VPN Free is very quick across short distances. To get the fastest speeds, we tested OpenVPN against WireGuard and found that the latter delivers the best results.

    WireGuard is faster than OpenVPN on Proton VPN.

    While in the past international speeds slowed down, recent tests show long-distance speed performance has improved significantly, with an average international download speed of 98Mbps.

    This is despite a small range of free server locations. Currently, Proton VPN only offers 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

    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 need to be faster

    Overall Free VPN Rating: 6.8/10

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

    • 8.98.9/10
    • 8.88.8/10
    • 8.18.1/10
    • 8.58.5/10
    • 5.85.8/10
    • 7.47.4/10
    • 8.98.9/10
    • 88.0/10
    • 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 Netflix 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
    JurisdictionCanada (Five Eyes Member)
    Data LeaksNo
    Works In ChinaYes

    Excellent Free VPN for Streaming

    Windscribe is the only free VPN that consistently streams BBC iPlayer.

    The VPN service also unblocks the American platforms Hulu and HBO Max, in addition to 6 international Netflix libraries.

    Using Windscribe Free with BBC iPlayer

    Windscribe Free unblocks BBC iPlayer from abroad.

    We were extremely pleased with this level of unblocking, considering most free VPNs are unable to bypass the vast majority of video geo-restrictions.

    However, the VPN’s 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 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 & 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 & Computer Apps

    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.

     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: 6.0/10

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

    • 6.46.4/10
    • 9.39.3/10
    • 6.96.9/10
    • 8.88.8/10
    • 5.55.5/10
    • 6.26.2/10
    • 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
    Cheapest PriceFree
    Data Cap10GB
    Logging PolicyNo Identifying Data
    US NetflixYes
    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: Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, and Washington DC.

    PrivadoVPN's free US server locations

    PrivadoVPN Free comes with four US server location.

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

    Surprisingly, the free VPN recorded a similiar download speed of 96Mbps as the premium VPN. Connecting to the UK from the US, we recorded impressove average download speeds of 89Mbps.

    Who Is PrivadoVPN Best For?

    You should use PrivadoVPN Free 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 Free 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. Atlas VPN Free: Best User-Friendly Free VPN

    Atlas VPN offers a great user experience on simple and effective apps.

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

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

    • 5GB monthly data cap
    • Doesn't unblock streaming services
    • Very small server network
    • Missing additional settings
    • No longer works in China
    • No browser extensions

    Overall Rating: 4.9/10

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

    • 88.0/10
    • 8.98.9/10
    • 77.0/10
    • 33.0/10
    • 3.53.5/10
    • 5.55.5/10
    • 99.0/10
    • 8.68.6/10
    • 7.57.5/10

    Atlas VPN’s free service is secure and easy to use. What stand outs with the VPN are its fast speeds and ease of use.

    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
    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.

    Fast Connection Speeds

    The free version of Atlas VPN delivers exceptionally fast local speeds of 95Mbps. This is faster than Windscribe’s 90Mbps.

    As for long distance speeds, we recorded {{download_uk_free-atlas-vpn}} connecting to London from New York — a great international speed result.

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

    Testing Atlas VPN's internet speed

    Atlas VPN recorded very good download speeds in our tests.

    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 one of the fastest VPN we’ve tested on both local and international connections.
    • You want a user-friendly VPN. Atlas VPN’s apps are well-designed and simple to use, making it a pleasure to use.

    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.
  5. 5. 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 ZoogVPN

    • 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: 4.8/10

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

    • 6.86.8/10
    • 88.0/10
    • 77.0/10
    • 11.0/10
    • 4.54.5/10
    • 6.36.3/10
    • 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 has a safe, minimal-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 Identifying Data
    US NetflixNo
    JurisdictionGreece (EU Member)
    Data LeaksYes
    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 Server Locations & 10GB Free Data

    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 5%.

    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.
  6. 6. Hotspot Shield Basic: Fastest Free VPN

    Secure free VPN with the fastest free speeds and a built-in malware blocker.

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

    • Fastest free VPN
    • No registration details required
    • Allows torrent & P2P file sharing traffic
    • Extensions for Chrome & Firefox
    • Built-in malware blocker
    • User-friendly appls

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

    Overall Free VPN Rating: 4.5/10

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

    • 3.23.2/10
    • 9.89.8/10
    • 8.98.9/10
    • 0.50.5/10
    • 33.0/10
    • 5.65.6/10
    • 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 speed: there is barely any speed loss, only 3% on local servers.

    There is also an integrated built-in malware blocking solution, a rare feature among free services.

    However, it collects some user activity data, so it’s not the best 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
    JurisdictionUS (Five Eyes Member)
    Data LeaksNo
    Works In ChinaNo

    The Fastest Free VPN

    Hotspot Shield Basic is the fastest free VPN available.

    We regularly register a marginal 3% speed loss, with local download connections running at 97Mbps.

    For international connections, the results are equally impressive: only a 3% speed loss on average when connecting to distant global servers.

    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.

    Who Is Hotspot Shield Best For?

    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.
  7. 7. Hide.me Free: Private VPN for Torrrenting

    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

    • Minimal logging policy
    • No bandwidth throttling
    • Strong privacy features
    • User-friendly custom apps

    • Restrictive speed cap
    • Only 5 VPN server locations
    • One simultaneous connection
    • 10GB monthly data limit

    Overall Free VPN Rating: 4.5/10

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

    • 8.98.9/10
    • 11.0/10
    • 8.58.5/10
    • 22.0/10
    • 5.55.5/10
    • 66.0/10
    • 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
    JurisdictionMalaysia (Privacy Haven)
    Data LeaksNo
    Works In ChinaNo

    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.

    Speed Restrictions

    Unfortunately, Hide.me Free caps your speed at 2Mbps, no matter which server you connect to. This is very restrictive. We suggest using Hotspot Shield Basic instead.

    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.

    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.

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.

Hola Free VPN

Overall Ranking: #41 out of 55 VPNs

Overall Rating: 4.1/104.1

What we don’t like: Hola Free VPN is very fast but it isn’t safe to use. 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.

TunnelBear Free

Overall Rating: 3.5/103.5

What we don’t like: TunnelBear has the largest free server network, but it caps data at 500MB a month, which is too restrictive.

Turbo VPN

Overall Ranking: #46 out of 55 VPNs

Overall Rating: 2.2/102.2

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: #51 out of 55 VPNs

Overall Rating: 2.0/102.0

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

VPN Proxy Master

Overall Ranking: #47 out of 55 VPNs

Overall Rating: 2.1/102.1

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.

Thunder VPN

Overall Ranking: #50 out of 55 VPNs

Overall Rating: 2.0/102.0

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

SuperVPN Free VPN Client

Overall Ranking: #48 out of 55 VPNs

Overall Rating: 2.0/102.0

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.

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.

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: 20%

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: 20%

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 data has to travel via the VPN server before reaching its destination, which makes its journey longer.

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 & Technical Features: 15%

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. Streaming: 15%

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. Ease of Use: 10%

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. Server Locations: 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.

7. Torrenting: 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.

8. Bypassing Censorship: 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).

9. 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.

Data Cap Penalty: Up to 50% Reduction

The vast majority of free VPNs place restrictions on how much data you can use, which can hugely limit 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).

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:

  • 10GB per month: -20% to the overall rating
  • 500MB per day: -25% to the overall rating
  • 5GB per month: -30% to the overall rating
  • 1GB per month: -35% to the overall rating
  • 500MB per month: -50% to the overall rating

How to Choose a Free VPN

With so many free VPNs to choose from, it’s vital to do your own research before downloading a new application.

Our VPN reviews and test findings are designed to help you avoid installing and using insecure, and potentially dangerous, free software.

The Key Features of a Safe Free VPN

Before you decide which free VPN to use, we strongly recommend considering the features and factors below.

This will help to ensure that the free VPN you choose isn’t just effective, it’s also 100% safe.


  • Strong encryption via the AES-256 cipher and use of secure VPN protocols like OpenVPN or WireGuard.
  • A VPN kill switch to keep your IP address hidden during unexpected VPN connection interruptions.
  • No IP or DNS leaks across all applications.


  • A privacy-focused logging policy. A safe free VPN should not track or store any personally identifiable information, such as your real IP address or the websites you visit. It’s even better if this policy has been proven via expert audits or through real events like server seizures or court cases.
  • Company registered in a privacy-focused country with no data retention laws. A safe jurisdiction, combined with a verified no-logs policy, is the perfect combination.


  • Reasonably fast and consistent speeds across its free VPN servers. This includes connections to nearby as well as far away server locations.
  • A reasonably-sized server network, with free VPN servers located in a diverse range of countries across the world. This allows for acceptable speeds regardless of where users are connecting from.

Device Compatibility

  • Native apps for Windows, macOS, iOS and Android smartphones and tablets.
  • Chrome and Firefox VPN extensions, a native app for Fire TV Stick, and router setup functionality are all useful additions that improve a VPN’s rating. However, they’re not essential features for a good free VPN.

Data Usage Limitations

  • Most safe free VPNs limit the amount of data you can use each day or month. Anything above 1GB per month is acceptable, but the very best free VPNs offer 10GB per month or no bandwidth limits at all. Consider how much data you think you’ll need, and choose accordingly.

When you’re looking for a secure and dependable free VPN, make sure it meets most of the requirements listed above.

If a free VPN doesn’t tick most of these boxes, then you’re better off not using it.

Free vs Paid VPN Services: The Limitations of Free VPNs

Not every free VPN is dangerous, and certain free VPNs are 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 significantly limited compared to premium alternatives.

Below is a list of the most common limitations of free VPNs that you won’t find in high-quality premium VPN services.

1. Limited Streaming (Unblocking) Capabilities

Free VPNs typically cannot bypass the geo-restrictions placed by streaming services around the world.

Aside from Windscribe and PrivadoVPN, most free services don’t work with popular streaming platforms like Netflix, Disney+, and HBO Max.

On the other hand, top-rated streaming VPNs like ExpressVPN and PrivateVPN easily unblock most streaming services from overseas.

2. Limited Torrenting and File Sharing Support

Often, free VPNs either heavily restrict file sharing speeds or block torrenting traffic altogether.

This is because file sharing and P2P traffic consumes high levels of bandwidth that costs VPN services money.

Moreover, most safe free VPNs enforce daily or monthly data limits, which hinder the transfer of large files.

Not to mention the fact that free VPNs don’t offer extra torrenting features like port forwarding or a SOCKS5 proxy.

While not all premium VPNs are optimized for torrenting, those that are provide advanced torrenting settings, excellent security, and fast torrent speeds across thousands of P2P-friendly servers.

3. Daily or Monthly Data Usage Limits

Most secure and trustworthy free VPNs place restrictions on the amount of data you can transfer in a day or a month.

Typically, these data usage limits range from 1GB to 10GB per month, although there are rare free VPNs — like Proton VPN Free — that don’t impose any data limits at all.

This problem doesn’t exist with paid VPN services, which don’t apply any restrictions on how much data you use.

4. Slower (or Capped) Connection Speeds

A few years ago, free VPNs were much slower than they are now.

Thanks to technology advancements, many top free VPNs are now able to deliver fast speeds throughout their network.

However, this isn’t always guaranteed. Some secure free VPNs are in fact much slower than paid alternatives.

For instance, Hide.me’s free servers are considerably slower than its paid ones.

This is likely due to server congestion, which occurs when too many free users are connected at the same time.

Server congestion is a common problem with free VPNs, which can have millions of users connected to the same servers.

5. Small Free VPN Server Network

As you will have seen from our list of recommended free VPNs, free VPN server networks are small.

Even the largest free VPN server networks consist of a few hundred servers at most, or cover approximately 40 to 50 server locations at best.

This pales in comparison to premium VPNs, which can offer access to as many as 17,087 servers worldwide.

TunnelBear Free offers the most server locations by far, with a network covering 47 countries. In comparison, paid providers like CyberGhost and Surfshark operate servers in more than 90 countries.

6. Lack of Advanced Security Features

Even the very best free VPN services are limited when it comes to advanced settings.

Other than a VPN kill switch, extra features such as VPN split tunneling, multi-hop (or double VPN) servers, and IPv6 leak protection are rarely found in free VPN services.

These additional settings are almost always reserved for paying customers. If having access to them is important to you, then you’ll have to opt for a paid-for VPN.


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.