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Best Free VPN of 2020

Illustration of a credit card with a line through it and some coins
Simon Migliano Head of Research at Top10VPN

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

It’s tempting to use a free VPN. The prospect of browsing anonymously and unblocking websites for free is hard to resist. Finding the best free VPN isn’t easy, though.

Many ‘good’ free VPNs are limited in what they can do: they’re slow, they won’t unblock US Netflix, and they often come with data usage caps.

There are also hundreds of bad free VPNs that run intrusive advertising, share data with third-parties, and have serious security flaws. Sadly, more than 500 million people are using them! You must avoid these dangerous VPNs at all costs.

Instead, opt for a trustworthy free VPN from the list below. They’re the safest and fastest we’ve tested, and they’re completely free. Most won’t work with US Netflix, and won’t be very good for torrenting, but they will hide your IP address so you can browse the web anonymously.

Free VPNs: Selection Criteria

  1. Doesn't ask for payment details at signup
  2. Doesn't collect user activity logs
  3. Strong security & no IP or DNS leaks
  4. Fast speeds with no cap on download speeds
  5. Has the biggest data allowance possible
  6. Easy to use with good customer support

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

Best 100% Free VPNs

1. Windscribe - 10GB Data Cap

Ranked #1 free VPN

  1. Fast same-country speeds
  2. Works with US Netflix & BBC iPlayer
  3. Minimal logging policy
  4. Built-in VPN kill switch
  5. 10 server locations
  6. Unlimited simultaneous connections
  1. Monthly data cap (a generous one, though)
  2. No human live chat support
  • Top Speedi

    54Mbps same city speed

    Based on a 100Mbps test connection

  • Servers

    10 countries

  • Compatible with

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

The Bottom Line

Windscribe is currently the best overall free VPN service. It’s a very secure VPN and one of the fastest free VPN services we’ve tested.

The free version of Windscribe also comes with many privacy features – like a VPN kill switch – which we like a lot. Windscribe also doesn’t log user activity, and it secures connections with AES-256 encryption as well as the OpenVPN security protocol (IKEv2 is also available).

Winscribe VPN works well on Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android and FireOS devices. Recently, it also started unblocking US Netflix and BBC iPlayer with relative ease, which the vast majority of free VPNs can’t do.

Not all is perfect with Windscribe, of course. The 10GB monthly data cap is a little restrictive, but it is much more generous than what other free VPNs like Tunnelbear and Avira offer. There’s also no human live chat support, and all you get is hit-and-miss chat bot.

Overall, Windscribe is currently the best free VPN we’ve tested and ideal for beginners keen to give a VPN a try.

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

2. ProtonVPN - No Data Cap

Ranked #2 free VPN

  1. No payment info on signup
  2. Reliable download speeds
  3. No data cap
  4. Kill switch & DNS leak protection
  5. Minimal logging policy
  6. Privacy-friendly Swiss jurisdiction
  1. Only 3 VPN server locations
  2. Torrenting not allowed
  3. Doesn't work with Netflix or BBC iPlayer
  4. One simultaneous connection
  • Top Speedi

    60Mbps same city speed

    Based on a 100Mbps test connection

  • Servers

    3 countries, 8 servers

  • Compatible with

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

The Bottom Line

ProtonVPN’s free VPN service is private, secure, and comes with no speed or data restrictions at all.

It just misses out on the top spot as, unlike Windscribe, you can only use ProtonVPN’s free VPN service on one device at a time

You can use the free version of ProtonVPN on Windows, Mac, iOS and Android devices, and all of these use the most secure VPN connection protocol, OpenVPN.

ProtonVPN is very quick, though, despite its very limited VPN server network of just three countries around the world (Japan, the Netherlands, and the US).

ProtonVPN’s minimal-logs policy means it’s very safe, too, and the built-in VPN kill switch adds an extra layer of protection just in case.

It’s not good for streaming, however, with access to both Netflix and BBC iPlayer blocked. Torrenting is also prohibited on all of ProtonVPN’s free servers.

If you can live without access to streaming and only need to use a VPN on one device, though, ProtonVPN could be a good option for you.

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

3. TunnelBear - 500MB Data Cap

Ranked #3 free VPN

  1. No user activity logs
  2. Consistently good speeds
  3. Advanced security features
  4. Own its own DNS servers
  5. 22 VPN server locations
  1. 500MB monthly data cap
  2. Doesn't work with Netflix or BBC iPlayer
  3. Limited customer support
  • Top Speedi

    52Mbps same city speed

    Based on a 100Mbps test connection

  • Servers

    23 countries

  • Compatible with

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

The Bottom Line

TunnelBear’s free VPN is a great choice for VPN beginners who only need to do some (very) light web browsing.

Not only is TunnelBear simple and easy to use, it also has one of the biggest server networks we’ve seen from a free service: 22 countries worldwide, including the US, the UK and Australia.

The free version of TunnelBear is fully functional, but unfortunately comes with a restrictive 500MB monthly data cap. If you tweet about the TunnelBear app you get an extra 1GB, though.

What’s for certain is that TunnelBear cares about its users privacy. Some of the highlights include:

The VPN apps can be installed on all popular platforms (Windows, Mac, iOS and Android) and each app is encrypted with top cipher AES-256.

We recommend TunnelBear to VPN newbies who don’t need a lot of bandwidth each month, otherwise you should opt for Windscribe.

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

4. Hide.me - 10GB Data Cap

Ranked #4 free VPN

  1. Minimal logging policy
  2. Strong privacy features
  3. Good same-country speeds
  4. User-friendly custom apps
  5. No bandwidth throttling
  1. Very slow long-distance speeds
  2. Only 5 VPN server locations
  3. One simultaneous connection
  • Top Speedi

    72Mbps same city speed

    Based on a 100Mbps test connection

  • Servers

    4 countries, Not disclosed servers

  • Compatible with

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

The Bottom Line

Hide.me’s free VPN is one of the most secure free VPNs out there. It has a solid a privacy-focused logging policy and extra security features like a VPN kill switch.

It’s also one the fastest free VPN services we tested on same-country connections. It’s a different story on long-distance connections, though: the speed slowed down to a barely usable level.

You can install Hide.me on all popular devices as well as routers. You can also choose from a range of VPN security protocols (we recommend OpenVPN where possible).

One of the limitations of Hide.me is that you can only connect to five server locations: the Netherlands, Canada, Singapore, and the US (East and West). And, like Windscribe, there’s a 10GB monthly data cap.

Want to use this free VPN for streaming? Forget it, all major streaming sites block Hide.me connections. Plus you’ll run through the data allowance real quick.

But, Hide.me is a very good VPN for online privacy and security – as long as you don’t transfer too much data.

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

5. Avira VPN - 1GB Data Cap

Ranked #5 free VPN

  1. Minimal logging policy
  2. Quick download speeds
  3. Strong encryption
  4. Sometimes works with Netflix
  5. Unlimited simultaneous connections
  1. No manual server selection
  2. 1GB monthly data cap
  3. No VPN kill switch
  4. No customer support
  • Top Speedi

    51Mbps same city speed

    Based on a 100Mbps test connection

  • Servers

    1 country

  • Compatible with

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

The Bottom Line

The free version of Avira Phantom VPN is a simple, straightforward VPN that provides a basic level of privacy.

This VPN just makes this list mainly because of its minimal, privacy-friendly logging policy. It also uses the OpenVPN protocol (apart from the iOS app which uses IKEv2) and yet to be broken AES-256 encryption.

However, we were disappointed by the absence of a VPN kill switch, which all the VPNs above have.

Avira’s speeds were surprisingly good, but you’re automatically connected to the closest VPN server with no ability to select a country to connect to.

Every month you get 1GB of data to use if you provide Avira with your email address. If you don’t, you only get 500MB.

Avira sometimes works with Netflix, and sometimes doesn’t. In any case, you’ll run out of data very quickly.

The bottom line is that Avira’s free VPN is best suited to anyone that wants to occasionally secure their internet connection.

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

FAQs About Free VPNs

What is a VPN & Why Use One?

Diagram showing how a VPN works.

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) creates a secure and private internet connection (also known as a VPN tunnel) between two or more devices.

This is how a personal VPN works in practice:

A standard internet connection routes traffic from your device, through your internet service provider (ISP), and on to the website or app that you’re visiting.

Instead, a VPN routes your web traffic to a secure VPN server in a location of your choice, and then on to your desired website or app.

The result? Your ISP can no longer see or monitor you what you do online. On top of that, your internet connection is encrypted and secure.

If you care about your online privacy, and want to enjoy internet freedom, you really need to use a VPN.

In fact, a good free VPN will:

  1. Keep your online activity private
  2. Access geo-restricted websites and apps
  3. Secure your data transfers (especially on public WiFi)

You can learn more about VPNs in our comprehensive ‘What is a VPN’ guide. Or, you can watch our short explainer video.

Pros & Cons of Free VPNs

Clearly, the free VPNs above come with our seal of approval. We’ve been testing VPNs since 2016, and we’re happy recommending the five free VPNs in this guide.

But, free VPNs have their limitations and you won’t be able to do everything that you wan’t with them.

First, lets take a look at the advantages of the best free VPNs:

  • They hide your web activity from your ISP
  • They unblock many websites and apps worldwide
  • They protect your web traffic on unsecured public WiFi

However, even the best free VPNs can’t compete with good paid VPNs. The disadvantages of free VPNs are:

  • Slow and inconsistent connection speeds
  • Limited choice of VPN server locations
  • Won’t unblock streaming services like Netflix or BBC iPlayer
  • Small data caps limit the amount of data you can use
  • Won’t work in high censorship countries like China or Turkey

Overall, a good free VPN service is a great tool for beginners and for casual/light web usage. But, for more web data-heavy tasks, you’ll more than likely need a paid VPN.

illustration of a map of the world.

In a nutshell, VPN services are completely legal and you can freely use them in most countries.

There are a few exceptions, though. VPNs are currently banned in:

  • Belarus
  • Iraq
  • North Korea
  • Turkmenistan

And in the countries listed below you only use ‘government approved’ VPNs:

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

Unless you’re in one of the 10 nations listed above, you can use a VPN without any worries. You can also read more about where VPNs are banned or restricted in our guide ‘Are VPNs Legal?’.

Are Free VPNs Safe? (The Dangers of Free VPNs)

Unfortunately many free VPN services are not safe and you shouldn’t trust them with your personal data. And some are simply outright scams.

In 2019, we tested the top 150 free Android VPN apps and we discovered that over 85% were potentially unsafe!

Additionally, we also investigated who’s really behind some of the most popular free VPNs. We were shocked to find out that 60% of free VPNs had suspicious links to China, as well as worrying privacy flaws.

Don’t worry though, we carefully tested all the free VPNs we recommend in this guide and we can confirm that they are 100% safe.

The Worst Free VPNs

Now that we’ve discussed the dangers posed by many free VPNs, here’s a (non-exhaustive) list of free VPNs to stay clear of:

1Hola Free VPN

Hola Free VPN is one of the most popular ‘free VPN’ services, but that doesn’t mean you should use it.

It’s actually an extremely insecure peer-to-peer proxy network that’s being incorrectly marketed as a VPN. It doesn’t provide any encryption whatsoever.

Hola VPN also monitors everything you do online, including the websites you visit, and has been known to sell user bandwidth without consent.

Avoid Hola at all costs.

2VPN Proxy Master

VPN Proxy Master is a very unreliable free VPN that has a history of sending confidential user information to China.

There’s no information to tell how VPN Proxy Master is encrypted, and your IP address is collected and stored for an indefinite period, which is bad news for privacy.

Its apps are inundated with pop-up ads and reminders to rate the company in the App Store, too.

It’s not worth the time taken to download it.

3Turbo VPN

We can’t recommend Turbo VPN to anyone who values their privacy. Not only does it send user information to China, it also incorrectly brands itself as a no-log network.

Turbo VPN offers no privacy features, and customer support is non-existent – the apps are full of annoying pop-up ads, too.

It’s a potentially dangerous free VPN service that outright lies to its users.

4Thunder VPN

Thunder VPN is without doubt one of the worst free VPN services we’ve tested.

This Android-only free VPN uses a sub-standard connection protocol (SSL), lacks essential privacy features, and ignored our requests for more information about its encryption.

Like most free VPNs, Thunder VPN claims to be no-logs but that’s an outright lie. It collects lots of information, including your IP address, ISP, VPN server location, and much more.

5Snap VPN

Snap VPN is an incredibly untrustworthy VPN that funnels all of your personal data through China and logs tons of unnecessary information.

We also noticed that it’s almost identical to two other VPN services in this list: Turbo VPN and VPN Proxy Master. This suggests they could be owned by the same company.

Snap VPN’s approach to privacy is totally unacceptable, and we wouldn’t advise taking a chance on it when there are much better options available.

How Do Free VPNs Make Money?

A common question we get from our readers is this: how do free VPNs make money?

It varies from one VPN to another, but if you choose a free VPN that’s provided by a premium service, it usually subsidizes its free service with the monthly subscription fees provided by paying users.

Other free VPNs make their money by running advertisements within their apps. We see this mostly with mobile-only free VPNs available directly from the App Store or Google Play Store. When using these apps, you’re often prompted to upgrade to an ad-free (paid) version of the VPN.

One thing’s for sure: stay well away from the worst free VPNs listed below. Many of them make money by selling your data on to advertisers and other third parties.

Also, avoid any free VPN services that lack extensive privacy policies.

How to Get a Free VPN

Most of the good free VPNs are offered by reputable paid VPN services. All you have to do is visit the VPN service’s website and download the free custom VPN app for your device.

You can also get a free VPN directly from the iOS App Store or Google Play Store, but the most prominently listed are usually not to be trusted (as we found out in our recent investigations).

We suggest you do your research first – making sure you thoroughly read through privacy policies – and then search for your chosen brand in your device’s app store.

Free vs Paid: Should You Pay for a VPN?

Of course, the free VPN services listed above all come with our seal of approval. We’ve been testing VPNs since 2016 and we’re happy recommending the five VPNs in this guide.

But, even the best free VPNs can’t compete with good paid VPNs. Some of the benefits of using a paid VPN are:

  • Faster and more reliable speeds
  • Wider range of server locations
  • Access to streaming services like Netflix
  • No data usage caps whatsoever
  • Advanced privacy & security features

Basically, a good free VPN is great for newbies or casual browsers, but for the best experience you’ll have to use a paid VPN service.

Free VPNs & Device Compatibility

Luckily, you can use free VPNs on most popular devices. Below you can see our recommendations for all popular devices:

And free VPNs are very easy to set up. However, if you need some help, follow the step-by-step VPN setup guides below:

Goes without saying, most VPN providers have setup guides on their websites. Or, you can contact their support team if you need further assistance.

The Fastest (Safe) Free VPN

A lot of free VPN services have speed caps in place, which means many free VPNs are slow. But, not all free VPNs intentionally slow down your VPN speeds.

All five free VPNs in this guide don’t have speed caps, and in our latest round of speed testing, Hide.me is consistently proving to be the fastest free VPN.

Screenshot of Hide.me's latency, download, and upload speeds from speedtest.net

It’s worth noting that 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. So, don’t be surprised if you speeds see big swings.

With free VPNs, speed can often come at the expense of security, too. Our advice is to stick to our recommendations for peace of mind.

Best Free VPN for Torrenting

Using a free VPN for torrenting is difficult, mainly due to small data caps. These usage caps make it almost impossible to transfer anything more than a handful of bulky files before hitting the data limit.

Speed throttling doesn’t help, either, which some free VPNs apply to traffic.

To make matters worse, some free VPN services, such as ProtonVPN, don’t allow torrenting at all on their free VPN servers:

Fear not, though. We put together a useful list of the top free VPNs for torrenting. However, if you’re serious about anonymous torrenting, then you should really consider paying for one of the best torrent VPNs.

Best Free VPN for Netflix

A man breaking through a wall with a hammer to reveal the Netflix logo

Similarly to torrenting, using a free VPN with Netflix is going to be a very frustrating experience.

Almost all free VPNs we tested were detected by Netflix’s filters, and couldn’t bypass them. Windscribe sometimes did work with US Netflix, but it’s very hit and miss.

And if you were able to find a VPN that works with Netflix, it’s either a privacy-unfriendly VPN (like Hola) or the data caps will massively restrict your viewing time.

Ultimately, you’re better off using a VPN that works with Netflix, all the time.

However, we recently found a free VPN extension that’s currently unblocking US Netflix! The HMA VPN proxy extension (for Chrome and Firefox) is working very well with Netflix, at the moment.

Remember though, generally speaking a proxy extension is not a VPN, and you’re web traffic will be visible to your ISP and other third-parties.

Do Free VPNs Work in China?

Unfortunately, most free VPNs are not equipped with the obfuscation technology needed to bypass aggressive censorship. This means free VPNs, including popular apps like TunnelBear and Hotspot Shield won’t work in China.

Occassionally, free VPN mobile apps like Turbo VPN and VPN Proxy Master work, but these are bad VPNs that we can’t recommend for use. In fact, they’re likely handing your data over to the Chinese government.

If you’re travelling to China soon, the best thing to do is to use a VPN that beats the China VPN ban. They’ll cost you a small monthly fee, but they’ll be worth it. If your stay in China is short, you can always take advantage of their 30-day no-questions-asked refund policy.

Can I Use a Premium VPN for Free?

You can use a paid VPN for free by taking advantage of the money-back guarantees offered by most top-tier VPNs.

Essentially, you can use their VPN service free of charge for the duration of the guarantee period (usually 30 days).

For example, if you sign up to ExpressVPN, our current top VPN service, and cancel your subscription before the end of its 30-day refund period, you’ll be refunded quickly and with no questions asked.

Other high-quality VPN services you can try for free are:

  • NordVPN – full use of the service for 30 days with no restrictions
  • IPVanish – seven-day free trial plus a further seven-day money-back guarantee

This is a good way to use a top-rated VPN free of charge, but only if you intend to use the VPN for a short period of time.

Word of advice: set yourself a reminder to cancel your subscription before the money-back guarantee expires otherwise you won’t be able to get your money.

Alternatively, you can also take a look at the latest free VPN trials, where you can try out a top VPN without making any upfront payment.

About the Author

  • Simon Migliano Head of Research at Top10VPN

    Simon Migliano

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