While it’s very tempting to use a free VPN, they can’t always be trusted. We’ve tested out dozens of free VPN services so we can tell you which free VPNs will keep you safe online.
The five free VPNs we recommend are the fastest and most trustworthy we’ve seen, offering a slick, user-friendly VPN experience with the fewest compromises.
These free VPN services offer fast speeds, generous data caps, and most importantly will protect your online privacy. The best free VPN apps will also work for streaming sites like Netflix.
The Most Important Factors When We Review a Free VPN
- Doesn't ask for any payment details at signup
- Has the biggest data allowance possible
- No cap on download speeds
- Transparent, fair and privacy-focused logging policies
- Useful privacy features
- Well-designed and easy to use apps
Wondering why you should trust our reviews? Take a look at How We Test VPNs
Read More Information on Our Top 5 Best Free VPN Services
Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, HBO, Torrenting, Kodi
What is a VPN and Why You Need One
A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is an application that creates a secure, private internet connection between two or more devices.
A standard internet connection typically 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 server in a location of your choice, and then on to your desired website or app.
The result is that your ISP can no longer see or monitor your online activity, and your 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. A good VPN will:
1. Keep your online activity private
2. Access restricted websites and apps
3. Encrypt your connection for safe data transfers (especially if you’re using Public WiFi)
You can read more about VPNs in our comprehensive guide to What is a VPN.
How Can I Get a Free VPN?
A good free VPN will usually come from a reputable premium VPN service. This means that all you have to do to get the free VPN is visit the VPN service’s website and download the free custom VPN app for your device.
There are a lot of free VPN apps available to download directly from the iOS App Store or Google Play Store, but these are usually not to be trusted – as we found out in our recent investigation.
Are VPNs Legal?
The short answer is yes. VPN services are completely legal and can be used in most countries around the world.
There are a few exceptions, though. VPN services are currently banned in: Belarus, Iraq, Turkmenistan and North Korea.
There are six more countries where you can only use ‘government approved’ VPNs: China, Russia, Turkey, Iran, Oman and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Use a non-authorized VPN in these nations at your own risk.
You can read more about the countries that have banned or restricted VPNs in our guide to ‘Are VPNs Legal?’
Are Free VPNs Safe?
The reality is that many free VPNs are not safe and you should not trust them with your sensitive data.
We recently conducted two in-depth investigations on the most popular free VPNs and our findings revealed that a huge proportion of them had questionable links to China, as well as extremely worrying privacy flaws.
The above free VPN apps will protect you well, though. They hide your IP address effectively, are relatively fast, easy to set up, and provide good customer support.
Free vs Paid VPNs: Should You Pay for a VPN?
The free VPN services listed above all come with our seal of approval. We’ve thoroughly tested each VPN, making sure it delivers a speedy and secure service, and we’re happy with what we’ve seen.
The very best free VPN can’t compete with the majority of paid VPNs, though: fast speeds, extensive server options and extra privacy/product features cost money.
A good free VPN is great for newbies or casual browsers, but for the best experience we strongly suggest you subscribe to a paid VPN service – our best VPNs of 2019 or our best free VPN trials are good starting points.
On What Devices Can I Use a Free VPN?
You can use free VPNs on most popular devices such as Apple iPhones, Android smartphones, PCs (including both laptops and desktops), Apple Macs (iMacs and MacBooks) and even Amazon’s Fire TV and Fire TV Stick.
They are also very easy to set up – follow our step-by-step guides to install and run a VPN in seconds on your Apple iPhone, Android smartphone, Windows laptop or desktop PC, Apple iMac or MacBook, or your Amazon Fire TV Stick.
What Is the Best Free VPN for Android?
There are a ton of free VPNs for Android, but that doesn’t mean any of them will keep you safe. Our recent investigation discovered that many free VPNs for Android actually contain an alarming number of privacy flaws that could put you at risk.
What is the Fastest Free VPN?
A lot of free VPN services tend to have speed caps in place, but the fastest free VPN we’ve seen so far is our top overall pick, Windscribe.
With free VPNs, speed can often come at the expense of security, so be sure to stick to our recommendations to keep yourself safe online.
Can I Use a Premium VPN for Free?
You can use a premium VPN for free by taking advantage of the money-back guarantees offered by most top-tier VPNs. This means that 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, it will refund you quickly and with no questions asked.
This is a good way to use a top-rated VPN service free of charge if you only intend to use a VPN for a short period of time. We do advise to always use a VPN, though, free or otherwise.
What Is the Best Free VPN for Torrenting?
Using a free VPN for torrenting is difficult due to the harsh data caps free VPN services often put in place. These make it almost impossible to transfer anything more than a handful of bulky files before hitting your VPN data limit – speed throttling doesn’t help, either.
We have put together a list of our recommended free VPNs for torrenting, but if you want the fastest, most secure torrenting experience, we’d recommend paying for a VPN service. You can look at our overall best VPNs for torrenting here.
How to Choose the Best Free VPN: 7 Tips
Most free VPNs have either a speed or data cap. If you want truly unlimited, unrestricted VPN access you’ll usually have to pay.
If you are only planning to do very light browsing when connected to the VPN you might be able to live with the limitations, but anything more will most likely require more bandwidth.
If it takes 1GB of data to stream an hour-long show in Full HD on Netflix, will the free VPN you’re considering really give you enough data?
Check whether the free VPN offers servers in your preferred location. Odds are you’ll only be able to use a few servers, and there may not be any in popular locations like the US or UK. Even a free VPN will be a waste of time if you can’t connect to the location you need.
Another common limitation with free VPNs is the devices you can use them on. There are plenty of free VPNS that are mobile-only, which is useless if you’re trying to protect your desktop or laptop computer.
Other free VPNs will have a connection limit, meaning that while it may be compatible with all your devices it won’t be able to run on them all at once. We check all the small print so you know just what you’re getting before you download the VPN.
It’s no secret that a hugely popular use for VPNs is to gain access to streaming services like Netflix and BBC iPlayer. However, maintaining access to streaming sites requires a lot of resources from a VPN service, so it may not be guaranteed in a free VPN.
The same goes for torrenting – all that bandwidth costs money, so you may have to pay to get access to VPN servers that allow it.
Some products proclaiming to be a VPN can be nothing more than a placebo. If it doesn’t have the right security standards, like AES-256 encryption and the OpenVPN protocol, it’s not actually doing anything to protect your privacy.
You’ll rarely get as much choice with a free VPN, but as a bare minimum you should make sure that it’s doing its job.
Logging policies are the single biggest danger when choosing a free VPN. Many free VPN services that don’t charge a fee make their money by selling your data.
A lot of free VPNs don’t put time or effort into designing a clean and simple app. The very worst will shove pop-ups in your face and fill their app with obnoxious ads.
We’ve tested dozens of free VPNs, and we’ve seen the best (and the worst) programs the industry has to offer. We’ll always fully explain just what we do and don’t like about using any VPN.