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Best Free VPN of 2020

By Simon Migliano | Updated January 1, 2020

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

It’s tempting to use a free VPN – private web browsing and unblocking websites at zero cost is sometimes too strong to resist.

Why pay for a VPN when you can get one for free, right?


Most free VPNs are slow, riddled with ads (and adware), and many share your data with third-parties, including governments. Some even have serious security flaws, which means they won’t protect your privacy.

What’s worse, more than 500 million people could be using a dangerous VPN without even knowing it.

So, is it even possible to get a secure and completely free VPN?

The good news is yes, it is. We tested over 150 free VPN apps, and our five picks below are the safest, fastest and most trustworthy we’ve seen.

But, even the best free VPNs have limitations. For heavy streaming or torrenting, we recommend using a good paid VPN service instead. The guides below are good starting points:

Our Selection Criteria for Free VPNs

  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 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 Free VPN Services

1. Windscribe - 10GB Data Cap

Ranked #1 free VPN

  1. Minimal logging policy
  2. Fast same-country speeds
  3. Built-in VPN kill switch
  4. 10 server locations
  5. Sometimes works with Netflix & BBC iPlayer
  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, hands down.

It’s a very secure VPN that’ll keep you safe online, and it’s also one of the fastest free VPN services we’ve tested.

The free version of Windscribe also has many privacy features – like a VPN kill switch – which we like a lot.

It also doesn’t collect and store any user activity logs, and your connections are protected by AES-256 encryption and the OpenVPN security protocol (IKEv2 is also available).

Sure, the 10GB monthly data cap is a little restrictive, but it’s a lot more generous than other secure free VPN apps.

Worried Windscribe doesn’t work on your device?

Don’t be, this VPN works well on Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android.

What it doesn’t do very well is unblock Netflix, BBC iPlayer and other streaming services. Most free VPNs have the same problem, though.

There’s also no human live chat support – all you get is hit-and-miss chat bot.

Overall, Windscribe is the very best free VPN for casual users or VPN newbies.

For a more in-depth look, read our full Windscribe Free 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

    59Mbps 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 Free review.

4. Hide.me - 2GB 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. 2GB monthly data cap
  3. Only 5 VPN server locations
  4. One simultaneous connection
  • Top Speedi

    81Mbps same city speed

    Based on a 100Mbps test connection

  • Servers

    4 countries

  • 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).

Be aware that there’s a 2GB monthly data cap, which is slightly generous than TunnelBear’s 500MB allowance. Windscribe and ProtonVPN are better in terms of data caps.

Another limitation of Hide.me is that you can only connect to five server locations: the Netherlands, Canada, Singapore, and the US (East and West).

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 Free 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 review.

Popular Questions

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.

A good VPN service 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 read more about VPNs in our comprehensive ‘What is a VPN’ guide or you can watch our short explainer video.

illustration of a map of the world.

In a nutshell, yes they are – VPN services are completely legal and can be used in most countries.

There are a few exceptions, though.

VPNs are currently banned in:

  • Belarus
  • Iraq
  • North Korea
  • Turkmenistan

And in these countries you only use ‘government approved’ VPNs:

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

You can read more about the countries that have banned or restricted VPNs in our guide ‘Are VPNs Legal?’.

Are Free VPNs Safe?

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

When we tested the top 150 free Android VPN apps, we discovered that an extremely high number are potentially unsafe (see the section on Android below).

We also investigated who’s really behind some of the most popular free VPNs. It turns out that 60% had very questionable links to China, as well as worrying privacy flaws.

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

How Do Free VPNs Make Money?

A common question we see is: how do free VPN services make money?

Well, 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 that you can download directly from the App Store or Google Play Store. Once you’re using these apps, you’re often prompted to get rid of the ads by upgrading to the paid service.

Stay well away from the ‘Worst Free VPNs’ listed below, though: many of them make money by selling your data on to advertisers and other third parties.

Also, avoid any free VPN services lacking extensive privacy policies.

The Worst Free VPNs

Here’s a (non-exhaustive) list of free VPN services that you should definitely avoid:

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 Can I 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?

The free VPN services listed above all come with our seal of approval. We’ve tested each VPN extensively and we’re happy with what we’ve seen.

But, even these great 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 popular streaming services
  • 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.

On What Devices Can I Use a Free VPN?

You can use free VPNs on most popular devices. Select your device below and see our recommendations:

Free VPNs are also very easy to set up – follow these step-by-step guides to install and run a VPN on your:

Most VPN providers have setup guides for most platforms on their websites or you can contact their support team if you need more help.

What's the Fastest Free VPN?

A lot of free VPN services have speed caps in place, but the (consistently) fastest free VPN at the moment is Hide.me.

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.

With free VPNs, speed can often come at the expense of security, too. Stick to our recommendations and you’ll be safe online.

What's the Best Free VPN for Android?

There are lots of free VPN services for Android, but a scary number will not keep you safe.

We tested the top 150 free Android VPN apps and 85% of them contained alarming security and privacy flaws that could put you at risk.

We recommend using these trustworthy free Android VPNs, or if you want a more complete VPN service then head over to the best (paid) VPNs for Android.

What's the Best Free VPN for Torrenting?

Using a free VPN service for torrenting is difficult, mainly because of the limiting 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.

Some free VPN services, such as ProtonVPN, don’t allow torrenting on their free servers at all:

We’ve put together a list of recommended free VPNs for torrenting, but if you’re serious about downloading files then we recommend paying for one of these VPN services.

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.

You can essentially 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 it 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.

About the Author

  • Simon Migliano Head of Research at Top10VPN

    Simon Migliano

    Simon leads our investigations into VPN safety and digital privacy. His work has been featured on the BBC, CNet, Wired and The Financial Times. Read full bio