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The Best Free VPNs of 2021

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

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

Sadly, the truth is most free VPNs lack the resources to do any of the above. Even worse, many of them are outright dangerous to use.

We’ve tested over 100 free VPNs and discovered 85% of them pose privacy and security risks.

Not all free VPNs are unsafe, though. The top-rated ones below are fast, private, and safe – even if they can’t compete with the best paid VPN services.

Based on security, privacy and speed, the best 100% free VPNs are:

  1. Windscribe Free: The absolute best free VPN, great for streaming and torrenting. Read Summary or Visit Windscribe
  2. Hide.me Free: A very secure alternative to Windscribe, with excellent speeds. Read Summary or Visit Hide.me
  3. ProtonVPN Free: Private free VPN with unlimited data for secure public WiFi use. Read Summary or Visit ProtonVPN
  4. Avira Free VPN: A simple trustworthy free VPN service well-suited for beginners. Read Summary or Visit Avira Phantom
  5. TunnelBear Free: Free VPN aimed at travelers, with the most server locations. Read Summary or Visit TunnelBear

We hold the free services we recommend to the same high standard as paid ones. We never recommend VPNs that log your activity, leak your IP address, limit speeds, or otherwise endanger your privacy and security.

Choosing the right free VPN really depends on your specific needs, though. Do you want to stream US Netflix, download files securely, or simply stay safe on public WiFi?

See below the best free VPNs and the key purposes we recommend them for:

For additional category recommendations, skip to our Best Free VPNs by Category section.

EXPERT ADVICE: The free VPNs above are limited by data usage caps, unreliable speeds, or P2P and streaming shortcomings.

For a faster and unrestricted experience, see our list of the best VPNs, or choose from the best VPN free trials.

Alternatively, try our top choice ExpressVPN for 30 days virtually free.

The Top 10 Free VPNs Compared

The table below compares 10 of the best free VPN services.

You can compare their logging policies, monthly data caps, average download speeds, Netflix support, and whether or not they permit P2P activity.

The 5 Best Free VPNs: Performance Ratings

Here’s how each of the top five free VPN services perform in our six key testing areas:

The Best Free VPNs by Category

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

We created specific recommendation lists for popular free VPN categories we test for – follow each category link to discover our latest picks.

The Best Free VPNs for Entertainment

Find out which free VPNs perform the best for streaming, torrenting, and on Firestick.

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.

The Best Free VPNs by Country

Discover the free VPNs that work best for the countries you're looking to connect to.

The 5 Best Free VPN Apps Overall

  1. 1. Windscribe Free: Best Free VPN Overall

    The absolute top free VPN – great for streaming, torrenting, and security.

    Ranked #1 Free VPN
    Windscribe mobile screenshots
    (3 user reviews)
    Visit Windscribe


    1. Fast same-country speeds
    2. Works with 10 Netflix libraries
    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

    Overall Free VPN Rating: 7.7/10

    We calculate this overall rating based on the following subcategory ratings. Learn more.

    • 77.0/10
    • 7.67.6/10
    • 9.59.5/10
    • 6.56.5/10
    • 8.98.9/10
    • 7.27.2/10

    Windscribe Free is the best free VPN overall. It’s fast, it supports P2P, and it streams US Netflix and BBC iPlayer. It has a privacy-friendly logging policy, tight security, and it works on many devices.

    The free VPN comes with 10 server locations and a 10GB data cap. The 10GB data cap is generous, but isn’t enough for heavy internet use.

    Customer service needs improving, too. There is no live chat to help with complex issues, and the online knowledge-base or chatbot can only help with simple queries.

    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. macosMacOS
    3. iosiOS
    4. androidAndroid
    5. linuxLinux
    Data Cap10GB
    US NetflixYes
    JurisdictionCanada (Five-Eyes Member)
    Data LeaksNo
    Works in ChinaUnreliable

    Easy-to-use mobile and PC Apps

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

    It has browser proxy extensions for Chrome and Firefox, too. Both browser extensions work with US Netflix and BBC iPlayer, which is impressive.

    Strong security & great for torrenting

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

    The VPN software uses secure AES-256 encryption, and the apps include a VPN kill switch. This is rare for free VPNs, and prevents your real IP address from leaking if the VPN connection drops.

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

    Altogether, this makes Windscribe Free a great VPN for online security and an excellent free VPN for torrenting.

    Works with 10 Netflix libraries

    Using Windscribe Free VPN with Netflix

    Windscribe Free works with US Netflix and nine other regions.

    Windscribe is the only free VPN that consistently works with streaming websites like Netflix and BBC iPlayer.

    However, its limited speeds and 10GB data cap will restrict the number of movies and TV shows you can watch.

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

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

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

    Consistently unblocks websites in China

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

    This is probably 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.

  2. 2. Hide.me Free: Best for Speed

    A very fast free VPN with a 10GB monthly data cap.

    Hide.me mobile screenshots
    (1 user reviews)
    Visit Hide.me


    1. Minimal logging policy
    2. Strong privacy features
    3. Good same-country speeds
    4. User-friendly custom apps
    5. No bandwidth throttling
    6. 10GB data cap


    1. Very slow long-distance speeds
    2. Only 5 VPN server locations
    3. One simultaneous connection

    Overall Free VPN Rating: 7.2/10

    We calculate this overall rating based on the following subcategory ratings. Learn more.

    • 77.0/10
    • 8.28.2/10
    • 9.89.8/10
    • 6.16.1/10
    • 5.55.5/10
    • 6.66.6/10

    Hide.me Free is a secure 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. macosMacOS
    3. iosiOS
    4. androidAndroid
    5. linuxLinux
    Data Cap10GB
    US NetflixYes
    JurisdictionMalaysia (Privacy Haven)
    Data LeaksNo
    Works in ChinaUnreliable

    Fast download speeds

    Hide.me is a fast free VPN. We experienced a 25% speed loss connecting from the UK to the Netherlands. That’s not bad at all for a free VPN.

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

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

    Apps for mobile, PC and smart TV

    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.

    Its apps are all secure, too. They come with the IKEv2, OpenVPN, and Wireguard VPN protocols and do not leak DNS or IP address data.

    Hide.me’s MacOS app offers a selection of secure VPN protocols

    Only five server locations

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

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

    Not recommended for streaming

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

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

    As with most VPNs, it does unblock YouTube videos, though.

    Despite its limitations, Hide.me Free is a good choice if you’re looking to use public WiFi securely and with fast speeds. It’s also a good alternative to Windscribe for light torrenting.

  3. 3. ProtonVPN Free: Best for Unlimited Data

    A private free VPN with no data cap, ideal for securing public WiFi.

    ProtonVPN Mobile Screenshot
    (3 user reviews)
    Visit ProtonVPN


    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

    Overall Free VPN Rating: 6.8/10

    We calculate this overall rating based on the following subcategory ratings. Learn more.

    • 1010.0/10
    • 7.67.6/10
    • 9.89.8/10
    • 3.23.2/10
    • 11.0/10
    • 00.0/10

    ProtonVPN is the only free and safe VPN you can leave on all the time. That’s because it doesn’t impose any data limits whatsoever.

    You can use ProtonVPN as much as you want, completely free, and without adverts.

    The VPN delivers good speeds, protects against IP leaks, and has a privacy-friendly logging policy.

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

    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. macosMacOS
    3. iosiOS
    4. androidAndroid
    5. linuxLinux
    Data CapUnlimited
    US NetflixNo
    JurisdictionSwitzerland (Privacy Haven)
    Data LeaksNo
    Works in ChinaNo

    Focused on privacy, not entertainment

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

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

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

    Independently-audited apps

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

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

    You can use ProtonVPN on Windows, Mac, iOS and Android devices. All the apps use OpenVPN, the most secure encryption protocol available.

    ProtonVPN is also very private thanks to its minimal-logs policy. Plus, the built-in VPN kill switch protects your real IP address in the event of a connection drop.

    Small server network and one device limit

    ProtonVPN Free is very quick, despite its small network of free servers. Currently, it only has free servers in Japan, the Netherlands, and the US.

    ProtonVPN's list of free server locations

    ProtonVPN’s list of free server locations

    Speeds do slow down internationally, though.

    Connecting from the UK to the Netherlands, our download speeds dropped about 36%. If you live outside Europe, North America or Japan, don’t expect fast speeds.

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

  4. 4. Avira Free VPN: Best for Beginners

    An extremely basic free VPN with a 1GB monthly data cap.

    Avira Phantom VPN Free mobile screenshots
    No user reviews
    Visit Avira 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

    Overall Free VPN Rating: 6.1/10

    We calculate this overall rating based on the following subcategory ratings. Learn more.

    • 44.0/10
    • 7.57.5/10
    • 99.0/10
    • 3.83.8/10
    • 66.0/10
    • 6.46.4/10

    The free version of Avira Phantom VPN provides a basic level of privacy and security.

    It has a privacy-friendly logging policy and strong AES-256 encryption, along with fast speeds and unlimited simultaneous connections.

    Avira Phantom Free’s simplicity makes it great for beginners, but it does have drawbacks too. There is no kill switch, no customer support, and you can’t manually choose which server to connect to.

    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. macosMacOS
    3. iosiOS
    4. androidAndroid
    Data Cap1GB
    US NetflixNo
    JurisdictionGermany (14-Eyes Member)
    Data LeaksNo
    Works in ChinaNo

    Easy-to-use free VPN applications

    Avira’s free VPN apps are available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android. All apps use the OpenVPN security protocol apart from iOS, which uses IKEv2.

    Its speeds are reasonable, too. Avira Free performs at around 70% of the paid version’s speeds.

    We measured an average speed loss of 36% connecting to the free VPN from the UK.

    Limited features & 1GB data allowance

    The number of features available is very limited on Avira Phantom Free.

    You’re automatically connected to the closest VPN server with no ability to select a country. There is also no VPN kill switch.

    If you’re in the UK, you can only connect to a UK server, and in the US you can only connect to a US server. This also means you can’t unblock region-restricted content.

    There’s only 1GB of data available each month, which doesn’t last long. To claim the full 1GB, you need to register an email address. Otherwise, the original allowance is just 500MB.

    Avira Free VPN's app showing 1gb data cap

    Avira Phantom Free has a limiting 1GB data cap

    A simple free VPN for torrenting

    Despite its limited data cap, Avira Phantom Free does support torrenting.

    The VPN is also secure enough to hide your IP address and mask your web traffic from your ISP.

    1GB isn’t enough to download many large files, but you can safely download a film or some music.

    Doesn't work in China

    The VPN doesn’t work in China, or in other highly-censored regions.

    Just like the paid version, Avira Free VPN doesn’t have the obfuscation tools to beat aggressive web blocks.

  5. 5. TunnelBear Free: Best for Travel

    23 free server locations, with a small 500MB monthly data cap.

    TunnelBear VPN
    (2 user reviews)
    Visit TunnelBear


    1. Full VPN functionality
    2. Consistently good speeds
    3. Advanced security features
    4. Private DNS servers
    5. 23 VPN server locations
    6. No user logs


    1. Small 500MB monthly data cap
    2. Doesn't work with Netflix or BBC iPlayer
    3. Limited customer support

    Overall Free VPN Rating: 6.0/10

    We calculate this overall rating based on the following subcategory ratings. Learn more.

    • 22.0/10
    • 9.59.5/10
    • 9.59.5/10
    • 7.27.2/10
    • 44.0/10
    • 55.0/10

    TunnelBear Free is trustworthy, safe, and ideal for beginners and travelers. It’s also reasonably fast for a free VPN.

    While the VPN is easy to use, it isn’t good for torrenting or streaming. It’s also limited by a 500MB monthly data cap, which is very restrictive.

    The free version of TunnelBear is exactly the same as the paid version. That means you’ll have access to advanced security features and 23 worldwide server locations.

    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. macosMacOS
    3. iosiOS
    4. androidAndroid
    5. linuxLinux
    Data Cap500MB
    US NetflixNo
    JurisdictionCanada (Five-Eyes Member)
    Data LeaksNo
    Works in ChinaUnreliable

    23 free server locations

    TunnelBear Free has one of the largest free server networks. It covers 23 server locations worldwide, just like the paid version. These include the US, the UK and Australia.

    Unlike many free VPNs, TunnelBear also operates a server in India. This is rare amongst paid VPN services, which makes it even rarer for a free VPN.

    TunnelBear VPN's server menu

    TunnelBear Free lets you choose from 23 different server locations.

    A premium VPN with a 500MB data cap

    The only real difference between the paid and free versions of TunnelBear is the 500MB monthly data limit.

    In other words, TunnelBear is the only free VPN that gives you a bandwidth-limited full VPN for free.

    500MB isn’t much data at all, though. With this much data, you’ll only be able to use the free VPN for some light web browsing.

    Ultimately, the free version mainly exists so you can test the paid service before you subscribe.

    Private apps for multiple platforms

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

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

    The free VPN apps work on all popular platforms: Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android. They all use AES-256 encryption and protect you from IP and DNS leaks.

    Supports P2P traffic, but isn't good for streaming

    TunnelBear Free does not unblock BBC iPlayer or US Netflix.

    While torrenting is technically allowed on all servers, the 500MB data cap is extremely limiting for file-sharing.

    But, the free app does come with ‘GhostBear’ obfuscation technology. It works in high-censorship countries like Turkey, but not in China.

How We Test Free VPN Services

We test every free VPN we review regularly. 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 rigorous testing process we apply to paid VPN services.

We test for speed, security, streaming, and P2P. We analyze every privacy and logging policy in detail, as well as assessing a VPN’s ease of use and reliability.

All the free VPNs we recommend meet the following criteria:

  • No payment details required at signup
  • No user activity logs
  • No IP or DNS leaks
  • Strong encryption
  • Fast speeds with no cap on downloads

Security is especially important when testing free VPNs. That’s because dangerous and ineffective free VPNs are much more common than dangerous paid VPNs.

We make sure every free VPN we recommend is free of malware, actually encrypts your data, and does not collect any compromising information.

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

Here’s a more specific look at the factors that go into our free VPN testing process, and how we weigh each individual category:

1. Data Cap: 30%

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

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

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

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

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

2. Speed: 25%

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

A VPN slows down your internet speeds, at least a little. This is because your connection goes via the VPN server, so it takes a longer round trip.

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

With free VPNs, the speed loss tends to be bigger 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. Logging Policy: 15%

Minimum Requirement: Any connection logs must be anonymized.
We Recommend: An absolutely zero-logs policy.

We only recommend free VPN services that respect your privacy.

We scrutinize each VPN’s privacy policy to get a clear idea of what information the service is collecting, why they need it, and how long they store it for.

Also, we look for transparent and detailed policies, written in plain language.

A VPN shouldn’t collect unnecessary or personally-identifying information, including your IP address or records of your online activity.

The most private VPNs operate a strictly no-logs policy. Ideally, they’ve also been independently audited by a trusted third-party.

4. Server Locations: 10%

Minimum Requirement: A choice of VPN server locations.
We Recommend: A number of VPN servers spread across the globe.

Larger VPN server networks give you greater chances of unblocking streaming content and enjoying fast connection speeds. Servers will likely be less congested, and closer to your physical location.

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).

Free VPNs tend to have rather limited server networks, but there are services with 10+ global server locations.

5. Streaming: 10%

Minimum Requirement: Can sometimes unblock global streaming libraries.
We Recommend: Reliable access to US Netflix and BBC iPlayer from anywhere in the world.

One of the most common reasons to use a VPN is for streaming. By hiding your IP address, you can access TV shows and movies 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 VPNs are often the easiest to identify and ban.

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 DAZN.

Although free VPNs have a very low success rate when it comes to unblocking streaming sites, the best ones are able to stream US Netflix and BBC iPlayer.

6. Torrenting: 10%

Minimum Requirement: Permits 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 key for safe and private torrenting. We first examine each service’s P2P policy, as many don’t allow free users to torrent at all.

We then check for P2P-optimized servers, and make sure the VPN is using airtight AES-256 encryption.

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 speeds.

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

Why Some Free VPNs Are Dangerous

Some popular free VPN services can pose serious risks to your online safety.

Free VPNs can be riddled with aggressive advertising or 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.

Many free VPNs also have weak encryption and leak IP or DNS data.

In 2019, we tested 150 free Android VPNs and found that over 85% had security flaws. You can see the results of our investigations here:

Not every free VPN is dangerous, though. Some free VPNs are very good for small and specific tasks like browsing safely on public WiFi or accessing a short geo-blocked video on YouTube.

It’s tempting to use a VPN without a long-term commitment, but be aware that even safe free VPNs have limitations.

For example, it’s rare for a free VPN to support streaming services or P2P traffic. Most have a reduced server network, and many limit your speeds or cap your data usage. What’s more, many popular free services are simply proxies.

Here are the potential dangers of using an unverified free VPN:

Data Logging & Advertising

Free VPN services need to make money to support their business. Most services do it through advertising. Free VPN apps with ads have third-party code that can send personal data back to the ad platform.

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

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

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.

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, as well as serious privacy flaws.

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 VPN services. Windscribe, TunnelBear, and ProtonVPN 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, paid VPNs are almost always better than free VPNs. They are faster, more secure, and don’t have data usage limits.

Free VPNs to Avoid

Many popular free VPNs are proven to be either dangerous or invasive.

Here’s a list of well-known free VPNs you should never use:

1Hola Free VPN

Hola Free VPN is one of the most popular ‘free VPN’ services available.

In reality, it’s an insecure peer-to-peer proxy network that’s being falsely marketed as a VPN. It doesn’t encrypt or anonymize your web traffic, so anyone can see your internet activity.

Hola VPN also monitors everything you do online. It tracks the websites you visit, and has previously sold user bandwidth without consent. The service is dangerous to your online privacy and security.

2VPN Proxy Master

VPN Proxy Master is a popular but very unreliable free VPN. Its speeds are inconsistent and it has a history of sending confidential user information to China.

There’s no information available about how VPN Proxy Master encrypts your data. The VPN also collects and stores your IP address indefinitely. This makes VPN Proxy Master one of the least private free VPNs we’ve ever tested.

Its apps are also filled with pop-up ads. In short, VPN Proxy Master is not worth using.

3SuperVPN Free VPN Client

SuperVPN Free VPN Client is not a safe or trustworthy free VPN.

Despite over 100 million downloads and lots of positive Google Play Store reviews, there is a disturbing lack of transparency behind the VPN. There are almost no details about the service’s operations and ownership.

Though it does encrypt your data, there is no privacy policy and the app has a series of invasive device permissions.

We even discovered suspicious links to China. Do not use SuperVPN Free VPN Client, or the iOS equivalent, LinkVPN. If you currently use one of these apps, uninstall it immediately.

4Thunder VPN

Thunder VPN is one of the worst free VPNs we’ve tested.

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

Thunder VPN claims to be no-logs, but that’s an outright lie. It collects your IP address, your ISP, the VPN server location, and similar information.


UFO VPN claimed to be a zero-logs VPN, but it was caught storing user logs. It collected personal web usage data, including websites visited, and in some cases plain test passwords.

This is one of the worst things a VPN can do. It totally undermines the anonymity, privacy and security of users.

UFO VPN is a white label VPN product (the technology belongs to a third party). Six other free VPNs use the same technology: FAST VPN, Free VPN, Super VPN, Flash VPN, Secure VPN and Rabbit VPN.

Here is a list of more free VPNs to avoid:

Free VPN Owned By Risks
LinkVPN Jinrong Zheng Unsecure, no transparency, China links
Secure VPN Signal Lab Unsecure, no transparency
Snap Master VPN Innovative Connecting PTE. Limited Unsecure, China links
SuperVPN Free VPN Client Jinrong Zheng Unsecure, no transparency, China links
ThunderVPN Signal Lab Unsecure, no transparency
TouchVPN AnchorFree Extensive logging, Russia links
TurboVPN Innovative Connecting PTE. Limited Unsecure, China links
VPN Proxy Master Innovative Connecting PTE. Limited Unsecure, China links
YogaVPN Yolo Net Technology Unsecure, China links


Many free VPNs have the same owners. These developers intentionally make multiple VPNs to reach as many people as possible. They also use different company names and subsidiaries to avoid scrutiny.

Dangerous new free VPNs appear all the time, and some get popular rapidly. Before using a free VPN, research it first. Better yet, ask us for our expert opinion.

FAQs About Free VPNs

Are Free VPNs Safe?

Generally speaking, free VPNs are simply not as safe as paid VPNs.

If you’re not paying for a subscription, it’s likely that you’re paying with your data.

Some of the most popular free VPNs use weak encryption, leak your personal data, or sell your information to advertisers. This could leave your online activity completely exposed.

Our study of free Android VPNs found that 85% of the most popular free VPNs contained excessive permissions with the potential for privacy abuses. A further 25% suffered from dangerous IP and DNS leaks.

If you really care about your online safety and privacy, it’s recommended to opt for a premium VPN service.

What Are the Limitations of Free VPNs?

As well as their privacy and security issues, free VPNs are usually extremely limited when compared to premium alternatives.

Even the very best free VPN services typically have limited server networks, poor streaming capabilities, and restrictions on bandwidth usage.

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

Though some free VPNs are useful in the short-term, their limitations make them frustrating to use regularly.

Can I Use a Premium VPN for Free?

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

Paid VPNs like CyberGhost and PrivateVPN offer genuine free trials. These let you try the full VPN service for a set number of days without asking for payment details upfront.

Other premium VPNs, like ExpressVPN and NordVPN, offer risk-free money-back guarantees.

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

You can find a selection of VPNs with similar offers in our list of the best VPN free trials.

What Is the Best Free VPN?

Windscribe Free is the best free VPN we’ve tested. It’s completely secure, has a private logging policy, and doesn’t leak IP or DNS data.

Impressively, the free VPN also works to unblock US Netflix, and it even works in China. It also allows torrenting and P2P traffic on all of its free servers.

Windscribe Free has a 10GB monthly data allowance, which is more generous than many competing free VPNs.

What Is the Best Free VPN for Torrenting?

Windscribe Free is the top free VPN for torrenting. It has a private logging policy, strong encryption, and it doesn’t leak DNS or IP addresses.

Its 10GB monthly data cap won’t let you torrent many large files though, particularly if you’re also using it for streaming and general privacy.

These issues are very common when using a free VPN for P2P. Data caps make it almost impossible to transfer anything more than a handful of files before reaching the data limit.

The problem is other “unlimited” free VPNs aren’t actually private, and either leak your true IP address or have shady logging and business practices. Many safe free VPNs don’t support P2P activity at all.

To see our top-rated free P2P VPNs, read our list of the best free VPNs for torrenting.

What Is the Best Free VPN for Netflix?

Just like for torrenting, Windscribe Free is the only trustworthy free VPN that unblocks streaming content.

The VPN streams Netflix in all 10 of its server locations, which is an impressive feat for a free VPN.

Using a free VPN with Netflix, and other content platforms, is normally a very frustrating experience. Netflix’s filters detect and block almost all free VPNs.

If you do find a free VPN that works with Netflix, the VPN’s data caps will severely restrict your viewing time.

Ultimately, you’re better off using a paid-for VPN to stream geo-blocked content. However, if that’s not an option then read our guide explaining why Windscribe is the best free VPN for Netflix.

What Is the Fastest Free VPN?

The fastest free VPNs are Hide.me Free and TunnelBear Free. These two VPNs offer the exact same service as their paid versions, just with a very restrictive data cap.

Hide.me’s average download speed is 93Mbps on a local 100Mbps connection, which puts it among the fastest VPNs we’ve tested overall. However, once you pass the 10GB monthly data cap, speeds are limited to 3Mbps.

Many free VPN services use speed caps or throttling in order to persuade users to pay for a subscription plan. If the number of servers is limited on the free version, the VPN is also likely to be slower 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.

Is Hotspot Shield Free a Good VPN?

Hotspot Shield Free is a very popular free VPN, and a few years ago it was one of the better options available. Right now, though, it can’t match the five free VPNs we recommend.

There’s nothing fundamentally dangerous or ineffective about Hotspot Shield Free, it’s simply not as good as its competitors.

The VPN doesn’t have the streaming capabilities of Windscribe Free, or the unlimited data of ProtonVPN Free. It doesn’t allow torrenting on its free version, either.

Hotspot Shield Free does have a daily data allowance of 500MB, which isn’t bad. If you spread your VPN usage evenly, that’s around 15GB of data a month, one of the largest bandwidth allowances across safe free VPNs.

If you already use Hotspot Shield Free and you’re happy with it, keep using it. Otherwise, we believe there are much better free VPNs available.

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