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Best Free VPN April 2017

  • Easy way to get started
  • Satisfactory IP masking
  • Use public WiFi more safely
  • Restrictions on data & speed
  • No access to many streaming sites
  • Questionable business models
VPN SERVICEFEATURESBEST PRICEOUR SCORE
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Fun and easy-to-use VPN with access to all servers except Australia. No access to Netflix and not enough data for streaming.

  • 500MB monthly data cap
  • Tweet for an extra 1GB data
FREE
6.3

Fun and easy-to-use VPN with access to all servers except Australia. No access to Netflix and not enough data for streaming.

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Restricted free version of the simple, fast and reliable VPN from one of the leading anti-virus companies.

  • 500MB data cap (1GB if you register)
  • Unlimited simultaneous connections
  • 20 server locations
FREE
6.1

Restricted free version of the simple, fast and reliable VPN from one of the leading anti-virus companies.

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Free version of popular VPN. No data caps but access to major streaming sites is blocked for free users.

  • US location only – all others blocked
  • Ad-supported
FREE
4.9

Free version of popular VPN. No data caps but access to major streaming sites is blocked for free users.

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Free version of the paid VPN with arbritrary limitations designed to frustrate you into an upgrade

  • Limited to nearest server
  • Queue to connect with 3hr session limit
  • Download speed capped at 4Mbps
FREE
3.6

Free version of the paid VPN with arbritrary limitations designed to frustrate you into an upgrade

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Betternet has a nice interface but no choice of server location on desktop and just two with the browser extension.

 

  • Very unstable and slow to connect
  • Limited access to streaming services
FREE
3.2

Betternet has a nice interface but no choice of server location on desktop and just two with the browser extension.

 

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DISCLAIMER:

Top10VPN aims to provide useful information about the VPN services we review. To keep this a free resource we use links that provide us with compensation for referring you to VPN providers. Our Score is based on our subjective opinion and is subject to change. Influencing factors include VPN test performance, overall consumer interest and conversion rates. Prices may change frequently, and despite our best efforts it is possible that some information may be out of date.

Top10VPN is not a VPN provider and does not endorse the use of VPN’s for unlawful means. Users should ensure they adhere to all applicable laws and terms of service.

Free vs Paid VPNs

Using a free VPN is certainly very tempting. After all, why pay for something you can get for free, right? If it was just a case of putting up with annoying ads, we'd be with you. However, when it comes to free VPN services, a few ads are the least of your worries. Let's run through the limitations and risks of a free VPN along with the benefits you get with a paid service.

LAST UPDATED: 23 APR 2017

Like anyone, we are fans of free. The problem with free VPNs however is that they cost money to operate. Aside from the cost of creating VPN software and keeping it up-to-date, VPN servers cost money each month to run and maintain. Providing customer resources and support also add to the cost.

You have to ask yourself, why would a company incur these costs just so you can have a free VPN?

In many cases, the goal is to convince you to become a paying customer. In others, the VPN provider hopes to make money from you and your data in other ways.

In our experience, free VPN services break down into the good, the bad and the ugly. Let’s take a closer look at some examples, as they illustrate the trade-offs required to keep your wallet closed.

The Good

The best free VPN providers give you enough of a positive experience of their service with fair and understandable limitations that you decide to upgrade.

Trade-offs:

  • Reasonable data caps
  • Reasonable server limitations

TunnelBear: Monthly data is limited to 500MB but you can tweet for an extra 1GB each month. 1.5GB is still much less than most users would get through but it’s pretty fair for a free service. The same applies to number of servers, which is only one less than the paid service (Australia is excluded).

The free experience is almost identical to the paid, until you run out of data. If you like it, you’ll upgrade. You can’t really say fairer than that.

Avira Phantom VPN: Monthly data is limited to 500GB, which jumps to 1GB if you register. There are no restrictions on servers and unlimited devices remains.

Like TunnelBear, Avira is clearly confident that the free version of Phantom VPN will make enough of a good impression that enough people will upgrade for it to be an economically viable strategy.

The Bad

An approach of which we are much less of a fan is making the free product so incredibly annoying to use that upgrading is the only sane option. We think this is disrespectful to consumers and shows a lack of confidence in the product.

Trade-offs:

  • Major changes to the software designed to annoy and frustate you
  • In-app advertising

CyberGhost

We like the paid version well enough but found the queueing system in the free version that forces you to wait an arbitrary period of time before connecting just absurd. It reminds us of the trashiest crapware in mobile app stores that crudely gate progression or core features behind in-app purchases.

That’s not the least of it either: you’re also limited to the server closest to you and suffer a vicious 4Mbps speed cap.

Hotspot Shield Free

We’re fans of Hotspot Shield Elite, it’s a good budget VPN. The free version not so much. Putting access to major streaming services behind a paywall is not a nice thing to do to users.

Hotspot Shield Free is also ad-supported but that’s the least of its sins.

The Ugly

The worst free services want to make money out of you in other ways. Ever hear the saying, “if you aren’t paying for the product, you ARE the product”?

Ways a free VPN can do this are by tracking your behaviour and selling this data to marketers or, much worse, selling use of your bandwidth to third parties.

Hola: This super popular browser extension operates what is essentially a P2P botnet. In return for the free VPN service, Hola routes paid traffic through your IP address along with millions of others using its service. While it claims that this is restricted to legitimate commercial uses, it’s open to significant abuse with the potential for criminal activity, such as spamming or DDOS attacks, to take place via your machine.

Betternet: Quite apart from being the most rubbish VPN we have ever used, Betternet also has some dubious policies. They clearly state in their own privacy policy that third party advertisers “may use technologies to access some data including but not limited to cookies to estimate the effectiveness of their advertisements” before washing their hands of any responsibility for advertisers’ behaviour. Not cool. The ads are also intrusive and annoying to boot.

Paid VPNs: 10 Benefits

If you still aren’t convinced it’s worth paying a few dollars a month for a VPN, here’s 10 benefits to help change your mind:

  1. Reliable access to Netflix, iPlayer, Hulu and other big streaming sites
  2. Much faster speeds, up to 100Mbps in some cases
  3. Latency low enough to support online gaming
  4. Stable and reliable connections
  5. Customer support via live chat, email and online tutorials, including video
  6. Important privacy features like killswitches, DNS leak blocking, support for port 443 and more
  7. Support for simultaneous use on multiple devices, such as smartphone, tablet, laptops and routers
  8. Many more server locations all over the world
  9. Greater transparency about who you are entrusting with your privacy
  10. Well-designed and frequently updated software

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