The free VPN providers might look like a perfect solution to your online privacy and security, but they aren’t as appealing as they sound. Several loopholes surround the free VPN providers, so it is crucial that you proceed with caution.
Since VPNs are in high demand these days, the internet is brimming with free VPN providers claiming to be the best. However, since it is a matter of securing your data, it is understandable that you can’t go around trusting every VPN provider, especially when it is claiming to be free! While many free VPNs might offer you relatively good security, not all free VPNs are reliable to use. Many might bombard you with unwanted intrusive ads and log and share your data with third parties.
But, if your prime purpose of using a VPN is to enjoy a bit of security on the internet, then free VPNs can get the job done. Fortunately, despite being sketchy in one way or another, there are some best free VPNs that you can trust.
Are Free VPNs Reliable?
The simple answer is no; the free VPNs are unreliable and not worthy of use for a long time. For starters, a free VPN doesn’t guarantee you any online privacy or security. In fact, it often becomes responsible for a gross invasion of your privacy and security since:
- Install trackers in your device to track and spy on your data
- Collect your data to sell to third parties.
- Infect your device with malware.
Moreover, they risk your online security and privacy by not using the highest encryption standard, tunneling protocols, and advanced features. Apart from that, even if surprisingly privacy is not one of your main concerns, a free VPN won’t do you much good for web browsing, torrenting or streaming because:
- They don’t have a vast server network to ensure super fast speeds
- There is no option for simultaneous connections
- You receive a limited amount of bandwidth that honestly ends before the month ends.
With all this, it’s best that you do not rely on a free VPN provider and start using a premium VPN provider.
Paid VS Free VPNs: How Do They Differ?
Considering how privacy is crucial within the digital world we live in, the question of Paid vs Free VPNs shouldn’t even arise! Since free VPNs are mostly a blatant threat to privacy and security, it is always better to get a paid VPN provider. These VPNs are private and reliable to use since they follow a strict no-log policy and have several privacy-enriched features.
In contrast, a free VPN isn’t reliable because it has a shady logging policy. Also, a free VPN provider might be free but it comes with ads, privacy breaches, and data collection activities. The following table gives a much clearer view of the two types of VPN providers:
|Features||Free VPN||Premium VPN|
|Earn Revenue From||From ads||From subscription fees|
|Supports Unlimited Streaming||No||Yes|
|Supports Unlimited Torrenting||No||Yes|
|Access to Global Servers||No||Yes|
In spite of that, if you are looking for short-term use and free-trial VPNs don’t seem appealing despite the privacy they offer, there are a few free VPNs that you can opt for.
10 Best Free VPNs Providers
The internet is full of free VPN providers claiming to provide a top-notch level of online security and privacy. However, not all of them are reliable or even trustworthy. Fortunately, the following are the best free VPN providers according to research and tests:
- ProtonVPN: Comes with unlimited bandwidth, free access to 23 VPN servers, unblock websites at a medium speed.
- Windscribe VPN: Offers monthly 2GB data, but after email verification, you get extra 10GB data, can connect to ten international servers, and supports torrenting in a free plan.
- TunnelBear VPN: Offers an impressive 500GB of data every month and gets 1GB of extra data by tweeting about the service, can access all 41 servers.
- Hide.Me VPN: 10GB of monthly data, belongs from the safe jurisdiction of Malaysia, follows a no-log policy, but is not suitable for streaming and torrenting.
- Atlas VPN: Comes with unlimited bandwidth and doesn’t restrict the activities, can connect to three international servers, no-kill switch protection feature.
- Hotspot Shield VPN: Has a data limit of 500MB per day, average speed, and can’t download torrents or stream blocked content.
- Privado VPN: Offers users 10GB of data, server network in 12 cities, essential security and privacy features, but the speed is average.
- Betternet VPN: Offers 500MB of data, server access only in the US, uses AES-128 and 256-bit encryption.
- Speedify VPN: Provides 2GB of data, ChaCha 256-bit encryption, but does keep data logs.
- Zoog VPN: Offers 10GB of monthly data, belongs from Greece and doesn’t keep data logs.
To get a better understanding of what each free VPN has to offer, it is best to read the following in-depth overviews:
ProtonVPN is one of the best free VPN providers offering unlimited bandwidth without pop-up ads and spyware. It seems reliable due to its privacy-friendly jurisdiction of Switzerland. Therefore, all the users’ data falls under the protection of Swiss laws that respect users’ privacy preventing data logging and sharing.
ProtonVPN follows a strict no-log policy and issues a transparency report that reveals how many requests the company receives for users’ data. However, the parent company is the same that also owns ProtonMail and it reportedly has logs of the IP address of the French activist.
The Proton VPN offers exceptional security using the secure AES-256 bit encryption and OpenVPN protocol. Additionally, the VPN offers free access to 23 VPN servers in Japan, the Netherlands, and the US. The speed is medium-range with minimum connection lags.
The free version of ProtonVPN comes with all essential online privacy features. But, the premium plan offers access to advanced features and ultra-fast browsing speed. By upgrading to the paid plan, you can enjoy unlimited torrenting and streaming and enjoy up to 10Gbps speed.
02. Windscribe VPN
Windscribe is another free VPN with a monthly 2GB data limit. But if you subscribe by verifying your email address, you get 10GB of data per month. It is safe to use because it uses robust AES-256 bit encryption with SHA512 authentication and a 4096-bit RSA key. Moreover, the free version comes with a range of impressive features. It allows users to benefit from the kill switch, multihop, and SOCKS5 proxy to boost their digital privacy.
With Windcsribe’s free version, you can connect to ten international servers in Canada, France, Germany, the UK, the US, and more. The speeds are above average but not very fast and consistent. The VPN follows a no-log policy and refrains from collecting and sharing your source IP address, site visits, and VPN session records, but when you use the VPN so, it records the following data:
- The connection timestamp of your last activity on the Windscribe network.
- The total amount of data bytes that are transferred within 30 days.
The VPN has its headquarter in Canada, and your browsing data is subjected to online surveillance and recording. Moreover, the Ukrainian authorities have seized Windscribe servers.
Though the VPN supports torrenting in the free version when tested, the results were ineffective. Similarly, you can’t access the geo-blocked content from various streaming platforms due to limited server access and average speeds.
03. TunnelBear VPN
TunnelBear is another free VPN provider that offers an impressive 500GB of data every month, and if you tweet about the VPN provider, you will get an extra 1GB of data. In terms of speed, TunnelBear is not very impressive. It offers an average speed that is neither very fast nor consistent.
The TunnelBear VPN comes with a small server network spread in 41 countries, and you can access them all in the free version. It is owned by McAfee enjoys a good reputation in the cybersecurity industry and has launched other security-enhancing products.
The VPN belongs from Canada and thus raises doubts over its reliability. Moreover, since the speeds are average, it won’t ensure an impressive streaming or torrenting experience. If you want to access other advanced features offered by TunnelBear VPN, you upgrade to a premium plan or can avail of the 30 days risk-free money-back guarantee offer.
Another best free VPN on our list is Hide.Me that you use right away without needing any registration process. The VPN belongs to the Malaysian jurisdiction, which is not the global surveillance alliance’s member country, hence don’t worry about your data being recorded or shared. It even follows a no-log policy but temporarily logs the assigned IP address, VPN username, and data traffic when connecting to their network.
The VPN offers a variety of features, even in the free version. It provides split tunneling and a built-in VPN leak protection, and a kill switch feature that further increases your online security. Moreover, it doesn’t interrupt your browsing experience with pop-up ads and trackers and makes you anonymous over the web.
It enhances your online security with AES-256 bit encryption and various tunneling protocols like OpenVPN, WireGuard, and IKEv2. In the free plan, you can access servers located in five different locations. The best thing is that you can download torrents on all servers.
However, since the monthly bandwidth limit is only 10GB, it won’t guarantee a hassle-free downloading experience. Because of low bandwidth sometimes, it is difficult to browse the web without buffering and connection lags. If you want to avoid these issues, it’s better to upgrade your plan and enjoy unlimited bandwidth.
05. Atlas VPN
Atlas VPN is among the best free VPN providers that you can consider using on all popular devices and operating systems. It comes with unlimited bandwidth and doesn’t restrict or limit the users’ online activities. But, the speeds offered by the VPN are not very impressive because it offers servers in three locations, i.e., Australia, Japan, and the US.
To ensure robust online security, the VPN uses AES-256 bit encryption which is tough to crack. However, it does lack the essential safety and privacy-focused features in the free plan so, you can only enjoy an average user experience.
The VPN doesn’t collect data or activity logs and ensures a private browsing experience. But, it does keep some of your data like authentication tokens and randomly-generated identifiers. It even belongs to the safe jurisdiction of Switzerland and guarantees that all of the users’ online data is protected under Swiss privacy laws.
Unfortunately, if you’re an avid streamer or torrent downloader, Atlas VPN is not the VPN you should use. It doesn’t allow streaming in the free plan, and hence you won’t be able to access the blocked-streaming content from Netflix, BBC iPlayer, or Hulu. Also, with such a small server network and lack of features, you would risk yourself during torrenting.
06. Hotspot Shield VPN
Hotspot Shield VPN comes with both free and premium plans, and if you want to test its features, you can check the free version. The free plan allows the users to connect to one device and has a data limit of 500MB per day. The server access is limited to a few countries, which is not unknown, and the speeds are average, but it’s enough for browsing the web.
The VPN provider belongs from the US, which raises skepticism on its reliability because it is a member of the five eyes alliance. But, the VPN provider has made it clear that it follows a strict no-log policy and even proves its stance by issuing transparency reports.
Hotspot Shield free version comes with significant limitations, and you can enjoy an average user experience. The Hotspot Shield Free version doesn’t allow users to download torrents or stream on their favorite streaming platform.
PrivadoVPN is yet another free VPN provider that offers users 10GB of data. It is a Switzerland-based VPN provider that gives users a safe and secure browsing experience. As it’s headquartered in Switzerland, it isn’t subjected to any data retention or anti-privacy laws and hence, doesn’t log users’ data. It also follows a strict no-log policy and doesn’t retain your data and activity logs.
The VPN uses robust AES-256 bit encryption and secure tunneling protocols to protect your data traffic from outside invaders. Moreover, it often comes with a kill switch feature that keeps your IP address protected when the VPN connection drops accidentally. Other than this, it doesn’t offer any advanced features in the free plan.
You can even download torrents in the free version, but since the bandwidth is limited and the speeds are pretty average with a lack of torrent-centric features, it isn’t the best choice to download torrents. Similarly, due to minimal server network spread in 12 cities, you won’t be able to access your favorite geo-blocked content.
If you want to access thousands of global server networks, advanced features, connect up to ten devices and enjoy unlimited bandwidth, you should switch to the premium plan.
Betternet is another VPN that you can use to enjoy some online protection on the internet and comes in both free and premium plans. The VPN uses both AES-128 and AES-256 bit encryption to safeguard your data from all prying eyes. It comes with a monthly 500MB of data caps which isn’t enough to allow users to continue streaming and downloading torrents. Though the VPN allows torrenting, it isn’t a great option to use with such limited bandwidth.
Moreover, it doesn’t offer extra security features like a kill feature in the free version. The server access is also limited to a single server in the US, and as a result, it badly slows down the internet speeds.
The VPN is headquartered in the US, a global surveillance alliance member state. Betternet’s jurisdiction and logging policy make it pretty unreliable to use. The VPN, like other free VPNs, doesn’t follow a no-log policy. It does keep users’ IP addresses, connection logs, and other sensitive data like bandwidth consumed per session and device information. Things don’t end here as Betternet experienced much criticism when a study found that it was serving adverts to the users.
Speedify is also the best free VPN that you can consider using. It offers 2GB of monthly data and even allows the users to upgrade if the data limit isn’t enough. The VPN is reliable to use on all popular devices and operating systems. Instead of using AES-256 bit encryption, Speedify VPN uses ChaCha-256 bit encryption which is more secure and reliable to protect your data traffic from all prying eyes. Moreover, the VPN does offer basic security-boosting features like a kill switch that protects the IP address from leaking when the VPN connection drops.
Besides this, the VPN also supports torrenting and streaming. But since the network is not very vast and the speeds are pretty mediocre, it won’t make a perfect option.
10. Zoog VPN
The last best free VPN in this list is the Zoog VPN which belongs from Greece that isn’t a part of the international surveillance alliance. The VPN follows a strict no-log VPN and doesn’t log any users’ activity and connection logs; thus, it is a private and safe VPN to use if you don’t want to invest in a premium VPN.
Zoog VPN offers 10GB of monthly data and allows three international servers. The speeds are average, but they aren’t best to perform unlimited streaming and torrenting. Because of the limited server network, you can’t use Zoog VPN in China and other restrictive countries. The VPN doesn’t leak your IP address and DNS requests and maintains a higher level of online security.
It offers dedicated and easy-to-use apps for a wide range of apps like Android, Apple, Windows, and even other streaming devices.
A free VPN and a free trial VPN might sound similar, but they aren’t. As the name implies, a free VPN is completely free, and you can use it just by signing up for the VPN provider. However, a VPN that offers a free trial is the one that allows the users to test the VPN before purchasing it. The free trial period lasts for 3-7 days, and you can use it and start testing the VPN for its speed, server network, or streaming and torrenting abilities without paying the subscription fees. Unlike the free VPN providers, these VPNs don’t limit the VPN functionality, which means that you can avail all of its features.
Some VPN providers offer a risk-free trial period. It means that you have to pay the subscription fees first to test the VPN. If you’re not satisfied with the VPN’s performance after subscribing, you ask for a refund within the initial 30 days of the subscription. So, if you’re using a free VPN to test its service, then it’s better to choose VPNs with a free trial period.
The state regulates the internet in China. Thus, the users are often restricted from accessing certain websites, social media services, and web pages against the Chinese morals, values, culture, and ruling system. The state censors the internet using the Great Firewall system. The best way to get around these firewalls is to use a VPN. However, the firewall even blocks VPNs to compel Chinese legislation. For this reason, not all VPNs, including free VPNs, work in China.
To bypass the censorship in China, a VPN should be featured packed. It should offer advanced features like obfuscated servers or no borders mode that helps in circumventing Chinese censorship. Moreover, the VPN should have servers in China and neighboring countries. Unfortunately, none of the free VPNs have these features, so using a premium VPN or the best VPN for China is better.
People use a VPN to protect their online presence from privacy invaders and snooping eyes. But VPNs like a free VPN are not suitable for your online privacy and security. It’s better to not use a VPN instead of using a free VPN are; here are the reasons for it:
– A free VPN provider doesn’t meet the required security standard. Even if they use the industry’s highest encryption standard, they won’t support secure tunneling protocols.
– They lack several advanced and essential features required to maintain your online security and privacy.
– Most of them track your browsing activities and record them, later sold to third parties for money.
– These VPN providers might belong to jurisdictions that are part of the global surveillance alliance and are subjected to harsh privacy laws.
Hence, for maintaining robust online privacy and security, you should use a premium VPN that won’t cost you much.
The free VPN providers earn most of their revenue through advertisements. When you subscribe to their service, these VPNs collect your personal information. Besides this, they even track and record your browsing activities and later sell them to advertisers and third parties companies. These companies pay hefty amounts to the VPN companies, and it’s how they maintain their services.
Hola VPN, Betternet, SuperVPN, and Hoxx VPN are a few free VPN providers that track and log users’ data and risk their digital privacy. However, it isn’t anyhow secure from a security and privacy perspective. Thus, while you select a free VPN provider, ensure it doesn’t rely on advertisement to earn profit.
Streaming and torrenting always require unlimited bandwidth, fast speed, and a range of features that free VPNs usually lack. Hence you should use them. Slow and sluggish speed worsens your browsing and downloading experience, so a free VPN won’t help you here. Also, they come with limited bandwidth, which isn’t enough for a hassle-free experience.
As we all know, torrenting is risky behavior, and the VPN you use should provide robust features. Still, since a free VPN lacks in this area, the VPN won’t protect your online identity, and the ISP and other watchful eyes might learn about your P2P activities. Similarly, while streaming on Netflix, the VPN should offer unique features like obfuscated servers or dedicated IP addresses that easily bypass the Netflix ban. But, unfortunately, most of the free VPN providers don’t provide these features, which means that they can get blocked by Netflix or can’t help you access the international libraries.
The Bottom Line
A free VPN provider is an excellent idea to use when you don’t want to invest money in a VPN. You can enjoy the perks of using a VPN without paying any subscription fee. But not all free VPNs are equal, and the majority of them come with significant security glitches and vulnerabilities that expose you to hacking and tracking. Moreover, not all offer advanced security or privacy-focused features, which means robust online protection isn’t guaranteed. Even they have a shady parent company, jurisdiction, or history that puts your privacy at stake.
Fortunately, the best free VPNs listed above are not like that. They safeguard your data with AES-256 bit encryption and follow a zero-logging policy under which none of the data is recorded or shared with the ISPs, government agencies, or third parties. They even come with essential security-boosting features like a kill switch that guarantees maximum online protection. So, you can consider them for short-term use but remember that by any means, they won’t guarantee a premium VPN experience.
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