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8 Best (REALLY FREE) VPNs in 2022 — Safe, Fast, and Unlimited

After using a premium VPN for years, I was curious if any free services could save me money and offer the same benefits (without risking my online safety). The short answer is no — most free VPNs can’t unblock streaming platforms like Netflix, come with slow speeds, and offer limitations that make them almost unusable. They can even be dangerous — some have harmful malware embedded in the app, while others have even been caught selling private data to third parties.

However, after testing 100+ free VPNs, my team and I discovered a handful that have strong security features to keep you safe. Some have added benefits and can unblock popular streaming platforms. Unfortunately, all of them come with limitations.

Of all the VPNs I tested, ExpressVPN was the best — It’s really safe to use and reliably unblocks all major streaming sites. On top of that, it doesn’t limit you in any way, so you can surf the web and stream as much as you want. Even though it’s not 100% free, you can test it out risk-free, as it comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee. If you’re not impressed, then just ask for a full refund.

Try ExpressVPN Risk-Free Today

Short on Time? Here Are the Best Free VPNs — Tested in July 2022

  1. ExpressVPN — Top-tier security features to keep you safe, plus lightning-fast speeds for streaming and torrenting (and you can try it risk-free because it offers a 30-day money-back guarantee).
  2. CyberGhost — Robust security features and dedicated servers for streaming and P2P transfers.
  3. ProtonVPN — Unlimited data and a no-logs policy to keep you protected, but you can only connect to 3 server locations.
  4. Avira Phantom VPN — User-friendly apps to protect all your devices since you get unlimited simultaneous connections, but it doesn’t come with a kill switch.
  5. hide.me — Fast speeds to browse the web, but you only get 500MB of data per day (that’s only enough to watch YouTube for 30 minutes).

And 3 more reliable free VPNs

Try ExpressVPN Risk-Free Now

Best Free VPNs — Full Analysis (Updated July 2022)

1. ExpressVPN — Overall Best VPN With Robust Security Features and a High-Speed Global Network

  • Unlimited data and superfast speeds
  • 3,000 servers in 94 countries
  • 5 simultaneous device connections
  • Can unblock: Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, HBO Max, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, Vudu, and more
  • Compatible with: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, routers, Apple TV, and more
ExpressVPN Offer July 2022: For a limited time only, you can get an ExpressVPN subscription for up to 49% off! Don't miss out!

ExpressVPN offers top-tier security features to keep you safe online. It has military-grade 256-bit encryption, which scrambles your data so well that it would take billions of years to crack. Moreover, it uses a 4096 bit RSA key, SHA-512 authentication, and Perfect Forward Secrecy. The latter is a system that changes the encryption key frequently, making it almost impossible to decode.

It also comes with IP/DNS leak protection and an automatic kill switch (called Network Lock). This ensures that you stay protected even if the VPN unexpectedly disconnects. During testing, my Macbook went into sleep mode while ExpressVPN was connected. When I turned it back on, Network Lock immediately warned me that my internet was disabled until the VPN reconnected (it only took about 3 seconds).

Screenshot of ExpressVPNs 'network lock' feature

You can use ExpressVPN’s built-in kill switch to keep you protected if the VPN suddenly disconnects

The VPN supports multiple protocols, including OpenVPN, IKEv2, L2TP, and its own Lightway protocol. During my tests, I preferred using the Lightway protocol as it’s secure and had the fastest speeds. I was able to connect to the VPN within a second, and I could browse, stream, and torrent without interruptions.

It operates under a strict no-logs policy, too. ExpressVPN has hired security companies to perform audits of its policies. The results have always been good — its no-logs claims are true. On top of that, ExpressVPN’s entire network runs on RAM-based servers that automatically erase your browsing history when the server is rebooted. You don’t have to worry about your personal data being shared because it’s simply not recorded. To further protect your privacy, you can also pay with cryptocurrencies and sign up through an “.onion” site with Tor.

ExpressVPN offers unlimited bandwidth and is one of the fastest VPNs in the industry. I can always watch my favorite series in crisp HD without buffering with this VPN. During my tests, I connected to more than 55 servers (including the US, UK, and Australia) and had an average speed of 150 Mbps, which is 6x as fast as the 25 Mbps you need for Ultra HD.

Netflix’s VPN bans are no match against ExpressVPN’s technology. Even some of the best VPNs can’t get past the blocks, but I had no issue at all — I could consistently access my US Netflix account and load shows in a few seconds. HBO Max, Disney+, Hulu, and so many other popular streaming sites were easy to access, too. You won’t get stuck on error screens or endure annoying lag while streaming.

Screenshot of ExpressVPN unblocking US Netflix

I was also able to access UK Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max, and Hulu.

It has an extensive server network with 3,000 servers in 94 countries (and they’re all P2P-friendly). It also works in countries with strict censorship (like Turkey, the UAE, and Iran) and can bypass the Great Firewall of China. (If you plan to use a VPN in one of these countries, we encourage you to be careful and check the local laws first).

ExpressVPN also allows you to connect up to 5 devices simultaneously. This gives you the freedom to stream on your phone as you work on your computer while your other family members surf the web safely on their own devices.

It even includes split tunneling that allows you to choose what traffic passes through the VPN. Simply select which apps will use the VPN and which you’ll access with your regular IP. I tested this by setting my US online banking app not to use the VPN connection. After connecting to a server in the UK, I could still easily access my banking app without CAPTCHA checks or being blocked. This means you’ll never have to worry about losing access to your online banking and domestic streaming sites when you connect to the VPN.

Although ExpressVPN isn’t 100% free, I prefer to use this VPN because it’s way more reliable than any truly free VPN I’ve used. You can test ExpressVPN’s premium features risk-free for 30 days because it’s backed by a money-back guarantee — so, you can claim a full refund if you’re not impressed with it. I tested this policy to make sure it was legitimate and they stood by the guarantee. Over 24/7 live chat, the agent only asked me a few user satisfaction questions and quickly approved my refund. I saw the money back in my account 3 days later.

Start Risk-Free with ExpressVPN

2. CyberGhost — Superior Security Features to Keep Your Identity Safe

  • Impressive speeds and unlimited bandwidth
  • 8,914 servers in 91 countries
  • 7 simultaneous device connections
  • Can unblock: Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, HBO Max, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, Vudu, and more
  • Compatible with: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, routers, Apple TV, and more
July 2022 Deal: CyberGhost is currently offering 82% off its most popular plan! Take advantage of this offer now and save more on your CyberGhost subscription.

CyberGhost comes with impressive security features, so you’re sure to be anonymous online. It offers AES-256 encryption, which makes it impossible for anyone to intercept your personal information. To make it even better, it has an automatic kill switch. In case the VPN disconnects, your internet connection will be shut down. I tested it when I switched from a US to a UK server — in the 10 seconds it took to connect, my WiFi was down. This prevents security breaches, so your data is always protected.

It has a solid no-logs policy, meaning that it doesn’t keep any information about you. Your browsing history, IP address, and real location aren’t exposed, not even to the VPN. CyberGhost also offers NoSpy servers, which give you an extra layer of security. They’re independently operated and can only be accessed by CyberGhost’s employees (so no third party can interfere). This way, you’re sure that your online data is kept private while you browse the internet.

Thanks to its superfast speeds, you’ll never have to wait for a stream or website to load. During my tests, I had speeds as fast as 140 Mbps. While, on average, CyberGhost’s speeds aren’t as fast as ExpressVPN’s, they’re still more than enough for any online activity. It didn’t even make a difference that I was thousands of miles away from the server. Plus, since you get access to its full network, overcrowding won’t slow your speeds either. And since you also get unlimited bandwidth, you can browse, stream, and play video games as much as you want.

screenshot of VPN speed test with CyberGhost's UI visible

With these speeds, you won’t have to worry about lag, buffering, or random interruptions

CyberGhost has an extensive server network spanning all over the world. I tested locations in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and France, and they all gave me reliable connections. What I liked the most are its dedicated streaming profiles — you can easily unblock over 50 streaming services, such as Netflix, Hulu, SlingTV, BBC iPlayer, and many more. It also comes with dedicated servers for P2P file sharing (for Windows and Mac) and gaming (only Windows).

screenshot of Netflix player streaming Grey's Anatomy using GyberGhost

You’ll have no problem accessing geo-restricted content with CyberGhost’s specialized streaming profiles

You can connect up to 7 devices under a single subscription. This means that you can keep all your devices protected at the same time. I tested its effectiveness by connecting my 2 laptops, tablet and smartphone to one of its US servers. Then, I played different movies and shows on all of them. I was impressied to see that all the streams were flawless, without interruptions. This means that you can take full advantage of CyberGhost and use it on all your devices.

The only negative is it’s not completely free. But, the 45-day money-back guarantee means you can try CyberGhost risk-free — you can get a full refund easily within the guarantee period (shorter plans cost less up front, but only offer a 14-day refund guarantee). I made sure the refund policy is trustworthy by testing it myself. Using 24/7 live chat I requested my refund. The agent asked why I wanted to cancel, but didn’t push me to stay at all. My request was approved in under 5 minutes and I had all my money back 4 days later.

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3. ProtonVPN — No Data Caps for Unlimited Safe Browsing

  • Unlimited data and consistent speeds
  • 3 free server locations
  • 1 simultaneous device connection
  • Can unblock: Netflix, Youtube, Spotify, Facebook, Instagram, Kodi
  • Compatible with: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, and routers

ProtonVPN’s free service offers unlimited data, so you can surf the web and download as much as you want. I was impressed by this since most free VPNs only offer between 500MB - 10GB per month. This means you can leave it running all the time and it won’t cut you off at a certain data cap.

Its strong security features ensure you can browse the internet safely. The VPN offers powerful AES 256-bit encryption and an automatic kill switch. It uses OpenVPN, which is the safest protocol in the industry. ProtonVPN also offers IP/DNS leak protection. I tested all 3 server locations and didn’t encounter any IP, DNS, or WebRTC leaks.

ProtonVPN has a clear zero-logging policy that is strictly enforced. All the apps are open-source and have undergone security audits. This way, ProtonVPN adds an extra layer of safety and transparency to its VPN. Moreover, all you need is an email to sign up.

Screenshot of ProtonVPNs logging policy

Since ProtonVPN keeps no logs, you’re kept fully anonymous online.

Additionally, ProtonVPN is headquartered in Switzerland, which is outside of the 5/9/14-Eyes Alliance. This means that even if it did store personal data, it could never be forced to hand it over even if a government agency asked for it.

The VPN is easy to use and doesn’t have annoying ads, which helps it run smoothly — it only took 5 seconds to load and connect on my Macbook. However, my speeds were inconsistent. During my tests, I had fast rates of around 29 Mbps on local servers, but long-distance servers made my speeds drop.

Screenshot of speedtest using ProtonVPN

You can watch your favorite shows without buffering with ProtonVPN

ProtonVPN comes with only 1 device connection, which is less than ExpressVPN (it offers 5) and CyberGhost (which offers 7). Unlike most free VPNs, you can set ProtonVPN up on your router to get unlimited device connections. And while you don’t have access to its superfast 10Gbit network, Secure Core (Double VPN), or Tor servers, you get other extra features like custom DNS settings and split tunneling.

You get access to 100+ servers in Japan, Netherlands, and the US (although none of them support torrenting). If you’re not located close to one of these regions, you’ll probably have slower speeds. Some of these servers were also overcrowded when I used them, which slowed my connection, too.

I was only able to watch Netflix Originals with ProtonVPN’s US servers. However, its Netherlands and Japan servers unblocked region-specific Netflix shows. It didn’t work with Disney+, HBO Max, or any other popular streaming platform. While it’s not the best for bypassing geoblocks, I still recommend ProtonVPN as it is a super safe VPN — it’s best for protecting your online privacy without worrying about data restrictions.

If you ever run into any issues using ProtonVPN, don’t count on a speedy response from customer support. ProtonVPN doesn’t offer 24/7 live chat. However, even though it took 3 days to receive a response, customer support was informative and helpful with my questions about router setup over email.

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4. Avira Phantom VPN — Protect All Your Devices with User-Friendly Apps

  • 1 GB data per month and fast speeds
  • 1 server location (on desktop), and 35+ server locations (on mobile)
  • Unlimited simultaneous device connections
  • Can unblock: Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, and more
  • Compatible with: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android

You can protect as many devices as you want with Avira Phantom VPN, but I was especially impressed with its free mobile app for Android and iOS. It offers an extensive server network, can unblock several streaming platforms, and comes with advanced security features — something that is difficult to find with free (mobile) VPNs.

Unlike Avira’s desktop client where you can only connect to a server using the “Nearest Location” feature, Avira’s free mobile apps offer free servers in 35+ locations (including a streaming-optimized one). When I tested its US - Streaming server, I could access Netflix US, Hulu, and Disney+ on my iPhone without hassle.

Screenshot of Avira's mobile app

Its “Nearest Location” feature automatically connects you to the fastest server nearby

All Avira Phantom VPN apps keep your online data well protected with a zero-logs policy, IKEv2 and OpenVPN protocols, and 256-bit encryption. Its mobile version offers an “auto-connect” feature, which means that the VPN automatically connects if it detects an untrusted Wi-Fi network — this is great if you often browse the web on public WiFi. Unfortunately, Avira Phantom VPN doesn’t work in countries that restrict VPN use, like China.

These strong security and privacy features are also useful because its desktop and mobile apps support torrenting, so you can download files safely. When I tested out its torrenting capabilities, I had a speed of 29 Mbps, which is pretty impressive. I was able to download a 50MB (copyright-free!) file in 25 seconds using uTorrent on my MacBook.

Screenshot of a speed test using Avira Phantom VPN

With Avira Phantom VPN, you don’t need to worry about slow speeds while torrenting

However, I was disappointed that there’s no automatic kill switch and you only get 500MB of data per month (1GB if you sign up with your email). I could only watch Netflix in HD for 20 minutes before the VPN cut me off. However, there is an option to sign up for a 7-day trial of the premium version (only on mobile), which includes unlimited data.

Start FREE with Avira Phantom VPN

5. hide.me — Fast Speeds to Browse Without Slowdowns

  • 10 GB data per month and fast speeds
  • 5 free server locations
  • 1 simultaneous device connection
  • Can unblock: Netflix, Youtube, Spotify, Facebook, Instagram
  • Compatible with: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and Linux

I got great speeds with hide.me. I tested my speeds on all 5 free servers and never experienced a rate slower than 25 Mbps. On top of that, you get a generous 10 GB of free data every month. That gives you about 3.5 hours of HD streaming. And since hide.me’s speeds are much faster than the 5 Mbps you need for that, you won’t have to worry about any annoying buffering.

It has advanced security features and a no-logs policy too, including strong AES-256 encryption, an automatic kill switch, and IP/DNS leak protection. While reading through its logging policy, I found that hide.me doesn’t log any personal browsing data. However, it temporarily tracks your total amount of data traffic, your randomly generated VPN username, and assigned IP addresses. This data is erased every few hours and is completely anonymous. Although not flawless, hide.me’s privacy policy and excellent security features protect your online identity.

It also supports multiple VPN protocols like IKEv2 and OpenVPN (WireGuard is only available for paid users). I found the app easy to navigate and liked that I could choose automatic selection so the VPN would select the best protocol for me. However, I manually selected IKEv2 during my tests because it was much faster than OpenVPN.

Screenshot of the app from hide.me where you can choose protocols.

The app is easy to navigate and use and doesn’t support ads, which helps it run smoothly

The VPN has 5 free servers – located in Canada, the Netherlands, Germany, US East, and US West. All of them support P2P traffic, so hide.me is a great option if you want to stay safe while P2P file-sharing. Moreover, I could access the full Canada, Netherlands, and Germany Netflix libraries. However, when I connected to Netflix US, I could stream Netflix Originals only.

A minor con is that you can only use hide.me’s free VPN on 1 device at a time. However, it is possible to turn your laptop into an encrypted router. All you have to do is set up hide.me on your laptop, turn on the WiFi hotspot, and connect all your devices to it.

It has easy-to-follow setup guides for these devices and other operating systems on its website as well. But if you ever need assistance you can also take advantage of its 24/7 live chat support (even as a free user!). I used this service a few times during this review and the support agents were helpful and friendly. I got a response in less than 10 seconds every time.

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6. Hotspot Shield — P2P Support for Fast and Safe Torrenting

  • 15 GB of data per month and fast speeds
  • 1 free server
  • 1 device connection
  • Can unblock: Netflix Originals, Youtube, Spotify, Facebook, Instagram
  • Compatible with: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android

Hotspot Shield has fast speeds for P2P file sharing. I thought that only having 1 server located in the US would affect my download speeds since I’m located 8,000 km away in Western Europe. But when I used Hotspot Shield’s Catapult Hydra protocol (which was designed to speed up long-distance connections), I had an average speed of 23 Mbps and was able to download a 100MB file in only 1 minute.

It’s safe to use and comes with military-grade encryption, a kill switch, and leak protection. My tests didn’t reveal any DNS or IP leaks, so you’re well protected and no third party, including your ISP, can see your online activity. Although it offers strong security features, Hotspot Shield does keep anonymous logs of the bandwidth you consume, the duration of VPN sessions, and the device you’re using. However, since none of this data can be used to identify you, your privacy is still well protected.

Screenshot of a IP leak test using Hotspot Shield

With Hotspot Shield, you can keep your online operations secure.

Its user-friendly, dedicated apps offer a one-click connection so that you can get started without a hassle. However, the free version is supported by ads, so actually using it was a bit annoying because the VPN opened web pages full of ads during my tests. I would recommend using this VPN alongside a trusted ad blocker so you don’t have to click out of pop ups constantly.

Hotspot Shield is not the best option for streaming. Although I could access Netflix US (Originals only), I was blocked by a premium payment wall when I tried to access my HBO Max and Hulu accounts with the VPN enabled. However, it still works to bypass content filters and firewalls, so you can access sites that your school or workplace might block on its network. It’s also a good option if you just want to protect yourself on public WiFi.

I also found that even though it offers a generous 15GB of data per month, it limits you to only 500MB per day. While this is far too little for downloading large files, it’s enough to download some music files, check your email, and browse the web safely and anonymously.

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7. TunnelBear — Large Server Network for Reliable Connections

  • 500 MB of data per month, but slow speeds
  • 2,600 servers in 48 countries
  • 5 simultaneous device connections
  • Can unblock: Netflix, Youtube, Spotify, Facebook, Instagram
  • Compatible with: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android

Unlike most free VPNs that limit you to a handful of servers, TunnelBear allows free users to use its entire network. It has 2,600 servers in 48 locations, including the US, UK, India, and Australia. When I tested it on servers close to my location, I got a decent speed of 15 Mbps and could browse the web without any noticeable slowdowns. But on long-distance servers, it sometimes took 15 seconds to load pages (my speeds were 9 Mbps). Since TunnelBear has a large server network, you can get decent speeds because there will most likely be a server nearby.

TunnelBear’s free version is a great way to get started if you’re new to VPNs. It has a user-friendly interface that allows you to connect to the best server based on your network and location with one click. It also comes complete with cute, animated grizzly bears, which I loved. It made using it a fun experience.

In addition, it’s a super safe choice. TunnelBear is one of the rare free VPNs that’s undergone independent audits of all of its apps. It also uses AES 256-bit encryption and IP/DNS leak protection, supports OpenVPN on all major platforms, and has an automatic kill switch. I performed leak tests on its US, UK, and France servers and never encountered any IP or DNS leaks. This means you’re well protected while using this VPN.

GhostBear Mode allows you to unblock content in countries with restrictive networks. However, it doesn’t work in China. If you are looking for a VPN for this reason, please take care that you familiarize yourself with the local laws and regulations about VPN use first.

TunnelBear’s 500MB data cap is extremely limiting. Even though all of its servers support torrenting you can’t download much with only 500MB of data. Moreover, although I could access several Netflix libraries (including Netflix US (Originals), FR, UK, and DE), this data limit makes TunnelBear pretty useless for streaming as well. Luckily, I was able to take advantage of a Twitter promo when I signed up and got an extra 1GB of data added on to my allowance by tweeting the company.

Start FREE with TunnelBear

8. Kaspersky Secure Connection VPN — Beginner-Friendly Apps that Can Easily Access Netflix

  • 6 GB data per month and good speeds
  • 1 server location
  • 5 simultaneous device connections
  • Can unblock: Netflix, Youtube, Spotify, Facebook, Instagram
  • Compatible with: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android

Kaspersky Secure Connection VPN has a user-friendly app for all your devices. After the app was installed on my iPhone and Macbook, it only took 1 click to protect them and easily keep track of my (minuscule) daily data allowance of 200MB. While this data allowance makes it a poor choice for torrenting and streaming, it’s a good option for VPN beginners who want to stay safe online.

This free VPN has fast speeds. During my tests, the rates remained consistently fast (about 19 Mbps) on both its local and long-distance servers. This means you can browse the web without experiencing any slowdowns. However, I did find it a bit annoying that I couldn't choose a server myself. Your server is assigned automatically, so you don’t know which location you’re connected to until after you connect. While using Kaspersky Secure Connection, I was given servers in the US and the Netherlands.

It uses AES-256 bit encryption, which is of the highest standard, but the kill switch isn’t available to free users. Its logging policy and Russian background are also questionable. Its privacy policy is for all Kaspersky software, so it’s hard to know which parts of it are related to the VPN itself.

In addition, the policy states that it does keep logs of hardware information, user session ID, and traffic information. However, Kaspersky is currently moving many of its data centers from the US and Canada to the more privacy-friendly Switzerland. This move shows that it’s working towards providing a VPN that can better protect your online privacy.

It only has 2,000 servers in 38 countries, which is pretty small. But, I did manage to access Netflix using the both automatically selected servers assigned to me.

Start FREE with Kaspersky Secure Connection VPN

Quick Comparison Table: Best Free VPNs

The table below compares the features of all the free VPNs in this list. You can check the speeds, the data limit per month, and the number of simultaneous device connections of each VPN. I’ve also included the VPN’s privacy policy so you can check if the VPN logs your information. Moreover, if you want to download files, you can see here which free VPNs allow torrenting.

Speeds Data Limit Per Month # simultaneous device connections Compatibility Logging Policy Torrenting Allowed? Unblocks Netflix?
🥇ExpressVPN Super Fast Unlimited 5 Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, AppleTV, routers and more Strict No-Logs Yes Yes — 20+ libraries
🥈CyberGhost Fast Unlimited 7 Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, AppleTV, routers and more Strict No-Logs Yes Yes — 15+ libraries
🥉ProtonVPN Average Unlimited 1 Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux Strict No-Logs No Yes — US (Originals), NL, JP
Avira Fast 500MB (1GB if you sign up) Unlimited Windows, Mac, iOS, Android Keeps Anonymized Logs Yes Yes, on mobile — US, UK, FR, and more
hide.me Fast 10GB 1 Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, AppleTV, routers and more Keeps Anonymized Logs Yes Yes — US (Originals), CA, DE, and NL
Hotspot Shield  Average 15GB
(but limited to 500MB a day)
1 Windows, Mac, Android, iOs Keeps Anonymized Logs Yes Yes — Netflix Originals
TunnelBear Fast 500MB 5 Windows, Mac, Android, iOs Keeps Anonymized Logs Yes Yes — US, UK, FR, and more
Kaspersky Secure Connection Fast 6GB (limited to 200MB per day) 5 Windows, Mac, Android, iOs Keeps Identifiable Logs Yes Yes — Netflix Originals

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Risks to Using Free VPNs: What Providers May Not Tell You

All of the free VPNs on this list have been tried and tested and I've read through their privacy policies to ensure they're trustworthy and safe to use. Although they do have some limitations, there are a lot of other free VPNs that come with real dangers that could cost you in other ways.

Some dangers of using free VPNs are:

  • Free VPNs can collect and sell your data: You should always read any VPN’s privacy policy very carefully (especially free ones) to make sure you’re actually being protected. There have been cases of free VPNs selling user data despite their privacy policies promising otherwise. Using a free VPN that sells your data completely defeats the purpose since you’re using a VPN to protect your privacy and data.
  • Free VPNs can have weak security features and leak your info: Many free VPNs have security features that are not held to industry standards. IP and DNS leaks are common, which means that your privacy isn’t protected at all. Without strong leak protection and a kill switch, anyone can still track your browsing history.
  • Free VPNs can come with viruses and harmful malware: A lot of free VPNs are created as ways to infect your device (not protect it), and have viruses and malware packaged into the software. In addition, free VPNs often don’t provide built-in ad blockers since they rely on advertising for revenue. This means that the chance of your device becoming infected with malware is higher with free VPNs.

It's definitely safer to use a trusted, low-cost premium VPN because they're held to high industry standards: they have the strongest security features, strict no-logging policies, and won't limit your usage. They even come with money-back guarantees, encouraging you to test them risk-free for a limited period of time. If you are not impressed by the service, you can just request a full refund.

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Free vs. Paid VPNs — Pros and Cons

Paid VPNs — Pros

  • Unlimited data and speeds for browsing, streaming, and torrenting as much as you want
  • Big, reliable server networks to bypass geoblocks for dozens of streaming sites worldwide (like Netflix, Disney+, and Hulu)
  • Top security features with multiple security protocols, leak protection, and extra features (like Double VPN) for even stronger protection
  • Strict no-logs policies so you know your data won’t ever be stored or shared
  • Support torrenting and often have optimized servers, a SOCKS5 proxy, and port forwarding to improve speeds
  • Ad and malware blockers are often built into the apps to protect your device even more
  • Offer 24/7 customer support to troubleshoot any issues you might have
  • Try them free for a limited time because most offer money-back guarantees

Paid VPNs — Cons

  • Charge a small monthly fee so payment info is required
  • Only free for a limited time when you use a money-back guarantee or free trial

Free VPNs — Pros

  • Completely free and don’t require payment info
  • Secure apps with military-grade encryption and (usually) an automatic kill switch
  • Decent privacy features like IP masking to protect your online privacy for casual browsing

Free VPNs — Cons

  • Limited data and/or speeds so streaming and torrenting aren’t usually possible
  • Only a few servers to choose from so you get unreliable (slow) connections that won’t bypass geoblocks for streaming sites
  • Sometimes keep logs of your personal browsing data, IP address, or connection times (for example), so your privacy isn’t well protected
  • Ad-supported apps are common with many free VPNs and can be really annoying
  • Lacking customer support: free users are usually seen as an afterthought

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Free VPNs You Should Avoid

When it comes to considering free VPNs, you always have to be careful. I found some really untrustworthy free VPNs with frightening security issues that you should avoid. Unlike the free services on my list, these VPNs are dangerous to use since they can share your data with third parties and advertisers without your knowledge. I also came across some free VPNs that included malware and viruses during my tests. The following VPNs are not safe and should be avoided:

  • Hola Free VPN — This isn’t a VPN, but an unsafe P2P network where other people use your personal IP address. Your internet traffic is not encrypted and your data isn’t kept private at all. Even worse, if someone uses your IP address and does something illegal, you are the one who can get in trouble since it will be traced back to you. Combined with the fact that Hola has one of the most intrusive logging policies I’ve ever read (it logs your true IP address, the websites you visit, your name, email address, and even your payment information), using Hola goes completely against the purpose of using a VPN.
  • Betternet VPN — According to a CSIRO study, Betternet has one of the most malware-infected apps among free VPNs. The VPN tested positive for malware by 13 different antivirus programs. Moreover, there were 14 third-party tracking libraries embedded in the VPN’s Android app.
  • Psiphon — This VPN logs region codes, domain names you’ve visited, connection time stamps, and more. What I found even more alarming is that it keeps these logs for up to 90 days. Moreover, Psiphon is full of ads and shares the statistics and user data with its commercial partners.
  • SuperVPN — When using the SuperVPN app, you’re giving the VPN permission to access your personal information on your phone. SuperVPN asks permission to read/modify/delete files on USB storage, track your actual location, track your WiFI connections, and change your network connectivity. There’s also a lack of transparency as the VPN doesn’t mention which form of encryption and security protocol is being used.
  • ThunderVPN — ThunderVPN uses SSL, which is an outdated and weak level of encryption (the industry standard is AES 256-bit encryption). Your online privacy is also not protected since the VPN keeps logs of your ISP, language of your device, app version, and more. While reading through its logging policy, I also couldn’t find any information about retention periods and deletion policies.
  • Other free VPNs to avoid — CrossVPN, sFly Network Booster, OKVPN, EasyVPN, Hoxx VPN, Archie VPN, Hat VPN, Private Pipe VPN, Tuxler VPN, GO VPN, Hexatech, Faceless.me, FinchVPN, VPN One Click, Fast Secure Payment

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Tips on How to Choose the Best Free VPN

There are a few main things you need to look out for when choosing a free VPN. During my tests, I used the following criteria to rank these top free VPNs:

  • Really free — If a VPN is really free, you don’t have to commit to a subscription. Plus, a really free VPN shouldn’t require you to give your payment details.
  • Strong security and privacy — The VPN should have industry standard encryption, as well as a kill switch, and IP/DNS leak protection. I made sure to check all the log policies of the free VPNs so the ones on this list don’t store logs that can identify you and keep you safe.
  • Good speeds with enough data — The VPN should have good speeds with enough data to browse the internet without slowdowns. Also look for free VPNs that offer a number of free servers because your speeds will generally be faster (since the servers won’t be as crowded).
  • Support torrenting — If you want a free VPN for torrenting, make sure that it has servers that support this activity. Not all free VPNs support P2P file sharing.
  • Can unblock some streaming sites — Most free VPNs won’t unblock streaming sites. That’s because of small server networks that aren’t frequently updated to keep up with VPN blocks. They can also have slow speeds and limit your data too much to stream in good quality. The only 2 on this list that could manage this were ExpressVPN and Kaspersky Secure Connection.

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FAQs About Free VPNs

What is the best free VPN?

There are only a few good truly free VPNs available and I've listed the best ones based on my research. However, each and every one of them comes with pretty severe limitations (as all free VPNs do). Most of them have small server networks, slow speeds, and data caps. Moreover, some free VPNs are missing essential security features like a kill switch.

That's why it's better to try out a low-cost premium VPN that comes with a money-back guarantee instead. This allows you to make use of all its premium features, including fast speeds, unlimited data, and robust security features. Moreover, you’ll be able to unblock streaming content from anywhere as most top-tier VPNs offer extensive server networks.

Which devices can I install a free VPN on?

Most free VPNs are compatible with laptops, desktops, tablets and smartphones. This list includes free VPNs with apps for many devices, including ones running: Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, and Linux. Some of them are even compatible with routers and Amazon Fire TV Stick, while others have free Firefox and Chrome extensions.

Most free VPNs only let you connect to 1 device at a time, so keep in mind that even if it’s compatible on lots of your devices, you won’t be able to connect them all at once.

Which free VPN is best for Netflix?

Free VPNs generally can’t bypass Netflix’s rock-solid geoblocks. They simply don’t have the resources to upgrade their server networks to keep up with IP blocks Netflix enforces to reduce VPN traffic on its site. However, I was surprised that Kaspersky Secure Connection VPN did manage to access Netflix.

I recommend trying out ExpressVPN because it’s the only VPN that could consistently access US and UK Netflix during my tests. It has an extensive and reliable server network that’s constantly updated. It even unlocks other streaming platforms like Hulu, Disney+, HBO Max, and more. If you’re not happy with it you can always claim a full refund within 30 days.

What is the best free VPN for torrenting?

The best completely free VPN for torrenting is Hotspot Shield, since it has fast speeds and military-grade encryption. However, it does come with a data cap of 500MB per day, which means you won’t be protected if you want to download large files.

A better option is ExpressVPN. It has optimized servers for torrenting, superfast speeds, and unlimited bandwidth. It’s not technically free, but you don’t have to commit to a subscription when you sign up because it offers a money-back guarantee. That means you can use all of its premium features and claim a full refund within 30 days if you’re not happy with it.

What’s the fastest free VPN?

During my tests, the fastest VPNs were ExpressVPN, CyberGhost, and Avira Phantom VPN. I never got less than 20 Mbps using these VPNs. Since you only need 5 Mbps to watch your favorite series in HD, this is more than enough. Keep in mind that most free VPNs will throttle your speeds or bandwidth to encourage you to upgrade to a paid plan. They also have limited server networks that become overcrowded which also slows you down.

Avira Phantom VPN and hide.me were slow and unstable compared to what I experienced using ExpressVPN. During my tests, it had consistently fast speeds no matter what server I connected to. It’s a premium VPN, but comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee. This means you can try it out risk-free and claim a full refund if you’re not impressed.

Are free VPNs actually safe?

Unfortunately, free VPNs aren't always 100% safe. However, the VPNs in this list are safe to use — I read all the privacy policies and none of them store any identifiable information. I performed leak tests to make sure my connection was properly hidden and they all passed the test.

Many free VPNs can be dangerous for several reasons. Some free VPNs don’t offer proper encryption, while some keep logs and share that data with third parties like advertisers to make money. Unfortunately, that’s not all — I encountered free VPNs that contain malware embedded into the apps.

Should I use a free VPN with Tor?

It’s possible to use the free VPNs on this list with Tor — but it can be very slow.

Since Tor already takes extra time to send your traffic through its relays, you need a high-speed VPN to make it fast enough to use. Free VPNs that limit your bandwidth and speed won’t work.

For the best speeds, you should connect to a server that’s close to your physical location. This can sometimes be difficult with a free VPN because they have fewer servers, so there may not be one nearby.

Do free VPNs work in China?

There are a few free VPNs that work in China — but they’re not secure enough to use. You need tough security features to keep you safe in places with strict censorship laws (like China, Dubai, India, and Russia) and free VPNs aren’t the most secure option.

The main problem is that free VPNs don’t offer obfuscation, which means the Chinese government can see that you’re using a VPN and will block your connection. You may be punished for breaking the law if you use any VPN there. (It’s always important to proceed with caution when using a VPN in countries that ban their use, so check local laws carefully before doing so.) Additionally, the free VPNs that work are very limited — you’ll run out of data in a few days and be left without any protection at all.

A more reliable option would be ExpressVPN since it hides your location, activity, and VPN use. It’s not technically free, but you can try it out risk-free for 30 days. If you’re not happy, you can always ask for a refund.

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The Bottom Line

While some free VPNs can keep you safe online, even the safest ones can’t compete with low-cost premium VPNs. A premium service offers the best security, as well as streaming and torrenting support. And, unlike most free VPNs, it’s standard to get unlimited data and bandwidth. You’ll be able to access more servers and enjoy faster connections.

The good news is, most premium VPNs offer free trials and money-back guarantees, so you can make sure the service you choose is right for you without making a commitment. My top recommendation is ExpressVPN because it’s superfast, secure, and it can unblock tons of streaming services, including Netflix US. It comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can test it out completely risk-free. All you have to do is claim a full refund if you’re not impressed.

The best VPNs you can try risk-free with money-back guarantees are...

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About the Author

Kristel is a tech researcher and writer with a keen interest in online privacy and cybersecurity. She advocates for digital freedom.

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