The 3 Best Free VPN Services

As more and more people become aware of risks and dangers online, the availability of VPN software, as well as the number of providers, has also increased. To ensure continuous security, paid monthly subscriptions are necessary, however, there are a number of interesting freemium offers which provide certain VPN advantages at no cost.

Although the VPN market is huge, the number of services which provide free versions or clients is relatively small. Compounding the problem, these services always have certain shortcomings or deficits: Most provide a limited data volume, block certain features, or only allow access to a handful of servers. But this is logical, namely, if you aren't ready to pay for a VPN service, you shouldn't expect to receive all of the benefits that this entails.

Nevertheless, we'll show you in this article what our Top 3 picks are for the best free VPN providers:

1.

Windscribe

Windscribe VPN
(29,596)
500+ servers in 60 locations
Good free plan
Connect unlimited devices
Headquarters in Canada
Devices
unlimited
Datenvolumen
10 - ∞
Protocols
2
Contract Period
0 - 12 months
Windscribe Free
$0.00
monthly price
Visit Website
Review Score
4.1 / 5
good

In our exhaustive evaluation of 17 top VPN providers, Windscribe lost out on a higher ranking owing to its performance. However, in every other area we examined, the Canadian service performed well. Perhaps, Windscribe can stake out its claim in the VPN market with its free version: Users are given a 10 GB data volume to be used on any synchronized device, and can connect to one of 10 different server locations. For those who don't want to register using their email address, Windscribe still offers 2 GB of volume.

All of the above make Windscribe considerably more generous than its competitors, which use their freemium versions to entice, but not really satiate users. For those who want to protect their downloads with a VPN connection, the 10 GB limit will most likely not be enough, however, for regular surfing this should be fine. Of course, Windscribe's free version also has a few other limits: Its dedicated streaming servers are restricted to paying customers, meaning that foreign Netflix content can't be viewed without a subscription.

With its generous data limit and solid package of features, Windscribe still offers one of the best free VPN services we've come across. Should the day come when you want to upgrade your free account to a premium one, you can tailor your subscription to your needs and requirements.

10 GB data volume (monthly)

10 different servers

Intuitive and feature-loaded app

Review Score
4.1 / 5
02/2020
good
Visit Website
Installation and Features
4.7 / 5
Performance
4.0 / 5
Customer Support
4.0 / 5
Security and Privacy
4.0 / 5
Server Network
3.7 / 5
2.

Hotspot Shield

Hotspot Shield VPN
(566,772)
3200+ Server
70+ countries
Offers free plan
Headquarters in the USA
Devices
1 - 5
Datenvolumen
15 - ∞
Protocols
1
Contract Period
0 - 36 months
Hotspot Shield Free
$0.00
monthly price
Visit Website
Review Score
3.5 / 5
good

In our evaluation Hotspot Shield had to settle for a mid-table place, almost entirely because of our concerns about its privacy policy. Apart from that, the provider made a good impression, owing to its solid performance, well-balanced package of features, and decent server network.

Since our Top 3 VPN providers were all paid services, Hotspot Shield might still be able to carve out a market segment as a free provider, in particular, owing to its very-generous 500 MB (24 hour) data volume (roughly 16 GB per month). The mobile version offers 'blocks', which can be reloaded every 30 minutes by watching an advertisement.

Despite its data magnanimity, Hotspot Shield limits its free users in other areas. For example, video streaming of any kind is not enabled, and if you visit Netflix when using the VPN connection, you'll receive a prompt to purchase the program's premium license. Also, you're limited to one server location: the US.

These restrictions are common among free VPN software, and are meant to serve to motivate users to pay for premium subscriptions, rather than create buzz about the free service.

Up to 15 1/2 GB of data per month

User-friendly application

No video streaming

Only 1 server location (USA)

Review Score
3.5 / 5
02/2020
good
Visit Website
Performance
4.3 / 5
Server Network
4.0 / 5
Installation and Features
3.7 / 5
Customer Support
3.3 / 5
Security and Privacy
2.0 / 5
3.

ProtonVPN

ProtonVPN
(13,798)
Strong focus on security
400+ servers in 30+ countries
Headquarters in Switzerland
Saves no logs
Devices
1 - 10
Datenvolumen
unlimited
Protocols
3
Contract Period
0 - 24 months
20%
Black Friday Deal
ProtonVPN Free
$0.00
monthly price
Visit Website
Review Score
3.7 / 5
good

In general, ProtonVPN impressed during our evaluation, serving as a classic example of the sum being greater than all of the parts. We think that the provider could even have what it takes to compete with the market's heavyweights, so long as they continue to develop and grow. In particular, the service's free version stands out: ProtonVPN does not have any limits, even for free users.

Of course, there are conditions. You can't connect multiple devices at the same time, and you're limited to 3 server locations: the Netherlands, the US, and Japan. Additionally, the connections are slower, and video streaming on Netflix is only available with purchase of the "Plus" or "Visionary" subscriptions.

If you're able to live with these restrictions, you'll be treated to unlimited surfing by ProtonVPN, without having to dig into your pockets.

No data limits

No video streaming

Only 3 server locations

Only 1 device can be connected at any time

Review Score
3.7 / 5
02/2020
good
Visit Website
Security and Privacy
4.3 / 5
Performance
4.0 / 5
Installation and Features
4.0 / 5
Customer Support
3.3 / 5
Server Network
3.0 / 5

Alternatives

Each of the free VPN services we've mentioned above comes with certain conditions. Either the data volume and/or selection of server locations is limited, or streaming is not supported. Should you not want to deal with any of these, we recommend Surfshark, which received a very good score (4.6 / 5) in our evaluation and can be had for a bit more than $2 per month (as TV ads used to claim, "That's less than the price of a cup of coffee!"). Surfshark offers unlimited data and reliable streaming.

Surfshark VPN
(25,851)
1700+ servers in 63+ countries
Unlimited number of devices
Many apps (Linux, FireTV, ...)
Saves no logs
Very cheap on the 24-month plan
Surfshark is one of the cheapest providers on the market, but besides the price also impresses with strong protection, many features and a great support with 24/7 live chat.
Devices
unlimited
Datenvolumen
unlimited
Protocols
3
Contract Period
1 - 24 months
+3 months
Black Friday Deal
Surfshark 24 months
$2.49
monthly price
Visit Website
Review Score
4.6 / 5
excellent

Most freemium VPN services have low data volume limits, making their use as a go-to VPN impossible. In this context, our Top 3 shows the exceptions to this trend. However, there are a few more services which offer functional apps without subscriptions. Detailed reviews of 17 of the leading VPN providers can be found in our comprehensive VPN evaluation.

hide.me VPN
(14,759)
1500+ servers
55+ locations in 34+ countries
Saves no logs
14-day money-back guarantee
with free plan
Devices
1 - 5
Datenvolumen
10 - ∞
Protocols
7
Contract Period
0 - 24 months
hide.me Free
$0.00
monthly price
Visit Website
Review Score
4.6 / 5
excellent
TunnelBear VPN
(275,697)
Servers in 22 countries
Offers free plan
Independent security audit
Headquarters in Canada
Devices
1 - 5
Datenvolumen
0.5 - ∞
Protocols
2
Contract Period
0 - 36 months
TunnelBear Free
$0.00
monthly price
Visit Website
Review Score
3.6 / 5
good
Avira Phantom VPN
(587,634)
38 servers in 30+ countries
offers free plan
small server network
Devices
unlimited
Datenvolumen
0.5 - ∞
Protocols
1
Contract Period
0 - 12 months
Avira Free
$0.00
monthly price
Visit Website
Review Score
3.1 / 5
satisfactory

In addition to these freemium programs, there are a wide variety of completely free VPN services, particularly for mobile users. A search for "Free VPN" in the Google Play Store yielded hundreds of results. However, these providers need to earn money somehow - in the best case with advertisements, and in the worst, with your data. As a result, we limited ourselves to the best freemium offers, since these come from established providers. If choosing a "free" VPN that isn't freemium, we recommend doing so carefully.

Author (German Version): Martin Gschwentner
Martin Gschwentner majored in American Studies and Media Studies in Germany, the USA and France and works as a freelance editor in Paris. He is a doctoral student at the Institute for English and American Studies at the University of Paris Diderot, where he is researching the influence of money on US politics. On EXPERTE.com he writes about IT security, data protection and software for the self-employed and small businesses.
English Translator & Editor: D Bare
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