The 5 Best Free VPN Services

Martin Gschwentner

As more and more people become aware of the risks and dangers from unprotected Internet usage, the availability of VPN software, as well as the number of service providers, has increased. To guarantee continuous security, paid monthly subscriptions are necessary, however, a number of interesting freemium offers do exist which provide some VPN functionality at no cost.

Although the VPN market is huge, only a handful of services offer free versions of their clients or apps. These are always limited in one way or another, either in terms of the amount of data users are given, the number of servers that can be connected to, or the variety of features that can be accessed. This makes sense though, as if you aren't ready to pay for a VPN service, you shouldn't expect to receive all of the benefits that they provide.

Nevertheless, in this article, we'll introduce you to our Top 5 free VPN picks:

1.

ProtonVPN

ProtonVPN Test
ProtonVPN
(30,248)
Strong focus on security
1200+ servers in 55 countries
Headquarters in Switzerland
Solid performance
Open Source & external audits
Data volume
unlimited
Devices
1 - 10
Protocols
3
Contract Period
0 - 24 months
ProtonVPN Free
$0.00
monthly price
Visit Website »
30 days money-back guarantee
Review Score
4.3 / 5
good

ProtonVPN impressed us during our evaluation, serving as a classic example of the sum being greater than its parts. We think that the provider could have what it takes to compete with the market's heavyweights, so long as it continues to develop and grow. The service's free version stands out in particular since it imposes no data limits whatsoever and offers solid speeds.

Of course, this doesn't mean that they aren't restrictions. You can't connect multiple devices at the same time, and you'll have to make do with 3 server locations: the Netherlands, the US, and Japan. Additionally, video streaming is only possible with the 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 wallet.

No data limits

Intuitive application with plenty of features

No video streaming

Only 3 server locations

Only 1 device can be connected at any time

Review Score
4.3 / 5
04/2021
good
Visit Website
Installation and Features
5.0 / 5
Security and Privacy
5.0 / 5
Performance
4.3 / 5
Customer Support
3.7 / 5
Server Network
3.7 / 5
2.

hide.me VPN

hide.me VPN Test
hide.me VPN
(22,861)
1900+ servers
75+ locations in 47+ countries
Saves no logs
14-day money-back guarantee
with free plan
Data volume
10 - ∞
Devices
1 - 10
Protocols
7
Contract Period
0 - 24 months
hide.me Free
$0.00
monthly price
Visit Website »
30 days money-back guarantee
Review Score
4.2 / 5
good

Unlike ProtonVPN, hide.me's free version comes with a data limit, however, at 10 GB per month, this is relatively generous, unless you're downloading in bulk.

You won't have to register or input a payment method to take advantage of hide.me's free VPN. As an aside, we're also pleased to report that the provider doesn't finance its free version through ads or trackers.

Free users have access to five server locations and can connect one device, while premium users can have 10 simultaneous connections. As with ProtonVPN's free version, video streaming isn't possible without a paid subscription, however, free users can download P2P.

Owing to hide.me's range of features and solid speeds, we rated it as a good service, which also explains our favorable opinion of its free version, despite the data limit.

No registration necessary

No speed throttling

Monthly data limit of 10 GB

No video streaming

Only possible to connect one device at a time

Review Score
4.2 / 5
04/2021
good
Visit Website
Bedienung & Features
5.0 / 5
Customer Support
4.3 / 5
Performance
4.0 / 5
Server Network
4.0 / 5
Sicherheit & Privatsphäre
3.7 / 5
3.

Windscribe

Windscribe VPN Test
Windscribe VPN
(90,529)
500+ servers in 60+ countries
Free version with 10 GB limit
Connect unlimited devices
Good for video streaming
Headquarters in Canada
Data volume
10 - ∞
Devices
unlimited
Protocols
2
Contract Period
0 - 18 months
Windscribe Free
$0.00
monthly price
Visit Website »
Download for free
Review Score
3.9 / 5
good

In our exhaustive evaluation of more than 20 top VPN providers, Windscribe missed out on a higher ranking owing to its performance. However, in every other area we examined, the Canadian service performed well.

Perhaps, Windscribe can leave its mark in the world of VPNs with its free version: Per month, users are given 10 GB of data to be used with any synchronized device across 10 different server locations. For those who don't want to register using their email address, Windscribe offers 2 GB of data per month.

All of the above make Windscribe considerably more generous than its competitors, which use their freemium versions to entice, but not really satiate users. Of course, Windscribe's free version is not without limitations: Its dedicated streaming servers are restricted to paying customers, meaning that you can't stream foreign content on platforms like Netflix without a subscription.

With its generous data limit and solid package of features, Windscribe offers one of the better free VPNs 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 of data (monthly)

Connections possible with 10 different servers

Intuitive and feature-loaded app

Only 2 GB of data per month if using without an email address

No video streaming

Review Score
3.9 / 5
04/2021
good
Visit Website
Installation and Features
4.7 / 5
Performance
4.0 / 5
Customer Support
4.0 / 5
Server Network
3.7 / 5
Security and Privacy
3.0 / 5
4.

Hotspot Shield

Hotspot Shield VPN Test
Hotspot Shield VPN
(1,636,353)
3200+ Server
70+ countries
Offers free plan
Below-average performance
Headquarters in the USA
Data volume
0.5 - ∞
Devices
1 - 25
Protocols
5
Contract Period
0 - 12 months
Hotspot Shield Free
$0.00
monthly price
Visit Website »
Review Score
3.7 / 5
good

In our evaluation Hotspot Shield had to settle for a place in the middle of the pack, 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 VPN providers are all paid services, Hotspot Shield might still have what it takes to carve out a market segment as a free provider, in particular, owing to its very generous daily data limit of 500 MB (roughly 16 GB per month). Mobile users have to watch ad videos every half hour to "reload" their data.

There are other restrictions as well: For example, video streaming of any kind is not possible, and you're limited to a single server (based in the US). Speed is also throttled to 2 MB/s.

Up to 15 1/2 GB of data per month

User-friendly applications

No video streaming

Single server location (USA)

Speed is throttled to 2 MB/s

Review Score
3.7 / 5
04/2021
good
Visit Website
Performance
4.0 / 5
Customer Support
4.0 / 5
Server Network
4.0 / 5
Installation and Features
4.0 / 5
Security and Privacy
2.7 / 5
5.

TunnelBear

TunnelBear VPN Test
TunnelBear VPN
(307,222)
Offers free plan
Independent security audit
Low price
Small server network
Headquarters in Canada
Data volume
0.5 - ∞
Devices
1 - 5
Protocols
2
Contract Period
0 - 36 months
TunnelBear Free
$0.00
monthly price
Visit Website »
Review Score
3.5 / 5
good

TunnelBear was by far the most playful VPN service from our sample, capturing our hearts with its wordplay, puns, and humor. Unfortunately, it was unable to challenge the more "serious" providers at the top of our ranking since it suffers from a few critical issues, such as a limited server network and lack of features.

Its free version also has a few limitations: Users are only treated to 500 MB of data per month, which won't be anywhere near enough for regular surfing, let alone downloads or streaming. Anyone who tags the provider on Twitter can get an extra GB, but this doesn't really change the picture.

As such, TunnelBear's free version seems to be an appetizer for a paid subscription. The good news is, at least in its three-year plan, this is a real bargain.

All server locations can be connected to

1 GB Twitter bonus

Monthly data limit of 500 MB

Review Score
3.5 / 5
04/2021
good
Visit Website
Security and Privacy
4.3 / 5
Customer Support
4.0 / 5
Performance
3.7 / 5
Installation and Features
3.7 / 5
Server Network
2.0 / 5

Alternatives

All of the free VPNs we've mentioned above come with certain conditions, either in terms of their daily or monthly data caps, the number of server locations that can be connected to, or the ability to watch content on video streaming platforms. Should you prefer to not deal with any of these, we recommend our price-performance winner, Surfshark, which received a very good score (4.4 / 5) in our evaluation and can be had for a bit more than $2 per month. Surfshark offers unlimited data and reliable streaming.

Surfshark VPN Test
Surfshark VPN
(79,079)
3200+ servers in 65 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.
Data volume
unlimited
Devices
unlimited
Protocols
3
Contract Period
1 - 24 months
Surfshark 24 months
$2.49
monthly price
Visit Website »
Get 83% Discount
Review Score
4.4 / 5
good

Most freemium VPNs offer users small amounts of data, making their use as all-purpose VPNs impossible. Some of the free VPNs we've introduced above are exceptions to this trend, however, there do exist other services that offer functional apps without subscriptions. Detailed reviews of 22 of the leading VPN providers can be found in our comprehensive VPN evaluation.

In addition to these freemium programs, there also exist a wide variety of "free" VPN services, particularly for mobile users, with a search for "Free VPN" in the Google Play Store likely to yield 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.
Translator & Editor: D Bare
Other languages:
Deutsch 
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