There’s no denying that if you don’t want to pay a monthly (or yearly) subscription, downloading a VPN for free is alluring. It’s wise to test the waters before making a commitment to a VPN because they are sometimes pricey. Virtual Private Networks, in case you’re unaware, are a terrific method to keep secure and more anonymous online while also offering added benefits like getting past prohibited applications, accessing censored websites, and watching TV, movies, and sports that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to where you are.
However, things that seem too good to be true usually are. There are several free VPNs available, but the most of them aren’t all that good. Some shadier free applications spam you with adverts and could even sell your data. Additionally, you probably won’t be able to utilize a free VPN service to view or download torrents.
In this article, we go into greater detail on the risks associated with using free VPNs and how to make sure you stay away from any potentially shady ones. The finest free VPNs can do a respectable job if your primary concern with a VPN is just to have a little bit more protection on your computer or mobile device when sometimes accessing public Wi-Fi. Although Proton VPN is now the top free VPN, ExpressVPN may be our favorite premium service in the world. We’ll explain why below.
The problems with free VPNs
Free VPN services may not cost anything, but there is typically a solid reason for that as it means the provider will be making money in another way—either by selling your browsing information to other parties or via intrusive advertising (rather defeating the whole drive for privacy in the first place).
Free services also frequently have data use and speed restrictions, making them worthless for tormenting, streaming video, or adding an extra layer of trustworthy protection to your regular online activities. Additionally, don’t anticipate the same level of accessible support or server selection that you receive with the paying services.
Before we get into our selection of the best free VPN downloads, it’s important to note that these top VPNs will provide you with far greater performance and safety for a little monthly fee of as low as $2/£2.
1. ExpressVPN: Try TechReady’s #1 VPN for free
After reviewing more than 200 VPN services, both free and premium, ExpressVPN is our top pick for 2022. Given the dangers of utilizing free VPNs, we believe the cost is well justified. Additionally, it has a no-questions-asked 30-day money-back guarantee.
2. NordVPN: The world’s biggest VPN brand
Even if you don’t know much about virtual private networks, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of NordVPN. It has been a market leader for ten years, advertises on television, and supports athletic teams. Despite not quite leading the pack at the moment, Nord is still a great service and starts at $3.29 USD per month.
3. Surf shark: Very reasonably priced VPN
Still too costly? Then Surf shark is the only place to look. It’s an excellent premium choice that is amazingly easy to use for less than $2.50 USD a month and has become a TechReady favourite. It provides many of the identical features as the other top providers, but at a lower cost.
The best free VPNs for 2022
1. Proton VPN Free
Our Best Free VPN rankings are now headed by Proton VPN Free. This is partially due to the well-balanced combination of features, power, and app quality. However, it’s also because the service doesn’t slam you with a ton of restrictions and limitations in an effort to get you to upgrade. You might utilize this free VPN on an ongoing basis.
With Proton, for instance, there are no data restrictions. Proton VPN Free offers limitless bandwidth, allowing you to use it as frequently as you wish, in contrast to practically all other free VPNs that may only give you 500MB to 10GB per month. Because you don’t have to pick and choose where you use the VPN when data is running low, it’s easy and also a significant privacy bonus. Get out of the way if you sense a risk or aren’t sure.
Additionally, Proton has not penalized free users by omitting essential functionality. Proton VPN Free includes all the essential privacy features you need to keep secure online, unlike other free providers that forgo the kill switch, Wire Guard, and sometimes even support.
There are still substantial limitations. For instance, you can only access the United States, the Netherlands, and Japan. Proton VPN may be set up on as many devices as you desire, but only one device can be connected at once. You must subscribe to a premium subscription in order to use Proton VPN’s specialized streaming servers, P2P support, or added features like ad and malware-blocking (opens in new tab).
However, none of this precludes Proton VPN Free from performing its primary function far better than the majority of its rivals. The company’s well-designed, open-source, and audited apps are simple to use but also packed with helpful additions, gadgets, and technology. With 380Mbps, the service also topped our free VPN speed charts; in fact, it is faster than several commercial providers.
Not everyone may be a good fit for Proton VPN Free. PrivadoVPN and Wind scribe below both have roughly 10 countries to pick from if you really must have a location in the UK, for example, or some other nation not on Proton’s very narrow list.
But for most users, Proton VPN Free delivers just about everywhere: it’s fast, secure, and has powerful features, yet it’s also effortless to use. If you need a free VPN, try this one first.
2. PrivadoVPN Free
Even if PrivadoVPN Free didn’t quite get in the top rank, stay reading because you’ll learn about some special and highly valuable features that can make it your favored provider.
For instance, the firm can’t compete with Proton VPN’s unlimited bandwidth plan, but its 10GB monthly allocation suffices for most people. And even if the data tap runs out, you may still access a “emergency server” for infinite data. This is quite basic—we only had one site with speeds of 1 Mbps in the Netherlands—but it’s fantastic to have as a backup because it’s a feature you won’t find with the rest of the limited-data competitors.
The initial 10GB of data is also superior to many others. The selection of 12 locations across nine nations, including the unusually-included UK, surpasses most, including Proton VPN Free. Once connected, speeds are another impressive feature, with PrivadoVPN taking second place in our ratings of the performance of free VPN services thanks to its 350Mbps.
The results of PrivadoVPN Free’s unblocking are the true surprise here. In contrast to the majority of free VPN services, PrivadoVPN allows both free users and paid subscribers to use the same streaming servers. In our most recent evaluation, we discovered that the firm has unblocked US Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney Plus, and BBC player. Even most premium VPNs cannot make the same claim.
The service has various drawbacks and restrictions. If you install PrivadoVPN Free on both your phone and laptop, you can only use one at once because it only allows one connection. Although the applications are trustworthy and reliable, they lack Proton’s feature set. Additionally, the business hasn’t had an impartial audit done to confirm its privacy credentials.
However, PrivadoVPN Free is an outstanding service that performs well across the board. Even if you presently use a premium VPN to unblock content, downloading PrivadoVPN Free as a backup may be worthwhile due to its outstanding streaming results.
3. Windscribe Free
A top-tier Canadian provider, Wind scribe Free VPN, has an intriguing combination of features that more than warrants its ranking.
The data usage is strictly limited to 10GB per month, which is a bit less than our two best VPNs. However, that is sufficient to secure a substantial portion of online activity, and Wind scribe Free VPN offers its own benefit in return. With most free services, you are only allowed one connection at a time, but Wind scribe has no such restrictions; you are free to install and use it on as many devices as you need.
Another plus is the network, which offers 14 locations spread over 11 nations to Wind scribe Free VPN customers. This surpasses several other options, like Proton VPN’s three countries and PrivadoVPN Frei’s nine.
In general, speeds are 240 Mbps in
If you’re unfamiliar with VPNs, the applications may appear complex in certain places since they focus more on power than simplicity. However, they are simple to use on a fundamental level, more advanced users have access to a variety of tools and capabilities, and our testing have shown that they are dependable and deliver on their promises.
There are also some unexpected benefits. Even without the specialized Windflaw streaming servers, we discovered that Wind scribe Free VPN was still able to unblock UK Netflix and BBC player.
When everything is considered, Wind scribe Free VPN comes extremely close to Proton VPN and PrivadoVPN but falls short in several areas. For these reasons, the service may be the best option for some users.
4. Atlas VPN Free
Our attention was initially drawn to Atlas VPN Free by its generous bandwidth allotment. This is all about Mac VPN customers, who can use an incredible 2GB per day, not the 10GB you get with its Windows VPN, Android VPN, and iOS VPN, though that’s pretty bad either.
The service’s location selection isn’t as wide-ranging. There are just three: New York, Los Angeles, and the Netherlands. However, you can connect many devices at once (our top two free VPNs only allow one), and according to our performance testing, Atlas VPN Free was able to reach 320Mbps, which is above average. When you take into account the P2P functionality, Atlas can be a wise tormenting choice.
The applications don’t nearly persuade us as much. They cover the essentials, and what you receive is functional (the kill switch passed all our tests, for instance). They fall short of competitors like Proton VPN in terms of capabilities and have a few minor usability issues.
The service does have an independent audit, which puts it above many rivals in this regard. But because it just covers the iOS app, it is also rather constrained. Annual audits of Tunnel Bear Free VPN’s applications, servers, infrastructure, and other aspects are now conducted.
However, Atlas VPN Free outperformed our expectations in some key aspects. For instance, it doesn’t support unblocking any streaming websites, but we discovered that the service allowed us to access Disney Plus, and perhaps you’ll have success with other websites.
Overall, Atlas VPN Free performed a fantastic job of safeguarding us online, even if it had a few flaws. Mac users in particular will like the 2GB of data they get every day.
5. Hide.me Free VPN
Hide.me Free VPN is an excellent mid-range service that falls short in several areas but still offers more than enough unique features to merit further consideration.
You gain access to five P2P-friendly locales after installing the programmer, including the east and west coasts of the USA, Canada, Germany, and the Netherlands, and a respectable 10GB of data each month. Not the finest available, but adequate for the majority of users and helpful as a tormenting VPN.
The fast Wire Guard protocol is not supported by Hide.me Free VPN since it is reportedly only available to paying users. Free VPNs are typically expected to exclude some of the more sophisticated elements, but not anything so essential.
Hide.me The programmers contain more settings, choices, customizations, and tools than pretty much everyone else, and Free VPN tries to make up for this elsewhere. Auto-connect while using an untrusted Wi-Fi network, personalized DNS, split tunneling, a potent kill switch, sophisticated protocol modifications, and competent browser extensions are all available. Good news for professionals, however some people could find the interface to be more difficult to use.
More of an issue is performance. Although their commercial service is among the fastest VPN services available, we discovered that Hide.me Free VPN only provided average download speeds of about 25Mbps. The speeds we saw with Proton VPN and our other top providers were less than 10% of this.
However, that speed is sufficient for surfing, streaming, and the majority of other tasks, and
6. Hotspot Shield Basic VPN
Popular free VPN provider Hotspot Shield Basic has a huge advantage: starting in June 2022, Hotspot Shield will be expanding the service to provide limitless bandwidth across all devices. (As of this writing, Mac, Android, and iOS offer limitless data; Windows will follow suit later.)
Being able to use the service as much as you’d like is a great benefit in a world where the majority of free VPNs limit you to 10GB per month or even less. Therefore, you may be asking why Hotspot Shield Basic isn’t higher on our list of the best.
The service has a significant drawback in that it only permits connections to one US location. In comparison to Tunnel Bear, PrivadoVPN and Wind scribe only serve about ten different nations.
Among the usability problems and annoyances are mobile applications that frequently show video adverts when you connect. When you connect and disengage from the Mac programmer, pages on the Hotspot Shield website are opened.
The lack of a kill switch in Hotspot Shield Basic is a significant privacy issue. Your traffic could not be secured if the VPN connection stops.
Oh, and there is neither live chat nor email assistance available if you encounter any issues with any of this. You are need to search the Hotspot Shield website and come up with a resolution on your own.
Even with unlimited bandwidth, this makes it hard to recommend Hotspot Shield Basic over the alternatives. However, it could still be helpful for easy chores or as a back-up plan in case of an emergency.
7. Tunnel Bear Free
While the majority of VPNs market themselves on their extensive lists of sophisticated technological capabilities, Tunnel Bear Free VPN is focused about building a straightforward solution that anybody can use. And it goes to a startlingly extreme with this.
The majority of VPNs, for instance, advertise about all the protocols they support and provide you with a ton of options in their applications. This is fantastic if you are familiar with VPN protocols, but what if you are not?
This is made easier by Tunnel Bear Free VPN because none of its feature listings, help sites, or most of its applications even mention protocols. This isn’t because the Windows software lacks power; it still supports the greatest available protocol options, OpenVPN and Wire Guard. Instead than revealing the low-level specifics to consumers, it just manages them internally.
Although Tunnel Bear tries to soften this with less technical jargon, the applications also include additional sophisticated functions. For example, split tunneling is known as Split Bear, and there is a kill switch called Vigilant Bear.
The final product is a service that has certain advantages. It is simple to use and offers a wide range of 48 places in 46 countries. Speeds are decent at 300 Mbps, and Tunnel Bear’s yearly VPN audits—the most thorough in the industry—provide a great deal of comfort that your anonymity is safeguarded.
However, Tunnel Bear’s meagre data allotment of merely 500MB per month poses a serious issue as well. If you only infrequently need to unblock a particular website or safely check your email, this may be sufficient. But it falls well short of the customary complimentary 10GB.
How we test free VPNs: our methodology
We thoroughly examine each provider’s website as the first step in our VPN assessments. What features are included? How effective is the help site? Has the provider undergone an audit? If yes, what findings were made? Are there any snags in the fine print, too?
Because VPNs differ greatly depending on the operating system, we evaluate and compare programmers for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS. We examine each app’s functionality, features, settings, and more to ensure it performs as intended.
We also delve further into the Windows programmer, investigating the files it utilizes, the settings, and if it is correctly setting up your connection for the greatest possible anonymity. Peeking under the hood may provide you with a lot of helpful information about a VPN.
Providers may assert that they have a kill switch, but does this actually provide the security it promises? We employ a variety of methods to force the VPN connection to end, and we keep an eye on each programmer to ensure that it responds appropriately in any circumstance.
Most free VPN services have limited bandwidth, which makes them unsuitable for unblocking streaming websites. However, it’s still intriguing to observe who succeeds and who fails on the unblocking front. We assess each provider’s ability to access regionally unique material on US Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney Plus, and BBC Player (depending on the areas that are supported).
Even for a free VPN, speed is important. We evaluate each VPN’s performance using a UK cloud PC equipped with a fast and dependable 1Gbps.
Is a free VPN worth getting?
Truthfully, there isn’t just one simple solution to this problem. The answer depends on how you want to utilize your free VPN. They may be ideal if you just want a little bit additional protection on your laptop or mobile device when utilizing public Wi-Fi. Join the service, enable an encrypted server connection, and start engaging in your online activities certain that no nefarious eyes will be able to read your personal data.
However, a free VPN won’t cut it if your main goal is to use it for streaming, or if you want to use it to download terabytes of torrent files. To begin with, the most of them only provide you a daily or monthly data limitation, which you’ll quickly exhaust. However, most lack the server variety or support for simple access necessary to perform such activities using a virtual private network simple.
How to choose a free VPN: 5 must-ask questions
Global challenges to individual privacy have increased over the past several years, as long-maintained principles like net neutrality and the right to anonymity are being challenged under the guise of legality.
Virtual private networks are a crucial tool in the toolbox for those looking for these rights, even though they are not the answer to being safe, secure, and private online.
If you don’t already have one, you can get one without spending any money at all. Nevertheless, use caution as not all free VPN services are made equal and some might jeopardize your security.
Before downloading and installing one, ask yourself these five questions.
What is the company’s business model?
Providers are in it for the money, and running a business of this nature is expensive, particularly if it is well-known. Similar to Dropbox, some would use their free version as a marketing tactic to persuade potential consumers to switch to a premium version if they are satisfied with the free one. However, the majority will jeopardise your privacy once more by selling user data or giving anything to a third party.
How does it defend my computer?
When you browse the web, most providers employ a desktop programme that runs in the background to encrypt your data. That just addresses a portion of the issue, though. Due to the permissiveness of tracking solutions that can be found on almost all websites online, your laptop can still be fingerprinted. Some, like Wind scribe, take a more comprehensive strategy by incorporating what would be considered a powerful ad-blocker.
What am I losing if I don’t pay?
A free product will often have some corners cut, and all suppliers do in fact do this. Some provide far more free bandwidth than others, prominent locations, and even ad blocking, P2P, and firewall with a simple paid upgrade route that unlocks limitless bandwidth with additional locations and OpenVPN configurations.
Does your provider maintain any logs?
Verify that your service provider doesn’t log users’ online behavior. Typically, you may find that information on the terms and conditions website or in the EULA, often known as the end user licensing agreement. Unfortunately, many service providers would rather annoy customers by hiding important information about their business practices in lengthy T&Cs or privacy statements. On the opposite end of the spectrum are service providers who don’t store logs and will delete everything when your session ends.
Can I register totally anonymously?
For the highest level of anonymity online, having a service that you can subscribe to without a valid email address and one that takes Bitcoin payments is pretty much the best you can hope for. Some providers additionally feature double hopping, which is effectively doubling down on anonymity and allows you to further disguise your information.
Are free VPNs dangerous?
Free VPNs are generally criticized for not being nearly as useful as commercial options, but some advocates may really pose real risks (thankfully not with the services pinpointed above).
For instance, research conducted in 2020 indicated that almost 40% of the free VPNs offered on the Google Play Store do not adequately secure its customers’ privacy. Therefore, the added online security you anticipated just isn’t there.
How to get a premium VPN for free
Still having trouble deciding between a quality free VPN and a paid-for one? The greatest service providers in the world allow you to try them risk- and cost-free, so there could be a nice middle ground. You can find one and get started with the aid of our comprehensive guide to the top VPN free trials.
There are a few well-known names named. The number one service on the list is ExpressVPN(opens in new tab), which you can test risk-free for 30 days. The news is even better for services like Hotspot Shield (opens in new tab), where a 45-day money-back guarantee is offered.
It’s important to note that upfront payment is required for these services. But they take pleasure in making the money-back process as simple as possible, enabling you to request a complete refund online without difficulty.