Short on time? Here’s the best free VPN for Windows in 2023:
- 🥇 ExpressVPN. While it’s not totally free, this is my all-round favorite VPN for Windows in 2023, and it comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can try it risk-free for a month. It has world-class security, super-fast connection speeds, unlimited data, 3,000+ servers in 90+ countries, allows 5 connections, and can access top streaming sites like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime.
VPNs are one of the best ways to protect your data on Windows while online. And if you’re budget conscious, you’ll be looking for a free VPN that can give you good security as well as fast speeds.
However, free VPNs are never as good as premium ones. In fact, most free VPNs are unsafe, slow, or simply don’t work. Premium Windows VPNs like ExpressVPN will always give you better security, faster speeds, and a smoother experience overall.
That said, there are some good free VPNs for Windows out there. I tested dozens of VPNs to see if I could find fast, reliable, and secure VPNs that won’t cost you a dime, and narrowed them down to this list of my top 5 free Windows VPNs in 2023.
Quick summary of the best free VPNs for Windows in 2023:
- 🥇1. ExpressVPN — Best VPN for Windows in 2023. Airtight security, lightning-fast speeds, intuitive interface, unlimited data, huge server network, and excellent streaming, torrenting, and gaming support. Although not 100% free, it does have a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can test it out risk free.
- 🥉2. Proton VPN — Best 100% free Windows VPN with unlimited data. Fast speeds and great security and privacy features, but the free plan doesn’t support streaming and torrenting (although some streaming services work, including Netflix).
- 🥈3. Windscribe — Really good for large households. Allows unlimited simultaneous device connections, is secure, and works with many streaming services, but it’s limited to 10 GB/month.
- 4. hide.me — Great Windows VPN for torrenting. Easy-to-use Windows VPN with decent speeds for browsing, gaming, and torrenting, but the free version comes with a 10 GB/month cap and doesn’t provide streaming support (although some streaming sites work).
- 5. TunnelBear — User-friendly VPN good for beginners. Provides good speeds and access to over 45+ servers, but the free plan has a 500 MB/month data cap.
- Comparison Table of the Best Free Windows VPNs.
🥇1. ExpressVPN — Best Windows VPN in 2023
ExpressVPN is by far my favorite Windows VPN in 2023 — it has high-end security features, maintains the fastest speeds out there, and is the best VPN for streaming, torrenting, and gaming. While it’s not technically free, it offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, which is plenty of time to try it out and make sure it’s right for you.
I particularly like that ExpressVPN focuses so much on security and privacy. Along with industry-standard VPN features like 256-bit AES encryption, a no-logs policy, and a kill switch, it also uses advanced security features like TrustedServer technology, which means all data is stored on RAM memory (and not to the hard drive) and any trace of user data is wiped clean each time the servers are restarted. There’s also perfect forward secrecy, which changes your encryption key to prevent hackers from accessing data on other encryption keys.
I consistently enjoyed blazing-fast connection speeds while connected to ExpressVPN. In my speed tests, gaming and torrenting speeds were close to my non-VPN speeds, and I didn’t notice any slowdown while streaming. It’s also very easy to find the fastest servers using ExpressVPN’s built-in speed test, which checks its servers’ connection speeds in real-time and lets you choose the server with the fastest speeds with one easy click.
ExpressVPN also makes it easy to stream, download, browse, and game on any of its 3,000+ servers in over 160 locations across 90+ countries. Once I was connected to a server, I could easily access any streaming app I had an account for, including Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+, and Hulu (and ExpressVPN works with 65+ other streaming apps worldwide). I was also able to download torrents using uTorrent just as easily as without a VPN.
ExpressVPN allows 5 connections and has a range of plans to choose from, starting at $6.67 / month (I’ve also seen ExpressVPN offer promotional deals that include free months on its longer plans, so be sure to look out for those). All plans have a 30-day money-back guarantee.
ExpressVPN is the best VPN for Windows in 2023 — it has airtight security, consistently fast connection speeds, an extensive server network, and excellent streaming, torrenting, and gaming capabilities. Although not 100% free, ExpressVPN has a 30-day money-back guarantee on all of its plans.
🥈2. Proton VPN — Best Free Windows VPN with Unlimited Data
Proton VPN has the best free plan out there — it’s one of the rare free VPNs (and only one on this list) that includes unlimited data. Most other VPNs limit your daily or monthly data allowance on their free plans. However, Proton’s free plan only gives you access to servers in 3 locations (the US, Netherlands, and Japan) and only supports 1 device connection at a time.
While Proton VPN’s free plan doesn’t support torrenting or streaming, I was able to access Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu (but not Disney+ or HBO Max) on multiple US servers. If you want to access all of the popular streaming platforms and access to server in more countries, you’ll need to upgrade to Proton VPN’s premium plans.
Proton VPN is based in Switzerland, a country with very strong privacy laws, and all of its apps are open-source, which means anyone can inspect their source code — and I really like that each app passed an external audit. Plus, you get full disk encryption, which encrypts all of the data on the server (so all of the data is unreadable if the server is compromised).
While connected to Proton VPN on my Windows PC, I didn’t experience any buffering while streaming HD content on YouTube or Netflix, and I enjoyed fast browsing speeds. However, Proton VPN only provides “medium” speeds for its free users, which was noticeable as games were laggier and downloads were slower than with ExpressVPN.
Upgrading to Proton VPN Plus (starting at $3.99 / month) brings you access to all 1,900+ servers in 60+ countries, streaming and P2P support, an ad blocker, and up to 10 device connections. All premium plans come with a prorated 30-day money-back guarantee.
Proton VPN’s free plan comes with unlimited data, good speeds for browsing, and great security and privacy features. However, the free plan doesn’t support streaming (although some apps work) or torrenting, and has slower speeds and limited server access. That said, the paid plans come with tons of extra features, including streaming and torrenting support.
🥉3. Windscribe — Great for Unlimited Connections and Streaming
Windscribe is the only VPN on this list that allows unlimited simultaneous device connections — so it’s a great option if you want to protect all of your Windows devices in your household, as well as iOS, Android, and even macOS devices.
Windscribe’s free plan provides servers in 10 different countries, and it works with Netflix and other popular streaming apps. However, unlike Proton VPN’s free plan with unlimited data, you’re restricted to 10 GB/month on Windscribe’s free plan — enough to stream a few HD movies and you can unlock more data if you tweet about Windscribe and/or refer friends.
I enjoyed good browsing and streaming speeds while using Windscribe’s free app on my Windows PC (although not as good as with ExpressVPN or Proton VPN), but I did experience a bit of lag while playing online games through Steam and it took me almost an hour to download a 6 GB file.
Windscribe’s free plan also comes with a good range of extra features. It has a “firewall” which protects against DNS, IPv6, and WebRTC leaks, and also acts as a kill switch. Other features include split-tunneling, port forwarding, and a browser extension that includes an ad and tracker blocker.
Windscribe’s premium plans start at $5.75 / month and come with unlimited data and access to servers in 60+ countries. I also liked Windscribe’s unique Build A Plan option, which lets you add individual servers of your choosing for a smaller monthly rate. Windscribe’s paid plans only come with a 3-day money-back guarantee — far less than the 30-day industry standard — and the refund is only valid if you’ve used less than 10 GB in this period.
Windscribe is one of the rare VPNs that allows unlimited simultaneous connections for all subscribers (even on its free version). Windscribe has fast browsing and streaming speeds (but I was a disappointed with its gaming and torrenting speeds), works with many of the top streaming apps, and has really good security features. Windscribe’s free plan only allows 10 GB/month and is restricted to 10 server locations. Upgrading to one of Windscribe’s paid plans gets you unlimited data and access to all 60+ countries.
4. hide.me — Good Free Windows VPN for Torrenting
hide.me is a good Windows VPN that supports torrenting and P2P on its free version. Its free plan includes 5 server locations (Germany, Canada, Netherlands, US East, and US West), but comes with a data limit of 10 GB/month and only allows you to connect 1 device at a time.
I was skeptical of how good torrent speeds could be on a free Windows VPN, but I was pleased to see decent download speeds when I downloaded files on uTorrent (although slower than with ExpressVPN). Browsing speeds were also good, and I didn’t notice any lag when streaming HD content on YouTube using Chrome.
hide.me’s premium plans include 9 streaming-optimized servers, which all work perfectly with the most popular streaming sites. However, the streaming servers aren’t available on the free plan. When I tried to access streaming sites on the standard servers during my tests, I was able to access Netflix and Amazon Prime, but hide.me failed to work with Hulu, Disney+, ESPN+, and HBO Max.
Security-wise, hide.me is solid and also offers split-tunneling, full DNS, IPv6, and WebRTC leak protection, and has a feature called Stealth Guard, which allows you to choose certain apps that will only work via a VPN connection, giving you even more control over your security.
hide.me has a range of premium plans starting at $3.84 / month. All paid plans allow 10 simultaneous device connections, and include access to its full network of 2,100+ servers across 50+ countries. The paid plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
hide.me’s free plan has good security features and supports torrenting. However, it caps your data at 10GB per month, allows just 1 connection, only includes 5 server locations, and only works with popular streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime. The premium plans unlock unlimited data, access to all of its server locations across 50+ countries, and support up to 10 device connections.
5. TunnelBear — Simple and Fun-to-Use VPN
TunnelBear is great for beginners with its intuitive interface and fun design — the Windows app has animated bears all over the place. Its free plan includes access to all servers in 45+ countries and all of the features that are in its premium plans. You can use its free plan on unlimited devices, but you only get a very limited 500 MB/month data cap.
TunnelBear’s security is up to par with other premium VPNs. It has built-in WebRTC and IPv6 leak protection, an obfuscation feature called GhostBear, split-tunneling (SplitBear), and supports torrenting and streaming — but with only 500 MB of data per month, it’s not enough to stream for more than 5-10 minutes in HD.
However, TunnelBear’s speeds while browsing were good, and I enjoyed fast speeds when downloading torrents on uTorrent as well — though the 500 MB/month limit really restricted how much I could download on the free plan. You can get an extra 1 GB of data if you tweet about TunnelBear, but it’s still nowhere near as good as Proton VPN’s unlimited data, or even Windscribe and hide.me’s 10 GB/month allowance.
TunnelBear’s prices start at a reasonable $3.33 / month. Its paid plan is exactly the same as the free plan, except that it includes unlimited data.
TunnelBear has a so-so free plan for Windows, but the VPN is great for beginners. It has a simple-to-use interface, and its free plan allows unlimited connections and gives access to the same security features as its premium plan — however, it has a very small data cap at 500 MB/month. Its premium plan removes the data cap.
Comparison of the Best Free VPNs for Windows in 2023
|Free VPN||Number of Server Locations||Data Limit||Max # of Devices||Allows P2P / Torrenting||Works with Streaming Platforms||Starting Price for Paid Plans|
|1.🥇ExpressVPN||160+||Unlimited||5||✅||✅||$6.67 / month|
|2.🥈Proton VPN||3||Unlimited||1||❌||✅ (but only sometimes)||$3.99 / month|
|3.🥉Windscribe||10+||10 GB/month||Unlimited||✅||✅||$5.75 / month|
|4. Hide.me||5||10 GB/month||1||✅||✅ (but only sometimes)||$3.84 / month|
|5. TunnelBear||45+||500 MB/month||Unlimited||✅||✅||$3.33 / month|
How to Choose the Best Free VPN for Windows in 2023
- Security. Protecting your data while connected to the internet is vital, especially on a Windows device. I only recommend installing a free VPN that has military-grade 256-bit AES encryption, a kill switch, and a no-logs policy.
- Speed. All VPNs slow down your connection speeds due to the encryption process, but good VPNs minimize the speed loss. Free VPNs are also usually slower than premium VPNs due to having fewer servers, which causes overcrowding, or due to the VPN throttling your speeds. That said, all of the free VPNs on this list maintain fast speeds, but ExpressVPN has the fastest speeds.
- Extra features. Some free VPNs also throw in extra features like split-tunneling, ad and malware blockers, and built-in speed tests. The free VPNs on this list all come with at least some of these features.
- No ads. Many free VPNs force you to watch ads in order to use their service. All the VPNs on this list are 100% ad-free.
- Ease of use. Some free Windows apps are a pain to install or have poor user-interface design. The best VPNs, including all of those on this list, will get you up and running quickly and make it easy to connect to a server.
Risks & Disadvantages of Using a Free VPN on Your Windows PC
- Poor security. Free VPNs are often unsafe as they lack important security features such as 256-bit encryption and a kill switch. And if they don’t have a clear no-logs policy, they might even track your data and sell it to third parties.
- Slow speeds. VPNs will always slow down your connection somewhat, but free servers are more crowded and are likely to slow you down even more. Some free VPNs also purposefully throttle your connection speed. Premium Windows VPNs have much larger server networks (for example, ExpressVPN has 3,000+ servers in 90+ countries), meaning fewer users are connected to any server at once, which means faster speeds for you.
- No streaming services. Popular streaming services can almost always detect if you’re using a free VPN, and will block access. But premium VPNs like ExpressVPN are able to access streaming sites 24/7 from anywhere in the world.
- Blacklisted servers. Because free VPNs have fewer servers and often recycle IP addresses, many websites identify them as VPNs and block or blacklist the IPs. The chances of blocked websites, security prompts, and captcha requests is therefore much higher with free VPNs, making for a poor browsing experience.
- Selling your data. Because free VPNs have to make money somehow, they may track your activity (like shopping and browsing habits) and sell your data to third parties. Premium VPNs like ExpressVPN are very strict in their policies to never track or sell user data.
Avoid these risks by choosing a premium VPN for your Windows device, like ExpressVPN, which gives you the best security features in the industry, the fastest speeds in the industry, and access to 65+ streaming sites.
Top Brands That Didn’t Make the Cut
- Private Internet Access (PIA). I like PIA because it’s very secure, very fast, very good for streaming and torrenting, and has very cheap prices. However, it doesn’t have a free version.
- CyberGhost VPN. CyberGhost is one of the best VPNs for Windows — especially for gaming and streaming. It has strong security, can access streaming sites, and fast speeds. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have a free version. It does, however, offer a 45-day money-back guarantee, so you can try it out risk-free.
- Hotspot Shield. Hotspot Shield has a decent free version for Windows, and I found its speeds to be good enough for basic browsing. However, it didn’t make this list because its free version is extremely limited — it has a 500 MB/day data cap, a 2 Mbps speed limit, only allows access to 1 server (US), and only allows 1 device connection at a time.
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the best free VPN for Windows?
The best VPN for Windows is ExpressVPN — but it’s not 100% free. All free VPNs come with limitations and drawbacks, such as daily or monthly data limits, slower speeds, limited server networks, and more, so premium Windows VPNs are the only way to get the very best VPN features and user experience.
The best 100% free VPN for Windows is Proton VPN. It comes with unlimited data, great security and privacy features, and good speeds. But it provides access to just 3 server locations, only supports 1 device connection at a time, and doesn’t support torrenting or streaming (though some streaming services may work).
That being said, all of the VPNs on this list have decent free plans.
Is there a Windows VPN that is completely free?
There are many VPNs for Windows that are completely free, like the ones on this list. However, all free VPNs come at a cost of some kind, whether that’s limited data, fewer servers, no streaming or torrenting support, throttled speeds, weaker security, or ads.
For example, Proton VPN’s free plan has unlimited data, but only allows 1 device, only includes 3 server locations, and doesn’t support torrenting and streaming, and Windscribe allows unlimited simultaneous devices and includes 10 server locations but has a 10 GB/month data cap.
The best way to enjoy all of the benefits a VPN offers is to subscribe to a premium VPN like ExpressVPN. You get the high-end security, unlimited data, the fastest speeds, and top-notch streaming, torrenting, and gaming support.
How do I set up a free VPN on Windows 10?
Installing and setting up a free VPN in Windows 10 is easy, just follow these 3 quick steps:
- Step 1. Download a VPN. Pick a premium VPN like ExpressVPN, which is easy to install on Windows without any extra setup or configuration on your part.
- Step 2. Connect to a server. The servers closest to your real location generally provide better speeds, but using a feature like ExpressVPN’s speed test will give you a real-time update of each server’s speeds, so you can choose the fastest.
- Step 3. Browse, stream, and game. Now you can safely enjoy your normal activities online.
Does Windows have a built-in VPN?
You can manually configure a VPN in your Windows settings, but I don’t recommend it. Not only does it require advanced technical knowledge, but unless you operate your own private VPN servers with strong security, you’ll also get a slow and unsafe connection.
But there are many quality VPNs for Windows that are easy to set up and use, and are a very good value. Using a proven, premium VPN like ExpressVPN will automatically configure Windows’ network settings for you, giving you the fastest connections and best security while connected to its servers.
Does Microsoft offer a VPN?
Microsoft has a VPN called Windows 10 Always On VPN, but I don’t recommend it — it requires specific versions of Windows 10 and technical know-how to set up properly.
All of the free VPNs on this list, and all of our recommendations for the best premium VPNs in 2023, are designed by certified developers and have native apps for the latest versions of Windows. They also can be installed quickly and easily, and using them is simple.