5 Best Free VPNs for Windows in 2024: Safe & Fast

Updated on: May 6, 2024
Fact Checked by Eric Goldstein
Katarina Glamoslija Katarina Glamoslija
Updated on: May 6, 2024

Short on time? Here’s the best free VPN for Windows in 2024:

  • 🥇 ExpressVPN . While it’s not totally free, this is my all-round favorite VPN for Windows in 2024, 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, servers in 105 countries, and it works reliably with top streaming sites.

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.

Even the best free options from trusted brands still have disappointing drawbacks. Free VPN plans from our top picks usually only have 1 device connection, offer access to a limited number of server locations, rarely support torrenting or streaming, block some features behind paywalls, and more.

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 2024.

Try ExpressVPN Today

Quick summary of the best free VPNs for Windows in 2024:

  • 🥇1. ExpressVPN — Best VPN for Windows in 2024 with excellent features and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
  • 🥉2. CyberGhost VPN — Great Windows VPN for streaming and gaming (also comes with a 24-hour free trial).
  • 🥈3. Proton VPN — Good free Windows VPN with unlimited data but access to only 5 countries and 1 device.
  • 4. hide.me — Decent free Windows VPN for P2P with fast speeds but no streaming support.
  • 5. Hotspot Shield — Free and user-friendly VPN for secure and private browsing with unlimited data (but with ads).

🥇1. ExpressVPN — Best Windows VPN in 2024

🥇1. ExpressVPN — Best Windows VPN in 2024

ExpressVPN is by far my favorite Windows VPN in 2024 — it has high-end security features, maintains the fastest speeds out there, and is the best VPN for streaming, torrenting, and gaming — this is why it’s ranked as the #1 VPN in 2024. 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. It uses advanced security features like TrustedServer technology, which means all data is stored on RAM memory (and not on 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, an audited no-logs policy (Hotspot Shield has a no-logs policy, but it logs your IP address on the free plan), and full leak protection against DNS, WebRTC, and IPv6 leaks.

🥇1. ExpressVPN — Best Windows VPN in 2024

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. Proton VPN has pretty fast speeds with its free plan but can’t match these results.

ExpressVPN also makes it easy to stream, download, browse, and game on any of its servers in 105 countries. Once I was connected to a server, I could easily watch Netflix Serbia, Amazon Prime Serbia, and Disney+ Serbia. I also asked my colleague in the US to test ExpressVPN, and he said he had no problem streaming Netflix US and Hulu (and ExpressVPN works with 100+ other streaming apps worldwide). Meanwhile, none of the VPNs on this list that offer a free plan support streaming — my US colleague had some luck streaming Netflix and Hulu with Proton VPN, but it worked less than 50% of the time and hide.me worked with a couple of streaming sites even less than the time.

ExpressVPN 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.

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Bottom Line:

ExpressVPN is the best VPN for Windows in 2024 — 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.

Read the full ExpressVPN review

🥈2. CyberGhost VPN — Great for Streaming and Gaming on Windows

🥈2. CyberGhost VPN — Great for Streaming and Gaming on Windows

CyberGhost VPN doesn’t have a free plan, but it offers a 24-hour free trial for Windows and a generous 45-day money-back guarantee on its long-term plans, which is more than most competitors.

CyberGhost has really good streaming and gaming support. It has 75+ dedicated gaming servers in 4+ locations that are optimized for zero lag, and it has 100+ dedicated streaming servers in 20+ countries that consistently work with 50+ platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Disney+. It’s actually one of my top VPNs for streaming, especially compared to hide.me and Hotspot Shield, which both have zero support for streaming (Proton VPN may work with some streaming sites sometimes). It also has torrenting servers in 70+ countries, so you can easily find a server that’s close to your location for the best possible speeds.

What I love about CyberGhost is how easy it is to use. I like that its Windows app divides servers based on purpose (streaming, gaming, and torrenting, and Favorites), and I’m a fan of its Smart Rules feature that lets you automate your VPN connections. You can customize it to auto-connect you to any server or connect you to a server of your choice once you launch a certain app (like Netflix).

🥈2. CyberGhost VPN — Great for Streaming and Gaming on Windows

CyberGhost delivers fast speeds on both local and distant servers. During tests, websites and videos loaded in less than 2 seconds, all of my streaming sessions were buffer-free, and I didn’t experience any lag while playing Dota 2. Still, ExpressVPN provided me with much better speeds.

In terms of security, CyberGhost is really good. It has RAM-only servers, uses perfect forward secrecy, and has an audited no-logs policy. And it has Content Blocker, which keeps you safe from shady sites and blocks some ads. Proton VPN has a really good ad blocker (NetShield) but doesn’t include it in the free plan.

CyberGhost VPN offers affordable plans starting at $2.19 / month. In addition to the 45-day money-back guarantee on long-term plans, a 14-day money-back guarantee is available for its monthly plan.

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Bottom Line:

CyberGhost VPN isn’t free, but it has a free 24-hour trial. It’s also very user-friendly, and it comes with optimized servers for streaming, gaming, and torrenting. On top of that, CyberGhost provides very fast speeds and comes with great privacy and security features. All of its plans are backed by a generous 45-day money-back guarantee.

Read the full CyberGhost VPN review

🥉3. Proton VPN — Great Free Windows VPN with Unlimited Data

🥉3. Proton VPN — Great Free Windows VPN with Unlimited Data

Proton VPN allows unlimited data and provides the fastest speeds from a free plan — most other VPNs limit your speeds on their free plans. However, Proton’s free plan only gives you access to servers in 5 countries (the US, Netherlands, Japan, Romania, and Poland) and only supports 1 device connection at a time.

The free plan doesn’t support streaming or torrenting, but my colleague in the US said he could watch Netflix US, Amazon Prime, and Hulu while connected to Proton VPN’s free US server about half of the time. That said, he couldn’t watch Disney+ content on the free plan. For streaming, I recommend ExpressVPN or CyberGhost VPN instead.

🥉3. Proton VPN — Great Free Windows VPN with Unlimited Data

Proton VPN has very strong privacy and security. 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).

I didn’t experience any buffering while streaming HD content on YouTube when connected to Proton VPN’s free servers, and I enjoyed fast browsing speeds. However, games were laggier and downloads were slower than with ExpressVPN.

Proton VPN’s paid version starts at $4.49 / month and gives you access to all servers, streaming and P2P support, an ad blocker, and more. All premium plans come with a prorated 30-day money-back guarantee.

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Bottom Line:

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 limited server access. That said, the paid plans come with tons of extra features, including streaming and torrenting support.

Read the full Proton VPN review

4. hide.me — Best Free Windows VPN for Torrenting

4. hide.me — Best 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 (including Germany, Canada, Netherlands, US East, and US West) and includes unlimited data, but only allows you to connect 1 device at a time.

In my speed tests, hide.me provided me with really good download speeds (although still slower than with ExpressVPN and CyberGhost VPN) — hide.me states on its website that it doesn’t restrict the speeds for premium users (this leads me to believe the VPN curtails the speeds for free users). That being said, browsing speeds were pretty good, and I only noticed minor lag when streaming HD content on YouTube using Chrome (I didn’t experience this with Proton VPN).

hide.me’s free plan doesn’t include streaming support (hide.me has 15+ streaming servers), but my colleague in the US told me he could watch Netflix US and Amazon Prime US very sporadically. Still, he found that hide.me failed to work with Disney+ US, Hulu, and Max.

4. hide.me — Best Free Windows VPN for Torrenting

Security-wise, hide.me is solid and offers advanced security features like full leak protection, perfect forward secrecy, and RAM-only servers.

I also like how user-friendly hide.me’s Windows app is. It doesn’t take more than a few seconds to find and connect to a server, and it’s pretty easy to enable and disable all features and settings.

hide.me has a range of premium plans starting at $2.22 / month. All paid plans allow 10 simultaneous device connections and include access to its full network of 2,300+ servers across 54 countries. The paid plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Bottom Line:

hide.me’s free plan has good security features and supports torrenting with unlimited data. However, it allows just 1 connection, only includes 5+ server locations, and may work with a few streaming services. The premium plans unlock access to 54 countries, full streaming support, and 10 connections.

Read the full hide.me review

5. Hotspot Shield — Good Free VPN for Browsing the Web

5. Hotspot Shield — Good Free VPN for Browsing the Web

Hotspot Shield’s free plan is a great pick for secure web browsing, as it allows unlimited data, so you can surf as many websites as you want, watch unlimited videos on sites like YouTube, enjoy social media, and use other sites that are data-heavy like Omegle.

In terms of speeds, Hotspot Shield performs really well for a free VPN — in my tests, it only took 2–3 seconds for websites to load and I didn’t experience any buffering when watching videos in standard definition, which is great. That said, I had much better speeds when I used ExpressVPN.

Hotspot Shield also comes with good security features. It uses perfect forward secrecy, has good leak protection, and doesn’t log your online traffic or downloads, but it lacks RAM-only servers. The free plan allows access to the Hydra protocol (designed to bypass government restrictions), but it doesn’t work all of the time.

5. Hotspot Shield — Good Free VPN for Browsing the Web

Unfortunately, the free version lacks streaming support, and it only allows you to connect 1 device and use servers in the US, the UK, and Singapore. It also doesn’t have P2P support on its free servers, so you won’t be able to torrent files. I also don’t like that it forces you to frequently watch ads to have unlimited data. Proton VPN and hide.me also have unlimited data, but they’re ad-free.

That said, I really enjoyed using Hotspot Shield’s mobile and desktop apps. They’re user-friendly with an interface that’s simple to navigate — downloading them onto my devices took only 2 minutes, and it’s really easy to identify the free servers you have access to.

Hotspot Shield’s premium plans start at $2.99 / month. Upgrading provides you with unrestricted speeds and access to servers in 85 countries. All of its plans come with a generous 45-day money-back guarantee.

Bottom Line:

Hotspot Shield is a decent free VPN for browsing the internet. It provides unlimited data, good security, and fast speeds. However, it limits you to servers in 3 countries, doesn’t offer streaming or torrenting support, has ads, and you can only connect 1 device at a time. Upgrading to a paid plan gets you streaming support and access to more servers. Hotspot Shield backs all purchases with a 45-day money-back guarantee.

Read the full Hotspot Shield review

Quick Comparison Table

Free VPN Number of Server Locations Data Limit Number of Devices Allows Torrenting Works with Streaming Platforms Starting Price for Paid Plans
1.🥇ExpressVPN 105 Unlimited Up to 8 $6.67 / month
2.🥈CyberGhost VPN 100 Unlimited 7 $2.19 / month
3.🥉Proton VPN 5 Unlimited 1
(but only sometimes)
$4.49 / month
4. Hide.me 5 10 GB/month 1
(only sometimes)
$2.22 / month
5. Hotspot Shield 3 Unlimited 1 $2.99 / month

Testing Methodology: Comparison & Ranking Criteria

To find the best free VPNs for Windows, I followed our standard testing methodology. I tested them against real-world scenarios to check ease of use, speeds, security, and overall value, among others. Here are the criteria I focused on:

  • I looked for VPNs with top-notch security on the free plan. I’d suggest a free VPN that uses 256-bit AES encryption, includes a kill switch, and has a no-logs policy — at the very least.Testing Methodology: Comparison & Ranking Criteria
  • I tested for fast speeds. 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 had the fastest speeds in my tests on distant and nearby servers (Proton VPN had the fastest speeds out of the free VPNs).
  • I considered extra features. Some free VPNs have bonus features like split-tunneling, built-in speed tests, or ad and malware blockers. All of the free VPNs I recommend offer at least some of these extra features.Testing Methodology: Comparison & Ranking Criteria
  • I checked that each VPN is easy to 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.
  • I chose VPNs with affordable paid plans. I only recommend VPN providers that offer a good value with their paid plans in case you want to upgrade to a paid version.

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 servers in 105 countries), meaning fewer users are connected to any server at once, which means faster speeds for you.
  • No streaming support. Free VPNs rarely work with streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, BBC iPlayer, and Max. But premium VPNs like ExpressVPN work with all of these sites and more.
  • Servers on blacklists. Many free VPNs tend to reuse IP addresses, making it incredibly simple for numerous websites to identify, block, or blacklist them. As a result, while browsing, you’re likely to encounter numerous security alerts and CAPTCHA prompts, which can be annoying.
  • 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.

Free vs. Paid VPNs for Windows

The free VPNs on this list come with important security features, such as 256-bit AES encryption, a kill switch, and a strict no-logs policy. Some even go the extra mile by offering advanced security features like leak protection, RAM-only servers, perfect forward secrecy, and full-disk encryption.

However, these free VPNs generally offer limited features compared to their premium counterparts. Common limitations include fewer servers to choose from, restrictions on data usage, and a limited number of simultaneous connections (generally just 1). Moreover, these free VPNs often have speed limitations and don’t typically support activities like streaming and P2P file sharing.

For instance, hide.me’s free version allows torrenting and offers decent speeds, but it restricts you to servers in just over 5 countries, a single connection, and a 10 GB monthly data cap. Proton VPN’s free plan gives you unlimited data and strong security features along with good speeds, but it doesn’t support streaming or P2P activities and limits you to servers in only 5 countries and 1 simultaneous connection. Hotspot Shield’s free plan has unlimited data but doesn’t have streaming or torrenting support and also limits you to 1 connection.

On the other hand, opting for a premium VPN service provides access to tons of features and better overall performance. You’ll benefit from unlimited data, access to a broad server network, the ability to connect multiple devices simultaneously, and much faster speeds. Other features like split-tunneling and ad-blocking are also common perks. Furthermore, most paid VPNs come with competitive pricing options and usually include a 30-day money-back guarantee, allowing you to try the service without any financial commitment or risk.

Feature Free VPNs Premium VPNs
Unlimited data
(only a very few free VPNs offer this)
Fast speeds
(it’s rare to get good speeds with a free VPN)
24/7 customer support
Privacy
(many free VPNs collect and sell user data to third parties)
Access to all servers
P2P support
Streaming support
(some may allow streaming, but they usually don’t work with top sites)
Multiple simultaneous
device connections

(most free plans only allow 1 connection at a time)
Ad, tracker, and malware blocker (if available)
(if they do allow access, it’s likely a limited version)
Mulitple protocol options
Double VPN (if available)

Free VPNs for Windows to Avoid

  • Hola VPN. Hola VPN is dangerous because it’s a P2P VPN. This means it assigns your IP address to another user, and you get someone else’s IP. If someone uses it for illegal activities, you could face trouble. It also has a really poor history with privacy and security.
  • Phone Guardian. Phone Guardian is relatively safe, but it isn’t all that useful. While it encrypts your data, it doesn’t change your IP address and lacks a kill switch, which potentially puts your privacy and data at risk.
  • TouchVPN. TouchVPN has an extremely large server network for a free service (5,500+ servers in 80+ countries), but it logs your activity (like what sites you visit) and collects your IP address, which is really shady.
  • FinchVPN. FinchVPN doesn’t share any information on its website about the VPN and doesn’t even have a privacy policy.
  • AceVPN. This VPN has some redeeming qualities (like DNS leak protection) but doesn’t have a kill switch, only has 20 server locations, and doesn’t offer any native apps for devices (you have to manually configure the VPN).
  • Hoxx VPN. Hoxx VPN logs a ton of your data, including your device type, location, and online activities, and may even keep it after you cancel your account, which is concerning.

Top Brands That Didn’t Make the Cut

  • NordVPN. NordVPN is one of the best VPNs out there. It’s very secure, offers excellent speeds, and access to 6,266 servers in 111 countries — but it doesn’t offer a free version.
  • Windscribe. Windscribe’s free plan works with some popular streaming platforms, like Max, Netflix, and BBC iPlayer, comes with unlimited connections, and access to servers in 10+ countries. But it only allows 10 GB per month and is slower than the VPNs on my list.
  • TunnelBear. TunnelBear is a cute and user-friendly VPN. Its free plan allows unlimited device connections, and it lets free users access all of its 47 server locations. That said, its free plan has a pretty restrictive data limit of 2 GB per month.

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, decent speeds, free servers in 5 countries, and excellent security and privacy features.

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.

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.
  • 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?

Yes, both Microsoft 10 and 11 come with a built-in VPN, but I’m not a fan of it — it requires specific versions of Windows and technical know-how to set up properly.

Instead, I recommend checking out the VPNs on my list, all of which have native apps for the latest versions of Windows. They also can be installed quickly and easily, and using them is really simple.

Quick Overview of My Top Recommendations:

Our Rank
Our Score
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1
9.8
save 49%
2
9.4
save 83%
3
8.4
save 55%
4
7.8
save 74%
5
7.8
save 77%
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About the Author
Katarina Glamoslija
Katarina Glamoslija
Head Content Manager
Updated on: May 6, 2024

About the Author

Katarina Glamoslija is Head Content Manager at SafetyDetectives. She has nearly a decade of experience researching, testing, and reviewing cybersecurity products and investigating best practices for online safety and data protection. Before joining SafetyDetectives, she was Content Manager and Chief Editor of several review websites, including one about antiviruses and another about VPNs. She also worked as a freelance writer and editor for tech, medical, and business publications. When she’s not a “Safety Detective”, she can be found traveling (and writing about it on her small travel blog), playing with her cats, and binge-watching crime dramas.