Updated on: October 30, 2023
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, servers in 100+ 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.
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. CyberGhost VPN — Great Windows VPN for streaming and gaming. Dedicated servers that are optimized to work with popular streaming platforms, very fast speeds, and customizable apps. It offers a 24-hour free trial on Windows and a 45-money-back guarantee.
- 🥈3. Proton VPN — Great 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).
- 4. Hotspot Shield — Free user-friendly VPN for browsing the web. Provides good speeds for browsing, comes with an easy-to-use Windows app, and allows unlimited data.
- 5. hide.me — Best free 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).
- Comparison 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 — this is why it’s ranked as the #1 VPN in 2023. 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, and full leak protection against DNS, WebRTC, and IPv6 leaks.
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.
ExpressVPN also makes it easy to stream, download, browse, and game on any of its servers in 100+ 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). I was also able to download torrents just as easily as without a VPN.
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.
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. 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 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).
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.
CyberGhost VPN offers affordable plans starting at $2.03 / 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.
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.
🥉3. Proton VPN — Great Free Windows VPN with Unlimited Data
Proton VPN is one of the rare free VPNs 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 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. That said, he couldn’t watch Disney+ content on the free plan. For streaming, I recommend ExpressVPN or CyberGhost VPN instead.
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 $3.99 / 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.
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.
4. 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.
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.
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 80+ countries. All of its plans come with a generous 45-day money-back guarantee.
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, 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.
5. 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) but comes with a data limit of 10 GB/month and 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). Browsing speeds were also good, and I didn’t notice any lag when streaming HD content on YouTube using Chrome.
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, though not always. Still, he found that hide.me failed to work with Disney+ US, Hulu, and Max.
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 2,100+ 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 10 GB per month, allows just 1 connection, only includes 5+ server locations, and only works inconsistently with popular streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime. The premium plans unlock unlimited data, access to 50+ countries, and 10 connections.
Comparison of the Best Free VPNs for Windows in 2023
|Free VPN||Number of Server Locations||Data Limit||Number of Devices||Allows Torrenting||Works with Streaming Platforms||Starting Price for Paid Plans|
|1.🥇ExpressVPN||100+||Unlimited||Up to 8||✅||✅||$6.67 / month|
|2.🥈CyberGhost VPN||100+||Unlimited||7||✅||✅||$2.03 / month|
(but only sometimes)
|$3.99 / month|
|4. Hotspot Shield||3||Unlimited||1||❌||❌||$2.99 / month|
|5. Hide.me||5||10 GB/month||1||✅||✅
(but only sometimes)
|$2.22 / month|
How to Choose the Best Free VPN for Windows in 2023
- Choose an app with top-notch security. 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.
- Test 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 has the fastest speeds.
- Look for 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.
- Check for ads. Many free VPNs force you to watch ads in order to use their service. Most VPNs on this list are 100% ad-free.
- Find a VPN that’s 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.
- Choose a VPN 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 100+ 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|
(only a very few free VPNs offer this)
(it’s rare to get good speeds with a free VPN)
|24/7 customer support||❌||✅|
(many free VPNs collect and sell user data to third parties)
|Access to all servers||❌||✅|
(some may allow streaming, but they usually don’t work with top sites)
(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)||❌||✅|
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 5,000+ servers in 55+ 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 45+ 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.