Updated on: September 21, 2023
Short on time? Here’s 2023’s best free VPN:
- 🥇 ExpressVPN: It doesn’t have a free plan, but you’re not going to find a better VPN on the market in 2023. Plus, it has a 30-day money-back guarantee, which means you can test it out for a whole month risk-free. ExpressVPN comes with industry-leading security features, super-fast speeds, cool extras like split-tunneling and malware protection, and excellent streaming and torrenting support.
I’m not a big fan of free VPNs and I usually don’t recommend them, as they typically lack essential security features, keep user logs, limit data usage, have slow speeds, and let you connect only 1 device. What’s more, a lot of free VPNs don’t support streaming or torrenting.
Paid VPNs provide much better perks, such as fast speeds, unlimited data, 5 or more simultaneous connections, and streaming and torrenting support. I recommend that you upgrade to a low-cost premium VPN service (ExpressVPN is my top choice in 2023).
But if you are only in the market for a free VPN, there are a handful of decent ones to choose from. All of the free VPNs on this list are secure, provide a few “extra” features, and are easy to use.
Quick summary of the best free VPNs in 2023:
- 1. 🥇 ExpressVPN — Best overall VPN in 2023. Top-notch security features, extremely fast speeds, excellent streaming and torrenting support, and very intuitive apps for tons of operating systems. While it’s not free, it’s backed by a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee.
- 2. 🥈 CyberGhost VPN — Best free VPN for streaming. Has 100+ streaming servers that can access 50+ streaming platforms, including Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and Max. While it lacks a free plan, it comes with a free 24-hour trial and has a very generous 45-day money-back guarantee.
- 3. 🥉 Proton VPN — Great free VPN with unlimited data. Has high-end security and privacy tools, allows access to servers in 3 locations, and maintains decent speeds. However, only the premium plans support streaming and torrenting.
- 4. Hotspot Shield — Good free VPN for general web browsing. Its free plan allows unlimited data, comes with servers in 3 countries, and provides really fast speeds.
- 5. hide.me — Decent free plan for torrenting. Supports P2P traffic on servers in 5+ countries, allows 10 GB per month, has pretty fast speeds, and comes with strong security and privacy features.
- Plus 3 more!
- Comparison of the Best Free VPNs in 2023.
🥇1. ExpressVPN — Best Overall VPN in 2023
ExpressVPN is not 100% free, but it’s the best VPN on the market and covers each purchase with a 30-day money-back guarantee — so you can test it out and still receive a full refund if you’re not happy with it. However, it shouldn’t take you that long to realize why ExpressVPN sits at the top of the industry. It has the best security features, it’s the best VPN for streaming, torrenting, and gaming, it has the fastest speeds, and it has easy-to-use apps for just about every online device.
ExpressVPN provides excellent security features. In addition to a no-logs policy that’s been independently audited and confirmed, it also comes with:
- TrustedServer Technology. This means no data is ever saved to the hard drive, and all of the data is erased each time the server is turned off/on. Plus, it has been verified by an external audit.
- Perfect forward secrecy. Changes your encryption key each time you connect to a server.
- Full leak protection. ExpressVPN includes protection against DNS, WebRTC, and IPv6 leaks.
- ExpressVPN Keys. This is a password manager that secures all of your logins and helps you generate strong passwords.
- Threat Manager. This feature blocks third-party tracking software that monitors your online traffic and stops you from visiting malicious websites.
In my speed tests, ExpressVPN had impressive results. Regardless of whether I was connected to a local or distant server, websites always loaded right away, videos started immediately, I was able to download a 20 GB file in only about 13 minutes, and there was zero lag while gaming.
Plus, the VPN also has split-tunneling, which lets you pick which apps use the VPN and which apps use your local network — for example, you can route only streaming traffic through ExpressVPN to get faster streaming speeds.
If you enjoy streaming movies and TV shows, you’ll love ExpressVPN. It works with every single popular streaming app, including Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+, and Hulu, as well as 100+ other streaming services. I also like how the provider comes with a smart DNS (called MediaStreamer), which lets you access streaming sites on devices that don’t natively support VPNs, like gaming consoles or certain smart TVs.
You also get excellent P2P support, as the provider allows torrenting across all of its servers, which are located in 90+ countries. Also, it works with top P2P apps like qBittorrent and uTorrent.
I’m a huge fan of using ExpressVPN for gaming. All servers include DDoS protections, preventing other gamers from knocking you offline. Also, it comes with a native router app, which allows you to connect your gaming consoles to the VPN. Plus, if you’re into cloud gaming, ExpressVPN works with many services.
ExpressVPN offers obfuscation on all of its servers too, which allows you to get around government restrictions in censorship-heavy countries that restrict VPNs, like China. Plus, it’s great that ExpressVPN protects you on the dark web — it supports Tor traffic across all of its servers and locations.
ExpressVPN offers monthly and yearly plans, and with our special 49% discount, you can get it for as low as $6.67 / month (and there’s usually a deal for additional months for free). And remember, ExpressVPN backs all plans with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
ExpressVPN offers the best value out of all of the VPNs on the market in 2023. You’re not going to find a more secure or faster VPN out there. Also, it works with tons of streaming sites, allows torrenting, gets around government restrictions, supports Tor traffic, and has user-friendly features and apps. Although there’s no free plan, it has a 30-day money-back guarantee for all purchases.
🥈2. CyberGhost VPN — Really Good VPN for Streaming (With Free Trial & 45-Day Refund)
CyberGhost VPN is not completely free, but it comes with a free 24-hour trial — you don’t need to share credit card details to be eligible for the trial, and you get access to all of the provider’s features. This provider actually has one of the best free trials on the market.
On top of that, CyberGhost VPN also has a 45-day money-back guarantee for all long-term plans — this provides plenty of time to fully test the VPN to make sure it meets your needs. The shortest plan is backed by a 14-day money-back guarantee, which still provides enough time to try out the VPN.
I think this VPN is great for streaming because it has 100+ streaming servers in 20+ countries that work with 50+ streaming platforms, including top services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Max — and the provider can also access tons of libraries, as it works with 15+ Netflix libraries, 5+ Amazon Prime libraries, and 5+ Max libraries.
CyberGhost VPN also has one of the largest server networks out there (9,400+ servers in 90+ countries) and provides great P2P support, as it allows torrenting on servers in 70+ countries — though, I like ExpressVPN’s P2P support more because it allows P2P traffic on servers in 90+ countries. You also get access to dedicated gaming servers in 4 countries (the US, Germany, France, and the UK) that are designed to deliver the lowest ping and include DDoS protection. However, CyberGhost doesn’t support cloud gaming.
And you also get very strong security and privacy features — the VPN comes with advanced features like full leak protection, RAM-only servers, and perfect forward secrecy, and it also has an audited no-logs policy. What’s more, it has Content Blocker, which is able to block some ads and can protect you from malicious sites.
I also like Smart Rules, which lets you set up VPN connection preferences — for example, you can configure CyberGhost VPN to automatically connect to a streaming server and open a streaming app when you launch it. There’s an option to auto-connect to a VPN server on launch or when the VPN detects a Wi-Fi network, which is pretty useful if you often use public networks. You can even set up CyberGhost to connect to a specific server after a certain period of time once you open the VPN app.
The provider also has really good speeds — in my tests, websites, HD videos, and 4K videos loaded instantly, and there was only minor buffering at the start. Even so, this VPN still isn’t as fast as ExpressVPN.
CyberGhost VPN has affordable plans that start at only $2.19 / month — plus, the longest plan usually provides extra months for free. And don’t forget, there’s a generous 45-day money-back guarantee for all of the provider’s long-term plans.
CyberGhost VPN is really great for streaming since it has servers that work with 50+ streaming platforms, including top sites like Netflix and Max. It also provides a huge server network, very good P2P support, really strong security and privacy features, and very fast speeds. It lacks a free plan, but it has a free 24-hour trial and a generous 45-day money-back guarantee for all long-term plans.
🥉3. Proton VPN — Great Free Plan With Unlimited Data
Proton VPN’s free plan comes with unlimited data, which means it doesn’t place a cap on how much internet data you can use per day or month. This is pretty impressive because most VPNs limit bandwidth usage for their free users.
The provider’s free plan also includes access to servers in 3 countries — the US, the Netherlands, and Japan, which is decent as you can connect to a nearby server in America, Europe, and Asia.
I really like that Proton VPN’s free plan comes with enhanced security and privacy features, such as perfect forward secrecy, full leak protection, and full-disk encryption, which keeps all of the data on a server unreadable. Also, Proton VPN’s apps are all open-source, which means anyone can inspect the source code for any holes in security and privacy. And its no-logs policy has passed an independent security audit.
Plus, you get free dedicated servers for Deutsche Welle (DW) sites, videos, and live streams on all Proton VPN apps, so you can keep up to date with the latest international news in censorship-heavy countries that ban DW. On the free plan, Proton VPN allows you to connect to 1 DW server in each of the countries that are free to access (the US, the Netherlands, and Japan). If you want to quickly connect to these servers, just type “news” in the search bar, and they will appear in the server list.
You also get access to split-tunneling and VPN Accelerator, which lets you increase VPN speeds on distant servers — in my tests, it usually boosted my connection speeds by about 30–40%, which is great.
Finally, you can download Proton Pass alongside Proton VPN — a free, secure, and open-source password manager that works pretty well. In addition to storing and generating passwords, it also offers unique email aliases to shield your real email address from tracking, breaches, and spam — which is pretty cool.
And Proton VPN’s free plan comes with good speeds — websites generally loaded in 2–3 seconds, HD videos in 3 seconds, and 4K videos in 4–5 seconds, and there was only minor buffering at the start of the videos.
But the provider’s free plan has some drawbacks — it doesn’t work with streaming sites, it doesn’t support torrenting, and it limits you to 1 device.
Upgrading to the paid version (called Plus) adds more perks, such as 2,900+ servers in 65+ countries, support for 30+ streaming services, 300+ P2P servers in 15+ countries, and 10 connections. That said, ExpressVPN and CyberGhost VPN provide much better value overall, as they have larger server networks, work with more streaming services, and have better P2P support.
Proton VPN’s paid plans start at $4.99 / month, and the provider has a prorated 30-day money-back guarantee.
Proton VPN has one of the only free plans that allows unlimited data. It also provides access to servers in 3 countries (the US, the Netherlands, and Japan), strong security and privacy features, and decent speeds. The paid version adds more servers, and streaming and P2P support. Its paid plans are affordable and backed by a prorated 30-day money-back guarantee.
4. Hotspot Shield — Good for Web Browsing (With Fast Speeds)
Hotspot Shield’s free plan is good for surfing the web as it has unlimited data. So there’s no limit to how many sites you can browse or how many videos you can watch.
The free plan limits your speeds to 2 Mbps, but that didn’t cause big slowdowns on my end — its proprietary Hydra protocol delivers excellent speeds while still being very secure. In my tests, websites took 2–3 seconds to load, and I was able to watch videos on YouTube in standard definition without any buffering.
But the free plan only lets you use servers in 3 countries: the US, the UK, and Singapore. While the number is low, users in North America, Europe, and Asia will still be able to use a server that’s close to them to get smooth speeds. I particularly like that there are 2 options in the US (New York and Los Angeles) for both East and West Coast users.
The free plan has some security features, like perfect forward secrecy, DNS leak protection, and a kill switch, but it’s not as secure as Proton VPN’s free plan — it collects your IP address to serve you ads. These ads can get frustrating as you have to watch a 30-second ad for every 15 minutes of VPN-use. Plus, there’s a pop-up ad when you open the app and terminate the connection.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t too impressed with its customer support. The free plan doesn’t give you access to any real-life humans, only an online database of troubleshooting guides. Many other free VPNs provide access to live chat and email support to help you if you run into any problems, so the lack of access is disappointing.
Hotspot Shield’s free version also lacks streaming and torrenting support, and it only lets you connect 1 device. However, it has other extras like split-tunneling, “Auto-connect” and “Start on launch” options.
Hotspot Shield has monthly and yearly subscriptions that start at $2.99 / month — they remove the IP logging, add access to 1,800+ servers in 80+ countries, add streaming support, allow 10 connections, and are also backed by a 45-day money-back guarantee.
Hotspot Shield’s free plan is great for fast web browsing, as it allows unlimited data and has pretty good speeds. But it limits you to servers in 3 countries and 1 device, and it logs your IP address. The paid version removes IP logging, adds 10 connections and more servers, provides much better security, is affordable, and comes with a 45-day money-back guarantee.
5. hide.me — Decent Free VPN for Torrenting
hide.me has one of the only free plans on the market that allows P2P traffic — you’re limited to 10 GB per month, but that should be enough if you only occasionally download small torrent files. It also works with top P2P apps like uTorrent and qBittorrent.
The VPN’s free plan also provides access to servers in 5+ countries, including the US, the UK, Singapore, and Germany.
And speaking of speeds, hide.me’s free plan is pretty fast — websites usually loaded instantly, HD videos loaded in 2–3 seconds, and it only took me 6–7 minutes to torrent a 2.2 GB file.
Also, the VPN’s free plan provides strong security and privacy. It has advanced features like RAM-only servers, perfect forward secrecy, full leak protection, and a strict no-logs policy.
Hide.me’s apps are beginner-friendly. The interface is clear and easy to navigate. Also, all settings feature quick explanations, so you don’t have to Google what they do or mean, which is great if you’ve never used a VPN before. In addition, the free plan gives you access to split-tunneling.
hide.me’s paid version allows 10 connections and adds great streaming support, as it works with popular platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime — however it can’t access Hulu.
You also get access to Multihop, which sends your traffic through 2 VPN servers, adding an extra layer of security. hide.me Bolt is another experimental feature that’s included, which can significantly increase VPN speeds. Finally, there’s port forwarding, which lets you connect to more peers to increase your P2P speeds.
The paid plan also adds access to the provider’s entire server network, which numbers 2,100+ servers in 50+ countries.
hide.me has affordable plans that start at $3.84 / month. There’s a 30-day money-back guarantee for all plans.
hide.me has a decent free plan for torrenting — it has servers in 5+ countries that support P2P traffic and allows 10 GB per month, which is enough for torrenting small files. It also comes with strong security and privacy features, and fast speeds. The paid version adds more security features and servers, and streaming support. The paid plans are affordable and backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee.
6. Windscribe — Decent Free VPN for Streaming
Windscribe has one of the only free plans that has streaming support — it works with top sites like Netflix, Max, BBC iPlayer, and Amazon Prime. In addition, this is also one of the few free VPNs that allows unlimited connections, so you can use it on as many devices as you want, making it a good pick if everyone in your family needs a free VPN.
Windscribe also has pretty good speeds. During testing, websites usually took 4 seconds to load, and HD videos loaded in 4–5 seconds — this is decent, but not as fast as hide.me, Proton VPN, and Hotspot Shield’s free plans.
Windscribe places a limit of 10 GB of data per month, which is pretty generous, and you can get an additional 5 GBs through tweeting at the VPN. That being said, I still prefer Proton VPN’s free plan as it comes with unlimited data.
Windscribe allows you to access servers in 10+ countries, and it also provides access to split-tunneling — I was impressed to see that you can split-tunnel both apps and IP addresses. In addition, it comes with advanced security features like perfect forward secrecy, RAM-only servers, and full leak protection.
You get limited access to ad and malware blocking too, via the R.O.B.E.R.T feature. This feature also blocks certain website content, like gambling, clickbait, and crypto, as well as social media sites, such as Facebook.
Windscribe’s paid version starts at $5.75 / month, and it adds servers in 65+ countries. Unfortunately, there’s only a 3-day money-back guarantee.
Windscribe’s free plan allows you to access popular streaming sites, including Max, Netflix, and BBC iPlayer. It also supports unlimited connections, allows 10 GB per month, comes with servers in 10+ countries, has decent speeds, and provides strong security features. The paid version adds servers in more countries, is affordable, and is backed by a 3-day money-back guarantee.
7. TunnelBear — Really Good Free VPN for New Users
TunnelBear has a very intuitive dashboard across all apps — all of its features are well-designed and easy to access, and there are cute bear cartoons all over the apps that help you understand and use all of the functions.
I really like that all of its apps come with an interactive map, which allows you to click on a country pin to connect to a server that’s located there. This is very convenient since you won’t have to scroll through the entire server list to find a certain server location.
TunnelBear’s free plan includes access to all of its 5,000+ servers in 45+ countries, which makes it very simple to find the server that’s closest to your real location to get the best speeds. In my tests, TunnelBear had pretty good speeds, but they weren’t as fast as hide.me, Proton VPN, and Hotspot Shield’s free plan speeds. Sites and HD videos took 3–4 seconds to load, but the speeds were still good for general browsing.
It’s also great that TunnelBear gives free subscribers full access to its premium features, including GhostBear, which overcomes VPN blocks in countries that restrict internet access, and SplitBear, TunnelBear’s split-tunneling tool that lets you exclude both apps and websites from the VPN tunnel. Plus, TunnelBear lets all free subscribers install TunnelBear on unlimited devices.
Unfortunately, TunnelBear Free has a monthly data limit of only 2 GB. Although it should be enough for basic web browsing, hide.me and Windscribe’s free plans provide better data caps, and Proton VPN and Hotspot Shield have unlimited data.
To get unlimited data, you’ll need to upgrade to one of TunnelBear’s premium plans, which start at $3.33 / month.
TunnelBear’s free plan comes with beginner-friendly apps, and it also maintains good speeds, allows unlimited connections, and provides free users with access to all of its features. However, TunnelBear’s free plan only gives you 2 GB per month, which is barely enough to watch a couple of short videos. Upgrading to TunnelBear’s premium plans gives you unlimited data.
Bonus. Private Internet Access — Affordable VPN With Fast Speeds
Private Internet Access is one of the cheapest VPNs on the market, starting at just $2.19 / month. Although it doesn’t have a free plan, PIA offers a 30-day money-back guarantee on all of its plans, so you can try it risk-free.
What I like about PIA is that it’s very fast, though not as fast as ExpressVPN. In my tests, all sites and videos loaded instantly, and it only took about 1–2 seconds for 4K videos to load, which is pretty fast.
PIA is one of my favorite VPNs because it’s highly secure. It has advanced security features like RAM-only servers, perfect forward secrecy, and full leak protection.
However, its top feature is its ad blocker, called PIA MACE, which blocks ads, trackers, and malicious sites. When I tested it, it blocked all ads on ad-heavy sites, and it stopped me from visiting shady websites every time.
You get great streaming and torrenting support, too. It works with all top streaming sites like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime, and it allows torrenting on all of its servers. I downloaded a couple of P2P files with PIA on different torrent clients, like BitTorrent and Vuze, and I didn’t experience any issues.
It has a great split-tunneling feature too, which allows you to split-tunnel apps and IP addresses. It’s also pretty customizable — for example, you can choose between 128-bit (faster and less secure) and 256-bit AES encryption, which is slower but very secure. And you also get unlimited connections, so everyone in your family can use it.
Private Internet Access is one of the most affordable VPNs you can find that comes with top-notch security features, including a very good ad, tracker, and malware blocker, and great streaming and P2P support. It doesn’t have a free plan, but all of its plans are backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Comparison of the Best Free VPNs in 2023
|VPN||Starting Price||Data Limit||Speed Limit||Number of Countries||Simultaneous Connections||Streaming Support|
||$6.67 / month||Unlimited||Unlimited||90+||8||✅|
|2.🥈CyberGhost VPN||$2.19 / month||Unlimited||Unlimited||90+||7||✅|
|3.🥉Proton VPN||$4.99 / month||Unlimited||Unlimited||3||1||❌|
|4. Hotspot Shield||$2.99 / month||Unlimited||2 Mbps||3||1||❌|
|5. hide.me||$3.84 / month||10 GB/mo||Unlimited||5+||1||❌|
|6. Windscribe||$5.75 / month||10 GB/mo||Unlimited||10+||Unlimited||✅
|7. Tunnelbear||$3.33 / month||2 GB/mo||Unlimited||45+||Unlimited||❌|
|Bonus. Private Internet Access||$2.19 / month||Unlimited||Unlimited||80+||Unlimited||✅|
How to Choose the Best Free VPNs in 2023
- Pick a VPN with a good free plan. Most free VPN plans are very limited — to get a good experience, you should look for free VPN plans that have good data allowances (Proton VPN has unlimited data), don’t spam you with ads, provide access to a decent number of server locations, or come with P2P or streaming support.
- Look for a VPN with strong security. All of the VPNs on this list come with standard security features like 256-bit AES encryption (one of the strongest encryptions in the world that is also used by banks), a kill switch that disconnects you from the internet if your VPN connection is dropped, a no-logs policy to prevent the VPN from collecting your data, or protection against IPv6, DNS, or WebRTC leaks.
- Choose a VPN with good speeds. All VPNs decrease your internet speeds due to the encryption process. Free VPNs usually have even slower speeds than premium VPNs because they only give you access to a small number of servers, which creates overcrowding and as a result slows down your connection. But all of my VPN choices offer decent speeds (ExpressVPN is the fastest).
- Pick a provider with user-friendly apps. Many free VPNs often come with buggy apps that are difficult to use. But all the VPNs on this list have intuitive apps for all major operating systems that are simple to install and use.
- Choose a provider with affordable pricing and good value. The VPN’s paid plans should be budget-friendly and provide access to great extra features, such as large server networks, great streaming and P2P support, and multiple connections. It’s also good if there’s a money-back guarantee for all purchases.
Risks & Disadvantages of Using a Free VPN
- Poor security — Most free VPNs are missing essential security features, which basically defeats the purpose of using one. For example, without strong encryption, a third party can track your browsing habits, and without a kill switch, your data could leak onto the internet if your VPN connection fails. The best way to ensure you’re fully protected is to use a reputable VPN like the ones on this list.
- Slow speeds — A lot of free VPNs only allow you to access a small number of servers. This creates overcrowding on the servers, which leads to slower speeds. However, all of the VPNs on this list maintain good speeds.
- Blacklisted servers — The servers that are available on free VPN plans usually don’t refresh their IP addresses often. This means that many of these IP addresses will get blocked or blacklisted, preventing you from accessing certain websites.
- Can’t access streaming sites — The majority of free VPNs don’t have streaming support. And the free VPNs that actually work with streaming sites usually have monthly or daily data limits, so you can only watch a few movies or TV shows each day or month. If you’re looking to stream a lot of content, I strongly recommend purchasing a premium VPN.
- Selling your data — There are some free VPNs that log the websites you visit and then sell this information to other websites. These websites then target you with annoying ads. To protect your privacy, make sure you use a quality VPN that has a strict no-logs policy (ExpressVPN and CyberGhost VPN have both had their no-logs policy independently audited and confirmed).
- Data caps — A lot of free VPNs usually limit how much data you can use each day or month. So, you can really only use a free VPN for a few hours of web browsing, SD or HD streaming, or downloading small files. Proton VPN and Hotspot Shield are some of the only ones that allow unlimited data.
- Ads — Some free VPNs may display ads or sponsored content within their apps or while you browse the internet, which can be intrusive and annoying. On top of that, the ads may consume bandwidth, which can slow down your connection.
- Potential malware — There are free VPNs that contain malware, adware, or other security risks that can compromise your device and personal information. But all VPNs on my list are safe options.
- Compatibility issues — Some free VPNs lack apps for certain platforms (like mobile devices). What’s more, many free VPNs have apps that are difficult to use. Luckily, every free VPN I recommend has user-friendly apps for all major platforms, including iOS, Android, Windows, and macOS.
- Poor customer support — Free VPN providers can’t afford to provide the same level of customer support as paid VPN providers. This means you might deal with slow response times, limited availability, and a lack of support resources if you encounter issues with your VPN app.
Free vs. Paid VPNs
The free VPNs featured on this list include strong security features to safeguard your data and privacy. They offer industry-standard protections, including 256-bit AES encryption, a kill switch, and a strict no-logs policy. Additionally, some of these VPNs provide advanced tools like full leak protection, RAM-only servers, perfect forward secrecy, and full-disk encryption for enhanced security.
Most free VPNs lack the features offered by premium VPNs, which means they tend to offer limited server networks, data usage restrictions, and fewer connections. Plus they can throttle your speeds and fail to offer streaming and P2P support.
Here are a few examples — hide.me’s free plan allows torrenting and has good speeds, but it limits you to servers in 5+ countries, 1 connection, and 10 GB per month, while Proton VPN’s free plan allows unlimited data and has strong security and good speeds, but it lacks streaming and P2P support, and it limits you to servers in 3 countries and 1 connection.
In contrast, upgrading to a top paid VPN will provide you with a much better experience — unlimited data, a large server network, multiple connections, very fast speeds, extra features like split-tunneling and an ad blocker, and full support for streaming and torrenting. Plus, most VPNs offer competitive pricing and back each purchase with a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can test out the product risk-free.
Overall, there are good free VPNs, but they’re still pretty limited — paid VPNs offer a much better value.
|Features||Free VPNs||Paid VPNs|
(A lot of free VPNs collect and share user data with third parties)
(Very few free VPNs offer good speeds)
|Access to all servers||❌||✅|
|24/7 customer support||❌||✅|
(Only some free VPNs allow streaming, but they don’t work with many top sites)
|Multiple simultaneous connections||❌
(Most free VPNs limit you to 1 device)
|Multiple protocol options||❌
(Some free VPNs only give you access to all protocols on their paid plans)
|Double VPN (if available)||❌||✅|
|Ad, tracker, and malware blocker (if available)||❌
(Very few free VPNs provide access to an ad blocker, but it’s usually the limited version)
How Do Free VPNs Make Money?
- Advertisements. One of the most common methods free VPNs use to make money is by displaying ads to their users, so it’s not uncommon to see banner ads, pop-ups, or sponsored content in some free VPN apps. Advertisers pay the VPN provider based on impressions, clicks, or other ad performance metrics.
- Premium plans. Some VPNs offer free versions of their apps that often come with limited bandwidth, features, and server selection — mostly so you can test the VPN before buying a subscription. These VPN providers have paid users and generate enough revenue to financially support their free (but often limited) VPN product.
- Selling user data. Unfortunately, a lot of free VPNs out there collect and sell user data (such as browsing history or demographic information) to third-party advertisers, data brokers, or other interested parties. This is why I always recommend getting an affordable premium VPN like ExpressVPN. Also, all VPNs on my list come with a no-logs policy so they don’t collect any of your data and don’t have anything to sell.
Who Are Free VPNs Good For?
Free VPNs offer a basic level of online privacy and security without costing you anything. They’re ideal if you consider yourself one of the following types of users:
- Budget-conscious users: If you’re keen on boosting your online privacy but don’t want to spend any money doing it, a quality free VPN is a good choice. They provide basic protection, such as masking your real IP address and encrypting your web traffic.
- Occasional VPN users: If you only use a VPN for sporadic tasks, like when you’re using a public Wi-Fi network, a good free VPN is enough. This way, you can secure your data no matter where you’re connected, including at the airport, cafe, or gym.
- New VPN users: If you’ve never used a VPN, a free VPN is a good way to test one out without any strings attached. However, keep in mind that free VPNs have limitations, such as slower speeds and fewer server locations, many don’t support streaming and torrenting, and most of them have a daily or monthly data limit.
Overall, there are good reasons to use a free VPN but tread carefully. Free VPNs often have constraints, and some could lack key security features or peddle your data to third parties. If you’re considering a free VPN, always do your homework and pick reputable providers.
How to Get a Premium VPN for Free
You can actually test many top VPNs “for free” since many of them offer refunds. For example, ExpressVPN has a 30-day money-back guarantee for all plans, while CyberGhost VPN has a 45-day money-back guarantee for its long-term plans (and a 14-day refund for the shortest plan). If you’re not satisfied with the VPN within the refund time period, you can get your money back risk-free.
Some top VPNs offer free trials that give you an opportunity to test their services. However, it’s worth noting that these free trials are typically somewhat restrictive, as they don’t provide full access to all features. In fact, CyberGhost VPN stands out as one of the few VPNs that offers a 24-hour free trial for macOS and Windows that gives you access to all of its features and that doesn’t ask you for your credit card information.
Some premium VPNs have completely free plans, but they come with certain limitations. For example, Proton VPN’s free plan offers unlimited bandwidth, but you only get access to 3 server locations. TunnelBear, on the other hand, lets you connect to any of its servers, but it caps your bandwidth at 2 GB per month.
What Free VPNs Should You Avoid?
- Hola VPN. Hola VPN is a P2P VPN, which means it assigns you another user’s IP address and assigns yours to someone else. This is super dangerous as a bad actor can use it for criminal activities. It also keeps users’ logs, doesn’t encrypt your traffic, and has a history of leaking user IP addresses.
- SuperVPN. SuperVPN is a dangerous VPN that logs a lot of your data, including your IP address, operating system, and browser type. It lacks basic security features, and there’s no way to reach its customer support. On top of that, SuperVPN had a data breach that exposed 133 GB worth of data, including users’ IP addresses, email addresses, and geo-locations.
- Phone Guardian. Phone Guardian isn’t necessarily shady, but it doesn’t work like a regular VPN. The only thing that it does as a VPN is it encrypts your data — it doesn’t hide your IP address or location, it doesn’t have security features like a kill switch, and it lacks any other functionalities that you get with a regular VPN.
- AceVPN. AceVPN has some decent features (like DNS leak protection), but it’s not enough for me to recommend it. It lacks a kill switch, which is an essential security feature, has around 20 server locations, and only offers 1 P2P server. The biggest issue I have with it is that it doesn’t have any dedicated apps, so you’ll have to manually configure it on your device, which is super inconvenient.
- TouchVPN. TouchVPN has 5,500+ servers in 80+ countries, which is impressive. What’s not impressive is that it collects your IP address and the sites you’ve visited.
- TurboVPN. TurboVPN says that it doesn’t collect any information about your online activities under its no-logs policy, but it doesn’t say anything about not collecting your IP address.
I’ve also found these shady VPN apps in app stores, but they don’t have an official page or any other official information about them:
- OK VPN.
- VPN Hat (or Hat VPN).
- VPNGO (or GO VPN).
Top Brands That Didn’t Make the Cut:
- PrivadoVPN. The free plan is ad-free, comes with a no-logs policy, has P2P support, and access to servers in 8 countries. But it doesn’t have streaming support, lets you use the VPN on only 1 device, and doesn’t include security features like RAM-only servers, perfect forward secrecy, split-tunneling, and an ad blocker.
- Atlas VPN. The VPN has a free plan that offers unlimited connections and access to 3 server locations, but it caps your data at 5 GB per month, which is enough for only basic browsing and watching a few TV shows. Also, some of its servers are slow, and it offers split-tunneling only on Android devices.
- NordVPN. This provider has tons of really good security features, including ad and malware protection, a data breach monitoring tool, and double VPN servers. Also provides good streaming and fast speeds. However, it lacks a free plan — but its premium plans start at only $3.19 / month.
- Surfshark. A good VPN that allows unlimited connections, works with tons of streaming services, has great P2P support, and comes with a large server network. That said, it doesn’t have a free plan — although its paid plans are super affordable and start at only $2.30 / month.
- PrivateVPN. This VPN offers beginner-friendly apps, provides great streaming and torrenting support, maintains fast speeds, and has low-cost prices ($2.00 / month). Unfortunately, there isn’t a free plan.
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the best free VPN?
Proton VPN is my #1 pick for the best 100% completely free VPN in 2023 — it’s one of the only free VPN plans that allows unlimited bandwidth, and it comes with fast speeds, servers in 3 countries, and strong security and privacy features.
While all of the free VPNs on this list are decent, ExpressVPN is the best overall VPN on the market. It’s not free, but it covers each plan with a 30-day money-back guarantee. ExpressVPN is ultra-secure, has the fastest speeds out there for browsing, streaming, torrenting, and gaming, and offers user-friendly apps for all of the major platforms.
Are free VPNs safe?
Most free VPNs aren’t safe — some free VPNs lack industry-standard security features, some store your data and personal information, and some even come bundled with malware. But if you’re only in the market for a free VPN, I recommend the free VPNs on this list — hide.me, Proton VPN, and Windscribe all come with really strong security and privacy features.
Are free VPNs legal?
Yes, free VPNs (and premium VPNs) are perfectly legal in most countries, but there are some exceptions — countries like China, Iran, Indonesia, North Korea, and a few others have banned the use of VPNs. If you’re caught using a VPN in a country that has banned VPNs, you could face a stiff fine or even jail time.
Do free VPNs work with Netflix and other streaming platforms?
Yes, there are some free VPNs that are able to access streaming services. However, most aren’t very good for Netflix — they either can’t access the site or only work with it sometimes. During my tests, Windscribe was able to access Netflix and other top sites like Amazon Prime, Max, and Disney+. Even so, Windscribe’s free plan limits you to 10 GB per month, so you can’t use it to binge Netflix titles.
Instead, you’re better off with a paid VPN like ExpressVPN — it works with 10+ Netflix libraries, as well as 100+ other streaming services, and doesn’t limit your data.
Is there a 100% free VPN?
Yes, and there are a few pretty good ones, too. For example, Proton VPN’s free plan allows unlimited data, has fast speeds, and is very secure. Also, hide.me’s free plan allows torrenting, provides strong security and privacy, and lets you connect to servers in 5+ countries.
But even great free VPNs have noticeable limitations — Proton VPN’s free plan lacks streaming and P2P support, only lets you use servers in 3 countries, and limits you to 1 device. hide.me’s free plan limits you to 10 GB per month and 1 device, and you don’t get streaming support.
Overall, you get a much better experience if you pick a premium paid VPN, like ExpressVPN — it includes unlimited data, maintains the fastest speeds on the market, works with 100+ streaming services, has servers in 90+ countries, and allows P2P traffic on all of them.
Which devices can I install a free VPN on?
Most free VPNs are available on all popular devices. All of the VPNs on this list have easy-to-use apps for Android, iOS, Windows, and macOS. A few of them are also available on Linux and smart TVs.
What is the best free VPN for torrenting?
hide.me is my favorite free VPN for torrenting — it’s one of the only free VPNs that allows torrenting, maintains fast download speeds, and works with all popular torrenting apps like BitTorrent, uTorrent, Vuze, and others.
That said, hide.me’s free plan restricts you to only 10 GB of data per month, so you can only download a handful of small files. Upgrading to one of its paid plans gives you unlimited data, access to 2,100+ servers in 50+ countries, and up to 10 simultaneous connections.
Even so, ExpressVPN is our top pick for torrenting, as it has high-end security features, the fastest speeds in the industry, servers in 90+ countries that all support P2P traffic, and port forwarding (lets you connect to more peers for faster downloads).
What’s the fastest free VPN?
Proton VPN is the fastest free VPN on this list — in my tests, sites loaded in 2–3 seconds, HD videos loaded in up to 3 seconds, and it only took around 7 minutes to download a 2.2 GB file. But ProtonVPN’s free plan has some noticeable limitations — it only lets you connect 1 device, doesn’t have streaming support, and limits you to servers in 3 countries.
So it’s ultimately better to just get an affordable premium VPN, like ExpressVPN — it’s the fastest VPN on the market, and it also comes with unlimited data, 8 connections, support for 100+ streaming apps, and servers in 90+ countries.