7 Best REALLY FREE VPNs in 2024: 100% Safe & Very Fast

Updated on: May 25, 2024
Fact Checked by Katarina Glamoslija
Eric Goldstein Eric Goldstein
Updated on: May 25, 2024

Short on time? Here’s 2024’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 2024. 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 an ad blocker, and excellent streaming and torrenting support.

I’m not a big fan of free VPNs, and I usually don’t recommend them. While some free VPNs include decent security features, like bank-grade encryption that hides all of your online traffic, most are too limited and not worth the time or hassle.

The majority of completely free VPN apps out there are borderline dangerous. At worst, some contain malware and infect your device, keep user logs and sell your personal information, like the websites you visit and your IP address, to shady third parties, or have suffered a data breach. Other legit free VPNs typically lack essential security features, impose extremely low data caps so you can barely even use the VPN, have very slow speeds, offer glitchy or outdated apps, or frankly don’t work at all.

Even free plans from the top VPNs have their hard-to-miss drawbacks. For example, you only get access to a couple of server locations, a lot of them don’t provide support for streaming or torrenting, many of their features are hidden behind a paywall, some limit access to customer support platforms (such as live chat), and they usually only allow you to connect 1 device at a time.

Quite simply, the benefits you get with paid VPNs far outweigh the minor pros of free VPNs. A top premium VPN provides much better perks, such as advanced security features, fast speeds, unlimited data, multiple simultaneous connections, streaming and torrenting support, and apps for all of the top operating systems that are reliable and easy to use. I recommend that you upgrade to a low-cost premium VPN service (ExpressVPN is my top choice in 2024).

However, if you are only in the market for a free VPN, there are a handful of good ones to choose from. All of the free VPNs on this list are secure, provide a few “extra” features, and are user-friendly. Editors' Note: ExpressVPN and this site are in the same ownership group.

TRY EXPRESSVPN NOW (30 DAYS RISK-FREE)

Quick summary of the best free VPNs in 2024:

  • 1. 🥇 ExpressVPN — Best overall VPN in 2024 with top-notch security, superfast speeds, and intuitive apps.
  • 2. 🥈 CyberGhost VPN — Excellent VPN for streaming (100+ dedicated streaming servers) + a 24-hour free trial.
  • 3. 🥉 Proton VPN — Great free VPN with unlimited data & very fast speeds but only 1 connected device.
  • 4. hide.me — Good free VPN with unlimited data and many free server locations (but restricts speeds).
  • 5. Hotspot Shield — Good free VPN for browsing but includes ads + no streaming or torrenting support.
  • Plus 2 more!

Editors' Note: Intego, Private Internet Access, CyberGhost and ExpressVPN are owned by Kape Technologies, our parent company

🥇1. ExpressVPN — Best Overall VPN in 2024

🥇1. ExpressVPN — Best Overall VPN in 2024

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 includes the best security features, it’s the best VPN for streaming, torrenting, and gaming, it maintains the fastest speeds, and it offers easy-to-use apps for just about every online device.

🥇1. ExpressVPN — Best Overall VPN in 2024

ExpressVPN provides high-end security and privacy. It has an audited no-logs policy — some of the free VPNs on this list haven’t had their no-logs policies audited. It protects your data with useful extra security tools. For one, it has Advanced Protection, which blocks ads, stops ad trackers from spying on your web browsing, and protects you from malicious websites. What’s more, Advanced Protection even offers you the option to block adult websites.

Plus, the VPN also has ExpressVPN Keys, which is a password manager that secures all of your logins and helps you generate strong passwords — best of all, it’s included for free with each subscription. In comparison, only 1 free VPN on this list (Proton VPN) gives you access to a password manager, and other free VPNs either don’t include an ad blocker on the free plan or restrict your access to it, like Windscribe.

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 Apple TV+, as well as 100+ other streaming services. The only free VPNs on this list that support streaming are Windscribe and TunnelBear, but both of them have monthly data limits — so you can’t binge an unlimited number of shows and movies.

In my speed tests, ExpressVPN had impressive results, especially via its proprietary Lightway protocol. Regardless of whether I was connected to a nearby 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.

🥇1. ExpressVPN — Best Overall VPN in 2024

While most of the free VPNs listed in this article have fast speeds on nearby servers, all but one of them (TunnelBear) severely limit the number of servers that are accessible to free users — this means that some people won’t be able to connect to a local server, so their speeds will be much slower. However, ExpressVPN has a vast server network in 105 countries.

You also get excellent P2P support, as the provider allows torrenting across all of its servers, which are located in 105 countries (Proton VPN and Hotspot Shield don’t allow torrenting on their free plans). Also, it works with top P2P apps like qBittorrent and uTorrent.

Plus, it comes with a native router app, which allows you to connect your gaming consoles to the VPN — all of the devices in your household connected to your router will be protected by ExpressVPN. While the VPN allows 8 connections with a single account, our top VPNs with free plans, like Proton VPN, Hotspot Shield, and hide.me, allow only 1 connection.

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: Save 49% on the 12-month plan + FREE months!
Get a full 15 months (12 months + 3 free months) at a 49% discount.

Bottom line:

ExpressVPN offers the best value out of all of the VPNs on the market in 2024. You’re not going to find a more secure or faster VPN out there. Also, it works with tons of streaming sites, allows torrenting, and has user-friendly features and apps. Although there’s no free plan, it has a 30-day money-back guarantee for all purchases.

Read the full ExpressVPN review here

🥈2. CyberGhost VPN — Really Good VPN for Streaming (With Free Trial & 45-Day Refund)

🥈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. In addition, the VPN is also compatible with 15+ Netflix libraries, 5+ Amazon Prime libraries, and 5+ Max libraries. As I noted in the ExpressVPN review above, the only VPN listed here that supports streaming on its free plan is Windscribe (and it only allows 10 GB of data per month).

🥈2. CyberGhost VPN — Really Good VPN for Streaming (With Free Trial & 45-Day Refund)

CyberGhost VPN also has one of the largest server networks out there with servers in 11,528 countries spread across all regions of the world. There are servers in 40+ countries in Europe, 15+ in the Americas, 20+ in Asia and the Pacific, and 10+ in Africa and the Middle East. TunnelBear allows access to servers in all 47 countries, but you only get a measly 2 GB of data per month, while the VPN with the next highest server locations is Windscribe (and you only get 10+ countries).

When it comes to P2P support, it allows torrenting on servers in 85+ 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.

You also get strong security and privacy features. The VPN has an independently audited no-logs policy, and it also releases transparency reports that detail how the provider doesn’t comply with requests for user data. What’s more, CyberGhost VPN also has Content Blocker, which is really good at blocking malicious websites.

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 — none of the VPNs on this list give you this level of customization on their free plans.

🥈2. CyberGhost VPN — Really Good VPN for Streaming (With Free Trial & 45-Day Refund)

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. Plus, I could play online games without experiencing any lag or dropped connections, and it also took me only 11 minutes to download a 19.2 GB file, which is good.

I like how you can manually set up CyberGhost on your router, as this allows you to use the VPN on an unlimited number of devices — so, you don’t have to worry about maxing out on the VPN’s 7 simultaneous connections. This is great to see, as some of the free VPNs on this list lack router support.

CyberGhost VPN has affordable plans that start at only $2.19 / month — plus, the longest plan usually provides extra months for free. So, it’s the perfect choice for very budget-conscious users. And don’t forget, there’s a generous 45-day money-back guarantee for all of the provider’s long-term plans.

CyberGhost: Save 83% on the 24-month plan + FREE months!
You can save 83% if you act right now.

Bottom Line:

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.

Read the full CyberGhost VPN review

Editors' Note: CyberGhost and this site are in the same ownership group.

🥉3. Proton VPN — Great Free Plan With Unlimited Data + Very Fast

🥉3. Proton VPN — Great Free Plan With Unlimited Data + Very Fast

Proton VPN’s free plan comes with unlimited data and the fastest speeds for a free VPN. With unlimited data, this means it doesn’t place a cap on how much internet data you can use per day or month, and it’s ad-free. This is pretty impressive because most VPNs limit bandwidth usage for their free users — Windscribe and TunnelBear have a monthly data limit on their free plans, and Hotspot Shield forces you to watch an annoying ad every 15 minutes.

The provider’s free plan also includes access to servers in 5 countries — the US, the Netherlands, Japan, Romania, and Poland. The only downside is you don’t get to choose the server location. Instead, Proton VPN automatically connects you to the fastest server. A customer support representative told me that to get assigned another server, you’ll need to disconnect and reconnect to the VPN, but you still won’t be able to pick from a list of free servers. This is why I always prefer a premium VPN, as ExpressVPN includes access to servers in 105 countries, and you can connect to whichever one you want.

🥉3. Proton VPN — Great Free Plan With Unlimited Data + Very Fast

Proton VPN offers additional free servers in censorship-heavy countries 2 weeks before the elections and 1 week after. This initiative makes sure citizens have unrestricted access to important information and can securely communicate during these periods. Here’s a breakdown of where and when Proton VPN boosts its free server availability:

Country Election day
Mauritania June 22
Rwanda July 15
Venezuela July 28
Mozambique October 9
Somaliland November 13
Mauritius November 30

Proton VPN’s free plan comes with good speeds — in my tests, websites generally loaded in right away, HD videos took 1-2 seconds, and 4K videos started within 3-4 seconds, and there was only minor buffering at the start of the videos. The provider also has a speed-boosting feature called VPN Accelerator, but you can only access it via the paid version.

But the provider’s free plan has some drawbacks. It doesn’t support torrenting, and it limits you to 1 device (though you can bypass this at least in your home by installing the VPN on your router) — but you don’t get its browser extensions for Chrome or Firefox.

While Proton VPN claims the free plan lacks streaming support, I was able to watch content on streaming services, but not consistently — for example, Netflix US and Amazon Prime US worked about half of the time. It also doesn’t include its ad blocker (NetShield), split-tunneling, port forwarding, Secure Core servers, which route your traffic through 2 servers instead of 1, or access to live chat.

I really like that Proton VPN’s free plan comes with enhanced privacy, as all of its 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.

🥉3. Proton VPN — Great Free Plan With Unlimited Data + Very Fast

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.

Upgrading to the paid version (called Plus) adds more perks, such as servers in 91 countries, support for 30+ streaming services, P2P servers in 70+ 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 $4.49 / month, and the provider has a prorated 30-day money-back guarantee.

Proton VPN: Save 55% on the 24-month plan!
You can save 55% if you act right now.

Bottom Line:

Proton VPN has one of the only free plans that allows unlimited data. It also provides access to servers in 5 countries (the US, the Netherlands, Japan, Romania, and Poland), strong security and privacy features, and pretty fast speeds for a free VPN. The paid version adds more servers, streaming and P2P support, and extras like an ad blocker and split-tunneling. Its paid plans are affordable and backed by a prorated 30-day money-back guarantee.

Read the full Proton VPN review here

4. hide.me — Great Free VPN With Tons of Free Server Locations

4. hide.me — Great Free VPN With Tons of Free Server Locations

hide.me’s free plan provides access to free servers in 8 countries, which is pretty good considering that many free VPNs limit you to fewer server locations. With hide.me’s free version, you get access to servers in places like the US, the UK, the Netherlands, France, and Germany.

The provider’s free plan also allows unlimited bandwidth. And, thanks to the relatively big number of free server locations, it helps you to connect to a nearby server to get fast speeds.

4. hide.me — Great Free VPN With Tons of Free Server Locations

While this VPN’s free servers performed pretty well in my speed tests, hide.me restricts speeds on the free plan. I ran tests on servers in 4 countries, and most websites I accessed usually loaded instantly — what’s more, when I watched HD videos on YouTube, they only took around 2 seconds to fully load and didn’t buffer when I skipped through them. Plus, the free plan includes split-tunneling, which you can use to boost your VPN speeds.

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. That said, I do need to highlight how the app design looks a bit outdated, especially when compared to Proton VPN’s apps.

I also like how free users get access to 24/7 live chat support — this is extremely convenient, as most free VPNs limit you to just support libraries or email support. The provider’s live chat reps reply really fast, and also provide helpful answers.

4. hide.me — Great Free VPN With Tons of Free Server Locations

That said, the free plan has some limitations — you can only connect 1 device (and there’s no router support for free users), and you don’t get streaming or P2P support, but it offers a free Chrome extension.

hide.me’s paid version allows 10 connections and adds great streaming support, as it works with popular platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime. The paid plan also adds access to the provider’s entire server network, which numbers 2,300+ servers in 54 countries. And you get access to great P2P support, as well as port forwarding, which lets you increase your torrenting speeds by connecting to more peers.

hide.me has affordable plans that start at $2.22 / month. There’s a 30-day money-back guarantee for all plans.

Bottom Line:

hide.me provides access to free servers in 8 countries. In addition, its free servers limit speeds but maintain pretty fast speeds, which you can also boost via split-tunneling. And, free users get access to 24/7 live chat, too. The paid version adds access to all servers, as well as streaming and P2P support. And the paid plans are backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Read the full hide.me review here

5. Hotspot Shield — Good for Secure Web Browsing

5. Hotspot Shield — Good for Secure Web Browsing

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.

I like that it also has a 7-day free trial, which very few VPNs offer. However, you do have to put in your credit card details, so if you don’t cancel within 7 days, you’ll be automatically charged. That said, you could take advantage of the generous 45-day money-back guarantee to get your money back if you forget to cancel before your free week is up.

However, it collects your IP address to serve you ads if you use the mobile apps. These ads can get frustrating, as you have to watch a 30-second ad every 15 minutes to use the VPN. If this is a deal-breaker, just use the desktop apps instead, as they don’t have this issue. If you just want to use a free VPN on mobile, get Proton VPN or hide.me instead, as their mobile free plans don’t have ads (or log user IPs).

5. Hotspot Shield — Good for Secure Web Browsing

The free plan 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.

5. Hotspot Shield — Good for Secure Web Browsing

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. hide.me, on the other hand, provides free users with access to 24/7 live chat support.

Hotspot Shield’s free version also lacks streaming and torrenting support, and it only lets you connect 1 device (and it doesn’t include router support like the top 3 VPNs on this list). However, it offers a free Chrome extension and 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 3,200+ servers in 85 countries, add streaming support, allow 10 connections, and are also backed by a 45-day money-back guarantee.

Bottom Line:

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 and displays ads on mobile. The paid version removes IP logging and ads on mobile, adds 10 connections and more servers, provides much better security, is affordable, and comes with a 45-day money-back guarantee.

Read the full Hotspot Shield review here

6. Windscribe — Decent Free VPN for Streaming

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, Amazon Prime, and BBC iPlayer. Plus, the free plan allows torrenting too. 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.

However, my biggest complaint about Windscribe is it places a limit of data per month. You automatically get 2 GB per month, but that amount is increased to 10 GB if you provide your email address — this allows the VPN’s marketing department to contact you with offers. While 10 GB of data per month is decent (I got around 50 hours of browsing time and 8 and a half hours of streaming time in my tests), I still prefer Proton VPN’s free plan, as it comes with unlimited data.

6. Windscribe — Decent Free VPN for Streaming

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 the other top free VPNs on this list.

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, you get full access to R.O.B.E.R.T, which is the provider’s advanced ad blocker that can block ads, malicious sites, adult websites, social media platforms, gambling sites, and more.

6. Windscribe — Decent Free VPN for Streaming

Windscribe’s paid version starts at $3.00 / month, and it adds servers in 68 countries and unlimited bandwidth. Unfortunately, there’s only a 3-day money-back guarantee.

Bottom Line:

Windscribe’s free plan works with popular streaming sites, including Max, Netflix, and BBC iPlayer. It also supports torrenting and unlimited connections, but only allows 10 GB per month. In addition, it comes with servers in 10+ countries, has decent speeds, and provides strong security features. The paid version adds servers in more countries and unlimited data, is affordable, and is backed by a 3-day money-back guarantee.

Read the full Windscribe review here

7. TunnelBear — Really Good Free VPN for New Users

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.

7. TunnelBear — Really Good Free VPN for New Users

Unfortunately, TunnelBear Free has a monthly data limit of only 2 GB — it’s enough for basic browsing, but that’s about it. Essentially, the free plan is really only good for testing out the VPN (and upgrading to one of TunnelBear’s paid plans if you like it) rather than using it on a daily basis. If you need unlimited bandwidth, try Proton VPN or hide.me instead.

TunnelBear’s free plan includes access to all of its 5,000+ servers in 47 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 — sites and HD videos took 3–4 seconds to load, and the videos didn’t buffer when I skipped through them.

7. TunnelBear — Really Good Free VPN for New Users

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 — but with only 2 GB of data per month, this is all but irrelevant.

To get unlimited data, you’ll need to upgrade to one of TunnelBear’s premium plans, which start at $3.33 / month. Just keep in mind the provider sadly doesn’t have a money-back guarantee.

Bottom Line:

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 and servers. 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.

Read the full TunnelBear review here

Quick Comparison Table

VPN Starting Price Data Limit Number of Countries Simultaneous Connections Streaming Support Torrenting Support Money-Back Guarantee
1.🥇ExpressVPN
$6.67 / month Unlimited 105 8
(in
105 countries)
30 days
2.🥈CyberGhost VPN $2.19 / month Unlimited 100 7
(in 85+ countries)
45 days (long-term plans)
14 days (monthly plans)
3.🥉Proton VPN $4.49 / month Unlimited Free plan: 5
Paid plan: 91
1
(works sometimes)
30 days
4. hide.me $2.22 / month Unlimited Free plan: 5+
Paid plan: 54
1 30 days
5. Hotspot Shield $2.99 / month Unlimited (includes ads) Free plan: 3
Paid plan: 85
1 45 days
6. Windscribe $3.00 / month 10 GB/mo Free plan: 10+
Paid plan: 68
Unlimited

 


(in 10+ countries)
3 days
7. TunnelBear $3.33 / month 2 GB/mo 47 Unlimited
(in 47 countries)
45+

Editors' Note: Intego, Private Internet Access, CyberGhost and ExpressVPN are owned by Kape Technologies, our parent company

Testing Methodology: Comparison & Ranking Criteria

I used our proven testing methodology to guarantee I only recommend free VPNs that meet our strict standards. I tested each VPN with numerous real-life scenarios to determine ease of use, security and privacy, speeds, and more. Each VPN on this list surpassed my expectations and offers more value than other options on the market. Here are the testing criteria I used to decide which VPNs to include on my list and where each one is ranked.

  • I evaluated what each free VPN offers. Most free VPN plans are very limited — so I looked for free VPN plans that have good data allowances, don’t spam you with a lot of ads, provide access to a decent number of server locations, or come with P2P or streaming support.
  • I looked 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. Plus, most of my top picks have advanced security tools, like RAM-only servers that wipe all data on each reset, and perfect forward secrecy, which provides a different encryption key for each VPN session. I also made sure my data wasn’t leaked and that the kill switch was effective in shutting down my connection.Testing Methodology: Comparison & Ranking Criteria
  • I tested the VPN’s speeds on the free plan. 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 slows down your connection. I tested all server locations available from each free VPN to make sure the VPN provides good speeds on all servers (ExpressVPN is the fastest).
  • I checked that the provider has user-friendly apps. Many free VPNs often come with buggy apps that are difficult to use. However, I tested the desktop and mobile apps to make sure they were simple to install and use.Testing Methodology: Comparison & Ranking Criteria
  • I made sure the VPN offered affordable pricing and good value. In case you decide to upgrade to a premium plan, I ensured the VPNs offered budget-friendly plans and come with large server networks, great streaming and P2P support, and multiple connections. I also checked to see 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.
  • Weak streaming & torrenting support — The majority of free VPNs don’t have streaming support and very few allow you to share P2P traffic on their free servers. And the free VPNs that actually work with streaming sites and torrent clients usually have monthly or daily data limits, so you can only watch and torrent a few movies or TV shows each day or month. If you’re looking to stream or torrent 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.
  • Limited simultaneous connections — Free VPNs often restrict the number of devices you can connect simultaneously, which can be a significant limitation if you have multiple devices or if several people in your household need to use the VPN at the same time.
  • Limited server locations — Free VPNs typically offer a very limited selection of server locations. This can be an issue if the available servers aren’t close to your location, which’ll mean slower speeds.
  • 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 5 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
Privacy
(A lot of free VPNs collect and share user data with third parties)
Fast speeds
(Very few free VPNs offer good speeds)
Access to all servers
Unlimited data
24/7 customer support
Streaming support
(Only some free VPNs allow streaming, but they don’t work with many top sites)
P2P support
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.

A number of leading VPNs provide free trials that allow you to try out their services. Nonetheless, it’s important to note that these free trials are usually somewhat limited, since they don’t give total access to all features. In fact, CyberGhost VPN is one of the few VPNs that provides a 24-hour free trial for macOS and Windows, with access to all its features, and doesn’t request your credit card details.

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 servers in 5 countries. TunnelBear, on the other hand, lets you connect to any of its servers, but it caps your bandwidth at 2 GB per month.

How to Optimize Bandwidth Usage With a Free VPN

Since many free VPNs limit data usage, it’s a good idea to learn how to optimize how much data the VPN uses to make the data cap last until it resets. Here are some things you can try:

  • Lower video quality when watching videos. For example, if you’re on YouTube, don’t use 720p or 1080p video quality — switch to 480p or 360p instead since it consumes less data.
  • Use an ad blocker. This will reduce the amount of data that ads and trackers consume. Windscribe is one of the only free VPNs that comes with an ad blocker. If you don’t plan on using this provider, use the free uBlock Origin extension (it’s excellent for blocking ads and trackers) alongside the free VPN you plan on using.
  • Turn off auto-play features. It’s possible to turn off auto-play on most social media and video-sharing platforms. If you disable auto-play, it will stop video content from automatically starting up, preventing unnecessary data usage.

Alternatively, you could just get a VPN that has a free plan with unlimited data. I’d personally go with Proton VPN — in addition to unmetered bandwidth, its free version also provides fast speeds, user-friendly apps, and strong privacy features (including an audited no-logs policy).

Free VPNs to 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.
  • Hoxx VPN. HoxxVPN collects information about all of your web activities, your device, and your location. On top of that, it says in its terms of use that it “may” keep it even after you close your account.
  • 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.
  • TuxlerVPN. TuxlerVPN’s privacy policy says it logs your website activities, browser information, and contact information, and it can share all of this data with third parties for business purposes.
  • FinchVPN. FinchVPN’s site is very shady and buggy. It doesn’t say anything about the VPN features, and when I try to click on the Privacy Policy, it redirects me to the home page.

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:

  • VPN – Super Unlimited Proxy.
  • SuperVPN.
  • VPN Proxy Master.
  • VPN – fast proxy.
  • MapleVPN.
  • CrossVPN.
  • AnonyTun.
  • 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.
  • PrivateVPN. PrivateVPN is user-friendly, good for streaming, and very secure. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have a free version (though its paid plans are quite affordable).
  • 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 $3.09 / 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 $2.29 / month.
  • ZoogVPN. This VPN offers 10 GB monthly bandwidth for free, but its free plan doesn’t support streaming, includes very limited P2P support, and is missing the industry-standard 256-bit AES encryption, as well as advanced security features like RAM-only servers and perfect forward secrecy.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the best free VPN?

Proton VPN is my #1 pick for the best 100% completely free VPN in 2024 — it’s one of the only free VPN plans that allows unlimited bandwidth, and it comes with fast speeds, servers in 5 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.

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 work with streaming services. However, most aren’t very good for Netflix — most of them don’t work with the site at all, and there are some that only sometimes work with the platform. During my tests, Windscribe worked well with Netflix US and other top sites available in my location, like Amazon Prime US, Max, and Disney+ US. 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 100+ streaming services, including Netflix, 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 5 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 105 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 2,300+ 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 100+ 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 5 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 105 countries.

What’s the best free VPN for gaming?

The best VPN for gaming is ExpressVPN. It maintains the fastest speeds on the market, which means zero lag and very low ping during your online games. It also offers excellent security features, such as anti-DDoS protection, and it’s one of the only VPNs that offers cloud support. Plus, you get a router app and smart DNS that allows you to connect to the VPN on your PlayStation and Xbox.

Quick Overview of My Top Recommendations:

Our Rank
Our Score
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9.8
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2
9.4
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3
8.4
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4
7.8
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5
7.8
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About the Author
Eric Goldstein
Eric Goldstein
Chief Editor
Updated on: May 25, 2024

About the Author

Eric Goldstein is Chief Editor at SafetyDetectives. As an internet security researcher and IT journalist, he has over 2 years of experience writing and editing articles and blog posts about VPNs, antiviruses, password managers, parental controls, and identity protection products and tools. In addition, Eric writes and edits news stories focused on cybersecurity issues for SafetyDetectives. He also spent 20+ years as a sportswriter for multiple media outlets and served in a communications role for a national corporation. When he's not working, he can be found spending time with his family, working out, and watching his favorite sports teams.