Updated on: November 1, 2022
Short on time? Here’s 2022’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 2022. 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 tested all of the most popular virtual private networks (VPNs) to find the best free ones in 2022.
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.
To get a full suite of standard and enhanced security features, 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 2022).
But if you are only in the market for a free VPN, fortunately 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 2022:
- 1. 🥇 ExpressVPN — Best overall VPN in 2022. 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. 🥈 Proton VPN — Best free VPN with unlimited data. Has high-end security and privacy tools, allows access to servers in 3 locations, and maintains pretty fast speeds. However, only the premium plans support streaming and torrenting.
- 3. 🥉 Windscribe — Good free VPN with unlimited connections. Secure, fast, and works with Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Disney+, but you only get up to 15 GB/month.
- 4. hide.me — Decent free torrenting VPN. Good speeds for downloading files and is able to access Netflix, but it sets a data limit of 10 GB/month.
- 5. Hotspot Shield — Good free VPN for general web browsing. Great security features and an intuitive interface, but it allows access to just 1 server location, doesn’t support streaming, and caps data at 500 MB/day.
- Bonus. TunnelBear — Beginner-friendly free VPN. Simple and fun apps and very secure (but only 500 MB/month).
- Comparison of the Best Free VPNs in 2022.
- How to Choose the Best Free VPNs in 2022.
- Risks & Disadvantages of Using a Free VPN.
- Free vs. Paid VPNs.
- Top Brands That Didn’t Make the Cut.
- Frequently Asked Questions About Free VPNs.
🥇1. ExpressVPN — Best Overall VPN in 2022
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.
When it comes to security, ExpressVPN includes all of the key features, plus more extras than most competitors. In addition to 256-bit AES encryption, a kill switch, and 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.
- 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, P2P files downloaded very fast, and there was zero lag while gaming.
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 65+ other streaming services. I also love how ExpressVPN has apps for Amazon Fire Stick and smart TVs, and its MediaStreamer feature allows you to stream on devices that don’t have a VPN app like Apple TVs and gaming consoles.
ExpressVPN allows 5 simultaneous connections and also comes with split-tunneling, which allows you to simultaneously route apps through the VPN and your local network. Finally, you also get a free password manager (ExpressVPN Keys).
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 2022. 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.
🥈2. Proton VPN — Best Free Plan With Unlimited Data
Proton VPN is my favorite completely free VPN in 2022 — it’s the only VPN on this list that comes with unlimited data, which means it doesn’t place a cap on how much internet data you can use per day or month. Most other free VPNs place a daily or monthly limit on data usage, and once you hit that limit, you’re unable to use the VPN until the data limit resets the next day or the next month. Proton VPN Free also provides access to 3 VPN locations (in the Netherlands, Japan, and the US), allows you to connect 1 device, and has an intuitive interface.
While Proton VPN claims that its free plan offers only “medium” speeds, in my tests I still experienced really good speeds. Because of its fast speeds, I was able to browse the internet without any delay, and I watched videos on YouTube in HD and without any interruptions. Proton VPN’s free plan also includes the VPN Accelerator feature, which helps increase your speeds. However, Proton VPN’s speeds were slower than ExpressVPN’s.
I really like that Proton VPN Free comes with split-tunneling and enhanced security features like 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.
One of the drawbacks of Proton VPN’s free plan is that it doesn’t allow access to dedicated streaming and torrenting servers — if you’re looking for a VPN to watch Netflix or download files, you’ll need to upgrade to one of Proton VPN’s paid plans.
Proton VPN offers monthly and yearly premium plans that start at $3.99 / month and add access to 1,700+ servers in 60+ countries, 10 connections, the “highest” speeds, NetShield (ad blocker), Secure Core servers, and Tor over VPN.
Proton VPN is no doubt the best free VPN I tested — you get unlimited data, access to 3 server locations, and pretty good speeds. It also includes enhanced security features like perfect forward secrecy and has open-source apps that have been inspected for security flaws. Upgrading to Proton VPN’s premium plans adds more servers in more countries, streaming and torrenting servers, faster speeds, up to 10 connections, an ad blocker, and much more.
🥉3. Windscribe — Best Free Streaming VPN With Unlimited Connections
Windscribe includes good security features, provides unlimited simultaneous connections, and works with Netflix and many other streaming services. In my tests, Windscribe was able to access Netflix, as well as Hulu, Disney+, and Amazon Prime.
Windscribe also has pretty good speeds. During testing, websites loaded fast on local servers and took 3-4 seconds to load on distant servers, and all of the TV shows and movies loaded right away, played in HD, and without any buffering — but ultimately Windscribe’s speeds weren’t as fast as ExpressVPN or Proton VPN’s.
Windscribe allows you to access servers in 15 locations, in 10 different countries, and it displays the latency (the time that it takes for the signal to travel from your device to the VPN server) for each server so you can choose the fastest one. It also comes with extras like an ad, malware, and tracker blocker, port forwarding, and split-tunneling.
However, 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 offers a monthly and a yearly plan that both include unlimited data and access to servers in 60+ countries, and you can also build your own premium plan. Windscribe’s plans start at $5.75 / month, and all purchases are backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Windscribe’s free plan works with popular streaming services like Netflix, Disney+, and Amazon Prime, allows unlimited simultaneous connections, and has pretty good speeds. You get 10 GB of data a month (and can add 5GB by tweeting to Windscribe) and access to 15 server locations in 10 countries. The free plan supports torrenting and includes cool features like an ad and malware blocker, split-tunneling, and port forwarding. Upgrading to one of Windscribe’s premium plans adds unlimited data and access to servers in 60+ countries.
4. hide.me — Best Free VPN for Torrenting
hide.me is a good free VPN for downloading files — it maintains fast speeds, works with all popular torrenting clients, and provides 10 GB per month, which is enough data to download a handful of files. However, hide.me’s free plan is hit or miss at accessing streaming services. I was able to access Netflix sometimes, but I couldn’t access Hulu, Amazon Prime, HBO Max, and Disney+.
hide.me comes with a few really useful extras, including split tunneling and full leak protection. I ran a leak test when I connected to a server in each location, and each test resulted in 0 leaks.
I’m also a fan of hide.me’s kill switch, which allows you to disable local network connections and whitelist IP addresses. And I also like Stealth Guard, which allows you to choose specific apps or even your entire internet connection to work only if you’re connected to the VPN.
hide.me allows you to connect to a server in 5 locations (East Coast and West Coast in the US, Canada, Germany, and the Netherlands), and the free plan comes with 1 connection.
hide.me’s paid plans start at $5.33 / month — and add unlimited data, access to 2,000+ servers located in 45+ countries, and 10 simultaneous connections.
hide.me is a good free torrenting VPN — it’s secure, easy to use, fast, and includes great tools to keep you safe when you download files, such as a kill switch, Stealth Guard, and full leak protection. hide.me’s free plan isn’t a great choice for streaming, and it comes with 10 GB a month, 1 connection, and access to 5 servers. When you upgrade to one of hide.me’s premium plans, you get unlimited data, 10 connections, and access to servers in 75 locations.
5. Hotspot Shield — Good for Web Browsing (With Decent Speeds)
Hotspot Shield’s free plan allows you to connect only 1 device, provides access to 1 server (in the US), and has a daily limit of 500 MB/per day. While this data allowance might not sound like a lot, Hotspot Shield actually gives you more data per month (15 GB) than most free VPNs on the market. That said, I don’t like that any unused data isn’t rolled over to the next day.
I also don’t like that Hotspot Shield throttles internet speeds to just 2 Mbps — it was one of the slowest VPNs on this list. However, 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 keep in mind you only get enough daily data to watch videos for about 30 minutes).
Unfortunately, Hotspot Shield’s free plan doesn’t support streaming — you’ll need to upgrade to one of Hotspot Shield’s paid plans to access top streaming sites like Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, and others.
Starting at $2.99 / month, Hotspot Shield’s Premium and Premium Family plans are a good value. They allow unlimited streaming, have blazing-fast speeds (with no speed throttling), provide access to servers in 80+ countries, and let you connect up to 5 devices at the same time.
Hotspot Shield’s free plan comes with 500 MBs per day, access to 1 server, and 1 connection. When you upgrade to a paid subscription plan, Hotspot Shield adds unlimited data, access to 1,800+ servers in 80+ countries, fast speeds, streaming and torrenting support, and extra features like split-tunneling and a malware and phishing blocker.
Bonus. TunnelBear — Best VPN for New Users (But Only 500 MB/Month)
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.
TunnelBear’s free plan includes access to all of its servers in 45+ countries, which makes it very simple to find a server that’s closest to your real location to get the best speeds. In my tests, TunnelBear had pretty good speeds, but they were nowhere near as fast as ExpressVPN.
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 choose which apps to route through the VPN tunnel. Plus, TunnelBear lets all free subscribers install TunnelBear on up to 5 devices.
Unfortunately, TunnelBear Free has a monthly data limit of only 500 MB. While there’s an option to get an extra 1GB by mentioning TunnelBear on social media, it’s still only enough data to browse the internet for a few hours.
To get unlimited data, you’ll need to upgrade to one of TunnelBear’s premium plans, which start at $3.33 / month.
TunnelBear is really easy to use, maintains good speeds, and provides free users with access to all of its features. However, TunnelBear’s free plan only gives you 500 MB/per month, which is barely enough to watch a couple of short videos. Upgrading to TunnelBear’s premium plans gives you unlimited data.
Comparison of the Best Free VPNs in 2022
|VPN||Premium Plan (Starting Price)
||Data Usage Limits||Connection Speed Limits||Compatibility||Split-Tunneling||Server Locations|
||$6.67 / month||Unlimited||No speed limits||Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, Linux, Chromebook, smart TVs, routers, and Chrome, Firefox, and Edge extensions||✅
(Android, Windows, Macs, routers
|2.🥈 Proton VPN||$3.99 / month||Unlimited||Provides “medium” speeds||Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, and Linux||✅
(Android and Windows)
|USA, Netherlands, and Japan|
|3.🥉 Windscribe||$5.75 / month||Up to 15 GB per month||No speed limit||Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, Chrome, Opera, Firefox, and Amazon Fire TV,||✅
|USA, Canada, Germany, France, Netherlands, Romania, Norway, Hong Kong, Switzerland, and the UK|
|4. hide.me||$5.33 / month||10 GB per month||No speed limits||iOS, Android, Windows, Mac, Linux, Chrome, Firefox, and Amazon Fire TV||✅
(Android, Windows, and Mac)
|US East, US West, Canada, Netherlands, and Germany|
|5. Hotspot Shield||$2.99 / month||500 MB per day||2 Mbps||Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, and Chrome||❌||US only|
|Bonus. TunnelBear||$3.33 / month||500 MB per month||No speed limits||iOS, Android, Windows, Mac, Linux, Chrome, Opera, and Firefox||✅
How to Choose the Best Free VPNs in 2022
- 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 (disconnects you from the internet if your VPN connection is dropped), and leak protection (to protect your IP address from leaking).
- A strict no-logs policy. I only recommend VPNs that don’t store your personal information and online activity.
- Data allowance. Most free VPNs have strict limits on how much data you can use per day or month. Proton VPN is one of the only free VPNs that have unlimited data.
- Server network. The best free VPNs will allow you to connect to servers in multiple countries. This allows more users to connect to a server in their home country or a nearby country to get the fastest speeds. Tunnelbear’s free plan allows you to connect to VPN servers in 45+ countries.
- Speed. 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).
- Streaming and torrenting support. Many free VPNs don’t support streaming and torrenting. Windscribe and hide.me both allow streaming and torrenting but impose limits on the amount of data you can use per month.
- Extra features. The best free VPNs like Proton VPN include extra features like split-tunneling, speed-boosting tools, and advanced security features like perfect forward secrecy and full leak protection.
- Ease of use. All of the VPNs on this list have user-friendly apps for Android, iOS, Windows, and macOS.They are easy to download and install, allow you to connect to a server with one click, and have intuitive interfaces that make it simple to navigate the app and find all of the provided features.
- Affordable premium plans. If you ever decide to upgrade from your free plan to a paid plan, all of the VPNs I recommend offer reasonably-priced monthly and yearly plans.
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 (including streaming sites).
- Can’t access streaming sites — The majority of free VPNs either don’t allow streaming or don’t work with them. 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 like ExpressVPN.
- 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 Proton VPN have both had their no-logs policy independently audited and confirmed).
Free vs. Paid VPNs
All of the free VPNs on this list include good security features to protect your data and privacy. My recommendations come with industry-standard VPN security features like 256-bit AES encryption, a kill switch, and a strict no-logs policy. They also have advanced tools like airtight DNS leak protection, RAM-only servers, perfect forward secrecy, and/or full-disk encryption. Plus, some even allow streaming and torrenting.
However, most free VPNs (even free plans from the top providers) don’t have the full range of features that premium VPNs offer. This means they include scaled-down server networks, set limits on the amount of data you’re allowed to use, allow fewer connections, and throttle your speeds.
For example, Proton VPN’s free plan has unlimited data but only offers servers in 3 locations (in the US, Japan, and the Netherlands) and doesn’t support streaming or torrenting. Windscribe’s free plan allows unlimited simultaneous connections, but you only get up to 15 GB/month. hide.me supports streaming and torrenting on its free plan, but it limits you to only 10 GB of data per month.
In contrast, upgrading your free plan to a premium plan with any of the VPNs I recommend or purchasing a subscription from one of the top VPNs on the market will give you access to 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, the top free VPNs offer good security, but they’re usually pretty limited in functionality — paid VPNs offer a much better value.
Top Brands That Didn’t Make the Cut:
- Private Internet Acces (PIA). There is no doubt that PIA is one of the best VPNs out there — it has robust security features, really fast speeds, and works with all of the top streaming apps. While it doesn’t offer a free plan, it has monthly and yearly plans that start at just $2.03 / month.
- CyberGhost VPN. CyberGhost VPN is one of my top choices for streaming and gaming — it has dedicated servers for both online activities and very fast speeds. I wish it offered a free plan, but its premium plans cost as low as $2.03 / month.
- ZoogVPN. ZoogVPN has a decent free plan that includes 10GB per month, but it has slow speeds and doesn’t work with most streaming apps.
Free VPNs – Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the best free VPN?
Proton VPN is my #1 pick for the best 100% completely free VPN in 2022. Proton VPN Free comes with unlimited data, has above-average speeds for a free VPN, and allows you to connect to 3 locations (Japan, the US, and the Netherlands). Proton VPN Free also has high-level security and privacy features and “extras” like split-tunneling.
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. My top 3 choices — Proton VPN, Windscribe, and hide.me — all have really good security features, a strict no-logs policy, and decent speeds.
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.
If you’re using a VPN in a country that allows VPNs, just be cautious with how you use it because it’s illegal to use a VPN to commit a crime. But as long as you use a VPN for legal purposes, there’s nothing to worry about.
Do free VPNs work with Netflix and other streaming platforms?
Yes, there are some free VPNs that are able to access streaming services, but most aren’t very good for Netflix.
If you want a reliable VPN that consistently works with Netflix and other streaming apps, I recommend purchasing a premium VPN like ExpressVPN.
Is there a 100% free VPN?
That said, Proton VPN Free isn’t without limits — it only gives you access to VPN servers in the US, Japan, and the Netherlands, it doesn’t support streaming or torrenting, and it allows only 1 simultaneous connection.
Upgrading to Proton VPN Plus provides faster speeds, streaming and torrenting support, access to 1,700+ servers in 60+ countries, and up to 10 simultaneous connections. It also includes extra features like Secure Core servers (which route your internet connection through multiple VPN servers) and NetShield (which is an excellent ad blocker).
How do free VPNs make money?
Some VPNs, like Proton VPN, support their free plans through their paid plans. Essentially, enough people are recurring paid subscribers that the VPN provider can afford to offer their services (with limited features) to users for free. However, other VPNs may sell your data to third-party advertisers or display ads based on your browsing activity to recoup the money from their free plans.
This is why I strongly recommend that you purchase a paid plan from an affordable VPN provider. My favorite VPN is ExpressVPN, which has plans that start at $6.67 / month — this is a bit pricey compared to other VPNs, but ExpressVPN is the best VPN on the market in 2022.
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 (ExpressVPN, Proton VPN, and hide.me) are also available on Linux, and some even work with less-popular devices like Amazon Fire TV.
What is the best free VPN for torrenting?
hide.me is my favorite free VPN for torrenting — it maintains fast speeds and works with all popular torrenting apps like BitTorrent, uTorrent, Vuze, and others.
While hide.me is good for torrenting, its 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 2000+ servers in 45+ countries, and up to 10 simultaneous connections.
That being said, ExpressVPN is our top pick for torrenting, as it has high-end security features, the fastest speeds in the industry, and servers in 90+ countries.
What’s the fastest free VPN?
ExpressVPN is hands-down the fastest VPN on this list. I had ultra-fast speeds for all of my online activities, including browsing, streaming, torrenting, and gaming. While ExpressVPN may not offer a free plan, it’s the best VPN in 2022, and it provides a 30-day money-back guarantee on all purchases.