As the internet grew to connect more and more people and establishments, so did the perils of navigating the online world. The need for online security, privacy, and protection has never been greater. VPNs play a central role in this paradigm. Those virtual private networks were initially devised to securely connect remote workers to their companies and later grew to become a popular tool for individuals to protect against everyday internet threats. We perfectly understand the lure of free things, however, when VPNs are involved, free often becomes synonymous with risk. In this review, we’ll shed light on the best free VPN offers out there, deciphering their pros and cons, and giving them a thorough analysis.
The Best Free VPNs – A Quick Gander
Free VPNs have a bad reputation. They tend to be a class below paid VPNs. An annoying aspect of using a Free VPN is the fact that it might keep forcing ads on you. And the worst part would be when a free VPN sells your browsing data to third parties. Not to mention the low internet speeds or, even worse, sipping your own bandwidth. What’s up with that? However, some premium VPNs do offer a free version of their service under the freemium model: here are some features for free, for the full package, please pay us some money. Even though I personally still prefer to pay up front for a premium VPN, there are good options on the market. But before we start dissecting each service, check the table below for a quick glance at what’s to come in this review.
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The Top Free VPNs – A Detailed Look
Even though I’m not a very big fan of free VPN providers, I know that for some of you out there, that might be the only option. That’s why I took it upon myself to research the matter. I came up with 5 very good free VPNs that you can use. A quick heads up before we start: these are free versions of paid VPNs, emphasis on ‘free’. That means that, like most free VPNs, there is a risk that they might jeopardize your privacy and decrease your internet speed. But that’s highly unlikely given that the companies behind them are well established and respected. And as we mentioned before, they only offer a limited number of the features available in the paid versions. Now, with that said, here are the top five free VPNs out there:
Based near Toronto, this VPN sits just outside the jurisdiction of U.S. law-enforcement agencies. Perhaps a bit too close? Among all the free VPN services out there, Windscribe’s free tier is the most generous. It offers 10 GBs a month and its speed performance remains very adequate. The app interface is a bit cluttered if you ask me with almost everything squeezed into one little box: the servers’ list, firewall toggle button, menu button, connection button, IP address, and the GBs left. This is too much content to feature in a small window. If you need more details about this VPN, check out its features below:
- Available for Mac, iOS, PC, and Android.
- Includes a Firewall, a feature more commonly known as a Kill Switch
- Offers 2GBs a month, and 10 GBs if you provide your email.
- IPsec, IKEv2, and OpenVPN protocols.
- Free users are limited to servers in 11 countries instead of 52.
This VPN has a delightful interface, with dazzling honeypots scattered on a map of the world marking TunnelBear’s server locations. This is a very great plan to grab a user’s attention. However, the speed is quite bad except for servers in Europe. If you’re not a frequent user, this VPN is a good option to use intermittently during visits to coffee shops and other places with public Wi-Fi connections. But when it comes to day to day use, you shouldn’t rely on it. Alongside its native apps, it has add-ons for Chrome and Opera. It must be said that those browser extensions do not encryption your data. Kindly find what TunnelBear has to offer in this list:
- Available on Windows, Mac, Android, iOS.
- OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPsec supported protocols.
- 1700+ servers in 20 countries.
- 500MB per month of data; 1.5GB if you tweet about TunnelBear.
Brought to you by AnchorFree, this VPN has a patchy track record, yet it is still considered one of the top free VPNs. Word is that it collects user data and directs user traffic to its advertising partners. Although the latter part of the accusation was denied by the head company, the company did confess that they do keep data about which websites their users visit and which apps they access. Several sources have claimed that Hotspot Shield actually sells your internet history to outside parties; the VPN also may inject your devices with unwanted ads, that’s pretty frustrating for sure. Moreover, Hotspot Shield uses Hydra VPN, that’s an iffy protocol according to many security experts. One other bad thing is that you’ll have to upgrade to the paid version to use any server outside of the United States. Other than that, Hotspot Shield offers the following:
- Available on PC, Mac, Android, iOS.
- Uses Hydra VPN protocol.
- You have to pay to access servers outside the United States.
- 500MB per day.
Based in Switzerland, this VPN is, in theory at least, beyond the reach of U.S. and European Union law-enforcement agencies. The other good factor is that Switzerland respects the privacy of its citizens, including in the online world. The only bad thing here is whatever ProtonVPN offers, it really lacks speed. I’m sorry, but I wouldn’t use this VPN to protect my devices at home. On the bright side, it does have unlimited bandwidth, which is really rare among free providers. Check out what other features this VPN has:
- Supports OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPsec.
- Unlimited Bandwidth.
- Only allowed to connect to ProtonVPN servers in Japan, the Netherlands, and the U.S.
- Supported devices such as Windows, Mac, Android.
- Very low speeds.
Avira’s Phantom VPN
When you talk about Avira, all that pops on your mind is the antivirus software. Well, Avira also offers its own VPN. With the free plan, Phantom VPN offers 500MB of bandwidth that you can be double if you represent a valid email address. When you’re a free user, you must solve your issues on your own since tech support will not be available. However, you can access all of Avira’s 36 server locations around the world. And to add a cherry on top, the software also lets you set up a device to connect normally to trusted Wi-Fi networks. Now, without further ado, these features are included in Phantom VPN:
- Available on iOS, Mac, PC, or Android.
- Supports Open VPN, L2TP/IPsec.
- 82 servers in 25 countries.
- 500MB per month; 1GB with an email address.
- DNS Leak Prevention.
Free VPNs – What’s at Risk?
When you use a premium VPN, you can be sure that your online data is completely safe from any cyber-attacks or malicious software targeting your device. However, when you use free VPNs, this will not be the case anymore. Even features as simple and common as a kill switch are most often missing. In our list, only Windscribe bothers with the feature. For those that don’t know, a Kill Switch is the feature that blocks your device from establishing an Internet connection that bypasses the VPN’s protected tunnel. This will prevent your browsing history to suddenly leak to your ISP or whoever is waiting in the shadows of the web. Well, most free VPNs don’t provide that.
Data leaks affect a lot of people. They represent a serious threat, particularly to bloggers, journalists, and political activists in countries where freedom of speech is stifled and internet censorship is very strict. In those instances, using a free VPN could be very dangerous unless you want to get caught and put yourself in a difficult situation.
On the other hand, how do you think a free VPN pays its dues? It’s your data guys. Providers of free VPN services sell your data to third parties to be able to fund their companies. Not to mention those annoying ads that they inject into your browser. This is why we’re only recommending free VPN packages from respected companies that offer paid services as well. We know that they have legit revenue streams. So guys please, read the article well and if you’re still intent on using a free VPN, go ahead and pick one of the mentioned providers above.
The Best Free VPN – Summing Up
There you have it guys. All you need to know about worthy free VPN providers are mentioned above. As I said before, if privacy and speed are not paramount concerns for you, then you’re right to choose a free VPN. We are not saying that they are all completely unsafe, but why would a free VPN care for your privacy if it’s getting nothing in return? Think about it. In any case, read the article very well, those are the best free offers listed up there, and choose wisely.