Decide on whether or not you should use a free VPN - and which one is the best.
It makes sense to look into free VPN services for those who know they need a VPN but are afraid to pay for yet another software subscription. Theoretically, they appear to serve the same function as fully compensated services but without the financial burden of the latter. It's pretty seductive.
However, it is advisable to proceed with caution before downloading anything. There are hundreds of free VPNs available online and in your device's app store, and the vast majority of them are simply not very competent at what they are doing. Certain dubious free apps will inundate you with intrusive adverts and may even sell your personal information to third parties. And it's unlikely that you'll be able to use yours to broadcast or download torrent files.
Suppose your primary purpose for using a VPN is to provide an extra layer of security to your laptop or mobile device when connecting to public Wi-Fi. In that case, the best free VPNs can deliver satisfactory results.
A list of the best solutions available for download is provided on this page due to our research and development efforts. When it comes to free VPNs, we looked at their features and capabilities to see which ones were the most effective at keeping your online activity hidden without charging you a penny. While ExpressVPN is our top-rated premium VPN service provider globally, ProtonVPN is the finest free VPN service provider at the time, as we discuss in more detail below.
What We Appreciate: There are no speed limits in the area.
Free and paid users alike can take advantage of the same level of security and performance.
OpenVPN, WireGuard, and IKEv2 are among the VPN protocols that are supported.
Those Things That We Do Not Appreciate:
When signing up for the free version, you will be requested to provide an email address.
However, there is a monthly data use limit of 10 GB for the free edition, which allows access to nine server locations.
Even while virtual private networks (VPNs) are ideal for security, many free VPNs are weak in terms of performance. As a result, when you connect to their servers, many of them impose bandwidth restrictions on you. Even if you have a one gigabit per second internet connection, your surfing speed will be limited to as little as two megabits per second due to the implementation of speed limits. The fact that this is unsatisfying is why we chose PrivadoVPN as our top pick. This free VPN service provides exceptional security and privacy features, as well as an unlimited amount of bandwidth over a secure connection. When we connected to Privado, the speed of our 50 Mbps internet connection dropped to 34 Mbps, which we would define as the typical speed loss associated with VPN usage. It's not that bad at all.
A User Interface That Is Straightforward
PrivadoVPN was a breeze to use on both our desktop computers and mobile devices, and we highly recommend it. The most important VPN functions are simply collected under a single tab, so there will be no need to jump through hoops in order to connect. This VPN service even provides the ability to switch between OpenVPN, Wireguard, and IKEv2 VPN protocols, which is something we don't see very often with free VPN services. Finally, the software's home screen indicates the amount of data remaining on your monthly data limit, allowing you to plan ahead of time for your 10 GB monthly data allotment.
Are You Concerned About Your Privacy?
PrivadoVPN's headquarters are in Switzerland, a country that is well-known for having strict privacy regulations. Due to the lack of strong data retention policies in effect, PrivadoVPN is not required to keep track of its customers' online activities. Indeed, as part of its no-logs policy, Privado does not save any information about its users' activities. In addition, Privado uses industry-standard 256-bit AES encryption and incorporates a kill switch to protect its customers' privacy in the case of a network breakdown, which is rare.
What We Found Appreciable:
What We Didn't Like About It:
There is a daily data limit of 500 MB.
While Hotspot Shield did impose a limit on our data consumption, it was significantly more generous than the vast majority of other free VPNs. We were given 500 MB of bandwidth per day by Hotspot Shield, which renewed our data allowance every 24 hours and allowed us to use it as much as we wanted. If we spend our daily allotment to the utmost extent possible, it amounts to around 15 GB per month. Excess data, on the other hand, did not transfer over to the next day, so if we spent 400 MB in one day, we would still receive 500 MB the following day. The daily restriction made logical because it provided us with the ability to better regulate our data usage. Instead of giving us 15 GB a month, which we might easily deplete in a week or two, it restricted our daily usage to the point where we would still have bandwidth left at the end of the month. That's a really good idea.
Up to five devices can be used simultaneously.
With our Hotspot Shield account, we were able to log in from five different devices simultaneously. That we could use Hotspot Shield whether we were at work on our MacBooks, browsing in a coffee shop on our iPhones, or relaxing at home on our Windows PC was a huge bonus. The fact that only one device could be connected to Hotspot Shield at a time made switching between devices simple, thanks to the VPN's short connection times. The VPN established connections in less than five seconds on average, which was amazing for a free VPN of this caliber.
On the Windows and Mac clients, there are no advertisements displayed.
The vast majority of free VPNs make money by inserting adverts into the websites we visit on a regular basis. While Hotspot Shield used to do this, the company recently changed its strategy and is now just placing advertisements in its mobile apps. Hotspot Shield also displayed brief adverts when we connected and disconnected our mobile phone VPN, rather than embedding advertisements into webpages as some VPNs do. Of course, viewing advertisements is never a pleasant experience, but using a freemium VPN with a generous data usage cap, seeing a few advertisements every session was not an issue.
Our Favorite Thing About Atlas VPN: It's the best free VPN for privacy and security.
Protection of Personal Information
A virtual private network (VPN) can help you secure your privacy, but Atlas VPN goes a step further by giving tools to help you manage your digital health. Tracker Blocker is included in the free version, and it is a tool that prevents trackers from being installed on your computer by websites that you browse. Aside from that, it has a breach monitor, which allows you to enter your email address and have Atlas check to see whether it has been a victim of a data breach in the past. These minor nuances contributed to Atlas earning a spot on our list of the best free VPNs available.
Streaming allows for easy access.
Unlike the vast majority of free VPNs, Atlas allows you to access streaming websites without any restrictions. While connected to Atlas, we were able to watch Netflix and Amazon Prime Video on our computers. Although there is a monthly data maximum of 10 GB, keep in mind that your binge watching sessions may be limited if you over this limit. Once you've watched a few episodes of Bones, your data allowance has been depleted. Nonetheless, if you're willing to sacrifice visual quality, you might be able to get away with a little binge watching Atlas.
a large number of devices
If you're using Atlas VPN's free plan, you won't be required to register an account. This implies that you may install Atlas on all of your devices and have them all connected to the VPN at the same time. As long as you are not performing bandwidth-intensive tasks on your desktops and mobile devices, you will not be forced to pay a monthly fee to protect all of your computers and mobile devices.
It is true that we are sad that SurfShark's free trial is only available for one month. However, there are certain advantages to using the trial period. Firstly, there was no restriction on how we could use the VPN, whether it was in terms of servers, bandwidth, or performance limits. This allowed us to put it through its paces and completely evaluate it. As a result, it is an excellent choice for individuals seeking for a free VPN to utilize on a temporary basis. We were able to gain all of the features of a premium VPN without having to pay a single cent. And even once the free trial month has expired, the fees aren't too expensive.
We signed up for two years in order to lock in the $2.49 per month fee, which will be paid in one lump sum of around $60 for the duration of the contract. Because of the free trial, we were confident in our decision to commit for two years. When seeking for free VPN trials, we recommend you look at our list of the best VPNs with free trials, which includes SurfShark as well.
No-Cost VPN for Newcomers: TunnelBear is the best option available.
In contrast to the majority of VPNs, which have a serious vibe to their user interfaces, TunnelBear has taken a different approach with its intuitive, yet entertaining and easy-to-use user experience. When we connected to our server over the encrypted tunnels, the application presented the location of our server on a virtual map, which we could see without leaving the application. Choosing a server location that was the nearest to our actual location was really useful because it usually meant faster upload and download speeds, which was exactly what we needed. The "tunnel," which is a symbol that represents the closest TunnelBear server location, was used to boost our connection whenever we had a sluggish response time.
Just so you know, TunnelBear presently has over 20 server locations, all of which are accessible to free users of the service.
Up to Five Concurrent Connections are permitted.
Despite the fact that TunnelBear is a free VPN, it allows for a maximum of five simultaneous connections. Indeed, we used it on a number of occasions to encrypt our MacBook Air, Android smartphone, and iPad when they were connected to a public library's Wi-Fi network, and we were pleased with the results. That leads us to another advantage of TunnelBear as a free VPN: it was compatible with all major desktop and mobile operating systems, including Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, Android, and iOS, and it was completely free. Also included were Chrome, Firefox, and Opera browser extensions that allowed us to encrypt only our browsing data rather than our entire online activity on our laptop or smartphone. This was particularly useful when traveling with our laptop or smartphone.
There are numerous server locations.
However, we were pleased to find out that TunnelBear allowed us to connect to over 20 different server locations, whereas some VPNs restrict free users to a restricted number of virtual locations. In order to get faster speeds, we could choose a server that was closest to us and switch between servers if our current connection was not operating well. Aside from that, for those of us who aren't geographers, the UI of TunnelBear makes it easy to visualize where the servers are physically located. Additionally, the user interface makes it simple to distinguish between multiple servers in close vicinity in case the closest one does not give appropriate speeds or if you want to change the location of your iPhone to a certain country or region.
The Best Free VPNs for 2022
For those who know they need a VPN but are afraid to pay for yet another software subscription, it makes sense to look into free VPN services. Theoretically, they appear to serve the same function as fully compensated services, but without the financial burden of the latter. It's quite seductive.
Having said that, if your major purpose for using a VPN is to provide an extra layer of security to your laptop or mobile device when connecting to public Wi-Fi, the best free VPNs can deliver satisfactory results.
A list of the best solutions available for download is provided on this page as a result of our research and development efforts. When it comes to free VPNs, we looked at their features and capabilities to see which ones were the most effective at keeping your online activity hidden without charging you a penny. While ExpressVPN is our top-rated premium VPN service provider in the world, ProtonVPN is the finest free VPN service provider at the time, as we discuss in more detail below.
The disadvantages of using a free VPN
The fact that a VPN service is provided for free usually indicates that the company is making money in another way, such as through invasive advertising or by selling your browser data to other parties (rather defeating the whole drive for privacy in the first place).
Additionally, free services frequently impose limits on the amount of data you can use and the speed at which you can use it, making them virtually ineffective for streaming video, torrenting, or adding an extra layer of dependable protection to your day-to-day online activities, as well as other activities. You should not expect the same ease of access to support or the same server range that commercial services may offer you.
Before we go into our list of the best free VPN downloads, it's important to note that a paid-for version can be had for as low as $2/£2 a month and offer significantly better performance and security.
Despite the thousands of reasons why acquiring a VPN subscription is a prudent investment, the reality is that premium VPNs are not for everyone. This review is for individuals looking for a free plan that can help them improve their digital security, keep their personal information private, and protect their computers or mobile phone from the prying eyes of hackers.
Our top recommendations in our best VPNs analysis, which you may have observed, all fall into the category of premium VPNs. While we've evaluated a number of respectable free VPNs, we've found that they just do not provide the same level of protection as paid VPNs. Why? Because many free VPNs have limits on certain activities, including but not limited to:
The phrase "there is no such thing as a free lunch" has never been more true than when it comes to free virtual private networks (VPNs). Many of them will sell your personal information to third-party organizations in order to reap the benefits of your service, as well as your site traffic and private IP addresses, in order to benefit from it. These companies will then sell your personal information to advertisers and marketers with the goal of developing tailored adverts for your interests. In the case where you're looking for a VPN in order to keep your personal information and web activities private, the privacy policies of the services you choose could negate the objective of using a VPN. To conclude, as a final appeal, here are the VPNs that we believe are the best available. Despite the fact that they are not free, their pricing is so fair that we believe you should give them a second thought.
Although this is the case, you may find these restrictions and recording regulations to be reasonable in your situation. Then continue reading to learn about our top picks for the best free VPNs, all of which have been thoroughly tested by our team of experts. Moreover, each of these VPNs has a subscription option, so if you find that you need to use them on additional devices or consume more bandwidth per day, you can always upgrade your membership. Without further ado, please enjoy our list of the best free VPNs for 2022!
What are the best free virtual private network (VPN) services accessible in 2022?
Among the best free VPNs in 2022 are PrivadoVPN, Hotspot Shield, Atlas VPN, Surfshark, TunnelBear, and Windscribe (see table below). PrivadoVPN is our top choice since it does not impose speed limits, has a large number of servers in 12 cities, and employs the most advanced encryption and VPN protocols available on the market.
Can free VPNs help you get around geo-restrictions?
While the majority of free VPNs are capable of circumventing geographical restrictions, we recommend free VPNs with more than ten locations for maximum performance.
What are the disadvantages of using a free VPN service?
A common limitation of free VPNs is the imposition of data use and speed caps, as well as a limit on the number of concurrent connections allowed. A handful of VPNs may also place limitations on the number of server locations that you can connect to at any given time.
Are free virtual private network (VPN) services secure?
We recommend using the free version of a reputable commercial VPN rather than downloading a VPN that claims to be completely free.
What is the business model of the organization?
Providers are in it for the money, and running a business of this nature is expensive, particularly if the business is successful. Some companies, such as Dropbox, will use their free version as a marketing strategy to entice potential customers to upgrade to a premium version once they have determined that they are content with the free one. The vast majority, on the other hand, will sell or otherwise transfer user data to a third party, putting your privacy at risk once more.
What measures does it take to protect my computer?
The vast majority of service providers use a desktop application that runs in the background and encrypts your data as you browse the web on their website. The problem, though, is that this only tackles a piece of the problem. Because of the permissive nature of tracking technologies, which are available on practically every website on the internet, your laptop can still be fingerprinted even if it is encrypted. WIndscribe, for example, takes a more complete approach by putting the ad-blocking equivalent of a super ad-blocker into their software.
What exactly am I giving up by going without pay?
In general, it is reasonable to expect that a free product will be compromised in some way, and this is true for all service providers. Some offer more free bandwidth than others, more major locations, and even ad blocking, P2P, and firewall protection with a simple paid upgrade path that unlocks unlimited bandwidth, additional locations, and OpenVPN configurations with a simple paid upgrade path that unlocks unlimited bandwidth, additional locations, and OpenVPN configurations.
Do you know if your service provider keeps any logs?
Confirm that your service provider does not retain any user data. Most of the time, this information can be found on the terms and conditions website or in the end-user license agreement, often known as the EULA. Unfortunately, many service providers prefer to frustrate their end-users by providing them with long terms and conditions or privacy statements that frequently exclude crucial information about how they operate. On the other end of the spectrum are services that delete all data after your session has ended and do not keep logs of what happened.
Is it feasible to register in an entirely anonymous manner?
A supplier that allows you to enroll without providing an email address and that accepts Bitcoin payments for maximum privacy is about the best thing you can find online. On top of that, some service providers offer double hopping, which allows you to further conceal your data by essentially increasing the level of privacy you already have.
See Also ::
If you liked our ranking, you might also like our video evaluation of the best free VPNs, which you can watch below. It includes further information on our top recommendations as well as demonstrations of the free VPNs that we have highlighted.
That concludes our list of the top free VPNs. However, if you want to investigate your alternatives independently, here's an insider peek at our review methodology and the criteria we use to compare VPNs, whether free-to-use or not.
To begin, we want our VPN to safeguard our privacy without impairing our browsing experience, most notably our internet speed. Almost every VPN we've tested hindered our connection, although the difference in any of the performance categories — notably, latency (ping), download speed, and upload speed — should not surpass 40%.
We evaluated free VPNs using Ookla's Speedtest. To ensure consistency in the results, we connected only one device to our network at a time and then ran a speed test on the device without utilizing a VPN. We next ran another speed test, this time using VPNs. We recorded the results and calculated the % difference in latency, download speeds, and upload speeds. The tests were conducted on both Mac and Windows PCs.
Bear in mind that speed test findings are not always conclusive. Other factors such as our location to the server, the current online traffic of both our internet service provider and the VPNs, and the device we utilized, to name a few, may affect the results. Thus, while we make every effort to ensure the accuracy of our test findings, we do not just rely on speed to decide our best picks.
VPNs protect personally identifiable information by encrypting web traffic that may contain it. Unfortunately, while the majority of VPNs encrypt web traffic, some collect additional types of metadata that they sell to third parties for a fee.
This is especially true when it comes to free VPNs. As the adage goes, "if you don't pay for a product, you become the product." To determine which VPNs adhere to this policy and which do not, we examined their privacy policies and the types of data they collect and preserve. While some, such as ProtonVPN, have tight log regulations, others save some categories of data but instantly destroy it upon connection. Both are okay, but in a perfect world, our VPN would gather no data other than the very minimum required to maintain our subscription.
Additionally, we examined each VPN provider's legal requirements to disclose consumer data with the government. Businesses located in member nations of the Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, and 14 Eyes multinational monitoring alliances have an increased danger of being forced to provide over consumer information by their government. While we will not go so far as to shun them entirely, we want our readers to be aware of the dangers.
On a more technical level, we used internet tools to check for DNS and WebRTC leakage. By comparing our IP address to the one displayed on the DNS Leak Test website, we can determine whether VPNs have DNS leaks. 3 Similarly, we test for WebRTC breaches using ExpressVPN's online tool.
We also care about the performance of VPNs. We are constantly on the hunt for innovative VPN features. For example, we investigated whether VPNs provide a kill switch, which suspends all online activity in the case that the VPNs fail to prevent our data from being leaked to our internet provider. Another valuable feature is split tunneling, which enables devices to connect to the Internet via two distinct tunnels. One tunnel connects to a VPN, while the other connects to a public network without using a VPN. This feature is advantageous for multitasking and results in higher speeds due to the reduced bandwidth requirement. Finally, we gave extra points to VPNs with multi-hop or at the very least double-hop connections, as they encrypt data many times as it hops between servers.
Given the subject matter of this review, we didn't place a high premium on pricing. However, we'd like to emphasize that each of the five free VPNs on our list also offers a paid version. Our evaluation is based on a variety of variables, including the functionality offered by the VPNs and their cost in comparison to competitors. Paid VPNs can cost as little as a dollar per month in our experience, but the more expensive ones can cost up to $15 per month.
No matter how tech-savvy we are, we occasionally come into problems that we are unable to resolve on our own, which is why we like to know how easy (or difficult) it is to contact the VPNs' customer support departments. Email support is not suitable for us, as the majority of businesses are slow to react to email tickets. We like businesses that offer live chat or phone assistance, and even better if such channels are open 24/7.
Finally, we examined the VPNs' Android and iOS mobile applications, concentrating on their functionality. Are they simple to operate? Are they effective? What do other users have to say about the applications? Additionally, we analyze customer reviews and compare their observations to ours in order to identify any similarities.
To be honest, there is no simple answer to this issue. It depends on the purpose for which you intend to utilize your free VPN. If you're looking for a simple way to add a layer of security to your laptop or mobile device when accessing public Wi-Fi, these may be exactly the ticket. Connect to the service, enable an encrypted server connection, and carry on with your online activities secure in the assurance that no prying eyes will be able to view your sensitive information.
However, if your primary goal is to use a VPN for streaming or to download terabytes of torrent files, a free VPN will fall short. To begin, the majority of them impose a daily or monthly data cap that you will quickly exhaust. While the majority lack the easy access support and server range required to facilitate those operations through the use of a virtual private network.
How to choose a free VPN: Five critical questions to ask
Global threats to individual privacy have increased in recent years, with long-held rights to anonymity and net neutrality being attacked under the guise of legitimacy.
While virtual private networks are not a panacea for online safety, security, and privacy, they remain a crucial component of the arsenal for anyone seeking these liberties.
If you don't already have one, you can get one for free, without paying a dime. However, use caution, since not all free VPN providers are equal, and some may potentially harm your security.
Before you download and install one, here are five questions you should ask yourself.
While the primary criticism leveled towards free VPNs is that they are not nearly as useful as commercial options, there are serious risks associated with some proponents (thankfully not with the services pinpointed above).
For example, research conducted in 2020 indicated that over 40% of free Android VPNs accessible on the Google Play Store do not adequately safeguard their users' privacy. As a result, the additional online protection you anticipated is just not there.
Still, undecided between a free VPN and a premium paid-for option? There may be an ideal middle ground, as virtually all of the world's greatest providers allow you to try them risk- and cost-free. Our comprehensive guide to the top free VPN trials will assist you in locating one and getting started.
There are several familiar names mentioned. ExpressVPN, our #1 favorite service in the globe, is at the top of the list, with a 30-day money-back guarantee. While the news gets even better with companies like Hotspot Shield, which offers a 45-day money-back guarantee.
It's worth noting that you must pay for these services in advance. However, they take pleasure in making the return process as simple as possible, allowing you to easily request a complete refund online.