Top Free VPN Services

Privacy is almost impossible on the internet. Every website you use leaves cookies behind. Google wants to know everything about what you do, the movies you watch, and the people you email. Facebook’s algorithms track everything they can think of, hobbies, news, interests, works, and anything else they can grab.

How can you get your privacy back? A VPN is one of the best ways to keep your internet traffic to yourself. A VPN hides

  • Your IP Address and location
  • Your browsing history
  • What devices you use
  • Your web data

Basically, VPN encrypts your data and then acts as if some other computer far away is directing your web traffic. The right service will protect you with a secure VPN service for free. Not only will it keep your data safe, but it can also spoof your location so you can get stream media like your somewhere else!

How Does A VPN Work?

VPN stands for virtual private network. It’s designed to mask your browsing traffic and identity from anyone who might want to steal your data.

When you connect to the internet without a VPN, the connection is pretty simple. Your data goes out to the internet, and then it comes back. Depending on the encryption protocol your website uses, nefarious people could glean your private information, especially if you’re on public WIFI.

When you use VPN, you start up your VPN’s app on your device. It connects to a VPN server somewhere. The app encrypts your browsing data and sends it to the VPN server. The server, then, sends your browsing out to the internet.

Here’s how it helps your security:

  • Your traffic appears to come from the VPN server
  • Your IP address and device are hidden (mostly)
  • Your data is encrypted, so people can’t easily access it

What Affects Your Privacy?

When you find a free VPN for privacy concerns, you need to know something about the service.

Logging Policy

To be truly anonymous online, you need a VPN service that doesn’t keep user logs. A user log keeps an internal record of your traffic on the VPN server. Here are some of the data that servers may keep:

  • Browsing traffic
  • User data
  • IP Addresses
  • Payment logs

The less information your VPN logs, the more private it is. Some services will say that they don’t keep logs, but you really need to dig deep into their privacy policies to know for sure.

Location

Local laws also affect your VPN privacy. If you have a US free VPN, the service will be governed by different laws and regulations than a UK free VPN.

Each country’s privacy laws, search and seizure regulations, or censorship policies can affect how private your data truly is. It should be obvious that a VPN service from Russia or China would be different than one from Switzerland which has strong privacy laws.

Kill Switch

The trouble with the internet is that sometimes connections aren’t as stable as we’d like them. Servers go down or there’s a blip somewhere. When your VPN can’t maintain a secure connection, that can send your internet traffic back out in the open.

Some VPN services have a kill switch that shuts down all internet traffic when they can’t maintain a secure connection. This keeps your data secure even when the VPN server goes down. Without it, you can think you’re browsing anonymously when you’re not.


What Is A Good Free VPN Service?

There are a lot of premium VPN services. For most of them, you pay a small monthly fee, and then you get VPN service. But we think that everyone deserves to have internet privacy, and that means free. So, we’re here to help you find the top free VPN providers. Let’s take a look so you can see how to get a free VPN server.

How To Choose The Best Free VPN Service

Of course, when you’re looking to get VPN services free, you have to check all the details. Every provider has different strengths and weakness. Even more, they all limit the service somehow to drive people to their paid service instead. Here are the things you should look for:

  • Privacy: Some VPN services, free or paid, log your activity. No matter how anonymous their service, logs can eventually get traced back to you.
  • Security protocol: There are various levels of security protocols in free public VPN service. OpenVPN is fast and secure, but avoid PPTP or L2TP/IPSec.
  • Data limits: To give away VPN service free, many providers limit your data to push you to their paid service.
  • Server location: If you want to appear like you’re in a different country, server location matters. Look for a service with multiple servers around the world.
  • Multiple devices: We all use phones, computers, and tablets so we need to get free VPN service that supports multiple devices.
  • VPN Method: Does the VPN server use an app or do you get a free VPN server with no download?

A free VPN service will always limit something to drive you to their paid service. Most of them will claim that there’s some sort of right to privacy, so they want to give it to you for free. Don’t be fooled. They’re still using limits to get you to pay. Here are the most common limits:

  • Selling ads: They log your traffic and send it to 3rd party ad companies. So much for privacy.
  • Data limits: Some give you full service except for limited data, which can be as low as 500MB/month.
  • Server location: Some free VPNs limit the locations you can use for a free service. Some, like Hotspot Shield only offers US VPN servers.
  • Simultaneous connections: Free VPN service often limits you to one device at a time.
  • Speed: Free VPN will frequently throttle your connection speed or de-prioritize it when their servers are busy.

Depending on what you want out of your VPN, choose one limit or another. If you care more about privacy, choose one with no logs. If you just want to stream geo-blocked content, choose one that works with Netflix even if it keeps your data.


We Review The Best Free VPN Server For You

We looked at all the best free VPNs for 2019 to break down their services so you can see which ones are right for you. The reviews below should help you compare free VPN services to get the right service for you. Let’s take a look:


Hotspot Shield

 

Hotspot Shield Free VPN
The Hotspot Shield App

Hotspot Shield is a premium VPN service that has a free option. Their list of features for the premium service is lengthy and impressive, but that’s not what we’re here for, is it. What about their free service?

The free service sets several limits. It’s ad-supported, so you have to be patient with interruptions. However, we streamed just over 500MB, but we didn’t get a single ad.  You can only use one device at a time, too, so, you can’t protect all your browsing all the time. The VPN service gratis also only offers free VPN servers in the US.

But there are some great features, too. They are great for security. Not only do they not log your browsing, they also let you use the free service without registering for an account or giving them your credit card. Speeds are fast enough to stream video through Netflix.

Hotspot Shield must have recently changed their free service because other review articles have different details then their hotspot shield’s website. They no longer limit their free service to only 500mb/day. I checked it, too.

Pros
  • Fast connection even for streaming
  • Secure browsing
  • No activity logging
  • Set up was easy

Cons

  • Ad-supported
  • Only one device
  • Only US servers


Windscribe

Windscribe free VPN service
The Windscribe free US VPN app

Windscribe has some great features in both it’s VPN free services and it’s paid service, too. Windscribe doesn’t log your activity, blocks ads, offers both changing and static IP addresses, multiple devices, and you can download the software for every device and for your favorite browser.

Unlike others, their great free VPN service offers servers in 10 different countries, though not as many as their pro service, which has 60 countries and 110 cities. If you want to use a free VPN service in the USA for streaming foreign content, this one can work for you. If you don’t want to give them your email, they limit the data to 2GB/month. Still a decent limit, but not if you want to stream.

Pros
  • Multiple servers in 10 countries
  • Secure browsing
  • No activity logging
  • Shows data limit in app

Cons

  • 2GB/month limit with no email
  • 10GB/month limit with email
  • No Android app


TunnelBear

Tunnelbear VPN
Tunnelbear is easy to use, but it has a low data limit.

TunnelBear may be the easiest VPN service to use on the internet. With just a simple download, you can start up the VPN with just the click of a virtual button. With great speeds and easy to understand animation, even the most basic VPN free user can set it up.

Easy setup masks an extremely low data limit of 500MB/month. Forget streaming, that data limit might not even be enough for moderate social media scrolling. Yikes. Despite the limit, you can use TunnelBear for the rest of your life without upgrading and use all of their 22 country locations.

Pros
  • No activity logging
  • Extremely easy to use
  • Upfront security with audits
  • 22 country locations

Cons

  • Low data limit of 500MB/month
  • No streaming


Hide.me

hide.me free VPN

Handy web address, right? This VPN believes that your traffic should always remain private. They offer full speed access with no bandwidth limits. They don’t log your data or run it through 3rd party ad services. If privacy is your primary focus, this works better than ad-supported services. They believe that the people who want to find free vpn should get the best service.

Like the rest, however, they do limit their service. Hide.me limits the number and location of their servers to 5, Singapore, Canada, Netherlands, US East and US West. You may also use only one device at a time, and they have a 2GB data limit.

Pros
  • No activity logging or ad sales
  • 5 server locations on free service
  • So bandwidth or speed limitations
  • Zero-log policy

Cons

  • 2GB/Month data limit
  • 1 device at a time only
  • Works with some streaming apps


ProtonVPN

Proton VPN Free
Proton VPN for extra privacy

ProtonVPN focuses on security and anonymity. One of their biggest features comes from the fact that they are not an American free vpn server or a European free vpn server. As a Swiss company, (you remember Swiss bank accounts) they have the most stringent privacy laws in the world. Both the EU and the US force companies to have lower standards by law. It might be the best VPN in the world for free on privacy.

The free service runs through a download, and they limit it to three countries and only one device. However, there are no bandwidth limits, no data limits, and they don’t sell you ads. Privacy win.

Pros
  • Free, unlimited for life
  • Top notch privacy and encryption
  • No Streaming or TOR
  • Fail Safe

Cons

  • Only 1 device
  • Speed limits for free service
  • Only 3 countries


Opera

 

Opera browser with VPN free
Opera has VPN built in

Opera is different from any other free US VPN service, because it’s not really a VPN service. It’s a browser. This limits its usefulness, but they make up for that with unlimited, great VPN free for life. If you don’t mind a VPN that only works with a browser, this is the easiest way to get internet VPN service free for life.

When other free premium VPN services mask your location, it can affect local searches, giving you poor results. Opera can get around this limitation, so you can get local searches while still keeping the security you expect from a VPN. The biggest bonus, it works with Netflix. The famous streaming service blocks most VPNs free, so you can’t get region-blocked content.

One big con is that the service is more like a proxy than a VPN. That means it doesn’t use the same security to give you free VPN access that other services use.

Pros
  • Free, unlimited for life
  • Works with Netflix (We tested!)
  • No software to install
  • No user info or credit card

Cons

  • Browser VPN only
  • Less security- only HTTPS/SSL encryption
  • Some logging


Avira

VPN free
Avira Phantom Free VPN service

Avira is another free VPN with service in the US and other countries. Their free VPN service works across all your devices. It is compatible with streaming services though they don’t maintain a list of which ones, specifically. They have no limits on the number of devices, and it can automatically turn on when you connect to public WIFI. That’s a big deal if you spend a lot of time on the go or you work in coffee shops.

Avira limits their free mode to just 500MB/month. This means that the VPN will only work for people who browse very little or only want to occasionally use a VPN. They also don’t have fail safe for their free service, which means that if the VPN server goes down, your traffic will be public again without notice.

Pros
  • No download VPN for Chrome browser
  • No device limits
  • No speed limits

Cons

  • No kill-switch browsing
  • 500MB/month data limit

Update (July 2019) Avira has a Chrome extension and that extension has no data limits!


Speedify

Speedify VPN Free User
Speedify free VPN service

Speedify is a free US VPN service based in Philadelphia, USA. They offer great VPN service with no speed or between their free and paid services. Some reviewers claim that both Hulu and Netflix work with it, but you never know whether that will continue. Netflix keeps up with their blocking tech.

Speedify works on iOS, Android, Mac, and Windows machines, but it doesn’t support Linux. Not so big a deal for most of us, but if you have a Linux machine, this VPN isn’t right for you.

Speedify differentiates its paid and free services by limiting your data to only 5GB/month of data. That’s plenty for most people unless you want to do a lot of streaming. Their app shows you how much data you’ve used, so you know how much you have left on the free plan.

Pros
  • Fast speeds
  • Works with streaming
  • Torrent friendly

Cons

  • 1 device connection
  • 5GB/month data limit


Conclusion

Everyone knows that you get what you pay for. These free VPN services also have paid options that offer more features with fewer limits and faster speeds. If you use your VPN service all day, every day, you might consider getting a paid subscription. These paid services are pretty inexpensive, and they can make secure browsing much easier than free versions.

However, if you’re a more casual user, there’s no reason to pay when you can get a VPN service free. Just remember that there are always trade-offs. A free VPN server will limit you in some way, whether privacy, speed, data or something else. Choose wisely, and you’ll barely notice the limits. Choose poorly, and you won’t be able to see anything else.

One final option may give you the best of both worlds. If you’re willing to fiddle around with multiple apps, you can put together a patchwork of free VPN services to meet all your needs. When you’re most concerned about privacy, you can choose the service with the best policy. When you want to watch geo-blocked content, use the app that works with streaming. With a little work, you won’t even think about getting a paid service.

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: James H

James is a writer from Chicago, IL who is concerned about big tech and how the internet companies gather private data for their own uses. He is an internet specialist and technology review writer, and you can find his work at Lifewire, Amendo, the Federalist, and Brew Your Own Magazine.

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