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This website is an independent comparison site that aims to help consumers find the most suitable product for their needs. We are able to maintain a free, high-quality service by charging an advertising fee to featured brands whenever a user completes a purchase. These advertising fees might impact the placement of the brands on this page and combined with the conversion rates might impact the scoring as well which are further based on a combination of review findings, user experience and product popularity. For more information please review our how we rate page. We make best effort to present up-to-date information; however, we do not compare or include all service providers in the market.

ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN is not a free VPN per se. The reason it’s in the “best free VPN” category is its terrific 30-day money-back guarantee, which lets users try the features and services for about a month before deciding to acquire a paid plan or moving on to another option. Effectively, you get 30 days of free VPN because if you desire, you can get your money back.

Widely considered the best and most feature-rich VPN provider in the market, ExpressVPN implements a firm no logging policy, and since it is based in the British Virgin Islands, there are no law enforcement agencies that can ask for users’ data.

ExpressVPN also has one of the most responsive and useful customer support services. It has numerous guides and tutorials about how to install and use the VPN in various operating systems and devices, and it also offers s a live chat feature, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

When it comes to VPN protocols, ExpressVPN uses them all: OpenVPN (TCP and UDP), IKEv2, L2TP/IPSec, SSTP, and even the old PPTP. This alternative implements the military-grade AES 256-bit encryption to protect the users’ content, and it also has split tunneling, DNS leak protection, and a kill switch option.

Read ExpressVPN review »

NordVPN

NordVPN, based in Panama where there are no laws requiring the handing over of users’ data logs, is one of the top VPNs in the market because of its high speeds and performance.

We’ve included NordVPN here because you can try it for free for three days, which should be enough to decide if it’s right for you. In fact, NordVPN’s free trial may be the best of the industry, since unlike most of the options that offer a test period, it doesn’t require the customer to enter any credit card or payment information – only an email and name. Nord isn’t cheap, but the trial will help you decide if it’s worth it for you.

Users can easily protect their internet traffic on the go with the NordVPN mobile apps available on the Android and iOS devices, as well as enjoy the VPN service for the macOS and Windows operating systems. There are also proxy extensions for Chrome and Firefox. In addition, NordVPN can be used by six devices at the same time, slightly above the industry average.

NordVPN offers unlimited speed, bandwidth, and server switching, it implements double encryption, it has a kill switch, it makes sure to keep no logs of your activity and, on top of all that, has DNS leak protection.

Read NordVPN review »

PrivateVPN

As a younger player in the market, PrivateVPN continues to gain critical acclaim for its service quality. It offers excellent speeds, good performance, a user-friendly interface, and robust AES 256-bit encryption, which is the most secure one and nearly impossible to crack.

PrivateVPN is a paid service, but since it has a 30-day money-back guarantee, we consider it a good option to test a VPN with little financial risk. You provide your first payment when you sign-up but if after the 30 days you decide you don’t like it, you will get your money back with no questions asked. In addition to having this money-back option at least for the first month, PrivateVPN is not expensive.

If there is one drawback to the PrivateVPN service is that it doesn’t have a whole lot of servers: only 100 in total. However, this would be a more significant issue if the VPN security measures, speeds, and performance were to vary much from the server to server; PrivateVPN makes sure the rates are consistent. An added bonus is that the amount of countries available for connection, 56 in total, is more than enough and compares favorably to other choices.

PrivateVPN also has excellent customer service, with a live chat feature available all day, every day. It has unlimited speeds and bandwidth, and just like NordVPN, it allows six connections at the same time.

 

Read PrivateVPN review »

Hotspot Shield

Hotspot Shield is widely accepted and used around the globe, with a network of approximately 500 million people. The VPN client does not keep logs of the users’ activity and is a top brand in the field.

Although Hotspot Shield has paid plans, it also offers its customers a seven-day free trial account. This is a great way to try out the VPN for a week with little commitment. The plans themselves all come with a generous 45-day money back guarantee.

Hotspot Shield has servers in 25 countries, strategically spread around the world. It is not the highest amount available, but regardless, users laud this option for its reliability, trustworthiness, and ability to support iOS, Android, Mac, Windows, and Chrome. Users also like that it ’s excellent for accessing streaming content and surfing the web anonymously.

Hotspot Shield has malware protection, secure data encryption, is very straightforward to set up and use, and it offers more than acceptable speeds across its server network. There are virtually no drawbacks or negative points besides the low quantity of countries, and it even works with Netflix’s streaming library.

Read Hotspot Shield review »

Hide.me

Hide.me is a Malaysian-based VPN client that  prioritizes speed and performance over an enormous server network. It is known in the industry for having a free, no credit card needed plan which allows connections to servers in three locations and best effort bandwidth with a 2 GB data transfer limit. It has no port forwarding, and users can only use it on one device, but for a free option by a paid brand, it is not bad. There are also two premium, paid plans you can upgrade to.

Hide.me implements strong encryption, especially in the Plus and Premium plans. It and has about a hundred servers, which is not quite at the top of the industry but appears to be enough to put it among the preferred VPN options.

It’s compatible with Linux, Mac, iOS, Windows, and Android. Hide.me keeps no user data logs, has a great user interface and is simple to install, set up and use. It has a built-in live chat feature for customers who have questions they’d like answered quickly.

Read Hide.me review »

Free VPNs - Where to start?

VPNs, or Virtual Private Networks, are online services for the encryption, protection, and privacy of your online activities. They can modify the user’s IP address and provide a temporary IP to protect you from hackers, prying eyes and other threats including viruses, Trojans, worms, ransomware, malware, hackers and cybercriminals, crypto miners, man in the middle attacks, DDoS offenses, and more.

On top of this, a VPN will let users access several sites that, for location reason, are usually unreachable. Because of its ability to offer remote servers and change IP according to that server’s location, VPNs allow you to work online streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, the BBC iPlayer regardless of your actual location. The system also creates a perfect environment with regards to speed and security for sharing P2P data sharing or torrenting.

VPNs work by using encryption technologies and protocols to reroute traffic and send it securely through remote tunnels. Some of the most widely used VPN protocols are OpenVPN (the “gold standard” of the industry), IKEv2, L2TP/IPSec, SSTP and the old PPTP.

The encryption strength of a free VPN isn’t close to being comparable with that of paid VPN apps. Using free options can result in data and identity theft, with your data sold around the web. At a minimum, you will probably have to deal with annoying ad messages that can lead to viruses and other types of malware.

With a paid VPN client, users don’t have limits when it comes to bandwidth and server switching, whereas free VPNs have severe restrictions regarding both. Taking into account the added security risk and the low cost of VPNs today, free VPN services are not worth it.

Free VPN vs. Paid VPN

Free VPNs don’t charge you for their (limited) services, whereas paid for VPNs can cost from $4 to $10, depending on the option you select. That price is monthly, and if you can fit that into your budget, you should just use a paid VPN and discard the free VPN option.

Free VPN drawbacks

  1. Speed: The differences in speed are considerable. Of course, there are no set rates to compare, as every paid VPN performs differently, but it is evident that the top options in the market not only provide a substantially quicker service than free VPNs but are also more stable and consistent in all locations.
  2. Ads: There is the issue of ads. If you select a paid monthly plan with a custom VPN app, you will enjoy ad blocking measures, and avoid any risks involving them, such as getting infected with viruses and malware. Free VPNs have to pay for the maintenance of the service somehow, so they post annoying ads all over their interface to generate funds.
  3. Bandwidth limits: Most free VPN service providers have a bandwidth limit. Once you reach that amount of shared data, you won’t be able to use the system until the next cutoff. Depending on how much information you send and receive, you may need to wait for weeks until you can use it again.
  4. Server Choice: Free VPNs have significantly fewer server locations than paid VPNs. They don’t have the same money to invest in infrastructure and maintenance. You get what you pay for – if you’re expecting robust encryption with a choice of numerous servers and countries while paying nothing, you’ll be disappointed.
  5. Streaming: Because of their infrastructure capabilities you won’t get access to Netflix, Hulu or BBC iPlayer with a free VPN.  These services are locked in a kind of ‘war’ with VPNs and only the best paid for VPNs have the technology stack and capabilities to overcome this.

Advantages of Premium VPNs

In addition to the basic functions listed above that free VPNs can’t provide there’s a number of other advantages for paying for a VPN

  1. Customer Support: Paid VPNs have excellent customer support, with often impressive response times via email or better yet, live chat. Free VPNs are not in a position to offer these  support features
  2. Multiple Devices: Paid VPNs can be used with multiple devices, whereas the vast majority of free VPN options allow only one device at a time. Custom apps usually let users connect three, four, five or even six gadgets under the same account.
  3. User-Friendly: Paid VPNs are much more user-friendly than free VPNs. Furthermore paid VPNs are updated on a regular basis.
  4. Protocol Choice: While free VPNs often come with only one built-in protocol for content encryption, paid VPNs to let you choose between several options. The best providers have the five most commonly adopted protocols: OpenVPN, L2TP/IPSec, SSTP, IKEv2, and PPTP.
  5. Privacy Levels: Paid VPNs typically do not keep logs of users’ activity because they care about their privacy, and they don’t have the intention of selling it around the web. Free VPNs cannot offer the same.

Is using a free VPN safe?

It has been known for Free VPNs to sell their customer’s data. They claim that they don’t keep logs of your activity, but that is not true, at least in the vast majority of cases. Think about online and retail stores and behavioral marketing: they use information such as your recently visited and most frequently opened sites to know your likes and patterns, and they put together a profile of you as a consumer to sell you more items.

To collect information about potential clients, free VPNs often reach agreements (sometimes with money involved) with Internet Service Providers. Paid VPNs may charge, but they care about your online security – so they don’t keep logs of your data, and if they do, generally it is minimal metadata that they won’t share with law enforcement agencies.

Free VPNs cannot be considered to be “safe and secure VPNs.” Unique features like a kill switch or DNS leak blocking are provided only by paid VPNs. Free VPNs don’t have the budget to offer anything more than unsecured encryption and a handful of servers for connection. Free VPNs don’t have the funds to invest in security measures and infrastructure. It is a matter of mathematics. If you want privacy, security, and anonymity, you should purchase a custom VPN provider with robust encryption.

Ask yourself why you need a VPN service. If security and privacy are significant factors, you should consider a paid VPN provider.

How to set up a free VPN

We’ll use ExpressVPN as an example. Here is how you set up a free VPN on iOS:

  • Register for an ExpressVPN subscription on its website
  • Download and install the ExpressVPN app for iOS on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod
  • Establish a connection with the server and country of your choice
  • You are done! Now you can enjoy VPN encryption on your iOS devices

Here’s how you set up a free VPN on Android:

  • Register for an ExpressVPN subscription on its website
  • Download and install the ExpressVPN app for Android on your smartphone or tablet
  • Establish a connection with the server and country of your choice
  • You are done! Now you can enjoy VPN encryption on your Android devices

Here is how you set up a free VPN on Windows:

  • Register for an ExpressVPN subscription on its website
  • Download and install the ExpressVPN VPN app for Windows on your device
  • Establish a connection with the server and country of your choice
  • You are done! Now you can enjoy VPN encryption on your Android devices

Free VPN for Torrenting

If you are a torrent lover who likes to legally download movies, series, and music, then you should know that you need a VPN who allows P2P activity and has unlimited bandwidth, unlimited data for downloading, and excellent privacy.

If you want all of those things, then a free VPN won’t work as free VPNs usually have a data sharing cap, not-so-secure encryption, and vulnerable privacy settings. A paid option is the appropriate choice for safe torrenting.

Free VPN for iPhone and Android

If you have a smartphone, be it an Android or an iOS device, you should avoid free VPNs. When you expect it the least, there may be cracks and leaks in your system that can lead to hackers stealing your credit card details and passwords. A paid VPN does a far better job protecting you from hacking attacks, especially on public Wi-Fi networks  – the no 1 place for unsafe smartphone activity,

Free VPN for Mac and Windows

VPNs are also suitable for PCs, Mac computers, and laptops. However, you need to consider a paid alternative before a free one, because it can do a better job protecting your digital assets.

Imagine having a free VPN with weak encryption and vulnerable privacy, on a public wifi network. Before you have finished an email, viruses may have already infected your system, or a hacker may have already stolen your credit card number. Free VPNs can’t protect your computers against thieves, snoops, and governments, either.

Free VPN For Kodi

If you have Kodi as your preferred streaming network, a free VPN will be far worse than using a paid one. For starters, Kodi is open source, which means that it benefits from the contributions of the community. Numerous unofficial add-ons haven’t been thoroughly audited and tested, and they may represent a threat to your poorly-protected system if you use a cost-free alternative.

The other advantage of using a paid VPN instead of a free one for Kodi is that paid VPNs have significantly more locations and countries, which means that the user will be able to access more international content. A paid VPN also provides a faster connection speed, which is necessary for online streaming.

Conclusion

In conclusion, free VPNs shouldn’t be considered if you take your online privacy seriously; and with premium VPN’s subscriptions starting from just $4, it’s a small price to pay for the peace of mind knowing that your online activity is secure and anonymous.

Free VPNs limit the amount of data you can send and receive, they don’t provide a secure enough encryption, and they can leak out your IP address when you least expect it. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that paid VPNs are expensive. They are very affordable, with prices that vary from $4 to approximately $10 per month. For quality encryption, absolute privacy, and a range of features, see ExpressVPN, NordVPN, PrivateVPN, Hotspot Shield or Hide.me.

Written by: Graeme Messina

Graeme is an IT professional with a special interest in computer forensics, security, and software. When not building networks and researching the latest software trends, he enjoys writing technical articles and blog posts.

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