5 Best Free VPN Services

During the COVID-19 pandemic, VPN usage in the United States has risen by more than 120%. Virtual Private Networks are crucial for internet security and keeping your data safe from malicious parties.

Some VPNs are pricy, but there are plenty of free options available.

Best Overall
hotspot shield logo
Editor's Rating    5/5

Hotspot Shield is one of the hottest VPN providers on the market. Hotspot provides protection and privacy via a mobile and desktop app.  They are my #1 recommended best free VPN service.

Best for Torrents
Surfshark logo
Editor's Rating    4.5/5

Surfshark is a great VPN service that has a few unique privacy features - like a kill switch and multi-hop - that make it a worthwhile VPN. They are my top choice when it comes to torrenting. Check them out by clicking the link below.

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If you’re looking to protect yourself without breaking the bank, we’re here to help. Here are five of the best free VPN services available in 2022.

Our Top Picks for the Best Free VPN

Comparison of the Best Free VPNs

#1

Hotspot Should helps you protect yourself with military-grade encryption, and access sites and streaming content around the world.

#2
#2
Surfshark logo

Our Partner

Surfshark is a great VPN service that has a few unique privacy features - like a kill switch and multi-hop - that make it a worthwhile VPN.

#2
#3

TunnelBear encrypts your internet connection to keep your online activity private on any network.

#2
#4

PrivadoVPN is a Switzerland-based VPN company that is fast, secure, and helps you protect your online privacy anywhere around the globe.

#2
#5
ProtonVPN logo

Our Partner

ProtonVPN has hundreds of secure VPN servers all around the world, including several free VPN servers.

5 Best Free VPN Services Reviewed

1. Hotspot Shield - Best Overall

Hotspot Shield is one of the most popular VPN options available. Though there are premium and premium family options, you can also opt-in for their basic plan at no cost whatsoever.

There are limitations, but everything that you need from a VPN is available.  The basic plan allows you to connect one device with limited streaming access.

The connection speed goes up to 2 Mbps with a 500 MB daily data limit. With the basic plan, only one United States virtual location is available.  An internet kill switch and multiple VPN protocols help to keep your identity private and secure. Military-grade encryption will stop your data from falling into the wrong hands.

Overall, it’s a free-to-use VPN that gives you everything you need to safely and comfortably browse.

Pros

  • Military-grade encryption
  • Internet kill switch
  • Decent connection speed

Cons

  • Heavily limited locations
  • Only available for one device

2. Surfshark - Best for Torrenting

Our second option is SurfShark, though it comes with a caveat. SurfShark isn’t completely free, though it’s exceptionally cheap for a VPN. With a sign-up plan, you can earn two free months, making it free for a time before the next charging.

SurfShark is one of the best available options for torrenting and streaming. The ability to change digital locations helps you get around geographic barriers to skirt restrictions.

With data protection and antivirus, the SurfShark VPN is excellent for keeping you safe and hidden.

Pros

  • Low cost
  • Great torrenting capabilities
  • Antivirus and alerts included

Cons

  • Not truly free
  • Receiving free months requires a lengthy plan

3. TunnelBear - Most Secure

TunnelBear is a reputable and reliable VPN to snag for free. It offers a low amount of features as far as free VPNs go and is difficult to suggest over competitors. The premium plans offer fantastic features, but as far as unpaid plans go, TunnelBear’s only selling point is being free.

For the free plan, TunnelBear offers 500MB of secure browsing. It’s enough to keep your data safe and see if you like Tunnelbear enough to upgrade to one of their fantastic paid plans.

If you don’t intend to upgrade, though, you’re likely better off going for another on this list.

Pros

  • Completely free
  • Easy to use
  • Reputable company

Cons

  • Low secure browsing
  • Nearly void of features when free

4. PrivadoVPN - Best for Windows/Macs

PrivadoVPN is another option that offers a free plan as well as premium paths instead. The premium paths are fantastic, but if you don’t want to shell out the cash, the free plan option is still a great choice.

PrivadoVPN is especially popular among Windows and Mac users.  The free plan offers 10GB of free data every 30 days with servers in 12 cities and a single connection.

With P2P connectivity, zero logs, and streaming support for unlimited devices, the free plan offers more than some paid plans do.

Pros

  • Strong streaming support
  • Unlimited devices
  • Secure browsing

Cons

  • Single connection
  • 10GB data limit

5. ProtonVPN - Best for Unlimited Data

Closing out the list is ProtonVPN, an excellent option both free and paid. With the free version, you’ll receive access to 24 servers in three different countries.

Though this pales in comparison to the paid plans 400+ servers in 40+ countries, it’s a strong feature for a free VPN service.  The connection comes at a medium speed with a single VPN connection and a strict no-log policy. ProtonVPN is also great for accessing blocked content.

Overall, ProtonVPN is a solid choice for a free VPN service that won’t leave you feeling like you’re lacking features.

Pros

  • A high number of servers
  • Multiple countries
  • Decent speed

Cons

  • Limited compared to paid plans
  • Limits to speed

How We Decided

Free VPNs will often share similar features, making it sometimes difficult to find which is better than others. That said, many will still offer something that can help make the experience better than competitors.

Some, like TunnelBear, use their free plans as a way to promote their paid services. While that’s a solid strategy and TunnelBear is overall one of the most secure options available, it isn’t helpful if you want to use a free version indefinitely.

One of the first things to look at when comparing plans is the data offered. Some will cap out at a point, making them relatively useless if you use them frequently.

Those with a low data cap can hit that VPN downloads cap within a week or so and have no benefit for the rest of the month.  How many servers they offer is also vital for your connection and experience.

If they only offer one server a great distance away from you, you may find the VPN practically unusable. Make sure there are connections nearby you.

Finally, a VPN that doesn’t offer different countries is useless for getting around geographical blocks, such as streaming services that aren’t offered in your nation.

Because of this, you should aim for a VPN that lets you switch nations if streaming is your goal.  Overall, there are dozens of features that you’ll want from a VPN.

Look into connection speed, data caps, available servers, and regions that you can switch over to. These are generally the make-or-break features that you’ll want in a VPN, free or not.

Free VPN vs. Paid VPN: What’s the Difference

To put it simply, a free VPN will generally have fewer features than a paid VPN. Data caps are usually much lower, if they exist at all. Paid VPNs often have no cap, allowing you to use the VPN for as long as you’d like rather than nullifying them after a certain amount of data is gone.

Free VPNs will often also have a limited connection speed that slows your VPN down in comparison to paid VPNs. Generally, this is somewhat arbitrary to help convince you to change your subscription to a paid premium plan from the same company.

Free VPNs also will give fewer servers that you can utilize. Additionally, they might limit the nations you can switch your VPN to. Paid servers will provide more nations to switch to, as well as more servers to pick from, making it easier to access blocked content.

Finally, free VPNs will often offer fewer supported devices. A free VPN is usually only able to support one device at a time. Paid VPNs will support many more, typically an unlimited number, though it depends on the provider in question.

How to Choose a Free VPN to Use

Ultimately, the best free VPN service is the one that fits your purposes. The first thing you should do is decide what you intend to be using your VPN for.

If you’re using it for streaming or torrenting, for example, you should look for one that lets you switch nations to avoid blocks.

If your primary purpose is secure browsing, you might not need alternate servers or nations. Instead, focus on one that offers strong encryption, log-free data, and other features to keep your data safe.

Users that have no specific focus may just want to look for generally strong features. Good connectivity, a large number of servers and nations supported, multi-device support, and a high data cap are all things that you might want for your free VPN.

If there’s a certain brand that you’ve been considering the premium version of, take their free VPN first. It usually will serve as an example of what you can expect from their premium versions as a whole, making it an easy choice.

Next Steps

Now that you know everything you need to know about securing your internet access with a free VPN, the next step is to consider your needs. Look into what you want from a VPN and choose which from our list best fits it.

If none on our list fit, there are thousands of other options!  VPNs provide security on the internet and keep your data out of the hands of others.

They’re an important tool whether you’re trying to skirt content blocks for foreign streaming services or browse websites in peace. Free or premium, you should look into one immediately.

For more information, feel free to contact us. You can also browse our extensive website to learn more about cybersecurity and VPNs.

Free VPN FAQ's

With everything discussed, there are still some questions that linger for many users. Here’s a brief list of frequently asked questions to help dispel any remaining concerns over using a free virtual private network.

What are the limitations when using a free VPN?

The primary limitations are speed, devices, data caps, and nations represented. However, the limitations are not universal as it depends on the VPN.

Different companies will give different limitations, making your decision easier if you know what limitations you’re okay with.  Some will offer unlimited data but at a lower speed or some other trade-off.

Few VPN providers offer unlimited devices or a large number of nations represented. Overall, the limitations depend on the provider.

Can you really use a VPN for free?

Absolutely! Many free VPNs are meant to be a trial for a paid program, which makes them relatively barebones. However, many VPNs are free as a whole and are still completely usable VPNs without needing to upgrade.

On our list, the only VPN that isn’t indefinitely usable for free is SurfShark. Others, like TunnelBear, offer relatively little to help encourage you to upgrade to a paid program.

Past that, the VPNs on our list are completely free to use for as long as you want. Though you may decide that you would prefer to upgrade to a free version, nothing is forcing you to do so.

You’re free to use these - and many other VPNs - for as long as you would like.

Are free VPNs safe to use?

Free VPNs can be dangerous, and you should always do the needed research to ensure that the one you’re using is safe to use. Simply searching for a free VPN and giving your information to the first one that appears is a massive risk and not one that we suggest you take.

One of the most important things for us in making this list was reputable names. We strongly suggest you stick to companies with a good reputation and strong reviews, even if another is offering a better free VPN.

Reputable companies will keep your data secure, but there are plenty of scam VPNs. Stay with well-known companies to ensure your VPN isn’t the threat you’re trying to protect yourself from.

Can VPNs sell my personal data?

As with any company, a VPN is capable of selling your information. Sketchier, less reliable VPNs are much more likely to do this and should be avoided.

Scam VPNs are unfortunately common and typically are free to get your information as fast as possible.  A reputable VPN is in the business of keeping your information secure and will not sell it.

Stick to VPNs that you know are safe to use to lower the chance of having your information sold off to parties that you don’t want to access it.

Can I watch Netflix with a free VPN?

Yes, and this is one of the most common uses for a VPN. Many shows and streaming services are locked behind geographical blocks. A person in one nation may not be able to watch something streaming in another, which is frustrating and disappointing.

A VPN can shift your IP address to another nation, making it so that you can watch whatever you would like. Most VPNs will offer this feature as a selling point, but you should still make sure that they’re offering the nation that you need.

Hotspot Shield

Hotspot Should helps you protect yourself with military-grade encryption, and access sites and streaming content around the world.

Hotspot Shield icon
Quick Recap of Best Free VPNs

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