Gone are the days when you would walk into a coffee shop, connect to a public Wi-Fi and enjoy streaming your favorite shows or doing your work online. Hackers, spammers, and spying agencies now take advantage and steal your personal information or send you some corrupt files.
Also, Internet Service Providers can collect your data anonymously by examining your web behavior. It’s the reason why most people are now using a VPN to protect their privacy and anonymity online.
However, you may not have some extra cash to get a paid VPN service. You can relax as there are plenty of free VPNs available. Although free VPNs have a reputation of leaking IP address and collecting user information, some reputable free VPNs exist.
Types of Free VPN Services
You can get either the unlimited free VPN or sign up for the freemium VPNs.
Unlimited free VPNs allow you to enjoy unlimited access to the free VPN server network. However, research finds this category dangerous as most collect user data and sell it to ad sites. Also, they may not provide you with maximum privacy and security online.
Freemium VPNs gives you a free trial period with the hope that you’ll upgrade to a paid subscription. You will enjoy limited data over some time but may have access to some premium security features while on the free trial.
The only disadvantage with the freemium VPN is that you may encounter some disruptions with the speeds and server network.
What Should You Look For in a Free VPN?
While you can easily search free VPN on Google and choose the one that appears on top, you may be shocked to find out it doesn’t meet your needs or it could be logging your information anonymously.
Fortunately, you can save yourself the hassle by understanding what to look for in a free VPN. Some of the factors to evaluate before you download and install a free VPN include:
The Company’s Business Model
Running any business requires some money, and most VPN providers are in for the money. A few providers allow you to use their free services hoping that you’ll subscribe to a paid version. However, some that offer completely free services sell your data or provide other things to third-parties, which may interfere with your privacy.
The Protection the VPN Provider Offers
You need to find a VPN service that prioritizes your security and anonymity. You’ll see most providers have encryption features, but this may not be sufficient. VPN providers like Windscribe offer advanced security features to keep you safe.
The Company’s Logging Policy
You need to ensure that your preferred VPN provider doesn’t store your browsing habits or your data. Read the company’s terms of service or end-user license agreements. Don’t forget to read reviews as this will tell you if the company keeps logs or erases everything once your session expires.
Although most free VPNs have a terrible reputation of leaking your data, some go the extra mile to give you maximum privacy. You’ll notice that some VPNs allow cryptocurrency payment options to ensure that you’re completely anonymous.
The Criteria We Used to Choose the Best Free VPN
Before coming up with our list of the best free VPN, we considered specific questions like:
It’s critical to note that although most free VPNs state that they do not sell your data to third parties, there isn’t a way to verify their claims. For added privacy and anonymity, you need to get a reputable VPN service.
Alternatively, you can opt for a free trial from a VPN provider known for excellent performance and fast speeds. Dodgy VPN providers can take advantage of you by selling your browsing information to advertisers, stealing your bandwidth, injecting spam into your browser, and modifying content that appears when you log in on your browser.
Top Best Free VPN services in 2019
Some of the best free VPN services of 2019 are:
Tunnel Bear has its headquarters in Canada. The company has been in existence since 2011, and it’s a favorite with users due to its excellent customer support and its unique way of providing VPN services.
Although the VPN service provider has its servers in 20 countries, the company allows you to access servers in Europe, America, Australia, and Asia. You also get access to other additional features like the Vigilant Bear which blocks unsafe traffic when your Wi-Fi connection drops and GhostBear which resembles real VPN traffic.
The free VPN, which they refer to as Little Bear, has access to all these features, although there are specific features they can’t enjoy. For example, those on the free plan can only transfer data at 500MB each month. However, you can get a boost of 1.5GB a month if you tweet about the company.
You can connect up to five devices simultaneously. What’s more, TunnelBear works for smartphones as it has mobile-friendly apps compatible with iOS and Android devices. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to know what exactly you’re getting when you sign up for this VPN service.
Their website provides little information and doesn’t state if they have a protocol or encryption. Also, they don’t offer any bandwidth information or what dorm of connections they offer.
Overall, TunnelBear is a reliable free VPN service with ample features and ergonomic software.
Windscribe is another favorite free VPN service with its headquarters in Canada. The company has over four years’ experience in providing VPN services to its clients. Although the company is new to the scene, its reputation in the community means that it has something to offer.
Although most free VPNs have slow speeds and limit their bandwidth, Windscribe is different as it provides 100 Mbps connection with impressive upload and download options. Other notable features include a firewall and ad-blocking tool to makes your experience seamless, its P2P capability makes it a winner for those looking for a free, reliable VPN.
You have an option of connecting to 11 servers in more than 20 locations. What’s more, you can sign up for the VPN without email. Windscribe allows you to pay with Bitcoin, unlike other VPNs.
However, Windscribe limits you from their premium features with the free plan, and you don’t get OpenVPN configurations.
Windscribe is an excellent free VPN with a variety of locations. You can torrent with it and enjoy perfect streaming.
CyberGhost VPN is a favorite with most users as it’s compatible with various operating systems. Also, its user-friendly interface, reliability, and fast speeds make it a winner. What’s more, you can spoof your location to access restricted sites like Amazon Prime and Netflix.
Some of the notable features of CyberGhost include 256-bit encryption, zero logs policy, 2048 RSA key for authentication, and an automatic kill switch. You also get DNS leak protection and P2P file sharing with their free plan.
CyberGhost is one of the free VPN services that doesn’t have a free trial limitation or data cap in its packages. Although it has limited servers, its features and impressive customer service make it a reliable VPN provider.
Hotspot shield allows you to connect five devices on a single account. You can opt for a server in one of the listed countries with the paid version, but you’re limited to the servers you can connect to with their free plan.
However, its military-grade encryption protects your safety online especially if you do your shopping or banking online. You’ll love Hotspot Shield’s intuitive interface that works well with both PC and mobile apps.
Unfortunately, you’re limited to 500MB on the free plan. What’s more, you need to sign up for the premium version to enjoy a seven-day trial. Nonetheless, you can opt for the free version after the premium trial expires.
Proton VPN is another VPN service provider that offers a free plan and a premium package. Unlike other free VPNs, Proton VPN doesn’t limit your bandwidth, which allows you to use data without worrying about data caps.
What’s more, the VPN provider has a strict no-logging policy, doesn’t put any ads, and allows you to sign up for their service with only your email address. You can use Proton VPN with various operating systems, and it comes with compatible mobile apps with a solid performance.
On the downside, Proton VPN doesn’t support P2P, offers only three locations, and you’re limited to a single device. Also, users on the free plan may experience slow speeds as they don’t get priority like paying users.
Hide.me gives you 2GB of data with their free plan and its privacy features make it a reliable free VPN service. You don’t have to deal with throttling connection speeds or worry about the company logging your data.
The VPN provider doesn’t put ads on their website, and you can use the software with Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android operating systems. Their impressive technical service is available to free users, and you’ll enjoy the excellent performance.
Hide.me features fantastic tools like DNS leak protection and an automatic kill switch. Its variety of VPN protocols maintain your security and privacy online. Another excellent feature is that the VPN provider has P2P servers in various countries.
Unfortunately, with the free plan, you can only connect a single device, and you’re limited to three server locations which are Netherlands, Canada, and Singapore.
If you’re looking for a free VPN that’s versatile, you may want to look into SurfEasy VPN. Being a part of Opera Software means that you can access a free inbuilt VPN feature with a choice of five countries.
Get to enjoy unlimited bandwidth and excellent connections with SurfEasy. You may encounter some interference, but this doesn’t last. The Starter plan is downloadable for both mobile and PC users. Moreover, you get a choice of 16 countries with this plan.
Another benefit is that you can connect up to five devices on one account and access automatic connections with the Starter plan.
However, the free plan limits you to 500MB a month, but you can get 100MB more if you confirm your email address.
Private Tunnel works for various platforms like Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android. Their free package. Their free package gives you up to 200MB of data, which is lower than most free VPN subscription plans.
The VPN provider works well although you may encounter some disruptions. It’s simple to use and offers a wide range of clients.
Speedify is one of the fee VPN providers that gives you excellent speeds apart from the secure encryption. Also, the VPN provider uses all connections to ensure that you don’t suffer from buffering.
Their free plan allows you to access the same servers but limits your data. You get 4GB of data allowance for the first month. However, the data limit drops to one Gigabyte in the next months. Speedify proves to be an excellent performer in regards to its speed.
Avira Phantom VPN
Avira Phantom free VPN is simple to use and boasts of excellent speeds. Furthermore, free users have access to over 80 servers in more than 20 countries. Also, its compatibility with multiple operating systems makes it a winner with both PC and mobile users.
With its headquarters in Germany, you can expect privacy and anonymity with this VPN provider. Unfortunately, you’re only limited to 1GB of data a month, and you may experience some interruption with the network speeds.
Best Free VPN Trials
You don’t have to sign up for a paid package, but you can take advantage of free VPN trials like:
ExpressVPN gives you the chance to test their VPN services by making use of their 30-day money back guarantee. Once you pay for the whole month, you can access their security features and excellent performance levels without any limitations.
You get access to an array of servers, unlimited bandwidth, a kill switch and more. If the services don’t meet your expectations, you can express your concerns to their support and get a refund.
ZenMate has its headquarters in Germany and offers you a 7-day trial without limitations if you confirm your free trial account. You can enjoy a limited free version if you choose not to upgrade to a paid account.
The VPN provider has a broader network of servers and can support different devices. It also comes with a kill switch and an auto-reconnect feature.
NordVPN boasts of a user-friendly interface and fast speeds which make it an ideal VPN service provider. With its advanced features and cryptocurrency payment option, you can be sure of 100% anonymity and privacy online.
You can sign up for their seven-day trial to determine if it’s the best choice for you. The trial comes without any restrictions.
You get 1GB free trial when you sign up for the service through the mobile app or PC. All you’ll need is an email address and password to create the account. The company doesn’t require any payment information for the free trial.
What’s more, there’s a calendar length on when the free data will expire. Some of the benefits of the free trial subscription include excellent speeds, encrypted connections, and maximum protection. Although the 1GB of data may not be enough, it still gives you a feel of what the VPN has to offer.
Why You Should Avoid Completely Free VPNs
Completely free VPNs may be dangerous as they could expose you to:
Companies who claim to offer free VPN services could be making money off you by stealing your data. The company may use this data to hijack your accounts, hit you with spam emails, take your credit card details, or encrypt your devices.
Research shows that 38% of free VPNs for Android have malware. Some VPNs may be highly-rated but may expose you to malware.
Tracking Your Web Activity
Hidden tracking collects your data, which the company could sell to analytics or advertising companies. Avoid VPN providers who masquerade as security and privacy providers while in essence, they are spyware.
Some companies offering free VPNs steal your bandwidth and sell it to third parties. For example, Hola VPN has been found to share user data with third parties. Also, their TOS states that you may be a peer on the Luminati network, which is where they sell the bandwidth. As a Hola VPN user, you’re at risk of hacking and other cyber threats.
The best VPN should encrypt your web traffic and keep you safe. However, some free VPNs leak data, which could expose your data t hackers and other spying agencies. Most leaks occur as DNS leaks or IP address leaks.
Browser hijacking happens when the VPN takes control and redirects the web browser to partner sites without your knowledge. Some free VPNs redirect HTTP requests to e-commerce sites via its partner networks. You may realize that some free VPNs are accused of privacy violations and you need to stay away from them.
How to Make the Best Use of a Free VPN
Once you’ve settled on a free VPN and downloaded it, it’s time to connect to a preferred server. However, before you get started, you need to optimize the setup to make the best use of the VPN.
Some of the steps you need to follow are:
Connect Using an Ethernet Cable
Although it’s convenient to connect to the internet through a wireless router, you may want to use an Ethernet cable. The latter is reliable and faster compared to a wireless router. Also, you can enjoy seamless streaming and better user experience.
Choose a VPN Server
Some VPN providers may allow you to select a VPN server, although a few do not give you this option. Find a VPN server that will enable you to access your preferred content.
Test the Connection
After connecting to the server, you need to test the VPN connection. You can visit a speed test to determine your speed. The website will also tell you your device’s upload and download speeds and the location where you appear.
You need to disconnect from the VPN if you are experiencing slow speeds or if the location differs from what you’d chosen.
If everything meets your needs, you can now sit back and enjoy browsing the web free.
Although the number of reliable VPNs is limited unlike the paid options, you can still find a service that meets your needs. The best free VPN should secure your web traffic behind their encryption protocols and should allow you access to geo-restricted content.
Look out for companies that provide 100% free VPNs as they could be logging your data or may expose you to potential cyber threats. You can opt for a free trial from the best-paid VPNs if you’re not sure of what VPN to choose.