There’s no doubt that downloading a free VPN is tempting, especially if you need it for a little while or aren’t quite sure if you’re ready for a paid service.
For those who don’t know, Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are a great way to stay safe online, make your browsing more anonymous, and even view content or stream TV shows and movies from other regions.
But usually when something sounds too good to be true, it often is. There are literally hundreds of free VPNs available, and the truth is that most of them aren’t all that great. Some of the sketchy free VPN apps are bombarding you with unwanted ads and may well be selling your data. Moreover, if you were hoping to use a free VPN service for streaming and torrenting, you are most likely out of luck.
In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at the dangers of using free VPNs and how to avoid potentially dubious VPNs. If your primary reason for using a VPN is to slightly increase the security of your computer or mobile device when using public Wi-Fi occasionally, the popular free VPNs can do a decent job. ExpressVPN may take the crown of our favorite premium provider in the world, but the popular free VPN right now is Proton VPN – we’ll explain why we think so below.
Why You Should Not Use Free VPNs
Free VPN services may not cost anything, but there is usually a good reason for doing so – meaning that the provider will make profits in some other way, usually through intrusive ads or by selling your browsing data to third parties (rather winning the whole pursuit of privacy first).
In addition, free services tend to limit the amount of data you can use and the speed at which you can use them, making them almost useless for video streaming, torrenting, or as an extra layer of solid security in your daily life. in the Internet. And don’t expect readily available support or the range of servers you get with paid services.
So, before we get stuck on our list of the popular free VPN downloads, it’s worth knowing that the paid version can only cost around $2 per month and these top VPNs will give you much better performance and protection.
7 Most Popular Free VPN On December 2023
1. Proton VPN Free
Proton VPN Free currently tops our ranking of the popular free VPNs. This is partly due to the well-thought-out combination of features, power, and app quality. But that’s also because the service doesn’t pile up limits and restrictions to try and convince you to upgrade. This is a free VPN that you can use for a long time.
2. PrivadoVPN Free
PrivadoVPN Free may not have quite taken our top spot, but keep reading: the service has some unique and very useful features that could make it your preferred provider.
3. Windscribe Free
Windscribe Free VPN is a quality Canadian service whose attractive combination of features more than justifies its top three.
4. Atlas VPN Free
Atlas VPN Free first caught our attention with its impressive amount of data. Not the 10 GB you get with Android VPN, Windows VPN, and iOS VPN, although that’s not bad; it’s all about Mac VPN users who can use the remaining 2GB per day.
5. Hide.me Free VPN
Hide.me Free VPN is a solid mid-range service that doesn’t hit the mark in every area, but still has more than enough standout features to warrant a closer look.
6. Hotspot Shield Basic VPN
Hotspot Shield Basic is a popular free VPN plan with a big plus: In June 2022, Hotspot Shield began upgrading the service to offer unlimited data across all platforms. (As we write, Mac, Android, and iOS now support unlimited data, and Windows will join the party later.)
7. TunnelBear Free
While most VPNs advertise themselves with long lists of advanced technical features, TunnelBear Free VPN is all about creating a simple service that is easy for anyone to use. And it takes it to an amazing extreme.
Are free VPNs worth it?
To be honest, there is no simple answer to this question. It depends on what you want to use the free VPN for. If it’s just about making your laptop or mobile phone more secure when using public Wi-Fi, they might just be the ticket. Use the service, enable an encrypted connection to the server, and hack your online activities safely, knowing that no prying eyes can see your personal information.
But if your main goal is to use a streaming VPN, or if you want to use it while downloading terabytes of torrent files, a free VPN simply won’t help. First, most of them limit you to a daily or monthly data limit, which you will clear in no time. Whereas most of them don’t have the easy access support or range of servers needed to make these virtual private network activities easy.
Are Free VPNs Safe?
While the main criticism of free VPNs is that they aren’t half as useful as paid alternatives, there are real dangers lurking with some proponents (thankfully not with the services above).
For example, a 2020 study found that about 40% of the free VPNs available on the Google Play store do not adequately protect the privacy of their users. So the extra online protection you were thinking of is simply not there.
How to get a premium VPN for free?
Still can’t decide whether to choose a free VPN or a paid premium option? This could be the perfect compromise, as almost all of the popular providers in the world let you try them out for free and without risk. Our dedicated guide to the popular free VPN trials will help you find one and get started.
There you will see some familiar names. Our #1 favorite service in the world, ExpressVPN tops the list, allowing you to try it for 30 days. While the news is even better with the likes of Hotspot Shield, where the money-back guarantee extends up to 45 days.
It is worth noting that for these services you need to pay in advance. But they pride themselves on making refunds as easy as possible, making it easy for you to claim a full refund online.