User privacy is an important topic. Companies left and right are selling your data to advertisers, making it very likely that your data will fall into the wrong hands at some point. If you want to be proactive to mitigate your risks — without spending a dime — we’ve got 99 free privacy tools that’ll help: VPNs, antivirus, password managers, secure messaging, ad blockers and more.
- Keeping your data private should always be a priority when you’re online.
- Most of the apps you use on a daily basis aren’t optimized for privacy, which creates the need for privacy-oriented tools and browser extensions.
- The best way to ensure security and privacy is to use tools that are built around protecting your user data.
One thing to note before we get into the tools themselves is that they are not necessarily recommendations, and they are in no particular order. Some will do a better job than others, so try them out before committing.
05/15/2022 Facts checked
Since publishing our original article, we added a few new tools to the list, and reordered the list slightly.
There is no one best tool for privacy — the best way to boost your online privacy is to use a combination of tools.
The safest browser that’s built around user privacy is Puffin.
A privacy tool is any piece of software (or hardware) that helps increase your online privacy and keeps your user data private.
A VPN, or virtual private network, will encrypt your connection and route it through its servers, hiding your real IP address and location.
Windscribe is our top recommendation for a free VPN. Its free plan provides 10GB of data and 10 locations to choose from, and you can learn more about it in our Windscribe review.
ProtonVPN’s free plan comes with three locations and unlimited data. It does limit your speed, but it is still absolutely respectable. We talk more about it in our ProtonVPN review.
TunnelBear VPN has solid encryption and respectable speeds, though 500MB of data per month is hardly enough for anyone. You can find out more about the virtual private network in our TunnelBear review.
Hide.me’s free plan provides you with 10GB of data per month and five server locations. You can only use the VPN on a single device, though. You can find out more about Hide.me in our Hide.me review.
Speedify is primarily a tool that aims to speed up your connection, but it’s also a VPN that doesn’t require an account. It’s not the fastest — nor the safest — VPN out there, but it does the job and it gives you 2GB of data per month. You can read our Speedify review for more details.
6. Hotspot Shield
PrivadoVPN has a generous 10GB of data and offers plenty of protection despite the bare-bones features. The strict no-logs policy and excellent device compatibility are great too. You can find out more in our PrivadoVPN review.
VPNBook is an all-free VPN based on OpenVPN. It comes with several preconfigured files, but it’s a chore to set up. We wouldn’t recommend it for users who aren’t tech-savvy.
9. Avira Phantom VPN
Avira Phantom VPN’s free plan gets you 500MB of encrypted data per month (1GB if you register and verify your email) and limited functionality. If you only need a basic VPN, without much data or advanced security features, Phantom VPN does the job. Read more about it in our Avira Phantom VPN review.
PacketiX looks ancient, but functions well. It’s basically an online environment for PacketiX VPN, aimed at students but available to anyone who’d like to give it a try.
SecurityKISS VPN doesn’t require you to register for an account, and there are no ads or speed throttling. The free version limits you to 300MB of data per day though.
ZoogVPN has a solid free plan that you can get by registering and verifying your email. It gives you 10GB of data and five locations, as well as apps for almost all popular devices.
TorVPN is based on OpenVPN, and is a bit complicated to work with. You have to re-register every seven days, and for the duration of each registration period, you have 2GB of data and only one server (which you can change at the beginning of each period).
Password managers will generate strong passwords and securely store them for you so you only have to remember one master password.
Bitwarden’s free plan is great for individuals who don’t need advanced features — in fact it ranks as our top free password manager. It’s very secure and easy to use, as we discussed in our Bitwarden review.
Dashlane is our favorite password manager for macOS, and it comes in second on our list of the overall best password managers. The free plan is very generous, letting you store up to 50 passwords on a single device. You can read more about it in our Dashlane review.
16. Sticky Password
As we discussed in our Sticky Password review, this password manager has plenty of features for tech-savvy users. Autofill, password generator, secure notes, digital wallet, two-factor authentication (2FA) and even biometric authentication are all available with the free plan.
17. Zoho Vault
Zoho Vault‘s personal plan is free and offers plenty of features. There is no limit on how many passwords and notes you can store, and there’s a password generator too. You can find out more about it in our Zoho Vault review.
18. Abine Blur
Blur is a feature-rich extension. Even with the free plan, you’re looking at an excellent password manager and generator. You can find out more about it in our Blur review.
RoboForm offers a password manager that saves unlimited logins, has autofill and works on almost any platform. You can find out more about it in our RoboForm review.
LastPass is an overall excellent free password manager. You get unlimited passwords, autofill and a password generator, but there’s a one-device limit on the free plan. We covered it in more detail in our LastPass review.
21. Norton Password Manager
Available as a browser extension or a dedicated mobile app, the Norton Password Manager is a great way to store and organize passwords, addresses, cards and notes. The mobile app lets you unlock it with a fingerprint or Face ID, making it even more secure. It’s free, and aside from being a stand-alone product, it’s also included in the Norton Security suite we reviewed.
RememBear is a password manager that gives you all its features for free, but only on one device. You can store one-time 2FA codes, and it even has support for biometric authentication. Read more about it in our RememBear review.
We mentioned in our LogMeOnce review that the user interface is a pain to deal with, and that still holds true. However, if you’re willing to spend some time learning how to navigate it, LogMeOnce is one of the most feature-packed free password managers out there.
24. Master Password
Master Password is a creative take on a password generator that creates complex passwords. Its Spectre algorithm uses your name, a secret word or phrase of your choosing and a domain to generate a unique password in a reproducible manner. Passwords are stored locally on your device, and you only need your master password to access them.
KeePass’s user interface unfortunately hasn’t been updated in quite some time. That being said, it’s open source and free, so if you’re willing to spend just a few minutes getting to know it, it might be the secure password manager you need. Find more details about it in our KeePass review.
NordPass is a free password manager that lets you save unlimited passwords with autofill and autosave. There’s even multi-factor authentication, which we discuss in our NordPass review.
27. Avira Password Manager
The Avira Password Manager has a free plan with a password generator, autofill and multi-device sync. It will even save your credit cards. All of this makes it an excellent choice if you don’t want to spend money.
Keeper’s mobile-only password manager has unlimited password storage and a password generator for a single mobile device, with 2FA for added security. We discuss it in more detail in our Keeper review.
29. Google Chrome Password Manager
Google Chrome has an excellent built-in password manager, and best of all, it’s completely free. As we discussed in our Google Chrome review, it’s a convenient way to save your passwords.
mSecure technically doesn’t offer a free plan, but you can continue to use the free features once your free trial for the paid version is over. mSecure lets you save unlimited passwords and provides you with over 20 built-in templates, as well as a strong password generator.
An antivirus will help protect your system from viruses and malware, as well as spyware and hijackers that may try to steal your data and hold it for ransom.
AVG topped our list of best free antivirus software, thanks to an overall excellent feature set that covers all bases. You get solid, real-time protection for your device and you can find out more about it in our AVG review.
32. TotalAV Antivirus
TotalAV might not be the first name that springs to mind, but their free antivirus solution is surprisingly good. It’s an on-demand antivirus scanner that’s very easy on system resources, allowing you to keep using your device while it does its job. Read more about it in our TotalAV Antivirus review.
33. Bitdefender Antivirus
Bitdefender took the win in our best antivirus for macOS roundup, but even if you aren’t a macOS user, it’s an impressive free antivirus. The free plan offers excellent real-time protection. You can find out more about it in our Bitdefender review.
Avast is under the same management as AVG, but has slightly worse results in antivirus tests. It’s still user-friendly, convenient and keeps you safe from most threats. You can read more about it in our Avast review.
Avira’s free version has real-time protection and multiple scan modes, which is excellent. You also get an ad blocker, as well as limited use of its (usually paid) Phantom VPN Pro. We cover it more extensively in our Avira review.
Malwarebytes is an on-demand anti-malware solution. It’s best used perpetually, to make sure any malware on your system is caught and dealt with. Read more about it in our Malwarebytes review.
37. Microsoft Defender
Microsoft’s operating system comes with built-in antivirus software. Defender might not be flashy, and it may lack some features, but it’s very secure. For many users, that’s more than enough.
38. Panda Free Antivirus
Panda Free Antivirus is a rather bare-bones version of the Panda Security Suite that we reviewed. It does a great job keeping your devices safe from malware and viruses, but the user interface is downright horrendous.
39. Sophos Home Free
If you don’t need real-time protection and you’re willing to run scans manually, the free plan of Sophos Home is a solid choice. You can use it on up to three devices and it has Sophos’ excellent parental control and web protection. When you get the free plan, you also get access to all the premium features for 30 days. You can read more about it in our Sophos Home review.
40. Adaware Free Antivirus
Adaware’s free tier is rather bare-bones, and only provides real-time protection and download protection. However, it’s still sufficient for users who only need the basics, without too many bells and whistles.
41. ZoneAlarm Free Antivirus
ZoneAlarm’s Free Antivirus gets you a two-in-one solution by combining a firewall with an antivirus. The antivirus itself performs admirably, and comes with features like customizable scan modes and real-time protection.
42. Comodo Antivirus
Comodo’s free Antivirus gets you its Defense+ technology that protects key system files. Add to this real-time protection and spyware scanning and you have a solid antivirus.
Secure Messaging & Email
Not every app keeps your messages private, so you should consider using secure messaging and email apps.
Signal’s proprietary Signal protocol is open source and very secure, and each message or call is encrypted by default. As far as secure phone calls and messages go, Signal is the app you want to use.
ZMail generates fake email addresses, allowing you to do things like test email servers or send emails without compromising your actual email address. Just don’t use it for anything malicious — don’t be that guy (or girl).
45. Guerrilla Mail
Guerrilla Mail gives you an email address to sign up for online services. It’s great if you would rather not allow every service provider access to your real email.
Voxer is a push-to-talk (PTT) app that uses Signal’s proprietary encryption protocol. Although it supports text, photos, videos and location sharing, it’s primarily made for quick and effective voice communication like a walkie talkie.
47. Wickr Me
Wickr Me’s free plan offers end-to-end encrypted communication, with file transfers up to 1GB and up to 30 users. You also get secure screen sharing, which is neat if you use it for collaboration with colleagues.
Pryvate is an app that encrypts messages, video calls and files. It can only be decrypted from the recipient’s device, and the app keeps no communication records.
Dust is an encrypted messaging app that deletes all your messages, either after you read them or after 24 hours. If you want, you can even delete them off the recipient’s phone.
Wire’s free version works for up to five users and has a zero-trust approach, which requires extensive authentication to make sure nobody unauthorized has access. It’s perfect for collaborating with a small team.
Mailvelope is a browser extension that encrypts your emails with Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) encryption. PGP combines symmetric encryption and public-key encryption, so messages can only be decrypted on the recipient’s device, even if you’ve never exchanged messages with them before.
GnuPG is an alternative to Mailvelope that also uses PGP encryption. It’s compatible with more operating systems than Mailvelope, but is slightly more difficult to configure and use.
Element uses the Matrix protocol to provide end-to-end encryption for all your communication. Its forte is that you can import chats from WhatsApp, Signal and Telegram into its app, making communication a lot more convenient if you use more than one app.
Bridgefy comes with a twist — it only works offline. It’s a messaging app you use via Bluetooth, making it ideal for secure communication whenever you don’t have access to conventional, online messaging apps.
Telegram’s easy-to-use app lets you enable end-to-end encryption, though we wish it was enabled by default. Unfortunately, the app collects lots of metadata, such as your IP address and device, which doesn’t bode well for privacy.
Viber is a multimedia communications app that uses end-to-end encryption, with a unique encryption key for each message. This makes it a great choice for secure communication.
Silence is a secure messaging app that replaces your default text messaging app. Each message is encrypted locally, and there’s no need for servers or an internet connection. It’s so secure it doesn’t even let you take a screenshot of the app. Unfortunately, it’s only available for Android.
iMessage is Apple’s built-in multimedia messaging app, only available on its own operating systems. If you’re in the ecosystem though, it’s perfect for secure communication.
Tracker & Ad Blockers
Ads and trackers can ruin your browsing experience and grab data you’d rather keep to yourself. Ad and tracker blockers help provide an ad, and tracker-free browsing experience.
59. uBlock Origin
uBlock Origin is the best ad blocking browser extension, period. It works great, it’s incredibly configurable and it uses very few system resources.
AdBlock is a simple, straightforward extension that works great. The UI is very easy to work with, and you can pause the extension for specific websites. AdBlock also does a great job with pop-ups and trackers, as well as floating videos.
61. Adblock Plus
Adblock Plus has a remarkably simple UI and is very effective at blocking ads and pop-ups. You can see how many ads the browser extension has blocked so far, which gives you an analytical perspective on ads in your internet traffic.
62. AdBlocker Ultimate
AdBlocker Ultimate boasts compatibility with almost any browser out there, and it also has a desktop app for Windows users. The extension is open source, so you can download the source code and tinker if you’d like.
63. AdGuard AdBlocker
AdGuard’s free AdBlocker browser extension blocks almost all ads. It also works admirably to get around scripts that ask you to disable your ad blocker to access a website.
1Blocker is made for Safari users and is available for free on the app store. It blocks ads, trackers, miners and widgets, and its parental controls can block explicit comments and adult websites.
65. Privacy Badger
Privacy Badger is an artificial intelligence–based extension that looks for common behaviors in trackers. It can detect trackers even on websites that aren’t on any of the popular filter lists, making it very effective.
Ghostery’s free plan lets you view and block trackers at four configurable levels. However, we’d suggest looking into the paid plan, which gives you detailed insights into the trackers you come across — which is excellent if you want to know exactly what they do.
AdAway is an Android-only app that blocks ads using a hosts file, which means it will block ads on a system level, not just in a specific browser. It’s fully open source, but only available via F-Droid, an alternative to the Play store.
68. Adblocker for YouTube
Adblocker for YouTube does only two things: it blocks ads on YouTube, and allows you to play videos in floating mode. It lacks any kind of configurability, but if you only want to block YouTube ads, it’s an excellent choice.
uBlocker is a simple yet effective ad blocker. It works not just against ads, but also malware and viruses. There is very little configurability, though.
Secure Search Engines
Secure search engines aim to provide useful results without logging your searches or gathering personal identifying information.
DuckDuckGo is a privacy-focused alternative to Google. The search engine doesn’t track your search queries, so you can use it without fearing for your privacy. Read more about it in our DuckDuckGo article.
Gibiru makes use of the Google search results algorithm, but also crawls lesser-known websites. This allows it to keep your search history private while giving you results that Google would usually skip.
Oscobo is a search engine that’s vocally opposed to Google’s data mining practices. Instead of collecting your personal data, Oscobo doesn’t log anything. It also keeps your data encrypted and never allows any third-party tools or scripts to track your activity.
Quant is a modern and highly configurable alternative to most search engines. It gets you plenty of filters, various themes and shows you trending news. Because it’s based in Europe, Quant gives its users protection according to the rather strict European privacy laws, and it also doesn’t collect any user data.
74. Disconnect Search
Disconnect Search is a private search engine that acts as a middleman between you and any of the search engines you’d like to use. It gives you results from your chosen search engine, but before fetching the results, it strips away any identifiable information.
Startpage uses Google as its search engine of choice. However, before sending any request, it removes any identifiable information so the search engine can’t track you.
Rather than track you, Swisscows uses semantic data recognition to give you faster and more tailored answers to your queries. This yields personalized results without the tracking.
Mojeek is a crawler-based private search engine that creates its own index of web pages. This allows it to get you relevant search results without the requesting or tracking of your private data.
MetaGer is a private search engine built upon 24 small-scale web crawlers that the provider has complete control over. It has transparent algorithms that anyone can look into.
Secure Web Browsers
Web browsers often allow advertising companies to collect user data. Secure web browsers prevent this from happening.
Brave is a browser that comes with built-in ad blocking and cross-website tracker blocking functionality. It also blocks browser fingerprinting. You can find out more about it in our Brave review.
80. Tor Browser
The Tor Browser is a gateway for accessing the Tor network. Tor is a network of proxies that lets you access websites in the deep web, while keeping you safe anywhere you go. The proxies are maintained by volunteers, though, so their actual security can be hit or miss. Learn more in our Tor review.
81. Firefox Focus
Firefox Focus is Mozilla’s mobile-only, Firefox-based browser that focuses on privacy. It’s a stand-alone browser that has more privacy and security settings enabled by default than the regular Firefox browser. It’s also always in private browsing mode, and you can lock the app itself behind a passcode.
Orbot encrypts your traffic and bounces it off several proxy servers before it gets to its destination. Unfortunately, proxies are maintained by volunteers, which makes the actual security a bit questionable.
Puffin took the top spot in our most secure browser list, and its mobile version is free. As we discussed in our Puffin review, the browser loads websites on Puffin’s own servers rather than on the client side, which means that malicious online content can’t harm your device that easily.
Vivaldi is an extremely configurable browser that’s loaded with so many features that it makes extensions practically unnecessary. As seen in our Vivaldi review, its best features are the security patches that are issued every one to two weeks, keeping the browser up to date on security.
Epic Privacy Browser makes use of the Chromium source code, but with a twist — it’s like using Google Chrome in permanent incognito mode. It has a built-in ad blocker, tracker and fingerprinting blocker, and exiting the browser will delete all browser data.
Waterfox is an open-source Firefox offshoot which supports extensions for Firefox, Chrome and Opera. It’s more privacy-focused than Firefox and removes many Firefox features that collect data and decrease privacy.
87. UnGoogled Chromium
UnGoogled Chromium is an open-source browser based on Chromium, without Google web services. This makes it an excellent privacy-focused web browser for people who don’t want to entrust Google with their personal information.
Bromite is another Chromium derivative that’s made to be as user-friendly as possible. It comes with several privacy enhancements and provides a clean, clutter-free browsing experience.
89. Iridium Browser
Iridium is a Chromium-based browser that’s backed by the Open Source Business Alliance. It focuses on security and aims to provide a fast, simple and privacy-focused experience.
Windows Privacy Tools
Microsoft’s Windows operating system isn’t particularly privacy-focused, but with these free tools, you can prevent it from mishandling your user data.
W10Privacy is like Windows 10’s control panel on steroids. It’s a security tool that gives you total control of all privacy settings within your operating system.
91. O&O ShutUp10++
O&O ShutUp10++ is an executable that lets you control where your data goes when you’re using Windows 10 and Windows 11. You can control any privacy-oriented setting, giving you complete control over your data.
TinyWall is a lightweight, easy-to-use firewall. Unlike Windows’ built-in solution, this one is highly configurable and gives you more control over all settings. It includes things like support for Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps, boot-time filtering and is very easy to configure.
WPD is a minimalist dashboard that lets you enable and disable various settings on Windows 10. It’s organized into two main categories, each of which has a slew of toggles for you to play with.
94. Privacy Repairer
Privacy Repairer bundles almost 60 options that give you complete control over Windows 10’s privacy settings. It’s a breeze to use and offers presets to make things even easier.
DoNotSpy10 is an anti-spy tool for Windows 10 that prevents your operating system from collecting and sharing data. You can manage what you do and don’t want to share, putting privacy back into your hands.
Other Privacy Tools
These tools don’t really fall under any of the aforementioned categories, but they’re still worth mentioning.
96. HTTPS Everywhere
HTTPS Everywhere is an extension that forces websites to load a secure version with an SSL certificate installed. This makes sure you’re using an encrypted connection when loading any website.
Disconnect is an all-in-one solution that blocks various requests for data. It’s a great way to learn what websites do behind the scenes and get control over your browsing. The Privacy and Privacy DNS plans are free.
GlassWire is a free firewall and network monitoring tool. It’s a neat way of monitoring all incoming and outgoing connections and getting alerts if something suspicious happens.
Tails is a complete operating system that you can start on almost any computer from a USB drive. It’s a live operating system, which means it’ll completely wipe itself once you shut it down.
Your data privacy should always be a priority. The 99 privacy tools above will help you keep your user data to yourself — all for free.
What are your favorite free privacy tools? Do you use one or two, or do you have a whole collection of tools that work well with each other? Let us know in the comments, and thank you for reading.