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Best Free VPN Services 2022: Security & Streaming at a Discount

The online security market is awash with “free” VPNs, but the vast majority aren’t secure. If you are looking for a free yet secure VPN, we got you covered. In this guide, we’ll discuss the top five VPNs you can use without jeopardizing your digital privacy.

Jacob RoachSamson Max
By Jacob Roach (Writer) & Samson Max (Writer, Linking Editor)
— Last Updated: 2022-05-17T21:37:11+00:00 Facts checked by Elisabeth Ivey

If you want a VPN to occasionally watch movies, open emails on public WiFi or access geoblocked content, a premium VPN may be overkill for the task. A free VPN may cut it, but you’ll have to pierce through the dense fog of the free VPN market to find a provider that can deliver solid security and performance. 

Lucky for you, we already did the legwork for you. We tested out numerous free VPNs, weeding out the unscrupulous services to narrow down your options to five reliable providers. These are free versions of paid VPNs, so they do have their limitations, but excel where it matters most: online security.

Key Takeaways: 

  • Windscribe is undoubtedly the best free VPN, thanks to its impressive suite of features and all-round performance on all devices.
  • ProtonVPN offers excellent security and is the only free VPN on our list to offer an unlimited data allowance, but it offers only three server locations.
  • TunnelBear is also an excellent option. It mirrors Windscribe’s capability but provides only 500MB of data per month. 

Of the best free VPNs, Windscribe came out on top, but the other VPN services gave it a run for its money. Read on to find out the strengths and weaknesses of each service. 

  • 09/29/2021 Facts checked

    Updated information on the top five free VPN providers’ restrictions on free users. Windscribe now offers 11 free server locations, and Hide.me has added two new free server locations and increased its data limit to 10GB. Lastly, Speedify has decreased its data limit from 5GB to 2GB.

  • 04/13/2022

    Updated the article and ranking of the best free VPNs.

  • Yes, there are plenty of totally free VPNs out there, but most of them can’t be trusted. The exceptions are the VPNs on this list.

  • Some free VPN services are bad because they inject ads into your browser or sell your data to third parties, which compromises your online privacy.

  • To get a free VPN, we recommend using the free versions of premium services like Windscribe or TunnelBear.

  • All the free VPN services on our list work flawlessly on Windows PC. However, we recommend using Windscribe, as it offers the best all-round performance on Windows.

  • The best VPN for Android is Windscribe because it offers useful tools packed in a very intuitive app.

  • If you’re looking for a free VPN to binge-watch movies on your favorite streaming sites, you won’t find one because of the limited data plans. However, if you want to watch an episode or two of the latest TV show, we recommend Windscribe. Sometimes, it struggles to load videos, but once they load, it streams without buffering.

Top Free VPN Services

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    $4.08 / month (save 55%) (All Plans)3-day money-back guarantee
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    $3.33 / month (save 67%) (All Plans)
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    • : PayPal, Credit card, SOFORT, SEPA, direct bank transfer
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    • : PayPal, Credit card, Amazon Pay
    • : 5
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What Makes the Best Free VPN Service?

Finding the best free VPN can be tricky, but knowing the VPN features to look for is the first step to getting it right. There are many factors to consider, but before we get into the details, here are the top free services that tick every box.

  1. Windscribe — Best all-round free VPN with excellent performance and security
  2. ProtonVPN — Excellent security, unlimited free data, but comes with a speed cap and has free servers in only three countries
  3. TunnelBear — Secure free service with servers in over 40 countries, but only 500MB of free data
  4. Hide.Me — Reliable free app with advanced VPN features, but free servers in just four countries
  5. Speedify — A decent free VPN with servers in over 30 countries but only 2GB of monthly data

Although a VPN service is free, it shouldn’t compromise your online security and privacy. It should come packed with useful tools like secure VPN protocols, encryption ciphers and a strict no-logs policy.

A kill switch is also helpful, as it cuts your internet traffic when the VPN connection fails. A clean reputation — one without security or privacy breaches — is also a great addition. 

Free VPNs come with usage limits — some offer limited server access, speed caps and data and bandwidth limits. Though the restrictions represent the “price” you pay to use the service, you should opt for a service with minimal restrictions. For example, if you want to access Netflix, pick a VPN with unlimited data or a high data cap. 

Speed is also of the essence. Unfortunately, the free VPNs mentioned here (except Hide.me) didn’t make it onto our list of the fastest VPNs.

Luckily, the services we chose are fast enough to support less speed-intensive activities, and some are adept at streaming too. Lastly, our five picks work with all major operating systems: Windows, macOS, iOS, Android and Linux. 

The 5 Best Free VPNs

We’ll give you the nitty-gritty details of each free service to help you decide which one will best serve your needs. Windscribe is our first pick, so let’s dive straight into it. 

1. Windscribe

Windscribe app
Windscribe offers intuitive apps for iOS, Android, Linux, Windows and Mac users.

More details about Windscribe:

  • Pricing: Free; build-a-plan option at $1 per location
  • Website: windscribe.com

Pros:

  • Free 10GB data
  • Accesses Netflix without a hitch
  • No speed cap

Cons:

  • Free plan limits server country locations (10)
  • A little slow

Windscribe is one of the best VPN services, and for good reason. It’s one of the few free VPN services that gives you access to its entire suite of features.

You can use R.O.B.E.R.T., a malware, ad and tracker blocker that’s reliable, though not as effective as dedicated antivirus software. There’s also a split tunneling feature that lets you choose apps, IPs and host names to bypass the VPN connection. 

Windscribe adheres to its strict no-logs policy and has a clean privacy reputation. It doesn’t collect connection logs, timestamps or the websites you visit when you’re actively using it. Plus, it uses secure protocols and AES 256-bit encryption to mask your traffic and a kill switch to cut traffic when the VPN disconnects.

Offers 10GB Free Data

That said, Windscribe has a few restrictions, which is the norm with free VPNs. First up, you get 2GB of free data every month as standard. Thankfully, you can increase that to 10GB of data if you provide an email and agree to receive Windscribe announcements. Nothing is truly free, but we’re content with getting 8GB of data in exchange for a little bit of advertising.

windscribe home page
Windscribe offers live chat support with a chatbot called “Garry” to help you when you run into trouble using the app. ‌

You only get access to 25 server locations in 11 countries — the website says 10 but when testing the VPN service we saw Turkey offers a free server, as well. The free list also includes popular Netflix hubs like the U.S. and UK. 

The servers enable you to access geoblocked content to watch Netflix shows and movies in different countries. Though inconsistent speed can be a hurdle when loading movies, there are no speed or bandwidth limits to hold you back once you get over that.

Windscribe’s free version throws up the fewest restrictions of any free VPN offering. There’s limited server access, but all free servers support peer-to-peer (P2P) sharing and streaming. 

Moreover, it offers 10GB of free data per month, which is great by free VPN standards. Beyond that, you can tinker with any feature, including setting up unlimited simultaneous connections. (If you want to learn more about Windscribe, read our full Windscribe review.)

2. ProtonVPN

protonvpn-slider3
Unlike most free VPNs, ProtonVPN offers unlimited data.  

More details about ProtonVPN:

  • Pricing: Free, $4 per month on the annual Basic plan
  • Website: protonvpn.com

Pros:

  • Unlimited free data
  • Intuitive user interface
  • Top-notch privacy
  • Custom DNS server

Cons:

  • Limited speed
  • Servers in only 3 countries
  • 1 connection at a time

Our second pick is ProtonVPN, the only free VPN to offer unlimited data. You’d think the unlimited data allowance would be good enough to earn the VPN service the top spot on our list, but when you look beyond unlimited bandwidth and data, some restrictions drag it down. 

For example, ProtonVPN offers 23 servers, which is a decent number compared to other providers. However, the servers are located in just three countries: Japan, Netherlands and the U.S., making it the worst geographical spread of the VPNs on our list.

Besides that, there are native apps for Windows, macOS, Android, iOS and Linux, but no support for routers or browser extensions. 

Unlimited Free Data

Unlimited data is ProtonVPN’s standout feature, and we give it to the provider for removing data restrictions on the free plan. However, it does seem to indirectly limit how you use the data. For example, there is a speed cap (which we’ll get into), and servers are prone to overcrowding, which can ruin the streaming performance. 

ProtonVPN for Netflix
ProtonVPN is a secure free VPN that guarantees solid online privacy. 

ProtonVPN states on its website that free users only get medium speed. In other words, it throttles your connection speed on the free plan, which is probably a tactic to upsell you to the premium version. Moreover, the speed can get even worse during peak times as the provider prioritizes the paying folks. 

Speed isn’t the only thing ProtonVPN takes away from free users. You also miss out on the “secure core” VPN servers. These servers route your connection via a privacy-friendly country before sending it to your destination. 

For example, if you’re connecting to Turkey, your connection may first go through Switzerland, which has some of the best privacy laws in the world.  Read our ProtonVPN review to learn more.

Free
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Basic
  • : Unlimited GB
  • : 2
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Visionary
  • : Unlimited GB
  • : 10
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3. TunnelBear

tunnelbear review ease of use
TunnelBear is a secure free VPN with decent download speeds, but it has one of the lowest data allowances.  

More details about TunnelBear:

  • Pricing: Free, $3.33 per month on the three-year plan
  • Website: tunnelbear.com

Pros:

  • Servers in over 40 countries
  • 5 simultaneous connections
  • Streaming support
  • Useful security features like GhostBear

Cons:

  • Free 500MB of data
  • No P2P support

Another reliable free VPN service is the McAfee-owned VPN service, TunnelBear. Like Windscribe, its free version has restrictions — amount of browsing data, devices and customer support — but it missed out on the top two spots because of its meager 500MB of free data.

We’ll tell you how you can increase the data (hint: it involves tweeting), but first, let’s focus on security.

TunnelBear uses AES 256-bit with OpenVPN or IKEv2 to encrypt your internet traffic. More than that, it offers VigilantBear (a kill switch) that cuts your web traffic when the VPN connection fails. As far as privacy goes, you don’t need to provide your name when signing up for the service. 

More Than 40 Server Locations

Tunnelbear’s servers are extensive as server distribution gets with a free version. The good thing is that it covers some pretty rare locations like Kenya, giving you a large pool of IP addresses to unblock streaming services and other country-specific content.  

Tunnelbear-homepage-2019
TunnelBear is one of the best free services for multiple devices as it offers five simultaneous connections.  ‌

Unfortunately, TunnelBear has the worst data limit of any service on our list. However, the provider gives you an extra gigabyte of free data when you agree to tweet TunnelBear’s praises.

Even so, there’s no joy for avid streamers, since the amount of data is insufficient to stream movies. It’s just enough for casual online activities like emailing and watching social media videos (not too many, though). 

Besides the features mentioned above, the GhostBear feature obfuscates your traffic to hide that you’re using a VPN.

Moreover, there’s a native VPN app for all devices, including Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, and major browser extensions (Chrome and Firefox). Oddly enough, though, only Android users get split tunneling. (Read more details in our full TunnelBear review.)

Free
  • : 500MB
  • : 5
Teams
  • : Unlimited GB, five devices per user, centralized billing, account manager, price per user per month
  • : Unlimited GB
  • : 5
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4. Hide.me

Hide.me client
Hide.me free version works flawlessly on multiple devices, including Windows, Android, iOS, Mac and Linux.

More details about Hide.me:

  • Pricing: Free, $4.99 per month on the two-year plan
  • Website: hide.me

Pros:

  • Provides 10GB free data
  • Access to most premium features
  • No speed cap
  • P2P support

Cons:

  • VPN servers in just four countries
  • No streaming support

Our fourth best free VPN is Hide.me, another premium VPN that offers a great free version. It gives free users access to most features (except the multihop and VPN bolt features).

You have access to split tunneling, DNS leak protection and stealth guard — a tool that enables you to limit certain apps or the entire internet connection so that they never work unless the VPN is connected. 

As far as security goes, you have four VPN protocols: OpenVPN, IKEv2, SSTP and SoftEtherVPN. All four use AES 256-bit encryption. Sadly, though, the WireGuard protocol is only available for paying users.

Hide.me is headquartered in Malaysia, a jurisdiction outside the Five-, Nine- and 14-Eyes intelligence alliances, which is a good thing from a privacy standpoint.  

Fallback VPN Protocol Configuration

Hide.me allows you to use helpful features like the fallback protocol even on the free version. With this feature, you designate a backup protocol so that if the one you’re using fails, the fallback protocol springs into action to keep your digital security intact. 

Hide.me free
Hide.me allows you to use live chat support, whether you are a paid or a free user.

Of course, there are some restrictions. For example, you can only toggle between five server locations in four countries to mask your real IP address. You also get 10GB of free data. 

However, unlike other free VPN services, Hide.me doesn’t cut you off entirely when you hit the data limit. Instead, it lets you continue using the VPN but without the option to change your server location. Besides that, you have one simultaneous connection but no dynamic port forwarding, fixed IP address and streaming support on the free plan.

By and large, the Hide.me free version is decent and good enough to protect basic browsing and occasional streaming. Read our Hide.me VPN review to learn more. You can also try out the paid version risk-free, thanks to the 30-day money-back guarantee.

5. Speedify

Speedify for Android
Speedify’s offers excellent speeds on Android and iOS devices.

More details about Speedify:

  • Pricing: Free, $4.99 per month on the three-year plan
  • Website: speedify.com

Pros:

  • Servers in over 30 countries
  • No speed cap
  • 5 simultaneous connections
  • Channel bonding ‌ 

Cons:

  • 2GB free data
  • Linux VPN app available for paid plans only

Last but not least, there’s Speedify. The free version matches our number one pick, Windscribe, on the features front but it offers less free data. It has servers in more than 30 countries, no speed cap and supports streaming and P2P sharing.

It also offers useful features like split tunneling, an internet kill switch and DNS leak and IP address leak protection.

Speedify seems to be geared toward mobile users, for a couple of reasons. One is its preference for ChaCha20 encryption over other protocols, and the other is the way its channel bonding technology works.

It’s the only free VPN on our list to support ChaCha20, though it also uses AES 128-GCM. ChaCha20 is as secure as AES-256 encryption but is faster on mobile devices. 

Channel Bonding Technology

Speedify is laser-focused on providing excellent speeds with “channel bonding.” The VPN provider claims that the technology helps you simultaneously use wired, cellular and WiFi internet connections for lower latency and better redundancy.

Our speed test results suggest otherwise: the latency was pitiful and download speeds were lackluster, especially for distant server locations. 

Speeedify for streaming
Though Speedify unblocks Netflix, sometimes videos take too long to load. 

Every month, Speedify reloads your free account with 2GB of data. This is the second smallest data allowance, and it’s far less than what Windscribe offers (not to mention ProtonVPN’s unlimited data).

It’s certainly not enough if you want to watch movies and TV shows, but it should be adequate for some basic web browsing, social media and emailing.  

When it comes to online privacy, Speedify claims to adhere to its strict no-logs policy. However, when we combed through its privacy policy, we noticed it gathers your IP address, device ID and connection timestamps.

More than that, security isn’t the highest priority: you can even turn off encryption to boost your speed, but then what’s the point of even using a VPN? Read our Speedify review to learn more. 

Free
  • : Unlimited GB
  • : 1
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Basic
  • : Unlimited GB
  • : 2
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Visionary
  • : Unlimited GB
  • : 10
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Honorable Mention: Hotspot Shield

hotspot shield client
Hotspot Shield offers excellent daily data allowances but has fewer servers than any other free VPN. ‌

We reserved the honorable mention for Hotspot Shield for a valid reason. It takes a different approach to the free data limit. Instead of monthly data limits, Hotspot Shield offers 500MB of free data every day. However, some of its restrictions prevented it from earning a spot on our top five free VPNs list.

For example, you only get one server location, the United States, which is the worst among the six providers. Plus, that server offers no streaming or P2P sharing optimization. Beyond that, Hotspot Shield caps your speed at 2 Mbps, regardless of your internet connection speed. Read our Hotspot Shield review to learn more.

The Problem With Free VPNs

VPN companies maintain massive VPN server infrastructure and hire the expertise to run the systems. For this reason, VPN providers have to find a way to make enough money to keep operations sailing along and, of course, earn some profits. A premium service like ExpressVPN depends on a VPN subscription to pay the bills. 

A completely free VPN has to pay bills too, but there’s no subscription revenue, so the provider has to turn a profit in other ways. Some may gather personal data and sell it to third parties, defeating the whole purpose of using a virtual private network in the first place. Others may unload malware onto your network or device to pave way for malicious attacks. 

In our worst free VPNs guide, we’ve listed some of the VPNs you should avoid at all cost. There are a few worthwhile free VPNs, like the options we discussed earlier, but even the free versions have problems of their own in the form of usage limits. 

Final Thoughts: Best Free VPN Options

That’s it for our comprehensive guide on the best free VPN. Hopefully, this information will help you find a free VPN that meets your needs. 

If you’re at a crossroads and can’t decide which free VPN to use, we recommend getting started with Windscribe. It’s secure, and aside from its limited data allowance and VPN server access, it doesn’t impose any other restrictions. Plus, Windscribe offers a clear and reasonably seamless upgrade path, thanks to the build-a-plan option. 

Which free VPN do you use? Have we left out your favorite free VPN? We’d like to hear about it in the comment section. As always, thanks for reading.