The best free VPN list for 2021 and some you should definitely avoid

Are you looking for a free VPN to help protect your privacy online? There are a lot of duds on the market, so we have put together this guide to show you the best free VPNs on offer and which you should avoid.

The best free VPN services today

These are the free VPNs we recommend using currently:

  1. ProtonVPN - An unlimited free VPN. You get access to 3 free servers, but expect slower speeds if these servers become congested.
  2. Hide.me - A superb service with fast speeds, a 10GB data allowance each month, and a choice of 5 free servers.
  3. AtlasVPN - An impressive free VPN that you can use for free all day, every day.
  4. Windscribe - A secure free VPN that keeps no logs but is based in Canada. The free version has 10 servers, with a 10GB data limit.
  5. Hotspot Shield - A free VPN that's also a Chrome extension. It offers free VPN servers in 15 countries and a 500MB data cap per day.

Try ProtonVPN our #1 free VPN pick

See in-depth analysis

The truth is that it’s not easy to find a reliable free VPN, but these services do exist, and you can find one if you know where to look. The issue is that countless free VPN providers have flooded the market, enticing users with the promise of a high-quality service without paying a single cent! But in our research, we've found that it is very rarely the case that a free VPN is reliable and of acceptable quality. 

To help you make a safer, more informed decision, ProPrivacy.com’s experts have put together this guide on the best free VPNs – and the worst.

Before we recommend a free VPN service, we first ensure that it offers:

Only VPNs that meet the criteria listed above are eligible for being recommended on our best free VPN list. So, now you know what goes into a good free VPN service, let's take a closer look at our list.

The Best Free VPNs to use in 2021

These are the best free VPN services that actually work:

ProtonVPN free offers users unlimited usage. You could say this is a truly free unlimited VPN. You get access to 3 free servers, but speeds can be capped when they become congested.

  • Data limit

    • Unlimited
  • Free servers

    • 3
  • Available for

    • Windows
    • macOS
    • iOS
    • Android
    • Linux

ProtonVPN is a superb service brought to you by the developers behind the secure email service, ProtonMail. ProtonVPN is highly secure and is the only service on the list that is a truly free and unlimited VPN. However, keep in mind that your speeds are capped during peak hours to ensure that its free servers don't get congested (which is often simply because it is a highly popular service). That said, it does not cap speeds unless it has to, so it is still very fast considering it is free.


Free users get access to servers in the Netherlands, Japan, and the USA. These are extremely useful locations to have access to – and give you plenty of scope for bypassing censorship and geo-restrictions. That said, you should not expect this free VPN to work with Netflix US (you will need to pay for a VPN subscription for this privilege).


You'll only be able to install ProtonVPN on one device with its free plan, rather than the 10 simultaneous devices supported on the paid plan. That said, you could get a different subscription for each device if you want to (by using multiple email addresses). The free version of ProtonVPN is also missing some features from the paid plans namely an Adblocker, P2P support, and TOR over VPN.


Overall, ProtonVPN is a useful service that is ideal for avoiding censorship and accessing restricted content. While testing it, I enjoyed using the ProtonVPN apps, and found them extremely easy to use! VPN newbies will have no trouble tweaking the settings or connecting to a server, making the free ProtonVPN ideal for someone wanting an introduction to VPNs. The most versatile, trustworthy, and reliable free VPN on the market.


ProtonVPN was reviewed by Andreas

Hide.me is an incredible free VPN. You get speeds of up to 80Mbps, a generous 10GB data allowance each month & a choice of 5 free servers.

  • Data limit

    • 10GB p/month
  • Free servers

    • 5
  • Available for

    • Windows
    • macOS
    • iOS
    • Android
    • Linux

Hide.me is an excellent Malaysian VPN provider that offers a smashing free service. Free users get access to servers in five locations - all of which are extremely useful for unblocking geo-restricted content (USA East, USA West, Singapore, the Netherlands, and Canada). Admittedly, if you require a server in a specific country, you will need to try a different VPN, but if these locations suit your needs – Hide.me is well worth installing.


I own any devices and gadgets sitting about, and I loved that Hide.me has apps for just about all of them – laptops, phones, smart TVs and routers included. Bear in mind, however, that the free Hide.me free plan only supports one connection. Free users also miss out on a fixed IP address and dynamic port forwarding features.


Unlike ProtonVPN, which gives you unlimited VPN use for free, Hide.me caps you at 10 GB data allowance per month, with connection speeds of up to 80 Mbps. However, this is still very impressive and means that this free VPN can be used for streaming, videoconferencing, and other data-intensive tasks with no issues.


When I tested the free service I found it to have a strong privacy policy, robust encryption, and loads of advanced VPN features. For this reason, we can strongly recommend Hide.me as a quality free VPN.


Hide.me was reviewed by Ray

AtlasVPN is a reliable free VPN with servers in three countries that allow unlimited use.

  • Available for

    • Windows
    • macOS
    • iOS
    • Android

AtlasVPN is a US-based VPN provider. It is a VPN that markets itself as a lightning-fast service able to provide 4K streaming. The VPN doesn't provide OpenVPN encryption, so if this is important to you, you will want to look elsewhere. That said, this VPN can be used on an unlimited basis, and it still provides IKEv2 encryption – which is still a highly secure encryption protocol.


I found the service to be versatile and easy to use across all platforms. And I found it to be remarkably good for gaining privacy both at home and on public Wi-Fi. It might not have as many features as the free VPNs above, and it doesn't have such an established reputation. That said, it is a no-logs VPN that does not skimp on privacy on the free plan, which makes it safe to use for bypassing geo-restrictions and censorship, and for gaining privacy on public Wi-Fi while out of the house or traveling. 


Just bear in mind that the free plan is said to be around 5 times slower than the paid plan, so it isn't as good for streaming as the paid version. And you will have to pay to access Netflix US (but it did work perfectly when I tried it on the paid plan if you are thinking about upgrading). It also has no clients for routers, TV’s, Fire Sticks, or Roku so you will need to stick to using it on computers and mobile devices.


Even with these downsides, I found it to be a very good free VPN, and the apps were easy to use in my opinion which makes it great for beginners. I was also happy to discover that it has a kill-switch on Android, iOS, macOS, and Windows – so you can use it for torrenting if you want to.


AtlasVPN was reviewed by Ray

Windscribe is a great zero-logs free VPN that anybody can use to unblock content, but it is not suitable for streaming It is secure though. It has free servers in 10 countries and offers users 10GB of data per month.

  • Data limit

    • 10GB p/month
  • Free servers

    • 11
  • Available for

    • Windows
    • macOS
    • iOS
    • Android
    • Linux

Windscribe has been one of our favorite free VPNs for a long time. The company gives you plenty of data, and it is considered secure thanks to its no-logs policy, but do bear in mind that it is based in Canada, which is a FIVE EYES country, and has mandatory data retention directives that might put some users off. However, this VPN has strong encryption and keeps zero logs – making it a fantastic option for protecting your online privacy. For free, users get 10 GB of use per month and access to servers in 10 countries, which is a lot! You also get unlimited simultaneous connections, making this a free VPN that is well worth considering.


Windscribe was reviewed by Ray

Hotspot Shield is a great free VPN that also offers a Chrome extension. Users have access to servers in 15 countries and a 500MB data cap per day.

  • Data limit

    • 500MB p/day
  • Free servers

    • 1
  • Available for

    • Windows
    • macOS
    • iOS
    • Android
    • Linux

Hotspot Shield is an exceptional free VPN that has helped millions of people in their time of need. It was the most used VPN during the Turkey coup and the Arab Spring. Users get free access not only to the VPN but also to a Chrome extension.


The free app permits connections to the US only, and the extension permits connections to 14 countries (but not the US). So when combining the app with the browser extension, then Hotspot Shield users can unblock content in 15 countries for free! What's more, Hotspot Shield's free plan lets people have 500MB of download use per day. That is a massive usage allowance considering it is completely free.


We loved that Hotspot Shield allowed us to connect to 15 different countries on its free plan. The browser extension and the free app itself both worked flawlessly and the speeds we got were excellent for a free VPN, and definitely ample for all kinds of online activities. Although, we should weren't able to stream content without encountering buffering, but this service is excellent for browsing the web more securely. 


Hotspot Shield was reviewed by Ray

The fastest free VPN in 2021

These are the fastest free VPNs that we've tested in 2021.

Place Provider Average Speed Max Speed Visit Site
1. 51.27 Mbit/s 88.31 Mbit/s Visit Site
2. 41.61 Mbit/s 79.36 Mbit/s Visit Site

We test all the VPNs above daily to provide you the most up-to-date speed data possible. All the VPNs are classified as fast, however, with free services, it can often depend on which server you connect to. Free servers can often be overloaded, which can lead to slower speeds. If you are experiencing issues with your VPN speeds, try connecting to another free server, if one is available.

Alternatively, you may want to consider taking advantage of a VPN free trial to experience the premium service, without any restrictions.

Top-tip: Get a free premium VPN

Did you know you can experience ExpressVPN's fully featured service without restrictions… for free!

If you're finding free VPNs too restrictive, why not test ExpressVPN premium service? Simply purchase a subscription using the button below and take advantage of the absolutely risk-free money-back-guarantee. Enjoy the service for up to 30 days, and when you cancel, you will receive a complete refund!

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Why are these the best free VPNs? 

Our experts have thoroughly reviewed every single free VPN that they could get their hands on in order to curate the list above. The services we've recommended in this guide are all fully transparent about how they handle user data and provide the latest encryption standards that can be trusted to protect your privacy and hide your internet activity at all times.

During our research, we considered the following attributes:

For more information, check out our video:

How Does A Free VPN Work? 🆓💻What Is The Best Free VPN for Netfli...

How Does A Free VPN Work? 🆓💻What Is The Best Free VPN for Netflix in 2021? ✅
How Does A Free VPN Work? 🆓💻What Is The Best Free VPN for Netflix in 2021? ✅

Are free VPNs safe?

There is definitely quite a bit of negative press when it comes to free VPN services. Most comparison sites strongly urge consumers to stay away from them. At ProPrivacy, we also used to discourage people from using free services (and we still recommend being extremely careful when picking a free VPN). That's because there are a lot of terrible free VPNs out there that take advantage of their users' data for their own gains. The reality is that about 95% of the free services available on the market are either completely useless or even dangerous.

Free VPNs that you should avoid

If you're using one of ProPrivacy's recommended free VPNs, you won't need to worry about privacy risks or online security. The same cannot be said for every free VPN provider, unfortunately.

We scoured the privacy policies and terms of all the free providers we could get our hands on. And during our research, we were utterly shocked at how some providers completely disregard user privacy and actively put users at significant risk.

Here are some free VPNs that you should avoid at all costs.

VPN Why avoid? Extra info
Hola Can sell data to third parties* Shares emails with marketing partners. Sells traffic data to sister firm. Shared anonymized data to third parties. Fraudulently steals & resells user bandwidth through sister company Luminati. DNS and WebRTC leaks detected.
Betternet Can sell data to third parties.* Allows advertisers to cookie users' browsers. Displays targeted advertising. Parent firm can access all data. Lets advertisers track and log user data. IP Leak in the Chrome browser extension. Contains 14 tracking libraries in total (according to CSIRO report).
Psiphon Can sell data to third parties.* Allows ad partners to track users. Displays targeted advertising. Shares data with their advertising partners. Shares data with third-party affiliates and partners. Shares all data with its parent company.
HoxxVPN Can sell data to third parties.* Isn't a VPN (it's a ShadowSocks proxy service). DNS and WebRTC leaks. Tracks user activities and works with authorities. Keeps logs and sells them to third-party partners. Shares data with third-party affiliates and partners.
SuperVPN Willing to disclose information to authorities. Reports of it being infected with malware. Tracks user activities and works with authorities. Extensive access to users' sensitive information. Stores session logs in the UK and US.
ArchieVPN Reports of being heavily infested with malware. Performs real-time analysis (claims this is for troubleshooting only).
Onavo Project Can sell data to third parties.* Uses user info for advertising and marketing. Displays ads to users. Belongs to Facebook. Shares and sells user data with third parties.
HatVPN Has no available privacy policy. Reports of being heavily infested with malware. Invasive app permissions Could be doing anything they want with user data. Developed and based in China.
VPN by Apalon Invasive app permissions. Shares data with third parties for marketing purposes. Displays ads. In-app purchases.
Private Pipe VPN Shares data with affiliate partners. Displays targeted ads on websites. Confusing privacy policy (claims no logs, but contradicts this claim).
Tuxler VPN Can sell data to third parties*. Uses logs to target ads at users. Shares user browsing data with advertising firms.
GO VPN Can sell data to third parties*. Admits to using customer data to build out their database. Displays targeted ads through the platform. Belongs to the Chinese firm Talking Data. Willing to sell usage logs to third parties and partners. Extremely invasive app permissions.
Hexatech Can sell data to third parties*. Allows advertisers to track and log user data. Advertisers can access user data whenever they want. Created by Betternet (belongs to a marketing firm). Displays ads to users.
TouchVPN Can sell data to third parties*. Adds Cookies, Pixel Tags and Web Beacons to user browsers. Shares anonymous data with third parties.
Faceless.me Doesn't work. The privacy policy is too ambiguous to be taken seriously. Has no support if you have concerns or questions.
FinchVPN Can sell data to third parties*. Reports of being heavily infested with malware. N/A
Cross VPN Reports of being heavily infested with malware. N/A
VPN OneClick Free Reports of being heavily infested with malware. Outdated PPTP encryption on Android. Based in the UAE.
Flash Free VPN Invasive app permissions. Uses 11 third-party tracking libraries.
Fast Secure Payment VPN Reports of being heavily infested with malware. N/A
sFly Network Booster Reports of being heavily infested with malware. N/A
IP-Shield VPN Contains third-party tracking software. N/A
WiFi Protector VPN Uses 5 tracking libraries. N/A
TigerVPNs Fraudulently steals and resells users bandwidth. N/A
Private WiFi Appears to have poor or no encryption. N/A

*according to the privacy policy

How a free VPN works

A free VPN app will connect your device (such as a PC, Mac, or smartphone) to a server run by the VPN provider. The data that travels between your device and the VPN server is encrypted – meaning nobody else can see it. All your data is routed through the VPN server, which acts as a gateway to the internet, and as a result, your real location is concealed and you can pretend to be elsewhere and browse the web in complete privacy!

how a VPN works

If you're new to VPNs, you can get up to speed quickly with our handy guides for beginners:

Free VPN servers

Some providers advertise connections to free VPN servers. This is to differentiate between the number of servers available on the premium (paid) plans and the free plan. Some VPNs that offer a free plan restrict access to free users to only a smaller selection of free servers. For all intents and purposes, however, a VPN with free servers is exactly the same as a "free VPN".

FAQs

Conclusion

Now that you're armed with all the information you need about free VPNs, let's review our top picks:

  1. ProtonVPN - An unlimited free VPN. You get access to 3 free servers, but expect slower speeds if these servers become congested.
  2. Hide.me - A superb service with fast speeds, a 10GB data allowance each month, and a choice of 5 free servers.
  3. AtlasVPN - An impressive free VPN that you can use for free all day, every day.
  4. Windscribe - A secure free VPN that keeps no logs but is based in Canada. The free version has 10 servers, with a 10GB data limit.
  5. Hotspot Shield - A free VPN that's also a Chrome extension. It offers free VPN servers in 15 countries and a 500MB data cap per day.

Written by: Ray Walsh

Digital privacy expert with 5 years experience testing and reviewing VPNs. He's been quoted in The Express, The Times, The Washington Post, The Register, CNET & many more. 

154 Comments

Edward
on October 21, 2020
Reply
Last night, I received a choice of getting a free VPN program called iTop from IOBit. Has anyone tried it yet? What are the strengths and weaknesses of this free VPN?
qwertigo
on June 7, 2020
Reply
Windscribe has a wired data cap reset method, it's not resetting every month, it's only reset (gives you 10GB at the month's start) only if your 10GB is spent, if you have still have some data left then they won't reset, and when you spend that data (ex: 500MB) you have to wait until the next month to get 10GB again, so make sure to use all the data before the end of each month... put a reminder somewhere... :)
Monirul
on May 9, 2020
Reply
None of them are free. Free means free, they will never ask for money ever. Do you have anyone like that? then call it free.
https://cdn.proprivacy.com/storage/images/proprivacy/02/member-dougjpg-avatar-image-default-1png-avatar-image-default-minpng-avatar_image-small.png
Douglas Crawford replied to Monirul
on May 11, 2020
Reply
Ho Monirul. All these services offer very useable free tiers which are free forever. Running a VPN is expensive, so no. You'll never find a VPN service (except community-driven stuff like VPNGate) that isn't after monetizing its service in some way. How would you?
Justin
on September 26, 2019
Reply
Hi Ray Seems like this is wrong "strong encryption and keeps zero logs" in your article for Windscribe VPN. They do keep log. As per the review article here : https://www.techwibe.com/windscribe/ This is confusing as per their website windscribe.com FAQ page We do not store any permanent access logs or monitor what our users do. You can sign up without an email address, and pay with Bitcoin, so we would have no idea who you are. For more details, see our Privacy Policy. Their privacy policy page. For the duration of your connection we store the following data in a temporary location: OpenVPN username, VPN server connected to, time of connection, amount of data transferred during the session. This data expires and is discarded within 3 minutes of session termination. Whats your take on this ?
https://cdn.proprivacy.com/storage/images/proprivacy/02/ray-walshjpeg-avatar-image-default-1png-avatar-ima-7df05c2bafe5e85cb7cb582cd8351a9bpng-avatar-image-default-minpng-avatar_image-small.png
Ray Walsh replied to Justin
on October 1, 2019
Reply
All VPN providers can monitor what you do in real time, because they can analyze your data as it passes over their servers. This is why there is always an element of trust involved in having a VPN provider, and it is essential to choose one that you do trust to do the job properly. When data passes over any VPN server, logs are created that must be deleted when the session ends. All no logs VPN providers delete the logs that you create during your session at the end of your session, the fact that Windscribe admits to doing it within 3 minutes is not unusual or concerning, it is transparent. We class a "no logs" VPN as one which keeps no logs which pose credible threat to its users' privacy. We discuss the topic at length here: https://proprivacy.com/vpn-comparison/best-no-logs-vpns. Windscribe passes this test.
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