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The 5 Fastest Free VPNs in 2024

Finding a free VPN with fast, reliable connections isn’t easy. Most free VPNs either can’t provide quick connections due to their many limitations – or they simply choose not to, hoping it will force free users to upgrade to their paid plans. 

We don’t think this is fair, so we decided to find the fastest free VPNs available in 2024. In the end, we only found five that passed our tests. While they’re the fastest free VPNs – they’re still incredibly limited compared to low-cost competitors like Surfshark. 

So, in this quick guide, we’ll look at each VPN and rank it based on speed, security, access to content, and other vital metrics. But as you’ll see, if you want a truly fast VPN with zero limitations, you need one of the best premium VPNs to do the job. 

The fastest free VPNs:

  1. Hotspot Shield - A user friendly VPN with a decent free plan
  2. Hide.me - Highly customizable VPN that works great for streaming and delivers quick connections.
  3. ProtonVPN - The fastest free VPN. With speeds rivaling many paid VPNs, unlimited data, and access to many streaming sites, it's easily the best choice.
  4. AtlasVPN - Uncapped speeds on unlimited devices, with plenty of extras – including malware protection, an ad blocker, and dark web monitoring.
  5. Windscribe - A large free server network provides fast, reliable connections on unlimited devices.

We didn’t just pick these free VPNs for their fast connections. There are many other important factors to consider when choosing a free VPN, including: 

  • No unreasonable restrictions
  • Easy-to-use apps
  • Excellent security
  • Strict and transparent privacy policies
  • Good customer support
  • Much more

To learn more, read our comprehensive guide to choosing the right VPN.

The fastest free VPNs: An in-depth analysis

Now you know a little about finding the right free VPN, let’s take a closer look at the five that made it through our tests – including their limitations. 

But keep reading, because we’ll also discuss the many reasons you should consider investing a couple of dollars in a cheap premium VPN. You can also read our complete VPN reviews to get an even more in-depth look at every VPN available.

1. Hotspot Shield
Editor's Choice | April 2024

The best free VPN. A reliable free service that provides access to a server in the USA.

  • Pricing

    • 36 months: $2.99/mth
      76% OFF
    • 12 months: $7.99/mth
      38% OFF
    • 1 month: $12.99/mth
    • Free: $0/mth
  • Pros

    • Reasonable speeds
    • Apps for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android
    • Free server is in the US
    • Cheap to upgrade to premium
    • Works to access blocked social media and news sites
  • Cons

    • Only one server location
    • Ad supported
    • 500 MB daily limit
  • Available on

    • Windows
    • macOS
    • iOS
    • Android
    • Linux
  • Unblocks

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer
    • Amazon Prime
    • Hulu
  • Website

Hotspot Shield is a popular VPN service that continues to provide both a limited free plan and a full premium service. The free plan is somewhat unusual in that it provides access to a server in the US. This, of course, is highly sought after because it easily allows users around the globe to gain access to important services such as instant messengers and social media platforms.


The only caveat is that the free server is much more sluggish than the ones you get when you pay. In addition, it will not work to access popular streaming services such as Netflix US, Hulu, HBO Max, ESPN, etc. To access these streaming platforms from abroad, you will require a premium account.


Other than that, however, this is a solid free VPN that provides strong AES encryption, reasonable speeds, and the ability to download up to 500 MB of data each day. This probably rules it out for streaming and gaming, but it does mean that anybody who can't afford a VPN can still communicate with friends and family during blackouts imposed by governments during protests or elections, for example.


Just bear in mind that the free plan is supported by ads, you will need to pay to remove these. Other than that, however, the VPN does not track your web visits or IP address in any way.

Hide.me delivers average speeds of up to 25 Mbps from free servers in North America and Europe, supports torrenting, and works well with streaming sites.

  • Pricing

    • 24 months + 2 months FREE: $3.84/mth
      62% OFF
    • 12 months: $6.66/mth
      34% OFF
    • 1 month: $9.95/mth
    • Free: $0/mth
  • Pros

    • Free servers in four countries
    • Fast connections
    • Access lots of streaming sites
    • Excellent privacy tools
    • Highly customizable
  • Cons

    • Difficult to use
    • Must renew every 30 days
    • One device only on free plan
  • Available on

    • Windows
    • macOS
    • iOS
    • Android
    • Linux
  • Unblocks

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer
    • Amazon Prime
    • Hulu
  • Website

As a free Hide.me user, your data will be capped at 10GB per month. This is enough for very occasional streaming and torrenting. This is good news, because Hide.me can actually access a lot of otherwise restricted streaming content and supports torrenting. 


Hide.me also offers free users robust security, including 256-bit AES encryption, 8196-bit RSA keys, leak protections, and an automatic kill-switch (which blocks your internet connection if your VPN is disrupted for even a second, so you’re never accidentally exposed). We tested Hide.me’s security and found it works flawlessly in the background, keeping us safe and anonymous online. 


Frustratingly, you can only install Hide.me on one device, and you have to renew the free plan every 30 days – which feels like an unnecessary annoyance and marks it down considerably.

ProtonVPN is the fastest free VPN by a long shot. In fact, at up to 300+Mbps, it's faster than many paid VPNs. It also doesn’t cap your data and provides an overall satisfactory experience.

  • Pricing

    • 24 months: $4.99/mth
      51% OFF
    • 12 months: $5.99/mth
      41% OFF
    • 1 month: $9.99/mth
    • Free trial: $0/mth
  • Pros

    • Unlimited data
    • Fast connections
    • Good for streaming
    • Robust security
    • Works on routers
  • Cons

    • Blocks torrenting
    • No live chat support
  • Available on

    • Windows
    • macOS
    • iOS
    • Android
    • Linux
  • Unblocks

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer
    • Amazon Prime
    • Hulu

As a free user, you can access servers in three countries: the US, Netherlands, and Japan. While this is a tiny server network, ProtonVPN delivered surprisingly fast connections throughout our tests. Our international team was able to stream in HD with no problems. 


We could also access the most popular streamers, banking websites, and other geo-restricted content and services. For a free VPN, ProtonVPN did a fantastic job. It’s not as powerful as premium providers, but far better than most free competitors. 


And thanks to ProtonVPN’s unlimited data, you can binge-watch entire seasons of your favorite shows whenever you want. 


ProtonVPN is also incredibly secure. Its paid plan includes AES 265-bit encryption (the same standard used by governments, banks, militaries, and spy agencies), DNS/IPv6 leak protections, and much more. 


So, it's fast, secure, and protects unlimited data – which is why ProtonVPN is number one.

4. AtlasVPN

AtlasVPN offers unlimited device connections on a single plan, delivers fast, reliable connections, and includes an impressive suite of extra privacy and security tools.

  • Pricing

    • 24 months: $2.05/mth
      82% OFF
    • 12 months: $3.29/mth
      71% OFF
    • 1 month: $10.99/mth
  • Pros

    • No speed limit
    • Unlimited device connections
    • Works well with streamers
    • Includes malware protection, an ad blocker, and data breach alerts
    • Easy to use
  • Cons

    • Only three free servers
    • Hasn’t been around long
    • 5GB monthly data cap
    • Slow customer support responses
  • Available on

    • Windows
    • macOS
    • iOS
    • Android
    • Linux
  • Unblocks

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer
    • Amazon Prime
    • Hulu

During our tests, the free version of AtlasVPN delivered roughly 90 Mbps connection speeds from its three free servers (two in the US and one in the Netherlands). This is fast enough for buffer-free HD streaming (in theory), quick web page load times, and downloads. 


However, AtlasVPN caps your data at just 5GB per month. This is too little for streaming, downloading, video calling, or torrenting. So, we suggest you only use AtlasVPN’s free plan for basic browsing. 


Otherwise, AtlasVPN is really impressive. It has all the standard security features you’ll find on a good free VPN, alongside some cool extras. These include a built-in ad blocker, malware detection, and a dark web monitor if your data is leaked, stolen, and shared online.

5. Windscribe

Windscribe gives free users access to 10 free servers that delivered average connection speeds of 54 Mbps in our tests. You can also install it on unlimited devices with a single plan.

  • Pricing

    • 12 months: $4.08/mth
    • 1 month: $9/mth
    • Free: $0/mth
  • Pros

    • Unlimited device connections
    • Fast connections
    • Large free server network
    • Airtight security
  • Cons

    • Chatbot support only
    • Missing some advanced features
    • Based in Canada
    • Some features are difficult to use
  • Available on

    • Windows
    • macOS
    • iOS
    • Android
    • Linux
  • Unblocks

    • Netflix

We tested Windscribe’s free servers on numerous mobile devices and laptops located around the world. Despite a smaller server network (at least, compared to premium VPNs), our globally distributed team measured similar connection speeds regardless of their locations. At roughly 54 Mbps, Windscribe’s free VPN is quick enough to stream in HD if you let your shows buffer for a few minutes before watching them. 


The 10GB monthly data cap will limit you to only occasional streaming. But it's a great choice if you need a VPN for secure browsing, banking, and other “low data” activities. Just note, you’ll start with 2GB until you verify your email address. 


Windscribe is also one of the few free VPNs that support torrenting – which we verified. However, with just 10GB, you’ll want to limit your VPN-protected torrenting to the minimum or quickly exceed the limit.

6. TunnelBear

Tunnelbear has over 45 free servers that deliver over 29 Mbps if you connect to one nearby. If you’re far from a server, you can expect slower speeds.

  • Pricing

    • 24 months: $4.17/mth
      58% OFF
    • 12 months: $4.99/mth
      50% OFF
    • Free: $0/mth
  • Pros

    • Free servers in 45+ countries
    • Works in China
    • Robust security
    • Beginner-friendly apps
  • Cons

    • Doesn’t work with Netflix
    • Low monthly data limit
  • Available on

    • Windows
    • macOS
    • iOS
    • Android
  • Unblocks

Tunnelbear’s VPN apps are easy to set up and navigate. We asked a friend who had never used a VPN before to install it on their phone; it was a breeze. The whole process only took a few minutes, and they found switching between servers simple and intuitive. 


Tunnelbear also works in China, which is seriously impressive. Even most paid VPNs can’t figure out how to get around the Chinese government’s extreme censorship and internet control. 


However, overall, Tunnelbear is incredibly limited. The paid plan starts with just 500MB of protected data each month. You can extend this to 1.5GB by tweeting the company – but that’s still a fraction of the data offered by other free VPNs on this list. Meanwhile, the best budget VPNs don’t cap your data at all. 


Tunnelbear is great for people just starting out, trying a VPN for the first time. But for everything else, you have plenty of better options.

9 reasons to upgrade to a fast premium VPN

While the free VPNs we’ve recommended here are the fastest, most trustworthy option – they still can’t compare to the best premium VPN. Not just in terms of speeds – but overall performance and security. 

If you can spare a few dollars a month to invest in a premium VPN, here’s what to expect: 

  1. Faster connections: Premium VPNs fly past their free competitors in terms of speed. You’ll enjoy buffer-free streaming, instant downloads, lag-free gaming, and much more. 
  2. Unlimited data: The best VPNs have zero caps on your data, and don’t impose any restrictions on what you can do (i.e., torrenting and streaming). 
  3. More servers: Most premium VPNs have thousands of servers located across the globe. Wherever you are, you’ll enjoy fast, reliable, secure connections. 
  4. Industry-best security: Premium VPNs have millions of dollars to invest in state-of-the-art security, including military-grade encryption and a lot more. 
  5. Increased privacy: Paid VPNs never have to depend on shady tactics like selling your data to make money. Instead, they guarantee the best privacy possible. 
  6. Access more content: Get unrestricted access to your favorite streaming sites, including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, and local sites in any country.  
  7. Additional features: Make the most of built-in ad blockers, malware detection, dark web monitoring, and much more. 
  8. More devices: Some premium VPNs, like Surfshark, over unlimited device connections on a single plan. Most allow at least five. Sometimes 10. 
  9. Premium support: Get help 24/7 from live chat support with real humans who can help you solve any issues with your VPN. 

If you still need help deciding, check out our guide to the fastest VPNs in the world. 

Are free VPNs safe to use?

Throughout our many years of testing VPNs, we’ve found most free VPNs are not safe for any use. Unlike premium providers, free VPNs don’t generate revenue from subscriptions (unlike premium providers), so they often resort to shady business practices to profit from you. 

We’ve seen free VPNs: 

  • Secretly harvest and sell user data to advertisers and brokers
  • Insert (sometimes dangerous) ads on users’ browsers
  • Host malware, spyware, and hackers on their networks

The five free VPNs in this guide are the only ones we recommend. We’ve tested each one thoroughly to ensure they’re not engaging in nefarious or criminal activities. While these VPNs are perfectly safe, all others should be avoided. 

To learn more about the dangers of free VPNs, check out our guide to common VPN scams. 

Methodology: how we chose the fastest free VPNs

We put every free VPN we test through a series of rigorous tests. You can use our test criteria to help you choose your next VPN safely and without the hassle of trying multiple providers. 

Here’s what to look for: 

  • Free forever: We’ve only included free VPNs that don’t force you to pay or cancel your free subscription after a time limit. 
  • Fast connections: Most free VPNs are painstakingly slow, but our picks are fast enough for at least basic streaming and downloading. 
  • Reasonable data limits: Unlike premium VPNs, free providers only offer limited data. But the best gives you enough data to cover regular use throughout the month. 
  • Works with some streamers: The best free VPNs can access content on at least one streaming site. But if you want guaranteed access to content, you need a premium VPN. 
  • Strong security: Our top free VPNs offer the same standard of encryption, leak protections, kill-switches, and more as their premium competitors. 
  • Transparent privacy policies: You should be able to read any VPNs privacy policy and understand every word. 
  • Good customer support: Free VPNs are limited to email and chatbot support, but these solutions should still be responsive and helpful. 

To understand how we test and recommend VPNs, read our complete review process. 

Fastest free VPNs FAQs

Which VPN has the fastest speed?

ExpressVPN has the fastest connection speeds in the world. There are many reasons it outranks every competitor in speed (but also security, performance, and access to content), including: 

  • Lightway Protocol: ExpressVPN’s patented VPN protocol is built to be lightweight and fast – without compromising your security. 
  • Global server network: ExpressVPN has 3,000+ servers in over 90 countries worldwide. You’re guaranteed a fast connection from anywhere. 
  • Unlimited bandwidth: ExpressVPN never caps your data, so you’ll enjoy fast speeds whether you’re browsing, streaming, torrenting, and or anything else. 
  • Speed-optimized servers: ExpressVPN’s servers are built for speed and use RAM-only storage, so they never record your data or slow down. 
  • Smart Location tool: You can let ExpressVPN pick the best server based on location and speed, so you don’t have to think about it. 

Just because ExpressVPN has invested so heavily in being the fastest VPN in the world doesn’t mean it has compromised security. You also benefit from the protection of industry-best security features, including 256-bit AES encryption, DNS and IPv6 leak protection, an automatic kill-switch, and much more. 

Can a VPN increase speed?

A VPN can increase your internet speed by hiding your activity and bypassing bandwidth throttling by your internet service provider (ISP). "Bandwidth throttling” is a process in which your ISP limits the bandwidth available on your internet connection if you’re doing something that requires a lot of data. For example: 

  • Streaming
  • Gaming
  • Torrenting
  • Any downloading
  • Video editing
  • Much more 

Once you turn on your VPN, it hides all this activity from your ISP. As a result, you’ll get the same bandwidth as everyone else on your network, and your internet might actually speed up. 

How do I get maximum speed from my VPN?

To get maximum speed from your VPN, follow these steps:

  • Choose a VPN with global servers: You’ll have more options to connect, and benefit from an extensive network.
  • Connect to a server close to your location: The closer the server, the faster your connection speed.
  • Use a VPN with WireGuard and IKEv2/IPSec protocols: They’re faster and more efficient than other protocols.
  • Reduce your encryption level: Lowering encryption on your VPN can increase your connection speed but it also reduces your security. Only do this if speed is more important than security (i.e. if you’re streaming outside your country).
  • Keep your VPN updated: Make sure you're using the latest version of your VPN, as updates often include performance improvements and bug fixes.
  • Enable split-tunneling: You can route specific applications or websites through your VPN, while the rest of your traffic goes through your regular internet connection. Split-tunneling reduces the load on your VPN, improving its speed.
  • Change your DNS settings: A slow DNS configuration can impact VPN speed. Try changing your VPN's DNS settings to use a faster DNS provider, like Google DNS or Cloudflare DNS.
  • Use a wired connection: Connect your device to your router directly using an Ethernet cable. Doing so usually offers a more stable, faster connection than Wi-Fi.
  • Upgrade your internet plan: If your internet connection is slow, your VPN connection will be too – regardless of any steps you take above. Upgrade to a faster internet plan, and you should see an improvement in your VPN speed.

Which free VPN has no speed limit?

There are a few fast free VPNs that don’t limit your connection speed, including ProtonVPN, AtlasVPN, and Windscribe. 

However, while these free VPNs don’t limit your speed, they impose plenty of other restrictions and limitations. These include: 

  • Limiting your VPN-protected data
  • Limiting the number of devices you can use
  • Blocking torrenting
  • Not accessing popular streaming sites
  • Only giving you access to a tiny server network. 

While not limiting your speed, these free VPNs are still much slower than premium VPNs. So, if you want a truly unlimited experience, pick one of the fastest VPNs available. 

Conclusion

The five free VPNs listed here are the fastest free VPNs you’ll find on the market. While their speeds vary, they’re fast enough for most tasks, including streaming, torrenting, video chat, browsing, and more. 

However, they’re still incredibly limited and will probably leave you frustrated by their slow connections, data limits, and lack of access to popular streaming sites. 

If you want a truly fast, secure, industry-best experience, invest a few dollars each month in a premium VPN. You’ll enjoy impenetrable, state-of-the-art security, lightning-fast connections, and zero speed, data, or usage limitations. 

Check out the fastest VPNs available to see the difference. They all offer no-questions-asked 30-day money-back guarantees – so there’s zero risk in signing up.

Written by: Conor Walsh

Conor is a tech writer with professional paranoia. He's passionate about privacy, and when not writing about it, can be found trying to get far away from his phone and any other technology, enjoying some live music, outdoorsy stuff, or a good (physical) book.

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