The best free VPN of 2024 (2024)

The best free VPN of 2024 (1)

One of the most popular security apps in the digital age, a virtual private network is essential to protect your information from cybercriminals, make your browsing more anonymous, and stream shows from other countries. Even better as with the best free VPN services all of this won't cost you a penny.

I've reviewed hundreds of VPNs over my four years in the industry, and I constantly test leading services to make sure my rankings are always accurate. I've also compared the pros and cons of a free vs premium VPN to help you pick the right service—analyzing speed, server locations, unblocking capability, privacy, and security.

Unfortunately, even the best free VPNs come with restrictions, and any service that says it doesn't should immediately be treated with caution. It typically means the service will be turning a profit in some other way, usually with invasive advertising or by selling your data to third parties—defeating the privacy purpose of a VPN.

Ultimately, this renders most of them useless for unblocking content and can give you a false sense of security. The best free services exist to give you a taste of the full product, and often limit both your speed and the amount of data you can use.

The three best VPNs in 2024

Paid VPNs offer so much more than their free counterparts. If you want to get the best VPN services for free, take advantage of money-back guarantees and see how they compare with the top free options.

The best free VPN of 2024 (2)

1. The best VPN overall: ExpressVPN
ExpressVPN is my go-to pick as the absolute best VPN on the market today. That's because it automates every process that most other apps would make you do manually, ensuring the fastest, safest connection possible every time.

If that's not enough, it unblocked everything everywhere in my latest round of testing. If you want to see for yourself, you can use ExpressVPN totally free by taking advantage of itsno-questions-asked 30-day money-back guarantee.

2. The best Netflix VPN: NordVPN
If you just want to unblock your favorite Netflix shows, NordVPN has you covered. It's consistently proven to be the best VPN for Netflix in my tests, and because the service just turned 12, it's offering TechRadar readers up to 69% off, plus a free Uber Eats voucher. Put it to the test and see how it stacks up against ExpressVPN for a second month of free VPN coverage by using its 30-day money-back guarantee.

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3. The best budget VPN: Surfshark
Remember, a good VPN doesn't have to be expensive. If you're on a tight budget, Surfshark offers fantastic value for money—which is why it holds the crown for the best cheap VPN. Plus, with its current offering, you can get one of my go-to services for just $2.29 per month. It even comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can get a third month of free premium VPN protection, all without risking a penny.

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Recent updates

My latest round of tests is now underway, so watch this space for the latest and greatest in all things VPN.

The best free VPNs in 2024

Let's deep-dive into my top free VPN picks for today.

The best free VPN of 2024 (5)

1. PrivadoVPN Free

The best free VPN—it even unblocks Netflix and iPlayer

Available on: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, and Linux | Data limit: 10 GB at full speed, then unlimited via a single 1 Mbps location | Connections: 1 | Server locations: 13 | Countries: 10 | 24/7 live chat support: Website and email

Unblocks US Netflix, Disney Plus, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer

10 GB full-speed data a month, plus unlimited low-speed traffic

Super-fast speeds

Plenty of customization

Easy-to-use apps

Some features are locked behind the premium service

Subscribe if:

✔️ You want a free Netflix VPN:PrivadoVPN is one of the only free providers that can reliably unblock Netflix.

✔️ You need a fast free VPN:WireGuard encryption is accessible on PrivadoVPN's free plan, which means you get fantastic speeds no matter what.

✔️ You want premium features:most services block features behind a paywall, but not PrivadoVPN. Split tunneling, auto-connect, and kill switch functionality are included as standard.

Don't subscribe if:

You need totally unlimited data:PrivadoVPN offers unparalleled performance, but only for 10 GB. After that, your speeds are seriously restricted.

❌ You want a Linux app:Linux installations only operate a command-line interface. If you need a graphical user interface (GUI), I recommend ProtonVPN.

Bottom line ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

🔒 PrivadoVPN Free is an excellent service with unblocking capabilities that blow even some premium competition out of the water. Try it for yourself and see why it's my top free VPN in 2024.

Want to know more?

Check out our in-depth PrivadoVPN review for a closer look at the service, and see why it's my top free VPN pick for 2024.

PrivadoVPN Free has been nipping at Proton's heels for a long time, and with recent updates, it's finally de-throned the long-standing Swiss champion. With a dedicated geoblocking team, it's one of few VPNs that can reliably unblock popular streaming services like Netflix and BBC iPlayer—most paid services can't say that.

I also love the fact that, contrary to many other freebies on the market, Privado's free option offers plenty of customization and security features. These include a kill switch and always-on VPN to protect your data at all times and cut your internet use if your VPN connection drops.

The free platform even offers split-tunneling, so you can access local services while streaming your favorite shows abroad. You can even control your encryption protocol, and switch to WireGuard for a faster, more secure VPN experience.

Try PrivadoVPN: the best free VPN

With its 865 Mbps download speeds, PrivadoVPN's free servers are just as fast as its paid-for ones. This knocks Proton VPN's free servers out of first place for the fastest free VPN with 740 Mbps. The higher server count also means that PrivadoVPN's servers are less likely to become congested, too.

However, if the data tap runs dry, you then get unlimited data via its "over-quota" mode, where you'll be placed on a speed-restricted server offering only 1 Mbps. While this might seem slow, it's still plenty for day-to-day internet use, and most users won't likely need more than 10 GB every month. In a recent discussion with Privado's engineers, they revealed the majority of its free subscribers only use around 4 GB of data per month.

PrivadoVPN is one of the only VPN providers to handle its own bandwidth and transit routes. This means you get fantastic speeds and almost no server congestion—it's a free service with a truly premium feel.

Click to read more about my trip to PrivadoVPN's data centers ↓

Last September I flew out to Amsterdam to see PrivadoVPN's servers in person. I was absolutely blown away by the capacity of throughput available and the room available to expand further. PrivadoVPN's teams are constantly innovating to improve the capability of its data centers, and the attention to detail was astounding. From cable management to little details like tagging, external power supplies, and accidental removal protection on every plug.

As we analyzed the server stacks, Mo and I saw that PrivadoVPN uses RAM-only straight passthrough servers for its traffic. This means that no user data can be stored when you're using the VPN, so if authorities came knocking, there'd be nothing to hand over.

Ultimately, what reassured me most was how the engineers were hungry to improve the service, and better serve customers. I encouraged them to pursue open-sourcing and independent third-party audits, and believe we'll see the provider pursue one or both of these sooner rather than later.

The choice of 13 locations over 10 countries beats most free services, including Proton VPN's free plan which only offers 3 countries. Here's a quick list of the free server locations:

  • United Kingdom
  • United States (4 locations)
  • Canada
  • France
  • Germany
  • Netherlands
  • Switzerland
  • Mexico
  • Brazil
  • Argentina

The apps are easy to use and reliable, but the service has some issues and limits. PrivadoVPN Free only supports a single connection, so if you install it on your laptop and your phone, you can only use one at a time.

Overall, PrivadoVPN Free is an excellent service that blows the competition out of the water. Its streaming results are a standout feature, and if paying for a VPN just isn't an option, PrivadoVPN gives you a premium service without a premium cost—or any cost for that matter.

Swipe to scroll horizontally

PrivadoVPN test results:
DesignModern and uncluttered, with a tasteful color scheme⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Ease of useIntuitive app with simple implementation means it's perfect for beginners⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
PerformanceThe fastest free VPN service⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
UnblockingA dedicated geo-unblocking team that doesn't just work for the paying customers⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Security and privacyRobust security on paper, but no independent audit⭐⭐⭐⭐
Customer supportSupport staff are friendly, but the site could do with more content⭐⭐⭐⭐
(Image credit: Proton VPN)

2. Proton VPN Free

Unlimited data allowance and advocates for digital privacy

Available on: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, and Linux | Data limit: Unlimited | Connections: 1 | Countries: 3 | Support: Website, email

Unlimited data

Fast servers

Feature-packed open-sourced and audited apps

Reliable kill switch

Only three locations

Subscribe if:

✔️ You want an unlimited free VPN:unlike most free providers, Proton VPN doesn't cap data usage on its free plan.

✔️ You want a free open-source VPN:Proton VPN is proudly open-source, meaning anyone can audit and verify its claims.

✔️ You want a free Linux VPN:Proton VPN offers free installation on Linux and even comes with a graphical user interface (GUI).

Don't subscribe if:

You need a server in the UK:ProtonVPN only offers free servers in the US, Netherlands, and Japan. If you need servers elsewhere, I would recommend PrivadoVPN or Windscribe.

❌ You want a free torrenting VPN:if you want access to Proton VPN's P2P servers, you'll need to upgrade to the premium version. We'd recommend PrivadoVPN instead.

Bottom line ⭐⭐⭐⭐½

🔒Proton VPNis a well-known brand with a history of fighting for digital privacy and internet freedom. While it's recently been knocked off of its throne, it's still an absolutely fantastic service.

Want to know more?

Check out our in-depth Proton VPN review for a closer look at one of the most popular free VPNs in the industry.

Proton VPN Free used to top my free VPN charts, thanks to its mix of features, power, and app quality. While it may have lost its place, it's still a remarkable service that doesn't pile on the limits and restrictions to nag you into upgrading. This is a free VPN you could use long-term.

For starters, users can use their software as long as they want as Proton comes with no data limits. That's a big plus in a market where almost all other free VPNs might allow you 500MB to 10GB a month at most. This also ultimately translates into better privacy as you don't have to choose where you use the VPN when data's running low. If you feel there's a risk, or you're unsure, then just get connected—Proton VPN Free is always available.

Proton hasn't punished free users by omitting key features, either. Some free providers drop the kill switch, WireGuard, and maybe even support, but Proton VPN Free has all the core privacy features you need to stay safe online.

Download this great VPN directly from the Proton website

There are still significant limits. You only get access to three locations, for instance: USA, the Netherlands, and Japan. Although you can install Proton VPN on as many devices as you like, you can only connect one at a time. There's no access to Proton VPN's specialist streaming servers, no P2P support, or bonus extras such as ad and malware-blocking—to use them, you'll have to upgrade to a premium plan.

None of this prevents Proton VPN Free from doing its central job, though, and much better than most of the competition. Its well-engineered, open-source, and audited apps are easy to use, but also stuffed with useful tweaks, tools, and technologies.

The service previously topped my free VPN speed charts but has since been knocked off of its pillar by Privado. Speeds of 740 Mbps are nothing to scoff at, as some premium providers aren't that fast. However, the limited number of services comes with a high potential for congestion, so those speeds may not always be available.

Most of Proton's services come with free options, including its highly acclaimed ProtonMail service. Plus, on June 28, Proton Pass was launched to give people access to reliable password management through its security toolkit.

In an effort to combat censorship around the world, Proton launched the VPN Observatory to monitor spikes in VPN usage. The Observatory will act like a canary in the coal mine, signaling to the world when sudden acts of censorship have taken place.

Proton VPN Free may not be quite right for everyone. If you absolutely must have a location in the UK, for instance, or some other country not on Proton's very short list, then PrivadoVPN and Windscribe have more than 10 countries to choose from.

For most users, Proton VPN Free delivers just about everywhere. It's fast, secure, has excellent features, and it's also effortless to use.

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Proton VPN test results:
DesignDark and edgy with plenty of flair⭐⭐⭐⭐
Ease of useNot the simplest design, but still fairly intuitive⭐⭐⭐
PerformanceA super-fast service, but with a small risk of congestion⭐⭐⭐⭐
UnblockingDedicated Deutsche Welle servers but few locations to choose from otherwise⭐⭐⭐⭐
Security and privacyOpen-source, audited, and reliable⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Customer supportLots of on-site support and excellent agents⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The best free VPN of 2024 (7)

3. Windscribe Free

Powerful and secure with a generous data cap

Available on: Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS | Data limit: 10 GB | Connections: Unlimited | Server locations: 14 | Countries: 11 | Support: Website, email

Plenty of advanced features

Unlimited simultaneous connections

Unblocks UK Netflix, BBC iPlayer

Speeds can't match the best

Subscribe if:

✔️ You want unlimited simultaneous connections:Windscribe doesn't care how many devices you use, but it does give you a 10 GB data limit.

✔️ You want plenty of server locations:14 server locations is more than any other free VPN service I recommend.

Don't subscribe if:

You want a free VPN that's fast:Windscribe's speeds are decent, and more than enough for most tasks, but I saw much better speeds from the competition.

❌ You need more than 10 GB of data:10 GB doesn't go as far as it used to, and if you use it to stream or torrent, it'll run out quickly. If you need a truly unlimited service, I would recommend Proton VPN instead.

Bottom line ⭐⭐⭐⭐

🔒Windscribeoffers plenty of server locations and reliable service, but lacks the speed and quality of PrivadoVPN and Proton VPN.

Want to know more?

Check out our in-depth Windscribe free VPN review for a closer look at this popular free service.

Windscribe Free VPN is a quality Canadian service whose appealing mix of features more than justifies its place in the top three.

The data allowance is a little more restricted than my two top VPNs, at a strict 10GB a month. That's enough to protect a lot of online activity, though, and Windscribe Free VPN has its own plus point as compensation. Yet, while most free plans restrict you to only one connection, Windscribe has no limits. This means you can install and use the software on as many devices simultaneously as you need.

The network is another highlight, with Windscribe Free VPN users able to choose from 14 locations across 11 countries. That beats PrivadoVPN Free (10 countries), Proton VPN (3 countries), and many others.

Put Windscribe to the test for free

Windscribe's premium service was one of the few VPNs that maxed out the speed testing line in my latest round of tests, and my previous testing has shown it's an above-average free service when it comes to performance, which is thoroughly commendable.

Recent revamps of the apps have made them a bit more simple in their design, but I dislike how cluttered they feel. Even still, it's a step in the right direction, and the new server location search function is incredibly helpful.

There are some surprising plus points, too. Although Windscribe Free VPN doesn't include the specialist Windflix dedicated streaming servers, I found the service still successfully unblocked UK Netflix and BBC iPlayer.I like that it doesn't disregard content unblocking for non-paying customers.

Put it all together, and while Windscribe Free VPN can't quite match Proton VPN and PrivadoVPN, it gets very close, and the service could well be the right choice for some people but when you consider that all of these services are free, why would you pick anything other than the best?

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Windscribe test results:
DesignSimple and intuitive, albeit a little cluttered⭐⭐⭐⭐
Ease of usePretty easy to use for beginners⭐⭐⭐⭐
PerformanceNot as fast as PrivadoVPN or Proton VPN⭐⭐⭐
UnblockingNot bad, but not guaranteed⭐⭐⭐⭐
Security and privacyOpen-source and reliable⭐⭐⭐⭐
Customer supportEmail tickets are quickly resolved, but no live chat makes it somewhat inconvenient⭐⭐⭐
(Image credit: Atlas VPN)

4. Atlas VPN Free

Speedy and secure with a big bonus for Macs

Available on: Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS | Data limit: 10 GB per month (2 GB per day for Mac) | Connections: 2 | Server locations: 3 | Countries: 2 | Support: Website, email

Relatively generous with data

Fast for a free VPN

Unblocks Disney Plus

Few features

Some usability issues

Subscribe if:

✔️ You want free Disney+ VPN:Atlas VPN unblocked the popular streaming service effortlessly in my testing.

✔️ You need a free Mac VPN:2 GB per day is a generous allowance for Mac users wanting to use the VPN regularly.

Don't subscribe if:

You need an unlimited free VPN:data limits are common with free providers, so if you need unlimited bandwidth, I recommend using Proton VPN.

You need a reliable free VPN:my testing showed some usability errors. As such, if you need a free VPN you can trust at all times, I recommend PrivadoVPN or Proton VPN.

Bottom line ⭐⭐⭐½

🔒Atlas VPN is a decent free VPN that struggles to compete with my top picks.

Want to know more?

Check out our in-depth Atlas VPN review for a closer look at this popular free VPN.

Atlas VPN Free first caught my eye with its impressive data allowance. Not the 10GB you get with its Windows VPN, Android VPN, and iOS VPN—although that's not bad—but its Mac VPN really goes the extra mile. Mac users get, in fact, an outstanding 2GB a day.

The service isn't as generous with its locations, though. There are just three: the Netherlands, Los Angeles, and New York. You're able to connect a couple of devices simultaneously, though (our top two free VPNs only allow one), and my speed tests found Atlas VPN Free reached an above-average 320 Mbps. Factor in the P2P support, and Atlas could be a smart torrenting choice.

Try Atlas VPN for yourself

I'm not quite as convinced by the apps. They cover the basics, and what you get works well (the kill switch passed all my tests, for instance). But they're a little short on features, with a few small usability hassles, and can't match the likes of PrivadoVPN.

The service does have an independent audit, and that's a step above many competitors. But it's also relatively limited, covering the iOS app only. Meanwhile, TunnelBear Free VPN now has annual audits covering all its apps, servers, infrastructure, and more.

In other areas, though, Atlas VPN Free delivered a little more than I expected. It doesn't support unblocking any streaming sites, for instance, but I found the service got me into Disney Plus, and maybe you'll have luck with other sites.

Overall, while Atlas VPN Free has some issues, I found it generally did a good job of protecting me online, and Mac users in particular will love the 2GB per day data allowance.

Atlas VPN test results:
DesignBasic and generally underwhelming⭐⭐⭐
Ease of useSome usability problems and an awkward design⭐⭐⭐
PerformanceDecent speeds on offer⭐⭐⭐⭐
UnblockingPretty good considering it's a free plan⭐⭐⭐⭐
Security and privacyAbout industry standard, but not many features⭐⭐⭐
Customer supportDecent website content but no live chat⭐⭐⭐

The best free VPN of 2024 (9)

5. Free VPN

Expert-level privacy protection for free

Available on: Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS | Data limit: 10 GB | Connections: 1 | Server locations: 5 | Countries: 4 | Support: Website, email, live chat

10 GB of data per month

P2P support

Highly configurable

Poor connection speeds

Apps can seem complex

Subscribe if:

✔️ You want a free torrenting is one of the few free VPNs that support P2P torrenting.

✔️ You need an anonymous free VPN:simple sign-up processes mean you can get a free VPN without revealing who you are.

Don't subscribe if:

You want a free VPN that's had underwhelming results compared to the competition

You're a VPN beginner:if you're looking for your first VPN, has a pretty complex UI. Instead, I would recommend PrivadoVPN.

Bottom line ⭐⭐⭐½

🔒Hide.meoffers a decent free platform that's good for torrenting, but its slow speeds and limited servers make me go back to PrivadoVPN every time.

Want to know more?

Check out our in-depth review for a closer look this popular free VPN service. 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 make it worth a closer look.

Installing the service gets you a decent 10GB of data a month, and access to five P2P-friendly locations: east and west coast USA, Canada, Germany, and Netherlands. Not the best around, but enough to get by for most users, and it's useful as a torrenting VPN.

Download now on the website

The apps have more features and customizability than most of the free competition, which is a huge benefit. Auto-connect on accessing untrusted Wi-Fi, custom DNS, split tunneling, a powerful kill switch, advanced protocol tweaks, and capable browser extensions—they're all here. Great news for experts, although others might feel this makes for a more complex and intimidating interface compared to services like Privado and Proton. Free VPN also supports the speedy WireGuard protocol, so you can take advantage of the latest and greatest in VPN encryption protocols. However, performance is a concern for if you use the free plan. Its paid service is one of the fastest VPN services around, but I found Free VPN averaged only downloads of around 25 Mbps. That's significantly less than the speeds I saw from PrivadoVPN and the other top providers.

That's enough speed for browsing, streaming, and most other tasks, though, and if you'll use Free VPN's more advanced app features, it could be the right service for you. However, when you factor in the competition, it's not really worth it when you can get so much more for nothing elsewhere.

Swipe to scroll horizontally test results:
DesignA simple design that's clutter-free, but somewhat boring⭐⭐⭐
Ease of useQuite complex for beginners⭐⭐⭐
PerformanceThe premium version maxed out my testing lines, but the free version is pretty lacklustre⭐⭐
UnblockingPretty average unblocking capabilities⭐⭐⭐
Security and privacyDecent security and plenty of features to pick from⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Customer supportGood customer support and an in-depth knowledge hub⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The best free VPN of 2024 (10)

6. Hotspot Shield Basic VPN

Absolutely no data limits, but look out for the ads

Available on: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, and Linux | Data limit: Unlimited | Connections: 1 | Server locations: 1 | Countries: 1 | Support: Website

Unlimited bandwidth

Easy to use

Decent speeds

Single US location only

No kill switch

No email or live chat support

Subscribe if:

✔️ You need lots of data:Hotspot Shield offers a truly unlimited plan for anyone who needs more than 10 GB.

✔️ You want a fast free VPN:regularly boasting about its speed, Hotspot Shield doesn't hold back with its free servers.

Don't subscribe if:

You want more than one server location:if you need a closer server, or just another location whatsoever, I would pick any of the others.

You need a kill switch: most services come with a kill switch as standard. I don't know why Hotspot Shield is holding out on this one.

Bottom line ⭐⭐⭐

🔒Hotspot Shieldoffers a sub-par service when compared to the competition.

Want to know more?

Check out our in-depth Hotspot Shield Basic plan review for a closer look at the free version of this popular premium VPN.

Hotspot Shield Basic is a popular free VPN plan with a very major plus: last year, the provider began upgrading the service to offer unlimited data across all platforms. Mac, Android, and iOS now support unlimited data, with Windows joining the party later.

In a world where most free VPNs restrict you to 10GB a month or even less, being able to use the service as much as you like is a huge advantage. So, you might be wondering, "Why is Hotspot Shield Basic not higher up the list?"

Try Hotspot Shield for yourself

One major catch with the service is that it only allows connecting to a single US location. PrivadoVPN and Windscribe support around ten countries, while TunnelBear offers almost 50.

Usability issues and irritations include mobile apps that regularly display video ads when you connect. The Mac app has no ads but does open pages on the Hotspot Shield website every time you connect and disconnect.

One big privacy problem is that Hotspot Shield Basic doesn't include a kill switch. If the VPN connection drops, your traffic may be unprotected.

Oh, and if you experience any problems with any of this, there's no live chat or email support. You're left to browse the Hotspot Shield website and figure out a solution yourself.

This makes it difficult to recommend Hotspot Shield Basic above the competition, even with its unlimited data. But it may still be useful for simple tasks, or as an emergency backup for another provider, and it's worth checking out the service for yourself.

Swipe to scroll horizontally

Hotspot Shield test results:
DesignA clean and simple design⭐⭐⭐
Ease of useIntuitive apps that are easy to use but contain ads⭐⭐⭐
PerformanceDecent speeds, but nothing spectacular considering Hotspot Shield's claims⭐⭐⭐
UnblockingMediocre unblocking capabilities⭐⭐
Security and privacyLacking a kill switch is a serious problem⭐⭐
Customer supportNo live chat or email support is disappointing⭐⭐

The best free VPN of 2024 (11)

7. TunnelBear Free

A simpler way to stay safe online

Available on: Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS | Data limit: 500 MB per month | Connections: 1 | Server locations: 40+ | Countries: 40+ | Support: Website, email

Easy to use

More in-depth VPN audits than any other provider

Unblocks US Netflix

Meagre data limit

Very few features

Subscribe if:

✔️ You want a VPN that strips out all of the jargon: Tunnelbear is great for technophobes because of its simple design and plain language. No more confused staring at an app—TunnelBear handles it all for you.

✔️ You need a bigger server network: Tunnelbear offers one of the biggest free networks I saw on the market, counting almost 50 servers across 47 countries.

Don't subscribe if:

You want to do more than scroll on Reddit: a 500 MB allowance just feels insulting compared to the competition.

You want to unblock foreign shows:TunnelBear is pretty open about content unblocking and clearly wants to wash its hands of people using its VPN for streaming shows abroad.

Bottom line ⭐⭐⭐

🔒TunnelBear VPNis a well-known brand that doesn't really live up to the hype. Still, it's proven secure—so it has that going for it at least.

Want to know more?

Check out our in-depth TunnelBear Free VPN review for a closer look at the service, and see why it's not higher up the list.

While most VPNs sell themselves on their lengthy 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 this to a surprising extreme.

Most VPNs boast around all the protocols they support, for example, and give you stacks of settings in their apps—great if you understand VPN protocols, but what if you don't? Don't worry, TunnelBear strips away the technical difficulty of VPNs.

Head through to TunnelBear

TunnelBear Free VPN simplifies this by not even mentioning protocols in its website feature lists, support pages, or most of its apps. This isn't because it's underpowered—the Windows app still supports WireGuard and OpenVPN, the best protocol choices around. It just handles them itself, rather than exposing users to the low-level details.

The apps have other advanced features, although TunnelBear tries to soften these with less technical language. There's a kill switch called VigilantBear, for instance, and split tunneling called SplitBear.

The result is a service with some positives. It's easy to use, with a huge choice of 48 locations across 47 countries. Speeds are good at 300 Mbps, and TunnelBear's annual VPN audits—the most in-depth in the business—give a huge amount of reassurance that your privacy is protected.

There's also a real problem, though, in TunnelBear's miserly data allowance of just 500MB a month. This might be enough if you only need to securely check your email very occasionally, or unblock a single website. But it's far behind the free 10GB you'll typically get elsewhere.

Swipe to scroll horizontally

TunnelBear test results:
DesignClean, simple, and who doesn't like bears?⭐⭐⭐
Ease of useEasy to use and intuitive for beginners, but not much customization for technical users⭐⭐⭐
PerformanceAverage at best⭐⭐
UnblockingUnblocked US Netflix in my tests, but openly admits it doesn't support content unblocking⭐⭐
Security and privacyRegular audits give me faith, but a lack of control over encryption protocols is a double-edged sword⭐⭐⭐⭐
Customer supportNo live chat from such a large brand is quite surprising⭐⭐⭐

How I pick free VPNs

With so many free VPNs to choose from, and with all of them claiming to be the best and most "unlimited" of them all, I take a very strict approach to choosing which ones make it on the list. I test VPNs every single day, and I've lived and breathed them for the past three years (nearly four).

A VPN is only included in one of my pages if it meets all of the following criteria:

  • It's a VPN I have actually tested: I wouldn't recommend something I've never had my hands on. How can I verify it works if I've never used it? I'm always testing VPNs, and always happy to consider new entries for the list, but I won't recommend a service that doesn't deserve to be here.
  • It's a reliable service: you can trust it to keep you and your loved ones safe online. This means no invasive privacy policies, no stealing your IP address, and a genuine no-logs policy is vital. Many services claim they have a no-logs policy, but their third-party partners do the tracking instead.
  • It's actually worth using: what's the point of a free VPN if you can't really use it? If it doesn't work, it's not going on the list. Likewise, if the privacy policy isn't up to scratch, or the encryption isn't good enough, or the servers are too slow, then what's the point when there are some excellent services out there offering free plans?
  • It's genuinely free: if you have to pay up-front for the service, then it's not a free VPN. VPN free trials are a whole other kettle of fish, and worth taking advantage of, but it's not right for this list.
  • It doesn't have a shady privacy policy: so many free services make their money by harvesting your data and selling it. To make this list, a VPN service must have a robust no-logs policy. That means no one will be tracking what you do online, not the VPN, nor any third party they associate with—yes I've turned providers down in the past for this.

Countless services have reached out to me in the past looking to get on this page, and they have been thoroughly ticked off when I've explained why they don't meet my standards.

In short, it comes down to this: if I wouldn't feel comfortable with my friends and family using it, how could I ask you to use it?

My VPN industry rankings

Want to know how each of my free VPN picks fares against the rest of the market? check out my industry rankings below.

Swipe to scroll horizontally

1. ExpressVPN⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐The best VPN overall and our top pick for most use cases.
2. NordVPN⭐⭐⭐⭐½The fastest VPN, plus a full security suite with ad-blocking and malware protection.
3. Surfshark⭐⭐⭐⭐½The best cheap VPN, and also the fastest in our tests.
4. Private Internet Access⭐⭐⭐⭐½The best Linux VPN. A dedicated GUI for Linux, and a no-logs policy that was proven in court twice.
5. IPVanish⭐⭐⭐⭐The best of the rest. An up-and-coming provider that supports Linux.
6. PrivadoVPN⭐⭐⭐⭐The best free VPN. It even unblocks Netflix.
7. ProtonVPN⭐⭐⭐⭐A popular free VPN service with a history of advocating for the freedom of the internet.
8. Windscribe⭐⭐⭐⭐A fast service with a popular browser proxy.
9. CyberGhost VPN⭐⭐⭐⭐A popular and easy-to-use platform that's great for beginners.
10. Mullvad⭐⭐⭐⭐Good for Linux, and you can even pay in cash.
11. PureVPN⭐⭐⭐⭐One of the cheapest premium VPNs on the market.
12. Hide.Me⭐⭐⭐⭐A speedy service with plenty of customization.
13. Atlas VPN⭐⭐⭐½A new player in the VPN industry that's already making waves.
14. TunnelBear⭐⭐⭐½A reliable free VPN but no support for content unblocking.
15. Mozilla VPN⭐⭐⭐½A well known brand with a VPN that currently underperforms.
16. Hotspot Shield⭐⭐⭐½A fast VPN service with lots of great features.
17. VyprVPN⭐⭐⭐A reliable VPN with a dedicated protocol for bypassing even the most severe censorship.
18. Norton VPN⭐⭐⭐Known for its popular security suite with a lacklustre VPN.
19. PrivateVPN⭐⭐½An excellent cheap service that offers plenty of support for streaming and torrenting.
20. AstrillVPN⭐⭐½A mid-range VPN that's popular for bypassing Chinese censorship.
21. FastestVPN⭐⭐½Making its way up the list, but not yet living up to its name.
22. StrongVPN⭐⭐Another mid-range VPN that continues to improve.
23. AirVPN⭐⭐Built by hacktivists, for hacktivists.
24. Goose VPN⭐⭐An incredibly cheap mid-range VPN.
25. TorGuard⭐⭐A torrent-friendly VPN that's good for accessing foreign content.
26. UltraVPN⭐⭐Fast and secure with plenty of server locations.
27. Le VPN⭐⭐Lots of locations to choose from and integrated SmartDNS technology.
28. VPNArea⭐⭐A mid-range VPN that struggles to hold up against the industry leaders.
29. ZoogVPN⭐⭐A fairly underwhelming VPN from Greece.
30. Google One⭐⭐Google's history with data doesn't give us much faith in the service.

What is a VPN?

A virtual private network (VPN) is a cybersecurity tool that protects your device from hackers, cybercriminals, and snoopers. It encrypts your data and routes it through a secure server elsewhere in the world. This lets you pretend to be in another part of the world by changing your IP address (a number that identifies your device and location).

When you put all of this together, you get a service that shields your digital privacy, and lets you unblock censored or restricted content—no matter where you are.

How I test free VPNs - VPN review methodology

My VPN reviews begin with a detailed look at the provider's website. What features do you get? How useful is the support site? Has the provider gone through an audit, and if so, what did it say? And are there any catches in the small print?

VPNs can vary hugely between platforms, so I test and compare apps on Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS. I look at usability, features, settings, and more, and make sure each app works as expected.

Peeking under the hood can give you very useful information about a VPN, so I also dig deeper into the Windows app, exploring the files it uses, the settings, and whether it's properly setting up your connection for the best possible privacy.

The best free VPN of 2024 (12)

Speed matters, even for a free VPN. I test performance from a UK cloud PC with a speedy and ultra-reliable 1 Gbps, giving each VPN plenty of bandwidth to show me just what it can do.

Providers might claim to have a kill switch, but does this really give you the protection it claims? I use various techniques to force a VPN connection to close, and monitor each app to make sure it handles each situation correctly.

The limited data on most free VPN plans means they're not ideal for unblocking streaming sites. But it's still interesting to see who delivers on the unblocking front, and who doesn't. To find out, I check whether each provider can access exclusive regional content on (depending on the available locations) US Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney Plus, and BBC iPlayer.

Tested by

Meet the experts behind our free VPN guide:

The best free VPN of 2024 (13)

Andreas Theodorou

A privacy purist at heart, Andreas is a VPN expert who believes the best VPN doesn't have to be the most expensive—it's about what's right for you.

The best free VPN of 2024 (14)

Mike Williams

Mike regularly reviews our top picks, and loves looking behind the curtains to see how a VPN works in the background. If there's a skeleton in the closet, he'll find it.

Should I use a free VPN?

Honestly, there isn't one easy answer to this question. It depends on what you want to use your free VPN for. If it's just about having a bit more security on your laptop or mobile when using public Wi-Fi, they can be just the ticket. Jump on the service, turn on an encrypted server connection, and crack on with your online activities safe in the knowledge that no prying eyes will be able to see your private information.

But if your main purpose is to have a streaming VPN say, or want to use it while downloading terabytes of torrent files, a free VPN just isn't going to do the trick. For starters, most of them limit you to a daily or monthly data allowance that you'll rinse through in no time at all. Most don't have the kind of easy access support or server range required to make those activities easy with a virtual private network.

Remember: price doesn't always equal quality, and some of the best VPN services cost as little as $2/£2 per month. The best cheap VPNs will give you much better performance and protection—without breaking the bank.

How to choose a free VPN - five must-ask questions

The last couple of years have witnessed the rise of global threats to individual privacy, with long-maintained rights to anonymity and net neutrality being undermined with a cloak of legitimacy.

While virtual private networks are not the panacea to being safe, secure and private on the internet, it is an essential component of the arsenal for individuals inclined to seek these liberties.

If you don’t have one yet, you can grab one for free, without having to pay a single penny for one. Just be careful though as not all free VPN providers are created equal and some might even compromise your security.

Here are five questions you need to ask yourself before you download and install one.

Click to show more

  1. What is its business model? Providers are in for the money and running such a business does cost a lot, especially if it is a popular one. Some will use their free version, just like Dropbox, as a marketing tool to entice potential customers to move to a paid version once they are happy with the free one. Most, however, will sell user data or provide logging and usage information to a third party that will, again, compromise your privacy.
  2. How does it protect my device? Most providers usually use a desktop application that runs in the background, encrypting your data while you surf the web. However, that only solves part of the problem. Your laptop can still be fingerprinted because of the permissiveness of tracking solutions found on almost all websites online. A few, including Windscribe, have a more holistic approach by integrating the equivalent of a super ad-blocker
  3. What do I lose by going free? Usually, one can expect a free product to have some corners cut, and that is indeed the case for all providers—this even holds true when it comes to things like free antivirus. Some offer more free bandwidth than others, major locations, and even ad blocking, P2P, and firewall with an easy paid-for upgrade path that unlocks unlimited bandwidth with more locations and OpenVPN Configs.
  4. Does the VPN provider log anything? Make sure that your provider doesn’t store users’ internet activity. You can usually check that on the terms and conditions page or the end-user license agreement, commonly known as EULA. Sadly, plenty of providers prefer to frustrate end users with long T&Cs or privacy statements that often hide significant details about how they operate. On the other end of the spectrum are providers that will erase everything after your session closes and don’t keep logs.
  5. Can I sign up anonymously? Having a provider that you can subscribe to without an email address and one that accepts Bitcoin payments, for maximum privacy, is mostly the best you can expect online. Some providers also offer double hopping, where you can obfuscate your traffic further by essentially doubling down on privacy.

The best free VPN of 2024 (15)

Are free VPNs safe?

While the main criticism of free VPNs is that they just aren't half as useful as the paid-for alternatives, there are some serious concerns about the majority of free services out there.

Most free VPNs don't have the proper security to keep you protected—offering sub-par encryption (sometimes even none at all), and failing to hold up under any serious scrutiny. Even worse, many of the free services make their money by harvesting and selling your data.

As the adage goes: if the product is free, then you are the product.

The core purpose of a VPN is to secure your internet traffic and ensure your digital privacy remains intact. This is totally undermined if the VPN provider is the one doing the snooping instead.

In the most extreme instances, some VPN services are a front for malware, injecting viruses and spyware onto your device the second you download them from the app store/website. That's why it's so important to use the right VPN, especially if it's a free one.

How to get a premium VPN for free

Can't decide on whether to go for a free VPN or a premium paid-for option? There may be a perfect compromise, as pretty much all the world's best providers let you try them risk– and cost–free. Check out the best VPN free trials to see what the best prices are right now.

You'll see some familiar names mentioned there. My#1 VPN service, ExpressVPN is also on the list, letting you give it a try for 30 days—absolutely risk-free.

It's worth pointing out that you do have to pay upfront for these services. But they pride themselves on making the money back as hassle-free as possible, allowing you to claim a full refund online without trouble.


What is the best free VPN?

My testing showed PrivadoVPN to be the best free VPN on the market right now. However, if you need unlimited data, I recommend opting for Proton VPN instead. Please note, however, that Proton comes with server location restrictions compared to other leading free VPN services.

Are there any fake VPNs?

Yes, there are lots of scams out there, and many of them target popular app stores in order to trick you into thinking they're legitimate. It's vital that you pick a proven and reliable service.

My recommended VPN services, both free and premium, are all extensively tested by myself, our experts, and other leaders in the industry, so you can try and buy with confidence that what you're downloading does exactly what it says on the tin.

Why is a free vpn good?

Free VPNs are the perfect way for people who can't afford a premium service to protect themselves online and access foreign content in the face of oppressive censorship. But with the vast array of questionable services that exist, it's hard to know what VPN you can trust. That's why we've highlighted the best free VPNs in this article—to show you the reality of free VPNs, and how they differ from their premium counterparts.

Is there a 100% free VPN?

Honestly, no. Many VPNs claim that they're 100% free and unlimited, but more often than not these services are just mining you for your data. As the adage goes: "if the product is free, then you're the product." Even the best free VPNs have limitations because they want you to upgrade to the premium service. You may not be paying with money, you may be paying with your data. Or worse, the VPN could be a fake app designed to infect your device with a virus. Don't fall victim to the countless VPN scams—only use a trustworthy free VPN service. Otherwise, you could be signing up for a false sense of security.


We test and review VPN services in the context of legal recreational uses. For example:
1. Accessing a service from another country (subject to the terms and conditions of that service).
2. Protecting your online security and strengthening your online privacy when abroad.
We do not support or condone the illegal or malicious use of VPN services. Consuming pirated content that is paid-for is neither endorsed nor approved by Future Publishing.

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The best free VPN of 2024 (16)

Andreas Theodorou

Editor-in-Chief of Tech Software

Andreas has been with TechRadar as Future PLC's Editor-in-Chief of Tech Software since March 2023, supporting content and teams on VPNs, antivirus, and other cybersecurity tools. He's previously written for and led content at ProPrivacy, Business2Community, and The Tech Report. After completing a Master of Research degree, Andreas fell in love with all things cybersecurity; combining his passions to help expose the prevalence of ad tech in the charity sector and raise awareness of digital privacy around the world.

With contributions from

  • Mike WilliamsLead security reviewer
The best free VPN of 2024 (2024)


What is the best completely free VPN? ›

8 Free VPNs of 2024
  • TunnelBear: Best for user-friendliness.
  • Proton VPN: Best for enhanced anonymity.
  • Best for leak protection.
  • Windscribe: Best for unlimited device connection.
  • VPN Unlimited: Best for lifetime protection.
  • CyberGhost: Best for ease of use.
  • Hotspot Shield: Best for streaming.
Apr 6, 2024

Is there a free unlimited VPN? ›

With Proton VPN Free, you can defeat censorship and access the internet privately. We operate a strict no-logs policy, and we'll never show you ads. Our unlimited free plan has no data or time limits, and will be free forever.

Is there a 100% free VPN ProtonVPN? ›

We believe privacy should be accessible to all, which is why we have a 100% free VPN with no catches. Our free VPN has allowed people around the world to bypass censorship and regain online freedom. It is financed thanks to the support of our paid users.

Do free VPNs actually work? ›

While using a free VPN may seem like a cost-effective solution, it can expose you to a higher risk of malware. If you want to protect your device and data from potential attacks, use a paid VPN, like Surfshark, with the necessary resources, expertise, and robust security measures.

Is there a 100% free VPN Hide Me? ›

Yes! We provide a top-notch free VPN service that's always free, with no trials, payments, or sign-ups required. Plus, Free users get the same security as our paid users, ensuring everyone enjoys the same level of security and anonymity. This includes zero-logs!

What is the #1 best VPN? ›

What is the best VPN in 2024?
  • ExpressVPN holds CNET Editors' Choice Award for best overall VPN. ...
  • Surfshark is a great choice for folks seeking good features on a budget. ...
  • NordVPN is an excellent feature-packed VPN.
May 13, 2024

Is ExpressVPN free? ›

However, for the most part, the service is not free. Rather, ExpressVPN is a paid service with options available for a month, six months, or 12-month plan. The 12-month package includes three months extra, but there's no totally free version of ExpressVPN in the traditional sense.

Why is ProtonVPN free? ›

At Proton, our mission is to give everyone privacy and security online. Privacy and freedom of speech are human rights. That's why we created a secure VPN that's genuinely free to use and unlimited — so everyone can be free and beat censorship online, regardless of their ability to pay.

Are VPNs legal? ›

In most jurisdictions, the use of VPNs is legal. Some countries such as the U.S. and the U.K. allow citizens to use these tools to protect their online privacy and access geo-restricted content. In contrast, many countries ban VPNs as part of broader efforts to control internet access and suppress dissenting voices.

Which free VPN has no limits? ›

Key Takeaways:
  • Proton VPN and are the best free VPN services that offer unlimited data.
  • If you want to use a premium service, you can sign up for ExpressVPN or NordVPN and use the 30-day money-back guarantee (or continue using it if you like the service).

Is Proton VPN free any good? ›

Aside from its feature-rich paid plans, Proton provides the best free VPN tier -- and the only no-cost option we recommend. Unlike other free VPNs, Proton doesn't plaster your screen with ads, throttle your internet speeds or sell your data on its no-cost plan.

Is there a 100% free VPN for Chrome? ›

PaladinVPN is a 100% free unlimited VPN service! It has no time, bandwidth, speed, and location switching limit at all.

Is DuckDuckGo a VPN? ›

Is DuckDuckGo a VPN? DuckDuckGo is not a VPN, it just doesn't track you in the same way that Google does. It's also worth noting that Google's Incognito Mode doesn't make you fully private when browsing online. If you want to browse the internet safely, combine DuckDuckGo with a VPN.

Is TunnelBear free? ›

Connect to WiFi hotspots privately and securely to keep your data safe. Try TunnelBear for free with 2GB of browsing data every month, no credit card required. Get unlimited VPN data by purchasing one of our premium plans in the app.

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