Best Free VPN Providers

No Better Price Than Free

Damjan Jugovic Spajic Image

Updated: March 17,2022

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There are a lot of VPN providers on the internet, and many of them offer free services. But how good are these services, and are they worth using? In this article, we will take a look at the best free VPN providers around and compare them to their paid counterparts. We will also discuss the pros and cons of using free VPNs and offer reviews for each provider in our curated list of top-tier VPN solutions.

Best Free Unlimited VPN
PRICE RANGE:
Free - $24 /month
AVAILABLE ON:
iOS
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Mac
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Linux
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Chrome
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Android
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Windows
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Overview

ProtonVPN’s name became a synonym for privacy, as the company’s encrypted mail and VPN services outclass many of its competitors. Proton is one of the few trusted providers that offer a free VPN service with no bandwidth limits - a feature that landed ProtonVPN at the top of our list.

KEY FEATURES:
  • Secure Core
  • VPN Accelerator
  • Plus servers
  • Multi-Hop
  • No bandwidth limits
  • Independently audited
Best Free VPN for Torrenting
PRICE RANGE:
Free - $9.95 /month
AVAILABLE ON:
iOS
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Mac
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Linux
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Chrome
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Android
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Windows
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Overview

While Hide.me doesn’t offer an unlimited free VPN, it does give you a hefty 10 GB of data to use each month without charging you a penny. On top of that, Hide.me doesn’t target free users with ads, nor does it sell user data to third parties, making it a secure provider and one of the best free VPNs around.

KEY FEATURES:
  • Free P2P-ready servers
  • SoftEther protocol
  • High-end encryption
  • Stealth Guard
  • Port forwarding
  • Split tunneling
Best for Streaming
PRICE RANGE:
Free - $7.99 /month
AVAILABLE ON:
iOS
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Mac
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Kodi
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Linux
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Chrome
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Android
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Netflix
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Torrent
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Windows
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Overview

Probably the least known of all the providers on our list, PrivadoVPN is something of an underdog in the VPN market. The fact that this provider allows for both torrenting and streaming with its free plan is worthy of praise, and the provider doesn’t make any concessions when it comes to privacy either.

KEY FEATURES:
  • Physical-only servers
  • OpenVPN and WireGuard protocols
  • Top-notch security
  • IP leak protection
  • No logs
  • SOCKS5 Proxy
Best for Unblocking Netflix
PRICE RANGE:
Free - $9 /Month
AVAILABLE ON:
iOS
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Mac
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Linux
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Chrome
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Android
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Windows
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Overview

Windscribe is a trusted VPN provider that passes speed tests with flying colors - both on its free and paid plans. The standout feature of Windscribe is its ability to unblock Netflix with its free plan, something you’ll rarely come across even with heavyweights like HotSpot Shield and ProtonVPN.

KEY FEATURES:
  • Custom plans
  • Unblocks Netflix with the free plan
  • Torrenting-ready free servers
  • Stealth protocol
  • Great speed results
  • R.O.B.E.R.T. server-side domain and IP blocking tool
Best for Quick Downloads
PRICE RANGE:
Free - $11.99 /Month
AVAILABLE ON:
iOS
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Mac
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Linux
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Chrome
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Android
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Windows
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Overview

With a 500 MB/day bandwidth limit and a strict policy against keeping connection logs, HotSpot Shield finds a place on most top free VPN lists. However, this VPN provider limits you to only a single VPN server and there are some privacy concerns tied to targeted ads on the mobile version of its software.

KEY FEATURES:
  • Unblocks streaming platforms
  • Optimized for gaming
  • Proprietary Hydra Catapult protocol
  • Bundled with other cybersecurity products
  • Superb performance
  • Up to 5 simultaneous connections

What are VPNs?

Virtual Private Networks (or VPNs, for short) are online services that you can use to encrypt your internet traffic. They do this by routing your traffic through their own servers before it reaches its final destination on the internet. This means that anyone monitoring or tracking your activity will only see encrypted data being sent back and forth between a VPN server and your device.

A common use for VPNs is to hide your IP address from websites you visit so that they cannot track or identify you based on it (this is known as “anonymity”). Another reason why people use them is that they allow users to access content that their ISP or other authorities might otherwise block.

VPNs are also often used for torrenting, as they can hide your IP address from the websites you visit. This is useful if you want to download files from torrent sites without leaving any traces behind.

There are two main types of VPNs: free and paid. Paid VPNs tend to have more features, faster speeds, and better security than their free counterparts, but they also cost money, obviously.

Free services often come with some sort of catch, as even free VPN providers need to earn money. This usually involves targeting you with ads while using their service or considerably limiting the amount of bandwidth or your connection speed.

These concessions are pretty much a given if you plan on using a free VPN. The "free" VPN solutions to watch out for, however, are those that sell your data to third parties in order to turn a profit. This, naturally, poses a considerable privacy risk, as these third parties usually use that information to track you, target you with ads, or even sell it off to malicious actors.

Not only do some providers sell your data, but they often use little-to-no encryption to keep your browsing habits secure. This means that you'll also be a sitting duck for any government agency or ISP looking to snoop around your internet history.

That being said, there are some good free VPN providers out there that don’t sell your data and offer a decent amount of bandwidth despite not charging you at all.

These are mainly found with reputable providers who also offer a paid version of their service. By using the free tier, you consent to having access to fewer servers, less bandwidth, and a weaker performance overall, but you'll know that your data will be kept safe.

Due to these constraints, you won't really be able to use free VPN solutions to stream TV shows and movies, play online games or download torrents. However, they can prove more than sufficient for prolonged browsing sessions, especially when you need to visit certain geo-restricted websites or access sensitive information online.

Free VPN Pros and Cons

Now that we’ve talked about what VPNs are, compared paid vs. free VPN solutions, and described the different types of services available, let's summarize the pros and cons of using free VPNs.

Pros:

  •  Require no payment or subscription
  •  No long term subscriptions and contracts
  • Often available as browser extensions or lightweight installations
  •  Can be convenient for occasional use
  •  Reputable providers don't sell your data and keep your privacy their priority

Cons:

  • Usually come with data caps or bandwidth limits
  • May have weaker security features than their paid counterparts
  • Fewer servers and slower speeds than paid VPNs
  • Risk to privacy and security with unverified providers

Recommended Free VPNs

  1. ProtonVPN
  2. Hide.me
  3. PrivadoVPN
  4. Windscribe
  5. HotSpot Shield
Reviews of Free VPNs
Best Free Unlimited VPN
Number of servers:
1,596
Server locations:
63 countries
Simultaneous connections:
up to 10
VPN Protocols:
OpenVPN, IKEv2, and WireGuard
Available on:
Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, browsers
Price range:
Free - $24/month
Pros
  • 24 free servers
  • Top-class privacy
  • Switzerland-based
Cons
  • The server network could be bigger

ProtonVPN is one of the most secure VPN services around. The company behind it has a great track record when it comes to privacy and security. Its first product - ProtonMail - was designed to provide an encrypted email service for dissidents and journalists worldwide. The company’s VPN offer continues this tradition, as ProtonVPN offers a VPN service with no bandwidth limits entirely for free - being probably the only reputable provider to do so. 

Servers

Currently, ProtonVPN has 1,607 servers spread across 63 countries. Free users have a more limited selection, being able to choose between 24 servers in 3 countries -  United States, Netherlands, and Japan. The inclusion of US servers in the free server list is great news, as this is one of the most popular locations among VPN users - especially if you’re trying to unblock Netflix.

ProtonVPN also boasts Secure Core servers. This feature allows you to route your traffic only through servers with privacy-friendly laws like Switzerland and Iceland, guaranteeing utmost privacy.

The company also offers P2P and Plus (streaming-ready) servers, but these are reserved for paid plans. These Plus servers also boast 10gbps networks, offering the highest connection speeds.

Speed and Protocols

While ProtonVPN doesn’t market itself as the fastest VPN around, it performed admirably in our tests.  We ran the speed tests on our 10 MB/s network, and we only experienced 10% drops in download speeds. However, the drop is a bit more significant if you’re on the free tier of their service or if you’re using older protocols.

The choice of VPN protocols here is somewhat limited, as you can only choose between OpenVPN, IKEv2, and WireGuard. While limited, you do get access to both OpenVPN and WireGuard, which are pretty much the best protocols to use in any situation. Note that the exact choice of protocols may differ depending on the platform you’re using the VPN.

Privacy and Security

When it comes to VPN privacy, ProtonVPN is nearly unbeatable. First of all, the company is headquartered in Switzerland - a country with friendly data retention laws that isn’t part of the Five/Nine/Fourteen Eyes alliances.

Perhaps more importantly, Proton is a No Logs VPN. This means that the company does not keep any logs on any activity going through their network, keeping your identity, actual IP/location, and browsing habits secure. Even if ProtonVPN were served a warrant for information on their servers, they would have no information to provide.

It’s worth noting that ProtonVPN is also independently audited for security, further reaffirming how trustworthy their service is.

Additional Features

ProtonVPN also offers a plethora of additional features, which are sadly almost all available exclusively with their paid plans. The best feature out of the bunch was the VPN Accelerator - Proton’s proprietary technology, which they claim can speed up your VPN connection by up to 400%.

Pricier plans also come with ad-blocking capabilities, Multi-Hop functionality, and a kill switch.

Pricing

There are four VPN pricing plans on offer here - Free, Basic ($4/mo), Plus ($8/mo), and Visionary ($24/mo). As we said, the free plan limits you to 24 servers in 3 countries. You’re also limited to one VPN connection at a time, but there are no caps on bandwidth, making this the most generous free VPN plan we’ve encountered.

The pricier plans give you access to more servers, make the additional features such as VPN Accelerator and VPN over Tor available, and provide you with faster connection speeds. The Visionary plan also adds a ProtonMail Visionary account for you to use.

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Best Free VPN for Torrenting
Number of servers:
2,000
Server locations:
65
Simultaneous connections:
10
VPN Protocols:
IKEv2, SSTP, OpenVPN, WireGuard, and SoftEther
Available on:
Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, Chrome, browsers, Amazon FireTV
Price range:
Free - $9.95/month
Pros
  • 10 GB of data monthly
  • No ads
  • P2P-ready free servers
Cons
  • Unimpressive VPN speed

Hide.me is another company with a jaw-droppingly generous free VPN offer. This provider offers a lifetime free VPN service that doesn’t bombard you with ads, nor does it sell off your data to shadowy third parties but does limit you to 10GB of bandwidth per month. Without a doubt, Hide.me’s free service is one of the most secure and reliable ones on the market today.

Servers

Hide.me’s VPN server network has around 2,000 servers covering 75 different locations worldwide. As is usual for free plans, your selection will be severely limited if you’re not a paying customer. Free users can only access servers from five locations.

The good news is that all of them are P2P-ready. This means that you can use torrents while connected to free tier servers, something rarely seen among free VPNs. However, the 10GB bandwidth limit might prevent you from downloading bigger files or using torrents frequently.

Free and paid users can both expect a 99.99% uptime when connected to Hide.me servers, providing the much-needed stability when using a VPN.

Speed and Protocols

Another great thing about Hide.me is that it doesn’t throttle VPN connection speeds for free users. Whether you’re a free user or a paying customer, you can expect the same level of performance when connected to Hide.me servers.

Our original speeds experienced 15-20% drops when connected to Hide.me. The exact drop will vary depending on the server you connect to and the protocol you choose. Where Hide.me’s speed shined was when connecting to remote servers. Normally, this would cause a massive drop in your connection speed.

Hide.me has a more than decent offer when it comes to available VPN protocols. The supported protocols are IKEv2, SSTP, OpenVPN, WireGuard, and SoftEther. We rarely see SoftEther on offer, which is a shame, as this open-source protocol comes with numerous great features and boasts incredible connection speeds.

All of these protocols are available to free users, providing you with much-needed flexibility when using Hide.me’s VPN service.

Somewhat confusingly, Hide.me states that you have 10 GB bandwidth per month with the free plan but that there are no bandwidth caps. What this means is that you can use up to 10 GB of data while connected to the VPN, but at no time will the amount of data that goes through your connection at any given time be capped, meaning your speeds won’t be limited.

Privacy and Security

Hide.me is a free No Logs VPN, meaning no one will have access to any user-identifiable information either through warrants or by hacking the provider’s servers. Furthermore, this is an off-shore VPN based in Malaysia, which greatly reduces the chances of the company being pressured by government agencies in the first place.

The provider utilizes AES-256 bit encryption with 8192-bit keys, which is more than enough to stop any hackers in their tracks, at least until quantum computers become a thing. IP and DNS leak protection are also there to make sure your data stays safe at all times. Overall, the VPN security here is at an admirable level.

Additional features

This VPN comes with a slew of useful additional features. The first one we’d like to mention is Stealth Guard, which basically locks certain apps and sites, preventing them from working unless you’re connected to the VPN. Hide.me also comes with port forwarding and split tunneling.

Pricing

The free plan gives you access to five servers, one VPN connection, and 10 GB of bandwidth per month. It has no ad placements, doesn’t restrict your choice of protocols, and lets you torrent while using Hide.me’s VPN.

The VPN cost for the paid plan is $9.95/month, but you can pay $6.66/mo if you pay for a year in advance or just $3.84/mo on a two-year plan. With the paid plan, you unlock access to the provider’s entire VPN network, gain the ability to unlock streaming platforms, and get access to a static IP and dynamic port forwarding.

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Best for Streaming
Number of servers:
325
Server locations:
59
Simultaneous connections:
10
VPN Protocols:
OpenVPN, WireGuard, and IKEv2
Available on:
Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, browsers, Amazon FireTV, AndroidTV, routers
Price range:
Free - $7.99/month
Pros
  • Streaming & torrenting
  • No logs VPN
  • Affordable
Cons
  • Disappointing performance

PrivadoVPN is a newcomer to the field, but this small Switzerland-based VPN provider has quickly managed to get a good following. The service’s popularity stems in no small part from its great free plan, which comes with both streaming and torrenting support. While PrivadoVPN also limits your bandwidth to 10 GB/month, it’s still one of the best free VPN solutions we’ve seen. 

Servers

Free PrivadoVPN users can connect to 12 servers in 12 different locations. While you can definitely find some free VPN providers that offer more servers to non-paying users, this is still a very decent number considering that you pay nothing for the service at this tier.

Unfortunately, Privado’s server network is pretty small, even for paying users. If you opt-in for a premium plan, you’ll be able to connect to around 325 servers in total, spread around 59 different cities worldwide. The network does cover the most popular locations, but it still pales compared to other popular VPNs like NordVPN and ExpressVPN, whose servers number in the thousands.

However, unlike many other providers, PrivadoVPN relies exclusively on physical servers instead of virtual ones. While virtual servers can come in handy for providers as they can greatly increase the size of their network at a significantly smaller cost, they do negatively affect the overall performance and stability.

Free users will be happy to hear that the 12 servers they can connect to support both streaming and torrenting, 

Speed and Protocols

In case you were hoping to achieve blazing download speeds or speedy 4K streams with PrivadoVPN, you’re out of luck. This VPN didn’t do so well with connection speeds, as we experienced around 30% drops in download/upload when connected to PrivadoVPN servers.

If your pre-VPN speed is good, you probably won’t have issues with this provider’s VPN speed, even with the slowdowns. However, if your internet is already slow, you might be in for a bumpy ride.

Another thing we found disappointing was the very limited selection of protocols. There are only three protocols to pick from: OpenVPN, WireGuard, and IKEv2. Naturally, you’ll want to stick to OpenVPN and WireGuard in most cases.

Privacy and Security

Just like ProtonVPN, PrivadoVPN is also headquartered in Switzerland, a popular destination for VPN companies due to the country’s friendly data privacy laws. Privado takes its privacy policy seriously, so you can rest assured that your data will remain safe.

ProtonVPN also uses high-end encryption to secure all data exchanges on its network, in addition to a slew of other security measures. What we'd want to see, though, are independent security evaluations and transparency reports. Most good VPN services provide both; audits and transparency reports can go a long way toward proving that a VPN service is truly safe to use.

Additional Features

When it comes to additional VPN features, PrivadoVPN doesn’t offer much. The only two things worth noting are the IP leak protection and a kill switch - features found with practically every decent VPN nowadays.

Pricing

PrivadoVPN’s free plan nets you 10 GB of monthly traffic, access to 12 servers, one VPN connection, and some P2P capabilities.

The paid plan costs $7.99/month. It removes the bandwidth limit and lets you access the whole PrivadoVPN server network. This is pretty affordable compared to other providers and can be further lowered to just $4.99/month if you subscribe for 12 months.

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Best for Unblocking Netflix
Number of servers:
170
Server locations:
63 countries
Simultaneous connections:
unlimited
VPN Protocols:
IKEv2, OpenVPN UDP, TCP, and Stealth
Available on:
Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, browsers
Price range:
Free - $9/month
Pros
  • Customizable plans
  • Unblocks all streaming platforms
  • Adblocker
Cons
  • Very small server network

Windscribe is a very capable VPN with a great reputation. Both free and paid Windscribe plans net you tons of useful features, such as unblocking streaming platforms, ad blocking, and port forwarding. This is also one of the few providers that let you build your own monthly paid plan, which is a godsend for users looking to get a customized, affordable VPN service.

Servers

Windscribe doesn’t have the biggest VPN server network around. Actually, it has fewer servers than even PrivadoVPN - only 170 or so. However, this network does cover a lot of ground, as its spread around 63 countries and 110 cities. As usual, free users have access to a significantly smaller 11-location network, which thankfully covers locations in the US, UK, and Germany, among others.

The area in which WIndscribe blows its competitors out of the water is unblocking streaming platform content. While a lot of premium VPN companies struggle with bypassing Netflix’s VPN detection, even the free version of Windscribe is capable of giving you access to the elusive US Netflix library.  Keep in mind that this might change at any given time since VPN providers and Netflix are locked in an eternal cat and mouse struggle, with the streaming service always looking for new ways to prevent VPN users from accessing geo-locked content.

Windscribe is also a physical server-only provider, which greatly reduces the chances of you experiencing slowdowns or server crashes.

Speed and Protocols

Windscribe proved to be pretty quick during our tests. When we connected to the closest possible server, the slowdowns were barely noticeable. However, if you choose one of the servers further away, your connection speed will suffer a bit, as expected.

The available protocols include IKEv2, OpenVPN UDP, TCP, and Stealth. This is a pretty decent selection, and the inclusion of Stealth - a Stunnel based protocol for masking your VPN connection - is certainly worthy of praise. Thankfully, free users can use all of the aforementioned protocols without issue.

Privacy and Security

The company behind Windscribe is based in Canada. While Canada isn’t the worst country in the world when it comes to privacy laws, it’s still part of the Five Eyes alliance. Still, Windscribe prides itself on keeping absolutely no user logs.

The company also boasts military-grade encryption in its software to keep all of your data private. The desktop application comes with great security features such as a proxy gateway, firewall, and secure hotspot technology.

Windscribe is yet to undergo an independent security audit, but the company does publish transparency reports on a regular basis.

Additional Features

Windscribe has a considerable number of extra features, but you’ll have to switch to a paid plan to get access to most of them. The browser extension comes with automatic server selection, Double Hop tech, cookie management, time/location spoofing, and user agent rotation.

There’s also port forwarding and split tunneling, along with server config file generators.  The R.O.B.E.R.T VPN feature is also worth mentioning, as it lets you ​​block IPs and domains (ads) of your choice. You’ll have to pay for these features separately, though.

Pricing

The Windscribe monthly plan will set you back $9 per month, while an annual subscription lowers the monthly cost to just $4.08. This is not expensive for what you get (open-source browser extensions, free mobile apps, the complete server network, etc.) and is on par with what other providers charge. 

The free plan imposes a 2 GB VPN bandwidth limit per month and gives access to only 11 servers,  but you can upgrade to 10 GB/month just by registering to Windscribe with your email address. 

Lastly, you can build your custom Windscribe plan by choosing which servers/locations you want to be included. The price correlates to the number of locations you have in the plan, but expect to pay $1 per location per month.

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Best for Quick Downloads
Number of servers:
3,200
Server locations:
70+ countries
Simultaneous connections:
5
VPN Protocols:
OpenVPN, WireGuard, Hydra, and IPsec
Available on:
Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, Smart TV, Routers, Chrome
Price range:
Free - $11.99/month
Pros
  • Generous bandwidth limit
  • Decent server network
  • Great performance
Cons
  • Only one server for free users

HotSpot Shield is a US-based VPN provider that regularly features on VPN top lists. Its free plan is almost as impressive as its premium tier, with a generous 500 MB/day limit and high-end security. However, the free plan limits you to only one server and hits you with ads during your browsing sessions.

Servers

HotSpot Shield’s network has 3,200+ servers in more than 70 countries. This is a sizeable server network, even compared with industry giants like NordVPN or even the best VPN free solutions around. The bad news is that if you’re a free user, you’ll be restricted to a single server. We found this really limiting, as it practically prevents you from using the VPN to access region-specific content.

If you do decide to go with the paid plans, you’ll be happy to hear that there are both streaming-ready and gaming-optimized servers available. A large portion of HotSpot Shield’s servers is virtual. While this has drawbacks, it also lets the provider easily expand its network when needed.

Keep in mind that you will be hit with ads while using the free version of this VPN software.

Speed and Protocols.

A few years back, HotSpot Shield was considered the fastest VPN around. While the provider has since lost that elusive title, it still squares up pretty well against its competitors. The expected download/upload speed loss is around 20-25%. As always, the exact drops in VPN performance vary depending on your connection and the distance between you and the server. However, as free users are stuck to a single server, they won’t be able to squeeze out better performance by connecting to a different server.

The selection of VPN protocols here is pretty solid: OpenVPN, WireGuard, Hydra, and IPsec. Hydra Catapult is HotSpot’s proprietary protocol which seems to perform admirably on speed tests. It’s speedy, secure, and difficult to detect, surpassing many VPN blocks some sites and services put up.

Privacy and Security

HotSpot Shield has a very clear no logs policy and gathers no user data that could be used to identify people using the VPN or their browsing habits. This should alleviate any fears about this VPN’s privacy, even though the provider is based in the United States.

However, where HotSpot’s privacy does falter is in its free mobile version. Since the provider uses targeted ads to monetize free mobile users, user behavior data will become available to third parties. 

Additional Features

HotSpot Shield has several extra features worth noting, including auto-connect functionality, a kill switch, and split tunneling. The most significant omission we noticed was the lack of ad blocking on the premium version, but this feature might come later.

Pricing

We found HotSpot Shield to be pretty fairly priced when compared to its competitors. The VPN pricing for the Premium plan costs $7.99/month, removes all bandwidth/server limits, allows up to five simultaneous connections, and adds in an antivirus, password manager, and spam-call blocker.

There’s also the slightly pricier Premium Family plan for $11.99 per month. This plan allows up to 5 users, where each user can connect up to five devices simultaneously.

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How to Choose the Best Free VPN?

When looking for a free VPN, it is important to keep the following in mind:

  • The level of security the service provides. Make sure that the provider uses strong encryption and has a good track record when it comes to safeguarding user data.
  • The number of servers and locations that are available - the more servers and locations a VPN has, the more likely you are to find one that is fast and reliable.
  • The bandwidth caps and VPN speed. Make sure that the VPN doesn’t throttle your connection speed too much or put a cap on how much data you can use each month.
  • The extra features that are available. VPNs often offer additional features that you may find useful, such as ad-blocking and malware protection. Do note that most of these extra features are probably reserved for paid VPN plans.
  • Whether the VPN in question keeps logs. Some free VPN providers keep logs of your browsing activity and sell them to third parties. This not only compromises your privacy but also puts you at risk of having that data stolen by malicious actors. Having a VPN that has an explicit policy against keeping logs is a must if you plan on keeping your activities hidden and your identity private.
FAQ
Is there a completely free VPN?

There are plenty of providers that offer their VPN services without charging you directly. However, this does not mean they’re completely free, as the company tries to earn revenue by targeting you with ads instead. In the worst-case scenario, a provider might even sell off your data to third parties in order to make a profit.

Which VPN is fastest and free?

We found ProtonVPN to be the fastest and safest free VPN around. The company has an impeccable reputation when it comes to privacy and imposes no bandwidth limits for free users.

How can I get unlimited VPN for free?

Free unlimited VPNs are extremely rare and are often offered by less than reputable providers. Still, there are exceptions like ProtonVPN that offer a secure VPN service for free, without any bandwidth limits.

What is the best free VPN?

After conducting our tests, we found these to be the best free VPN solutions in 2022: 

  1. ProtonVPN
  2. Hide.me
  3. Privado VPN
  4. Windscribe
  5. HotSpot Shield