You can easily use free VPNs, but I rarely recommend doing it. That’s because free services often come with annoying drawbacks, like a data limit, slow speeds, or buggy apps. What’s more, some free providers might even compromise your privacy by logging your personal data and selling it to third parties. 

When possible, I always recommend just getting a paid VPN instead. This way, you usually get good value, as most top paid providers have great streaming and P2P support, fast speeds, and very strong security and privacy features. 

But I understand that, sometimes, you just need a free VPN — I often have to resort to free services when traveling abroad too. Well, if that’s the case, make sure to check out my whole article, as it covers everything you need to know about using a free VPN (and it also lists the best free VPNs on the market too). 

Is There Such a Thing as a Free VPN?

Yes, there are tons of VPNs for free on the market. You can either find them by using search engines, or on your device’s app store. A free VPN will usually provide full access to its service, or it will provide limited access (only let you use specific servers or features, for example). 

To use most free VPNs, you’ll need to create an account. However, you usually won’t have to provide any payment information to use the free version (if you’re required to share payment details, I recommend picking a different free VPN). Also, there are some free VPNs that don’t require you to create an account at all — instead, you can just start using the VPN service after you install it on your device. 

Should You Use a Free VPN?

It depends on how you want to use the VPN. Usually, I don’t really recommend using free VPNs since they come with annoying limitations. Still, there are some situations when using a free VPN is a good idea: 

  • If you’re on a tight budget — If you can’t afford to purchase a paid VPN, then a free VPN is your best alternative. While some premium VPNs have very affordable long-term plans, you usually need to commit to a lengthy subscription (usually over 3 years) to enjoy those savings.
  • If you want to test the VPN — Maybe you’re sure you’d like to get the free VPN’s paid version, but you’d first want to first test the free plan to see how the VPN performs (for instance, you could check its speeds or if it leaks your data).
  • If you’re only using the VPN for a short time — For example, if you only need to use the VPN to access a specific website one or two times. In that situation, it’s just more convenient to use a free VPN. 

Quick Look at the Best Free VPNs in 2024:

  • 🥇 1. ExpressVPN — Best overall VPN in 2024.
  • 🥈 2. Proton VPN — Best free VPN service on the market.
  • 🥉 3. hide.me — Very secure free VPN with unlimited data.

🥇 1. ExpressVPN — Best Overall VPN Service in 2024 ExpressVPN

  • Approved by our experts
  • Most readers pick ExpressVPN
Server NetworkServers in 100+ countries
Key FeaturesLightway protocol, industry-leading speeds
Works in China
Apps
Number of ConnectionsUp to 8
Free Plan
Money-Back Guarantee30 days

expressvpn.com

ExpressVPN isn’t free, but it’s still the best VPN on the market. The provider offers excellent streaming and P2P support, has the fastest VPN speeds in 2024, and provides high-end security and privacy features. 

Plus, ExpressVPN comes with a risk-free 30-day refund. Basically, its money-back guarantee is no-questions-asked, which means you don’t need to meet any requirements to be eligible for a refund — simply ask for your money back via live chat, and you’re good to go. 

One of the provider’s main highlights is its streaming support — in fact, ExpressVPN is actually the best VPN for streaming out there. The VPN is compatible with 100+ streaming services, including top ones like Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and Amazon Prime Video. Also, the VPN has a smart DNS, which you can use to access streaming content on devices that don’t support VPN apps, like gaming consoles for example. 

Also, the VPN has servers in 100+ countries and excellent P2P support, as it supports torrenting on all server locations. You also get access to port forwarding via the VPN’s router app — this tool lets you increase your P2P speeds by letting you connect to more peers. 

And ExpressVPN is the fastest provider on the market — whether I use a nearby or distant server, I always maintain blazing-fast speeds for browsing the web, streaming HD and 4K videos, and downloading large files (over 10 GB). This is mostly due to the provider’s proprietary Lightway protocol, which is designed to offer super-fast speeds. 

I also love how secure this provider is — it protects your data with an audited no-logs policy and advanced security features, including full leak protection, RAM-only servers (ensure that every server reset wipes everything), and perfect forward secrecy, which offers a different encryption key for each VPN session. And the VPN also has Advanced Protection, which gets rid of ads, protects your privacy from ad trackers, and blocks connections to shady websites.

And the VPN also comes with tons of other perks — it has very intuitive apps for all desktop, mobile, and smart TV devices, it works without issues in restrictive countries like China and Russia, and it has the best gaming support out there

ExpressVPN’s plans start at $6.67/month, which I think is affordable. And if the prices seem too pricey for you, keep in mind the VPN provides the best value out there — plus, its longest plan often includes extra months of service for free, and (remember) all purchases are covered by a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee. 

Read my full ExpressVPN review

🥈 2. Proton VPN — Best Free VPN Service Out There Proton VPN

  • Approved by our experts
  • Most readers pick Proton VPN
Server Network4,500+ servers in 90+ countries
Key FeaturesIndustry-leading free plan, high-end privacy
Works in China
Apps
Number of Connections10
Free Plan✅ (unlimited data)
Money-Back Guarantee30 days (prorated)

protonvpn.com

Proton VPN has the best free VPN plan in 2024 — It actually ranks #1 on my list of the best free VPNs on the market. The main thing I like about the provider’s free version is that it allows unlimited data — so you can use it to surf the web for as long as you want. 

I also like how secure this provider’s free service is. It protects your web data with high-end tools, including full leak protection, perfect forward secrecy, and an audited no-logs policy. Also, the free version uses full-disk encryption — this keeps all data on a server 100% safe even if the server is compromised. And all of Proton VPN’s apps are open-source (anyone can inspect the code for security issues) and fully audited. 

In addition, the free version provides very good speeds. Whenever I use the VPN’s free plan to access the web, all sites load instantly, and HD videos on YouTube load in less than 1 second (plus, they don’t buffer). 

Also, you get access to extras the help you boost your VPN speeds. First, there’s split-tunneling — this lets you pick which apps and sites use the VPN, and which ones don’t. What’s more, you get VPN Accelerator, which is a unique tool that increases speeds on distant servers (in my tests, it boosted my connection speeds by about 45%). 

Still, the free version has some limitations — it doesn’t support streaming, it doesn’t allow torrenting, you can only use servers in 3 countries (the US, the Netherlands, and Japan), you can only install and use Proton VPN on 1 device, and you don’t get access to other extra security features. 

Proton VPN has prices that begin at $3.59/month, which is fair for what you get — compatibility with 40+ streaming platforms, great P2P support, 4,500+ servers in 90+ countries, support for up to 10 connections, a great ad blocker, and more. The provider also backs its paid version with a 30-day money-back guarantee (just keep in mind it’s prorated).

Read my full Proton VPN review

🥉 3. hide.me — Highly Secure Free VPN With Unlimited Data hide.me

  • Approved by our experts
  • Most readers pick hide.me
Server NetworkServers in 50+ countries
Key FeaturesStrong security, great free plan
Works in ChinaMaybe
Apps
Number of Connections10
Free Plan✅ (unlimited data)
Money-Back Guarantee30 days

hide.me.com

hide.me’s free version allows unlimited data and provides great security. The VPN has an audited no-logs policy, and it also secures your data with advanced tools like RAM-only servers and perfect forward secrecy. Plus, it has full leak protection too — I confirmed this by running 15 leak tests while connected to 3 server locations, and the VPN never leaked my data. 

I also like how the free version lets you use servers in 5+ countries. hide.me’s list of free servers includes locations in countries like the US, the UK, Germany, Singapore, and more. This makes it pretty easy to find and connect to nearby server locations to get fast speeds. 

Also, hide.me’s free plan performed well in my speed tests. When I used its free servers to browse the web, most sites loaded instantly, and HD videos on YouTube took just 2–3 seconds to fully load. Still, if you mainly want a really fast free service, I’d go with Proton VPN instead — it’s faster than hide.me, and it also has the unique VPN Accelerator feature.

And the VPN’s apps are also pretty intuitive. Sure, the design looks a bit outdated, but it’s still simple to find and connect to the free servers. And I also like how most settings and features come with helpful explanations. 

Still, the free version has some noticeable limitations — you can only connect 1 device, you don’t get any streaming support, and you also can’t download any torrents. 

hide.me’s paid plans begin at $2.59/month, and they add access to servers in 50+ countries, good streaming support, and support for up to 10 connections. Also, all purchases are backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Quick Comparison of My Top Picks

Starting PriceData LimitSpeed LimitsNo-Logs PolicyNumber of DevicesMoney-Back Guarantee
🥇 1. ExpressVPN$6.67/monthUnlimited (independently audited)Up to 830 days
🥈 2. Proton VPN$3.59/monthUnlimited (independently audited)1 (10 via paid version)30 days
(prorated)
🥉 3. hide.me$2.59/monthUnlimited (independently audited)1 (10 via paid version)30 days

How I Chose the VPNs on This List

  • Pick a free VPN with good data limits — Many free VPNs limit your daily or monthly data usage. On average, you might have to put up with a data limit between 2 GB and 10 GB per month. Luckily, there are some free VPNs that offer unlimited data, like Proton VPN and hide.me, for example.
  • Get a free VPN that’s secure — many free VPNs don’t provide adequate security and privacy. So I strongly recommend only signing up for free VPN providers that come with essential security and privacy features. This includes military-grade encryption, a kill switch to prevent traffic leaks, DNS leak protection, and a no-logs policy. 
  • Choose a free VPN service with good speeds — Run multiple speed tests while connected to the provider’s free servers to make sure it’s fast enough for your needs. Check how fast websites and videos load, if videos buffer when you skip through them, how long it takes to download a large file (like a 5–10 GB file, for example), and if you experience high ping while gaming.
  • Pick a free VPN that’s easy to use — Check how easy it is to install and use the provider’s apps on your devices. If you need to perform manual setups and use third-party VPN clients, I recommend avoiding the VPN. All of the VPNs I recommend here have extremely intuitive apps.
  • Get a free VPN whose paid version offers great value — The paid plans need to provide access to good perks, like great streaming and P2P support, useful extra features, and large server networks. And, ideally, the paid version should come with a generous money-back guarantee.

Is It Safe to Use a Free VPN? 

Yes, but only as long as the free VPN has essential security and privacy features. This means the provider must secure your data with strong encryption (preferably 256-bit AES), a kill switch, a no-logs policy, and DNS leak protection. Many free VPNs lack most of those features, though the ones I recommend in this article all provide great security. 

Do All Free VPNs Sell User Data?

Most do, but not all. There are actually good free VPNs out there that protect the privacy of free users. For example, Proton VPN has a strict no-logs policy that has been proven true in an independent security audit — in addition, all of its apps are open-source and audited, and it releases regular transparency reports too (they detail how many requests for user data the provider has received). 

How Do Legitimate Free VPN Services Make Money Then?

These kinds of services financially back up their free plans with paid versions. Basically, they make enough money via the paid plans that they can afford to offer a free version. Plus, the free version almost always comes with some limitations — like limited data usage, limited access to server locations, or limited access to certain features. That way, they don’t place extra stress on their VPN service and server network without making a profit. 

And some legitimate free VPNs use ads to generate money. Hotspot Shield, for example, requires free users of its mobile apps to watch 30-second ads to be able to use the VPN for 15 minutes. I’m not a big fan of this, as it feels really inconvenient.

Can You Use a Free VPN for Streaming? 

Usually no, as most free VPNs don’t support streaming. That basically means the free VPN doesn’t refresh the IP addresses of its free servers very fast. Due to that, streaming sites have a really easy time detecting and blocking the IPs. 

There are some rare exceptions, though — like Windscribe, for example. This VPN actually supports streaming on its free version, and it works with top sites like Netflix and BBC iPlayer. Still, being a free VPN, it comes with noticeable limitations. The most noticeable issue is that it restricts data usage to up to 15 GB per month. This would only allow you to enjoy around 15 hours of SD streaming.

You can also try your luck, as some free VPNs might just work with streaming platforms sometimes. For example, I sometimes use Proton VPN’s free version for streaming when traveling abroad, and it more or less works with streaming services 50% of the time. 

But, ultimately, it’s just better to get a paid premium VPN. ExpressVPN, for example, is affordable and it’s the best streaming VPN out there, as it works with 100+ streaming platforms. Plus, it maintains the fastest streaming speeds on the market. And it also backs all purchases with a risk-free 30-day refund.

Can You Use a Free VPN for Torrenting? 

Generally, no. A VPN provider usually won’t allow torrenting on its free version — if you try to download torrents while connected to its free servers, your downloads will simply stall. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find any free VPNs that support torrenting yet. The rare ones that I found to allow torrenting weren’t safe to use, as they either logged your data or lacked essential security features. 

In this case, it’s much better to just get a paid VPN. ExpressVPN is a good pick, as its plans are affordable, it has a risk-free 30-day refund, and it allows torrenting on servers in 100+ countries. In addition, it also comes with industry-leading security and privacy features to secure your P2P traffic, and it provides the fastest downloads speeds in 2024 as well.

What Limitations Do Free VPN Services Come With? 

Restricted Data Usage

Most free services impose a data limit, meaning you can’t go above a certain amount of data each day or month while you use the VPN. On average, free users are limited to anywhere between 2 GB and 10 GB per month — this is only enough for basic web browsing or a few hours of SD streaming. 

Still, there are some free services that don’t have a data limit — for example, Proton VPN’s free version provides unlimited bandwidth, meaning free users can use it to browse the web for as long as they want. 

Connection Speed Limits

Some free VPN services impose speed limits, which means they throttle your VPN connection speeds. For example, Hotspot Shield’s free plan limits you to 2 Mbps — this might cause slowdowns when streaming or playing online games. 

Luckily, a lot of free providers have unlimited VPN connection speeds — for example, both Proton VPN and hide.me don’t impose any speed limits on their free users’ connections. 

Limited Access to Features

With free VPN services, you usually won’t be able to use all of the provider’s features. For example, you might not have access to some extra security tools, like an ad blocker or double VPN connections for example. 

Luckily, there are some good free VPNs that are feature-rich. For instance, Proton VPN’s free plan provides access to useful extras like split-tunneling and VPN Accelerator, which can both be used to increase VPN speeds. 

Limited Server Networks 

A VPN’s free version usually won’t let you access the VPN’s entire server network. Instead, you’ll be restricted to a few free server locations, so using a nearby server to get fast speeds might prove difficult. For example, Proton VPN’s free plan limits you to servers in just 3 countries. 

There are some exceptions, though. For instance, TunnelBear doesn’t use free VPN servers, as it allows free users to access its entire server network. But there is a catch — the provider’s free plan doesn’t have unlimited bandwidth. Instead, it limits you to 2 GB per month, which is only enough for a few hours of basic web browsing. 

Limited Number of Simultaneous Connections

A free provider will usually limit you to just 1 connection, which means you’ll only be able to install and use the VPN on 1 device. This might be an issue if you need to secure more than one device, or if everyone in your family needs a free VPN. 

Still, there are some exceptions to this rule. For example, both Windscribe and TunnelBear have free plans that allow unlimited simultaneous connections, which means you can use the VPNs on as many devices as you want — just keep in mind that both VPNs impose a data limit (Windscribe limits you to up to 15 GB per month, and TunnelBear limits you to 2 GB per month).

Limited Customer Support

A free VPN will usually limit you to its support library. This means you’ll need to rely on tutorials, troubleshooting guides, frequently asked questions (FAQs), and other support articles to get the answers you need. You might also get access to email support, though it might be pretty non-responsive. 

If customer support is important for you, it’s just better to get a premium VPN instead. For example, ExpressVPN is affordable, has a risk-free 30-day refund, and provides excellent 24/7 live chat and email support (plus, its support library is extremely detailed and helpful). 

Frequently Asked Questions

It depends on the free VPN you’re using. Keep in mind that lots of free VPNs put your data at risk, as they lack essential security features — on top of that, they also log your personal data (like your IP address and web traffic) and share it with third parties for a profit. 

To be 100% safe with a free VPN provider, I recommend picking Proton VPN. Its free plan provides access to all industry-standard security features (military-grade encryption, no-logs policy, DNS leak protection, and a kill switch). What’s more, the free version also provides high-end online privacy, as it comes with an audited no-logs policy, transparency reports, and open-source (and audited) apps.

Yes, there are some free providers that don’t impose a data limit. My favorite one is Proton VPN — its free plan provides unlimited data, and it also has very fast speeds, feature-rich and highly intuitive apps, and high-end security and privacy features. 

My top pick is Proton VPN — its free plan provides unlimited bandwidth (so you can use the VPN to surf the web as much as you want), and it also maintains very fast speeds. In addition, the free plan is great for protecting your online privacy and security, and you also get access to really intuitive apps. However, you don’t get streaming and P2P support, you can only connect 1 device, and you can only use VPN servers in 3 countries (the US, the Netherlands, and Japan). 

Yes — Windscribe. It has one of the very few free VPN plans on the market that actually supports streaming. And I can confirm that the free plan works with Netflix without any issues. Just keep in mind that you’re limited to up to 15 GB per month, so you can only enjoy around 15 hours of SD streaming (or around 5 hours of HD streaming) each month.

You could also try Proton VPN’s free plan — it doesn’t officially support streaming, but you might get lucky sometimes. I sometimes use its free plan to try and access Netflix when traveling abroad, and it works 50% of the time. The only reason I recommend trying this is because Proton VPN’s free plan allows unlimited data. 

Usually, just 1 connection. That said, there are some free providers that allow unlimited simultaneous connections — like TunnelBear and Windscribe, for example. Just keep in mind that those free VPNs have other drawbacks. For instance, Windscribe limits you to up to 15 GB per month, and TunnelBear imposes a data limit of 2 GB per month. 

Best Free VPNs in 2024 — Final Thoughts: Final Thoughts

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TREVOR JAMES

Full Time Digital Nomad

About The Author

Hi! I’m Trevor James, a Canadian YouTuber who travels the world full-time. I make videos about food, travel, and cybersecurity. I have been traveling the world and making videos for over 10 years. You can read more about me here.

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