10 Best Free VPN Services in 2023 — Fast, Unlimited & Safe


ExpressVPN is equipped with everything you need for a wide range of activities. Not only does it protect you with industry-leading security and privacy features, but it’s also the fastest, most dependable VPN, even compared to other paid VPNs.

The Best Free & Premium VPNs for Routers

Simon Migliano is a recognized world expert in VPNs. He’s tested hundreds of VPN services and his research has featured on the BBC, The New York Times and more.

Fact-checked by JP Jones Additional Research by Harry Ferrigno

Virtual Private Network (VPN) services are often incompatible with routers, or they require a long, complicated setup process to work properly.

Even if your VPN does offer router support, it may not be compatible with your particular router model.

The best router VPNs are VPN services that can easily be used on routers and are optimized for router performance.

This can include having a dedicated router app, partnering with third-party services to provide a ‘pre-flashed router’, or even creating simple setup guides for manual installation.

What Is the Best Router VPN in 2023?

Based on our latest tests, the best VPNs for routers are:

  1. ExpressVPN: Best Overall VPN for Routers
  2. NordVPN: Best VPN for Pre-Flashed Routers
  3. VyprVPN: Best VPN for Tomato Routers
  4. IPVanish: Best VPN for Manual Router Setup
  5. Proton VPN: Best Free VPN for Routers

The overall best VPN for routers is ExpressVPN, thanks to its excellent dedicated router app. It’s easy to install, compatible with most VPN-enabled routers, and it protects all your connected devices simultaneously. If you want a free router VPN, we recommend Proton VPN Free for its unlimited data allowance and privacy-first logging policy.

We’ve tested over 55 VPN services on our Linksys WRT3200ACM router to identify the best VPNs for routers. These are different from VPN routers, which are WiFi routers that can support VPN software.

We manually installed every compatible VPN ourselves, making sure to evaluate the quality of each service’s setup guides as well as the difficulty of the process itself.

We also analyzed each VPN’s performance on our Linksys router, including the average download speed, its streaming performance, and how easy it is to use for beginners and experts alike. In this article, we explain the results of our testing.

Comparison of the Best Router VPNs

Our complete test results can be found in the comparison table below:

Top Free & Premium Router VPNs: Summary Test Ratings

You can use the table below to see how each router VPN performed in our key testing categories:

Why Trust Top10VPN.com?

We’re completely independent and focused on VPN software. We’ve spent thousands of hours testing and reviewing router VPNs using our Router VPN testing methodology.

Here is an overview of our testing statistics for router VPNs:

Total Hours of Testing 30,000+
Weekly Speed Tests 3,000+
Test Device Linksys WRT3200ACM
Router Firmware Tested DD-WRT, OpenWRT, Tomato, Asuswrt, & more
VPN Services Reviewed 55
IP & DNS Leak Tests Performed 9,500+

Analysis of the Best VPNs for Routers in 2023

Using our unique testing methodology, we’ve identified the best VPNs for routers as well as the best free VPN for routers.

Our recommendations focus specifically on how easy the VPN is to set up on different router models, how easy it is to use the VPN once it’s installed, and how the VPN performs in both speed and streaming testing.

The very best router VPNs are quick to install, compatible with most router models, and encrypt the traffic leaving all of our devices without any issues.

You can see how our top five recommendations compare in terms of router compatibility below:

Here’s a more detailed analysis of the five best router VPNs and why we recommend them:

The Best VPNs for Routers in 2023

1 . ExpressVPN: The Best VPN for Routers Overall

The best VPN for routers with a well-designed, dedicated router application.
Ranked #1 out of 55 VPNs

ExpressVPN's new app on mobile devices

Rated 4.8 out of 5
1,849 reviews
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  • Intuitive, bespoke app for routers
  • No third-party signup required
  • Easy setup
  • Compatible with several routers & firmware
  • Access to ExpressVPN’s full server network
  • Router app optimized for Lightway


  • More expensive than competitors

Overall Router Rating : 9.8/10

This overall rating is calculated based on the following category ratings. To learn more, read our Router VPN testing methodology.

ExpressVPN is the best VPN for routers due to its dedicated app that’s custom-built for routers.

Easy-to-use & fully-featured router app

It’s easy to install ExpressVPN on your router, requiring no technical knowledge. We were able to install the app in less than two minutes on our Linksys WRT3200ACM test router.

Once installed, you can access the app from your browser where it functions in the exact same way as any other ExpressVPN app.


ExpressVPN’s router app has an identical GUI to its desktop and mobile apps.

It’s one of two VPN services to provide a native router app, with the other being VyprVPN. We’ve outlined how ExpressVPN’s app differs from VyprVPN’s below:

ExpressVPN VyprVPN
# of Server Locations 94 64
Kill Switch Yes No
Device Grouping Yes No
Split Tunneling Yes Yes
Compatible Router Firmware Multiple Tomato Only
Local Download Speed 97Mbps 96Mbps
Fastest VPN Protocol Lightway OpenVPN UDP

Unblocks multiple streaming services at once

Unique to the router app, you can use the feature ‘Device Groups’ to assign specific devices to different VPN server locations. For example, you can connect your Roku to a UK VPN server to unblock BBC iPlayer, while simultaneously assigning your smartphone to a nearby server location for the best possible connection speeds.

You can use ExpressVPN on your router to unblock 10 libraries, HBO Max, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, and more.

Who Is ExpressVPN Best for?

You should use ExpressVPN if:

  • You want a dedicated router app. ExpressVPN has the best native router app available, offering the same level of functionality as a desktop or mobile app.
  • You want to unblock multiple streaming libraries. With ExpressVPN’s device group feature, you can unblock content in different regions simultaneously.

You should not use ExpressVPN if:

  • You want a router VPN on a budget. At $6.67 per month, ExpressVPN is more expensive than many of its competitors. This is in addition to the price for a VPN-enabled router, too.
  • You want to install your VPN onto a Tomato router. ExpressVPN is the best VPN for routers overall, but VyprVPN is optimized for Tomato specifically.

2 . NordVPN: The Best VPN for Pre-Flashed Routers

A fast and secure VPN service that’s compatible with the full suite of FlashRouters features.

NordVPN Mobile App Screenshot

Rated 4.7 out of 5
246 reviews
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  • Easy set-up via FlashRouters
  • Detailed setup guides for manual installation
  • Fast connection speeds
  • Compatible with several routers & firmware
  • Works with the FlashRouter privacy app


  • Doesn’t support a dedicated router app
  • Costly
  • NordLynx only available on one type of firmware

Overall Router Rating : 9.3/10

This overall rating is calculated based on the following category ratings. To learn more, read our Router VPN testing methodology.

NordVPN is a great VPN for routers due to its easy-to-use FlashRouters integration. It’s also one of the fastest VPNs we’ve tested and excels at unblocking geo-restricted streaming libraries.

Easy to install on routers

NordVPN can be manually installed on a variety of routers and firmware, and offers detailed setup guides for all of them.

The setup guides are well-written and easy to follow, with plenty of screenshots and videos to simplify the process. In the rare instances we were unable to understand a step, NordVPN’s 24/7 live chat support were on hand to help.

To skip setup altogether, you can buy a pre-flashed router equipped with NordVPN’s software from FlashRouter.

NordVPN on the FlashRouter privacy app

You can quickly switch VPN server locations within the FlashRouter privacy app.

NordVPN is fully integrated with the FlashRouter privacy app, providing you with a VPN kill switch, split tunneling support, and an easy-to-use interface. You can also use the app to easily switch VPN servers — this doesn’t require any resets or reinstallation of software.

Fast speeds & consistent streaming performance

We recorded fast connection speeds across all devices while connected to our NordVPN router, averaging out at an impressive 95Mbps.

By connecting to a US NordVPN server within the FlashRouter privacy app, we were able to consistently unblock US Netflix. This worked across all devices on our local network, including on our Xbox Series X and Amazon Fire TV Stick.

Who Is NordVPN Best for?

You should use NordVPN if:

    You want to skip setup. NordVPN’s FlashRouter integration is one of the best we’ve tested and requires barely any setup.

You want fast speeds on your router. NordVPN is one of the fastest VPN available, and this is reflected in its impressive performance on routers.

You should not use NordVPN if:

  • You want a dedicated router app. NordVPN’s FlashRouter Privacy app is excellent but it requires third-party support and is beaten by ExpressVPN’s native router app.
  • You want a cheap VPN router. Buying a pre-flashed router is costly, as is subscribing to NordVPN.

3 . VyprVPN: Best VPN for Tomato Routers

Secure and trustworthy VPN with an easy-to-use router app for Tomato routers.

Screenshots of VyprVPN's mobile apps.

Rated 4.4 out of 5
62 reviews
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  • Dedicated router app with advanced features
  • Easy setup
  • Streamlined user interface for Tomato routers
  • Excellent download speeds
  • No-logs VPN with real-life verification


  • Dedicated app only works with certain Tomato routers
  • Expensive
  • Can’t unblock US Netflix, HBO Max, or Hulu
  • Can’t be purchased pre-flashed

Overall Router Rating : 9.0/10

This overall rating is calculated based on the following category ratings. To learn more, read our Router VPN testing methodology.

VyprVPN is one of two VPN services to offer a dedicated router app. We found it easy to install: you just need to paste the correct text into your router’s settings from VyprVPN’s setup page.

Excellent router app, but limited compatiblity

You can use the app to change VPN server location, switch protocols, and enable split tunneling. The VyprVPN app also simplifies your router’s user interface, allowing you to easily monitor your bandwidth and set up port forwarding.

Sadly, VyprVPN’s native app only runs on routers compatible with Tomato firmware, specifically the MIPS and ARM versions. This is a narrow selection of routers and limits the usefulness of VyprVPN’s app.

You can still manually install VyprVPN software on alternate router models, but it won’t have the same level of complexity as the dedicated app.

VyprVPN isn’t great for streaming

VyprVPN successfully secured all of our devices but we were unimpressed by its streaming performance. Once connected to the router, we couldn’t unblock US Netflix, HBO Max, or Hulu, despite multiple attempts on different devices.

We’d suggest installing ExpressVPN on your router if streaming is a priority for you.

Who Is VyprVPN Best for?

You should use VyprVPN if:

  • You own a Tomato router. VyprVPN’s dedicated router app is optimized for Tomato routers, ensuring the best possible performance.
  • You want to avoid a complicated setup. You can easily install VyprVPN’s router app in a few quick steps.

You should not use VyprVPN if:

  • You want a router app for a different router model. VyprVPN’s dedicated app only works on Tomato routers. Consider installing ExpressVPN’s native app for other routers.
  • You want to access streaming services. VyprVPN fails to unblock several major streaming platforms and doesn’t work with a single Netflix library.

4 . IPVanish: The Best VPN for Manual Router Installation

An excellent VPN service with manual setup guides for multiple router models.

IPVanish VPN

Rated 4.8 out of 5
175 reviews
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  • Easy set-up via FlashRouters
  • Comprehensive setup guides tailored to specific router models
  • Proven no-logs VPN service
  • Works with several routers & firmware
  • Fast download speeds


  • Doesn’t support a dedicated router app
  • Can’t unblock Prime Video or HBO Max
  • Poorly-integrated FlashRouters app

Overall Router Rating : 8.4/10

This overall rating is calculated based on the following category ratings. To learn more, read our Router VPN testing methodology.

If you don’t want to pay for a pre-flashed router, then IPVanish is the best VPN for manual router setup.

Quick and simple router installation

On IPVanish’s router setup page you can use the embedded search engine to filter by your router model. This will tell you if your router is compatible with IPVanish, along with all the possible setup methods and accompanying guides.


We found IPVanish’s website easy to use and navigate.

This is much better than other VPN websites, which are often difficult to navigate and lack the necessary information for router setup.

We were able to manually configure IPVanish on our Linksys WRT3200ACM test router without any issues. We were particularly impressed with how detailed its setup guides were including images, step-by-step instructions, and troubleshooting options.

Fast speeds, but average streaming performance

Once installed, IPVanish immediately encrypted the traffic leaving all of our connected devices and maintained an impressive average download speed of 95Mbps.

We were able to stream US Netflix and Hulu on our PC while connected to our test router.

However, IPVanish consistently failed to unblock Prime Video or HBO Max.

Who Is IPVanish Best for?

You should use IPVanish if:

  • You don’t want to pay for a pre-flashed router. IPVanish is compatible with most routers and easy to set up so you can avoid the expense of a pre-flashed router.
  • You want a straightforward manual router setup. IPVanish provides well-written and concise setup guides for a majority of router models.

You should not use IPVanish if:

  • You want to unblock streaming services. IPVanish doesn’t work with Prime Video or HBO Max, which means any connected devices won’t be able to either.
  • You want a bespoke router app. IPVanish hasn’t got a dedicated router app and its FlashRouters app isn’t as well-integrated as NordVPN’s.

Best Free VPN for Routers in 2023

Most free VPN services either paywall their router configuration files or impose a restrictive data cap. This makes it difficult to recommend a good free VPN for routers.

As a router VPN encrypts the traffic of multiple devices at once, it is absolutely essential that the VPN does not impose a data limit. This means trusted free VPN providers such as Windscribe Free and Hide.me Free can’t be recommended, as they’re limited by a data cap.

Some free VPN services are also known to sell your personal data to third-parties for profit, and can even infect your personal device with malware.

The only trustworthy VPN service that provides both unlimited data and router configuration files on its free plan is Proton VPN Free.

Proton VPN Free: Best Free VPN for Routers

The only trusted, 100% free VPN service that supports router integration.

Pros Cons
Free VPN service with no data cap Doesn’t support a dedicated router app
Router configuration files available to free users Restricted to three VPN server locations
Private logging policy & secure jurisdiction Setup took us multiple attempts
Blocks all torrenting activity
Can’t unblock any streaming platforms

Proton VPN Free is the only VPN service to support router configuration on its free subscription without imposing a data cap.

Configuring Proton VPN Free on a Linksys router

We were able to configure Proton VPN Free’s Netherlands server on our test router.

Other VPNs, like PrivadoVPN, allow for router installation on a free plan, but cap your data at 10GB or 5GB.

Proton VPN is also one of the few free VPNs we trust due its excellent logging policy, association with the well-established ProtonMail, and trustworthy Swiss jurisdiction.

As a free service there are some significant drawbacks: you can’t torrent or unblock streaming services on ProtonVPN’s Free servers. These restrictions apply to every device connected to your router.

Also, you’re limited to just 3 server locations when configuring your router.

ProtonVPN Free is compatible with several router models and firmware including: Asus, Linksys, Tomato, and Vilfo.

During our testing we were able to install ProtonVPN Free on our Linksys WRT3200ACM router but it took multiple attempts to work. This was a frustrating and often confusing process which wasn’t accounted for in any of Proton VPN Free’s setup guides.

EXPERT ADVICE: If you’re really serious about using a VPN with your router, we recommend opting for a premium VPN service. Our top recommendation is ExpressVPN for its dedicated router app. Otherwise you can use ProtonVPN Free and take advantage of its unlimited data.

Who Is Proton VPN Free Best for?

You should use Proton VPN Free if:

  • You want a free router VPN. Proton VPN Free requires no payment details and doesn’t paywall its router configuration files.
  • You want unlimited data at no extra cost. Proton VPN Free is the only trusted free service without a data cap.

You should not use Proton VPN Free if:

  • You want to torrent or unblock streaming services. Proton VPN free blocks P2P activity and fails to bypass streaming blocks.
  • You want fast connection speeds. Proton VPN Free is restricted to just 3 countries. If you’re not near one of these locations, then it’s likely your connection will be slower.

VPNs to Avoid Using on Your Home Router

We’ve reviewed 55 VPN services and applied our testing methodology to all of them.

Many of them lacked the features, performance, or usability necessary to qualify as a top VPN for routers.

Some VPN services simply aren’t safe enough to use on your router, either. They might carry dangerous malware or fail to properly encrypt your internet traffic.

Below we’ve listed four popular VPNs that performed poorly in our router testing and should be avoided:


Overall Ranking: #19 out of 55 VPNs

Overall Rating: 7.7/10 7.7

What we don’t like: It took us multiple attempts to install FastestVPN onto our test router and, once installed, it failed to establish a VPN connection.


Overall Ranking: #32 out of 55 VPNs

Overall Rating: 6.6/10 6.6

What we don’t like: AirVPN’s router setup guides are poorly written and lack detail. We also couldn’t find any routers pre-flashed with AirVPN’s software online.


Overall Ranking: #38 out of 55 VPNs

Overall Rating: 2.3/10 2.3

What we don’t like: X-VPN has troubling ties to China, an intrusive logging policy, and disappointing torrenting speeds. It’s also not great if you want a router VPN on a budget, costing you $5.99 per month on its cheapest plan.


Overall Ranking: #27 out of 55 VPNs

Overall Rating: 7.2/10 7.2

What we don’t like: Ivacy’s router performance is adequate but it’s too secretive about its ownership and has employed shady business practices in the past. We recommend using a more trustworthy service with equal or better router performance, such as ExpressVPN.

Router VPNs vs VPN Routers: What’s the Difference?

Router VPNs and VPN routers are mistakenly used synonymously.

A router VPN is any VPN service that can be used on a router. This can be done through manually installing the VPN’s software onto a router, by downloading a dedicated router app, or by purchasing a pre-flashed router that supports the VPN’s software.

By contrast, VPN routers are WiFi routers with VPN software installed on it. They are routers with the necessary firmware to support VPN software, and often cost in excess of $300.

Why Use a VPN on Your Router?

While it’s easier to set up and use a VPN on computers and mobile devices, installing a VPN on your router provides some unique benefits:

  • Continuous VPN protection.
  • Protect devices that VPN services don’t provide custom apps for.
  • Protect multiple devices under one VPN account.

Three main advantages of using a VPN on a router

1 Always-on VPN

As long as you keep your router switched on, the VPN connection will always be in place to encrypt your home’s internet traffic.

That means that you don’t have to wait for your computer to boot up fully before you benefit from VPN protection.

It also means once you only have to activate your VPN once (unless you want to change geo-location.

2 Protects All Types of Internet-enabled Devices

You can’t install a VPN directly onto some devices, such as games consoles and smart TVs.

But with a VPN at router level, you can cover all of your connected devices that don’t support native VPN software.

Your VPN automatically encrypts the traffic of every device that connects to your router. This also means that your real IP address will be hidden on all devices, as long as you connect to the internet via your router.

This protection also extends to Internet of Things (IoT) devices such as doorbell cameras, Amazon Alexa, and smart home appliances.

3 Bypasses Simultaneous Connection Limits

VPN services usually limit the number of devices that can run the VPN at any given time to encourage users to upgrade to a more expensive package or buy a second VPN subscription.

Even top VPN services like ExpressVPN limit users to 5 simultaneous connections, despite a substantial monthly fee.

Installing a VPN at router level allows you to protect multiple devices while only counting as ‘one’ VPN connection.

How to Use a VPN Service on Your Router

The user experience of using a VPN on your router can vary by method of VPN setup and the complexity of the VPN service’s interface.

Here’s the three methods for setting up a VPN on your router:

  • Install a dedicated router app. This is the easiest method, you just need to install a VPN app onto your router.
  • Buy a pre-flashed router. You can purchase a router with VPN software pre-installed from a third-party service. This skips setup altogether but can be expensive.
  • Manually install VPN software. You can manually configure your VPN’s software to your router but this can be a lengthy process that risks damaging the router.

You can find the full instructions in our VPN router setup guide.

In general, a VPN at router level functions in the same way as a basic VPN app on desktop or mobile. This includes being able to spoof your geo-location, encrypt your internet traffic, and connect to a secure remote VPN server.

You can use a VPN service on your router to:

  • Circumvent simultaneous connection limits.
  • Unblock geo-restricted content in a specific location.
  • Create a Double VPN connection.
  • Protect all of your devices 24/7.

EXPERT ADVICE: For a greater level of VPN functionality, consider subscribing to ExpressVPN and installing its dedicated router app. You can use ExpressVPN’s router app to switch protocols, organize devices into different regions, and seamlessly change servers.

How We Test VPNs for Routers (Our Methodology)

We’ve developed an in-house methodology for testing router VPNs, covering several key parameters.

Primarily, we evaluate how easy it is to install and use the VPN on a WiFi router.

Additional consideration is given to the VPN’s overall performance and quality, including its average connection speeds, spread of server locations, and whether it can unblock geo-restricted streaming platforms.

For router VPNs specifically, we test for:

  • A dedicated, intuitive router app.
  • Varied setup methods including manual installation and pre-flashed.
  • Secure & trustworthy encryption.
  • Fast connection speeds for all devices.
  • Multiple server locations to connect to.
  • Unblocked streaming platforms and libraries.

1. Router Compatibility: 30%

Minimum Requirement: A browser-based user interface with basic VPN functionality.

We Recommend: An easy-to-use, dedicated app for routers with multiple advanced features.

As a bare minimum, you should be able to access an interface to connect and disconnect your VPN connection. It should integrate seamlessly into your router settings and be easy to use.

For the best router VPNs, we expect an app specifically designed for routers. Whether that’s through a third-party, like FlashRouters, or through the VPN’s own software.

The app should be fully-featured with options to change VPN servers, enable a VPN kill switch, and configure split tunneling.

We also reward router apps that are easy to use, ideally its user experience and graphical interface should be identical to that of a desktop or mobile app.

2. Router Setup Difficulty: 25%

Minimum Requirement: Easy to understand instructions for popular router models.

We Recommend: Detailed installation guides for multiple router models as well as support for alternate setup methods.

VPN router setup can be a long and difficult process that can risk breaking your router if performed incorrectly.

We look for VPN services that provide well-written and easy to understand installation guides for a variety of router brands. The best VPNs go a step further and write instructions tailored to specific router models for each brand.

We also factor in the quality and availability of a VPN’s customer support as part of the setup difficulty score. The top-rated router VPNs provide multiple channels of support to assist every step of the setup process.

3. Security & Technical Features: 15%

Minimum Requirement: AES-128 or equivalent encryption.

We Recommend: AES-256 or Cha-Cha encryption.

Without sufficient encryption, your VPN router would function in the exact same way as a standard router or Smart DNS service.

Your VPN should use AES-256 or equivalent ciphers to encrypt the traffic of all devices connected to your router.

This protection extends to devices that can’t support native VPN software such as video game consoles, Smart TVs, and IoT devices.

4. Speed: 15%

Minimum Requirement: An average download speed loss of less than 20% on all connected devices.

We Recommend: An average download speed loss of less than 10% on all devices connected to the router.

A VPN service installed at router-level affects the download speed of every connected device.

Therefore, it’s essential you use a VPN service with the necessary infrastructure and performance to provide fast connection speeds and accommodate multiple devices.

A poorly-built VPN won’t be able to handle the demand of multiple devices which can impact your connection speeds.

5. Server Locations: 10%

Minimum Requirement: Multiple servers in your local region and neighboring ones.

We Recommend: Full access to the VPN’s server network.

We reward VPN services that make their entire server network compatible with router software.

Widespread server coverage ensures that you’ll always have a server nearby to connect to. This guarantees the fastest possible connection speeds by mitigating any speed loss caused by distance.

Having a greater number of server locations also increases your options for unblocking geo-restricted content. For example, having access to a single VPN server in the US means you can, in theory, unblock US Netflix, HBO Max, and Hulu.

6. Streaming: 5%

Minimum Requirement: Unblocks several Netflix libraries and Disney+.

We Recommend: Reliably unblocks US Netflix, your local Netflix library, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, and HBO Max.

Every device connected to your router is assigned the IP address and geo-location of your VPN’s server.

This means any streaming service your router-level VPN can unblock is also accessible by your connected devices, too.

The very best VPNs for routers can unblock multiple Netflix libraries (including US Netflix), HBO Max, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and more.

We also take into account how consistently a VPN can unblock a specific streaming platform over time to assess its reliability.

Lastly, we consider the time taken to load the video content and its overall picture quality.

10 Best Free VPN Services in 2023 — Fast, Unlimited & Safe

10 Best Free VPN Services in 2023 — Fast, Unlimited & Safe

There are plenty of options when searching for the best free VPN, but finding one that’s really free, safe, and reliable can feel daunting. I’ve seen tons of horror stories about sketchy free VPNs not protecting user data as they claim. Sometimes, even selling it directly to advertisers for a profit.

Free VPNs with decent security can limit you in other ways, too — and a free VPN with severe data caps and slow speeds is virtually useless.

My team and I tested 100+ free VPNs and listed the best ones that are actually safe to use. While every completely free VPN has its limitations, some are better suited for certain online activities than others. For versatility and reliability, I always recommend a low-cost premium VPN instead.

My top recommendation is ExpressVPN. Admittedly, it’s not 100% free, but it offers a 30-day money-back guarantee. I included it in this list because it doesn’t limit you like the free options. You get unlimited data and fast speeds, plus it works seamlessly with the most popular streaming services. Its refund policy is dependable and straightforward, too; I got my money back 3 days after making my claim.

Short on Time? Here Are the Best Free VPNs in 2023

  1. ExpressVPN — Fast, secure, and reliable for a variety of online activities with no limitations. You can try ExpressVPN risk-free since it has a trustworthy 30-day money-back guarantee.
  2. CyberGhost — A collection of specialty servers, including streaming-optimized connections that easily access specific platforms.
  3. Proton VPN — 100% free VPN with unlimited monthly data, but it doesn’t work well with popular streaming platforms.
  4. Avira Phantom — Entirely free VPN with unlimited device connections, but it lacks a kill switch.
  5. hide.me — Adjustable security settings that let you fine-tune your VPN use, but the free tier only allows 1 device connection.

Best Free VPNs — Full Analysis (Updated 2023)

1. ExpressVPN — Overall Best VPN With Unlimited Data, Fast Speeds, and Strong Privacy Protection

Small assortment of technological devices compatible with ExpressVPN.

Editor’s Choice Editor’s Choice Try Risk-Free for 30 Days
Tested September 2023
Available on:
Windows Mac Android iOS
Chrome Router Smart TV More
Try ExpressVPN >

Best Feature No limitations — fast, safe, and reliable
Monthly Data Allowance Unlimited
Works With Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, HBO Max, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, and more
Free Option 30-day money-back guarantee

ExpressVPN is equipped with everything you need for a wide range of activities. Not only does it protect you with industry-leading security and privacy features, but it’s also the fastest, most dependable VPN, even compared to other paid VPNs.

While 100% free options limit you, you get uncapped data and speeds with ExpressVPN. Not only that, but it’s the fastest VPN I tested. With a base of 128.31Mbps, I got an average of 120.17Mbps on nearby servers (a drop of 6%). I was pretty impressed that it only dipped to 113.57Mbps when I connected to Toronto, which is thousands of miles from me.

Speed test results from ExpressVPN

The little bit of speed I lost while connected to Toronto wasn’t even noticeable

These high-speed connections make ExpressVPN ideal for streaming — it gives you hassle-free access to the most popular streaming platforms. Unlike the fully free VPNs, it worked with every platform I tested it with in just a couple of clicks, giving me access to global content within seconds.

ExpressVPN’s entire network of 3,000 servers in 94 countries supports torrenting. Many free VPNs don’t allow P2P traffic. Or, you only get access to a couple of servers for free, leading to congestion and slow downloads. That’s never been the case with ExpressVPN when I’ve used it for large torrent files.

The thing is, completely free VPNs don’t come this feature-packed; you will have to pay upfront to try ExpressVPN, but its 30-day money-back guarantee is one you can count on. I made sure this is the case and used the 24/7 live chat feature and make my claim. The agent just asked why I wanted to cancel. My refund was then issued, and I had the money back in my account within 3 days.

ExpressVPN Offer September 2023: For a limited time only, you can get an ExpressVPN subscription for up to 49% off ! Don’t miss out!

Useful Features

  • Steadfast dedication to privacy. ExpressVPN is based in the British Virgin Islands and outside of the 14 Eyes data-sharing alliance. That means it’s not legally obligated to store, record, or hand over user data. Even if it were, there would be nothing to show since it uses RAM-based servers and has an audited no-logs policy.
  • Strong security. It comes with leak protection, a kill switch, and military-grade encryption. It also has automatic obfuscation on every server. This allows ExpressVPN to work in countries with strict censorship, like China.
  • Speed-optimizing features. ExpressVPN’s own protocol, Lightway, is built to reduce speed loss at no cost of security. You get split tunneling, too — I use this to encrypt traffic coming from select apps (like Netflix), so my speeds aren’t affected in other ones.
  • User-friendly and highly compatible. It takes just a few minutes to install on the most popular operating systems and devices. Also, its Smart DNS feature (MediaStreamer) lets you access region-locked streaming apps on devices like game consoles and smart TVs.

2. CyberGhost — Specialty Servers Easily Access Dozens of Geoblocked Streaming Sites

graphic of cyberghost 8 apps user interface on different devices like laptops, desktops, and smartphones

Available on:
Windows Mac Android iOS
Chrome Router Smart TV More
Try CyberGhost VPN >

Best Feature Optimized servers for streaming, torrenting, and gaming
Monthly Data Allowance Unlimited
Works With Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, HBO Max, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, and more
Free Option 45-day money-back guaratee

While this VPN also isn’t 100% free, you can try CyberGhost out for up to 45 days with a money-back guarantee. It’s standout feature is definitely its collection of platform-specific streaming servers. Just type the name of the streamer you want in the search bar. Searching “Netflix”, I was presented with 26+ servers optimized for Netflix libraries from across the world.


CyberGhost routinely maintains these connections to ensure they’re fast and reliable

It also has torrenting-optimized servers listed in one easy-to-find location. These are some of CyberGhost’s fastest, most secure connections to ensure you can download large files comfortably. There are low-latency gaming connections, too, but only for Windows.

Even on its normal connections, CyberGhost offers great speeds. Its nearby servers were the fastest in my tests — I averaged 122.86Mbps on its UK connections. Its Toronto gave me 109.24Mbps, so it was a tad slower than ExpressVPN but still impressive.

Unfortunately, the 45-day money-back guarantee is only available for longer-term plans. Shorter plans are available that cost less upfront, but they offer a 14-day refund guarantee.

I tested the refund policy to be sure it’s trustworthy. Using 24/7 live chat, I made my claim. The agent asked a couple of simple questions before agreeing to process my request. The experience was quick and stress-free, and I had all my money back 4 days later.

September 2023 Deal: CyberGhost is currently offering 83% off its most popular plan! Take advantage of this offer now and save more on your CyberGhost subscription.

Useful Features

  • Block Content. With 1 click, you can enable this to prevent ads, malware, and trackers — a feature you won’t find with a completely free VPN.
  • Easy for all levels. The simplistic design of CyberGhost’s apps makes it simple to navigate. It has a “Best server location” feature that can pick the fastest connection for you with 1 click. Or, you can expand the view to manually pick a location or activity-specific server.
  • Protects user privacy. CyberGhost adheres to an audited no-logs policy and is based in the privacy-friendly country of Romania. Its servers are RAM only, so they wipe user data with each reboot.
  • Highly secure. You get military-grade encryption, leak protection, and a kill switch to keep you safe. It also has a couple of protocols to choose from: IKEv2 and WireGuard. WireGuard is the industry standard protocol for speed and security, so I use it the most.

3. Proton VPN — Completely Free VPN Without Data Caps for Unlimited and Safe Browsing

Small assortment of technological devices compatible with Proton VPN.

Available on:
Windows Mac Android iOS
Router Smart TV More
Try Proton VPN >
www.Proton VPN.com

Best Feature Zero limits on monthly data usage
Monthly Data Allowance Unlimited
Works With Netflix (originals), Youtube, Spotify, Facebook, Instagram, Kodi
Free Option Forever Free plan

While most free VPNs impose caps, Proton VPN is a 100% free VPN that offers unlimited monthly data. This is very beneficial if you require extensive online data usage for activities like browsing, streaming, and downloading.

Screenshot of Proton VPN

I never had to worry about getting interrupted or cut off in the middle of my online sessions

Unlimited data may make this free VPN stand out as a top option for safe torrenting, but unfortunately, none of the free servers support P2P traffic. You need to upgrade your account in order to access these servers.

The free plan includes 100+ servers in three countries: the US, Japan, and the Netherlands. At least the free servers are high-speed, ensuring fast and reliable connections for streaming and browsing.

When I tested it, Proton VPN let me access YouTube, Vimeo, and Dailymotion. Although, I was disappointed that the free plan doesn’t work with more popular platforms like Netflix or Hulu. You can temporarily test its premium version with these websites, though, with its 7-day free trial.

You don’t need to provide payment information to use Proton VPN, but you do need to give an email. This also grants you access to a 7-day trial of its premium plan, which worked great for accessing streaming content and torrent downloads.

Useful Features

  • Dependable security and privacy. It offers AES-256 encryption, DNS leak protection, and a kill switch that blocks internet traffic if your free VPN loses connection. Additionally, it protects your data by following a strict no-logs policy.
  • Speed Accelerator feature. Proton VPN advertises that it only gives you access to “medium” speeds with the free plan. But with VPN Accelerator enabled, I only lost about 1% of my baseline connection on local UK servers. While testing 2 US servers, I averaged a 15% speed reduction (leaving me with 102.78Mbps) — which is pretty impressive.
  • Router support. Unlike most free VPNs, Proton VPN can be set up on your router. This helps you overcome the free plan’s limitation of 1 device connection.
  • Simple interface. Proton VPN’s free app is clean and streamlined, with easy navigation and clear descriptions of each feature, making it a great option for anyone who wants a hassle-free VPN experience.

4. Avira Phantom VPN — Unlimited Connections to Cover Your Household’s Devices for Free

Small assortment of technological devices compatible with Avira Phantom VPN.

Available on:
Windows Mac Android iOS
Chrome More
Try Avira Phantom VPN >

Best Feature Unlimited simultaneous device connections
Monthly Data Allowance 500MB per month (1GB if you provide your email)
Works With Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, and more
Free Option Forever Free plan

You can protect any amount of devices with Avira Phantom VPN, but I was especially impressed with its free mobile apps for Android and iOS. They offer tons of servers and work with some popular streaming platforms — this is rare for a free VPN.

Screenshot of Avira

Its “Nearest Location” feature automatically connects you to the fastest server nearby

Its desktop and mobile apps have decent speeds and support torrenting. When I tested out its torrenting capabilities, I had a speed of 86.43Mbps (on a UK server). This let me download a 100MB file from uTorrent in 9 seconds. Just be aware that it lacks a kill switch, so your online activity risks exposure once you run out of data.

That said, you only get 500MB of monthly data with this free VPN (1GB if you sign up with your email), which isn’t sufficient for large downloads or extensive streaming. However, there is a 7-day trial of the premium version (only on mobile), which includes unlimited data.

Useful Features

  • Robust security and privacy features. All of its apps protect you with a zero-logs policy, leak protection, and 256-bit encryption. Its mobile version also offers an “auto-connect” feature that automatically connects the VPN if it detects an untrusted Wi-Fi network.
  • Malware protection. With 1 click, you can enable a feature on desktop to block malicious sites and content.
  • OpenVPN protocol. Avira Phantom VPN’s Windows, macOS, and Android apps use this trusted protocol. On iOS, it only offers IPsec, though.

5. hide.me — Entirely Free With Customizable Security to Fine-Tune Your VPN Use

Small assortment of technological devices compatible with hide.me VPN.

Available on:
Windows Mac Android iOS
Chrome Router Smart TV More
Try hide.me VPN >

Best Feature Plenty of adjustable settings
Monthly Data Allowance 10GB
Works With Netflix, Youtube, Spotify, Facebook, Instagram
Free Option Forever Free plan

Along with military-grade encryption, a kill switch, and leak protection, hide.me’s free plan has a ton of advanced security settings. Stealth Guard allows you to bind the VPN to your network (or just certain apps) for top security.

screenshot showing protocols available with hideme free and all the customization options for each protocol

To help guide you, hide.me provides descriptions of its features

The VPN has 8 free servers located in the US (East and West), Canada, the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Spain, and Singapore. I accessed Netflix in Canada, the Netherlands, and Germany. In the US, I could only stream Netflix Originals, though.

Its no-logs policy is solid but not flawless. It logs anonymized data like your total amount of data traffic, randomly generated usernames, and assigned IP addresses. However, this data is erased every few hours and can’t be used to identify you.

You can only use hide.me’s free VPN on 1 device at a time — but it is possible to turn your laptop into an encrypted router. You just have to set up hide.me on your laptop, turn on the WiFi hotspot, and connect all your devices to it.

Useful Features

  • Free 24/7 live chat. I used this a few times, and the support agents were helpful and friendly, even though I wasn’t a paying customer.
  • Torrenting support. With split tunneling, custom port selection, and decent data allowance and speeds, it’s not a bad option for safe torrenting.

6. Hotspot Shield — Free Plan With a Proprietary Hydra Protocol for High-Speed Security

Small assortment of technological devices compatible with Hotspot Shield.

Available on:
Windows Mac Android iOS
Chrome Router Smart TV More
Try Hotspot Shield >

Best Feature Hydra protocol for optimal performance
Monthly Data Allowance Unlimited
Works With Netflix, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, and more
Free Option Forever Free plan

Screenshot showing Hotspot Shield Free VPN affect on ping or latency

The lower your ping rate, the more responsive your connection (for gaming, a low ping is necessary)

Its free VPN offers unlimited data, which is a rarity. The free plan supports P2P traffic, too, so this is a solid choice if you’re looking to protect yourself while torrenting.

Hotspot Shield’s no-logs policy is decent. However, as a free user, anonymized data like bandwidth usage, device type, and OS version are collected. This information is aggregated and cannot be used to identify you, though. It only has a kill switch on its Windows app, as well.

I also found the free VPN app a bit annoying to use — it’s ad-supported, so I was faced with annoying popups asking me to upgrade to the paid plan while connected to its free servers. Even though streaming servers show up on the home screen, you can’t use them. Although, I was still able to access Netflix UK, Disney+, and BBC iPlayer with its free servers.

You don’t need an email to use this free VPN. However, if you want access to its 7-day free premium trial, then you need to use an email and provide payment information.

Useful Features

  • Multiple server locations. You get 4 server locations: 2 in the US, 1 in the UK, and 1 in Singapore.
  • Standard security features. You also get access to the standard WireGuard and IKEv2 VPN protocols as well as Hydra. Plus, split tunneling, military-grade encryption, automatic WiFi protection, and leak protection.

7. TunnelBear — Free VPN with a Large Server Network for Reliable Connections

Small assortment of technological devices compatible with TunnelBear VPN.

Available on:
Windows Mac Android iOS
Chrome More
Try TunnelBear VPN >

Best Feature Access to its entire network of servers in 47 locations
Monthly Data Allowance 2GB
Works With Netflix, Youtube, Spotify, Facebook, Instagram
Free Option Forever Free plan

TunnelBear’s free VPN plan sets itself apart by granting users access to its entire server network, spanning over 47 countries. This is a notable advantage compared to other free VPNs that often limit server locations. With its wide range of servers, I could access Netflix UK and Canada, but it didn’t work with Netflix US.

Screenshot showing TunnelBear Free VPN user interface and how to select server locations

You can also select “Fastest Server” to be automatically assigned the best connection

GhostBear (obfuscation) is another unique feature of TunnelBear’s free VPN. GhostBear disguises VPN traffic as regular internet traffic to bypass strict censorship and VPN restrictions. This is especially useful in countries with restrictive internet policies. GhostBear is available on all TunnelBear-supported platforms except iOS.

The complimentary package offers a monthly data allocation of 2GB and permits simultaneous usage on as many as five devices, providing flexibility for those desiring a free VPN for use on several gadgets concurrently. However, it’s worth noting that despite upgrading, TunnelBear applications can only be installed on Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android platforms. Support for routers is unfortunately not provided.

Useful Features

  • Fun and intuitive interface. TunnelBear’s engaging bear-themed design and user-friendly interface make this free VPN an attractive choice if you value simplicity and ease of use. The use of bear puns and cute animations made testing this free VPN (actually) fun.
  • Solid for privacy. While it’s located in Canada, a not-so-privacy-friendly country, TunnelBear undergoes annual security audits of its infrastructure and apps and adheres to a strict no-logs policy.

8. Speedify — Completely Free VPN With Fast Nearby and Long-Distance Connections

Small assortment of technological devices compatible with Speedify VPN.

Available on:
Windows Mac Android iOS
Router More
Try Speedify >

Best Feature Bonding Mode prioritizes connections for optimal speeds and performance
Monthly Data Allowance 2GB
Works With Youtube, Spotify, Facebook, Instagram
Free Option Forever Free plan

Speedify’s free VPN offers a unique feature called Bonding Mode. I used this feature to combine my home WiFi and mobile data to boost speed and reliability. This can be a game-changer if you’re dealing with slow or unstable connections, as it enhances your overall online experience.

Screenshot showing bonding mode on Speedify

You can choose between 2 kinds of bonding, “Speed” and “Redundant” and have an “enhance streaming” option, too.

This is another free VPN that offers good server coverage — you get server locations in 25 countries. This gives you greater flexibility for optimizing connection speeds compared to other free VPNs with limited server options. I couldn’t get it to unblock any major streaming platforms in my tests, though.

Speedify states that it does temporarily store some of your data (including your IP address, a unique device identifier, and timestamps). But it never logs your online activities or associates them with your IP address or device.

You don’t have to sign up to use the free VPN plan, which provides a 2 GB monthly data allowance. That’s decent for light browsing but pretty limiting for streaming or torrenting. You can access a 7-day free trial once you download the free app, which gives you unlimited speeds and data. Keep in mind that the free plan allows usage on only one device at a time.

Useful Features

  • Split Tunneling. The Bypass feature lets you decide which apps or websites use the VPN connection and which go straight to the internet, giving you more control over your connection.
  • Strong encryption. With AES-256-GCM encryption, you can trust that your data is secure while using Speedify. You have to upgrade to use the kill switch, since the free VPN doesn’t offer this.

9. Kaspersky Secure Connection VPN — User-Friendly Free VPN That’s Great for Beginners

Small assortment of technological devices compatible with Kaspersky Secure Connection.

Available on:
Windows Mac Android iOS
Try Kaspersky Secure Connection >

Best Feature Super basic free VPN for instant online protection
Monthly Data Allowance 6 GB (200MB per day)
Works With YouTube, Spotify, Facebook, Instagram
Free Option Forever Free plan

Kaspersky VPN’s free plan offers a basic and easy-to-use VPN experience, ideal if you’re new to VPNs or just want minimal protection for casual browsing. Its straightforward interface and automatic server selection make using it hassle-free, and you don’t need any advanced technical knowledge at all.

Screenshot showing Kaspersky Secure Connection Free User Interface

The only settings you can change are the free VPN’s protocol and to turn on WiFi protection

Because it was developed by the well-established cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab, you can be sure the VPN was developed with your internet safety in mind. Kapersky is well-trusted for its robust security software that helps you protect your online data. That said, I was disappointed that the free version of this VPN doesn’t come with a kill switch.

Useful Features

  • 5 device connections. You can use it on major operating systems but not routers or other devices.
  • Offers WireGuard. You can choose between the Hydra and WireGuard protocols with the free VPN app.

10. Opera VPN — A Free VPN Browser with a Built-In Ad Blocker

Small assortment of technological devices compatible with Opera VPN.

Available on:
Windows Mac Android iOS
Try Opera VPN >

Best Feature Simple to use for secure and private browsing
Monthly Data Allowance Unlimited
Works With Netflix, YouTube, Spotify, Facebook, Instagram
Free Option Forever Free VPN browser

Opera VPN’s free browser is a convenient all-in-one package for safe browsing, offering not just a built-in free VPN but also ad and tracker blocking features. This makes it super easy to enhance your privacy and security while surfing the web without having to juggle multiple tools or browser extensions.

Screenshot showing the VPN setting in Opera VPN Free browser

You can also try out Opera’s VPN Pro plan with a 7-day free trial under the browser’s VPN settings

Since it’s a browser, Opera only encrypts browser traffic, leaving other applications and online activities on your device unprotected. So it’s not useful for something like torrenting but can be a good choice for streaming or protected browsing.

Useful Features

  • Decent privacy policy. Opera VPN has a fairly trustworthy logging policy, stating that they don’t store any information about your browsing activity or originating IP address.
  • Unlimited data and speeds. With Opera VPN, you can enjoy unlimited data and speeds, making it a fantastic option for users who don’t want to worry about hitting a data cap while browsing.

Quick Comparison Table: Best Free VPNs

All of the recommended free VPNs are safe to use — but they vary quite a bit as far as which online activities they’re most compatible with. Use the following table to compare and contrast each free VPN in this list.

When engaging in data-intensive activities like streaming and torrenting, it is advisable to seek a free VPN that offers a generous data allowance or, ideally, unlimited data. The availability of server locations can influence the accessibility of certain websites and applications, and having torrenting support is essential for sharing peer-to-peer files.

You may also want to consider how many household members or devices you’ll need to share the free VPN with. Also, if you’d rather not provide an email while signing up, there are a few free VPNs that don’t require you to do so.

Speeds Best For Data Limits Simultaneos device connections # of server locations Sign up required? Torrenting allowed?
��ExpressVPN Very fast Streaming, Torrenting, Privacy Unlimited 8 3,000 servers in 94 countries Yes Yes
��CyberGhost Fast Streaming, Torrenting, Privacy Unlimited 7 9,300 servers in 93 countries Yes Yes
��ProtonVPN Average Privacy, Browsing Unlimited 1 3 Yes No
Avira Phantom VPN Fast Privacy, Streaming (on mobile) 1GB Unlimited 1 (desktop), 49 (mobile) Yes Yes
hide.me Average Privacy, Streaming, Torrenting 10GB 1 8 No Yes
Hotspot Shield Fast Streaming, Torrenting Unlimited 1 3 No Yes
TunnelBear Average Privacy, Streaming 2GB Unlimited 47 No Yes
Kaspersky VPN Average Browsing 6GB (200MB/day) 5 1 No Yes
Speedify Fast Browsing 2GB 1 25 No Yes
Opera VPN Browser Average Privacy, Browsing Unlimited Unlimited 1 No No

Tips on How to Choose the Best Free VPN

There are a few main things you need to look out for when choosing a free VPN. During my tests, I used the following criteria to rank these top free VPNs:

  • Entirely risk-free — Every forever free VPN on this list has been tested to ensure it won’t suddenly try to charge you, and both ExpressVPN and CyberGhost have been proven to uphold their money-back guarantees.
  • Military-grade security — All of the listed VPNs protect you with military-grade 256-bit encryption and IP/DNS leak protection at the very least. Without this, there’s no point in using a VPN in the first place.
  • Strict no-logs policy — Some free VPNs will happily log and share your data with advertisers, government agencies, and anyone else who asks. None of the VPNs in this list log or share any of your identifiable information.
  • Good speeds with enough data — Free VPNs should provide enough speed and monthly data to actually be useful. The absolute best free VPNs have sufficient speed for streaming HD content with no data caps.
  • Large server network — If your free VPN doesn’t have enough servers, you’ll run into constant performance and connection issues due to server overcrowding. Pick a free VPN that offers at least 100+ servers to ensure better reliability.
  • Can unblock streaming sites — Many free VPNs do not properly maintain their servers, leading to streaming sites detecting and banning the VPN’s IP addresses. All the VPNs on this list unblock at least a few popular platforms.
  • Supports torrenting — Not all free VPNs support P2P file sharing. Choose a VPN that is torrent-friendly. Some, like CyberGhost, even offer torrenting-optimized servers, proxies, and other specialized features.
  • User-friendly and responsive app — Many free VPNs bombard you with ads and have an unclear UI, which can be highly frustrating. Choose a VPN that abides by a no-ads policy and offers a simple interface, making it quick and easy to connect to the ideal server.
  • Device compatibility — A lot of free VPNs are limited to just a few devices — if you wish to use them with less popular OS, such as Linux, or devices such as Smart TVs, you’re usually out of luck. However, there are a few free VPNs that are more versatile, such as the ones I’ve picked above.
  • Helpful customer support — In most cases, only premium VPNs offer 24/7 live chat, which can save you a lot of hassle if a question comes up. If live chat isn’t available, check for other means of getting support, such as email, a contact form, or at the very least, a comprehensive FAQs page on its website.

Expert Tip: What Free VPN Providers May Not Tell You

All of the free VPNs on this list have been tried and tested, and I’ve read through their privacy policies to ensure they’re trustworthy and safe to use. Although they do have some limitations, there are a lot of other free VPNs that come with real dangers that could cost you in other ways.

Some dangers of using free VPNs are:

  • They may collect and sell your data. You should always read any VPN’s privacy policy carefully (especially free ones) to make sure you’re actually being protected. There have been cases of free VPNs selling user data despite their privacy policies promising otherwise. That completely defeats the purpose of using a VPN since you’re using it to protect your privacy and data.
  • Free VPNs can leak your info. Many free VPNs lack key security features (like leak protection and a kill switch), so they can’t be trusted to protect your data. IP and DNS leaks are common, which can reveal your location, browsing history, and other personal information.
  • Some free VPNs contain viruses and malware. A lot of free VPNs are created as ways to infect your device (not protect it) with viruses and malware packaged into the software. In addition, free VPNs often rely on advertising for revenue. This means that the chance of your device becoming infected by malicious ads is higher with free VPNs.
  • Some free VPNs come from shady sources. A decent amount of free VPNs (especially mobile apps) are tied to sketchy VPN parent companies. For instance, Innovative Connecting owns a collection of free VPNs, including Turbo VPN, Hot VPN, Snap VPN, and more. The problem is that this company’s product development team is based in China, which is a massive privacy concern.

Generally speaking, your best bet is to use a trusted, low-cost premium VPN (ExpressVPN is our top pick). Premium VPNs offer strong security features and strict no-logging policies to keep your personal data safe. Plus, plenty of them come with money-back guarantees, so you can test them risk-free for a period of time. If you’re not impressed, you can claim a full refund.

Free VPNs You Should Avoid

You always have to be careful when considering free services — I found some really untrustworthy free VPNs with major security flaws. Unlike the free services on my list, these free VPNs are dangerous to use and should be avoided:

  • Hola Free VPN — This isn’t a VPN, but an unsafe P2P network where other people use your personal IP address. Your internet traffic is not encrypted. Even worse, if someone uses your IP address and does something illegal, you can get in trouble since it’s traced back to you. Additionally, Hola logs almost everything — your true IP address, name, email address, payment information, and the websites you visit.
  • Psiphon — This free VPN logs region codes, domain names you’ve visited, connection time stamps, and more. Even more alarming — it keeps these logs for up to 90 days. Psiphon is also full of ads and shares statistics and user data with its commercial partners.
  • Touch VPN — While popular, this free VPN logs a worrying amount of your data, including timestamped browsing activity, device information, and approximate location. To make things worse, it allows its “Business Partners” to track and collect information on you while you’re connected.
  • VPN Gate — VPN Gate is volunteer-operated, so anyone could be running your VPN server, meaning they can easily collect and monitor your data. In addition, VPN Gate’s “Anti-Abuse Policy” states that it logs your IP address, browsing activities, and more. It also makes clear that it’s happy to share this data with any government agency that asks.
  • LinkVPN — LinkVPN’s privacy policy states that it stores your data and that affiliates of the app and government agencies also have full access. It’s also not immediately clear who created the free VPN — after some digging, it seems to be a solo developer based in China who has been responsible for other privacy-violating VPNs, like SuperVPN.
  • Other free VPNs to avoid — Betternet VPN, SuperVPN, ThunderVPN, AnonyTun, CrossVPN, sFly Network Booster, OKVPN, EasyVPN, Hoxx VPN, Archie VPN, Hat VPN, Private Pipe VPN, Tuxler VPN, GO VPN, Hexatech, Faceless.me, FinchVPN, VPN One Click, Fast Secure Payment, and TurboVPN.

Free vs Paid VPNs: Which Is Best for You?

Here’s a brief summary of the key distinctions between free and paid VPNs, designed to help you make a well-informed choice between the two options:

  • Cost. Of course, the main benefit of a VPN that’s really free is that it doesn’t cost anything. Alternatively, reputable paid VPNs offer a money-back guarantee, which allows you to claim a full refund if you’re not satisfied. You do need to pay up front to try the service, though.
  • Speed. While most VPNs can give you fast nearby connections, long-distance connections are the real test. ExpressVPN never lost more than 35% of my speeds — even while connected across the world. However, the entirely free options averaged between a 40-80% speed loss on faraway servers. Depending on your baseline connection, this could cause severe lag.
  • Data allowance. It’s common for free VPNs to limit your data usage. As an example, Avira Phantom VPN’s free version caps you to 500MB of data per month, or 1GB if you sign up with your email address. That’s only good for up to 8 hours of streaming. Paid VPNs generally offer unlimited data, allowing you to torrent and stream as much as you like.
  • Servers and unblocking abilities. Most VPNs limit the servers you can use for free. This means you can only access content in the given servers’ region. This can also lead to user overload, which makes these connections easier for sites and apps to discover and block. For reference, ExpressVPN offers 94 server locations, while Avira Phantom offers 49 locations. Although that’s way more locations than any free VPN I tested, you can only access them all via the mobile apps.
  • Security and privacy. Premium VPNs offer military-grade encryption, robust DNS/IP protection, and proven no-logs policies to protect your data. While the free VPNs listed here are safe to use, many free VPNs struggle to offer the same level of security and privacy. Some even log your data and sell it to third-party advertisers.
  • Torrenting support. Not all VPNs that are really free support P2P connections. It’s much easier to torrent with a paid VPN, as you’ll have unlimited data and much better speeds. CyberGhost even offers dedicated torrenting servers for safe and fast downloads.
  • Customer support. VPN support teams tend to prioritize paying customers rather than those on a free plan. This means you’re likely to get more responsive customer support with a paid VPN — usually via a 24/7 live chat feature.

FAQs About Free VPNs

Are free VPNs actually safe?

Unfortunately, really free VPNs aren’t always 100% safe. However, the VPNs in this list are safe to use — I read all the privacy policies, and none of them store any identifiable information. I performed leak tests to make sure my connection was properly hidden, and they all passed the test.

Many free VPNs can be dangerous for several reasons. Some free VPNs don’t offer proper encryption, while some keep logs and share that data with third parties like advertisers to make money. Unfortunately, that’s not all — I encountered free VPNs that contain malware embedded in the apps.

Is there a free unlimited VPN?

Yes. A couple of the free VPNs in this list offer unlimited monthly data for free, but limit the servers you can use. Others give you access to their entire server network, but limit your data. Free VPNs always have their limitations — that’s how they push users to subscribe to a paid service. Other restrictions may include blocked P2P traffic, weak security features, or poor unblocking abilities.

What’s the fastest free VPN?

The first entirely free VPN on my list had the fastest speeds in my tests. When testing its nearby connections, Proton VPN only slowed down my speeds by about 1%. That said, I lost a bit more speed while connected abroad. US connections gave me around 15-17% speed loss, but when I tested servers in Japan, I lost between 30-37%.

How much this will impact your online activities really depends on how fast your baseline speed is. If you plan to connect to servers at long-distances or don’t have the fastest base speeds, it’s usually best to opt for speed-optimized premium VPN like ExpressVPN.

Can I use a free VPN for streaming football?

It may be possible, but which one is best for you depends on a few factors. These include: unblocking abilities, data, and speeds. The free VPN should offer servers where your go-to football-streaming platform is based, and be able to unblock the site or app. Whether it’s ESPN, Bally Sports, or Prime Video. Many free VPNs can’t overcome these geoblocks, so it will likely take a little trial and error.

You’ll also want to make sure that the free VPN provides enough data to cover the game. For instance, for a 3 hour football match in HD, you’ll need about 10GB of data. Plus, fast speeds are important to ensure you won’t encouter buffering at the most pivotal moments of the game. Make sure you have 10Mbps with the VPN connected to stream in HD.

Which free VPN is best for Netflix?

Although most free VPNs can’t bypass Netflix’s geoblocks, I found a couple that can. Of the really free VPN options I tested, Hotspot Shield and hide.me were the best for watching Netflix — but they have their limitations. Hotspot Shield is fast with unlimited data, but it only works with Netflix UK. On the other hand, hide.me works with Netflix in the Netherlands, Canada, and the UK, but it caps you at 10GB of monthly data (about 3 hours of HD streaming).

You’ll usually only find the entire package (reliable unblocking, fast speeds, and unlimited data) in a premium VPN. Taking that into consideration, ExpressVPN is my top pick for Netflix. You can also test it for 30 days since it offers a money-back guarantee.

What is the best free VPN for mobile and desktop?

Any of the free VPNs recommended here are great options for both desktop and mobile. Each of them offers apps for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android. These apps take just a couple of minutes to install, and their interfaces are sleek with simple navigation.

For the most part, VPN mobile apps are almost the same as the desktop version. But in some cases, they can differ quite a lot. For example, Avira Phantom VPN’s free mobile app gives you access to a much larger server network on Android and iOS than it does on the free desktop app.

What is the best free VPN for torrenting?

The best completely free VPN for torrenting is Hotspot Shield, since it has military-grade encryption and unlimited data. However, it only offers free servers in 4 locations, which causes slowdowns due to congestion. So, it’s likely you won’t have the fastest download speeds.

A better option is ExpressVPN. Its entire network supports torrenting, it’s the faster VPN we tested, and it has unlimited data. It’s not technically free, but you have 30 days to get a refund if you’re not totally satisfied since it offers a money-back guarantee.

Can I get a premium VPN for free?

No, but you can test many premium VPNs risk-free. In the VPN sphere, “premium” essentially equates to “paid.” Free VPNs don’t fall into the premium category. They deliberately impose limitations to encourage users to upgrade to a paid plan. However, a few entirely free VPNs I’ve tested offer a bit more than most, like unlimited data, access to their full server network, and decent speeds.

Most premium VPNs require upfront payment, backed by a money-back guarantee. This lets you test it without restrictions on data, speeds, unblocking capabilities, servers, security features, and more. If it’s not for you, you can request a refund within the specified VPN refund period.

Which devices can I install a free VPN on?

Most free VPNs are compatible with laptops, desktops, tablets, and smartphones — sometimes more. The free VPNs in this list provide apps for the most popular operating systems, like Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, and Linux. Some are even compatible with routers and Fire devices, while others have free Firefox and Chrome extensions.

ExpressVPN’s MediaStreamer feature makes it more versatile than the 100% free options on this list. It allows you to set it up on devices that normally don’t work with VPNs (like smart TVs and game consoles).

Most free VPNs only let you connect to 1 device at a time, so keep in mind that even if it’s compatible with lots of your devices, you won’t be able to connect them all at once.

Should I use a free VPN with Tor?

You could, but you’ll need one with fast speeds and strong security due to Tor’s inherent traffic-routing delays. Therefore, it’s imperative to select a fast VPN to ensure compatibility with the dark web browser. Free VPNs that restrict bandwidth and throttle speeds may prove ineffective when paired with Tor.

Additionally, please be mindful that the free VPNs listed here are considered safe choices. However, numerous free VPNs exist that could potentially leave you vulnerable while using Tor. Tor is a prime target for malware, hacking, and cybercriminal activities. So opting for a premium VPN with robust security features is advisable for safeguarding your online presence on the dark web.

Do free VPNs work in China?

A few might work in China, but they usually lack the necessary security features. For a VPN to operate effectively in China, it requires advanced features such as obfuscation. This helps it bypass strong firewalls while safeguarding your privacy. Even those that do provide a certain level of security often impose severe limitations and data caps, making them useful only for a short period of time.

A more reliable approach is to invest in a reputable paid VPN with a money-back guarantee. Premium VPNs have the means to offer unlimited data and speeds, plus top-notch security features like automatic obfuscation. It’s also important that the VPN follows a strict no-logs policy to ensure your personal data is never recorded or stored. Many free VPNs sell user data to third parties for profit.

Get the Best Free VPN Today

While all of the free VPNs I listed won’t jeopardize your safety, every free VPN has its limits. If you know what features to look for, you can find the right free VPN for you — whether you need it for streaming, torrenting, or online privacy.

My recommendation for a “one-stop shop” is ExpressVPN. I know it’s not free, but it doesn’t limit you like the 100% free options. It’s fast and gives you unlimited data, with an extensive server network that works reliably for streaming and torrenting. You can try it risk-free since it has a 30-day money-back guarantee. Claiming a refund is quick and easy.