People are always searching for free products and services, and VPNs are no exception. Free VPNs might sound like a perfect solution for most people to boost their anonymity and security levels. Or probably only to enjoy torrenting and streaming without paying a single penny.
But, let’s be honest. Is there anything that comes for free in this world? Are these free VPN providers really free, or is there a hidden cost to this luxury? Well, this article explores the real deal with free VPNs and how to get legitimate VPN security for free!
Is There A 100% Free VPN?
You might find several free VPN providers in the market claiming that they don’t charge a subscription fee but they need to earn revenue. Instead of charging a small fee, these VPNs use indirect, dishonest, and dangerous methods to make money.
They track all your browsing activities, collect user information, sell it to third parties and advertising companies, and earn money via it. Moreover, they even allow advertisers to install trackers that can gather information about your browsing activities. They also display sponsored pop-up ads while you use their services and make a profit.
The free VPNs are not mindful of your privacy. They fail to offer advanced-level encryption and other essential security features.
Thus, instead of using the free VPN providers, you can try out the premium VPNs. They can be trusted easily and are a safer option to use. Some best premium providers are cheap and even provide a free trial and money-back guarantee offer. Some of these VPN includes:
CyberGhost: 7000+ optimized servers enhance your gaming, streaming, and torrenting experience. Plus, bypass ISP throttling. Compatible with Mac, Windows, iPhone, and Android.
NordVPN: comes with 5000+ servers, great speed while torrenting and gaming. You can also enjoy US Netflix From abroad. Compatible with all devices and OS.
SurfShark: With 3200+ server networks bypass throttling and download and stream unlimitedly. You can access Netflix and download torrents with privacy.
ProtonVPN provides robust digital security and allows unlimited streaming and torrenting. Enjoy a fast, stable, and reliable internet connection from anywhere and bypass ISP throttling.
Whether it’s ISP throttling, latency, or lower ping times that annoy you, you can enjoy ExpressVPN’s stable and fastest connection. Also, provide support with Netflix and Torrenting.
VyprVPN uses a proprietary Chameleon protocol that helps access the blocked torrent websites and streaming platforms. The speeds are reliable which prevents ISP throttling.
These VPNs are reliable and provide top-notch security levels to the users. Also, they come with no restrictions and impressive security and privacy boosting features that maintain your digital privacy.
Despite all this, if you still don’t want to pay a VPN subscription fee, you can use the free versions of reliable VPN providers that offer unlimited bandwidth, a speedy connection, and effective refund policies.
Things to Consider Before Getting a Free VPN?
If you’re stepping into the realm of the VPN industry, then you might face difficulty in picking up the best free VPN for yourself. While scrutinizing a plethora of VPN providers, we kept in mind certain factors that shouldn’t be overlooked when you’re choosing a free VPN. Below is an insight into the things that you should consider so, here you go:
– Jurisdiction and Log Policies
Also, it should have a verified third-party log audit report as it proves that a VPN is living up to all its claims of being a private VPN.
Another essential thing that you should take care of is VPN jurisdiction, meaning where the VPN is operating. Selecting a VPN belonging to a safe and privacy-friendly jurisdiction like Panama or British-Virgin Island is better because there are no strict data retention laws and data monitoring and surveillance risks.
– Parent Company
When choosing a VPN, you should check the details of the parent company, privacy records, and other related information. It would be best if you used a VPN whose parent company hasn’t had any previous track records of violating user privacy in any case. Also, the VPN shouldn’t be involved in data leaks and launching different cyber-attacks. All such things damage the company’s reputation and make it difficult for the users to trust them for their privacy.
– Bandwidth Limit
Most of the free VPN providers come with limited bandwidth up to 500MB of data. By restricting the data, they impede everything you do with the VPN provider. As a result, you might experience slow connection speed, and frequent connection lags. Ensure that the VPN you choose offers a reasonable amount of bandwidth sufficient for a hassle-free browsing, streaming, and torrenting experience.
– Information Collected While Signing Up
Also, do check if it accepts payments anonymously via bitcoins. Buying a VPN through cryptocurrency is a better and safer option as it keeps your identity hidden. The company has no idea who you are and from where you’re purchasing it. The users also ensure that none of their PII, email address, IP address, and payment details are known to the VPN company. This makes you more anonymous over the internet.
– Privacy and Security Features
The fundamental purpose of using a VPN is to enhance your online security and privacy. The best free VPNs should offer essential privacy and security-focused features that cater to security needs and protect against potential threats and vulnerabilities. They should have a kill switch, VPN leak protection, and strong encryption to protect the data from all snooping eyes.
Besides this, the VPN should also have some extra supported features like an ad and malware blocker that helps in blocking malware. Lack of these features not just damages their reputation but also affects their overall performance. Like, the CSIRO report reveals that Betternet VPN has 14 tracking libraries. If it might have an ad or tracker blocker, they can prevent their users from online tracking.
– How Do They Earn Money?
A vast majority of service providers collect a reasonable amount of information while you sign for their services. But some service providers have a secure logging policy like Surfshark VPN. Most free VPN providers generate revenue through advertising. It means they track your online activities and later share the collected data with advertisers who, in turn, pay them.
For example, some free VPN providers like Betternet and Hola VPN log and share users’ data with advertisers and put their security at risk. Ensure that the best free VPNs do not earn money through marketing or by selling user data.
By following this selection criterion, we’ve ended up with the best free VPNs mentioned in this article.
Four Best Free VPN Providers to Use in 2021
Almost every free VPN provider claims to provide maximum anonymity and online protection, but when tested so, they failed to prove the majority of their claims. After testing a range of VPN providers, we come up with the four best free VPN providers that you can consider using. Here’s an insight into the best free VPN providers so, let’s dive into this:
Our first pick for the best free VPN provider is the ProtonVPN that belongs to the safe jurisdiction of Switzerland. The country neither has strict data retention laws nor is part of the five eyes, nine eyes, and 14 eyes alliance which means that your data won’t be monitored or logged.
ProtonVPN is owned by Proton Technologies AG, the same company that owns ProtonMail, a private email service. The ProtonMail has been facing severe criticism for logging the IP address of the French activists on the orders of Swiss authorities. This might also concern the ProtonVPN users as it’s the parent company that’s been bashed.
It uses AES-256 bit encryption, by-default OpenVPN protocol, offers VPN leak protection, and a kill switch to keep you secure over the web. You can also shift to its premium version for $8 per month and enjoy extra supported features like Tor over VPN, ad-blocker, and torrenting ability. The VPN offers a 30-days money-back guarantee offer; if you aren’t satisfied, you can cancel the subscriptions.
The free version allows you to access the blocked streaming sites, but the results are unreliable. It offers 23 servers in three countries with average speed, which isn’t enough for a worth-amazing streaming experience. Also, the free servers don’t support torrenting, which can disappoint the users.
2. TunnelBear VPN
TunnelBear is another good option to use and is available in both free and premium versions. It is owned by the famous antivirus company McAfee. The VPN provider belongs to a skeptical jurisdiction i.e Canada- a member country of the global surveillance alliance and is subjected to US data retention laws.
The VPN provider follows a strict zero-log policy and refrains itself from storing any browsing data. Still, it does collect a minimal amount of data to keep the service operating. To satisfy users with their claims, the company issues an annual transparency report that provides detailed insight into user data requests.
Moreover, TunnelBear also uses the state of the art encryption and secure protocols like OpenVPN and IKEV2. Besides this, the VPN also offers impressive security boosting features like a kill switch, VPN leak protection, and obfuscation tools.
TunnelBear offers a minimal server network, i.e., it is spread in only 41 countries, and in the free version, you can access all the servers. The monthly allocated bandwidth is 500GB, along with an extra 1GB when you tweet about the VPN provider. With such a restricted server network and bandwidth, TunnelBear isn’t suitable for streaming and torrenting.
You can even shift to the premium plan for $3.33 per month. But, it has a vague refund policy. The users get a refund depending on their cases which might cause users to drift away from using it.
3. Hide.Me VPN
Hide.Me is another free VPN that you can consider using and that doesn’t require any sign-up or registration process. The most impressive thing about this VPN is that it is free from intrusive pop-up ads and trackers, meaning that your browsing experience won’t be interrupted by any ads, nor any prying eyes would track your activities.
The VPN provider also follows a no-log policy and doesn’t log any of your browsing data. But, it temporarily stores the total amount of data traffic, assigned IP address, and randomly generated VPN username when you connect to their services.
Hide.Me is one of the fully-featured packed VPN providers that offer various impressive security boosting features such as a kill switch, VPN leak protection, and split tunneling feature. Besides this, the VPN also uses military-grade AES-256 bit encryption and OpenVPN, IKEv2, and WireGuard protocols to protect your data traffic.
The VPN provider is headquartered in Malaysia, an entirely safe place to operate a VPN, so; you don’t have to worry about getting monitored or tracked back. Moreover, it offers its servers in five different locations, and torrenting is allowed on all these servers.
The downside of using this free VPN is that it offers only 10GB of monthly bandwidth, which is relatively less for streaming and other browsing activities. Also, with such a limited bandwidth, it is not an ideal choice for either streaming or torrenting. By paying $5.33 per month, you can move to the premium version. The VPN comes with a 30-days money-back guarantee offer which is a good thing if you want to test the VPN.
4. Windscribe VPN
Windscribe VPN is another excellent VPN that offers both free and premium plans. In the free version, the VPN provider provides reliable security and online protection. But, like TunnelBear VPN, it is also a Canadian-based VPN provider, which can be alarming.
The VPN provider doesn’t store your source IP address, sites visited, and record of VPN sessions. But it does record the total amount of bytes transferred in the 30 days and timestamp of your last activity on the network.
The VPN uses AES-256 bit encryption and OpenVPN protocol to protect your data from all snooping eyes. The free version of Windscribe VPN also offers access to Security Suite ROBERT that gives you access to the Malware block list and enhances your online security.
But it does come with significant limitations. Windscribe VPN offers only ten servers to access in the free version. Also, the data limit is 10 GB a month which is relatively less to enjoy hassle-free browsing, streaming, or gaming experience. Such a low bandwidth also affects the connection speed.
Another dark side of Windscribe VPN is that the Ukrainian authorities seized its servers between June and July 2021 as part of an investigation. You can try Windscribe VPN and avail of the 30 days refund policy if you later don’t feel satisfied with their services.
Is Free VPN Worth It?
The free VPN provider might lurk you because of its free nature, but they are always susceptible to threats and vulnerabilities. A study conducted in 2016 revealed that out of the ten VPNs likely to get infected with malware, six are free VPNs. Though these VPN providers offer basic functions, they don’t guarantee complete or maximum online protection. Honestly, if you’re looking for a VPN for long-term use, then a free VPN is not the right choice, and there are some valid reasons for it.
The majority of the free VPN providers come with harmful malware and viruses that can infect your device and compromise your digital privacy. These VPNs fail to encrypt your data, and as a result, your data is exposed to tracking and surveillance.
Also, many free VPNs lack basic security and privacy-enhancing features like VPN leak protection, which means that your privacy isn’t protected. Without these features, anyone can track your browsing activities and see what you are doing online.
Another alarming aspect of the free VPN is that they provide limited bandwidth and a limited server network. If you plan to stream or download torrents, your experience will be ruined by slow speed and continuous buffering.
For all these reasons, it makes excellent sense to use a premium VPN provider. Even the low-priced premium VPN provider offers unlimited bandwidth, an extensive server network, and a range of privacy and security-boosting features to boost your online security.
Who Can Use the Best Free VPNs?
VPNs are always a great option to use when it comes to being anonymous over the web and mention digital privacy. It is an excellent anonymity tool that can hide your IP address and encrypts your data traffic by making it impossible for anyone to track you. Anyone who cares about their online privacy and wants to enjoy the added benefits can consider using a free VPN provider.
However, they should be careful while selecting a free VPN because there’s a range of free VPN providers, and most of them have security loopholes. Hence, if you want maximum online protection, use the best, most secure VPN providers.
Is Free VPNs Legal?
It is entirely legal to use both free or premium VPN to protect your online privacy and access geo-blocked content. But, if you use a VPN for some illegal purpose like downloading copyrighted content or accessing the dark web to buy illicit material, then it’s illegal to use. Moreover, if you live in a restrictive regime that limits internet access and implements strict privacy laws, using a VPN is illegal. These countries include:
- North Korea
Other than these countries that many VPN providers often neglect, you can use a VPN in any other country without any issue.
How Do Free VPNs Work?
The free VPNs work by generating money through advertisements. They track and gather information about your browsing activities and later sell it to the advertisers in exchange for money.
They impose limits, restrictions and sell bandwidth. Most of the time, the free VPN providers also show you sponsored pop-up ads and earn profit through them. Also, the free VPN provider sacrifices user privacy and security level. They lack the essential features required to boost security and make you vulnerable to potential threats and vulnerabilities.
Do Free VPN Ensure Privacy?
The free VPN providers can protect your privacy, but they fail miserably in this area. As mentioned earlier, the majority of this VPN lacks the essential security and privacy-focused features, and without those features, it isn’t possible to fulfill the security demands. Besides security features, such VPNs track your browsing activities to collect data about you, and by doing so, they aren’t protecting you but risking your privacy.
If the free VPN you choose is not a part of the premium VPN, then there’s a greater chance that your data might be misused. Hence, you need to be extremely cautious while picking up the best free VPN provider. Try to choose a VPN that offers a free trial or a money-back guarantee offer, as this can mitigate some security risks.
When Should You Not Use a Free VPN Provider?
Suppose you want to indulge in any activity that requires unlimited bandwidth and needs maximum security and online protection like gaming, streaming, and torrenting. In that case, it’s best not to use the free VPN providers.
Using a free VPN for all such activities will ruin your experience. You’ll experience continuous buffering, connection lags, and there might always be a greater chance of getting tracked and monitored because of low security and encryption standards.
Besides this, you can’t use a free VPN at the corporate level. Using a free in business organizations can bring catastrophic impacts. The businesses have to deal with critical business and client data like credit card details, bank details, and other financial information. All the information needs to be protected well, and no other tool better than a VPN can help in this regard. The free VPN provider lacks the basic security and privacy boosting features that can help safeguard the data.
Moreover, a study reveals that 75% of the free VPNs apps contain trackers in their code and can give third parties access to your data. All this can harm your business and reputation in the market and among the clients. Thus, it would be best if you avoided a free VPN in such situations.
The Bottom Line
Some free VPN providers can keep you safe and maintain your digital privacy. But still, they can’t compete with the security standards and features provided by a low-cost VPN provider. Some VPNs offer a free version. You can use them or avail of the free trial or money-back guarantee offer by the most secure VPN providers.