Best free VPN services of 2021

By Evan Stockton

Many people want to get into the great wide world of VPNs as soon as possible but just don’t have the know-how. If this sounds like you, then keep reading this article to find out all about the best VPN services that you can access for free.

So, first, let’s start with the basics. Why might you want to use a free VPN service? The most obvious answer is that you want to “try before you buy”. Many users want a longer period of time to evaluate a VPN than a free trial typically offers, and that’s perfectly fine. Most of the options listed below will allow you to use a free version indefinitely.

Naturally, there are always some limits to the free versions of any VPN. Users have to be aware of exactly what these limits are. So the second big question is “What do I give up with a free VPN?”.

Generally, free VPNs will have some limitations. The most common one that you will encounter with free VPNs is a data cap. This is typically something like 10 GB of data per month or similar. Another common strategy is to allow all the normal features of the VPN but to vastly limit the number of servers available to you.

In other cases, it’s possible that the provider may limit your bandwidth or something similar. Or, at least in one case we have seen, you might be limited to using the service with just one device.

So, without further ado, we are going to give you ten great options, which you can use to get some free VPN experience. All ten of these options should be more than satisfactory for your free VPN needs, but we’ll start with our top three choices.

Top free VPN services of 2021

NordVPN Logo

1. NordVPN - strong security and reasonably priced

If you are considering watching Netflix or gaming over a VPN, NordVPN is the number one choice, because it is the only VPN we reviewed that didn't seem to affect ping and download times at all. NordVPN is also the only entity in this list that calls in third-party security companies to audit it, adding to consumer confidence in the reliability of its services. VISIT SITE

PrivateInternetAccess Logo

2. PrivateInternetAccess - best streaming VPN of 2021

PrivateInternetAccess is a household name in the VPN game with one of the largest server arsenals. Currently over 35500+ high-speed servers are being offered for a really competitive price. Look no further if you are looking for server diversity and fast download speeds. VISIT SITE

Surfshark VPN Logo

3. Surfshark VPN - best cheapest VPN

Surfshark is great at unblocking streaming sites; arguably the best at that. This is because of the huge range of IP addresses it manages. These IP addresses are constantly being changed and added to. The company also has some proprietary technology out there designed specifically for people who stream video in. It is also one of the cheaper offerings out there, so if you are price-sensitive, this could be the perfect option for you. VISIT SITE

ExpressVPN Logo

4. ExpressVPN - fastest VPN

ExpressVPN really lives up to its name. If you have a "need for speed", ExpressVPN is definitely your best option. While all VPNs slow down your connection somewhat, chances are you won't even notice this with ExpressVPN. ExpressVPN is also the best VPN for breaking geoblocks - even the really tough ones in mainland China, for example. VISIT SITE

CyberGhost VPN Logo

5. CyberGhost VPN - best for multiple devices

CyberGhost VPN wins easily in the category of being the most adjustable VPN service, and the one with the most advanced options. This does come at a cost of being a little more complicated to operate, but serious users will find this trade-off to be absolutely worth it, as you can do things with CyberGhost that you can't do with other VPNs on this list. VISIT SITE

ProtonVPN VPN Logo

6. ProtonVPN - best free VPN version

Proton VPN is hands down the best free service, as it doesn't place any specific data restrictions on free users. It does limit you to one connection and only three servers to choose from in free mode, however. Proton was also, by our tests, one of the faster VPNs to use out there. VISIT SITE

Express VPN

This VPN had to be included, even though at the moment it only has a 30-day free trial offer. This is usually perfect for the “try before you buy” crowd mentioned above. If you are looking for an indefinite free service, you may have to skip past this one.

However, it’s worth trying out just to be able to use it as a standard against which to compare other VPNs. In fact, it may even convince you that it’s worth paying for.

The good news about this free trial offer is that the trial period offers all the bells and whistles of the fully paid version of Express VPN. You will get unlimited data with unlimited bandwidth, and access to the full array of Express VPN’s 3000 plus servers in just about every country you could ever need.

You can also connect up to five devices simultaneously, just like the full version. And finally, you get all the other security features of ExpressVPN, including things like split tunnelling, and the built-in auto kill switch.

ExpressVPN is also thought of as one of the best VPNs for watching Netflix out there, and everybody should take the time to see why.

Proton VPN

Proton VPN, strictly in terms of its free service, is considered to have the best offer out there for people who want to have a perpetually free VPN.

This service has a free version and three tiers of paid service, each one offering more over the previous version. However, the free version offers pretty much what the first tier of the paid version offers, in each and every detail.

There is only one exception to this. The free version will limit you to only three servers. One is located in the Netherlands, in Europe, the second is in Japan, and the last one is in the USA.

The real downside to this occurs during peak use periods, where servers get really crowded. At these times, you may have a hard time doing data-intensive things like streaming.

Aside from that, you get great security, plus Proton VPN also offers split tunnelling as well. And finally, Proton VPN is completely free of all advertising, even when you use the free version.

Hotspot Shield

Hotspot Shield offers a free version that has almost all the features of its pay version. The one caveat here is that Hotspot Shield caps your data. The rule is that you get 500 MB to use with the free service every 24-hour period.

This totals up to 15 GB a month, but, naturally, it’s not the same thing as having the whole amount to use over the course of a month as you so choose. The other thing missing is that the free version will not work at all with streaming, unfortunately. And, lastly, you only get to use one server, located in the US.

However, one nice feature of Hotspot Shield is that, if you are a Chrome user, it will integrate entirely and completely with your browser.

Finally, you can also try the full version with no limits using their 7-day free trial any time you wish. This will allow streaming, eliminate the data cap, and give you access to over 3200 servers.

Windscribe

Windscribe’s free version gives you 10 GB of data a month to play with when using their service. They will add another GB for any friend you refer to them, and another 5 GB if you tweet something out mentioning the company.

Windscribe’s free version also has the same ad and malware blocking software that is integrated with the paid version. This is something not available on other free VPNs, to the best of our knowledge.

Windscribe also offers split tunnelling, as well as port forwarding for the more technically-minded among you. What’s more, Windscribe has unique and proprietary firewall technology that does more than the average VPN to prevent any possible data leaks.

The only limitation to be aware of has to do with Windscribe’s server network. The free version limits the available servers to the following countries: Romania, Switzerland, Norway, the Netherlands, Hong Kong, Germany, France, Canada, the US, and the UK.

5) Betternet VPN

Betternet offers excellent security, great encryption, fast connections, and, interestingly enough, doesn’t even require registration to use its free version. The downside of this is that data will be stored on those dreaded cookies, which may or may not be acceptable for you.

As a corollary to the cookie issue, Betternet VPN’s free version shows you lots of ads with its free service. Unfortunately, this further compromises your privacy online. Furthermore, streaming is blocked when using the free service.

The better news about Betternet, however, is that the only other limit to the free version is the 500 MB per day data cap.

TunnelBear

TunnelBear’s free version has some great features, combined with some pretty severe limitations.

On the bright side, connection speeds are 100% as fast as the paid version. You get a very generous array of servers available compared to other offerings in this article, including servers in 25 plus countries. Also, most streaming services and libraries worldwide are supported.

The downside to all of this is that you won’t get to enjoy it very long for free. This is because the data cap is a very strict 500 MB for the whole month. You can tweet the company’s name out there to get another 1 GB, which triples the data cap, but still leaves you with not enough data to last you more than a week or so, even if you are very frugal with data use.

This whole arrangement may work out well if you are willing to jump between TunnelBear and another free VPN service or services. Once again, it’s also a great option for the “try before you buy” crowd since you can sample so many of their servers and test their true connection speeds.

VPNBook

VPNBook’s free servers give you a choice between Poland, Germany, France, Canada, the US, and the UK. You will also get unlimited data to use on those servers with VPNBook’s free version. Technically, streaming is allowed, as well as p2p options such as torrenting. However, these servers don’t always work so well at getting around geo-blocked content.

Honestly, this is a great option, considering all the above. There are two caveats, however. The first one is that you have to manually configure VPNBook with OpenVPN — there is no dedicated app for VPNBook.

The other potential snag is that VPNBook doesn’t have the same strict no-log policy (standard on almost any VPN in 2021) that other options in this article all have. It will possibly retain some connection logs, for up to a week prior to the present moment in some cases.

OperaVPN

OperaVPN is unique among the VPNs listed in this article. This is because it is tied to the Opera web browser. This is convenient, but one thing must be kept in mind when using OperaVPN. If you use another app or browser, the VPN will not be on at that point.

You will also have a mere three servers to choose from, which rotate. At any given time, one server will be from somewhere in the Americas. The other two servers will be located somewhere in Europe and somewhere in Asia, respectively.

Because of its general nature, there are no real limits on data or bandwidth at all. However, also because of its nature, this VPN isn’t good for getting around geo-blocked content, unfortunately.

Speedify

Speedify, as you can tell just by their name, is aiming right at Express VPN in terms of trying to offer the fastest VPN service out there. Their free version is, fortunately, no less fast.

Their system features a proprietary “Channel Bonding” technology, which spreads your traffic among different channels (and servers) when possible. The VPN’s security is also rock-solid in terms of preventing data leaks.

Speedify’s free version is also nice and pleasantly free of ads. There is one big downside, however. Speedify allows for a mere 2 GB per month in its free version, similar to Tunnel Bear, as described above.

Hide.me

Hide.me’s free service also gives you a 10 GB monthly data limit, and access to only five servers from the company’s total network. These servers are located in Canada, the Netherlands, Germany, and the US (there are two US servers, one for each coast).

Using this free version, p2p and torrents are allowed. Unfortunately, streaming doesn’t work very well, as the servers you are allowed to use can’t be used to access geo-blocked content.

You can also only use one device at a time with this service, which is something you will have to keep close track of. This is because, if you put a VPN up on one device, it will automatically deactivate on others.

On the positive side, there are no ads ever on hide.me’s free version, and you can split-tunnel at will and to your heart’s content.

Conclusions

The first conclusion to be drawn from the discussion above is that free VPNs aren’t necessarily for everyone. It’s also not easy in today’s day and age to use a free VPN perpetually and be satisfied with that level of service.

One potential workaround to this would be to use several different free versions at once and just switch back and forth between all of them. In this way, you could mitigate the effects of the data caps, for example.

You could also use this method to use each free version for what it’s good at. For example, one could be used for torrents, one could be used for geo-blocks, another one for simply avoiding internet censorship where you are, and so on.

Naturally, this is a lot of work. It’s also very complicated to have all that potentially conflicting software installed simultaneously. In the end, if you decide that you need to just settle down and get one good free VPN, then we hope that this guide has provided you with some valuable information on what to look out for.

The most important thing is that you have been informed by this article. This gives you the tools and the power to make an informed decision.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Evan Stockton

Evan Stockton - Author

Evan Stockton is the proud publisher and founder of Securifer.com where he mainly manages publishing, editing and fact-checking. Evan is an expert Cybersecurity-researcher, and has written many articles for several large IT-centered publications.