With increasing digital monitoring from government agencies and attacks from malicious hackers, confidentiality and privacy have become a major cause for anxiety in recent years. The best solution internet users are counting on is a Virtual Private Network. From allowing you to bypass geo-restrictions to getting past censorship to allowing you to browse anonymously, there are no limits whatsoever to the things you can do or achieve with a VPN.
However, while almost everyone nowadays has one need or two for a Virtual Private Network, not everyone can conveniently afford it. The truth is that some of the best services often come with exorbitant prices. So, what’s the way out? Getting a free service. To be honest with you, if you are really looking to enjoy the full functionalities of a VPN, you’ve got to pay for it.
Nevertheless, there is a range of services which are either totally free or offer the basic features at no cost. They often have an option to upgrade to the paid version to get a better performance.
Of course, finding a reliable no-paid VPN is always a daunting task, but you can find them as long as you know exactly where to look. Fortunately, we know where to look and we have tested and checked some of the best free services for you. So, if you’re in search of the best non-paid providers in 2019, we’ve compiled them for you here.
What is a free VPN?
In simple terms, a non-paid VPN is a service that enables you to access its server network, alongside the necessary app, without needing to pay anything whatsoever.
Of course, these services have limitations in terms of bandwidth, speed, security, support, number of servers and overall performance.
We will discuss comprehensively about the numerous limitations of non-paid services later in this article.
Free VS Paid VPNs
Before starting giving you the top 5 best Free VPNs and top 5 providers with Free trials, it seems important to us to present you the main differences between the 2 options.
1. The security
If you don’t want to pay, you can’t expect the provider to offer a good level of security. You need to be aware of that.
2. The speed
Less servers, more people, less money to develop the speed of the servers. What is the result of this ? Lower speeds for the free Virtual Private Networks.
If you plan on unblocking Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu or torrenting, go directly for a paid versions. You can almost be sure it won’t work with the other solutions.
4. Client support
On the one hand, you’ll have a client support that will take days to answer via contact forms. On the other hand, 15 seconds via 24/7 online chat.
5. Countries covered
Be it the number of countries or servers, you’ll ALWAYS have a way better choice if you choose a paid VPN. Free providers can’t offer a wide network because this costs a lot !
As you’ll see below, Windscribe, Hide.Me, TunnelBear, and other non-paid Virtual Private Network providers all have restrictions on the bandwidth. This is not the case with the premium ones.
How do free VPNs earn money?
There are actually many ways by which the best non-paid services make money, but you can’t still compare them to paid ones in terms of revenue. Some of those non-paid services will put ads into the sites you browse, which is often annoying. If you are, however, fine with having a permanent ad stuck on every page you open, then an ad-supported option can be a great option for you.
Most times, a free service represents the lower level on the service’s pricing arrangement.
The services will limit the non-paid version compared to their paid version. Of course, the idea is to have you test the service at no cost and then upgrade you to the premium features at a cost. Simply put, the free VPN service is a technique or a gimmick to bring customers into the company.
The worse free VPNs will even make money by selling your personal information. This is what you have to be really careful about. No worries, Windscribe, ProtonVPN, TunnelBear, HideMe and Hotspot Shield that we’re going to present below do not do this. Their source of income comes from the paid options.
Best Free VPN Services
While it’s difficult to find working non-paid services, they actually exist. But that’s only if you know the right places to look.
Do we know those places?
Of course, we do! Below are some of the best ones in 2019.
Windscribe is one of the cheapest options out there in 2019, and as a result of this, it’s one of the most popular options. Not only that, but the VPN is also incredibly generous, providing free users with up to 10GB, which can even be increased further should you tweet about them on Twitter or bring your friends.
That method should attract more users to utilize VPN extensively. The provider strictly adheres to the no-logging principle and supports the best encryption protocols like AES-256 and IKEv2.
Its desktop application comes with a built-in firewall app that prevents data leakage and all the servers are configured as DNS servers, which results in optimum privacy. In fact, you can even access geo-restricted Netflix content but only some servers support that, so you may have to struggle with the support, which is primarily automated and handled by bots.
Apart from the user-friendly interface, this free Virtual Private Network provider also supports a wide range of platforms, including Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Wi-Fi routers and popular TV sticks. It also comes with extensions for some web browsers, thereby ensuring total stealth during your journey.
Moving on, Windscribe includes some remarkable VPN features to help you stay 100% anonymous while browsing the web. It has a Double Hop option that allows you to route your web traffic through two servers for extra anonymity. Besides, it’s also equipped with a functionality referred to as ‘Split Personality’ that can be enabled to change the agent of your web browser randomly to lessen likelihoods of fingerprinting.
Here are the pros and cons of Windscribe.
- Provides a generous 10GB of free data
- Comes with a Double Hop feature
- Supports a wide range of platforms
- Doesn’t keep logs
- Poor support
- Doesn’t have a wide server coverage
While ProtonVPN offers many paid plans, it also gives you the best experience with the non-paid version with no bandwidth limitations.
However, it will limit you to a single connection per account at a time and will only allow you to access three locations only out of the 30 servers offered by the company to its paid customers.
The three locations accessible by free users are the United States, the Netherlands, and Japan. Not really cool if you need to have an IP address in an other country.
Nonetheless, it works if you want to stream some exclusive content or access a geo-restricted store that is unavailable in your region. The desktop app also has a very simple interface, allowing people who are not tech-savvy to be able to use it easily.
The VPN also offers compatible clients for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and Linux, which makes it a super-versatile option and one of the best free services around.
When it comes to security, ProtonVPN is no push-over. It features the best extra features that make it a solid choice. The provider uses military-grade 256-bit AES encryption to guarantee a safe and secure connection.
It also features a DNS Leak protection and one of the ‘hottest’ VPN functionality right now- a Kill Switch. A Kill Switch makes sure that your data is protected at all cost in the event of connection loss.
- No bandwidth limitations
- Multi-platform support
- Solid security features
- A user-friendly interface
- Access to Premium for 7 days
- Permits only a single connection at a time
- Free users can only access 3 locations out of 30
The next VPN of our list is TunnelBear, which is a Canadian-based provider that boasts a great service despite being free. Featuring an extremely easy-to-use interface, it offers compatible clients for Mac, Windows, OS, iOS, and Android. The provider’s free little plan offers you only 500MB every month though.
However, the 500MB can be increased if you tweet about the company on twitter, which is a way to attract more people to the company and to Virtual Private Network in general. If the basic features are not enough for you, then you might need to upgrade to the premium version.
When it comes to security, the company uses the best OpenVPN protocol, military-grade AES-256-bit encryption and SHA256 for both data retention and data authentication. The company has many servers scattered across 20 countries around the world, which include the United Kingdom, the United States, Brazil, France, Canada, Japan, and Singapore. The Australian-based server is a reserve for the paying subscribers.
Other excellent features you will find on the free VPN are the Kill Switch that prevents unencrypted data from leaving your computer in the event of a connection drop and the Stealth mode that allows you to bypass firewalls seamlessly.
However, the fact that the company is based in Canada is a huge cause of concern as the country is renowned for its stern data retention laws.
- An easy-to-use interface
- Features a built-in kill switch
- Uses military-grade encryption protocols
- Features a stealth mode
- Multi-platform support
- Offers only 500MB free data per month
- It’s based in a country with stern data retention laws
With high-grade protocols like OpenVPN and IKEv2, Hide.me is able to effortlessly hide your IP address and encrypt your data. It is absolutely one of the best free options. Offering its non-paid users about 2GB of data every month, it is surely one of the best really free VPN services in the business.
While the data has no extension periods, you can claim rewards by inviting your friends and encouraging them to sign up for the paid plan.
Since the company is based in Malaysian, any law can’t force it to retain data of its users and share it with Governement agencies. Additionally, the provider has a very strict no-logging policy, which means your information won’t be logged.
To improve the connection speed and also prevent your IP address from being cached into local servers, the VPN allows you to add custom DNS protection settings.
Free users can utilize 5 servers in 5 different countries, including the US, Singapore, the Netherlands, and Canada. And when it comes to multi-platform support, it’s exceptional. It offers compatible clients for almost every browsing device, including BlackBerry, routers, and some TVs.
Furthermore, the company has a Split Tunneling feature, which allows you to choose the apps for which you want to use Virtual Private Network. This can be very useful if you are using a VPN-blocking service like Netflix or if you require low pings to play your online games, whilst using a VPN to secure the rest of your browsing. It’s a really cool feature.
- High-grade protocols
- Based in a country with no data retention laws
- Users can add custom DNS settings
- Comes with a Split Tuneling feature
- Multi-platform support
- The data has no extension periods
5. HotSpot Shield
HotspotShield is an excellent freemium provider, which, owing to its anti-censorship stand, classifies as one of the best non-paid VPN services in the business. The provider becomes more popular during a succession of protests like the military coup in Turkey and the Arab Spring.
For the non-paid plan, HotspotShield offers users a whooping 750MB of free data daily. However, there is no way for checking the available data, which kind of puts you in a blind spot.
Also, browsing is restricted to the United States. This may annoy some people who are keen on privacy as laws in the US force VPN companies to share the data of their users with government agencies like NSA.
To compensate for this shortcoming, however, the provider supports up to 5 simultaneous connections on a single account and you also get to enjoy military-grade 256-bit encryption for optimum security.
HotspotShield should come in handy if you are in search of one of the best free services with basic features to enable you to browse casually. The provider also offers compatible apps for every major operating system, such as Windows, MAC, iOS, and Android. In fact, it even offers an extension for popular browsers like Chrome.
- Solid anti-censorship stance
- Offers 750MB of data daily
- Supports 5 simultaneous connections
- Multi-platform support
- Uses solid encryption protocols
- You can’t check the available data
- Browsing is restricted to the US (only 1 server available)
Weaknesses of free VPNs
The truth is that the best services do need to be paid. Paying for a good client support, high-grade software, covering so many countries, and being security efficient is really capital intensive.
If nobody pays them, how do you expect them to afford all the resources that define a good VPN? Of course, non-paid VPNs have a lot of weaknesses, some of which we will highlight below.
Free services often give you a particular monthly or daily bandwidth cap. This usually ranges from 500MB daily up to 10GB monthly.
As soon as you exceed that cap, your Virtual Private Network will seize to work. However, this does not mean that your data will be exposed suddenly. It will only prevent you from making use of the Web.
Even if you eventually find a totally free VPN that has unlimited bandwidth, you will still notice how they will throttle your connection speed. Therefore, regardless of how fast your connection is, you will still have to put up with browsing the web in an extremely limited manner.
Most cases will require you to wait for a couple of seconds more when opening websites. It’s even often impossible to stream Media on these services like you can do on the best paid ones.
Paid services usually encrypt with a set of protocols, with the most popular of them being PPTP, L2TP/IPSec, and OpenVPN. The second one and the third one are mostly demanded by individuals who’re looking for traffic ciphering and optimum confidentiality.
The last one is usually demanded by torrenting and gaming enthusiasts as it consumes less bandwidth. Therefore, a lot of the best companies don’t use OpenVPN and L2TP/IPSec protocols for their free versions as they consume much more bandwidth and reduce the connection speed.
Number of servers
VPN companies usually keep in mind that most of their customers require several locations in various countries worldwide. They, however, also know the most popular servers are located in the United States and some other top countries like the United Kingdom, Canada, and more.
It’s mainly because most users prefer bypassing geo-blocking and streaming US-based streaming channels. Thus, a free version is limited when it comes to the numbers of servers. However, it usually includes the most popular and the best server locations.
While the best VPN providers like ExpressVPN put a lot into making sure that they are always available to attend to the needs of their customers, the same thing can’t be said about free services.
Most of them are rarely available 24/7 to help solve issues for customers, and who can blame them? In fact, some of them even have support that are run by bots and not real human.
The 5 best VPN with free trial
If you don’t have a deep pocket, you may want to look thoroughly before investing your money in any provider. If that’s the case, there’re some premium companies that offer a free trial that you could consider instead.
Below are some of them.
Established in 2009, ExpressVPN has speedily risen to become the best VPN in the world.
The company has forged a reputation for consistency, stability, and an absolute dedication to the privacy of their clients. Being one of the costliest services currently on the market, the Virgin-Islands based offers a robust and secure service, packaged in a user-friendly and attractive application.
The company doesn’t really provide a regular non-paid trial. It instead offers a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee. The month-long free trial allows you to test the full service with no limitations, and it comes with no risk. If the services don’t satisfy you eventually, the company will give you a 100% refund without any questions.
ExpressVPN is considered widely as the best VPN provider in the word because it has exceptional security features, bypasses geo-restrictions with utmost ease (has the best China VPN that you can use to unblock all restricted apps), and offers the highest speeds on the market, which makes it ideal for HD streaming and torrenting.
With thousands of servers across more than 160 locations and a great customer support, this provider doesn’t intend to relinquish their top spot anytime soon.
The company also offers compatible apps for every major operating systems, devices, and browsers. It also allows you to connect up to 3 devices at the same time. On top of that, ExpressVPN is currently offering a 3-month free subscription on every 12-month plan, saving you 49% in the process.
- Best speeds
- Unblocks Netflix
- Super-solid security
- 24/7 client support
- Compatible with all major platforms
- Wide server coverage
- User-friendly app
- Not the cheapest
CyberGhost is a top provider that is only bettered by ExpressVPN in terms of speeds and all-round performance. Thanks to its reliability and value, the provider is comfortably one of the best in the business.
The service offers a generous 45-day money-back guarantee and a 24-hour free trial, making it a great option for people who are just testing the waters. Although the reputation of their parent company is questionable, but that takes nothing away from their service.
Offering thousands of servers across tens of countries around the world, this VPN offers a very wide coverage. If you decide to pay for it after the trial, you don’t need to provide your credit card details. You can even pay with Bitcoin to maintain 100% anonymity.
The service even supports up to seven devices simultaneously, thereby allowing your friends to share in the connection as well.
While numerous VPN services choose to add server limitations and bandwidth limits to their no-paid version, CyberGhost is quite different. It allows you to enjoy everything offered by the service, including limitless bandwidth, 256-bit AES encryption, DNS leak protection, and access to its complete server library.
CyberGhost is ideal for streaming and the free trial comes with unlimited bandwidth. This allows you to check whether it unlocks Netflix and other streaming websites before committing.
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Strong security features
- Offers a wide coverage
- Supports up to 7 simultaneous connections
- Offers a generous 45-day money-back guarantee
- More than 5200 servers available in 90 countries
- Their parent company has a questionable reputation
- Only 14 days money-back guarantee on 1 month plan
While NordVPN is technically not a free-trial offering, we had to include it because of its 30-day money-back guarantee. The provider’s best feature is a very large pool of super-fast severs and over 60 locations across the world. It’s also capable of supporting up to 6 devices simultaneously and the data is encrypted by a 2048-bit encryption.
Furthermore, this popular VPN service is also equipped with advanced features like DNS leak protection, Kill Switch, dedicated IP, and the ability to pay using cryptocurrency. When it comes to the best and most significant – performance – this provider stands strong. It has commendable speeds for long and short term connections, making it ideal for streaming.
However, it is still not as fast as ExpressVPN, which is why it’s below the British Virgin Island-based VPN provider. It is an excellent option at a great price though, offering a superb 6 simultaneous connections.
Providing clients for every major platform, the app seems excellent and is extremely easy to use. The VPN works for torrenting and has strong privacy polices in place to make sure you stay 100% anonymous.
- A large pool of servers (5800+)
- Comes with advanced security features
- Users can pay using cryptocurrency
- Offers great multi-platform support
- Strong privacy policies
- Not as fast as ExpressVPN
- Doesn’t really offer a free trial
Offering a seven-day free trial for iOS and Android devices, Surfshark is another excellent option you can check out. While it doesn’t have a standard free-trial version for other platforms, the company encourages users to utilize the 30-day money-back guarantee to check the service out at no cost.
And since it uses AES-256-GCM for encryption, Surfshark is gradually earning a reputation as one of the best and most secured services. With hundreds of servers around the world, it can easily bypass geo-restrictions to enable you stream content at high speeds.
Of course, the company has a smaller network compared to its bigger rivals, but they make up for it on useful features. The first of those features is its support for unlimited devices. This allows you to run your whole office or home on the provider’s VPN.
There is no need for you to worry about the number of devices you are connecting. Besides, they offer ad-blocking, tracker-blocking, and anti-malware as part of their best services.
The provider has a wide platform support, offering clients for Windows, Android, Mac, iOS, routers, and FireTV. There is also a unique feature that enables you to whitelist some websites and apps to bypass the VPN automatically. This feature can be really helpful to some businesses.
- Uses strong encryption protocols
- Unlimited simultaneous connections
- A wide multi-platform support
- Allows you to whitelist some apps and sites
- Comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee
- Smaller network compared to its rivals
- Offers a free trial for only Android and iOS devices
Allowing users to either use the free, premium, or ultimate version, Zenmate is an incredibly flexible provider. And despite being a German-based company, a country that is part of the 14 Eyes, the provider offers an above-average service overall. They are extremely reliable, offering their customers high-grade encryption, software functionality, and 100% transparency for a decent price.
While the free version is limited in platforms, locations, and speed, Zenmate promises the best protection for your data. That is regardless of the version you’re using. In fact, the company prides itself on being a security-minded solution, with a global grid of extremely secure proxy servers which help encrypt your data and protect you from malicious sites
Privacy-wise, the provider promises to block ad trackers, social media pixels, and third-party analytics tools.
From a Wi-Fi point of view, the VPN will add an additional line of defense when you are on unsecured networks. And from an unlimited internet perspective, it’ll help you bypass geo-restrictions.
When you upgrade to the paid version, you will enjoy an improved speed and 24/7 support, something you won’t be offered on the free version.
- Offers high-grade encryption
- Comes at a decent price
- Offers solid security
- Offers flexible plans
- Based in a country that is part of the 14 Eyes
- Limited number of countries covered
- The free version is very limited
Let’s face it, a Virtual Private Network offers too much values to be free. From allowing you to bypass geo-restrictions to browsing anonymously, there’re many things you can achieve with it.
But is there a working free option for people who can’t afford the paid ones?
Of course, there is. We’ve reviewed some of the best options in this guide. While they come with a lot of limitations, they should still handle your basic VPN needs. If not, just use a premium provider and take advantage of its Free trial and money-back guarantee.