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Top 5 Best Free VPN Services in 2021

Are free VPNs really free and can they be relied upon? Read OwlRatings in-depth review of free VPNs, and learn a few things before committing to one.

Reason to look for a good free VPN service

Let’s be honest, we all like to save money, especially when it relates to digital products that you can’t even see. So when you come across a free VPN service, you might be tempted to subscribe without giving it a second thought.

After all, all you want is a bit of security when you’re browsing online, right? Turns out, it’s a little more complicated than that.

Yes, free VPNs don’t require you to pay any money. But as you’ll learn from this article, you end up paying in other ways. Most free VPNs cost you time and money with the slow connection speeds, dozens of ads, limited servers, and inadequate security.

If you want to get the most from a VPN, the best strategy is to invest in paid ones. Here’s our top 10 best paid VPN services. But if you really have to use a free option, here are the best free VPNs you should consider.

Best for iPhone & Android

ProtonVPN free VPN service

ProtonVPN free VPN service

While its free plan has limited features, it does not limit the amount of data the subscriber can use.

  • Speed:
  • Protection:
  • Ease of use:
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Looking for a VPN that offers top-notch security? If so, ProtonVPN is your best bet. It has such a user-friendly interface, and it maintains a high speed regardless of the device you’re using.

The VPN comes in both paid and free plans. Its paid package offers a bevy of features such as servers dedicated streaming and up to many simultaneous connections and more. Although limited, its free tier also offers a couple of features namely:

  • A single VPN connection
  • Zero-logging policy
  • Decent speed
  • Servers in at least 3 countries

Best for Netflix & other streaming

WindScribe free VPN service

WindScribe free VPN service

What stands out about Windscribe VPN is its commitment to the users’ safety. Apart from the usual encryption measures it has deployed R.O.B.E.R.T, an advanced domain and IP blocking tool. It protects users from trackers and increases browsing speed.

  • Speed:
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  • Ease of use:
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If you want to be able to stream freely without getting interrupted by ads, Windscribe’s free VPN is the ultimate solution.

Best of all, it’s incredibly easy to get started on this VPN. Just sign up for an account and you’ll automatically be given 2GB of VPN bandwidth.

Some of the features you can expect from Windscribe include:

  • Strong privacy through protocols like IKEv2, OpenVPN, SOCKS5, and TCP
  • Capability to stream Netflix
  • A user-friendly app

Best for windows & PC

Hotspot Shield free VPN service

Hotspot Shield free VPN service

Apart from its high speed, Hotspot Shield grants access to three other products after signing up: an identity theft protection service, 1Password manager, as well as a rocoball and spam blocker. As such, you’re confident about the safety of your web traffic.

  • Speed:
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  • Ease of use:
  • Value for money:

For individuals using VPNs for work, speed is an important factor to consider. Luckily, it’s this VPN’s strongest point. Reports show that the VPN is almost always faster than its competitors.

The setup process of this VPN is also very straightforward.

After installing the software- a process that takes less than two minutes- you’re taken to a dashboard where you can configure your settings with just a few clicks.

Hotspot Shield offers a free trial, which runs for seven days. This affords you:

  • Military-grade encryption
  • An internet kill switch
  • An array of VPN protocols
  • 1 device connection
  • Limited streaming access
  • A limit on your daily bandwidth, up to 500 MB
  • Connection speed of about 2 Mbps

Best for firestick

TunnelBear free VPN service

TunnelBear free VPN service

An intuitive interface, compatibility with a variety of operating systems and strict no-logging policy make this VPN worth a try. The free plan offers up to 500Mb, enough to watch the latest thriller movies.

  • Speed:
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Owned and managed by US-based cybersecurity firm McAfee, TunnelBear is another free VPN worth checking out.

Apart from the bear puns (which one can never get enough of), another thing that sets this VPN apart is its transparency.

The company states that its systems undergo third-party security audits. This assures users that they’ll be using a completely secure platform.

On the downside, its speed is not the best. While it’s not the slowest, it could definitely do better. Another thing you might not like is the bandwidth limitation.

TunnelBear has put a cap on user’s data usage at 500MB. This is enough for casual browsing, but if you spend numerous hours online, you might find this limiting.

Best for chrome

Speedify free VPN service

Speedify free VPN service

It features a simple user interface, ultra-fast performance and up to 2GB of free bandwidth. But, you won’t be able to access popular streaming sites like Netflix, Hulu and Disney+.

  • Speed:
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  • Ease of use:
  • Value for money:

Speedify’s feature-packed free tier and unique take on improving user’s speed makes it stand out from the crowd.

Owned by Connectify, this VPN enables you to combine internet speeds through multiple connections, simultaneously. The process, referred to as channel bonding, not only helps you to use a safe network connection but it also improves speed.

Speedify is quite generous when it comes to its free tier. Expect to get 2GB of data each month. Once that runs out, you can wait until the next month or subscribe to one of its paid plans to qualify for more bandwidth.

Other features of the free package are:

  • Compatibility with Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS
  • Supports connection up to 5 gadgets
  • Complete access to Speedify’s server network
  • Upgrade offers and immediate access to brand new features

What to look for in a good free VPN service

Although a free VPN may sound like a good deal, there are a couple of factors you may want to consider. To be more specific, using these services comes with certain risks and limitations as explained below:

Does not offer complete privacy

Nothing is ever truly free. So even free VPNs have to find a way of earning profit from their free services.

The most typical way that these providers use is by showcasing advertisements, which are potentially invasive.

Ever wondered why some of these ads are targeted at you? Well, the reason is that your browsing activities are shared with third parties, who then use that knowledge to target you.

If you don’t want targeted ads popping up every time you search for information from the Internet, then be sure to read the fine print.

Before installing any of these VPNs, find out the specific details that will be obtained from your browsing activity. This is particularly crucial if you intend to use the VPN when doing online banking or transferring sensitive data.

Speed

Planning to subscribe to a free VPN that also offers paid options? Chances are that you won’t get the most out of it. One of the compromises you may have to make is in speed.

Whether you’re browsing, streaming movies, or something else, you will find the VPN to be sluggish. This is probably not a big deal if you’re only using the VPN for casual browsing. But if you’re using it for the long haul, you may be very disappointed.

Moreover, some free VPNs have restrictions on the amount of content you can download, and the amount of data you can use. As with speed, this may cause a great deal of inconvenience, especially if you’re planning to use the VPN for your work.

Fewer servers

With paid VPNs, you will be granted access to a ton of servers around the world. This can come in handy if you’re looking to access content that you otherwise couldn’t because of geo-restrictions.

Unfortunately, most free VPNs place limitations on the number of servers you can connect to. It means that you may miss out on the location you’re looking to access content from.

Another risk you’ll run to when you opt for free VPNs is limited protection. Some of the VPNs offered for free tend to use lower levels of data encryption. This, in turn, means that your browsing activity is not completely protected.

Support for additional devices

This is yet another common feature among free VPNs. Let’s say a VPN is offering both free and paid packages. Often, you will find that the free option only lets you connect one device whereas the latter supports connections to multiple devices.

FAQ

When is the best time to use a free VPN?

If you want to use a free VPN, then the only time you should resort to it is when you’re working temporarily from a cafe. Free VPNs just don’t provide enough security, speed or data usage for round-the-clock home VPN connections.

Is there a VPN that is truly free?

There’s no straightforward answer to this question. It boils down to what you define as being “free.” While some VPNs don’t cost a penny, you end up paying in the form of watching advertisements or unintentionally giving up your data for sale to third parties.

Are free VPNs legal? 

Yes, they are. Seeing as they’re software like any other, it’s legal to use free VPNs.

That said, what you use your VPN for may be considered illegal. For instance, it’s wrong to use it as a torrenting VPN, whereby you access copyrighted or illicit content.

Final verdict

Most free VPNs fall short in performance, especially when it comes to speed, streaming capabilities and level of protection. Nonetheless, there are few you can rely on, namely Speedify. TunnelBear, ProtonVPN, Windscribe and Hotspot Shield.

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