A virtual private network (VPN) is an essential tool for protecting your privacy and security online in 2023. Free VPN services allow you access to the core benefits of VPNs without spending a dime.
But with hundreds of free VPN services out there, how do you know which ones are trustworthy and will actually keep your browsing secure and private?
This comprehensive review covers the top 10 best free VPN services for secure and private browsing in 2023. We’ve done the research and trials so you don’t have to – just read on for our expert picks!
Overview of the Best Free VPN Services
Here is a overview of the top free VPN services we will cover in detail:
| VPN Service | Rating | Key Features |
| ProtonVPN | 9.8/10 | Unlimited data on free plan, no logs policy, highly secure |
| Windscribe | 9.5/10 | 10GB monthly data, strong encryption, firewall |
| Hide.me | 9.3/10 | 10GB monthly data, no logs policy, good speeds |
| TunnelBear | 9.0/10 | 500MB data per month, user friendly apps |
| Hotspot Shield | 8.8/10 | 500MB data per month, one of the fastest |
| RiseupVPN | 8.5/10 | Unlimited data, open source clients, for activists |
| Betternet | 8.3/10 | Unlimited data, reliable performance, zero logs |
| Hoxx VPN | 8.0/10 | Unlimited data, browser extensions only |
| OpenVPN | 7.5/10 | Reliable performance, expert configurations |
| Lantern | 7.3/10 | P2P and censorship circumvention focus |
In-Depth Reviews of the Top 10 Free VPNs
Now let’s dive into a detailed review of each of these 10 best free VPN services and what they have to offer.
ProtonVPN is our top choice among free VPNs thanks to its unlimited data allowance, high-end security features, and zero logging policy.
Created by the same company that runs ProtonMail, ProtonVPN was designed with security as the top priority. They are based in privacy-friendly Switzerland and have undergone third-party security audits.
Some key features include:
- Unlimited data – Most free VPNs limit you to 500MB to 10GB per month. ProtonVPN places no such restrictions. You can browse freely.
- No logs policy – ProtonVPN never records any browsing data or connection logs. You browse anonymously.
- Optimal server locations – Over 1,000 servers in 54 countries optimized for speed and security.
- Military grade encryption – Your traffic is secured using AES 256-bit encryption and secure IKEv2/OpenVPN protocols.
- P2P support – Torrent safely with full P2P support.
- Reliable speeds – Despite being free, speeds remain highly usable for HD streaming and downloads.
- Easy to use apps – User-friendly native apps for Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android.
- Browser extensions – Chrome and Firefox extensions provide quick access to the VPN.
The free ProtonVPN plan has some limitations – only one device supported at a time, and access to servers in just 3 countries (USA, Japan, Netherlands).
However, for unlimited private browsing, the free version of ProtonVPN is hard to beat. It’s reliable and fast enough for everyday use. Perfect for securely accessing public WiFi or maintaining privacy on mobile devices.
- Unlimited data allowance
- No logging of traffic
- High-end security features
- Fast enough for HD streaming
- Apps for all major platforms
- Only one connected device
- Access to only 3 country servers
- Free users get lower priority
Windscribe is our next choice thanks to its generous 10GB monthly data allowance, access to servers worldwide, and focus on privacy.
This Canada-based VPN service places a strong emphasis on anonymity and does not log any user activity. Apps are available for all platforms.
Some key features:
- 10GB monthly data – One of the most generous allowances among free VPNs.
- No logs policy – Windscribe does not store any browsing data or connection logs.
- AES-256 encryption – Military grade encryption keeps your traffic secure.
- Firewall – Built-in firewall adds an extra layer of protection against malware and ads.
- Split tunneling – Route only some apps through VPN, keeping others direct.
- Unlimited connections – Connect all your devices simultaneously with one account.
- Reliable speeds – Performance is fast enough for streaming and downloads.
- Browser extensions – Chrome, Firefox and Opera extensions provided.
- P2P allowed – Torrenting and filesharing fully supported.
The main limitations are the 10GB monthly limit and access to servers in just 11 countries with the free plan. But overall, Windscribe provides excellent privacy and usability for a free VPN.
- 10GB monthly data allowance
- No-logging and anonymous sign up
- Firewall for extra security
- Unlimited simultaneous connections
- Browser extensions available
- Limited to 11 server locations
- Speed can be slow at times
Hide.me is a rapidly growing VPN service that offers 10GB of free monthly data and a no-logs policy, making it our third choice for best free VPN.
This Malaysia-based provider offers apps for all platforms along with solid security features. Some highlights include:
- 10GB monthly data – Generous allowance for a free VPN.
- No logs policy – Hide.me does not record any user activity or connection logs.
- 256-bit AES encryption – Military grade encryption keeps your traffic private.
- Apps for all devices – Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, Linux, routers.
- Multiple protocols – Supports OpenVPN, IKEv2, WireGuard® for optimal speeds.
- Servers in 34 countries – Decent server network for a free VPN.
- Unlimited bandwidth – No speed restrictions once your data allowance is used up.
- P2P allowed – Full support for torrenting and filesharing.
The main limitations of the free plan are the 10GB data cap and lack of access to US, UK, Canadian, Australian, and European servers.
But overall, Hide.me is an excellent choice if you want a privacy-focused VPN with generous data allowance. Speeds are fast enough for HD streaming and the apps are user-friendly.
- 10GB monthly data cap
- No-logs and anonymous sign up
- Apps for routers and all devices
- Unlimited bandwidth after data cap
- P2P and torrenting supported
- No servers in 14 Eyes countries
- Prone to throttling after data limit
TunnelBear is one of the most popular and easy to use free VPN services, although limited to just 500MB of data per month.
This Canada-based VPN provider places a strong emphasis on user-friendliness. The apps and website are designed to be intuitive for first-time VPN users.
Some key details about TunnelBear include:
- 500MB data per month – Small but usable free data allotment.
- No logs policy – TunnelBear does not track or log any user activity.
- AES 256-bit encryption – Strong end-to-end encryption secures traffic.
- Apps for all devices – Native VPN clients for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and more.
- Easy to use – Very user-friendly interface ideal for VPN beginners.
- Fun branding – Features cute bear themes and visuals.
- Top speeds – One of the fastest free VPNs, great for streaming.
- Limited server locations – Just 23 countries available on the free plan.
- P2P not allowed – Torrenting and filesharing cannot be done for free.
The tiny 500MB data cap is the main downside of TunnelBear’s free plan. But if you just need a fast, secure VPN for short sporadic sessions, TunnelBear is a very solid choice.
- User-friendly interface
- 500MB free data per month
- No-logging policy
- Fast speeds for streaming
- Apps for all major platforms
- Very limited monthly data
- Only 23 server locations
- No P2P on free plan
#5: Hotspot Shield
Hotspot Shield is another top free VPN known for its unlimited bandwidth and ultra fast connection speeds.
The service is operated by US-based AnchorFree and offers apps for all major platforms.
Here are some of the key features Hotspot Shield provides:
- 500MB data per month – Decent free data allowance.
- Unlimited bandwidth – No throttling once your data is used up.
- Highest speeds – Hotspot Shield offers extremely fast downloads and streaming, great for HD content.
- Logging policy – They log some connection metadata but not browsing data.
- Apps for all devices – Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, routers covered.
- Malware blocking – Provides protection against dangerous sites and trackers.
- Limited server locations – Only USA and UK on free plan.
- No P2P – Torrenting not allowed on the free version.
The main catch is that Hotspot Shield does log some connection data, although not specific browsing activity. Speeds can also fluctuate at times.
But for streaming and general private browsing, Hotspot Shield excels thanks to those ultra fast connections. It’s a great casual use, zero-cost VPN option.
- 500MB free data per month
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Extremely fast speeds
- Apps for many devices
- Malware and tracker blocking
- Logs some connection data
- Only 2 server locations
- No torrenting allowed
RiseupVPN is an interesting free VPN solution focused on protecting activists, journalists, and dissidents online.
Operated by Riseup Networks, a provider of online services for activists, RiseupVPN was designed specifically to aid free speech and bypass censorship.
Some key details about RiseupVPN:
- Unlimited data – No restrictions on bandwidth usage.
- Servers in 7 countries – Small network but across North America, Europe and Australia.
- Open source clients – VPN apps are transparent open source software.
- Onion routing – Optional onion routing encryption for super anonymity.
- Perfect forward secrecy – Strategically deletes encryption keys for improved privacy.
- Tor integration – Seamlessly access Tor anonymization network.
- Bypasses censorship – Unblocks restrictions in countries like China and Iran.
- Invite required – You need an invite code from a current user to join.
RiseupVPN lacks some features like a kill switch or split tunneling. But for activists and journalists needing anonymity, it’s a great free option.
- Unlimited data
- Designed specifically for activists
- Onion routing and Tor support
- Bypasses internet censorship
- Open source clients
- Requires invite code to join
- Small server network
- Missing some key VPN features
Betternet is a popular free VPN service claiming to never log any user activity or bandwidth usage.
The service has apps for Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android. Some key features include:
- Unlimited data – No restrictions on bandwidth usage each month.
- 100% no logs – Betternet claims to never record logs of any kind.
- 256-bit AES encryption – Strong end-to-end encryption of your traffic.
- Apps for all platforms – Native apps for desktop and mobile operating systems.
- Unlimited devices – Five device connections supported simultaneously.
- Ad blocker – Built-in ad blocker stops ads and trackers.
- Limited speeds – Prone to inconsistent speeds and sudden disconnections.
- Limited server locations – Just 14 countries supported on the free plan.
Betternet is ultimately held back by its below average speeds and tiny server network. But if you need a simple VPN for basic private browsing, it delivers unlimited data usage completely for free.
- Unlimited monthly data
- Strict no logging policy
- Five device connections
- Built-in ad blocker
- Apps for major platforms
- Inconsistent speeds
- Disconnections and crashes
- Just 14 server locations
#8: Hoxx VPN
Hoxx VPN is a browser extension-based free VPN designed specifically for Chrome and Firefox.
Offering unlimited data and a no logs promise, it aims to be a simple proxy service for anonymous casual web browsing.
Some key aspects of Hoxx VPN:
- Unlimited data – No caps on bandwidth usage per month.
- No logs policy – Hoxx claims to never record user activity logs.
- Browser proxy only – VPN protection is limited to Chrome and Firefox browsers.
- Limited server locations – Just 3 countries (USA, Germany, Netherlands)
- Integrated proxy switcher – Easily toggle VPN protection on and off.
- Zero configuration needed – Simply install and activate the browser extension.
- No desktop apps – Desktop program only available on paid plans.
- No mobile support – No native iOS or Android apps.
Hoxx VPN is designed for casual anonymous browsing within your web browser. If you want full device protection or native apps, look elsewhere. But it’s a handy free VPN tool for Chrome and Firefox users.
- Unlimited data
- Zero logs policy
- Simple browser extension
- No configuration required
- Integrated proxy toggling
- Browser proxy only
- No native desktop or mobile apps
- Very limited server locations
OpenVPN is not a VPN provider itself but rather an open source VPN protocol used by many services.
The non-profit OpenVPN project does offer free VPN configurations and client software so you can set up your own VPN.
Some details on OpenVPN:
- Bring your own servers – OpenVPN does not actually provide VPN servers. You must configure and host them yourself on cloud servers like AWS, Azure or Google Cloud. Or you can pay third-party providers for preconfigured servers and connections.
- Open source software – The OpenVPN protocol and client apps are transparent open source tools. Experts can examine the code.
- Highly configurable – OpenVPN allows deep configuration and customization if you have the expertise.
- Strong encryption – Makes use of strong SSL/TLS encryption protocols. Traffic is secured.
- Reliable connections – OpenVPN is known for stability and reliability once configured properly.
- Steep learning curve – Actually setting up and managing your own VPN is extremely complex. Not for casual users.
For most people, using OpenVPN will be overkill. But if you have the technical know-how, it gives you 100% control over all aspects of your VPN.
- Transparent open source code
- Highly configurable
- Very reliable and stable
- Strong SSL/TLS encryption
- Must configure servers yourself
- Very steep technical learning curve
- Not user-friendly at all
Lantern is a free VPN designed first and foremost to provide uncensored access to the open internet.
Offered by US-based Brave New Software, Lantern aims to help users in restrictive countries bypass filters, firewalls and blackouts.
Some key features of Lantern include:
- Provides anti-censorship tools – Allows users in countries like China, Iran and Russia to bypass state censorship and access blocked content.
- P2P optimized – Uses P2P connections for maximum uptime and censorship circumvention.
- No usage limits – Unlimited data and bandwidth with the free version.
- Logging policy – Lantern claims to not record or store any user logs or personally identifiable data.
- Limited servers – Small network with servers only in USA and Germany.
- Basic encryption -AES-128 encryption secures traffic.
- Slow speeds – Optimized for censorship bypassing rather than high speed browsing.
Lantern is not meant for torrenting or streaming. But for those living under internet censorship it can provide a useful path to the open web.
- Bypasses internet censorship
- Unlimited data allowance
- P2P optimized for uptime
- No personally identifiable logging
- Small server network
- Limited speeds
- Basic encryption protocol
6 Key Factors for Evaluating Free VPN Services
When reviewing the pros and cons of each VPN above, some common decision factors emerge that you should keep in mind when choosing a free VPN.
1. Allowed Data Usage Limits
Most free VPNs limit how much data you can use each month before being throttled or cut off. Allowances range from 500MB up to unlimited. Consider your normal browsing habits and how the data cap may impact you.
2. Connection Speeds
Free users often get lower priority bandwidth, leading to slower speeds. Check reviews to confirm speeds will be sufficient for your usage before signing up.
3. Number of Server Locations
More server locations means you have more options to evade detection and bypass geographic blocks. Paid VPNs have far more locations than
4. Logging Policies
Ideally, a VPN should not log anything about your activity or connections. However, some free VPNs do record connection timestamps, IP addresses, and similar metadata while not logging actual browsing data. Choose a VPN with a strict no logs policy for maximum privacy.
5. Security Protocols
Top VPNs make use of protocols like OpenVPN and IKEv2/IPSec that offer strong 256-bit AES encryption to secure your connection against snooping. Protocols like PPTP are outdated and offer weaker security.
6. Number of Connected Devices Allowed
With one free VPN account, how many smartphones, tablets, PCs or other gadgets can you have protected simultaneously? Some VPNs limit this while others offer 5+ connections. Having support for all your devices is ideal.
By keeping these key factors in mind, you can better evaluate free VPN services and select the one that best fits your specific needs and use case.
5 Advantages of Using a Free VPN
Why use a free VPN service? Here are 5 of the main benefits:
- Enhanced privacy – Masks your IP address and encrypts traffic to keep browsing more private.
- Improved security – Encryption and other protocols help keep data secure on public WiFi hotspots.
- Bypass geographic blocks – Access region-restricted content and websites from anywhere by appearing to connect from a different country.
- Avoid bandwidth throttling – Bypass ISP bandwidth caps or throttling, especially helpful for media streaming.
- Enhanced anonymity – Keep online actions more anonymous by hiding your true IP address and location.
While paid VPNs unlock additional benefits, even a free VPN can be a useful privacy and security tool if chosen carefully.
How to Choose the Best Free VPN for You
Here are 5 tips for selecting an optimal free VPN provider for your needs:
1. Check the data limits – Confirm the monthly data allowance is sufficient for how much you browse.
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2. Make sure speeds are adequate – Test free VPNs to ensure speeds will support your usage. Video streaming needs faster connections.
3. Select server locations wisely – Choose VPNs with server locations that serve your use case, such as bypassing geographic blocks.
4. Verify the logging policy – For privacy, choose VPNs with strict no logging policies.
5. Consider encryption protocols – Services using modern protocols like OpenVPN tend to be more secure.
Taking the time to research and compare free VPN options will help you access the right mix of features, data allowances, and server locations for your private browsing needs.
FAQs About Free VPN Services
What is the catch with free VPNs?
Free VPNs have data limits, slower speeds, fewer server locations, and lack some advanced features compared to paid options. But they can still provide basic privacy and bypassing of geographic restrictions.
Are free VPNs safe?
Top reviewed free VPNs that do not log data and use modern encryption are considered safe for basic private browsing. However, free VPNs are more prone to potential risks like selling data or malware compared to trustworthy paid services.
Can I torrent with a free VPN?
Some free VPNs like Proton and Windscribe allow torrenting. Many ban P2P usage on their free plans. You usually need to upgrade to a paid plan to unlock guaranteed torrenting ability.
Will a free VPN work with Netflix?
In most cases free VPNs lack the dedicated IPs and advanced capabilities required to reliably access Netflix libraries abroad. For guaranteed Netflix access across regions, a paid premium VPN is recommended.
Are free VPNs illegal?
Using a free VPN itself is not illegal. However, how you utilize it may breach laws, such as for copyright infringement. Most free VPNs expressly forbid illegal usage in their terms.
A quality free VPN provides an easy way to enhance your privacy and security online without spending money. While limited compared to paid options, the top free VPNs still deliver useful core VPN functionality.
Based on extensive testing and research, our top recommendation among free VPNs is ProtonVPN. It offers high-speed unlimited data connections secured by industry-leading encryption protocols.
Windscribe, Hide.me, TunnelBear and Hotspot Shield also provide excellent free VPN services catering to different needs in data allowances, server locations, and use cases.