Is It Safe to Use Free VPNs? (Explained)
No matter how much we love freebies, there's always something tricky about them. Cost-free stuff usually comes with limited features, and, in one moment or another, you'll end up paying for the product.Let’s take video games demos as an example. Game developers like Shockwave or GameHouse will allow you to download a free trial where you have one hour of free playing. Once it’s ended, you’ll need to pay for the full version. And the trick is – there’s no way to finish a game in one hour! It doesn't need to be the same with all the free stuff. Some software developers will generously offer their programs at no cost, with no tricks included, but you need to know how to recognize a pigeon among the cats. When it comes to VPNs, you can choose between the paid and the free ones – both are available on the web, and you can install them easily. This article will explain the idea of a free virtual private network, and it will show you some of the best free VPN service you can find available.
Free VPN vs. Paid VPN
Let’s make a brief introduction on VPN first.We use a virtual private network (VPN) to encrypt the data we send throughout the Internet and prevent it from being exposed to hackers, government, or Internet service providers (ISPs). VPN also comes in handy when watching a geo-restricted content since it hides your real IP address and assigns you a new one.
And now we can go to differences.The price you need to pay for the VPN depends on your needs and purposes. For instance, if you need to provide your business servers and employees with a stable and safe private network, a free version won’t be the best solution. However, if you need it for personal use, you can enjoy the VPN features without breaking the bank.
Still, free versions often come with partial performance – they’re limited to one or two connections, you can’t have access to all geo-restricted content (Netflix, BBC, Hulu, HBO), it can affect your Internet connection speed, and they are prone to IP leaks.On the other hand, paid versions come with more enhanced features like kill switch, no-loggings policy, and with them, it’s easier to access the websites that are not available in your country. Overall, many VPN providers offer you a 30-days free trial or money-back guarantee so that you can see whether the features meet your needs.
Disadvantages of Using Free VPN
Even though free VPN has its advantages (it’s free), there are still some things that you should have in mind when using it, especially if it comes from an untrusted source.
1. They are Not Completely Safe
The latest studies have shown that most free VPN services contain malware. The thing is that it usually comes from advertising – since users don’t pay for the service, the ads are developers’ source of revenue.Besides, they tunnel traffic through users’ computers, and not via their own servers, which means that someone else can use your IP address for some illegal activities.
2. They Track Your Activity
3. They Don’t Give You Access to Most Popular Streaming Platforms
One of the most common reasons for using a VPN is the ability to watch Netflix or Hulu, which are not available in some countries. Still, free services often don't come with this feature, and when you go on such websites, you’ll see the message that the content is blocked.Some free VPNs can access those platforms, but since they slow down your Internet speed, the buffering will probably go on your nerves.
4. They Limit the Data You Can Use
Almost no free VPN provider will offer you the unlimited amount of data, and the reason for that is clear – at some moment, you’ll need more, and you’ll have to pay for it.For instance, some free VPNs won't only limit your data, but they'll also limit your bandwidth, server locations, protocols, and a number of simultaneous connections.
5. Some of Them Sell Your Bandwidth
A lot of VPN service providers allow their paying customers to use your device’s processing power. That said, they sell your bandwidth for profit.That brings a huge risk to your privacy since your data is exposed to cybercriminals. Based on these downsides, it’s essential to use the services of trusted VPN providers if you want to enjoy the free features without risking your privacy. Now, we’ll jump into the best free VPN solutions.
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What is the Best Free VPN?
Believe it or not, you’re more likely to be robbed on the Internet than in the street. Hacking science has tremendously improved in the past few years, and you'll be surprised to know how many different cyberattacks exist.Since VPN should provide you with an additional level of security and privacy, you should go for one that won't take advantage of your data. To help you, we’ve made a list of five best free VPN software that will protect your privacy and give you the best practices. So, let’s start and see how to get the best VPN free solutions.
1. ProtonVPN – The Most Secure Free VPN
Among other free options, ProtonVPN is considered the best free VPN. It’s enriched with top-notch protocols and encryption standards, making sure your Internet browsing is armed with impeccable protection. However, it doesn’t offer unlimited torrenting, which might not be suitable for everyone.
- No IP leaks: With ProtonVPN, you won’t have to worry about the accidental leak of your real IP address.
- Multi-hop VPN: This feature provides an additional layer of encryption by “chaining” two or more VPN servers together. In that way, you’re equipped with more security.
- Unlimited amount of data: Unlike some of its competitors, this VPN service offers you an unlimited amount of data per month.
- Three countries available: With free ProtonVPN, you can browse from three locations only – The Netherlands, Japan, and the USA.
- One device at a time: Free version allows you to connect with only one device at a time.
- Not compatible with Tor: Unfortunately, you can’t use ProtonVPN for Tor servers.
2. TunnelBear VPN – The Most Beginner-Friendly Free VPN
TunnelBear is user-friendly and funny-designed free VPN provider. It's suitable for those who're using VPN for the first time since it includes quite basic features.However, you can always sign up for a paid plan and enjoy more opportunities and more data. Also, it’s one of the best free VPN for PC.
- Professional customer support: TunnelBear's customer support is entirely professional and responsive. Even though there's no live chat option, the e-mail support will answer your questions within a few hours, and you can contact them directly from the website.
- Kill switch & No-logging policy: Even the free version comes with these useful features. You can enable kill switch and block the unprotected Internet access until TunnelBear is connected; also, their strict no-logging policy guarantees your data is not collected.
- Excellent encryption standards: TunnelBear uses OpenVPN protocol on Windows, MacOS X, and Android, while there's IPsec/IKEv2 on iOS 9 and later software versions. It also comes with the SHA algorithm providing the user with a quite high level of security.
- Limited data: This provider offers 500MB of data a month, which is not enough for most users. However, you can gain additional 1GB if you Tweet about TunnelBear.
- Twenty-two locations available: TunnelBear offer quite small network, allowing you to stream from 22 sites only – they include some parts of Europe, North America, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong, India, Brazil, and Australia.
- Slow performance: Using TunnelBear can significantly affect your computer speed and performance.
3. Windscribe Free VPN – The Best Free VPN for Mac
Windscribe is one of the best choices for Mac users.It provides reliable and secure Internet connection, and what makes it a great solution is a wide range of platforms with which it is compatible – Windows, iOS, Linux, Chrome, Opera, and Firefox. Besides, it perfectly works with Smart TV, Kodi, Nvidia, and Shield.
- Firewall included: Unlike its competitors, Windscribe comes with a firewall, that actually works as a kill switch. When it perceives the unsecure connection, it’ll automatically stop it.
- Torrenting allowed: Windscribe is good free VPN also because it allows torrenting. Still, it’s not supported on all the servers – it depends on the countries you're downloading from and their approach on digital copyrights.
- No viruses or IP leaks: This free VPN service provides its users with top-notch security. It uses the safest protocols, making sure there's no IP leak or malware.
- Limited data: Windscribe gives you 10GB of data per month, which is more than most of its competitors give, but it won’t be enough for torrenters and those who download huge files.
- Using bots as customer support: Instead of “real people,” you can ask Garry for help in case you’re facing any trouble. However, Garry usually gives automated and irrelevant responses, and it can take more than 20 hours for him (it) to answer.
- Netflix not supported: Many people opt for a VPN because of the opportunity to watch geo-restricted content. Windscribe doesn’t support Netflix itself, but you can go for Windflix, a feature that unblocks it. But guess what – it's not included in the free version.
4. Hide.me – The Best Free VPN for Windows 10
Speaking of the best free VPN for Windows, let us present you hide.me. It's a relatively new service in the VPN world, but it comes with quite sophisticated features. You can use it for free, or you can go for the paid version, but, all in all, hide.me provides you with the safest connection even when using public Wi-Fi.
- No-logging policy: This free VPN software doesn’t keep the data sent by their users, which makes it reliable and secure option.
- Top-notch encryption standards and tunneling protocols: hide.me uses strong encryption standards (256-bit AES), and the most secure tunneling protocols found in the most robust VPN software. In that way, your passwords, credit cards, and other personal files are completely safe.
- Tor support: Being compatible with Tor, it makes sure your connection is enriched with additional safety level.
- One simultaneous connection: If you opt for a free version, you’ll be limited to one simultaneous connection. If you need more, you’ll have to switch to a paid plan.
- Data limit: And here’s another limited free VPN software. It offers 2GB of data per month, which is not enough if you’re constantly using the services for checking e-mail, browsing the Internet, social networks, etc.
- Slow connection: Like most free VPNs, this one also slows down the speed significantly. Although it supports torrenting, it's almost impossible to download a file due to a slow connection.
5. Bitdefender Premium VPN – Easy-to-Use and Secure Free VPN
Bitdefender is not only famous for its antivirus software development, but it also offers quite decent VPN service – Bitdefender Premium VPN.It comes with excellent protection features, and since it’s the antivirus “cousin,” no malware is detected in it. Hence, it’s one of the safest free VPNs you can find.
- Netflix available: This is one of the few VPNs that supports Netflix. However, three out of six server locations are blocked (Hong Kong, the USA, and Australia), but you can choose Romania, Indonesia, and Germany and enjoy this popular streaming platform.
- Torrenting is not blocked: That's another excellent feature – users who use torrent for downloading now can do it more privately.
- Cancel anytime: Once you’ve stopped being satisfied with the Bitdefender VPN’s features, you can cancel the subscription.
- Minimal data: A free version of Bitdefender VPN includes only 200MB per day, which is quite a little.
- Impossible to pick a location: In the free version, you are not allowed to select the server location, which might give you limited access to geo-restricted content.
- No kill switch: There is a kill switch option in the software, but it’s limited to a couple of devices. In that way, the unprotected Internet connection will continue even when VPN drops.