Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are used by internet users for quite different tasks. Free VPN services are quite appropriate for some of those tasks and less appropriate for others as most free VPNs have a limited monthly data allowance, limited download speeds and other restrictions. That's because the operators of these free services want to encourage you to upgrade to their paid VPN service.
An example of an appropriate task for a free VPN is connecting to a public wi-fi network in order to improve your internet connection privacy and security. Another would be while travelling overseas where the use of a VPN can not only improve general online security but also allow access to sites like Google and Facebook that might be blocked by foreign government firewalls.
A less appropriate use would include watching streaming media services such as HBO, Netflix and major sporting events that are restricted to users from particular countries. Here the bandwidth limitation and/or data allowance of most free services would be a severe limitation. Some free VPNs actually ban access to streaming video sites.
A totally inappropriate use of a free VPN would be for users such as journalists and whistle-blowers who require maximum anonymity. Free VPNs can provide a degree of anonymity but nowhere as much as VPN services that specialize in providing anonymity. Happily most average users don’t have such demanding anonymity needs.
BitTorrent users face a particular problem with free VPNs as most ban BitTorrent altogether, including the three top rated programs listed in our reviews below. And even for services where it is allowed, heavy BitTorrent users are likely to face issues with data allowance limits.
So in the end it’s another case of different strokes for different folks. Some will a find a free VPN service entirely adequate for the needs while others will find the opposite.
Whatever, our advice is to try a free VPN before you subscribe to a premium service. Even with the limitations imposed on most free services you may still find such services entirely adequate for your needs.
A word of caution though: In preparing these reviews we were surprised at the number of free VPNs on the market, many of which we had never heard of. While that is no issue in itself, it does raise the question of who exactly you are dealing with when you utilize a VPN service.
When you use a VPN you are routing all your personal internet traffic through the servers belong to the company that operates the VPN service. It is appropriate for users to question the background of that company.
Unfortunately getting an answer to that question is not straightforward as many of the VPN services are located in remote countries and are not particularly up-front in discussing their company and its background. This is a perfectly understandable approach as it is in the interest of their customers to reveal as little information as possible to hostile governments, copyright vigilantes, cyber-criminals and others who want to know more about VPN users.
Understandable or not it makes it difficult for us to establish the bona fides of many of these less well known VPN providers. So in these reviews we have chosen to limit our recommendations to established services from companies that have been around for a while. This is not to suggest there aren’t other good free VPN suppliers but when it comes to the security of your personal data, a conservative approach is the correct policy.
If you only want to use a VPN to protect public wi-fi connections or for casual use when travelling, this is a great choice.
Platforms/Download: [field_blackberry_download] | iOS | Mac OS | Windows (App) | Windows (Desktop) |
Version reviewed: 2.5.9
|Our Rating: 4/5
Offers both free and paid services, and the free service with no fixed data allowance limit and no deliberate throttling of download speed.
Platforms/Download: [field_blackberry_download] | iOS | Mac OS | Windows (Desktop) |
Version reviewed: 5.0.15
|Our Rating: 4/5
A Canadian based VPN service owned by Opera Software providing both a free and paid service, with the free service data capped to 500MB per month.
Platforms/Download: [field_blackberry_download] | iOS | Mac OS | Web App | Windows (Desktop) |
Version reviewed: 3.0
|Our Rating: 3/5
Perhaps the best known free VPN service based in the USA but their free offering is feature limited and ad supported.
Platforms/Download: [field_blackberry_download] | iOS | Mac OS | Web App | Windows (App) | Windows (Desktop) |
Version reviewed: 4.15.3
|Our Rating: 2/5
Related Products and Links
You might want to check out these articles too:
- Best Paid VPN Service
- Best Free Anonymous Surfing Service
- VPN Services Comparison Table
- Review: CyberGhost VPN
- Review: ExpressVPN
- Review: HideMyAss VPN (HMA)
- Review: Private Internet Access VPM (PIA)
- Review: PureVPN
- Review: TunnelBear VPN
- Review: VyprVPN
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