Virtual private networks (VPNs) are powerful tools used to cloak your true IP from prying eyes on the web. A VPN provider typically consists of multiple servers across many different countries, making it easy for you to connect to any of the IP addresses belonging to the VPN provider. Many VPN services come at a premium, but careful analysis of this market reveals a host of high-quality free VPN services.
In accounting parlance, there is an expression, ‘There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch’ otherwise known as TANSTAAFL. We all know that at some point we’ve got to pay the piper, but fortunately, there are many free VPN services worth considering. If you’re looking to guard against Big Brother, website tracking, malware, adware, Trojans, identity theft, viruses, cybersecurity threats, phishing and pharming scams, you will definitely want to consider a VPN service to safeguard your ID, communications, and protect the integrity of your accounts.
As a relative novice to the VPN scene, you certainly don’t want to get scammed by a fraudulent VPN service masquerading as a security blanket for your online communications. But how do you know which free VPN services are reputable and which ones aren’t? A cursory examination of the market reveals hundreds of VPN providers populating the scene. Some of them are owned by the same parent companies, thereby complicating your decision about which one is best for your needs.
Before you select a VPN service in a willy-nilly fashion, it’s important to ask yourself the following 5 questions:
- Why do you need a VPN? You may require a VPN for encrypting your communications for work purposes, for personal purposes, or to simply stay safe because you use public Wi-Fi at your local Starbucks. Some people require VPNs because they stream or download movies from restricted websites in different countries.
- What type of user-interface are you seeking? Not every VPN service is easy to use, even if it’s free. Some users are tech-savvy, others aren’t. Some VPNs offer important cloaking services for added security while others feature virtual setups.
- What VPN qualities are you seeking? Some folks enjoy speed, others prefer anonymity. Some VPN services are blacklisted by Netflix but others allow you to access multiple country-specific sites on Netflix servers.
- What type of VPN customer support is there? If you’re simply trying to test out VPN services for free before you register for a premium subscription, it’s important to evaluate the quality of the customer service. If you ever encounter a problem, you want to be sure that someone is on the other end of the line waiting to help you.
- How about 30-Day Money Back Guarantees? Many people prefer to try out a VPN service free before registering for a premium paid service. Money-back guarantees are a great way to try out high-quality VPN services for free.
The Best 5 Free VPN Services
A variety of high-quality VPNs are available for free. These include the following completely free VPNs:
- Hide.me – A great name for a VPN service. Hide.me is free and it’s highly rated. One of the issues is that you will be limited to just 3 server locations. These are available in Singapore, Netherlands, and Canada. Plus, this VPN provider has a no logs policy which is perfect for privacy and anonymity. The premium service offers many more servers and services, but the free version is good enough to get started with. If you decide to upgrade at any point, it will run you $4.99 p/m for Hide.me Plus and $9.99 for Hide.me Premium.
- HideMan – Everyone on this service gets up to 4 hours of free access weekly. The restricted access is the perfect bait to get you to sign up. It’s great for iOS and Android devices and it’s ideal for light usage. Once you decide to upgrade, the fee is really affordable at $2.90 p/m, or if you opt for a full year it will only cost you $2.07 p/m.
- ProtonVPN – ProtonVPN offers enhanced flexibility for users. This VPN service provides world-class security features and high-speed connectivity. One of the issues with this free VPN service is that it’s slow. Fortunately, SSL encryption protocols make it ideal for online anonymity. Upgrades are certainly possible for a cost of $4 per month (up to 2 devices) and the costs rise with more connected devices.
- Hotspot Shield – The free version of Hotspot Shield Premium VPN is laden with apps for Android devices but iOS devices get to enjoy ad-free content. Like other VPN services on our listing, this one also maintains a no-logs policy. Upgrades are also possible with the Elite Version, for a monthly fee of $12.99. However, 12-month subscriptions and 24-month subscriptions are substantially more cost-effective at $5.99 monthly and $2.99 monthly respectively.
- TunnelBear – this VPN provider offers a free version of its services with certain limitations in effect. As a free subscriber, you can access up to 500 MB of data monthly. This renews the following month. If you are a heavy Internet user, this free VPN may not be best suited to your needs, but it’s great for occasional visits to the library, coffee shops, or airports where public Wi-Fi is used.
Why should you try a free VPN service?
There are only two options with VPNs – free and premium. Before you pay for a service, you might as well test it out to ensure that it meets your expectations. If the free version of the VPN falls short of expectations, you don’t buy it and you move on. Luckily, most reputable VPN providers offer a 30-day money back guarantee with their products. Consider this your free use time to evaluate the VPN service. There are many drawbacks to using free VPNs over paid VPNs. Notable among them is the fact that free VPNs limit your Internet access ability to a select number of servers or specific download capacity. Free VPN services may also sell your personal data (remember you have to register with them and provide certain information) to marketing agencies and other companies who may spam you, or worse yet provide your logs and private information to government agencies.