Finding a reliable free VPN provider can be a a daunting task. We have tested numerous providers that offer free VPN services and added only the best to this page.
Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), regardless of whether they are free or paid, offer a selection of features that make them attractive for several use-cases.
They can be used to access sites that are blocked otherwise, for instance in a school network, at work or country-wide. This includes situations where you cannot access a site due to bad routing on part of your ISP.
They can furthermore be used to protect the connection against snooping attacks, which is especially helpful if you connect to a network that you have little control over (think hotel, free WiFi at the airport or Starbucks).
Last but not least, they improve your privacy online by blocking direct access to your IP address.
All VPN Providers listed below meet the following requirements:
CyberGhost is available as a free and paid service. A client needs to be downloaded to supported desktop systems to connect to the virtual private network.
An ad is displayed regularly to free users which is one of the limitations of the service. While you get unlimited volume and bandwidth, you are automatically disconnected from the service after 3 hours of usage.
Paid Accounts: Starting at $6.99 per month.
Terms of Service: http://www.cyberghostvpn.com/en_us/terms
Hotspot Shield is one of the most popular free services available, likely because of its generous 750 Megabyte per day traffic limit. It is also one of the few applications that does not force you to create an account prior to using it.
The free version of the program will display advertisement on the other hand when it is being used. It furthermore makes only available a location in the US for connections, and will block access to select sites via its paywall as well.
Paid Accounts: $29.95 per year, no speed limits
Terms of Service: http://www.hotspotshield.com/terms
The OpenVPN client for Windows requires Java. The installer will download Java if it is not installed on the system to complete the installation. The problem is that it will install an old Java version instead of the latest one which makes the system vulnerable to attacks.
You need to create an account before you can sign in to the service and connect to one of the server locations. It is possible to sign-up from within the client.
Paid Accounts: Start at $12 for 50 Gigabyte (no monthly fees)
Terms of Service: https://www.privatetunnel.com/index.php/tos.html
This free service is part of an academic experiment run by a Japanese university. It uses its own proprietary protocol called PacketiX which impacts compatibility as it can only be run on devices the client is offered for.
To get started, you need to create a virtual HUB first on the service website to download the client software afterwards to the system.
The client itself is not the easiest to use as well, especially if you compare it to other VPN clients that can be switched on or off with a single mouse click.
You need to create a new VPN connection first before you can connect to the service. It is however interested to note that it makes available quite a few extra configuration options such as enabling remote management access.
Paid Accounts: No
Terms of Service: http://www.packetix.net/en/terms/privacy.aspx
You need to create a free account before you can sign in to the local client. Note that you are asked to enter your phone number and email address during account creation and need to verify the email address immediately.
The free client is restricted to connecting to a single server location in the US using the OpenVPN protocol. The volume is unlimited but the speed of the connection is limited to 300 Kbps/s automatically by the application.
The client itself is slim and does not display many options that you can configure. All that you can do is disable its autostart and auto-connection features. The connection info tab displays detailed information about the connection though which can be useful for advanced users.
Spotflux is offered as an ad-supported free service and paid premium services. What's interesting here is that you can download and use the desktop client without account registration so that you can test the service before you create an account.
The free version is limited to web connections though and it may also limit speed after the free three-day premium trial period.
Paid accounts:$5.99/y for mobile devices and $29.95 per year for up to five devices.
Terms of Service: http://www.spotflux.com/terms.php
TunnelBear is offered as a program that you need to install/run on your computer. It requires that you set up an account and confirm your email address before you can finalize the installation of the client by allowing it to install a new network adapter on the system.
The client itself uses a compact design that provides you with direct access to everything that is important. Here you can turn the VPN on or off, change the location you want to connect to, see your remaining bandwidth allocation for the month, and can open the options to configure it further.
You can turn on two interesting features in the options. Vigilant protects your connection until a connection to the Tunnelbear server has been established by blocking all http connections during that time.
TCP Override aims to improve the performance if the Internet connection is rather unreliable.
Paid accounts: unlimited traffic for $4.99 a month or $49.99 per year.
Terms of Service: https://www.tunnelbear.com/terms-of-service/
The service supports a wide variety of protocols, some of which allow you to create a new connection using the operating system's network manager so that you are not required to run a client on your system for that.
The free version of the service offers unlimited volume and traffic, but restricts the bandwidth to 200 Kbit/s automatically. Login and server information are provided on the company website.
Some users have reported that the service will disconnect free users automatically every 7 minutes.
Paid accounts: Start at $7.99 per month
Terms of Service: http://www.usaip.eu/en/index.php
The free service is special. It has no volume limitations and provides you with login information on its website that you can use to set up a connection to one of the servers listed there without account creation.
The service is financed by advertising that is displayed on the company website and by selling paid dedicated VPN servers (virtual) to customers.
Setup requires either the download of the free OpenVPN client or to setup connections using PPTP on the operating system instead. Step by Step guides are available for popular operating systems that walk users through the process.
Passwords are changed regularly by the service which is why users need to visit the website frequently to get the new password and modify the connection settings.
Paid Accounts: Dedicated VPN Server for $7.95 per month
Terms of Service: None
Your Freedom is a VPN Provider that is supporting OpenVPN and PPTP connections. It limits free accounts to 2 hours of usage and 64 kbit/s automatically, but has no other restrictions in regards to bandwidth or allowed traffic.
To get started, you need to register an account on the official website and either download a client from it as well or configure the server manually using network tools that the operating system provides you with.
The limitation to 64 kbps/s makes it less than ideal for anything but basic web surfing.
Paid Accounts: Start at €4 per month.
Terms of Service: http://www.your-freedom.net/index.php?id=aup
Here is a list of additional providers which we have not had time to review in depth.
Some services provide access to features that are similar to what VPN offers. This is a short list of these alternatives:
|CyberGhost||Germany||no limit, disconnect after 3h||Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Spain, Finland, France, Uk, Ireland, Italy, Luxenbourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Ukraine, US||Android, iOS||no||OpenVPN|
|Hotspot Shield||USA||750 MB/day||US||Android, iOS||unknown||unknown|
|OpenVPN||USA||100 MB / month||US, UK, Canada, Switzerland, Netherlands||Android, iOS||yes||OpenVPN|
|ProXPN||Netherlands||no limit, 300 Kbit/s||US||no||yes||OpenVPN|
|Tunnelbear||Canada||500 MB / month||US, UK, Canada, Germany, Japan, Australia, France, Netherlands||Android, iOS||no||OpenVPN|
|USAIP||Seychelles||no limit, 200 Kbit/s||Germany, Netherlands, US, Hungary, China, Luxenbourg and HongKong||yes||yes, 48 hours||PPTP, L2TP, OpenVPN, SSTP|
|VPNBook||unknown||no limit||US, UK, Romania||all devices supporting protocols||IP and time||OpenVPN, PPTP|
|Your Freedom||Germany||no limit, 64 kbit/s, 2 hours connection time||UK, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, Canada, US, HongKong, Sweden, Panama||Android||unknown||OpenVPN, PPTP, Proxy|
Quite a few services offer free VPN connections. While some finance their service through advertisement, others may limit free users in terms of connection period, bandwidth allocation or monthly traffic.
The majority of services are not usable for anything but light Internet surfing and maybe gaming. While there are some that are not as restricted, users who download a lot or watch media streams may want to consider signing up for a paid account to improve the overall experience.
Now You: Are you using a different free VPN provider? If so, feel free to share it with everyone in the comments below.Advertisement
Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.