The best free VPN list for 2023 and some you should definitely avoid
Are you looking for a free VPN to help protect your online privacy? There are a lot of duds on the market, so we’ve put together this guide to show you the best free VPNs on offer and which you should avoid.
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Paid VPN services tend to come with more bells and whistles than their free cousins – but that doesn’t mean that free VPNs aren’t worth checking out. In fact, trustworthy free services can give your digital privacy a massive boost by encrypting your traffic (and making it more difficult for snoopers to intercept). Free VPNs can also unblock sites, like social media services and news pages, to help you stay in touch with loved ones and world events. Best of all, you won’t have to commit to a lengthy, and potentially expensive, contract.
The best free VPN services
Below you’ll find the free VPN services we currently recommend. Be sure to keep scrolling if you’d like to learn more about any of these providers!
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It’s not easy to find a reliable free VPN, but trustworthy services are out there if you know where to look. The issue is that countless free VPN providers have flooded the market, enticing users with the promise of a high-quality service without paying a single cent! However, over the course of our research, we’ve found that it’s very rarely the case that a free VPN is reliable and of acceptable quality. In fact, when testing Android VPNs, we found that 40% of VPNs on the Play Store didn’t protect the user’s IP address.
To help you make a safer, more informed decision, ProPrivacy.com’s experts have put together this guide on the best free VPNs – and the worst.
Before we can recommend a free VPN service, we first make sure that it offers the following features:
- Properly implemented encryption
- A wide selection of servers around the world
- Good performance and speeds
- A respectable reputation
- A secure service without leaks
Only VPNs that meet the criteria listed above are eligible for making our best free VPN list. So, now you know what goes into a good free VPN service, let’s take a closer look at our top picks.
The best free VPNs to use in 2023
Here’s our hand-picked list of the best free VPN services that actually work. Each of the providers we’ve mentioned have been tested by our team on numerous occasions – so we can give you a real insight into their ease-of-use and reliability.
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Our methodology for finding the best free VPNs
Finding a reputable VPN provider is no easy task, and it’s especially difficult when choosing a trustworthy VPN when it’s free. This is because most free VPNs are ad-supported or have minimal features. In addition, free VPN apps are often riddled with malware, collecting your data and selling it to third parties.
To select the best free VPN, we have a set of criteria to ensure you have a secure and efficient experience while using them. Our criteria for finding the best free VPNs include:
- We look for VPN providers with robust security protocols, such as AES 256-bit encryption.
- Making sure that the VPN providers we select have an extensive server network so you can enjoy fast speeds and stable connections.
- We check to see if the VPN providers we recommend are compatible with popular operating systems and devices.
- Searching for VPNs that have user-friendly VPN apps with intuitive interfaces.
- We ensure the VPN does not collect or share any of your data.
- Testing the VPN connection speed to ensure you can stream and download content without any issues.
- We look for VPN providers that allow you to connect multiple devices simultaneously.
- Where possible, we find providers that offer 24/7 customer support in case you need help with anything.
Check out our testing process to learn more.
The fastest free VPN in 2023
We test VPN speeds on a regular basis to make sure that we’re recommending the fastest services to our readers. In this guide, we’ve selected the fastest free VPNs available in 2023!
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All the VPNs here are fast, but with a free service, your results may vary depending on which server you connect to. Free servers can also often be overloaded (due to an abundance of users), which leads to sluggish speeds. If you’re having issues with your VPN speeds, try connecting to another server if possible.
Alternatively, you may want to consider taking advantage of a VPN free trial to experience the premium service, without any restrictions.
Top-tip: Get a free premium VPN
Did you know you can experience ExpressVPN’s fully featured service without restrictions… for free!
If you’re finding free VPNs too restrictive, why not test ExpressVPN premium service? Simply purchase a subscription using the button below and take advantage of the absolutely risk-free money-back-guarantee. Enjoy the service for up to 30 days, and when you cancel, you will receive a complete refund!
[[post-object type=”gotolink” provider=”expressvpn” tag=”freecpc” class=”btn btn-md btn-primary”]]Visit ExpressVPN[[/post-object]]
Why are these the best free VPNs?
Our experts have thoroughly reviewed every single free VPN that they could get their hands on in order to curate the list above. The services we’ve recommended in this guide are all fully transparent about how they handle user data and provide the latest encryption standards that can be trusted to protect your privacy and hide your internet activity at all times. This is exactly what you want from a VPN, either free or premium, and why they’ve landed a place in our shortlist.
Check out the table below to see how our five favorite free VPN services compare with one another based on the attributes we consider when choosing them.
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For more information, check out our video:
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Are free VPNs safe?
There is definitely quite a bit of negative press surrounding VPN services. Most comparison sites strongly urge consumers to stay away from them. At ProPrivacy, we also used to discourage people from using free services (and we still recommend being extremely careful when picking a free VPN). That’s because there are a lot of terrible free VPNs out there that take advantage of their users’ data for their own gains. The reality is that about 95% of the free services available on the market are either completely useless or even dangerous.
Free VPNs that you should avoid
If you’re using one of ProPrivacy’s recommended free VPNs, you won’t need to worry about privacy risks or online security. The same cannot be said for every free VPN provider, unfortunately.
We scoured the privacy policies and terms of all the free providers we could get our hands on. During our research, we were utterly shocked at how some providers completely disregard user privacy and actively put users at significant risk.
To that end, here are some free VPNs that you should avoid at all costs.
|VPN||Why avoid?||Extra info|
|Hola||Can sell data to third parties* Shares emails with marketing partners. Sells traffic data to sister firm. Shared anonymized data to third parties.||Fraudulently steals & resells user bandwidth through sister company Luminati. DNS and WebRTC leaks detected.|
|Betternet||Can sell data to third parties.* Allows advertisers to cookie users’ browsers. Displays targeted advertising. Parent firm can access all data.||Lets advertisers track and log user data. IP Leak in the Chrome browser extension. Contains 14 tracking libraries in total (according to CSIRO report).|
|Psiphon||Can sell data to third parties.* Allows ad partners to track users. Displays targeted advertising.||Shares data with their advertising partners. Shares data with third-party affiliates and partners. Shares all data with its parent company.|
|HoxxVPN||Can sell data to third parties.* Isn’t a VPN (it’s a ShadowSocks proxy service). DNS and WebRTC leaks. Tracks user activities and works with authorities.||Keeps logs and sells them to third-party partners. Shares data with third-party affiliates and partners.|
|SuperVPN||Willing to disclose information to authorities. Reports of it being infected with malware. Tracks user activities and works with authorities.||Extensive access to users’ sensitive information. Stores session logs in the UK and US.|
|ArchieVPN||Reports of being heavily infested with malware.||Performs real-time analysis (claims this is for troubleshooting only).|
|Onavo Project||Can sell data to third parties.* Uses user info for advertising and marketing. Displays ads to users.||Belongs to Facebook. Shares and sells user data with third parties.|
|VPN by Apalon||Invasive app permissions. Shares data with third parties for marketing purposes.||Displays ads. In-app purchases.|
|Tuxler VPN||Can sell data to third parties*. Uses logs to target ads at users.||Shares user browsing data with advertising firms.|
|GO VPN||Can sell data to third parties*. Admits to using customer data to build out their database. Displays targeted ads through the platform.||Belongs to the Chinese firm Talking Data. Willing to sell usage logs to third parties and partners. Extremely invasive app permissions.|
|Hexatech||Can sell data to third parties*. Allows advertisers to track and log user data. Advertisers can access user data whenever they want.||Created by Betternet (belongs to a marketing firm). Displays ads to users.|
|TouchVPN||Can sell data to third parties*. Adds Cookies, Pixel Tags and Web Beacons to user browsers.||Shares anonymous data with third parties.|
|FinchVPN||Can sell data to third parties*. Reports of being heavily infested with malware.||N/A|
|Cross VPN||Reports of being heavily infested with malware.||N/A|
|VPN OneClick Free||Reports of being heavily infested with malware. Outdated PPTP encryption on Android.||Based in the UAE.|
|Flash Free VPN||Invasive app permissions.||Uses 11 third-party tracking libraries.|
|Fast Secure Payment VPN||Reports of being heavily infested with malware.||N/A|
|sFly Network Booster||Reports of being heavily infested with malware.||N/A|
|IP-Shield VPN||Contains third-party tracking software.||N/A|
|WiFi Protector VPN||Uses 5 tracking libraries.||N/A|
|TigerVPNs||Fraudulently steals and resells users bandwidth.||N/A|
|Private WiFi||Appears to have poor or no encryption.||N/A|
How does a VPN work?
A VPN app will connect your device (such as a PC, Mac, or smartphone) to a server run by the VPN provider. The data that travels between your device and the VPN server is encrypted – meaning nobody else can see it. All your data is routed through the VPN server, which acts as a gateway to the internet, and as a result, your real location is concealed and you can pretend to be elsewhere and browse the web in complete privacy!
If you’re new to VPNs, you can get up to speed quickly with our handy guides for beginners:
What does it mean when a VPN has Free VPN servers?
Some providers advertise connections to free VPN servers. This is to differentiate between the number of servers available on the premium (paid) plans and the free plan. Some VPNs that offer a free plan restrict access to free users to only a smaller selection of free servers. For all intents and purposes, however, a VPN with free servers is exactly the same as a “free VPN”.
[[post-object type=”accordion” question=”Can I get hacked through a free VPN?” answer=”If you use a shoddy free VPN that doesn’t take your privacy seriously, or actively puts your privacy at risk, then yes, you can easily get hacked through a free VPN. The free VPNs we recommend in this guide all offer excellent privacy features that can guarantee your privacy and keep your data safe and secure from hackers.” /]]
[[post-object type=”accordion” question=”Will a free VPN keep me safe on public Wi-Fi?” answer=”A high-quality and reliable free VPN can certainly keep you secure when using public Wi-Fi. The quality services we’ve recommended in our guide will provide all the security features and privacy measures you need to protect your data whilst connected to an unsecured public network. Second-rate free VPNs should be avoided at all costs on public Wi-Fi networks due to their lack of adequate security.” /]]
[[post-object type=”accordion” question=”Can I get a free VPN for Android or iPhone?” answer=”Absolutely! Each of our recommended free VPNs support <a href=’/vpn/comparison/android-vpns’>Android VPN apps</a> and <a href=’/vpn/comparison/best-iphone-vpns’>iOS apps</a>.” /]]
[[post-object type=”accordion” question=”Can I get a free VPN for Windows, Mac, or Linux?” answer=”You sure can. The free VPNs we’ve recommended have a <a href=’/vpn/comparison/vpn-for-windows’> Windows VPN client</a> and <a href=’/vpn/comparison/best-vpn-mac’>MacOS clients</a>. Additionally, some of our recommended providers also provide easy-to-follow setup guides to get your VPN working on Linux. So, if you’re after a free and functional <a href=’/vpn/comparison/best-linux-vpn’>Linux VPN</a> – this article has you covered.” /]]
[[post-object type=”accordion” question=”Can I use a free VPN for Torrenting?” answer=”It’s incredibly unlikely that you’ll be able to torrent with a free VPN. In fact, a lot of free services will actually restrict peer-to-peer torrenting – they don’t want their servers to slow to a crawl and cause congestion for other users! Free VPN servers also tend to be too slow to torrent. However, it’s possible to get a cheap <a href=’/vpn/comparison/best-vpn-torrenting’>P2P VPN</a>.” /]]
[[post-object type=”accordion” question=”Can I use a free VPN for unblocking Netflix and other streaming sites?” answer=”Unfortunately, no. Free VPNs simply lack the ability to <a href=’/vpn/comparison/unblock-netflix-vpn’>unblock netflix</a> and other streaming sites. What’s worse, a free VPN won’t have the kind of speeds you need to stream content reliably, either. If this is your goal, we would recommend using a <a href=’/vpn/comparison/best-cheap-vpn-service’>cheap VPN service</a> instead. Just make sure it works with your desired streaming service.” /]]
[[post-object type=”accordion” question=”Free VPN vs proxy” answer=”You simply won’t get the same level of privacy and security with a proxy as you would with a VPN. Proxy users might be able to unblock restricted content, but they’ll be missing solid digital privacy.” /]]
[[post-object type=”accordion” question=”Can free VPNs be dangerous?” answer=”Yes, free VPNs can be dangerous. Statistically speaking, dangerous VPNs are much more frequent among free service providers, rather than those you have to pay for. The logic behind this is simple – most paid VPNs are renowned companies, with established reputations and business models. In other words, you can see where their money is coming from, as you’re also paying for their services.
Free VPNs, on the other hand, make you question their earning strategies – and those strategies often involve unethical or malicious moves. And so we have many free VPNs selling their users’ data or spreading malware. Of course, there are exceptions, like the freemium services we recommended above. But, yes, one has to be very cautious when choosing a free VPN.” /]]
[[post-object type=”accordion” question=”Are there any free unlimited VPNs?” answer=”Unlimited free VPNs are very rare and even those that promote unlimited service often come with covert limitations. For example, we can say that <a href=’/vpn/review/atlasvpn’>AtlasVPN</a> and <a href=’/vpn/review/hotspotshield’>Hotspod Shield</a> support unlimited VPN traffic as they do not impose data caps. Still, compared to some premium VPNs, or even some <a href=’/vpn/comparison/best-cheap-vpn-service’>cheap ones</a>, they are much slower and have fewer applications – due to the limited number of free servers, congestion, and otherwise limited privacy features which are supposed to help you bypass geo-blocks.” /]]
Now that you’re armed with all the information you need about free VPNs, let’s review our top picks:
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