If you care about online privacy and security, or you want to access geo-restricted content, you’ve probably heard of VPNs. A VPN, short for Virtual Private Network, is a tool that allows you to encrypt your internet connection and reroute it through a remote server in a different location. This makes it harder for third parties to track your online activities, and it also enables you to bypass regional blocks and firewalls.
However, not all VPNs are created equal, and many come with a price tag. If you’re on a tight budget or you don’t want to commit to a long-term subscription, you might wonder if there is a free VPN available. The short answer is yes, there are free VPN services out there, but not all of them are worth using. In this article, we’ll explore the top free VPN services, their benefits and limitations, and how to choose the right one for your needs.
Top 5 Free VPN Services in 2021
Here are some of the best free VPN services available in 2021:
- ProtonVPN: ProtonVPN offers unlimited bandwidth and data on its free plan, as well as strong security features like AES-256 encryption and Perfect Forward Secrecy. However, its speed is not the fastest, and it only has servers in 3 countries.
- Windscribe: Windscribe offers up to 10GB of data per month for free, and it has a user-friendly interface and strong privacy features like a no-logs policy and ad blocking. However, its speed can be inconsistent, and it doesn’t unblock all streaming platforms.
- TunnelBear: TunnelBear has a cute and playful design, and it offers up to 500MB of data per month for free. It also has GhostBear, a feature that helps bypass VPN blocks. However, its speed and server network are limited, and it logs some user data.
- Hotspot Shield: Hotspot Shield has a free plan that offers 500MB of data per day, as well as fast connection speeds and support for all major platforms. It also has a malware blocker and a clean interface. However, it injects ads into your browsing and logs some user data.
- Hola VPN: Hola VPN has a completely free plan that allows you to use its peer-to-peer network to access geoblocked content. However, it has poor security and privacy practices, and it might expose your IP address to other users.
Overall, if you’re just looking for a basic VPN that can help protect your online activities, ProtonVPN and Windscribe are the best options. If you want a more user-friendly VPN that can unblock some streaming platforms, Hotspot Shield might be a good choice. However, if you want a VPN that doesn’t log any user data and has strong encryption, you might need to go for a paid VPN service.
Free VPN vs. Paid VPN – Which One Should You Choose?
Free VPNs can be great for casual users who want to try out a VPN service or have minimal needs. However, they come with some drawbacks that might impede your online experience. For instance, free VPNs often have slower speeds, fewer server locations, and more advertising.
If you’re a power user who needs a VPN for more advanced purposes, such as online gaming, torrenting, or international business, you might want to consider a paid VPN service. Paid VPNs typically offer more advanced features and higher speeds, as well as better customer support and security. They also have more reliable access to streaming platforms like Netflix and HBO.
That being said, not all paid VPNs are worth the money. You’ll need to research and compare different VPN services to find the one that fits your budget, needs, and expectations.
Is There Such a Thing as a Completely Free VPN?
Some VPN services claim to be completely free and don’t require any credit card information or personal details. However, these services often come with some limitations and downsides.
For example, some completely free VPNs might have a low server count, slow speeds, or intrusive ads. Others might log your online activities and sell them to third parties. Some might even infect your device with malware or spyware.
Best Free VPN Services for Streaming
If you’re a video enthusiast and want to stream your favorite shows or movies online, you might need a VPN that can unblock the regional restrictions and access different libraries of content. Here are some of the best free VPNs for streaming:
- ProtonVPN: ProtonVPN can unblock most streaming platforms, including Netflix and Hulu, but its speed can be slow.
- Windscribe: Windscribe can unblock some streaming platforms, but it might not work with all of them.
- Hotspot Shield: Hotspot Shield can unblock some streaming platforms, but it injects ads into your browsing.
- Opera: Opera has a free built-in VPN that can unblock some streaming platforms, but it might not work with all of them.
Keep in mind that even if you use a VPN for streaming, your video quality might suffer due to lower speeds or server location. To optimize your streaming experience, try to choose a free VPN that is based in a nearby location, has high speed ratings, and offers unlimited bandwidth.
The Hidden Dangers of Using Free VPN Services
While free VPN services can be convenient and cost-effective, they also come with some hidden dangers that you should be aware of. Here are some of the risks and challenges of using free VPNs:
- Security risks: Some free VPNs might not have strong encryption protocols, leaving your data vulnerable to cyber attacks and malware. They might also log your online activities and sell them to advertisers or hackers.
- Breaches of privacy: Some free VPNs might track your location, IPs, or browsing history, which can compromise your anonymity and expose you to surveillance or censorship.
- Inconsistent performance: Some free VPNs might have slow speeds, unreliable connections, or limited server locations, making your online experience frustrating and ineffective.
To avoid these dangers, make sure to choose a VPN service that has a strict no-logs policy, strong encryption, and trusted security certifications. Also, consider using additional privacy protection features like antivirus software, ad blockers, or firewalls.
How to Get a Free VPN within Minutes
If you want to try a free VPN service right now, here are some quick and easy steps to follow:
- Go to a reputable VPN provider’s website or app store.
- Select the free plan or use the free trial option.
- Download and install the VPN client on your device.
- Create a user account or sign in with your existing credentials.
- Connect to a server and start using the internet with a VPN.
Keep in mind that not all free VPNs are created equal, and you’ll need to do some research and comparison to find the right one for your needs. Some reliable sources for free VPNs include limited trials, browser extensions, or free VPN apps.
In conclusion, a free VPN can be a great tool for protecting your online privacy and accessing censored content. However, not all free VPNs are trustworthy or effective, and some can even pose security risks or privacy breaches. Therefore, if you’re a heavy internet user with more advanced needs, you might want to consider investing in a paid VPN service that can offer you more features and support.
Before choosing a free VPN, make sure to read user reviews, security certifications, and privacy policies. Also, keep in mind that even the best free VPNs might have some limitations or downsides, such as slower speeds, fewer server locations, or intrusive ads. Therefore, choose a VPN service that can balance your budget, needs, and expectations, and stay safe online.