Best Free VPN | 2020 Free VPN Reviews

The workforce of 2020 is a mobile one, and many people across the country are accessing their email, streaming videos, and shopping online in a variety of locations. If you’re frequently on a public network, you may be concerned about how well your data are encrypted and what various services are doing with it. Enter the role of the virtual private network, or VPN. A VPN acts as a protective tunnel, safeguarding your documents and files in a secure pipe like a Secret Service agent assigned to your data. But can a free VPN still be safe? Our guide explains the pros and cons of free VPNs. We also list the best free VPN services and top-rated cheap VPNs, sourcing our recommendations from our rating of the Best VPNs of 2020.

Tunnelbear

This guide on the best free VPNs contains the following sections:

Saving money is important, but when it comes to something as valuable as your information, so is using a reputable company. To find the best free VPN services, we started with our rating of the Best VPN Services of 2020. The following companies offer a free version, and though the plans may have some limitations, these free services also come with some solid security features.

Windscribe

Windscribe

Windscribe

Best Free VPN

Monthly Cost
$9.00
# of IP Addresses
Varies
Server Count
Varies
Devices Supported
Unlimited

Pros:

  • Includes ad-blocking software on free plan

  • No-logging policy for activity, your assigned IP address or metadata except for bandwidth usage

  • Unlimited devices at free plan level

Cons:

  • For the free service, list of blocked sites includes malware only

  • Offers server access from 10 countries vs. 62 for paid services

Like the others on our list, Windscribe offers a kill switch. The free service from Windscribe comes with double VPN and stealth mode options, which give you extra levels of security.

TunnelBear

TunnelBear

TunnelBear
Monthly Cost
$9.99
# of IP Addresses
Varies
Server Count
6,000+
Devices Supported
5

Pros:

  • A great match for casual users

  • User-friendly interface at all levels

  • Amusing bear sounds (you can turn these off if you choose)

Cons:

  • Only 500 MB of secure browsing included at free level

  • Does not offer a static IP address

Does not offer a static IP address. TunnelBear uses recognized security experts to inspect and test its entire 6000-plus server infrastructure in 23 locations, plus its website and apps, for security flaws. It comes with 24/7 tech support and a kill switch.

ProtonVPN

ProtonVPN

ProtonVPN
Monthly Cost
$5.00
# of IP Addresses
632
Server Count
777
Devices Supported
10

Pros:

  • No activity logging for any plan

Cons:

  • Access to servers in only three countries

  • High connection speeds available only for paid services

  • Secure Core and Tor servers only available for upper-level paid packages

  • No 24/7 customer support at any level

ProtonVPN, based in Switzerland, offers a variety of service tiers. They start with a no-advertisement free service for three countries and one device, and top out at ten maximum devices and the highest speeds the service has to offer. ProtonVPN touts its protection through Swiss privacy laws; a kill switch, which automatically disconnects you from the internet if your VPN connection is interrupted until it’s restored, hiding your IP address from prying eyes and protecting your network; strong encryption; no activity logging; and forward secrecy. This last feature ensures that all transactions sent over the internet are secure by keeping a hacker from accessing data from a group of transactions even if they’re able to hack the encryption for a single transaction. ProtonVPN’s service is a dream for streamers, as you can access Hulu, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, and more.

Almost all of the VPN services on our list offer a money back guarantee. These give you anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to try out the service and get your money back if you don’t like it. Only one has a true free trial (PrivateVPN). Below is a list of nine services from our rating of the Best VPNs with excellent money back guarantee policies.

CyberGhost

CyberGhost
Monthly Cost
$12.99
# of IP Addresses
6,200+
Server Count
6,100+
Devices Supported
7

CyberGhost: In our comparison, CyberGhost has the longest money back guarantee at 45 days, though you have to sign up for one of its annual plans to get it. These cost $71.88 for a one-year subscription (which equals $5.99 a month) and $99 for three-year plan (the equivalent of $2.75 a month). If you instead choose the monthly plan, you get a 14-day guarantee and pay $12.99/month. Based in Romania, CyberGhost includes a kill switch, 24/7 tech support, and a strict no-logs policy.

ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN

Best Overall VPN

Monthly Cost
$12.95
# of IP Addresses
Varies
Server Count
3,000+
Devices Supported
5+

ExpressVPN: The British Virgin Islands hosts ExpressVPN. It offers a money back guarantee, which is common among VPN services. You can choose a month-to-month subscription starting at $12.95/month or a six-month plan that costs $59.95 (the equivalent of $9.99/month). With P2P functionality, a kill switch, and 24/7 tech support, this is a strong contender. Be aware that while ExpressVPN does not store your activity logs, it does collect basic information about use of its services in order to identify and address technical issues.

PrivateVPN

PrivateVPN

Best Month-to-Month Plan

Monthly Cost
$7.67
# of IP Addresses
7,200+
Server Count
100
Devices Supported
6

PrivateVPN: The Sweden-based PrivateVPN is one of the few services that has a free trial, giving you seven days to try its VPN before you have to send in a payment. Additionally, it offers a 30-day money back guarantee and a month-to-month plan for $7.67. Instead, you may opt for the $14.63 three-month plan (equivalent to $4.88 per month). The annual plan costs $49.68 and comes with a free month, which breaks down to $3.82 a month. Plans include a kill switch, full 24/7 tech service, and support for up to six devices.

NordVPN

NordVPN

Best Advanced Privacy Features

Monthly Cost
$11.95
# of IP Addresses
5,800+
Server Count
5,800+
Devices Supported
6

NordVPN: Based in Panama, NordVPN offers a 30-day money back guarantee and month-to-month plans starting at $11.95. If you sign up for one of its annual or multiyear plans, you’ll pay the equivalent of $6.99 a month for a one-year plan, $4.99/month for a two-year plan, and $3.49/month for a three-year plan. NordVPN has a strict no-logging policy, a kill switch, and 24/7 tech support. It unblocks Instagram, Roku, Hulu, Kodi, YouTube, and Facebook, among other services. You can also add a static IP for an extra $70.

Private Internet Access

Private Internet Access

Best Annual Plan

Monthly Cost
$9.95
# of IP Addresses
Varies
Server Count
3,380+
Devices Supported
1-9

Private Internet Access: Private Internet Access offers a 30-day money back guarantee. Plan choices include a month-to-month subscription at $9.95, or you can choose to be billed every six months for $35.95 (which equals $5.99/month). Its best value is the annual plan, which costs only a few dollars more than the six-month plan at $39.95. Features include an ad blocker along with protection against trackers and malware. A SOCKS5 proxy is included and changes your IP address for an extra layer of security.

ProtonVPN

ProtonVPN
Monthly Cost
$5.00
# of IP Addresses
632
Server Count
777
Devices Supported
10

ProtonVPN: ProtonVPN offers one of the most affordable plans, with prices starting $5/month for a basic subscription on a month-to-month basis. It has two other plans at $10 and $30 per month that increase your device count [from what to what?] and add more security features. Signing up for a one- or two-year plan discounts your rate, and you get 30 days to try the service risk free. This Switzerland-based service has a kill switch, strong encryption, and allows for P2P file sharing.

Surfshark

Surfshark
Monthly Cost
$11.95
# of IP Addresses
1,024+
Server Count
1,040+
Devices Supported
Unlimited

Surfshark: Surfshark plans also come with a 30-day money back guarantee. It costs $11.95/month for a monthly plan, $5.99/month for a yearly plan (billed at $71.88), or $1.99/month for a two-year plan (billed at $47.76). The service includes unlimited devices, 24/7 support, ad blockers, and 15 Netflix libraries.

IPVanish

IPVanish
Monthly Cost
$11.99
# of IP Addresses
40,000+
Server Count
1,400+
Devices Supported
10

IPVanish: While IPVanish has a no-logging policy (they don’t keep records of any connection, traffic, or activity data), it offers a relatively short seven-day free trial. Still, this service is worth a try, especially if you are a cord cutter. It supports streaming with Sling TV, Amazon Fire TV Stick, Spotify, YouTube, and Kodi. Its month-to-month plan costs $11.99, and its one-year plan costs $39 (the equivalent of $3.25 a month).

Windscribe

Windscribe

Best Free VPN

Monthly Cost
$9.00
# of IP Addresses
Varies
Server Count
Varies
Devices Supported
Unlimited

Windscribe: The Canadian-based Windscribe has the shortest money back guarantee in our comparison, giving you only three days to change your mind. However, this is also one of the few VPN services in our ratings that has a free plan, so you can sample a slimmed-down version of its service for as long as you like. If you want to upgrade, you’ll pay $9 for the monthly plan or $49 for the yearly plan. Windscribe includes a robust number of features even at the free level, like ad blocking, no logging, and protection for an unlimited number of devices.

If you’re willing to spend a little to get a lot, take a look at services that offer the security, encryption, and coverage you may want at a low price. This list includes three companies from our Best VPN rating that have affordable month-to-month prices.

ProtonVPN

ProtonVPN
Monthly Cost
$5.00
# of IP Addresses
632
Server Count
777
Devices Supported
10

ProtonVPN: Straightforward and streamlined, ProtonVPN’s paid service starts at $5/month for a basic month-to-month plan. This is the least expensive monthly plan in our comparison. The next level up is the Plus plan starting at $10/month, and at the top of the line is the Visionary plan at $30/month. Discounts are available if you pay upfront for a one-year plan. In the case of ProtonVPN, each rung of the ladder adds devices and security levels. The more expensive levels feature protection for 10 devices, Tor servers, secure streaming, and the service’s Secure Core, which Proton VPN says will “route your traffic through privacy-friendly countries to mitigate sophisticated attacks”. On the plus side, even the basic level includes the highest network speeds.

PrivateVPN

PrivateVPN

Best Month-to-Month Plan

Monthly Cost
$7.67
# of IP Addresses
7,200+
Server Count
100
Devices Supported
6

PrivateVPN: A month-to-month plan with PrivateVPN starts at $7.67, making this the second most affordable plan in our comparison. The annual plan offers the best value.. It costs $49.68 upfront and comes with an extra month free, which breaks down to $3.82 per month. Based in Sweden, PrivateVPN is a great choice if you want streaming on platforms like Netflix, and it has a robust offering of VPN protocols.

TunnelBear

TunnelBear
Monthly Cost
$9.99
# of IP Addresses
Varies
Server Count
6,000+
Devices Supported
5

TunnelBear: While this service offers a number of features at no charge, TunnelBear’s free option limits you to a relatively small 500 MB of traffic per month. If you’re not interested in a long-term relationship, TunnelBear offers a monthly plan for $9.99. Though it doesn’t have a money back guarantee, the company does say it considers refunds on a case-by-case basis, but notes that cancellation of service does not automatically trigger a refund. With that in mind, if you want to take TunnelBear for a test drive, the $9.99 option might be a good place to start. The best value is the $120 three-year Unlimited plan, which comes out to an outstanding $3.33 per month. With any of its paid plans, you get protection for five devices, unlimited data, and top-notch 256-bit AES encryption.

Most people value their privacy.. And yet, so much of our personal information is available on the internet, from photos we post on social media to our address and family names. It seems impossible to keep all of the details of our lives away from prying eyes. In fact, data giant Pew Research Center found in a survey that a majority of Americans report being concerned about online privacy and the ways their data are used by companies or the government. Many also feel they have little or no control over how personal information is used.

When using public Wi-Fi, most people understand that their data are at risk. Some are happy to take the risk, chalking it up to the cost of doing business online. Others prefer to use a VPN to secure their data through a VIP entrance, bounding it from safe house to safe house much like you might imagine an action-adventure hero staying away from the bad guys.

Once you’ve decided to use a VPN, the next question is: which one? You’ll have a myriad of choices that cost anything from zero to $100 or more per year. Is a budget-friendly VPN service okay to use, or do you need to pay to ensure that your information is adequately protected? The answer lies in the extent of your privacy and security needs. A variety of other factors will also influence your choice of VPN, like whether the streaming services you use are compatible, how many simultaneous connections you need, how comfortable you are with the countries in which a particular VPN’s server network is located, and how fast you want your internet connection to be.

Free VPNs often use slower speeds, and data limits are common with these plans. However, there are even more important reasons to avoid some VPNs. The worst install trackers or insidious malware on your devices. Some cut corners when it comes to the quality of data encryption. Others make money by selling your personal data to advertisers. If you’re considering a free VPN that isn’t on our list, carefully inspect that company’s privacy policies and security features. If you can’t find the information you need, you might want to use a different company.

Browsing the web doesn’t have to be fraught with anxiety when you have a trustworthy VPN service. Whether you choose a free VPN or a paid service, knowing what security features to consider will help you make a decision.

For instance, all of the free VPN services on our list have a no-logging policy. These VPNs won’t store records with your actual IP address or your online activities. Even if a court order required it to do so, a VPN provider with a no-logging policy would be unable to turn over your records because it hasn’t stored any. Note that data collection and retention laws of the country the VPN calls home may require some logging, so it’s important to understand its country of jurisdiction.

As you choose the right free VPN service for you, consider what kinds of online activities you engage in most. Are you streaming video? Accessing sites with sensitive personal data? Sending or retrieving large files? Those activities require a VPN with a faster network.. You’ll also want to ensure the VPN’s data allowance and geo-restrictions match your business and/or personal requirements.

The array of options can be dizzying, and the terminology confusing. For a better understanding of how a VPN works and an explanation of important related words, see our VPN info guide.

A free VPN can be quite safe, but not every free VPN is trustworthy. One of the best ways to determine if a free VPN provider is safe and honorable is to only use one that is recommended by a knowledgeable, unbiased source.

There are thousands of free VPNs – new ones pop up frequently – but the vast majority have major drawbacks you’ll want to avoid. Some will install malware or spyware on your device. Most rely on advertising to make money, so you may be trading your security and personal data for a free product. If you’re using a VPN to protect yourself from hackers and malware, be sure that the service you signed up for is not going to do just the opposite. The most difficult part for consumers is that disreputable companies aren’t upfront about these policies. Heed the old adage: if it’s too good to be true, be suspicious.

Within the throng of dishonest services, there are a few good free VPN services that you can trust. TunnelBear, for instance, was acquired in 2018 by McAfee, an American cybersecurity company; that means it is required to comply with U.S. security and privacy laws. Windscribe is based in Canada but has servers in the U.S (picking a server that’s geographically close to you can ensure a faster connection). Its free version gives you 10 GB of data for unlimited connections. This service also supports perfect forward secrecy, which prevents a hacker from being able to access data from a group of transactions even if they’re able to hack the encryption for a single transaction.

The free version of ProtonVPN aligns nicely with its paid version, both of which have a strict no-logging policy (users can sign up with only their email address). Its headquarters are in Switzerland, a country known for its security and privacy laws. ProtonVPN uses hardened data centers, which are designed to withstand a natural disaster or other catastrophe.

The main differences between a VPN’s free and paid services often come down to speed and access. The paid plans offer more servers at your disposal and fewer limits on your data connection.

We explain what matters most when it comes to VPNs by sourcing experts and professional reviewers. We also provide an unbiased evaluation of VPN services. Our goal is to empower consumers with the information and tools they need to make informed decisions. More information about our 360 Reviews methodology for evaluating VPN services is available here.

Learn More

Learn more about using a streaming service and find the best one for you with our Streaming Services guide. You can also find more information on VPNs from our set of extensive guides and ratings:

U.S. News 360 Reviews takes an unbiased approach to our recommendations. When you use our links to buy products, we may earn a commission but that in no way affects our editorial independence.

— to www.usnews.com

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