The best free VPN in 2024

Trusted VPN testing:

The words "best free VPN" next to a range of devices running different VPN apps.

(Image credit: Future)

Every year, each of our VPN experts spends around 3,000 hours testing VPN apps and services. That includes over 28,000 speed tests, 2,200 streaming tests, and hundreds of VPN reviews.

A free VPN is a great way to protect your devices if you can't afford a premium service. But don't think that just because a VPN is free that it's safe. Most apps on the market offer sub-par protection and harvest your data to sell on to marketing agencies.

With hundreds of apps to pick from—and almost all of them claiming to be totally unlimited—even the best free VPN services come with limitations, and are designed to be a taste of the real thing to convince you to upgrade.

Before we take a deeper look into the best free VPNs in 2024, it's important to understand why only a handful of services like Privado VPN, Proton VPN, and Windscribe offer free VPNs that you can trust.

Why I don't always recommend a free VPN

Not all VPNs are created equal, and that is even more so when it comes to a free service. Even the best free VPNs come with restrictions, and are designed to give you a glimpse of the full service so you'll consider upgrading to get the full functionality.

Because of this, these services often lock features behind paywalls, and massively reduce the number of locations you can access with a free plan. On top of that, most services won't invest in rotating IP addresses for free servers, and that means they're usually useless if you want to unblock content online.

In short, most free VPNs just can't do what a premium VPN can—but they're not supposed to. Even a decent cheap VPN will give you more than most free services (despite their claims). A free VPN is designed to give you the most basic level of protection—everything else is a bonus.

The three best paid VPNs in 2024

Paid VPNs offer so much more than their free counterparts. If you want to get the best VPN services for free, take advantage of money-back guarantees and see how they compare with the top free options.

1. The best VPN overall: NordVPN
NordVPN has finally taken the crown as the best VPN on the market thanks to its amazing array of features, excellent streaming site unblocking, and super-fast speeds. See for yourself why this is my number one VPN and take advantage of its 30-day money-back guarantee

1. The best VPN overall: NordVPN
NordVPN has finally taken the crown as the best VPN on the market thanks to its amazing array of features, excellent streaming site unblocking, and super-fast speeds. See for yourself why this is my number one VPN and take advantage of its 30-day money-back guarantee.

2. The best VPN for beginners: ExpressVPN
ExpressVPN automates every process that most other apps would make you do manually, ensuring the fastest, safest connection possible every time. Get a second month of protection for free and see how it compares to NordVPN with a 30-day money-back guarantee

2. The best VPN for beginners: ExpressVPN
ExpressVPN automates every process that most other apps would make you do manually, ensuring the fastest, safest connection possible every time. Get a second month of protection for free and see how it compares to NordVPN with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

3. The best budget VPN: Surfsharkjust $2.29 per month30-day money-back guarantee

3. The best budget VPN: Surfshark
Surfshark offers some of the most advanced privacy tools for some of the lowest prices in the industry. Coming in at just $2.29 per month, you get a service that genuinely rivals NordVPN and ExpressVPN, for just a fraction of the price. It even comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can get a third month of free premium VPN protection, all without risking a penny.

Recent updates

After my latest VPN tests, I've removed TunnelBear as I no longer recommend it as a free service—compared to the other options out there, it's just not worth using. I've also taken AtlasVPN off of the list as the service shuts down, transferring its users over to NordVPN.

The best free VPN services in 2024

Let's deep-dive into my top free VPN picks for today.

PrivadoVPN Free VPN running on various devices

(Image credit: PrivadoVPN)

1. PrivadoVPN Free

The best free VPN—it even unblocks Netflix and iPlayer

Available on: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, and Linux | Data limit: 10 GB at full speed, then unlimited via a single 1 Mbps location | Connections: 1 | Server locations: 13 | Countries: 10 | 24/7 live chat support: Website and email

Unblocks US Netflix, Disney Plus, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer 
10 GB full-speed data a month, plus unlimited low-speed traffic 
Super-fast speeds
Plenty of customization
Easy-to-use apps
Some features are locked behind the premium service
Subscribe if:

✔️ You want a free Netflix VPN: PrivadoVPN is one of the only free providers that can reliably unblock Netflix.

✔️ You need a fast free VPN: WireGuard encryption is accessible on PrivadoVPN's free plan, which means you get fantastic speeds no matter what.

✔️ You want premium features: most services block features behind a paywall, but not PrivadoVPN. Split tunneling, auto-connect, and kill switch functionality are included as standard.

Don't subscribe if:

❌ You need totally unlimited data: PrivadoVPN offers unparalleled performance, but only for 10 GB. After that, your speeds are seriously restricted.

❌ You want a Linux app: Linux installations only operate a command-line interface. If you need a graphical user interface (GUI), I recommend ProtonVPN.

Bottom line ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

🔒 PrivadoVPN Free is an excellent service with unblocking capabilities that blow even some premium competition out of the water. Try it for yourself and see why it's my top free VPN in 2024.

Want to know more?

Check out our in-depth PrivadoVPN review for a closer look at the service, and see why it's my top free VPN pick for 2024.

PrivadoVPN Free has been nipping at Proton's heels for a long time, and with recent updates, it's finally de-throned the long-standing Swiss champion. With a dedicated geoblocking team, it's one of few VPNs that can reliably unblock popular streaming services like Netflix, Disney+, and BBC iPlayer—most paid services can't say that.

I also love the fact that, contrary to many other freebies on the market, Privado's free option offers plenty of customization and security features. These include a kill switch and always-on VPN to protect your data at all times and cut your internet use if your VPN connection drops.

The free platform even offers split-tunneling, so you can access local services while streaming your favorite shows abroad. You can even control your encryption protocol, and switch to WireGuard for a faster, more secure VPN experience. 

Try PrivadoVPN: the best free VPN

With its 900 Mbps average download speeds, PrivadoVPN's free servers are just as fast as its paid-for ones. This knocks Proton VPN's free servers to the curb, pulling in only 520 Mbps. The higher server count also means that PrivadoVPN's servers are less likely to become congested, too.

However, if the data tap runs dry, you then get unlimited data via its "over-quota" mode, where you'll be placed on a speed-restricted server offering only 1 Mbps. While this might seem slow, it's still plenty for day-to-day internet use, and most users won't likely need more than 10 GB every month. In a recent discussion with Privado's engineers, they revealed the majority of its free subscribers only use around 4 GB of data per month.

PrivadoVPN is one of the only VPN providers to handle its own bandwidth and transit routes. This means you get fantastic speeds and almost no server congestion—it's a free service with a truly premium feel. 

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PrivadoVPN test results:
AttributesNotesRating
DesignModern and uncluttered, with a tasteful color scheme⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Ease of useIntuitive app with simple implementation means it's perfect for beginners⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
PerformanceThe fastest free VPN service⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
UnblockingA dedicated geo-unblocking team that doesn't just work for the paying customers⭐⭐⭐⭐
Security and privacyRobust security on paper, but no independent audit⭐⭐⭐⭐
Customer supportSupport staff are friendly, but the site could do with more content⭐⭐⭐⭐

Proton VPN interface for mobile and desktop VPN apps

(Image credit: Proton VPN)

2. Proton VPN Free

Unlimited data allowance and advocates for digital privacy

Available on: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, and Linux | Data limit: Unlimited | Connections: 1 | Countries: 1 | Support: Website, email

Unlimited data
Fast servers
Feature-packed open-sourced and audited apps 
Reliable kill switch
No choice over server locations
Subscribe if:

✔️ You want an unlimited free VPN: unlike most free providers, Proton VPN doesn't cap data usage on its free plan.

✔️ You want a free open-source VPN: Proton VPN is proudly open-source, meaning anyone can audit and verify its claims.

✔️ You want a free Linux VPN: Proton VPN offers free installation on Linux and even comes with a graphical user interface (GUI).

Don't subscribe if:

 You want to choose your location: ProtonVPN no longer lets you choose where you connect to. If you want to pick your server location, I recommend PrivadoVPN or Windscribe.

❌ You want a free torrenting VPN: if you want access to Proton VPN's P2P servers, you'll need to upgrade to the premium version. We'd recommend PrivadoVPN instead.

Bottom line ⭐⭐⭐⭐½

🔒 Proton VPN is a well-known brand with a history of fighting for digital privacy and internet freedom. While it's recently been knocked off of its throne, it's still an absolutely fantastic service.

Want to know more?

Check out our in-depth Proton VPN review for a closer look at one of the most popular free VPNs in the industry.

Proton VPN Free used to top my free VPN charts, thanks to its mix of features, power, and app quality. While it may have lost its place, it's still a remarkable service that doesn't pile on the limits and restrictions to nag you into upgrading. This is a free VPN you could use long-term.

For starters, users can use their software as long as they want as Proton comes with no data limits. That's a big plus in a market where almost all other free VPNs might allow you 500 MB to 10 GB a month at most. This also ultimately translates into better privacy as you don't have to choose where you use the VPN when data's running low. If you feel there's a risk, or you're unsure, then just get connected—Proton VPN Free is always available.

Proton hasn't punished free users by omitting key features, either. Some free providers drop the kill switch, WireGuard, and maybe even support, but Proton VPN Free has all the core privacy features you need to stay safe online.

Download this great VPN directly from the Proton website

There are still significant limits, however, as you can no longer choose where you connect to on Proton VPN's free plan. Although you can install Proton VPN on as many devices as you like, you can only connect one at a time. There's no access to Proton VPN's specialist streaming servers, no P2P support, or bonus extras such as ad and malware-blocking—to use them, you'll have to upgrade to a premium plan.

None of this prevents Proton VPN Free from doing its central job, though, and much better than most of the competition. Its well-engineered, open-source, and audited apps are easy to use, but also stuffed with useful tweaks, tools, and technologies. 

The service previously topped my free VPN speed charts but has since been knocked off of its pillar by Privado and Windscribe. Speeds of 520 Mbps are nothing to scoff at, as some premium providers aren't that fast. However, the limited number of services comes with a high potential for congestion, so those speeds may not always be available.

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Proton VPN test results:
AttributesNotesRating
DesignDark and edgy with plenty of flair⭐⭐⭐⭐
Ease of useNot the simplest design, but still fairly intuitive⭐⭐⭐
PerformanceA super-fast service, but with a small risk of congestion⭐⭐⭐⭐
UnblockingDedicated Deutsche Welle servers but few locations to choose from otherwise⭐⭐⭐⭐
Security and privacyOpen-source, audited, and reliable⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Customer supportLots of on-site support and excellent agents⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Windscribe VPN app showing server location search function

(Image credit: Windscribe)

3. Windscribe Free

Powerful and secure with a generous data cap

Available on: Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS | Data limit: 10 GB | Connections: Unlimited | Server locations: 14 | Countries: 11 | Support: Website, email

Plenty of advanced features
Unlimited simultaneous connections
Unblocks UK Netflix, BBC iPlayer
Fast speeds
Only 10 GB of data
Subscribe if:

✔️ You want unlimited simultaneous connections: Windscribe doesn't care how many devices you use, but it does give you a 10 GB data limit.

✔️ You want plenty of server locations: 14 server locations is more than any other free VPN service I recommend.

Don't subscribe if:

❌ You need more than 10 GB of data: 10 GB doesn't go as far as it used to, and if you use it to stream or torrent, it'll run out quickly. If you need a truly unlimited service, I would recommend Proton VPN instead.

Bottom line ⭐⭐⭐⭐

🔒 Windscribe offers plenty of server locations and reliable service, but lacks the speed and quality of PrivadoVPN and Proton VPN.

Want to know more?

Check out our in-depth Windscribe free VPN review for a closer look at this popular free service.

Windscribe Free VPN is a quality Canadian service whose appealing mix of features more than justifies its place in the top three.

The data allowance is a little more restricted than my two top VPNs, at a strict 10 GB a month. That's enough to protect a lot of online activity, though, and Windscribe Free VPN has its own plus point as compensation. Yet, while most free plans restrict you to only one connection, Windscribe has no limits. This means you can install and use the software on as many devices simultaneously as you need.

The network is another highlight, with Windscribe Free VPN users able to choose from 14 locations across 11 countries. That beats PrivadoVPN Free (10 countries), Proton VPN (3 countries), and many others.

Put Windscribe to the test for free

Windscribe's premium service was one of the few VPNs that maxed out the speed testing line in my latest round of tests. Thankfully, its free plan isn't holding back either, pulling in speeds of 910 Mbps over WireGuard.

Recent revamps of the apps have made them a bit more simple in their design, but I dislike how cluttered they feel. Even still, it's a step in the right direction, and the new server location search function is incredibly helpful.

There are some surprising plus points, too. Although Windscribe Free VPN doesn't include the specialist Windflix dedicated streaming servers, I found the service still successfully unblocked UK Netflix and BBC iPlayer. I like that it doesn't disregard content unblocking for non-paying customers.

Put it all together, and while Windscribe Free VPN can't quite match Proton VPN and PrivadoVPN, it gets very close, and the service could well be the right choice for some people but when you consider that all of these services are free, why would you pick anything other than the best?

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Windscribe test results:
AttributesNotesRating
DesignSimple and intuitive, albeit a little cluttered⭐⭐⭐⭐
Ease of usePretty easy to use for beginners⭐⭐⭐⭐
PerformanceFaster than Privado⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
UnblockingNot bad, but not guaranteed⭐⭐⭐⭐
Security and privacyOpen-source and reliable⭐⭐⭐⭐
Customer supportEmail tickets are quickly resolved, but no live chat makes it somewhat inconvenient⭐⭐⭐

Hide.me Windows app showing server locations

(Image credit: Hide.me)

4. Hide.me Free VPN

Expert-level privacy protection for free

Available on: Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS | Data limit: 10 GB | Connections: 1 | Server locations: 5 | Countries: 4 | Support: Website, email, live chat

10 GB of data per month
P2P support
Highly configurable
Poor connection speeds
Apps can seem complex
Subscribe if:

✔️ You want a free torrenting VPN: Hide.me is one of the few free VPNs that support P2P torrenting.

✔️ You need an anonymous free VPN: simple sign-up processes mean you can get a free VPN without revealing who you are.

Don't subscribe if:

 You want a free VPN that's fast: Hide.me had underwhelming results compared to the competition

❌ You're a VPN beginner: if you're looking for your first VPN, Hide.me has a pretty complex UI. Instead, I would recommend PrivadoVPN.

Bottom line ⭐⭐⭐½

🔒 Hide.me offers a decent free platform that's good for torrenting, but its slow speeds and limited servers make me go back to PrivadoVPN every time.

Want to know more?

Check out our in-depth Hide.me review for a closer look this popular free VPN service.

Hide.me Free VPN is a solid mid-range service that doesn't hit the mark in every area, but still has more than enough standout features to make it worth a closer look.

Installing the service gets you a decent 10 GB of data a month, and access to five P2P-friendly locations: east and west coast USA, Canada, Germany, and Netherlands. Not the best around, but enough to get by for most users, and it's useful as a torrenting VPN.

Download now on the Hide.me website

The apps have more features and customizability than most of the free competition, which is a huge benefit. Auto-connect on accessing untrusted Wi-Fi, custom DNS, split tunneling, a powerful kill switch, advanced protocol tweaks, and capable browser extensions—they're all here. Great news for experts, although others might feel this makes for a more complex and intimidating interface compared to services like Privado and Proton.

Hide.me Free VPN also supports the speedy WireGuard protocol, so you can take advantage of the latest and greatest in VPN encryption protocols. However, performance is a concern for if you use the free plan. Its paid service is one of the fastest VPN services around, but I found Hide.me Free VPN averaged only downloads of around 25 Mbps. That's significantly less than the speeds I saw from PrivadoVPN and the other top providers.

That's enough speed for browsing, streaming, and most other tasks, though, and if you'll use Hide.me Free VPN's more advanced app features, it could be the right service for you. However, when you factor in the competition, it's not really worth it when you can get so much more for nothing elsewhere.

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Hide.me test results:
AttributesNotesRating
DesignA simple design that's clutter-free, but somewhat boring⭐⭐⭐
Ease of useQuite complex for beginners⭐⭐⭐
PerformanceThe premium version maxed out my testing lines, but the free version is pretty lacklustre⭐⭐
UnblockingPretty average unblocking capabilities⭐⭐⭐
Security and privacyDecent security and plenty of features to pick from⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Customer supportGood customer support and an in-depth knowledge hub⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Hotspot Shield Free VPN on multiple devices

(Image credit: Hotspot Shield)

5. Hotspot Shield Basic VPN

Absolutely no data limits, but look out for the ads

Available on: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, and Linux | Data limit: Unlimited | Connections: 1 | Server locations: 1 | Countries: 1 | Support: Website