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5 best free VPNs for 2024


Using a free VPN is an acceptable means of basic online security. The software will encrypt your activities with robust encryption, mask your IP address, and maybe include extra perks. Alternatively, you can temporarily get a premium VPN’s complete feature package using a free trial.

In this article, we outline 5 top-quality VPNs offering free tiers or free trials. Whether it's unlimited online security at no cost or a test run before subscribing – you’ll find a provider that suits your budget and needs.

Leading free VPN alternative
NordVPN is the top free VPN alternative. With its 7-day free trial and a 30-day money-back guarantee, you will be able to unblock all popular streaming services, enjoy excellent speeds, and stay anonymous thanks to top-notch encryption.
cybernews® score
4.9 /5

Our main selection criterion while compiling this list was the inclusion of a free tier or a free trial. Naturally, we also considered overall security and privacy to ensure these providers are reliable and don’t partake in shady business practices.

Top 5 best free VPN services in 2024

2024 February updates – what’s new?
We updated this article with more information regarding free VPN risks, use cases, limitations, and other vital considerations. We also had to update the provider lineup to include more freemium VPN services because many users don’t mind the fewer features the free versions include

Best free VPN services in 2024 – detailed list

Below is our detailed list of the best free, freemium, and free-trial VPN services for Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, and other platforms. Read their feature descriptions, see if the free tier conditions suit you, and try some out.

1. NordVPN – best risk-free VPN in 2024

NordVPN banner 1
Free version:7-day free trial on Google Play Store, 30-day money-back guarantee on any device
Free version simultaneous connections:10
Free version data cap:None
Current deal:Get NordVPN, now up to 69% OFF + 3 months FREE!

NordVPN is the best free trial VPN in 2024. While the free version is temporary, it includes all the available NordVPN features and doesn’t impose any speed, data, or server option limitations. So, you’ll be able to test the provider’s market-leading performance across many categories without paying anything.

The provider offers around 6300 RAM-only servers across 111 countries to facilitate swift and secure connections. Besides regular options, you can select specialized P2P, Double VPN, Obfuscated, and Onion over VPN servers. Meanwhile, the blazing-fast speeds are ensured with the proprietary NordLynx protocol, an improved version of WireGuard.

This VPN doesn’t have a forever free subscription. Instead, it offers a 7-day free trial through the Google Play Store, which can be used on other devices afterward. Plus, the 30-day money-back guarantee serves as a follow-up to the free trial.

Overall, NordVPN is a robust VPN provider available for free for 37 days. Once the trial ends, you can subscribe for as low as $3.09/month and enjoy premium service.

2. Surfshark – excellent free trial VPN with unlimited connections

Surfshark banner
Free version:7-day free trial on mobile app stores, 30-day money-back guarantee on any device
Free version simultaneous connections:Unlimited
Free version data cap:None
Current deal:Get 85% OFF Surfshark + 2 months FREE

Surfshark VPN is an excellent free trial VPN that offers a few improvements over NordVPN. For example, its 7-day free trial is available on the Google Play and Apple App Stores, making it readily available to more people. Additionally, one account supports unlimited device connections, which allows testing the service on every device you own.

Just like NordVPN, Surfshark boasts a 100% RAM-only server fleet for excellent privacy and performance. The network spans 3200 servers across 100 countries and includes alternative server types like MultiHop or Static IP. Plus, you won’t have to worry about slowdowns because Surfshark VPN boasts the WireGuard protocol for speedy connections everywhere.

Surfshark is free for over a month by combining the 7-day free trial with the 30-day money-back guarantee. During this time, you can test the entire Surfshark feature package without experiencing any restrictions.

Although without a free version, this VPN is a budget-friendly option, as its starting price is as little as $2.29/month.

3. Proton VPN – the best free VPN without a data cap

ProtonVPN banner
Free version:Free version
Free version simultaneous connections:1
Free version data cap:None
Current deal:Get up to 50% OFF Proton VPN!

Proton VPN is the best free VPN with no strings attached. It offers a limitless free tier that’s pretty effective regarding speed and security. Unsurprisingly, it has some feature limitations, but none regarding data usage.

The Proton VPN free plan includes servers in five countries, less than the 3000 servers in 71 countries available with the paid tier. The provider claims that free subscribers will also have medium VPN speeds while paying customers will have the highest speeds.

Another downside is that the free version is missing some excellent Proton VPN benefits. With the premium version, you have P2P file sharing, NetShield, Secure Core, and more. Considering it all, Proton VPN is a trustworthy and effective free VPN service. Nevertheless, the free version lacks multiple features and isn’t helpful at bypassing geo-blocks.

You can unlock everything Proton VPN offers by paying the above-average $4.99/month price. If you find the premium version lacking, you’ll get a refund thanks to the 30-day money-back guarantee.

4. Hotspot Shield – solid free VPN for mobile devices

Hotspot Shield banner
Free version:Free version with ads and a daily data cap
Free version simultaneous connections:1
Free version data cap:500MB/day
Current deal:Save up to 77% OFF Hotspot Shield!

Hotspot Shield is a popular freemium VPN if your goal is gaining a US IP address. Its free offering is available only on mobile devices and includes a fair number of limitations. Most notably, you get a 500MB daily data cap and a 2Mbps speed limit, but you can get more data by watching ads. Alternatively, you can bypass both limits using the 7-day free trial.

The Hotspot Shield free tier is restricted to merely 1 location in the US. On the flip side, the premium version provides 3200 servers in 80 countries worldwide. As expected, free users won’t be able to unlock geo-exclusive streaming content or enable gaming mode.

On a positive note, free subscribers enjoy many of the Hotspot Shield security features paying customers get. For example, you’ll receive a kill switch, IP leak protection, split tunneling (Smart VPN), and Tor over VPN. Crucially, you’ll also have access to the Hydra tunneling protocol, which has received numerous awards for its blazing-fast speeds.

If you want unlimited access to what this VPN offers, you’ll have to pay at least $2.99/month. Luckily, each subscription plan is insured with an extended 45-day money-back guarantee.

5. TunnelBear – serviceable free VPN with solid features

TunnelBear banner
Free version:Free version with a monthly data cap
Free version simultaneous connections:1
Free version data cap:2GB/month
Current deal:Get TunnelBear, now up to 67% OFF!

TunnelBear is famous for its free subscription level and bear-centered brand identity. The most prominent limitation for unpaying users is the 2GB monthly data cap and the absence of certain features. Still, the free tier is enough if your VPN needs are minimal.

TunnelBear’s free app differs little from the premium version. For starters, you retain access to many of the provider’s 3000 servers across 48 countries, except you can’t select specific cities to connect to. Naturally, free users also have lower priority in the customer support department.

TunnelBear is well-equipped regarding technical settings. The fastest available tunneling protocol is WireGuard, but you can also enable OpenVPN or IKEv2. There’s also split tunneling (SplitBear) if you want to select apps to skip the VPN tunnel.

You can purchase TunnelBear for only $3.33/month and enjoy unlimited bandwidth and device connections per account. However, note that the provider doesn’t explicitly state its money-back guarantee and says it varies on a case-by-case basis.

Best free VPNs compared

To speed things up for you regarding choosing a free VPN, we have compared each listed VPN’s key information and put everything in one place:

NordVPNSurfsharkProton VPNHotspot ShieldTunnelBear
BrandlogologoProton VPNHotspot Shield VPN table imageTunnelBear logo
Rating
4.9
4.7
4.2
3.5
3.3
WebsiteVisit NordVPNVisit SurfsharkVisit Proton VPNVisit Hotspot ShieldVisit TunnelBear
Free trial7-day free trial7-day free trialFree versionFree versionFree version
Money-back guarantee30 days30 days30 days30 daysUnclear
Data capNoneNoneNone500MB/day2GB/month
Simultaneous connection limit6Unlimited111
Security concerns
  • Panama
  • Audited no-logs policy
  • AES-256 encryption
  • The Netherlands
  • Audited no-logs policy
  • AES-256 encryption
  • Switzerland
  • Audited no-logs policy
  • AES-256 encryption
  • United States
  • Audited no-logs policy
  • AES-256 encryption
  • Canada
  • Audited no-logs policy
  • AES-256 encryption
FeaturesKill switch, Threat Protection, P2P traffic, double VPN, MeshnetAntivirus, ad blocker, data breach monitor, personal data remover5 countries, DNS leak protection, kill switch1 country, Hydra protocol, kill switch48 countries, split tunneling, WireGuard protocol, kill switch

Ultimately, we recommend utilizing NordVPN’s 7-day free trial and 30-day money-back guarantee before choosing to stick with any VPN’s limited free version.

How we selected free VPNs for this list

The process of finding the best free VPN is different compared to paid providers. Here’s what we had to consider while choosing potential free options:

  • Reliability. The primary factor is ensuring the free VPN is trustworthy and doesn’t log your data or engage in other harmful activities to compensate for the lack of a subscription.
  • Security. Obviously, free VPNs aren’t as secure as paid counterparts, but we must check to see if they cover at least the essentials. This includes using strong AES-256 encryption, modern tunneling protocols, being free from DNS leaks, and offering a kill switch.
  • Speed. We perform speed tests with potential free VPNs to see if they provide enough connectivity for lag-free online browsing.
  • Features. It’s pretty uncommon for free VPNs to include bonus security or convenience perks like ad-blocking or split tunneling. Therefore, we give extra points to free VPNs that have such extras.
  • Limitations. Finally, it’s vital to assess how severe the free version restrictions are and if they make the VPN usable on a daily basis. For example, we avoided VPNs that impose strict data caps, extreme speed slowdowns, and have very limited country options.

Are free VPNs safe?

Generally speaking, freemium and free trial VPNs are safe because it is in their best interest to keep customers happy. As such, they don’t engage in malicious activities that would undermine their reputation.

Meanwhile, VPN services without a paid tier are suspicious because they lack a revenue stream. This means a 100% free VPN needs to make money by other means, such as selling your collected data or showing ads. After all, every VPN needs resources to run the service and maintain the server hardware. And so these practices can turn into a security issue for free users.

That’s why evaluating a potential VPN service’s jurisdiction and privacy policy is critical to ensure it doesn’t log or share customer data with third parties. Additionally, we must check whether a VPN has conducted any independent audits that would verify its overall security integrity.

As you can imagine, we evaluated every potential free VPN based on these aspects and only selected the most reliable ones. We avoided providers that collected too much unnecessary data or had privacy statements open to interpretation. In short, we picked free VPNs that adhere to strict no-logging policies.

Is there a 100% free VPN?

No, you won’t find a VPN that is 100% free.

On the one hand, trustworthy freemium providers like Proton VPN have paid plans alongside free tiers, meaning they aren’t completely free. Thankfully, you can use most free subscriptions for an unlimited time, making them as close to 100% free as you can get. But remember that you’ll have to contend with certain limitations (fewer servers, features, slower speeds).

Conversely, unreliable free services will make you pay in other ways, such as with activity logs or time spent watching ads. This will cost you indirectly because your data will be sold without your consent for someone else’s benefit. Additionally, it will increase the likelihood of you becoming a victim of cybercrime, which can lead to severe financial costs depending on the attack. Thus, using a VPN that claims to be 100% free is not recommended.

Luckily, you can get a reliable, secure VPN for free if you follow the guides below.

How to get a premium VPN for free

It’s possible to use a premium VPN service for free – at least for a short while. There are two ways to do that:

  • Trial periods. Some VPN services offer a trial period, during which you can use the tool completely for free. For example, NordVPN offers a 7-day trial for mobile users.
  • Money-back guarantees. All VPNs on this list provide a money-back guarantee, usually lasting at least 30 days. It’s a great way to test out all the premium features of a VPN, as the money is usually given back with no questions asked. Just make sure to contact customer support in time!
Premium VPNFree trialMoney-back guarantee
NordVPN7-day (Android-only)30-dayTry NordVPN
Surfshark 7-day (Mac, iOS, and Android)30-dayTry Surfshark
IPVanishNo30-dayTry IPVanish

Video review: best free VPNs in 2024

We’ve covered the best free VPNs on the Cybernews YouTube channel if you’d like to see the services in action while learning more about them. You should also subscribe to stay up-to-date with cybersecurity trends and news.

Why a free VPN might not be a good choice

Free VPNs aren’t ideal primarily because of their limitations and potential security issues. Here’s a rundown of the most common reasons why free VPNs aren’t a good choice:

  • Data limits. VPN free tiers usually impose monthly or daily data caps to prevent free users from overusing the network.
  • Fewer servers. The free subscription always includes fewer servers than the premium one, leading to less versatility and IP address variety.
  • Slower speed. Free accounts will experience overall slower connection speeds due to their concentration on a handful of free servers. There’s also the possibility that free users are slowed down intentionally, but most providers won’t explicitly say that. At the very least, they’ll turn off the fastest VPN tunneling protocols.
  • Lack of features. The free VPN experience will be further held back by the absence of features reserved for paying customers.
  • Limited device compatibility. A VPN free service is typically only available on specific devices and operating systems, usually PCs and smartphones. So, don’t expect to find a free VPN for routers or smart TVs.
  • Security and privacy problems. An unprofitable free VPN will likely cut corners in the security department. Moreover, the service isn’t even incentivized to worry about customer safety since they don’t pay anything. Even worse, it may sell customer data to make up for the absence of a paid subscription. However, remember that this only applies to 100% free VPNs, not freemium ones.
Cybernews pro tip

Although there’s no shortage of supposed free VPNs (especially on Google and Apple app stores), most pepper your screen with ads or collect your data to make ends meet. Therefore, we recommend going for trials or free versions of established VPN services to avoid data risks.

Conclusion

Free VPNs are an acceptable security tool if you choose the correct provider. However, using the wrong service will yield poor performance at best or contain severe security issues at worst. Therefore, choosing a free VPN shouldn’t be taken lightly.

The most vital thing to remember when considering free subscriptions is that freemium and free trial providers are the most reliable because their business plans are clear. On the flip side, entirely free VPNs likely sell your data or bombard you with ads to make money, both of which can have dire consequences.

We suggest avoiding ambiguity and choosing NordVPN, the best free trial VPN in 2024. Alternatively, go with Proton VPN if you need an unlimited free tier for basic online security.


More VPN guides from Cybernews:


FAQ

Comments

KimberlyS
prefix 2 months ago
We are going to the Czech Republic soon for a year. I'm confused about needing a VPN, will it help with online banking and credit card sign ins?
Cybernews Team
prefix 2 months ago
Hi. Whether you need a VPN in the Czech Republic for online banking and credit card sign-ins depends on your bank's and credit card company's policies. Some banks and credit card companies might have restrictions on using their services from outside their regular areas of operation. Check with them to see if there are any limitations or concerns about using a VPN.
Maxwell
prefix 9 months ago
Im on a school device and they blocked games, YouTube, google vpns, site unbockers, sites that could lead me to vpns, etc. So my question is, is there a way to get access to a vpn or something that unblock sites while under blocked wifi?
Cybernews Team
prefix 9 months ago
Hi, Maxwell, thanks for your question. There are a few ways to unblock websites on a school device that is connected to a blocked Wi-Fi network. One way is to use your mobile device as a hotspot and connect the school device to your mobile data. Another way is to try visiting websites by shortening their URLs. However, these methods may not work if the blocks are implemented on the device level. In this case, you may need to connect to another WiFi network or hack into the device's system. Hope this helps!
Wendy
prefix 1 year ago
I'm considering ProtonVPN but what about Kaspersky VPN? and I'm a bit skittish about personal use VPNs.
Cybernews Team
prefix 1 year ago
Hi!

ProtonVPN is a good choice!

As for Kaspersky VPN, it's part of the Kaspersky Internet Security and Kaspersky Total Security suites, so it's not free and doesn't have a free version. It also has fewer server locations than ProtonVPN. Besides, Kaspersky has been involved in some scandals - you can read more about it in our Kaspersky antivirus review: https://cybernews.com/best-antivirus-software/kaspersky-antivirus-review/

We hope this helps!
Mert Michael
prefix 2 years ago
does any free vpn version unblock Netflix? That's the most important thing to me. If there's none, what's the cheapest option? :)
Rūta Rimkienė
prefix 2 years ago
Hi there! The free version of ProtonVPN has the highest chance of unblocking Netflix. However, if you're willing to look into cheap paid options, I'd suggest trying out Surfshark or VyprVPN.
linda
prefix 2 years ago
cheers for this free vpn review, it's really hard to find good ones. Are there any vpns that are 100% free without purchasing any additonal stuff?
Rūta Rimkienė
prefix 2 years ago
Hi there! What you're looking for is an unlimited free VPN, so you can consider getting AtlasVPN or ProtonVPN. However, most reputable free VPNs will also have a paid version - this is how they earn their money. If a free VPN doesn't have a paid counterpart, it might benefit from stealing your personal info.
At
prefix 2 years ago
Hello Ruta,
I tried several vpn. I checked the network info on the taskbar for each. For some, the vpn connection flag is active and the original ISP is not active (hide.me). For others, it indicates both as active (Protonvpn). I ask, does this affect encryption or not? Is this a mistake or not? The leak test shows no flow anywhere.

Another question: is vpn software enough or vpn router is important for encryption? The ISP router not secure?

Thanks
Rūta Rimkienė
prefix 2 years ago
Hello, thanks for the comment! There’s no need to pay attention to what the icon on the taskbar displays, as it doesn’t actually indicate whether your VPN is leaking. If you want to check for leaks, you should go to ipleak.net or a similar page. If it doesn’t display your original IP address, your VPN is not leaking.

As for your second question – no, you don’t need to set up your VPN on your router for extra encryption. You can do this only if you want to cover a wider range of devices. In other words, using VPN software is enough to stay safe.
At
prefix 2 years ago
Thanks. Because it’s strange, some vpn work with two active connection (ISP and VPN network both active) and other only with active vpn and non active ISP. Why can this be? Because of programming?
Rūta Rimkienė
prefix 2 years ago
Hi there, sorry for the late reply! You shouldn’t worry about it because, basically, it’s just a Windows bug.
Anibal
prefix 3 years ago
Hello
Just looking to read more about this topic.
Do any vpn can be used directly into a router ?
I read it would hide netbios devices connected to router from your isp.
Is it so ?
Rūta Rimkienė
prefix 2 years ago
Hello, Anibal, sorry for the late reply! I’d recommend purchasing a router that supports VPN connections together with a VPN that has an app for routers (ExpressVPN would be a good choice). In general, getting a new router (not the one provided by your ISP) will prevent your ISP from seeing the connected devices.
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