A reliable free VPN can be a way to feel the service before fully committing to it. It can also be a quick solution for the momentum needed for a VPN. Yet, the majority of free VPNs often have data and speed caps, or use outdated encryption as well as tunneling protocols’ versions, resulting in worse online protection.
To have unlimited and advanced VPN services, premium VPNs that come with free trials and money-back guarantees are what you should choose. Our first-rate option is NordVPN, which offers a 7-day free trial together with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
But if you don’t want to risk your long-saved money on a product that may not meet your needs, we have a solution for you – free VPNs that you can trust. Moreover, you don’t need to dig for a free VPN by yourself, as we have done all the research for you and provided all the best free VPN services in 2023 right below.
Top 6 best free VPN services in 2023
- NordVPN – best free-trial VPN in 2023
- Surfshark – risk-free VPN that 100% works with Netflix
- AtlasVPN – fast VPN with a free version
- IPVanish – secure free-trial VPN
- ProtonVPN – freemium VPN with unlimited data
- Windscribe – the best free VPN for streaming
2023 updates – what’s new?
We updated our best free VPN in 2023 with the following changes:
- More useful information on whether free VPNs are safe, the potential drawbacks of a free VPN, and how to get a premium VPN for free.
- Provider descriptions were reviewed for more clarity and up-to-date information.
- Relevant FAQs added.
Are free VPNs safe?
How safe a free VPN is depends on which free VPN it is. The majority of providers that advertise completely free VPN services are not safe by any standards. They come from unknown developers with opaque (or non-existent) policies, are filled with ads, and there’s a high chance these free VPN apps collect and sell your data for profit.
Moreover, free VPNs don’t always work properly. While they might be able to encrypt your traffic, the speeds are usually incredibly slow, and there are no extra security features or measures to speak of.
Considering this, the Cybernews research team reviewed and evaluated numerous free VPN services. We looked at their security, speed, additional features, app design, and ease of use. Below you will find a list of free, freemium, and free trial VPNs that offer truly safe services, complete with audited no-logs policies, reliable speed, and great extra features.
Best free VPN services in 2023 – our 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. Download any of these apps and enjoy the perks like unlimited bandwidth and a top-notch selection of security features.
1. NordVPN – best risk-free VPN in 2023 overall
|Current deal:||🔥 Holiday Deal! Get NordVPN with 69% OFF + 3 months FREE! 🔥|
NordVPN is the best free-trial VPN due to its unbreakable protection, lightning-fast speeds, and modern apps. Moreover, the provider seamlessly unblocks various streaming services and maintains video quality in full HD.
What we liked. The provider strongly focuses on providing you with durable protection, using market-leading encryption and regularly going through independent no-logs policy audits. NordVPN uses its proprietary NordLynx tunneling protocol, which helps you enjoy over 84% of the baseline connection speed. Its vast selection of over x servers in x countries ensures you have the best VPN experience no matter where you live or travel to. It also allows you to unblock multiple Netflix catalogs, including Japanese, Australian, US, UK, and more. Additionally, you get a fully functional kill switch, an ad blocker, virus protection, and even SmartDNS for streaming on non-VPN devices – read more about how it works in our NordVPN review.
What could be improved. NordVPN truly does its best to keep up with the quality. However, we must note that this VPN doesn’t have a forever free subscription. Instead, it offers a 7-day free trial that’s applied for through Android devices and can be used on other devices afterward. Plus, an available 30-day money-back guarantee should serve as an addition to a free trial.
Overall, NordVPN is a robust VPN provider that’s available for free for 37 days in total. After the trial ends, you can get its subscription for as low as $2.99/month and enjoy premium service for as long as you want to.
2. Surfshark – free-trial VPN for a 100% success in streaming
|Based in:||The Netherlands|
|Current deal:||🔥 Cyber Monday! Get 80% OFF Surfshark + 5 months FREE 🔥|
Surfshark is one of the speediest and most intuitive VPNs on the market that’s also available for free for over a month. The VPN is known for its strong unblocking capabilities and versatile set of features too.
What we liked: Surfshark does its best to offer you all-around online protection. Apart from using AES-256 encryption, the WireGuard tunneling protocol, and providing a kill switch feature, this VPN also goes through regular independent audits. Surfshark retains over 86% of the original connection speed and there are no unexpected speed drops even while streaming. With this VPN, you can easily unblock Netflix, Max, Hulu, Peacock, and more streaming services no matter where you are. Plus, it has servers in x countries, which is the widest selection currently available. Finally, Surfshark has extra features, like SmartDNS, an ad blocker, and obfuscated servers to mask your VPN connection – you can read more about them in our Surfshark review.
What could be improved. Just like NordVPN, Surfshark does not offer a free version. The provider tries to make the situation better, offering a 7-day free trial together with a 30-day money-back guarantee. Thanks to those options, you can use this premium VPN risk-free for 37 days.
Overall, Surfshark can be a great pick for either the advanced user or a beginner. Although without the free version, this VPN is still a budget-friendly option, as its starting price is as little as $1.99/month, and it allows unlimited simultaneous connections.
3. Atlas VPN – best freemium VPN in 2023
|Based in:||United States|
|Free data cap:||5GB per month|
|Want to try the premium version?||🔥 Cyber Monday! Get Atlas VPN, now 86% OFF + 6 months FREE! 🔥|
Atlas VPN is our current top pick for the best free VPN provider. It’s user-friendly, has no dirt in the past, and retains lightning-fast connection speeds even with the free version.
What we liked. During our AtlasVPN testing, we found that it doesn’t limit your connection speed and even retains around 80% of the original speed. Additionally, you can protect unlimited devices simultaneously without paying a cent. All of Atlas VPN's servers are P2P friendly. Your traffic is encrypted using industry-leading AES and ChaCha20 ciphers and is channeled through the WireGuard tunnel. None of your online activity is logged, and the kill switch feature ensures the real IP address doesn’t ever leak.
What could be improved. With the free plan, you get only 5GB of monthly data. Sadly, this amount won’t let you enjoy streaming or torrenting for long. The free Atlas VPN doesn’t help you unblock geo-restricted streaming services; for that, you will have to get a paid plan. The free version offers as little as three server locations (one in the Netherlands and two in the US). Finally, the free version cuts out a number of useful features, including split tunneling and a secure browsing feature.
All in all, Atlas VPN outruns the free VPN market due to its reliability and fast connections, but data and feature limitations can’t be ignored. So if you wish to remove all limitations, the paid version of Atlas VPN costs only $1.64/month.
4. IPVanish – speediest VPN with a risk-free trial
|Based in:||United States|
|Current deal:||🔥 Cyber Monday! Get 81% OFF IPVanish + 3 months free! 🔥|
IPVanish is the fastest risk-free VPN on the list, retaining over 80% of the baseline connection speed. But speed isn’t the only strength it carries, as it also offers unbreakable protection and bypasses geo-blocks with ease.
What we liked. Although less modern than NordVPN or Surfshark, IPVanish is an excellent choice to boost your security and improve your online experience in general. Security features include AES-256 encryption, a functional kill switch, and the WireGuard protocol, which helps you stay secure while enjoying fast speeds. It also has extra features, such as the SugarSync 500GB encrypted storage, split tunneling for customizing your VPN connection, obfuscation, and a free SOCKS5 proxy.
What could be improved. IPVanish doesn’t offer a free version. Additionally, in our IPvanish review, we couldn’t find anything similar to the SmartDNS feature that would help us unblock streaming services on non-VPN devices. It’s also not a good option for people traveling to China, as IPVanish simply doesn’t work there.
Putting it all together, IPVanish is a fantastic option for anyone who is sensitive to any speed drop or simply needs unlimited simultaneous connections. This fast and secure VPN has a 7-day free trial that you can combine with a 30-day money-back guarantee to use a premium VPN for over a month for free. When the trial ends, the prices start from $2.49/month.
5. Proton VPN – free VPN without data cap
|Free data cap:||None|
|Want to try the premium version?||🔥 Cyber Monday! Get up to 60% OFF Proton VPN! 🔥|
Proton VPN is a great choice for the best free VPN if you need to have unlimited protected data. It is an open-source Virtual Private Network that has a free version for Windows, Mac, Android, and other devices.
What we liked: Apart from putting no limits on received data, Proton VPN also doesn’t restrict the connection speed and retains over 85% of the baseline. The free servers are in Japan, the US, and the Netherlands. ProtonVPN uses AES-256 and ChaCha20 (with WireGuard) encryption, collects no logs and has a kill switch, as well as DNS leak protection. As we found in our ProtonVPN testing, the latter works like a charm.
What could be improved. Due to a small free server fleet, Proton VPN loses its ability to unblock geo-restricted content, such as streaming platforms, libraries on app stores, and more. Another downside is that the free version is missing some features. While with the premium version, you have P2P file sharing, NetShield, Secure Core VPN, 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. The full-featured service costs from $3.99/month.
6. Windscribe VPN – free VPN with unlimited parallel connections
|Free data cap:||2GB (no email) or 10GB (with email) per month, 5GB (by tweeting)|
|Want to try the premium version?||🔥 Get 55% OFF with a 1-year plan! 🔥|
Windscribe VPN is one of the most popular free VPNs among Reddit users. And it’s no surprise why, as it protects unlimited simultaneous devices without paying a single dollar.
What we liked. Windscribe VPN doesn’t log nor store your activity logs. It uses AES-256 encryption to hide your online traffic, has a free kill switch feature, and even an ad blocker to prevent infected ads. You also receive a free SOCKS5 proxy, the possibility to set up a secure hotspot, and the multi-hop feature. As we found in our Windscribe review, VPN retains over 40% of the original connection speed. You may also choose from 11 different server countries and use them for unblocking one or two Netflix libraries. This VPN also offers you up to 10GB of free monthly data if you sign up for it with your email address. Other free features include split tunneling and MAC address spoofing.
What could be improved. The free VPN service delivers slower speeds than you would get with the premium version, which retains around 80% of the average download speed. Another thing to consider is the app interface, which is quite small and thus more inconvenient compared to our other top free VPNs on the list, like NordVPN or Surfshark.
To conclude, Windscribe VPN is a fantastic free VPN service considering that you don’t have to pay for robust protection for unlimited devices and the potential possibility to unblock Netflix without paying. But it can get even better by paying at least $5.75/month.
Best free VPNs compared
To speed things up for you regarding the process of choosing a free VPN, we have compared each listed VPN’s ups and downs and put everything in one place:
|NordVPN||Surfshark||IPVanish||Atlas VPN||Proton VPN||Windscribe|
|Free data cap (per month)||None||None||None||5GB||None||2GB (no email) or 10GB (with email), 5GB (by tweeting)|
|Logging||No logs, independently audited twice by PwC||No logs, independently audited by Deloitte||No logs, independently audited by Leviathan||No logs||No logs||No logs|
|Connection speed cap||No||No||No||No||No||No|
|Features||Kill switch, threat protection, supports P2P traffic, double VPN, meshnet||Antivirus, ad blocker, data breach monitor, personal data remover||Encrypted storage, auto-connect, SOCKS5 proxy, traffic obfuscation||Kill switch, VPN on launch, supports P2P traffic||DNS leak protection, kill switch||Kill switch, a free SOCKS5 proxy, ad-blocker, secure hotspot, the multi-hop feature|
|Best for||Streaming, torrenting||Security and streaming||Privacy on all devices||Fast speeds, mobile and desktop use||Fast speeds, mobile and desktop use, unlimited data||Mobile use, streaming|
|Review||NordVPN review||Surfshark review||IPVanish review||Atlas VPN review||Proton VPN review||Windscribe review|
How we tested these free VPNs
Before ranking free VPNs, we go through their apps and evaluate the features they offer. We also look at their functionality as well as perform speed and streaming tests. Based on our findings and test results, we rank the free VPNs following such criteria:
- Security. First of all, most of the free VPNs on our list use AES-256 encryption, which is the current encryption standard used by the federal government and other institutions that deal with top-secret data. We also keep track of the tunneling protocols implemented by the VPNs, prioritizing the most advanced ones like OpenVPN and WireGuard.
- Speed. Speed is yet another important thing to consider when choosing a free VPN. As various factors are bound to cause some speed problems when using a VPN, it is crucial to stick to a service that doesn’t slow you down too much. That being said, most of our top picks performed well in various speed tests. However, a paid VPN will almost certainly have faster speeds than a free one, usually due to offering a bigger server pool.
- Features. The selection of features also shouldn’t be overlooked when selecting the best free VPN services. Torrenting, split tunneling, and an integrated kill switch are just a few features we looked for in the VPNs we tested.
- Streaming. It’s no secret that most people remember the existence of VPNs only when in need of accessing geo-blocked content. Even though it’s almost impossible to find a free service that is not blocked by Netflix, we managed to discover two free VPN apps (Windscribe and TunnelBear) that can help you access some of its libraries.
How to choose a free VPN
Choosing a free VPN may seem easy once you step into Apple App or Google Play stores, as the variety of providers is impressive. Yet, unlike premium VPNs, only several of the free ones are worth the shot since most of them lack crucial security features, have strict data caps, and may even be bogus. Hence, when you look for a reliable free VPN, ensure you take these factors into account:
|Tunneling protocol:||WireGuard, OpenVPN|
|Features:||Kill switch, IP leak protection|
- Reputation. Completely free VPNs may end up collecting and selling your data to third parties. Some may even be malware in disguise, defeating the purpose of a VPN in the first place. Thus, thoroughly read reviews online, looking for evidence of a clean free VPN past.
- User reviews. See what other people say about free VPNs. Visiting Reddit might be a good idea if you want honest opinions on specific providers. Not less important is to check experts’ opinions.
- Features. Look for the one free VPN that offers the most for free. If you need a VPN for a specific purpose, see if it has specialized servers and crucial features like a kill switch.
- Bandwidth limits. Most free VPNs have caps on how much data you can use per month as well as how fast connection speed you will get. If you want to use a VPN a lot without speed restrictions, look for the one that offers the most data with no speed caps.
- Speed. The speedier the VPN, the better the experience. Most free VPNs won't have as good speeds as paid providers, but, for instance, Atlas VPN retains around 90% of your actual connection speed thanks to the WireGuard tunnel.
Is there a 100% free VPN?
Out of all free VPNs, our favorites are Atlas VPN and Proton VPN. They offer excellent speeds, unlimited connections, and servers in convenient locations. Both VPNs also proved to be good at unblocking restricted content. However, being freemium services, they still aren't 100% free.
In fact, it is quite impossible to find a VPN that costs you absolutely nothing. If you’re not paying any money to use a VPN service, you will be paying in other ways – your data and/or your attention. Free VPN services usually make a profit by collecting and selling your personal data, and in-app advertisements.
Freemium VPNs, which offer a free version, often restrict certain features, speed, or server locations under paid tiers. If you want to have a full-fledged VPN service that can unblock restricted content, get rid of ads and trackers, or obfuscate your traffic even further, you will need to pay.
Nevertheless, there are ways to use a well-rounded, top-class VPN service for free. Below is a short guide on how to get a premium VPN for free without sacrificing your personal information or being plagued by ads or feature restrictions.
How to get a premium VPN for free
Believe it or not, 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 offer a money-back guarantee, which usually lasts 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 VPN||Free trial||Money-back guarantee|
|NordVPN||7-day (Android-only)||30-day||Try NordVPN|
|Surfshark||7-day (Mac, iOS, and Android)||30-day||Try Surfshark|
|Atlas VPN||A free version||30-day||Try Atlas VPN|
Video review: best free VPNs in 2023
No time for reading thoroughly? No problem! Below, you will find our video of each top free VPN reviewed in 2023 – their pros and cons, ease of use, and, of course, limitations.
Why a free VPN might not be a good choice?
A completely free VPN is tempting, but it might not always be a good choice. Free VPNs often have drawbacks that can (and will) hinder your overall VPN experience.
Some of these drawbacks include data limits and speed restrictions, as well as a small server network. This is especially detrimental to gamers, torrenters, and streamers, for whom a fast and stable connection is a must. Also notable with free VPNs is the lack of additional security and browsing features such as streaming servers or ad blockers.
Additionally, completely free VPNs tend to collect and sell your data, display tons of in-app ads, or come from questionable and unsafe providers.
We highly recommend trying NordVPN using its 7-day free trial with a 30-day money-back guarantee to anyone looking for a robust VPN provider. It includes top-notch security features, maintains excellent speeds, and unblocks restricted content at no cost.
Getting a free VPN is worth it when you need to stay anonymous online on a budget. If you choose a reputable service, your data won’t be collected or sold, and your traffic will be secured with the strongest encryption. According to our findings, the best free VPN is Atlas VPN – it offers a completely free version with 3 server locations, 5GB bandwidth, and excellent speeds.
However, subscribing to a paid service such as NordVPN will usually be a better choice. It will give you a much broader range of servers to choose from, better speeds (as some free VPNs don’t support WireGuard), and the possibility to unblock Netflix and other streaming websites.
More VPN guides from Cybernews:
What is the best free VPN?
When it comes to free VPNs, Atlas VPN is the ultimate winner in 2023. It not only offers unlimited connection speed but also gives you military-grade encryption, works on a myriad of different devices, and is easy to use.
Are free VPNs safe?
Yes, in theory, free VPNs are safe. However, not every free VPN service provides the most reliable security. Some free VPNs might collect your data and sell it to third parties, or even steal your personal info and infect you with viruses. It is important to choose a reputable service tested by privacy specialists.
Is there a free unlimited VPN?
Yes. ProtonVPN and Atlas VPN offer unlimited data and bandwidth for their free users. They both have no speed caps, use advanced encryption, follow a strict no-logs policy, and may even unblock Netflix.
Can I watch Netflix with a free VPN?
Yes, as some free VPNs are capable of unblocking Netflix. For example, the free version of Windscribe will allow you to access US Netflix. However, keep in mind that the majority of free VPNs won't unblock any streaming platforms.
What is the best free VPN for streaming?
The best free VPN for streaming is Atlas VPN. While the completely free version can’t unblock streaming services, you can use Atlas VPN’s free trial and a 30-day money-back guarantee to enjoy one of the top streaming VPNs' unblocking capabilities. With it, you’ll be able to enjoy Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, and more without paying a penny.
Are free VPNs legal?
Yes, free VPNs are completely legal to use, as well as paid VPN services. In most countries of the world, using a VPN to protect your online anonymity and privacy is allowed. However, in some countries such as Russia or China, VPN usage is restricted or illegal.
Do free VPNs actually work?
Yes, most free VPNs work at the most basic level of encrypting your traffic. However, the strength and safety of such encryption is not always guaranteed with free VPNs. The risk of your IP address or data getting leaked is always higher with free services than with paid VPNs.