10 Best Free VPN Services
Overview of the top ten most worthwhile and reliable free VPN services to secure your online activities in 2023.
Why do you need a reliable free VPN? Primarily to gain anonymity online and keep your data secure. However, not all free services are trustworthy. That’s why we picked the 10 most reliable virtual private network providers for you to consider.
Top 10 Free VPNs services
- NordVPN: The best VPN overall with an option to try it out for free
- Surfshark: Affordable and well-performing VPN with over a month-long trial period
- Atlas VPN: Wicked-cheap and secure VPN with an excellent free plan
- PrivateVPN: Jack-of-all-trades service with great pricing and a free trial
- ProtonVPN: Switzerland-based free VPN with top-notch privacy
- IPVanish: Solid VPN with unlimited connections and a 30-day money-back guarantee
- ExpressVPN: Excellent premium VPN with reliable performance in many scenarios
- PureVPN: Forward-thinking service with quantum-resistant encryption
- Hide.me: Good free version that’s usable without an account
- VyprVPN: Long-standing and reliable veteran of the VPN industry
How to sign up for a free VPN
- Choose an appealing free VPN with a good reputation. I recommend NordVPN
- Sign up for the service. All our recommended providers have a money-back guarantee
- Download the VPN on your preferred device
- Connect to any server and enjoy digital privacy!
Are free VPNs reliable?
There’s no shortage of options when it comes to free VPN services. However, most of them aren’t reliable and expose you to more dangers and data security issues. Instead, users need to pick a provider carefully, ideally a freemium provider, since it’s clear how the service makes ends meet.
If this sounds like a lot of information to take in, don’t worry. I’ll introduce you to the essentials of what makes a free good VPN, the common limitations that come with them, and much more. So strap in because we have a lot of ground to cover.
If you’re even a little familiar with VPN products, you’ll notice that none of these services are “truly free.” Well, here’s the first truth bomb that I must throw at you – completely free VPNs can’t be trusted.
It’s unclear how no-cost virtual private networks manage to stay afloat without an obvious stream of income. However, a few slip-ups in the industry show that they’ll resort to user data logging and selling to make a quick buck. Alternatively, they’ll use your bandwidth for their own gain.
As such, your best option is to opt for premium VPN services that offer a free plan, trial, or a money-back guarantee. Unsurprisingly, unpaid options come with some limitations, but that’s better than having who-knows-what happening with your data while using a fully free VPN.
There’s much more that you should know about free virtual private networks, so here’s a list of topics we’ll cover in this article:
- Best free VPN use cases
- Why you can’t trust completely free VPNs
- Which services Cooltechzone recommends
- Some facts about free Virtual Private Networks that are rarely covered on the internet
What you can do with a free VPN
Virtual private networks can be described quite simply – they redirect your web traffic through a remote server. This process changes your IP address and encrypts all your activities, making them unreadable to outsiders. Of course, the reality is much more complicated and requires a complete article explaining the basics of a VPN.
Essentially, most free VPNs don’t have the resources to maintain the features you’d expect from premium providers. For example, you can’t use a no-cost VPN to:
- Effectively unblock geographically-restricted content
- Engage in P2P activities
- Connect to a wide range of countries
- Enjoy unlimited bandwidth or data caps
- Get the latest security and privacy features
Instead, free VPNs can do no more than hide your IP address, maybe get around network restrictions, and encrypt your traffic. Plus, they might even leak your true IP address rather than mask it effectively. Exceptions exist, but your expectations with zero-cost online services (and not just VPNs) should be low.
Which is why we recommend combining the free trial and money-back guarantees of well-established premium providers. That way, you’ll get all the benefits you need without any downsides.
Why you can’t trust completely free VPNs
As discussed, VPNs are complicated feats of technology that require constant maintenance by networking specialists, cybersecurity experts, server administrators, and many other high-demand workers. Do you really think these people would work for free? I know I wouldn’t!
That means that a VPN has to make money somehow if it wants to provide high-quality service. Otherwise, you’re stuck with an underperforming and unmaintained virtual private network. Thus, free VPNs can be split into two categories:
- Low-quality services with unpaid or minimal-wage employees
- Acceptable-quality services that pay their employees a decent salary by selling your data
In both cases, the customer gets a handful of issues. In the first scenario, all features will be lacking, the app riddled with bugs, and the overall experience unsatisfactory. Meanwhile, the second case involves selling your personal data to advertisers and nullifying the main benefit of a VPN in the first place.
We at Cooltechzone believe that this is unacceptable. However, there’s no way around this unless you’re willing to deal with limitations or spend money on a premium subscription.
Best Free VPNs in 2023
Finally, the moment you’ve been waiting for – the complete list of our recommended “free” VPN services. All have a money-back guarantee, meaning you can purchase a subscription and refund it for a risk-free extended test run. Additionally, some even have free trials available via the Google Play Store, Apple App Store, or other methods, giving you even more time for testing.
I’ll briefly cover the essential details, but don’t hesitate to read our full reviews for a detailed description of each.
The best free VPN service is NordVPN. You can use it completely for free for 7 days by claiming the free trial on the Google Play Store. You’ll need to add payment details, but no money will be taken if you cancel before the 7-day period. After that, you’ll need to purchase a long-term subscription. You might think that’s crazy, but no need to worry. The 30-day money-back guarantee has your back.
Free NordVPN users gain access to the full set of features to play with. For starters, industry-leading connectivity is conducted with the proprietary NordLynx tunneling protocol. It can easily handle 4K video streaming when connecting to remote countries. Meanwhile, security against digital dangers like viruses and malware is provided with the powerful Threat Protection tool.
Privacy fans aren’t left in the dust either because NordVPN went through multiple independent audits of its no-logs policy. If that wasn’t enough, you can enjoy absolute confidentiality by paying for the service anonymously with cash or cryptocurrencies.
2. Surfshark VPN
Just like with NordVPN, you can utilize Surfshark for free by combining the available free test with the money-back guarantee. You have two options for claiming the 7-day trial – the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.
Surfshark stands out from typical VPN providers by incorporating the latest technology into its service. First off, the whole fleet utilizes RAM-only server technology to prevent data storage on hard drives. Additionally, the Nexus update introduced Software Defined Networking into the mix, improving overall performance and unlocking features like the IP Rotator.
Besides that, it can do everything else you’d expect from a top-shelf virtual private network. You can use it to unblock bonus TV shows and movies on Netflix and other streaming services like HBO Max and Amazon Prime Video. Plus, the number of devices you can protect with Surfshark VPN is completely unlimited. Lastly, connection speed loss is minimal because of the lightning-fast WireGuard tunneling protocol.
3. Atlas VPN
This list isn’t completely barren of zero-cost services. The first to make the cut is Atlas VPN. It’s a freemium VPN with an excellent free plan that we stand by. However, it isn’t without some drawbacks.
First off, it comes with a 10 GB monthly data cap. This is considerably higher than most but not ideal for extensive use. Additionally, you won’t be able to unblock bonus streaming content on US Netflix, even though the server selection includes New York and Los Angeles. Besides those, Europeans can connect to the Netherlands for optimal connectivity. Thankfully, the WireGuard protocol provides great speeds no matter where you’re connecting from.
The best part about Atlas VPN is that it’s one of the cheapest available VPNs as well. That means you can enjoy the numerous benefits of this VPN, such as airtight security and Netflix unblocking, at an extremely affordable price.
PrivateVPN is a VPN service that can do it all. Unfortunately, it’s not completely free, meaning you’ll need to utilize the free trial and money-back guarantee and make the most of it. But once you’re done, you’ll be hard-pressed to turn back.
First off, this service is available on a multitude of different devices, including desktop computers, mobile devices, home-entertainment systems, and more. On the other hand, you can set it up on a router and enjoy PrivateVPN’s capabilities on most network-connected devices.
Torrenters can use the port forwarding feature to improve their download speeds on torrents with only a handful of seeders. Meanwhile, restriction-free browsing is available by enabling Stealth VPN. Lastly, entertainment fans can use PrivateVPN to unblock platforms like Netflix, Disney Plus, Amazon Prime Video, and many more.
Privacy enthusiasts worldwide are well aware of ProtonVPN. It’s maintained by the creators of ProtonMail, a well-respected secure email provider. Plus, the free plan has no data limits, allowing you to use it indefinitely. Unsurprisingly, it doesn’t have all the features of the premium plan and can’t unblock streaming content or facilitate P2P activities.
ProtonVPN is exceptionally trustworthy because its software is open-source, a rare feature among VPN providers. Furthermore, it has loads of additional security and performance-enhancing features, like VPN Accelerator, Secure Core, and NetShield. Best of all, it’s based in privacy-guaranteeing Switzerland and had its no-logs policy audited by a third party.
Premium users can have it all and even unblock geographically-restricted streaming content on Netflix and other platforms. Naturally, lag-free video-watching is guaranteed with the ultra-fast WireGuard tunneling protocol.
IPVanish might not be a provider you think of when asked about free VPNs. The service doesn’t have a free version or even a free trial. However, you can still use it for a month and utilize the 30-day money-back guarantee later.
Firstly, one IPVanish permits unlimited simultaneous connections with one account, allowing customers to protect their entire household. Moreover, connectivity won’t drop significantly because efficient data transfer is guaranteed with the modern WireGuard tunneling protocol. Plus, VIPRE antivirus grants security against viruses, malware, and other malicious files.
You can rest assured that IPVanish takes good care of your data because the provider passed an independent audit of its zero-logs policy. Furthermore, users can install this VPN on practically any device, including Android TV, Amazon Fire Stick, Chromebook, and more. Customers can still protect unsupported platforms by installing IPVanish on a router and blessing their entire network with VPN perks.
Many VPN users are familiar with ExpressVPN, but not as a free VPN option per se. It doesn’t offer free trials or a free version. Instead, it has a 30-day money-back guarantee if you’d like to have a few magical weeks with this virtual private network.
ExpressVPN is paving its own way for ultra-fast connections with its proprietary Lightway tunneling protocol. Besides that, the massive server fleet uses TrustedServer technology to ensure top-notch data integrity and confidentiality. This was tested when Turkish authorities seized a server for investigation purposes and couldn’t get any useful information.
Customers will have no trouble utilizing ExpressVPN on practically any device because the VPN has an extensive list of supported devices. Plus, the dedicated router app makes it easy to setup this service to protect your entire household. Unfortunately, this is offset slightly by the exorbitant price of the premium plan and only five simultaneous connections with one subscription.
Customers concerned about the not-so-distant future should opt for PureVPN. It has prepared for quantum-powered computers and their insane decryption capabilities with quantum-resistant encryption keys. Besides that, it’s a solid multipurpose VPN with excellent features and performance. You can try it out for 7 days by investing merely one dollar.
First off, it operates a massive 6500+ server network across 78+ countries, one of the most extensive in the industry. It’s powered by the modern and open-source WireGuard protocol for excellent connection speed anywhere. Plus, you can optimize it even further using split tunneling to select which apps need a VPN connection.
A single PureVPN subscription allows you to simultaneously secure up to 10 different devices. However, users might be dissuaded because some features of this VPN cost extra. For example, the base subscription doesn’t include port forwarding or DDoS protection. Luckily, you can get acquainted with this provider risk-free, thanks to the 31-day money-back guarantee.
You may rejoice if you’re looking for more VPNs with completely free versions. Thankfully, Hide Me VPN delivers in this regard. Naturally, it lacks a few features compared to the premium version, but it’s a great option nonetheless.
Firstly, you get a hefty 10 GB monthly data allowance. Region selection is downgraded from 75 to 5 locations (Canada, Germany, Netherlands, and two United States cities). Sadly, you also don’t get access to the fastest available tunneling protocol – WireGuard. However, you can enjoy the benefits of the free version without creating an account.
The free version also has access to Stealth Guard, a feature for picking apps that shouldn’t connect to the web while the VPN is disabled. Furthermore, the kill switch is also available if you’d like to secure your connection even further. You can get a taste of the full set of features by subscribing and taking advantage of the 30-day money-back guarantee if you’re not satisfied
Last but certainly not least is VyprVPN. Like most providers here, it isn’t completely free but instead has a 30-day money-back guarantee as a means of testing the service. This VPN should appeal greatly to privacy enthusiasts since it’s based in Switzerland and is one of the first VPNs to undergo an independent audit of its zero-logs policy.
Besides confidentiality, VyprVPN excels in other avenues as well. For starters, the swift WireGuard protocol ensures top-notch connectivity anywhere globally. It also guarantees UHD video quality while unblocking bonus content on Netflix. On the other hand, the proprietary Chameleon protocol is available if you need to circumvent severe online censorship.
One subscription grants a whopping 30 simultaneous device connections. However, you’d miss out by not trying out the unique VyprVPN router app, which makes VPN setup on an entire network a piece of cake.
Little-Known Facts About Free VPN
Data Leakage Through Advertisements
It’s worth reiterating that the majority of free VPNs resort to integrated ads to earn some extra income from their users. However, this practice is more than just a nuisance – it’s also a privacy nightmare.
We’re all aware of how online ads work – they take up a huge chunk of the screen, while the button to turn them off is the size of a pixel. This combination makes you inevitably click on the ad and get bombarded with more ads, redirects to shady websites, or even adware on your device.
But that’s not even the worst part. The ads load well before you enable the VPN connection and hide your location. This means they get a front-row seat to your true location, among other things. Naturally, they don’t keep that data strictly to themselves either. Like a fat joint at a party, your data gets passed around countless times, and there’s nothing you can do to stop it. Unless, of course, you decide to do the smart thing and avoid ad-filled VPNs.
Mobile and desktop VPN apps containing ads are a potential security threat to the user. Experienced customers don't use such software. In addition, developers of noname apps usually do not have a decent background, and there is no guarantee that they will not pass user data to third parties.
How to bypass VPN data caps
Probably the most annoying part about reliable free VPNs is the monthly data cap. Luckily, there are two ways to circumvent this issue:
- Activity on social media
- New account registration with different email addresses
Activity on social media typically involves making a tweet and tagging the VPN provider. For example, the TunnelBear app has a feature that allows you to post a tweet and get an increase in your monthly data limit of up to 2 GB.
But the most sure-fire way is to register several accounts with different emails. I've tested this method with Windscribe and Hide Me VPN. There were no difficulties with the transition to a new account in both cases.
If you know of other ways to make the most of VPNs with data caps, please share some tips by leaving a comment!
Free VPNs to avoid
You might be tempted to try out other free VPN services. After all, it doesn’t cost anything, and what’s the worst thing that could possibly happen?
Well, godspeed, if you don’t mind all the potential risks like malware with the potential to brick your device. But, for Heaven’s sake, don’t go anywhere near these VPNs.
- Hola! VPN – technically a proxy, not a VPN. This service works by utilizing user bandwidth, aka you give out your IP address and substitute it with someone else’s address. There are many privacy issues with this, and previously, Hola VPN user hardware was compromised and used to conduct DDoS attacks and mine cryptocurrencies.
- Betternet – this freemium VPN is overcrowded with unpaying users, while the paid version is expensive and lacks essential functionality. Plus, it was prone to severe vulnerabilities in the past, exposing users to potential malware-infected updates.
- VPN Gate – a volunteer-run service with unreliable performance, logging issues, and lack of functionality. It’s good for changing your IP and handing over your browsing data on a silver platter.
- Psiphon – a VPN that focuses on circumventing network restrictions rather than providing online privacy. It keeps extensive logs to improve performance and shares your data with advertising companies.
No one is safe against hacking
Although modern VPN protocols used by public free VPNs (OpenVPN, IKEv2, WireGuard) are considered safe and, together with AES encryption, protect data effectively and compensate for some developer mistakes, there is a real security threat when using no-name free VPNs.
The latest generation of hackers is actively looking for vulnerabilities that allow them to access devices on local networks to install ransomware and then demand ransom.
Imagine how many devices cybercriminals can access by hacking into a poorly protected VPN server!
Moreover, there is already the recent example of the hacking of the VPN servers of Fortinet, a company specializing in developing cybersecurity solutions. This means that even having the right tools at your disposal doesn't make you 100% immune to online threats.
As a result of the attack, the computers of corporate users were encrypted. At the same time, they received messages with the following content:
Sorry, your network is encrypted, and most files are encrypted using special technology. The file cannot be recovered by any security company. If you do not believe that you can even consult a security company, your answer will be that you need to pay the corresponding fees, but we have a good reputation. After receiving the corresponding fee, we will immediately send the decryption program and KEY. You can contact us to get two file decryption services, and then you will get all decryption services after paying our fee; usually, it is about 2 bitcoins.
Contact: [email protected] [email protected]
At the time of the attacks in early 2022, the Bitcoin exchange rate was over $40,000.
Cooltechzone has conducted its own research on how VPN providers and applications that offer free services work.
The results are not encouraging:
- More than 50% of VPN apps don't even have their own website
- More than 80% of services do not conduct security audits
- 35% of the studied privacy policies do not contain information that data about user activity will not be saved on VPN servers
Cooltechzone does not recommend using a VPN where the owner does not have a legal address and has not been tested by specialists. All free VPNs presented in this article are trusted, well-established, tested many times, and have countless reviews on public platforms such as reddit.com.
Nothing in life is ever free and online services come with certain costs as well. When talking about VPNs, you’ll end up paying with lost time because of slow connectivity, personal data shared with advertisers, or simply with money. We believe the last option is the best as it preservers the other two and grants numerous other benefits.
Spare no expense and try out NordVPN for free using the Google Play Store trial and the 30-day money-back guarantee.
You may also like to read:
- Best overall VPN
- Best VPN for streaming
- Best VPN for Binance
- How to watch Disney Plus anywhere
- How to watch British TV abroad
Do free VPNs unblock Netflix?
No, free VPNs typically don’t unblock Netflix. For starters, freemium services reserve this feature for paying users. Meanwhile, no-cost VPN servers are quickly overused, and Netflix flags their IP addresses, preventing them from getting around geographical restrictions on the streaming platform. That means you have practically no chance to get around geo-blocks with an entirely free VPN.
Which free VPN is the best?
NordVPN is the best VPN that you can use for free. You can take it for a spin by getting the 7-day free trial on the Google Play Store. After that, the 30-day money-back guarantee allows you to use it for another month completely risk-free.
Which VPN is completely free?
Atlas VPN and Proton VPN are the two most reliable providers that you can use for free and peace of mind. However, they have premium subscriptions, meaning the free plans have certain limitations that the paid option fixes.
Is NordVPN free?
NordVPN isn’t completely free, but you can enjoy it for a limited time without paying a dime. First off, get the 7-day free trial on the Google Play Store. Cancel the trial before the last day and you won’t have to pay anything. After that, you’ll need to subscribe, but the 30-day money-back guarantee ensures that you’ll get a full refund if you reconsider during the first month.