How to Download Free VPN for All Countries and Unblock Any Content
In its 15-year history, TechRadar has reviewed over 100 VPN services, and we regularly test our top picks to make sure they still deserve their rankings. In this guide, we compare the pros and cons of a free vs premium VPN and help you pick the right service for you by comparing speed, server locations, unblocking capability, privacy, and security.
However, if you want to get one of the best VPN services for free, take advantage of money-back guarantees and see how they compare with the top free options. Try all of them together and you'll get 90 days of premium protection at no cost whatsoever.
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Want to see what the difference is between a premium and a free VPN? You can use ExpressVPN totally free by taking advantage of its no-questions-asked 30-day money-back guarantee, too.
Ultimately, this renders most of them practically useless for unblocking content and often gives you a false sense of security. The best free services exist to give you a taste of the full product, and often limit both your speed and the amount of data you can use.
? 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 our #1 free VPN in 2023.
Privado's free option offers plenty of customization and security features, like 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.
With its 350 Mbps earning PrivadoVPN second place in our free VPN performance charts. While it can't match Proton's wholly unlimited scheme, its 10 GB unrestricted monthly allowance is enough for most.
The choice of 13 locations over 10 countries beats most free services, including Proton VPN Free, which only offers 3 countries. Here's a quick list of the free server locations: United Kingdom, United States (4 locations), Canada, France, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina.
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? 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.
Proton VPN Free used to top our Best 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.
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.
As of March 3, 2023, in its efforts to fight censorship and support freedom of speech, Proton teamed up with Deutsche Welle (a popular German media outlet), to create dedicated free servers to access the site's content around the world.
Proton VPN Free may not be quite right for everyone. If you absolutely must have a location in the UK, for instance, or some other country not on Proton's very short list, then PrivadoVPN and Windscribe have more than 10 countries to choose from.
The data allowance is a little more restricted than our 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. Most free plans restrict you to only one connection, but Windscribe has no limits: you can install and use it 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 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?
The service isn't as generous with its locations. There are just three: the Netherlands, Los Angeles, and New York. You're able to connect a couple of devices simultaneously, though (our top two free VPNs only allow one), and our speed tests found Atlas VPN Free reached an above-average 320 Mbps. Factor in the P2P support, and Atlas could be a smart torrenting choice.
Performance is more of a concern. Its paid service is one of the fastest VPN services around, but we found Hide.me Free VPN averaged only downloads of around 25 Mbps. That's less than 10% of the speeds we saw from PrivadoVPN and our other top providers.
Hotspot Shield Basic is a popular free VPN plan with a very major plus: last year, Hotspot Shield began upgrading the service to offer unlimited data across all platforms. (As we write, Mac, Android, and iOS now support unlimited data, with Windows joining the party later.)
In a world where most free VPNs restrict you to 10 GB a month or even less, being able to use the service as much as you like is a huge advantage. So, you might be wondering, "why is Hotspot Shield Basic not higher up our Best list?"
There's also a real problem, though, in TunnelBear's miserly data allowance of just 500 MB a month. This might be enough if you only need to securely check your email very occasionally, or unblock a single website. But it's far behind the free 10 GB you'll typically get elsewhere.
In this round of updates, we expanded our buying guide to give more detailed information about how free VPNs compare to one another, as well as better highlight their results in our in-depth testing. We updated some imagery and added a section on why free VPNs are beneficial for users around the world, helping in the fight for global internet freedom.
The limited data on most free VPN plans mean they're not ideal for unblocking streaming sites. But it's still interesting to see who delivers on the unblocking front, and who doesn't. To find out, we check whether each provider can access exclusive regional content on (depending on the available locations) US Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney Plus and BBC iPlayer.
Honestly, there isn't one easy answer to this question. It depends on what you want to use your free VPN for. If it's just about having a bit more security on your laptop or mobile when using public Wi-Fi, they can be just the ticket. Jump on the service, turn on an encrypted server connection and crack on with your online activities safe in the knowledge that no prying eyes will be able to see your private information.
But if your main purpose is to have a streaming VPN say, or want to use it while downloading terabytes of torrent files, a free VPN just isn't going to do the trick. For starters, most of them limit you to a daily or monthly data allowance that you'll rinse through in no time at all. While most don't have the kind of easy access support or server range required to make those activities easy with a virtual private network.
1. What is its business model? Providers are in for the money and running such a business does cost a lot, especially if it is a popular one. Some will use their free version, just like Dropbox, as a marketing tool to entice potential customers to move to a paid version once they are happy with the free one. Most, however, will sell user data or provide logging and usage information to a third party that will, again, compromise your privacy.
While the main criticism of free VPNs is that they just aren't half as useful as the paid-for alternatives, there are genuine dangers lurking with some proponents (thankfully not with the services pinpointed above).
For example, research in 2020 suggested that around 40% of the free VPNs available on the Google Play Store do not protect their users' privacy to an adequate level. So the extra online protection you thought you would be getting just isn't there.
It's worth pointing out that you do have to pay upfront for these services. But they pride themselves on making the money back as hassle-free as possible, allowing you to claim a full refund online without trouble.
If you're considering whether to save a little cash or go for a fully fledged premium VPN, weighing up the options is well worth doing. The main thing to do is consider what you want to use your free VPN for.
If a VPN service is based in the USA, it will be subject to search warrants presented by US law-enforcement agencies. Also, all free VPN services log user connections, no matter what the service claims.
A VPN's scrambling and unscrambling of your data can sometimes slow internet traffic to a crawl. The best free VPN will have fast servers connected to huge data pipes to minimize this performance decline. They also have thousands of servers located in scores of countries, ranging from Albania to Zimbabwe.
Well, it depends on what you classify as 'free'. There are plenty of free VPNs that don't part you from your cash, but you could be paying for them by watching ads or even unknowingly giving them your data to sell.
The best free VPN services tend to be 'free versions' that are intended to give you a taster of a paid product before asking you to actually hand over your money. The best providers like Proton VPN and PrivadoVPN do this by using data limits and server restriction to create an incentive to upgrade. Many people do, which pays for the company's costs overall.
It's worth considering what VPNs actually do behind the scenes, though. In simple terms, they encrypt all your traffic, hiding it from your ISP, and can virtually relocate you by sending you through one of its own servers anywhere in the world. That all costs money, so it's well worth being aware of how your free VPN is funded. Pick the wrong provider and you may be doing yourself more harm than good.