How We Chose the Best Free VPNs
Looking for a free VPN is a confusing process. There are some reputable providers out there, but free VPNs often come with a catch — for example, your VPN might sell your activity data to third parties. Privacy is one of the main reasons to use a VPN in the first place, so having your data exposed largely defeats the purpose of getting one.
To help you find the right free VPN, we focused on a few critical factors. While we were able to identify certain strengths and weaknesses of each VPN on this list, the best option for you depends on what you need and what you’re willing to sacrifice.
How They Make Their Money
Naturally, the first thing we had an eye out for is how each of the providers on this list make their money. If they’re not getting it from you, they’re getting it from somewhere else. The best providers are generally upfront about what they do rather than trying to hide their practices.
The most common way that reputable VPNs offer free services is by having paid subscribers subsidize the cost. This is essentially a strategy for lead generation — in other words, having the opportunity to convert free users into paying members is worth the cost of keeping them active. We’ve noted other business models where applicable to help you understand what you might be getting into.
Free VPNs typically come with certain restrictions. Some of the most common limitations include bandwidth limits, speed caps, and access to a smaller range of servers. Some providers offer a limited-time free trial with all of the features that are available with the premium service.
If you only need a VPN for a few tasks each month, bandwidth limits might not be a problem. On the other hand, you might prefer a free VPN with speed caps and no bandwidth limits if you use a lot of data on basic web browsing and other low-impact activities.
Most people want a VPN to stay safe online, but that only makes sense if you trust your provider. Fortunately, some VPNs are taking steps toward transparency by voluntarily undergoing third-party audits of their logging practices or even of their entire code.
While promises of “no-logging policies” are easy to find in VPN marketing copy, they don’t mean anything unless they’ve been verified. We’ve highlighted providers who were willing to have their claims be tested by an independent security expert. We’ve also touched on other relevant security features such as kill switches, anonymous payment options, and 256-bit encryption.