Best FREE VPNs of 2017

By Andrey Doichev|thebestvpn.com

 

1. WindScribe.com: 10GB/mo Data Cap, 11 Locations

Windscribe VPN

What is WindScribe?

Windscribe is a Canadian VPN provider founded in 2015.

They’re new, but highly respected in different VPN communities like reddit (/vpn/).

Windscribe offers you a very generous 10GB (month) bandwidth for you to test them out. If you tweet them out, you’ll receive another 5GB.

It’s a lot, as many free VPNs don’t give out that much bandwidth and the ones with no data cap tend to be VERY slow. Let’s see how WindScribe handles my 100 Mbps connection:

Windscribe VPN Connection Speeds

  • Ping: 61ms
  • Download: 39.81 Mbps out of 100 Mbps
  • Upload: 19.77 Mbps out of 100 Mbps

For a free VPN, these speeds are nothing too bad. Some paid VPNs like PureVPN (review) are even slower. And for comparison, the free VPN called Betternet (review) comes with <5 Mbps download speed.

Features: Adblock, built in firewall, 11 locations, no logging.

As a free user, you will receive access to some features such as WindScribe’s built in firewall & adblock as well as P2P capabilities – but no OpenVPN Configs and the array of other Pro features.

Server-wise, you can connect to one of their 11 out of 46 locations:

  • United States
  • Canada
  • United Kingdom
  • Hong Kong
  • France
  • Germany
  • Luxembourg
  • Netherlands
  • and 3 more.

According to WindScribe.com webpage, they do not log and store any of your VPN data and you can sign up to their services without email and pay via Bitcoin anonymously.

If that’s not taking privacy to an extreme, what is? Windscribe’s app (available on Win, Mac, iOS & Android) is minimal, sleek and intuitive to use.

Do I recommend Windscribe?

Yes.

Abundance of locations, torrenting possible and a huge data cap. I do love their progressiveness and innovative nature. They do seem to be one of the few legitimate free VPNs out there.

Pros: 100% free, zero logging, max connection speeds, 11 different server locations, ad block + firewall
Cons: 1 simultaneous connection max.

 

2. Hide.me: 2GB/mo Data Cap, 3 Countries, Free

HideMe VPN

What is Hide me VPN?

Founded back in 2011 by Malaysian eVenture Limited, Hide.Me is a fairly popular and well-known VPN service.

Next to their $5 and $10 plan, they offer a “free forever” option. Unlike WindScribe, Hide.Me unfortunately restricts your bandwidth to a 2GB monthly maximum.

If you plan to use VPN daily, you’ll run out quite quickly.

Hide.Me VPN Connection Speeds

  • Ping: 61ms
  • Download: 45.69 Mbps out of 100 Mbps
  • Upload: 28.60 Mbps out of 100 Mbps

Things look a lot rosier when it comes to Hide.Me’s connection speeds. These are more than adequate speeds for a free plan.

Features: 3 locations, smooth app (Win, Mac, iOs, Android), no logging.

You’re offered a choice of only 3 locations

  1. Netherlands
  2. Singapore
  3. Canada.

None of those servers are geo-block optimized, meaning they are unlikely to circumvent Netflix restrictions.

What disappointed me more is their protocol policy on free plans. No OpenVPN. A controversial choice I strongly disagree with. Free or not – there is no compromise for maximum security, if you have the capabilities.

They don’t keep any logs (stated clearly in their policy).

Their software client is more than acceptable. The straightforward, minimal client (Windows, Mac, iOS & Android) gives you a glimpse of what you can expect should you chose to convert to a paying customer.

And, of course, that was their goal from the get go.

Do I recommend Hide.Me?

Yes. If you don’t care about their 2GB/month data cap. It’s just meant to give you a taste of what they can do.

Pros: 100% free, zero logging, no ads and a good client.
Cons: 2GB data cap, 1 connection max.

or read Hide Me VPN review

 

3. ProtonVPN.com: No Data Cap, Windows Only

Proton VPN

What is ProtonVPN?

ProtonVPN is one of the newest VPN providers in the industry. Proton AG are a group of CERN & Harvard scientists and privacy advocate, set out to change the world of cyber security..

Following their earlier success with innovating and disrupting the privacy industry (like protonmail), ProtonVPN continue their effort by imposing no bandwidth caps on your traffic.

ProtonVPN Connection Speeds

  • Ping: 44 ms
  • Download: 34.40 Mbps out of 100 Mbps
  • Upload: 23.15 Mbps out of 100 Mbps

Certainly good enough speeds for a free plan – with no data cap. With free plans it’s either low data cap and super-fast speeds, or no data cap and extremely slow speeds. Seeing such fast speeds, without a data cap is certainly refreshing.

Important: Don’t expect these speeds to last. As Proton becomes more and more well-known and used throughout the globe, speeds for free users will suffer.

Free Plan Conditions, Privacy & VPN Client

As a free user, you will have access to servers in:

  • Netherlands,
  • USA
  • Switzerland
  • Japan

All in all about a half a dozen servers.

None of those are enabled for geo-circumventing (Netflix) or P2P optimized (torrenting).

Next to only one max connection, you won’t have access to any of their unique features such as high-priority servers, their Secure Core, Tor integration etc. Situated in Switzerland and with so many privacy accolades under their belt, Proton is 100% the single most privacy-conscious VPN provider in the world, with no logging.

Being a very new VPN service, Proton have yet to develop standalone clients for operating systems other than Windows. They don’t have standalone app for:

  • Android
  • iPhone
  • Mac

For Mac, iOS & Android you will have to go through a lengthy 3rd party software installation and configuration process and won’t be able to make use of many ProtonVPN features.

Do I recommend ProtonVPN?

As a free VPN service? 100%.

Get in while they are still new and haven’t changed their terms. Even if you’re using a Mac, the workaround is worth the unlimited bandwidth and top free VPN speeds.

Pros: No data cap, decent download and upload speed
Cons: No app for Mac, iOS and Android (3rd party software installation is required), No Netflix, No Torrenting

www.ProtonVPN.com

or read ProtonVPN review

 

4. HotspotShield.com: 500MB/day Data Cap, 20 Countries

Hotspot Shield VPN

What is Hotspot Shield VPN?

One of the oldest public VPN providers, Hotspot Shield was created by the US company AnchorFree.

Neither the fact they are based in the USA nor that they backed by $52 million financing by Goldman Sachs makes me feel very safe.

Until very recently Hotspot Shield did not impose any bandwidth limits on their free users. You were instead monetized by being displayed ads.

That said, in June 2017, Hotspot implemented the following data caps:

  • AndroidData Cap is 256MB per day and resets every 24hrs.
  • DesktopData Cap is set to 750MB per day and reset every 24hrs.

At 500MB, you will lose access to video sites for 24 hours and will be prompted to “share Hotspot Shield with 10 friends to restore access”

Hotspot Shield VPN Connection Speeds

  • Ping: 66ms
  • Download: 26.82 Mbps out of 100 Mbps
  • Upload: 30.95 Mbps out of 100 Mbps

This speed, for a free plan that has been offered for over a decade and used by presumably millions of users is quite good.

Features: 20 countries, Free Plan Conditions, Privacy & VPN Client

Hotspot Shield were mindful not to share too much about their free plan on their website, instead baiting you into just “giving them a go”.

As a free user, you will have access to 20 of their locations (US, UK, JP, IN, AU, CA, CN, TR, UA and more) and limited access to their features such as geo-circumvention and basic malware protection.

Hotspot clearly state in their prominently displayed Privacy FAQ that they do not log or store any user data.

The client is a bit more clunky than I’d like. It looks unpolished and isn’t as intuitive as other clients.

The ads which display don’t really help the situation. At least it’s supported on all major (Win, Mac, iOS, Android) operating systems and even some browsers (Chrome)

Do I recommend Hotspot Shield?

Yes, with a caveat.

For very basic users, who are in need for safe and anonymous browsing, not looking to watch videos, Hotspot Shield are a solid choice.

Pros: Good download and upload speed, works on all devices.
Cons: Data cap limitations.

www.HotSpotShield.com

or read Hotspot Shield VPN review

 

5. Tunnelbear.com: 500MB/mo Data Cap, 3 Countries

Tunnelbear VPN

What is Tunnelbear VPN?

Without a doubt the cutest VPN service, the Canadian Tunnelbear Inc have been making the round ever since their 2011 inception.

A strong emphasis on putting forth an extremely beginner friendly VPN service, Tunnelbear offer you a monthly 500MB free data to test out their servers

PS: Hit them up on twitter, tell us we sent you and they’ll throw in another 1GB in free data.

The first thing you should think of when you see such a low data cap is “this isn’t meant for regular use; they are trying to sell me”. You’d be right of course. This is all marketing. Which make the following very, very strange.

Tunnelbear VPN Connection Speeds

  • Ping: 98ms
  • Download: 15.09 Mbps out of 100 Mbps
  • Upload: 7.49 Mbps out of 100 Mbps

Clearly, a very unimpressive result. Say goodbye to productivity and hello to headaches and frustrating buffering.

Free Plan Conditions, Privacy & VPN Client

Tunnelbear are minimal to a fault – their website provides almost no information. No protocol, encryption, max connections, servers & countries or bandwidth info. The almost hidden “20+ countries” is about the extent of what they deem worth sharing.

At least they had the sense to lay out their privacy policies in which they clearly and fully state the extent of their information collecting – absolutely zero IP and data logging.

Their Tunnelbear client, available on Mac, Windows, iOS and Android, is very simple to use and further builds on their ideals of less is more. The free app even provides some basic options like a kill switch.

Do I recommend Tunnelbear?

No.

All in all, while they have done everything right, their speeds and low data cap make this a poorly executed marketing trick and nothing more. If you’re looking for a long term free VPN, Tunnelbear is not what you’re after.

Pros: 100% free, zero logging, works on all devices.
Cons: Data cap, very slow connection speeds, no torrenting allowed.

www.TunnelBear.com

or read our Tunnelbear review

 

6. Avira Phantom VPN: 500MB/mo Data Cap, 20 Countries

Avira Phantom VPNWhat is Avira Phantom VPN?

A subsidiary of famous German antivirus company Avira, Phantom is their new VPN.

Should you decide $5.95 a month isn’t a price you’re willing to pay, Phantom is offering you a 500MB data cap per month for you to use free of charge (similarly to Hotspot Shield)

Avira Phantom VPN Connection Speeds

  • Ping: 41ms
  • Download: 6.98 Mbps out of 100 Mbps
  • Upload: 9.02 Mbps out of 100 Mbps

Not a surprise for such a massive corporation, it seems like Avira didn’t put in enough effort to ensure fast speeds.

In fact, they’re one of the slowest VPNs we’ve ever tested.

Free Plan Conditions, Privacy & VPN Client

With low data caps and abysmal speeds, Avira instead banked on converting you by showcasing many of their premium features.

DNS leak protection, geo-block circumvention and over 20 server locations will be available to you as a free user.

As should be expected, Avira do not track anything other than the amount of data you consume as a free user. No IP logging or websites tracked.

Offered to all major operating systems (but only the latest versions), Phantom’s connection client is both straightforward and easy to use.

Do I recommend Avira Phantom?

No. A bottom shelf data cap and some of the slowest speeds around, what could you possibly do with Phantom? With so many better options around, Avira have a lot of catching up to do.

Pros: 100% free, zero logging, works on all devices.
Cons: Very slow connection speed, small data cap

www.Avira.com

 

7. Betternet.com: 2GB/mo Data Cap, US Servers only

What is Betternet?

BetterNet VPNFounded in 2015 by Canadian Betternet Technologies Inc, Betternet used to be a “free only” VPN which has recently switched over to a premium model.

One of Betternet’s “Free forever” promises went hand in hand with their lack of data capping. The way they monetized their users (ads) allowed them to offer unencumbered use of their networks.

This hasn’t changed. You can use Betternet’s VPN for as much and as long as you want – no data caps, hooray.

Betternet VPN Connection Speeds

  • Ping: 64 ms
  • Download: 3.64 Mbps out of 100 Mbps
  • Upload: 12.41 Mbps out of 100 Mbps

But here’s the catch – this VPN is practically useless. We did multiple tests are never managed to achieve a better download speed than that.

Free Plan Conditions, Privacy & VPN Client

As a free user, you do not seem to have a choice of servers. Should you attempt to change the server location, you will be greeted with a “Upgrade now!” page.

In our tests, Betternet defaulted to connecting us to a US server.

Additionally, Betternet do not seem to have implemented many features for their free users such as kill switches, DNS leak protection etc.

Betternet do not collect, log, store or share any identifiable personal information. This translates into a no logging policy as with most other VPN providers. Perhaps one of the simplest clients for free users, void of even mandatory user login, Betternet’s software is a breeze to use.

Betternet clients are available for Mac, Windows, iOS, Android as well as for both Chrome and Firefox

Do I recommend Betternet?

No. With less than 1% efficiency, just forget streaming video or torrenting anything bigger than a song file. It’s OK for changing your IP, but for serious use – forget it.

Pros: 100% free, zero logging, works on all devices.
Cons: Slowest connection speed, no torrenting is possible

https://thebestvpn.com/free-vpn/

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