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If you’ve never used a VPN before, you may want to reconsider. Long story short, a VPN is software that routes your internet connection through a third-party server, making it appear as if your connection is coming from that server instead of the computer you’re using.

There are many situations in which this can prove useful, such as:

  • Accessing region-specific websites and services.
  • Getting around network-related routing issues.
  • Encrypting your connection on public Wi-Fi.
  • Adding an extra layer of privacy when browsing or downloading.

If you want a top-tier VPN service, you’ll have to pay for it — up to $15 per month depending on what the service offers. But if you don’t want to pay for a service you may not use very often, you can always turn to a free VPN instead. But before you do, consider the cons.

Downsides to Using Free VPNs

A lot of tech-savvy users don’t trust free VPNs. After all, when somebody offers you something for free, you should always be skeptical and think about why they would do such a thing — true altruism is rare when services are concerned. Here are some of the more common risks to weigh.

  • Data caps. Most free VPNs will cap you to a certain amount of data transfer every month. This data usage includes browsing the web, playing games, downloading files, calling VoIP, etc. A data cap is extremely reasonable and is usually a sign that the service is legit.
  • Speed caps. If you aren’t capped by data, then you’ll definitely be capped by speed. These services should be avoided if you want to stream videos, play multiplayer games, or download files while using the VPN.
  • Unreliable performance. Some free services are known to suffer from regular outages, especially during peak times. Even if the service itself doesn’t go down, you may experience deteriorated speeds during peak times.
  • No privacy guarantee. One way a free service can make money is by selling your personal information. Not all free services do this, but it’s impossible to know who is and who isn’t. If privacy is a top concern, use one of these logless VPNs instead 6 Logless VPNs That Take Your Privacy Seriously 6 Logless VPNs That Take Your Privacy Seriously In an age where every online movement is tracked and logged, a VPN seems a logical choice. We've taken a look at six VPNs that take your anonymity seriously. Read More .
  • Fewer server locations. Free services usually limit which of their servers you can use, whether because it’s easier to consolidate all free users to a handful of servers or because they just want to nudge you towards buying a paid plan.

Still want to use a free VPN? As long as you understand the risks, that’s fine. In this article, we’re going to look at the fastest free VPNs we found — and because speed is top priority, most of these services will have some kind of downside to compensate, so keep that in mind.

Testing Methodology

A VPN can never speed up your internet (it’s one of those oft-repeated VPN myths) but a VPN can slow your internet down if the VPN’s max speed is lower than your ISP’s speed. On the other hand, if the VPN’s max speed is higher than yours, you won’t notice a slowdown.

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To see how each VPN affects my own speed, I’m going to record my baselines using Speedtest.net and Fast.com averaged over three tests:

  • Speedtest.net says I have 29 Mbps down and 6 Mbps up.
  • Fast.com says I have 25 Mbps down.

Going forward, remember that if the speeds go down, it means that the VPN service is limiting my speed, but if the speeds stay the same, it means that the VPN service is not throttling my connection (or the limit is higher than my ISP connection).

1. Windscribe

My testing results for Windscribe:

  • Speedtest.net says I have 29 Mbps down and 6 Mbps up.
  • Fast.com says I have 25 Mbps down.
  • No impact on speed using Windscribe.

Windscribe is the absolute best free VPN service we tested. Not only was speed untouched, but it has the best limits and features:

  • 10 GB per month (can bump to 15 GB if you tweet).
  • 11 free servers including U.S., Canada, U.K., and Germany.
  • 1 connection at a time but usable across multiple devices.
  • Supported platforms include Windows, Mac, iOS, Blackberry, Chrome, Firefox, Opera, and DD-WRT routers. Linux and Android require Pro.

2. Hide.me

My testing results for Hide.me:

  • Speedtest.net says I have 26 Mbps down and 5 Mbps up.
  • Fast.com says I have 25 Mbps down.
  • Very little impact on speed using Hide.me.

While Hide.me has great performance for a free VPN, its limits are noticeably more strict than Windscribe. If Windscribe is unavailable to you, however, Hide.me is the next best thing. Here’s what you get as a free user:

  • 2 GB per month.
  • 3 free servers located in Canada, Netherlands, and Singapore.
  • 1 connection at a time but usable across multiple devices.
  • Supported platforms include Windows, Mac, Android, iOS.
  • Hide.me claims to never log any of your information.

The one big downside to Hide.me is that free users are subject to something called best effort bandwidth, meaning your speeds will fluctuate depending on network demand. Paid users are always given highest priority. That being said, your speeds will never drop below 3 Mbps as a free user.

3. Spotflux

My testing results for Spotflux:

  • Speedtest.net says I have 29 Mbps down and 6 Mbps up.
  • Fast.com says I have 0.6 Mbps down.
  • No impact on Speedtest but huge impact on Fast. Reasons unclear.

Spotflux’s main goal is to protect and enhance your internet connection through features like encryption, malware guard, and data compression. It does this by filtering all of your traffic “through the Spotflux cloud” — marketing speak that describes pretty much all VPN services.

The biggest draw is that Spotflux promises no network throttling at all for any reason, but the biggest flaw is that the free version will show you ads. Advanced features like malware guard, ad-scrubbing, access to their premium network, and data compression are only available to paid users.

4. CyberGhost

My testing results for CyberGhost:

  • Speedtest.net says I have 29 Mbps down and 6 Mbps up.
  • Fast.com says I have 0.6 Mbps down.
  • No impact on Speedtest but huge impact on Fast. Reasons unclear.

CyberGhost has been one of the best-known free VPN services for many years, and even after all this time it’s still good enough to recommend. It has tighter restrictions than the other services mentioned above, but if you only need VPN for a few minutes here and there, CyberGhost will be more than enough.

  • Unlimited traffic per month.
  • 12 free servers including U.S., U.K., Germany, and Romania.
  • 1 connection at a time but usable across multiple devices.
  • Supported platforms include Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS.

If that sounds too good to be true, here are the free restrictions:

  • Waiting queue when server load is too great. I started in queue spot 2,500 and it took me about one minute to be granted a slot.
  • Forced disconnection after three hours. You may immediately reconnect, but you will have to wait in the queue if server load is too great.
  • Ads are shown once every 120 minutes.

5. Private Tunnel

My testing results for Private Tunnel:

  • Speedtest.net says I have 27 Mbps down and 6 Mbps up.
  • Fast.com says I have 7 Mbps down.
  • Very little impact on Speedtest but significant impact on Fast. Reasons unclear.

Private Tunnel is one of the more trustworthy VPN services seeing as it’s developed by the same team behind OpenVPN. This trustworthiness comes with a cost though: the free plan isn’t really a free plan. It’s more like a trial that you can extend through referrals.

  • 200 MB (plus 200 MB for every referral).
  • Encryption for all of your internet traffic.
  • 12 server locations including U.S., Canada, U.K., and Germany.
  • Supported platforms include Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS.

If you don’t want to pay monthly, you can buy one-time data packs: 20 GB for $10 or 100 GB for $20. This is a strong option for infrequent users who can’t make full use of Private Tunnel’s monthly plans.

Which Free VPN Do You Use?

Be careful when using a VPN that you don’t fall victim to a false sense of security. Even though we’re constantly urge you to start using one — which you should — it should also be noted that VPNs are not as secure as most people think 5 Ways Your VPN Is Not as Private as You Think It Is 5 Ways Your VPN Is Not as Private as You Think It Is Your VPN is not as secure or private as you think it is. We explain why you and your browsing history might not be anonymous after all. Read More . Use VPNs, but be realistic.

Not satisfied by these free services? Then it’s time for you to consider becoming a paid user. There are hundreds of paid VPN services out there and most of them aren’t worth it, so if you’re feeling lost or overwhelmed, start with our Best VPNs guide The Best VPN Services The Best VPN Services We've compiled a list of what we consider to be the best Virtual Private Network (VPN) service providers, grouped by premium, free, and torrent-friendly. Read More that features many of the best including ExpressVPN.

Are there any awesome free VPNs that we missed? Which one are you using? Share your thoughts and experiences with us in the comments below!

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  1. Mike
    July 25, 2017 at 10:44 pm

    I can't believe the number of bloggers and SEO pros who don't know anything
    p.s Stay away from the Warrior Forums lol

  2. Windscriber
    June 21, 2017 at 5:04 am

    Windscribe is my favorite free VPN! I found them on GetFastVPN in a comparison table of free VPNs and have been using them since, I'm quite pleased and excited to see how they grow since they are so new!

  3. Anon
    March 4, 2017 at 11:39 pm

    What about GenerousVPN? They have a no-logging policy and use a "pay-what-you-want" pricing model (including free). They use OpenVPN so it can run on mobile and desktop devices alike. Speeds average around 5Mb up and 5Mb down, which is not bad for being free! They're also based in the Netherlands, which is relatively "torrent-friendly."

    • Young William
      March 15, 2017 at 10:57 am

      For the fastest vpn service, I would say Astrill top other vpn providers. I have been relying on them for my business needs in the past two years. So far, so great.

      • Angel Hawkins
        March 28, 2017 at 4:31 am

        Sounds great. I am almost done with my 1st year contract with Astrill. Might be renewing it then.

  4. Alexandra
    February 21, 2017 at 2:42 pm

    Ghost VPN Unlimited Free VPN ! Ghost VPN \U0001f947Unlimited Free VPN - Android Apps on Google Play Is the pick of the bunch giving the best streaming performance for free. I’m surprised at its ease and speed in maxing out 500 GB :D and maintaining it. Web browsing and pings are also smooth and consistent on Android phone. I Recommend for all !

  5. Michael K
    February 16, 2017 at 6:02 pm

    Hi Joel,

    Just a thought on why some of those services appeared to throttle the connection on fast.com but not speedtest.net might be because Fast is run by Netflix and those services might throttle any kind of major media streaming services such as Netflix as they use such a large amount of data.

    I could be wrong, but thought it might be helpful.

    • Alexandra
      February 21, 2017 at 2:43 pm

      Ghost VPN \U0001f947Unlimited Free VPN ! Ghost VPN \U0001f947Unlimited Free VPN - Android Apps on Google Play Is the pick of the bunch giving the best streaming performance for free. I’m surprised at its ease and speed in maxing out 500 GB :D and maintaining it. Web browsing and pings are also smooth and consistent on Android phone. I Recommend for all !

    • Joel Lee
      February 22, 2017 at 7:05 pm

      Thanks Michael, that makes sense! On the other hand, I've heard that ISPs will completely unthrottle connections to Speedtest to make it seem like the connection is faster than it really is... Pretty annoying that ISPs can interfere like this.