5 Great Free VPN Services Compared: Which Is Fastest?

VPN Services Compared Intro   5 Great Free VPN Services Compared: Which Is Fastest?Virtual private networks, or VPNs, have been around for a while but they still aren’t much of a mainstream service. The only ones who know about VPNs are those who are sufficiently tech-literate, and of the ones who do know, only a fraction actually use them. That’s a shame because VPNs are a fantastic bit of technology that deserve more attention.

There are many reasons to use a free VPN. The name may sound overly technical and daunting, especially if all you do is check emails and post to Facebook, but trust me – they’re surprisingly easy to use and not much of a hassle to set up. Join me as I explain the nature of VPNs, how you can benefit from them, and where to find the fastest ones for free.

Virtual Private Networks 101

Simply put, a network is a group of computers that are interconnected in such a way that they can communicate with one another. A private network is a network where access is limited – in most cases, it just means that the network can’t be found on the public Internet.

A virtual private network, then, is a private network that has been extended onto the public Internet, allowing users to connect to that private network from outside of that private network. This is often accomplished by setting up a connection point on the actual private network that relays information from the outsiders, to the network, and back to the outsiders.

How is this useful, anyway?

  • In a business environment, VPNs can be used for telecommuting by allowing employees to “remote in” from home and remain as part of the network.
  • Users can redirect their Internet traffic through VPNs, which provides an added layer of privacy and anonymity. It’s similar to the concept of proxy networks, but VPNs offer many more features than simple web proxies do.
  • When set up properly, VPNs can be used to access region-blocked web content. The website will see that your connection is coming from the VPN’s location instead of your own, but the VPN will forward the data to you.
  • VPNs can be used by gamers to simulate a local area network over the public Internet.

If you want to learn more about free VPNs, check out Dave’s overview of VPN tunnels.

Speed Test Methodology

Before testing any of the VPN speeds, I’m going to establish my baseline speeds:

  • Download: 22.17 Mbps
  • Latency: 16 milliseconds

All tests are performed using SpeedTest, a service that I’ve always found to be reliable and accurate. All tests are conducted on the New York, New York, US servers on SpeedTest and each VPN will be tested three times throughout the day and then averaged for their final results.

What should you look for? If all you care about is web browsing, then your main concern should be a low latency. If you want to stream videos or download big files, then a high download speed is what you want.

HotSpot Shield Free

fastest vpn hotspotshield   5 Great Free VPN Services Compared: Which Is Fastest?

HotSpot Shield is a pretty well-known VPN service and it has some good metrics but comes with its own set of flaws – mainly that the free version is supported by ads which can quickly grow annoying depending on how badly you hate spontaneous ads. It’s good at improving your Internet privacy and protection against malware, though, and the speeds are commendable.

  • Download: 6.53 + 6.31 + 6.36 = 6.40 Mbps
  • Latency: 90 + 89 + 91 = 90 milliseconds

Available on Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android.

Note: For a better idea of what this VPN service can do for you, check out our overview of HotSpot Shield.

Private Tunnel

fastest vpn privatetunnel   5 Great Free VPN Services Compared: Which Is Fastest?

With Private Tunnel, you can connect to VPN servers in the US, UK, Switzerland, Canada, and Amsterdam. The pricing for Private Tunnel is a bit unconventional: you start off with 100 MB of traffic and purchase blocks of data when you run out of data. No monthly fees – it’s all pay-as-you-go. Depending on why you need a VPN, this could be a very economical choice.

  • Download: 20.91 + 20.92 + 20.53 = 20.79 Mbps
  • Latency: 63 + 62 + 63 = 63 milliseconds

Available on Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android.

OkayFreedom VPN

fastest vpn okayfreedom   5 Great Free VPN Services Compared: Which Is Fastest?

OkayFreedom is a free VPN service that’s more focused on privacy and freedom (as the name would suggest) and will encrypt your connection and unblock sites that are beyond your access. You can select from between American, British, French, German, or Swiss locations. Unfortunately, the free version limits you to 500 MB of traffic per month, though you can raise that to 1 GB if you refer others to the service.

  • Download: 20.86 + 20.44 + 20.95 = 20.75 Mbps
  • Latency: 69 + 72 + 73 = 71 milliseconds

Available on Windows only.

CyberGhost

fastest vpn cyberghost   5 Great Free VPN Services Compared: Which Is Fastest?

CyberGhost is a VPN service that we’ve covered before. They do good work and they provide a free version of their VPN service that offers great bang for the buck: approximately 1950 GB of monthly traffic with bandwidth speed supposedly capped at 1 Mbps. Plus, they have over 200 servers in 19 different countries for wide availability.

  • Download: 20.60 + 20.62 + 20.60 = 20.61 Mbps
  • Latency: 36 + 36 + 37 = 36 milliseconds

The CyberGhost client is only available on Windows, but it’s possible to utilize a CyberGhost account using another VPN protocol outside of the official client.

JustFreeVPN

fastest vpn justfreevpn   5 Great Free VPN Services Compared: Which Is Fastest?

JustFreeVPN is a free VPN service based on PPTP and all of your data is encrypted. Their VPN servers are hosted in the US, UK, and Canada, but there isn’t any choice of where in those countries you can connect.

  • Download: 1.44 + 0.45 + 0.28 = 0.72 Mbps
  • Latency: 119 + 82 + 137 = 113 milliseconds

Note: Setup is a bit more complicated since JustFreeVPN doesn’t have their own client, but fortunately they have some easy-to-follow instructions.

Conclusion

My absolute favorite out of the list would be CyberGhost because it has lots of freedom, flexibility, and performance. OkayFreedom would be my second pick if you can handle the monthly traffic limit, with HotSpot Shield being my third pick if you can handle the ads.

With the services described above, you should be able to enjoy the benefits of VPN without having to fork over a single cent, but if you plan on traffic-heavy activity (torrent downloads, Netflix binges, etc.) you may want to look into paid VPN alternatives.

Image Credit: VPN Mouse Via Shutterstock

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48 Comments -

Linda Prescott

Thank you for the review .. not sure I will use one just yet but glad to have more information!

PseudoChris

I use hotspot for BBC and other region restricted content. Works perfectly and better yet, it’s free. :)

peter

I also use cyber ghost and I’m very pleased with it’s performance. Maybe worth mentioning: the free version has a 6 hour connection limit and will boot you when reaching the time limit. No worries. Just hit the connect button and you’re back in business. Also. The free version does not allow you to select server location. Cyberghost works for me.

Joel L

Good catches. Thanks for sharing!

Tim Alfie

I spoke to Cyberghost recently and they mentioned that there are 20 servers to pick from on the free subscription, different countries included. Also seems that there’s no guarantee of unlimited bandwidth unless you go premium. Regarding speeds, the review site BestVPNz did some speed tests on their servers: http://bestvpnz.com/cyberghost-vpn

mudi

After connecting just close the Cyberghost program from task manager via Endtask and than 6 hour limit will not apply. You can use for unlimited time until your restart your pc

Mug

The new Cyberghost5 has a new lower 3 hour limit on the free version, to low for me !!!

ankit

the speed of the vpn is only as good as your internet connection speed. you should also mention in the article what your average internet speed is sans the vpn

Joel L

I did record my baseline Internet speed sans-VPN in the Methodology section of the article.

Louis

@Ankint – Actually Joel did mention that those values are baseline measured before testing any VPN.

Koshy George

You forgot to mention Tunnelbear which in my mind the the best free VPN service http://www.tunnelbear.com

Shiju

thanks for this article.
What about VPNBOOK.com? highly appreciate if makeuseof could reivew this service too.

haikuza

vpnbook released information of anonymous hackers to the courts.

Ryszard Grodzicki

I personally use VPNs for downloading from websites like ul.to , rapidgator , etc. to decrease the waiting time between files. To do this even more effectively I use more than one VPN : CyberGhost, TunnelBear and SecurityKISS Tunnel. I really recommend all of them.
SecurityKISS has a traffic limit of 300 Mb per day, and you can choose between servers from France, US, UK and Germany.
TunnelBear has a limit of 500 Mb per Month and you can choose between UK and US servers. You can increase the traffic limit by tweeting every month. Additionally it has a very nice UI and it’s extremely easy to use.

Joel L

That’s definitely one way to benefit from VPNs. Never thought about that but it makes sense. Thanks!

Jim Eubanks

I set up CyberGhost on my Mac. The Tunnelblic configuration files wouldn’t copy correctly using the installer, so I copied them manually and it works fine.

However, I found that using a VPN messes up many sites. Much of this is because most of the VPN servers being in other countries. LastPass considers it a security risk and has to be manually configured for each country it can be accessed from. Even Google and Facebook were a problem. I imagine shopping sites like Amazon will have issues too.

So, while VPNs are good for surfing news sites, or downloading files, they are of questionable value for much internet use and most internet users. I would dearly love to transparently use a Data Encryption, a Sandbox service, VPN server, and PGP for e-mail all of the time. However, all require initial technical work, and some require frequent work to keep things working smoothly, or extra steps to perform normally simple tasks. Someday these tools will become seamless, but we are not there yet.

Louis

@Jim – You’re right on the technical work involved with some sites. However I don’t think this will ever be solved since the problem is purposely caused by those sites. Gmail for example is extremely annoying. They have set filters for your country of connection and if this is different from your usual country they force you in a disgusting verification system which involves even your mobile number. This happens not only virtually of course but also when you physically move to another country. They made a mess with my account making me to change my password, which I did not want to! If you could bypass the filter then a location that you don’t want to show, will be displayed on your email.

Louis

Hi Joel,

Thanks a lot for the article. Very interesting indeed and well written.
I have not used vpn’s yet but I will have a go.

cheers

Grr

thanks. I would appreciate a simple table comparing the VPNs above for speed, latency, free limit – to get a quick idea as to what is available to grab for free.

btw- u email is shown in the private tunnel pic, which u may want to hide.

Eric

I choose VPNBook !

amin

free vpn

Demmy

I’m sorry but I’m a tad bit confused.My issue is, my friends and I have a small office setup. Most times we never get to finish up the days job and would wish we could connect from home. I know what we need is a VPN client. But how can all these clients mentioned address my predicament. Please advise. Thanks

Maya M

Thank-you for your review !

Marcon

I used to be a CyberGhost user but switched to SecurityKISS. For me it’s fastest and most flexible, but first of all I recommend the articles on securitykiss website that I believe everyone should read.
VPN like any tool can be misused, and there is a lot to learn.

yh

my favorite is justfreevpn but i found tried spotflux and found it quite easy to use and it is secure one too ……

Mike Jones

Hi Joel, brilliant article there, I’ve never really considered using free VPNs and have only ever used paid for ones, I’ve recently written an article about the benefits of using a VPN and also created an easy to use comparison table of some of the better paid for VPN services, perhaps your readers would be interested in that too? I’ve titled it Top Five Reasons to use a VPN at http://www.vpncompare.co.uk/top-five-reasons-to-use-a-vpn/ – Feel free to pop over to my site and drop a link back to your article in the comments.

Vivek

I wish if you could write a follow up article of such clients for Ubuntu/Linux systems. Also, It would be nice if you could help me setting a VPN behind my University’s firewall. Thanks!

Vlad

I recommend shadeyou.com fast, free service without advertizing

noProblem

I recommend CyberGhost because is easy to chek why is best

Ruthie L

thanks so much! i’ve been tryin to watch hulu in taipei with hotshield.. super slow… stab my eye slow.

Comfort

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or still the same add me on Yh messenger on (B e a u t y . k a t e 1 1) . I also have access on G m a i l and the address is (C o m f o r t . c a r d o s o 2 0 1 3 at G m a i l dot c om ). Please try and send me an E m a i l on my (a d d r e s s ) so i can take notice of yours and send you some Photos of myself. I will like to take the chances to get to know more about you.. I will be on wait for your note.. Take care and have a good day..

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(C o m f o r t . c a r d o s o 2 0 1 3 at G m a i l dot c om )

Comfort.

Joe

I’ve tried out a dozen or so different premium VPNs and the best one I’ve used is Kepard. All servers are insanely fast and they have a great Android app too. If you sign up through a referral link, you get 15 days of premium VPN for free. Then you can get an additional 6 months free by getting 6 others to sign up thru your referral link. You don’t need a credit card to sign up for the trial either. Here’s my referral link (I already got the max 6 months free so I could care less if you use this, but you wont get the 15 free trial if you sign up without a referral):

http://kep.md/5e0y

PCFixYa

How about just http://openvpn.net/ ??

Gangster 4 life

I’ve watched gay porn through a VPN , no 1 knows…lol

Gegeu

I know, right? :-)

Matt

I always use http://www.freeukvpn.co.uk means i can watch BBC iPlayer etc abroad, not sure that the other listed providers are able to do that? Will try them and see.

PJ

I agree that CyberGhost version 4.7 was an absolute dream, very easy to use with very generous bandwidth limits in the free version, but since the `improvements`in version 5 it has become a complete pig with ever longer connect wait times and speed throttling in the free version.

RandiO

If one were to be relying on a VoIP phone, would the drastic increases (slower) in the “latency” spec cause a horrible phone connection?

Harry Palmer

Used Cyber Ghost once, on the account of being FREE. Well, after a while, though, the harassment started. Continuous attempt (from CG) for me to join a paid subscription.
Used HotSpotShield and it workd. No hassles.
Cheers and Baba Booey to you all…

jessica

seriously i tried lots of vpn services. but i didnt find any of them faster then this one https://www.waselpro.com/en/

Mark Smith

Good findings for Free VPN. Due to lack of features in free setup, i would recommend only Hotspot and Cyberghost for free vpn. Though they also provide lesser features as compare to their premium account but still they are reliable and comparatively better free VPN service providers. I have been using both of them. Moreover you can go through to comparison tool to find more about them. Source: http://goo.gl/bS9zNd

Bela

As a student we welcome private tunnel!

John

lab5vpn is going to launch soon
here is our website
http://www.lab5vpn.com/

helllodurrr

ur service is $27…
this article strictly talks about free vpn haha

el-gordo

I downloaded Hotspot Shield on the basis of this article and it is probably the worst piece of software I have ever downloaded. Seized my mac up completely.

Really, really terrible, to the point I am not convinced it isn’t actually Malware. Avoid it at all costs. Gone back to HMA – you get what you pay for.

Chris

Are any of these Open-Source Software (OSS)?

If not, and if the vendors use compromised security protocols to connect, there is absolutely no way to assure security within the VPN tunnel.

Even OSS cannot be fully-vetted (e.g. see the classic “One Must Trust, Somewhere” argument), but it becomes more difficult to insert flaws when open [to some extent] examination is possible.