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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.

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

  • says I have 29 Mbps down and 6 Mbps up.
  • 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:

  • says I have 29 Mbps down and 6 Mbps up.
  • 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.


My testing results for

  • says I have 26 Mbps down and 5 Mbps up.
  • says I have 25 Mbps down.
  • Very little impact on speed using

While has great performance for a free VPN, its limits are noticeably more strict than Windscribe. If Windscribe is unavailable to you, however, 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.
  • claims to never log any of your information.

The one big downside to 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:

  • says I have 29 Mbps down and 6 Mbps up.
  • 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:

  • says I have 29 Mbps down and 6 Mbps up.
  • 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:

  • says I have 27 Mbps down and 6 Mbps up.
  • 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 .

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!

  1. 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 but not 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.

  2. stronghawk33
    January 26, 2017 at 4:36 pm

    I've used a lot of free VPNs in the past but they're not as reliable as the paid ones. I'm currently subscribed with Astrill and I couldn't be more satisfied with the security they're providing me. I'd rather pay than take too much risk with these free VPNs.

  3. Tera
    January 10, 2017 at 4:40 am

    I saw you renewed for a decent period, was
    that because of search engine optimisation?
    Added a link on Facebook, hope thats okay!

  4. Armando
    October 25, 2016 at 4:01 am

    So does things like Digg and Reddit now count for search engine optimisation?
    I heard they help after the Panda Google algorithm refresh

  5. Nnyan
    October 6, 2016 at 4:00 pm

    This is an old review, there are many other providers that are much better then any on this list.

  6. Red
    April 28, 2016 at 3:12 am

    when you need to be sure about your privacy go and check at the real good websites.
    For example: JonDonym -

    This software is not working:

    Hola Unblocker -

    anonymoX -

    Media Hint -

    After i check & try selected only few which is working for me and is UNLIMITED or have big limit:

    MaskSurf Pro -
    CyberGhost (Free) -
    Tor browser -
    HotspotShield Elite -

    Enjoy! ;)

  7. Ako
    April 23, 2016 at 5:15 pm

    do any one know how to register with a free vpn

  8. Lauren Aria
    January 22, 2016 at 2:31 pm

    Yes James i am agree with you that paid vpn gives good quality as compare to free but if you willing to enjoy the fastest vpn service then i will suggest to break down each vpn according to their best vpnranks to chose the top ranking services.

  9. katreenakaif
    January 21, 2016 at 11:11 am

    i am totally agree with james even if you analysis about vpnranks then you can realize that only paid url are on top so i will prefer premium for getting fast services.

  10. Jsheng Thong
    October 25, 2015 at 3:04 am

    anyone to know how to unblck steamapps?

  11. Chalayut Kiip
    August 7, 2015 at 11:06 am

    Every list I find on internet has a same bunch of commercial providers that will intentionally slow down their "Free" service to get users to use premium.

    I accidentally run into while looking some info about tor... and tried their freevpn, it's quite good.. stable and fast.

  12. facebook proxy
    April 23, 2015 at 12:57 pm

    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.

  13. James Vang
    March 18, 2015 at 7:00 am

    I like your article about free VPNs. I use some of them but i prefer to use their premium version because of quality.

  14. Dennis
    December 23, 2014 at 7:52 am

    Ridicules? Cyberghost makes fun of you? LOL. Quit your crabbing. Your normal speed is 27 Mbps but isn't private, which was why you were even looking at the article. The author wrote his baseline speeds and the speeds he got when he ran them. Before calling BS on someone, maybe you should write something helpful instead of being a jerk.

    • Maria w
      June 17, 2015 at 6:44 am

      You can get good speed by premium services only. Free VPNs can only help you to blows securely if you want to stream or download than you have to spend some money. There are many other VPN services that are not only cheap but worth buying for anonymity security streaming or downloading. I have been using Private Internet Access, its good and cheap too. During my VPNanalysis cheap VPN Services are much thousand time better then free services

  15. Steve
    December 19, 2014 at 9:26 pm

    The down loads speeds are ridicules ... Cyberghost well not give me a US server. You need to update this page because it's nothing but BS. Not one of these came close to what you stated. My normal speed runs around 27 Mbps and all these free service were under .025 Mbps not even close to what your article states your article is way, way, way, off.

  16. Sajid
    December 16, 2014 at 9:19 am

    I have used Hotspot Shield and CyberGhost and both are good I never tried others before. Now 2014-15 here are lots of new free VPNs have come in industry and working fast such as I personally use Zenmate chrome extension its not a VPN but work like VPN with fast speed. you can also find some more good free VPN here list of VPN that are not unlimited as free but offering limited service which you can avail easily.

  17. Chris
    November 27, 2013 at 10:14 am

    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.

  18. el-gordo
    November 24, 2013 at 12:58 am

    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.

  19. John
    November 18, 2013 at 5:38 am

    lab5vpn is going to launch soon
    here is our website

  20. Bela
    November 12, 2013 at 6:46 am

    As a student we welcome private tunnel!

  21. Mark Smith
    November 11, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    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:

  22. jessica
    November 3, 2013 at 2:01 am

    seriously i tried lots of vpn services. but i didnt find any of them faster then this one

  23. Harry Palmer
    October 27, 2013 at 11:50 am

    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...

  24. RandiO
    October 25, 2013 at 5:59 pm

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

  25. PJ
    October 20, 2013 at 10:17 pm

    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.

  26. Matt
    October 20, 2013 at 5:55 pm

    I always use 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.

  27. Gangster 4 life
    October 10, 2013 at 5:54 am

    I've watched gay porn through a VPN , no 1

    • Gegeu
      October 10, 2013 at 2:56 pm

      I know, right? :-)

  28. PCFixYa
    October 2, 2013 at 9:37 am

    How about just ??

  29. Joe
    September 24, 2013 at 11:51 pm

    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):

  30. Comfort
    September 15, 2013 at 2:14 pm

    WOW! you're really a handsome man and have a nice profile as well.. How are you doing today and how's your day moving on with you?? My name is Comfort and am a single lady with no kids. Am new to this Online internet dating and i don't really know much about it as you do.. I am a good Christian woman who have been in a relationship for some times but all didnt work out. I live with my Mum, Uncle and Niece. How long have you been on here?? Well, I was searching through the profiles on here and came across your profile so i thought it wise to send you an note. I'm really not a member on here so I would like you reach me on my( P r i v i t e E m a i l ) on (B e a u t y . k a t e 1 1 (at) yh dot com)
    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..

    ( P r i v i t e E m a i l ) on (B e a u t y . k a t e 1 1 (at) yh dot com)

    (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 )


  31. Ruthie L
    September 13, 2013 at 4:27 pm

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

  32. noProblem
    September 8, 2013 at 6:23 pm

    I recommend CyberGhost because is easy to chek why is best

  33. Vlad
    September 6, 2013 at 4:26 pm

    I recommend fast, free service without advertizing

  34. Vivek
    September 6, 2013 at 2:45 am

    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!

  35. Mike Jones
    August 12, 2013 at 10:13 pm

    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 - Feel free to pop over to my site and drop a link back to your article in the comments.

  36. yh
    August 8, 2013 at 9:43 am

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

  37. Marcon
    August 5, 2013 at 1:12 pm

    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.

  38. Maya M
    July 25, 2013 at 8:28 pm

    Thank-you for your review !

  39. Demmy
    July 24, 2013 at 11:21 pm

    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

  40. amin
    July 20, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    free vpn

  41. Eric
    July 11, 2013 at 11:06 pm

    I choose VPNBook !

  42. Grr
    June 29, 2013 at 7:09 pm

    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.

  43. Jim Eubanks
    June 27, 2013 at 8:37 pm

    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
      September 9, 2013 at 10:44 am

      @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
      September 9, 2013 at 10:48 am

      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.


  44. Ryszard Grodzicki
    June 27, 2013 at 6:40 am

    I personally use VPNs for downloading from websites like , 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
      July 1, 2013 at 3:09 pm

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

  45. Shiju
    June 27, 2013 at 5:40 am

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

    • James
      June 30, 2013 at 4:32 am

      Agree. I would like to see a comparison against as well.

    • haikuza
      August 27, 2013 at 7:00 pm

      vpnbook released information of anonymous hackers to the courts.

  46. Koshy George
    June 27, 2013 at 5:16 am

    You forgot to mention Tunnelbear which in my mind the the best free VPN service

  47. ankit
    June 27, 2013 at 4:39 am

    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
      July 1, 2013 at 3:08 pm

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

    • Louis
      September 9, 2013 at 10:18 am

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

  48. peter
    June 27, 2013 at 4:04 am

    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
      July 1, 2013 at 3:07 pm

      Good catches. Thanks for sharing!

    • Tim Alfie
      September 5, 2013 at 11:34 am

      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:

    • mudi
      September 23, 2013 at 6:42 pm

      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
      October 22, 2013 at 10:28 am

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

  49. PseudoChris
    June 27, 2013 at 1:51 am

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

    • Paulette dodson
      May 19, 2015 at 7:03 am

      I don't think so, for specifically streaming from another location whether its hulu, netflix or any other network you can't go with HotSpot, seriously its really frustrated experience.

  50. Linda Prescott
    June 27, 2013 at 12:42 am

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

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