The next step for anyone looking to take security to the next level is by using a virtual private network (VPN) to encrypt all inbound and outbound data.
What Is A Virtual Private Network?
A VPN allows you to connect your machine to a virtual network which in turn encrypts the data you send, hiding everything from the public domain. A good VPN will keep no records of your browsing history, meaning you’re essentially an anonymous user.
Many VPNs are established for office use, to allow users to log into their workplace network and gain access to services therein. Seeing as you’re reading an article about free VPN services, you’re probably more concerned about security and how you can benefit from using one.
Despite the stigma involved with taking such a hardline approach to security, you don’t necessarily need to be using the internet for illegal purposes to benefit. Much like using a proxy, a VPN can also help you access websites that may not already be available in your region.
An excellent example of this would be Hulu, and we’ve got a guide about doing it right here. Many VPN services require payment, but there’s a fair few decent free efforts out there too. Here’s a selection to get you started.
Free VPN Services
It is worth noting that despite the services listed below being completely free to use, many impose restrictions on free VPN accounts. Hopefully this list will at least give you an idea of how VPN works, and how it can benefit you. If you really like the service then many offer competitive rates as well as referral schemes and paid accounts in exchange for advertising space.
A free VPN service designed for use with Windows and Mac computers. ProXPN works by downloading a small free application from which to connect. The service is also compatible with the iPhone and other mobile phones that support VPN.
Interestingly you can use the iPhone setup instructions to make a connection from your PC, useful if you’re a Linux user.
The GPass service provides free VPN access as well as an impressive fast web proxy to use directly in your browser. The service is very popular in China where internet censorship is commonplace.
The service seems very hot on security (good job, really), and even goes as far as to recommend an integrity check after you’ve downloaded the software (before installing). GPass is compatible with Windows only, and does not require registration.
Offering 1GB of encypted traffic per month on the free package, CyberGhost is another Windows-only VPN client. In order to use the service you are required to register for a free account which unfortunately does not allow you to pick and choose your servers.
Ideal for web surfing, but not a dedicated file sharing solution.
Offering a free VPN solution for Windows, Mac and iPhone (and possibly other systems using the iPhone login information) Hotspot Shield boasts “unlimited bandwidth” to those who need it.
The service supports itself by providing advertising within web pages viewed using the service, as stated in the terms. A little bird tells me that if you’re a Firefox user you can use the NoScript extension to hide these, although I’ve not tried it myself.
Originally established as a safeguard for filesharers, Its Hidden offers a competitive free service as well as paid solutions offering better contention (less users per server), professional support and dedicated IP addresses.
Registration is required, and once you’ve signed up you can connect to the service directly through your operating system by following the set-up guide, with no additional software required. The service is compatible with any operating system you happen to be using that supports VPN.
The free package provided by SecurityKiss brings you 300MB of data transfer per day, but provides an uncapped line with plenty of speed. You’ll need the SecurityKiss software to access the service, and this is only compatible with Windows.
Despite not offering a whole lot of bandwidth, SecurityKiss will suffice in unblocking web services like Skype and YouTube you might otherwise be unable to access.
Solely for use through your existing OS, mobile or VPN application, Best Free VPN changes its password every 12 to 24 hours to help maintain fairness for users. It’s not the speediest service around, offering only 512Kbit/s down and 256Kbit/s up.
Free things are great, but they’re also subject to a lot of use by the community. If you’re encountering problems with any of the above then you’re just better off moving on and trying another.
If you’re really serious about security (and accessing your home PCs from anywhere) then you’ll probably want to invest in a paid VPN service.
Do you use VPN? Had any luck with free services, or have you gone paid? Let us know in the comments.