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Best Free VPN 2020: Hotspot Shield, ProtonVPN, & more


Did you know that some of the best VPN services are free to use? By now you’ve likely heard the phrase Virtual Private Network or VPN, but you may not have already signed up and started using one. A great VPN service can add an extra layer of security to your phone, tablet, PC, and even gaming console. They’ve become increasingly popular over the past few years, and for good reason.

We live a lot of our lives online these days. We enter our banking information, log into private accounts, and do so much more every single day without even thinking twice about it. How many times have you connected to a public Wi-Fi, like at Starbucks, the airport, or another local business around town without even second guessing what you were doing? Unfortunately, those unsecured networks leave your information vulnerable and able to land in the wrong hands.

Best Free VPN

Source: Android Central

A VPN is becoming more of a necessity than something that’s just nice to have. Luckily, you don’t need to go broke in order to use one. There are several services that offer free versions for you to use and test out, though you do make some sacrifices by using them.

Currently, the best free VPN service is Hotspot Shield Free for a few different reasons. First off, even with it being a free VPN you can still use it on up to five devices at the same time, so you don’t need to unprotect your phone to protect your PC. Additionally, the data allotment is more generous than some of the others, and it’s quite easy to use.

We’ve already broken down the various differences between free VPNs and paid VPNs, and now we’re back with some information about all the best free ones to sign up for. Since these are all free, we’d suggest reading about them, and then giving them a try to see which one works best for you. The features will vary slightly from company to company, but one thing all of them will offer is additional security.

Depending on how much data you use on a daily or monthly basis, a free VPN may not be the way to go for you. Some premium VPN options are available for only a few bucks per month, so maybe you should consider giving up that next cup of coffee from Starbucks and securing your online life instead. For paid options, we highly recommend ExpressVPN. It offers fantastic customer support, an easy-to-use interface, unlimited data, and fast speeds. You also get a 30-day money-back guarantee, so there’s no risk involved with trying it out for yourself now. It’s a great combination of everything, and using our exclusive discount you can save on an annual plan and get an extra three months free.

You can also check out these fantastic VPN deals to help you save some cash on the premium services and we also rounded up the best cheap VPN services. If you don’t want to pay, don’t worry. Here are the best free VPN services in 2020.

There are lots of great options, with our top pick being Hotspot Shield followed closely by ProtonVPN. There are a few differences between each service, so let’s break the best free VPN services down now.

Hotspot Shield Free VPN

Hotspot Shield Logo

Source: Hotspot Shield

  • Number of servers: 2,500
  • Server Locations: 70+
  • Maximum Supported Devices: 5
  • IP Addresses: N/A

Key feature: Hotspot Shield VPN offers 500MB of data to use per day and has one of the best-designed apps of the bunch.

Hotspot Shield is one of the few VPN companies that is offering both a free and paid version of its service, and it’s our top pick for best free VPN. You’d think that since the company offers a compelling paid option that the free one would be way worse than it actually is. Instead, Hotspot Shield VPN offers free customers up to 500MB of data usage per day, the ability to connect five devices simultaneously, a one-click connection, and more.

With the daily limits, you max out at about 15GB total for the month, and that’s one of the more generous allotments from a free provider. Of course, stepping up to the Elite version eliminates that restriction. On the free plan you are also limited to locations that the company selects for you, and there are ads to deal with. This isn’t a huge problem in most situations, though.

Whether it’s your first time setting up a VPN or you are a seasoned pro, you’ll enjoy the ease of use here. Hotspot Shield offers an easy way to get protected with its one-click connection, and the software on both desktop and mobile is something you’ll find easy to navigate.

You’ll notice that the Hotspot Shield site doesn’t have a way to sign up for the free plan and continue using it each month. Instead, you need to sign up for the free 7-day trial of the Elite plan, then you can continue on with just the free option. Unfortunately, this does mean that you have to enter your credit card information and such, though there is no obligation to continue with a paid account after the trial period.

If you want to get started with a VPN, we highly recommend Hotspot Shield, so give it a shot today.

Pros:

  • Over 2,500 servers
  • Generous data allotment
  • App is very easy to use

Cons:

  • Still need to enter credit card data for free plan


Hotspot Shield VPN

This is our top recommendation for those looking for a free VPN. You do need to enter your credit card number, but the company won’t charge you and you can use the service for free beyond the 7-day trial.

ProtonVPN Free

Protonvpn Logo

Source: ProtonVPN

  • Number of servers: 628
  • Server Locations: 44
  • Maximum Supported Devices: 1
  • IP Addresses: N/A

Key feature: There is no data limit each month, which means that you can keep all of your web traffic secure for free.

ProtonVPN comes from the same folks that are behind ProtonMail which offers secure encrypted email. The company is based out of Switzerland and puts a security focus on everything it does. Where it stands out in the free VPN space is that there is actually no data limit each month, so you can use as much data while connected to the VPN as you desire, but there are a few other trade-offs that come along with it.

You can only be connected to a single device at a time, and there are only three locations available to be connected to. In addition, ProtonVPN deprioritizes free users, which means that you will notice slower speeds in comparison to what paid customers are receiving from the service. There is no P2P support either.

ProtonVPN does have a strict no logging policy, and you need nothing more than just an email address to get started with it. There are no ads on the website or any of the clients.

If you find that the speeds during peak times are just a little too slow for you, it may be worth considering an upgrade, but for most the free package will do just fine.

Pros:

  • Based in Switzerland
  • No data limit
  • Only need an email address to get started

Cons:

  • Free customers are deprioritized during busy times


ProtonVPN Free

From the creators of the secure and encrypted ProtonMail comes ProtonVPN. There are no data limits here, but free users are deprioritized in favor of paid ones during peak usage times.

TunnelBear

Tunnelbear Logo

Source: TunnelBear

  • Number of servers: 1,000
  • Server Locations: 20+
  • Maximum Supported Devices: 5
  • IP Addresses: N/A

Key feature: Recent privacy policy changes require far less user data in order to sign up for the service.

Like Hotspot Shield, TunnelBear offers both a free and paid tier, though this offering is much more restrictive. Where you get 500mb per day on Hotspot Shield, with TunnelBear you are limited to just 500mb for the whole month, which is quite a small amount of data. With how big web pages are getting, and auto-playing ads, etc. it’s very easy to burn through that in just a single day.

If you are someone who travels sporadically, or just wants to have a good option on standby, TunnelBear absolutely fits the bill. The company was acquired by McAfee back in March 2018, and has made some positive changes since then. Recently, it made some tweaks to the privacy policy so that even less data is collected from users. You no longer need to supply a name when signing up, and TunnelBear is ditching its record of how many connections you’ve made while using the service.

Of course, if you are looking for more data allowance, you can upgrade to the paid option. This will give you more data and increases the number of countries available to connect to. Right now, you can sign up for TunnelBear’s paid offerings for just $4.99 per month using our link, which is a massive 58% savings.

Pros:

  • Updates to privacy policy require even less data to get started
  • Apps are user friendly

Cons:

  • Only 500mb of data per month for free


TunnelBear

The data limit is low, but if you are just lookint to test the water or use it infrequently, TunnelBear is a great choice to consider.

Windscribe

Windscribe Logo

Source: Windscribe

  • Number of servers: 400
  • Server Locations: 60+
  • Maximum Supported Devices: Unlimited
  • IP Addresses: N/A

Key feature: You can actually earn more free data each month by promoting the service on Twitter and referring your friends.

Windscribe is one of the newer players in the VPN space, and the company has received a lot of attention lately. The base free package is 10GB per month. We’ve seen Windscribe run offers that bump the base package up to 20GB per month, and there are other ways to score free data each month as well. Sending a tweet about the provider earns you an extra 5GB of data to use, and when you invite a friend to sign up you get an extra GB each time.

Just because it’s free doesn’t mean there are a lot of sacrifices. Windscribe doesn’t store connection logs, IP stamps, nor a record of the sites you visited. For the time you’re connected to a server, it does retain your username, but once you end the session, that data is erased within just three minutes.

If you refer someone who ends up signing up for a paid plan, Windscribe will upgrade yours to an unlimited plan as well, which is a great bonus. Did we mention there’s also a built-in ad blocker and firewall?

What are you waiting for? Go ahead and give Windscribe a try now!

Pros:

  • Generous 10GB data allotment
  • Can earn more data from completing simple tasks
  • Session data is erased 3 minutes after disconnecting
  • Has built-in ad blocker and firewall

Cons:

  • App is not as simple as some others


Windscribe

You can add to the healthy 10GB data allotment by tweeting your love for the Windscribe service and inviting friends. It’s a great way to bring even more data to your free pool.

Hide.me

Hide Me Logo

Source: Hide Me

  • Number of servers: 1,400
  • Server Locations: 55
  • Maximum Supported Devices: 1
  • IP Addresses: N/A

Key feature: There are no data logs or ads when using it.

With Hide.me you get 10GB of data per month on the free plan, which is five times what the company was recently offering! You can only connect one device at a time with the free plan, and there are only three server options available (Netherlands, Singapore, and Canada). This may make it a little less useful, depending on what your needs from a VPN are.

The company promises it does not keep logs of its users, nor does it show ads. It’s a great way to get started with a VPN to see if it’s the right fit for you, but may not be the best option for those data-gobbling folks who want to keep connecting to random servers around the world. You can now access servers in five locations (up from 3) with the free plan.

Pros:

  • No logs of any sorts
  • Even the free version is ad-free

Cons:

  • Free plan can only access 5 server locations


Hide.me VPN

You don’t get a ton of data, but you aren’t tracked and there are no logs to be found here. This is a solid choice for thos in need of smartphone protection for when browsing while out and about.

Speedify

Speedify Vpn Logo

Source: Speedify

  • Number of servers: 2,500
  • Server Locations: 70+
  • Maximum Supported Devices: 5
  • IP Addresses: N/A

Key feature: It’s right in the name. Speed is the big focus here and the company uses some interesting technology to help keep it fast (and secure).

You like it when things go fast, right? Well so does Speedify, and that’s what the company’s main goal is (in addition to adding security to your connections). Speedify claims that by using all of the available internet connections, including Ethernet and a tethered mobile connection it can offer faster “turbocharged” speeds.

With the free plan you get access to all of Speedify’s 50+ server locations, which is the same as what the paid plan offers. Unfortunately, free users only get 5GB of data per month for the first month, and then 1GB a month after that. It’s definitely worth checking Speedify out if you are concerned about how fast your data is on VPN, though do make note of the trade-offs to get you that extra speed.

Pros:

  • One of the fastest VPN services
  • Lots of server locations avcailable to free users

Cons:

  • After first month you only get 1GB of data for free


Speedify

Speed is the name of the game, and something that Speedify excels in. You also get all the great safety and security additions from other VPNs as though, so don’t worry.

SurfEasy (Opera Free VPN)

Surfeasy Vpn Logo

Source: Surfeasy

  • Number of servers: 1,000
  • Server Locations: 25
  • Maximum Supported Devices: 5
  • IP Addresses: N/A

Key feature: It’s built in to the Opera browser (where you get unlimited data each month) and can be used everywhere else with smaller data bucket.

SurfEasy comes from the team behind the Opera web browser. This is both a standalone VPN and built right into the browser, and that’s where things get a bit confusing. When you are using the built-in option, there are no data limits within the browser, though if you are using the standalone option you only get 500MB per month.

Free users can connect up to five devices at the same time, and the app itself is very user-friendly. Testing has shown that depending on which server you connect to speeds can be a bit hit or miss, so you may need to toggle around to see what works best for you. If you are looking for something built right into a tool you use every single day, you may want to move over to Opera’s browser and VPN.

Pros:

  • Unlimited data within the Opera browser
  • Can use on up to 5 devices at same time
  • User friendly apps

Cons:

  • Outside of Opera browser you only get 500mb data per month


SurfEasy

You can use this both in the Opera web browser and on its own, though you get an unlimited amount of data when you use it in the browser. Maybe it’s time to switch up your browser and try a new VPN.


What should you consider before signing up for a free VPN?

There’s always a cost associated to products these days. Nothing in life is really free, so you need to understand a few things before you just start using any free VPN that you stumble across. As VPNs continue to grow in popularity, we will continue to see more and more providers show up in the space.

Not all of these are created equal, and when the main idea behind something is to add security to what you’re doing online, you’ll want to know you are actually protected. We’ve put together a list of a few things to consider when researching a new VPN. We’ve considered all of these when crafting the list above, and continue to think about them as we look at new options. Here are some things to think of when looking at options not included in our best free VPN list.

  • What information is required to sign up? Some VPN providers want you to create an account that includes personal information like your name, email, and a password, while others will let you use the service without any information. As you’d imagine, the less information required, the better. It helps you stay annonymous to the service, and that’s important.
  • What is the business model? You’d be surprised at how much money it costs to maintain servers around the world, employ developers and customer support staff, and other general expenses. The money has to come from somewhere, and if you are using a free service, where is it coming from? Some of the companies offer very limited free plans in an attempt to convert the people to its paid offerings, while other companies will include ads in the apps or sell off user data to recover some of the profits. You don’t want your data sold, so be sure to check into this before just signing up for a service.
  • What sacrifice do you make by using the free plan? As mentioned above, on most of the plans there are large sacrifices when you opt to go with the free option. Some have insanely low data allotments available each month to free users while others will deprioritize the speeds of non-paying customers during peak times. For some, these sacrifices are well worth it, and for others it’s a breaking point.
  • Does the service log any data? Many VPNs say that they have a no-logging policy, but you’ll want to read the terms to really understand what that means. It’s important to ensure that the End User License Agreement (EULA) says that everything from each of your sessions is erased after it is disconnected. You don’t want any remnants of it hanging around, because that’s almost as bad as not being protected in the first place.

Beyond these key points, you’ll also want to look into how many servers are available, and where they are located. If you’re main focus is to be able to spoof your location to unlock geo-restricted content, it’s critical to know where the servers are.

When should you upgrade from a free VPN to a paid VPN?

There’s no line in the sand that you cross to know that you need to upgrade. This is something you’ll want to consider when you become frustrated with the limitations of your current free plan, or when you see the benefit of a feature from the paid plan. Often times, the paid plans can be had for just a few dollars a month, so it may be worth just trying it out for a few months to see if it offers a better experience for you or not.

Check out all the best VPN deals now

What can I use a free VPN to do?

With a free VPN you can do most of the same things that you can accomplish with a paid one. Some of the key features include “spoofing” your location to appear like you are somewhere else, securing your web traffic, and more. These are useful for when connecting to an unsecured network or trying to access geo-restricted content easily.

Some of the services may limit the number of connections available and others will offer fewer server locations, but a free VPN is a great way to get a taste of what it can accomplish before you upgrade to a paid option.


We test and review VPN services in the context of legal recreational uses. For example:

1. Accessing a service from another country (subject to the terms and conditions of that service).
2. Protecting your online security and strengthening your online privacy when abroad.

We do not support or condone the illegal or malicious use of VPN services. Consuming pirated content that is paid-for is neither endorsed nor approved by Future Publishing.

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