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Best Free VPN 2022: Top free-to-use VPN services

Introduction

A VPN subscription can end up costing a lot of money over multiple years, so it may be worth considering one of the best free VPN options instead, as long as you’re happy to sacrifice a few security features. 

We publish a slew of VPN reviews every year and update them consistently to ensure they’re up to date with the latest performance speeds and security policies. And to make the buying process as easy as possible for you, we’ve gone ahead and assembled this list of the very best free VPNs.

We know that a single VPN won’t be the best fit for everyone, so we’ve made sure to include a variety of options, including those with lots and and lots of monthly bandwidth and others with endpoints in dozens of countries. 

For our testing process, we’ve measured the speeds in the UK, Netherlands and United States to determine how fast your connection will likely be, while also conducting research to determine how safe your data will be. It’s always great to see a VPN with a no-logging policy, which means companies do not store your browsing history, but those that have been tested by audits or real-life scenarios ensure such claims are credible. 

We test all of the available features for every VPN, while also determining how simple the application is to use, as we appreciate VPNs can be a little daunting for those unfamiliar with the technology. 

If you want even more security features and are happy to pay a monthly fee, then check out our Best VPN article instead. And if you want to keep your PC safe from malware while you browse, it’s also worth checking out our Best AntiVirus and Best Free Antivirus lists.

How we test

Learn more about how we test VPNs

For this free VPN service test, we’ve used a cut-down version of the full-scale download speed tests we use to rank our Best VPNs, using smaller files of around 60MB and only testing HTTP throughput.

This means that we can accurately compare services that have a bandwidth cap, but have slightly reduced average download speeds across the board.

As always, data transfer tests only ever represent a snapshot of performance from a single endpoint server at a specific time, although we can refer back to the results of previous tests to obtain a broader picture of how a given service has evolved.

In all cases, we’ve recorded the best speeds we were able to obtain for each provider during our test period

ProtonVPN

Best overall free VPN
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Pros

  • Unlimited-bandwidth free tier
  • Wide range of endpoint countries
  • Plus tier is great for streaming
  • Quick download speeds

Cons

  • Slightly confusing pricing
  • Basic tier has limited endpoint locations and features

The standout feature of ProtonVPN is its unlimited bandwidth for its free tier, allowing you to browse the web for as long as you want without worrying about running out of data. Most other free VPNs, such as TunnelBear and Windscribe cap your bandwidth for each month, which we found to be very restrictive since you can’t leave it activated in the background for long stretches of time. 

ProtonVPN excelled in our performance tests, seeing some of the best speeds in our group test, with only the paid-for options NordVPN and Surfshark proving to be faster. If you want the fastest possible VPN without paying a dime, then our tests prove ProtonVPN to be the best option. 

The biggest issue with ProtonVPN is that it only offers three country endpoints – the US, the Netherlands and Japan – and so may not be the best option if you want to use a server in a specific location. We also found out that you won’t get access to the P2P, Tor, secure streaming and Secure Core servers which are exclusive to paying subscribers.

Our extensive research shows that ProtonVPN is very transparent about how it operates. It clearly details any requests it gets from law enforcement agencies. As a no-logging service, it notes that it has no data to provide. Although it can’t be ignored that ProtonVPN is based in Switzerland, which isn’t the best location for cast-iron privacy guarantees.

ProtonVPN’s wide range of supported platforms and unlimited bandwidth makes this VPN a must-have in your free privacy arsenal, although you should fire up rival Windscribe or TunnelBear if you want access to more endpoints.

Reviewer: K.G. Orphanides
Full Review: ProtonVPN Review

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Windscribe

Best jack-of-all trades free VPN
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Pros

  • Generous free tier
  • Wide range of endpoint countries
  • Inexpensive

Cons

  • Some rivals are faster

Windscribe is an excellent all-rounder free VPN, coming with a generous 10GB monthly bandwidth which we found to be sufficient for casual use. That may pale in comparison to ProtonVPN’s unlimited bandwidth, but to make up for that, you’re given access to a greater number of endpoints. 

Free users get access to endpoints in 10 countries – the U.S., Canada, United Kingdom, Hong Kong, France, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, Norway and Romania. We were really impressed with this amount of flexibility, although the likes of TunnelBear proves to be even better in this area, with endpoints in 49 different countries. 

After testing the VPN for an extended period, we found Windscribe to offer a wide range of useful security features, as well as a clear no-logging policy and regular updates for a transparency report showing how many data requests it receives from law enforcement. Windscribe notes that: “Exactly zero requests were complied with due to lack of relevant data.”

It may not have a killer feature, but Windscribe’s generous offering for both the number of endpoints and amount of monthly bandwidth make it one of the most versatile free VPNs available – but ProtonVPN is still worth checking out since our tests showed it to have substantially faster speeds.

Reviewer: K.G. Orphanides
Full Review: Windscribe Review

TunnelBear VPN

Best for multiple endpoints
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Pros

  • Free version available
  • Clear no-logging policy
  • Wide platform support and sophisticated security features
  • Fast speeds

Cons

  • Poor streaming performance

TunnelBear allows access to a whipping 49 different countries via its free tier, showing a far greater deal of flexibility than ProtonVPN’s three country endpoints. During the review process, we found the app to be easy to use, letting you use a digital world map to select an endpoint in the country of your choice. This makes TunnelBear very useful if you want to use an endpoint in a specific location. 

However, the biggest issue with TunnelBear VPN is that its free tier only provides 500MB of bandwidth, preventing you from keeping it activated 24/7 as you browse the web. Windscribe offers a far more generous 10GB of monthly bandwidth, while ProtonVPN boasts unlimited usage, making them more appealing if you need to use a VPN frequently. 

That said, TunnelBear performed very well in our speed tests, with our benchmark data showing it to be quicker than Windscribe, and even some paid-for options such as Perfect Privacy and HMA VPN

But while this is a great VPN for the security conscious due to its explicit no-logging policy and speedy performance, you’ll need to look elsewhere if you want to stream, torrent or simply crave more data allowance.

Reviewer: K.G. Orphanides
Full Review: TunnelBear Review

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FAQs

Which free VPN is best?

Our current favourite free VPN is ProtonVPN due to its high speeds and unlimited bandwidth. However, Windscribe is a solid alternative if you want a greater variety of endpoints.

Are free VPNs safe?

If you’re worried about a free VPN selling your data, then make sure it has a no-logging policy, as this means it does not store or collect your data. Better still, check to see whether the VPN has been audited to see whether their claims are proven. All of the VPNs on this list are safe, as they make money either through adverts or by trying to incentivize you to spend money on the paid-for subscription.

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