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6 Best FREE (Fast & Safe) VPNs for Windows [Tested in 2021]

Kate Hawkins
Last Updated by Kate Hawkins on October 13, 2021

There are so many free VPNs claiming to be the best for Windows, it’s impossible to tell which ones are actually useful and safe. Most free VPNs limit their services so much I can hardly use them, with low data caps, speed throttling, and server restrictions. Other free VPNs monetize my non-identifying data and bombard me with ads. Some even tried to infect my Windows device with malware!

I tested more than 50 free services that claim to work on Windows and found 6 that I could trust. But while they’ll keep you safe, these VPNs have limitations, like data caps, tiny server networks, and blocks on streaming. That’s why I suggest you try using ExpressVPN instead — it’s an affordable option that won’t limit your data, throttle speeds, or restrict connections. There is an upfront cost, but if you’re not happy with ExpressVPN you can get a full refund with its 30-day money-back guarantee.

Try ExpressVPN risk-free

Quick Guide: Best Free VPNs for Windows in October 2021

  1. ExpressVPN — #1 VPN for Windows — Top-tier security and privacy protect your data with a fast global network of reliable servers. Plus, it has a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can try ExpressVPN without risking a penny!
  2. CyberGhost — Free for 45 days with unlimited data and strong security, plus optimized servers for streaming, gaming, and torrenting.
  3. Hotspot Shield — 15GB of data per month and robust security, but can’t unblock Netflix and only 1 server connection available.
  4. TunnelBear — Impressive network of 40+ servers for free users, but only offers 500MB of monthly data for browsing.
  5. hide.me — Provides 10GB monthly data allowance, but struggles to unblock streaming sites like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.
  6. ProtonVPN — Unlimited data with its free plan, but restricts streaming and torrenting to paid accounts only.

Get ExpressVPN for Windows today

6 Best Free VPNs for Windows That Still Work in October 2021

1. ExpressVPN — #1 for Windows — Top-Tier Security and Privacy, Fast Speeds, and Reliable Global Connections

Key Features:

  • Unlimited data for streaming, browsing, torrenting, and more — no data caps
  • Huge network of 3000 servers in 94 countries for fast connections worldwide
  • Military-grade encryption, plus kill switch, leak protection, and zero-logs policy
  • 24/7 customer service through live chat, email support, and online knowledge base
  • Supports up to 5 device connections at the same time
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

ExpressVPN takes the top spot for Windows with robust security and privacy, fast speeds, and reliable connections. While it’s not free upfront, ExpressVPN’s high-level service makes it worth the price — it’s also backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee, which is a great way to test ExpressVPN before committing to a subscription.

To maximize security on your Windows device, ExpressVPN uses several different features. It has a kill switch automatically enabled to protect your data if your connection is interrupted. ExpressVPN also has IP, DNS, and WebRTC leak protection to guarantee your data is anonymous — I ran multiple leak tests and ExpressVPN passed every time.

I closely examined ExpressVPN’s privacy policy and found that it has been independently audited, confirming it never logs or stores data. As a bonus, ExpressVPN uses RAM-based servers which are physically unable to retain information that passes through them. Overall, you can rest assured that your data and online activity are totally anonymous when you connect to ExpressVPN’s servers.

I was impressed by ExpressVPN’s reliably fast speeds and low “ping” (or latency) across its global network of 3000 servers in 94 countries. I ran speed tests on more than 50 servers in multiple locations and was amazed by the results — on average, my speed with ExpressVPN only dropped by 18% from my regular speed. This was a very small reduction, with no noticeable difference to my online activity. I could browse the web without interruption, download large torrents quickly, game online lag-free, and stream in UltraHD with no buffering. Thanks to its top-tier encryption, ExpressVPN can easily access services like Netflix US, Disney+, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and more.

ExpressVPN’s fast speeds are ideal for buffer-free streaming on Netflix

ExpressVPN is exceptionally good at mitigating speed loss, which is ideal if your standard internet speed is on the slower side. It’s one of the few VPNs that can actually boost your internet speeds instead of slowing them down, and this is partly due to its proprietary Lightway protocol. It’s a lightweight protocol, comprising a mere 1,000 lines of code (compared to OpenVPN’s 70,000). This makes it extremely fast, providing near-instant server connections and reducing the impact on your Windows devices.

You can also use ExpressVPN’s split tunneling to give yourself a speed boost. This feature lets you choose which apps on your Windows computer pass through the encrypted connection and which don’t, and this helps create a faster connection. I used ExpressVPN’s split tunneling feature to stream on Netflix while securely banking online, improving my speed and device performance.

I was quite impressed that ExpressVPN lets you share the VPN connection through a virtual router you can create on your Windows 8 or 10 computer. This router works just as well as a physical one, and you can set it up with ExpressVPN to cover all the devices in your home. You can even use this configuration to get ExpressVPN working on devices that don’t typically support VPN software, like gaming consoles and smart TVs.

While it’s not entirely free (there is an upfront subscription fee), ExpressVPN is backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee. You can try using ExpressVPN on your Windows device yourself — if you’re not completely satisfied, you can get a full refund no-questions-asked. I tested the process myself and was surprised by how easily I got my money back. I simply contacted an agent through the 24/7 live chat and requested a refund. The agent had my request organized in less than 5 minutes, and I had my money back in 5 days.

ExpressVPN’s refund process was quick and hassle-free

ExpressVPN also works on: Android, macOS, iOS, Linux, Chrome, Firefox, PlayStation, Xbox, Smart TVs, Apple TV, Amazon Firestick, Amazon Fire TV, routers, and more.

ExpressVPN unblocks: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Vudu, Disney+, HBO Max, SlingTV, SHOWTIME, DAZN, ESPN, ITV, and more.

Get ExpressVPN for Windows today!

October 2021 Update! ExpressVPN has dropped prices for a limited time to a crazy $6.67 per month for the 1-year plan (you can save up to 49%) + 3 months free! This is a limited offer so be sure to grab it now before it's gone. See more information on this offer here.

2. CyberGhost — Optimized Servers Provide Excellent Streaming, Torrenting, and Gaming on Windows

Key Features:

  • Unlimited data — stream, torrent, game, and browse as much as you want
  • 6900 servers in 90 countries — optimized servers boost speeds
  • High-level encryption, kill switch, leak protection, and zero-logs policy for security
  • Connect up to 7 devices simultaneously
  • 24/7 customer support through live chat, email, and online knowledge base
  • 45-day money-back guarantee

CyberGhost is a premium VPN that you can use risk-free for 45 days — its money-back guarantee acts as a free trial, making it ideal if you need a short-term VPN for your Windows device. If you decide you don’t want to keep CyberGhost, you can get a full no-questions-asked refund easily.

During testing, I was especially impressed by CyberGhost’s optimized servers. These servers are specifically designed to give you top performance when streaming, torrenting, and playing online games. I found CyberGhost’s servers could easily access sites like Netflix, Disney+, and Hulu, with speeds fast enough for UltraHD streaming. I didn’t have any issues with downloading big files, and even my online games were smooth and lag-free!

CyberGhost’s optimized server easily connected to Netflix

CyberGhost’s optimized servers were on average around 30% faster than its standard servers, with only a minimal drop from my regular internet speeds. However, it’s worth noting that CyberGhost struggles to maintain fast speeds over long distances. This is expected, as an increase in the distance data has to travel impacts overall speed. Since CyberGhost doesn’t mitigate speed loss as well as some other VPNs, I recommend connecting to local optimized servers for the best speeds.

To ensure high speeds, I’d also suggest using the WireGuard protocol where possible. This protocol is designed for security and speed, and I found my server connections were almost instant with it. If WireGuard isn’t available, CyberGhost also uses the industry-standard OpenVPN protocol, which is well-established, fast, and strong.

CyberGhost has high-level security and privacy features, including military-grade encryption and leak protection, a kill switch, and a zero-logs policy to keep your data anonymous. CyberGhost has yet to undergo an independent audit to verify its privacy policy — however, it uses RAM-based servers, so I’m reassured that my data is secure when connected to CyberGhost.

Like ExpressVPN, CyberGhost also has a split tunneling feature you can use to choose which websites use the encryption and which don’t. I like that I can use split tunneling to check my bank account securely while shopping online at a local store. CyberGhost also has an ad-, tracker-, and malware-blocker that protects your Windows device from malicious content. Unfortunately, it only blocks ads if they contain malware, so I still got ads before YouTube videos — but it also stopped me from accessing websites that contained potentially dangerous content.

The best way to know if this is the right service for you is to try CyberGhost for yourself totally risk-free. You can test every feature for 45 days and get a full refund if you change your mind. I contacted the 24/7 live chat and spoke to an agent to arrange my refund — it was processed in less than 5 minutes and I had my money back in a week.

CyberGhost made it easy to get a full refund through the live chat

CyberGhost also works on: Android, macOS, iOS, Linux, Chrome, Firefox, PlayStation, Xbox, Smart TVs, Apple TV, Amazon Firestick, Amazon Fire TV, routers, and more.

CyberGhost unblocks: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Vudu, Disney+, HBO Max, SlingTV, SHOWTIME, DAZN, ESPN, ITV, and more.

Get CyberGhost for Windows today!

October 2021 Update: CyberGhost has dropped prices for a limited time to a crazy $2.25 per month for the 2-year plan (you can save up to 83%)! This is a limited offer so be sure to grab it now before it's gone. See more information on this offer here

3. Hotspot Shield — 15GB Monthly Data for Streaming and Browsing Securely

Key Features:

  • 15GB monthly data — 500MB daily limit
  • 1 free US server with fast speeds and easy connections
  • AES-256-bit encryption, kill switch, and leak protection — supported by ads
  • Only 1 device permitted per account
  • Customer support available through emails and FAQ help website

Hotspot Shield offers a totally free VPN with robust security that keeps your data protected when you connect using your Windows device. I was impressed by its military-grade encryption and leak protection that secured all data during my connections — I ran multiple tests and Hotspot Shield never let my data leak.

Hotspot Shield also has a kill switch, split tunneling, and public WiFi auto-connect (protecting your connection while on public or unsecured WiFi). I found these security features worked well to keep my online activity secure, especially the public WiFi auto-connect. If you’re like me and forget to activate a VPN on unsecured connections, this feature keeps you protected without having to manually connect. And if you find that Hotspot Shield isn’t working properly on your Windows computer, the provider has a thorough step-by-step guide for troubleshooting and testing your Windows connection.

Like many free services, Hotspot Shield blocks streaming sites for free customers. However, I was surprised to find Hotspot Shield’s free server could access Netflix US and other streaming sites like Disney+ and Hulu. This is a testament to Hotspot Shield’s high-quality encryption and leak protection.

Screenshot of Hotspot Shield unblocking Netflix US
Hotspot Shield easily accessed Netflix US with its free server

I experienced some buffering and lag while streaming, and discovered this is because Hotspot Shield throttles speeds for free users. This free service only has 1 virtual server in the US, so to keep speeds consistent Hotspot Shield imposes a limit. My speed dropped from 115Mbps to just 5Mbps — an almost 96% reduction. It’s worth considering this slowdown if your regular internet speeds are slower, as you could experience significant lag when streaming, gaming, or browsing.

Hotspot Shield uses its own Catapult Hydra protocol, designed to improve speeds over long distances. However, I found that even while using the Catapult Hydra protocol my speeds were very slow. You may find it gives your speeds a boost, but as a free user you’re likely to experience throttling.

I discovered that Hotspot Shield’s free VPN is supported by Google ads, and I saw a lot of them while browsing online. Hotspot Shield gives Google your general location to show you targeted advertisements — not a huge breach of privacy, but also not the totally anonymous experience I expect from a VPN.

With 500MB of daily data, Hotspot Shield is a good choice for secure banking, shopping, and online browsing. This data limit does reduce your ability to stream, allowing under an hour of SD streaming per day. Otherwise, this free VPN has everything you need to connect to the web securely.

Hotspot Shield also works on: Android, macOS, iOS, Linux, Chrome, Firefox, Smart TVs, Amazon Firestick, Amazon Fire TV, routers, and more.

Hotspot Shield unblocks: Hulu, Disney+, HBO Max, SlingTV, SHOWTIME, DAZN, ITV, Spotify, and more.

Get Hotspot Shield for Windows today!

4. TunnelBear — 500MB Monthly Data With Impressive Global Network of Servers

Key Features:

  • 500MB data monthly allowance
  • Impressive network of 40+ servers in 41 locations
  • Military-grade security, kill switch, and leak protection, plus zero-logs policy
  • Connects up to 5 simultaneous devices
  • Customer support through email ticketing and knowledge base

TunnelBear’s free app has an impressive network, with 40+ servers in 41 locations available on its Windows app. This is the biggest network I’ve seen from a free VPN, giving you the same number of connections as premium users get.

Owned by security giant McAfee, it’s no surprise TunnelBear has military-grade encryption and leak protection. During tests, I found TunnelBear had zero leaks and kept my data securely within the encrypted connection. It also has a kill switch in case of connection interruptions and an obfuscation feature called GhostBear, which makes the VPN connection appear to be a standard internet traffic. I found this particularly useful for visiting blocked sites and services.

For users who have unreliable internet connections, TunnelBear has a TCP Override feature on its Windows app. This forces the app to use the OpenVPN TCP protocol, which is a more stable but slower option. I found TCP Override didn’t decrease my speed significantly, but it did improve my connection dependability and stability.

I was impressed to find TunnelBear’s servers can easily access streaming services like Netflix, although it struggled to connect to Disney+, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer. It doesn’t throttle speeds like other free VPNs, so I could stream with minimal buffering and almost no interruptions.

Screenshot of Netflix streaming The Good Place with TunnelBear connected to a US server.
TunnelBear had no issue connecting to Netflix

TunnelBear’s speeds were also good — I only saw a 21% reduction on average (from my base speed of 115Mbps to 90Mbps). This meant I could stream without excessive buffering or interruptions and browse online with no issue.

However, TunnelBear only provides 500MB of data per month — this is enough for around 30 minutes of SD streaming. This low data allowance means TunnelBear isn’t ideal for streaming, gaming, or other activities that cause high data consumption. Anything more than casual browsing and checking emails will eat through your data allowance in minutes. If you’d like a data boost, you can send a tweet promoting TunnelBear for an extra 1GB. This is a one-time offer though, after which you’ll go back to the 500MB allowance.

If you’re looking for a secure free service for checking emails and online banking, TunnelBear is a good choice for a reliable free VPN. Better still, TunnelBear performs annual independent audits for its service so you can rest assured your online activity is secure and anonymous.

TunnelBear also works on: Android, macOS, iOS, Linux, Chrome, Firefox, Kodi, Roku, and more.

TunnelBear unblocks: Netflix, HBO Max, SlingTV, SHOWTIME, ITV, Kodi, YouTube, and more.

Get TunnelBear for Windows today!

5. hide.me — 10GB Monthly Data and Strict Zero-Logs Policy for Guaranteed Privacy

Key Features:

  • 10GB monthly data cap
  • 1900 servers in 75 countries — 5 free locations in Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, US East, and US West
  • AES-256-bit encryption, kill switch, leak protection, and zero-logs policy
  • Allows 1 device connection
  • Customer support available through live chat and online ticketing system

hide.me has high-level security and privacy features that work well to keep your online activity anonymous. Its AES-256-bit encryption and IP, DNS, and WebRTC leak protection were effective at keeping my connection data completely secure — I ran multiple leak tests on each free server and the results were flawless with zero leaks.

I found the Windows app also features a kill switch, split tunneling, an auto-connect function, and Stealth Guard (only allows specified apps to operate when the VPN connection is active). hide.me offers a surprising number of features that are user-friendly and easy to customize, depending on your desired level of security — I didn’t expect such in-depth customizability from a free app.

hide.me claims to block all streaming sites for free users. However, I found hide.me’s free servers could unblock only a few streaming services. I used servers in Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, and the US to access Netflix, although my connections were hit-and-miss — I had to reconnect several times to get a reliable connection.

Screenshot of Hide.me unblocking Netflix
hide.me’s free servers could access streaming services

I was pleased to find that hide.me doesn’t throttle speeds for free users, so I could stream in SD quality without any issues. From my base speed of 115Mbps, my average speed dropped to around 20Mbps — a reduction of 80%. While this seems dramatic, I had no problem streaming, browsing, and even torrenting without interruption.

hide.me’s 10GB monthly data allowance is fairly generous, providing enough data for several hours of streaming or even a sizable download (hide.me’s free VPN supports torrenting!) To conserve my data allowance, I used the split tunneling feature to only encrypt necessary data, reducing the amount I used when I connected.

I especially like that hide.me requires no sign-up at all — just download the app and get connected right away. The free version only lasts for 30 days, but you can renew your subscription as many times as you want, so hide.me is always free.

hide.me also works on: Android, macOS, iOS, Linux, Chrome, Firefox, Smart TVs, Amazon Firestick, Amazon Fire TV, routers, and more.

hide.me unblocks: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Disney+, HBO Max, ESPN, ITV, Spotify, YouTube, and more.

Get hide.me for Windows today!

6. ProtonVPN — Unlimited Data Allowance and No Ads for Uninterrupted Browsing

Key Features:

  • Unlimited data allowance — no daily or monthly caps
  • 350 servers in its global network — 3 free servers in the Netherlands, Japan, and the US
  • Military-grade encryption and strict zero-logs policy for security and privacy
  • Only 1 device connection supported
  • Customer support responds to emails quickly and provides knowledge base

ProtonVPN is one of the few reliable VPNs to offer unlimited data on its free Windows app. There are absolutely no caps so you can use the service as much as you want — you don’t have to worry about going over your limit or having to wait until next month to reconnect. I found this useful as it meant I could leave ProtonVPN connected on my Windows laptop and it didn’t matter if I forgot to switch it off.

Unfortunately, despite unlimited data, ProtonVPN is not ideal for streaming or torrenting as it blocks these services for free users. With some trial and error, I found ProtonVPN’s US server #8 could access Netflix, but more often than not I was met with streaming proxy errors.

Screenshot of The Good Place streaming with ProtonVPN connected to a US server.
ProtonVPN could access Netflix after some trial-and-error server connections

While streaming required multiple connections, I was pleased to find ProtonVPN’s download speeds were reliably fast. Nearby servers in the Netherlands were faster than connections in Japan, which I expected. On average, my speed dropped around 65%, from 115Mbps to 40Mbps. I found this was fast enough to barely notice I was connected to a VPN, barring a few minor lags when visiting different websites.

ProtonVPN also uses high-level security methods for all of its server connections. It has AES-256-bit encryption, leak protection, a kill switch, split tunneling, and Perfect Forward Secrecy — this means the encryption key is constantly changing to reduce the risk of your data being compromised. ProtonVPN has a strict zero-logs policy but has yet to be independently audited to verify this. I’d like to see ProtonVPN undergo an audit for peace of mind.

All you need to sign up for a free ProtonVPN account on your Windows computer is an email address, making it easy to get connected right away. It’s worth trying for yourself with its unlimited data, but if you want reliable streaming and torrenting I’d recommend choosing a service like ExpressVPN instead.

ProtonVPN also works on: Android, macOS, iOS, Linux, and more.

ProtonVPN unblocks: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Disney+, SlingTV, DAZN, ESPN, ITV, YouTube, Kodi, and more.

Get ProtonVPN for Windows today!

How I Tested & Ranked the Best Free VPNs for Windows

To be open and honest about my methods, I tested more than 50 free VPNs against the following criteria and ranked them based on the results they produced.

  • 100% free — A free VPN should really be free, with no hidden costs or strings attached. The VPNs on this list are either completely free or have tried-and-tested money-back guarantees so you can test the services without risking your money.
  • Reasonable data allowance — To get the most out of your VPN, I recommend a data allowance of at least 10GB per month if you enjoy streaming or torrenting. However, if you just want to browse and check emails securely, a 500MB limit is sufficient.
  • High-level security and privacy — Every VPN on this list has AES-256-bit security, a kill switch, and leak protection to ensure your data is protected while you’re connected. Plus, I checked each VPN’s privacy policy to make sure they were clear about any non-identifiable data collection, data use, and data sharing.
  • Good server speeds — Reliably fast speeds mean you can browse the web, stream content, and download without lag or buffering. While some VPNs limit server connections for free users, I made sure the available servers were consistently fast.
  • Supports multiple platforms and connections — Each VPN provides support for Windows, as well as other popular platforms like macOS, iOS, and Android devices. Many only support 1 device connection at a time, but some free VPNs allow multiple simultaneous connections.
  • Reliable customer service — If you have any questions or issues, it’s important to get them solved quickly. At the very minimum, I expect an email response within 24 hours — all of the free VPNs on this list met or exceeded this standard.

Of all the VPNs I evaluated according to these criteria, ExpressVPN emerged as the best VPN for Windows. Its fast speeds, top-tier security, and global server network provide fast, anonymous connections for your Windows PC. While it’s not a free service, you can purchase ExpressVPN without risking your money as it’s backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee. I think you’ll agree that ExpressVPN is a top choice, but if you’re not totally satisfied, you can get a full refund, no questions asked.

Get ExpressVPN for Windows today

VPN Comparison Table — Best Free VPNs for Windows

Free Plan Data Allowance Server Countries Works on Windows
ExpressVPN 30-day money-back guarantee Unlimited 94 7, 8, and 10
CyberGhost 45-day money-back guarantee Unlimited 90 7 (SP 2), 8, and 10
Hotspot Shield 15GB/month 80 7, 8, and 10
TunnelBear 500MB/month 41 7 (SP 1), 8, and 10
hide.me 10GB/month 75 7, 8, and 10
ProtonVPN Unlimited 40 7, 8, and 10

Get ExpressVPN for Windows today

Free VPNs to Avoid and Why

There are 2 kinds of free VPN on the market — those that act as a free preview of a premium service, and those that are totally free and make revenue from other sources.

The former, “freemium” VPNs like the services listed above are entirely secure. These companies have released a free version of their apps to entice users into upgrading to their paid subscriptions and make a profit that way.

The latter, totally free VPNs should be used with extreme caution. If a free VPN isn’t encouraging you to upgrade to its premium version, you can’t be sure where it’s getting revenue from. The best case scenario is that you’re bombarded with ads, which could lead to your online movements being tracked. Worst case, the VPN contains malware designed to locate and steal your data, putting you at risk of identity theft.

Here are some of the most dangerous free VPNs, all of which are marketed as high-level security software:

  • Betternet VPN — Studies have shown that this VPN has the highest malware levels of any tested free service. Self-proclaimed as an advocate of privacy, Betternet VPN logs an alarming amount of user data including your general location, device-specific information, and non-personal logs of the domains you’ve visited.
  • Cross VPN — In tests, Cross VPN was flagged by 11 different antivirus programs as containing malware, particularly Trojan viruses. It’s been listed in the top 10 most malware-infected Android VPN apps, which doesn’t bode well for its Windows app.
  • Hola VPN — This VPN has been caught stealing user bandwidth and reselling it fraudulently. It has also allowed paying users to access the bandwidth and IP addresses of free users — this means someone could perform illegal activity using your connection and have it traced back to you.

You can easily avoid these risky free services by using one of the secure free VPNs on this list. While they do have some limitations, like data caps or server restrictions, you can guarantee your data is safe and anonymous while you’re connected. Even better, using a premium VPN like ExpressVPN will keep your data secure without any limitations — if you’re not entirely satisfied with the service, you can get a full refund within 30 days.

Protect your Windows PC with ExpressVPN

How to Set Up a VPN on Windows

All of the free VPNs on this list have quick and easy installation, so you can protect your Windows PC as soon as possible. I’m using ExpressVPN for this step-by-step guide, but the process is the same for the other VPNs too.

  1. Get a VPN with Windows compatibility. I recommend ExpressVPN as it supports Windows and a range of other platforms so you can secure all of your devices. Plus, you have the opportunity to try ExpressVPN without risking a penny.
    Screenshot of ExpressVPN website highlighting the "Get ExpressVPN" button to sign up for the service.
  2. Download the app from the VPN website. Make sure you choose the correct option for your version of Windows (either 32- or 64-bit).
    Screenshot of ExpressVPN website showing how to download the app and enter the activation code.
  3. Install the app, following the instructions in the setup wizard. You’ll be asked to allow permission for the VPN to install and make changes.
  4. Once installed, open the app. You may have to sign in with an activation code or a username and password if the VPN requires an account to use it.
    Screenshot showing the ExpressVPN Windows app asking for the activation code, then signing in to the app.
  5. Connect to a server in an available location. You can manually choose a server or have the VPN automatically connect you.
    Screenshot of ExpressVPN Windows app with server list open, highlighting the search bar and the Smart Location quick connect feature.
  6. Start browsing, gaming, streaming, and torrenting online securely!

Get ExpressVPN for Windows now!

You Shouldn’t Disable IPv6 on Windows — Here’s What to Do Instead

You may have heard that switching off IPv6 on your Windows PC can improve your security while using a VPN as it can lead to data leaks. However, this isn’t necessarily the case — Microsoft strongly recommends not switching off IPv6 as it can cause software performance issues. All Microsoft software is tested with IPv6 enabled, and disabling it can lead to malfunctions.

Recently, Microsoft has changed the way a Windows OS sends DNS requests, and it now uses both IPv4 and IPv6 at the same time. Windows has done this as a way to improve loading times, as whichever comes back first establishes the connection.

The issue is that the majority of VPNs are only equipped to handle IPv4, and will fail to protect you if an IPv6 connection bounces back. When an IPv6 request bypasses the VPN tunnel and is instead sent over a standard unencrypted network, it will accidentally reveal your real location. This creates a DNS server mismatch which is easily spotted by companies like Netflix and Hulu, ultimately leading to them blocking you from accessing their sites.

Rather than switching off IPv6, I suggest using a VPN that specifically guards against this kind of data leak. ExpressVPN features specific IPv6 leak protection so you don’t have to worry about disabling it on your Windows PC. This way, you can connect to a VPN server without fear that your device may stop working properly and without risking your data — ExpressVPN keeps all information secure within its encrypted tunnel.

Screenshot of IPv6 leak test showing no leaks, with ExpressVPN connected to a UK server and with IPv6 leak protection enabled.
I didn’t have to worry about IPv6 leaks with ExpressVPN

Secure your data with ExpressVPN

FAQs on Free VPNs For Windows

Does Windows come with a built-in VPN?

Yes, Windows 10 comes with a VPN client that you can manually set up. While it’s a convenient addition, the Windows built-in VPN lacks the features needed to replace a reliable freemium VPN provider like the ones listed above. That’s because the Windows VPN client has some severe drawbacks. For example, it only offers the PPTP protocol, has no kill switch, no split tunneling, and you must set up the connection manually every time. The setup process is a bit challenging, so it may take you a while if you’re a VPN novice. Because of these limitations, you’re much better off using a a premium VPN’s free plan than the Windows built-in VPN client.

Can I use free VPNs on Android, iOS, Mac, Linux, Firestick, and other devices?

Yes, the free VPNs listed here are compatible with multiple devices. All of these free services can be downloaded and used on Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS devices. Plus, some even have compatibility with devices like routers, game consoles, and Smart TVs.

It’s worth noting that most free VPNs only allow 1 device to be connected to a server, so you can’t secure multiple devices at the same time. You’d have to log out of your connection on 1 device before you could use it on another. If you want to connect more than 1 device at a time, a service like IPVanish has unlimited simultaneous device connections. Alternatively, you can set up ExpressVPN on a compatible router and protect every device connected to your WiFi.

Are free VPNs safe to use on iOS, Android, Mac, Linux, and other devices?

Yes, there are some free VPNs that are safe to use on iOS, macOS, Android, Linux, and other devices. However, there are also many free services that could potentially put your devices at risk, especially if they claim to be totally unlimited. These free VPNs could be logging your data or targeting your device with malware.

It’s always best to choose a free VPN offered by a premium company, as these “freemium” services have top-tier security and won’t risk your data. While they may have data caps or server and speed limitations, it’s better to have these inconveniences than face losing your privacy.

How do free VPNs make money?

Primarily, free VPNs rely on advertising to generate revenue. This means when you’re connected to the service, some non-identifiable data is logged so you can be targeted with advertisements that are local to you. While this isn’t a huge breach of privacy, it’s also not ideal if you’re using a VPN to keep your online presence anonymous.

Less trustworthy free VPNs log a greater amount of data to sell to advertisers or other third parties. This could be anything from your location to your online browsing habits — it’s a shady practice at best and dangerously invasive at worst.

To keep yourself as safe as possible, I recommend that you only use free VPNs offered by reputable premium companies. These “freemium” services come with limitations (like data caps and server restrictions) but they’re supported by paying users. This means the company doesn’t need to sell your data or run ads to maintain its free service. As the free version is a way to encourage you to upgrade, you can rest assured you’ll get the same high-quality encryption and security as the premium users.

Is it legal to use a free VPN?

Yes, in most countries it is completely legal to use a free VPN. You are permitted to use a VPN to keep your online data and activity anonymous in most parts of the world. You are never permitted to use a VPN to perform illegal activities, like cyberstalking, hacking, or downloading and distributing copyrighted materials.

There are some countries in which the use of VPNs is banned or heavily regulated. Countries like China, Russia, and the UAE restrict the use of VPNs if they aren’t government-approved. This means services like ExpressVPN and CyberGhost are banned there, as they are under no obligation to provide government bodies with user data.

I recommend making sure you’re aware of the legal issues surrounding VPNs in your location before you start using a free service. My team and I don’t condone any illegal activity, so please check your local regulations to ensure you’re not in breach of any laws.

What’s the catch with free VPNs?

When you use a free VPN, you’ll find there are a lot of limitations as to what you can do with the service. It’s common to find capped bandwidth or data usage to stop you from streaming, torrenting, and completing any other data-heavy activities online. Connection speed throttling can turn your internet browsing into a frustrating task. You’ll also find most free VPNs have a small number of available servers, limiting your connection options.

The aim of most free services is to convince you to upgrade to a paid subscription. It’s an effective marketing technique, but it means these free VPNs aren’t practical for long-term use.

Ultimately, if you want to avoid these limitations and have full access to all features, you’ll have to upgrade to a premium VPN. A service like ExpressVPN is an affordable option for high-quality security, with a global network of servers, fast speeds, and unlimited data use. You can try ExpressVPN without risking your money as it’s backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee — if you’re not completely satisfied, you can get a full refund.

Try ExpressVPN risk-free today!

Protect Your Windows Device With a Safe, Reliable VPN

A free service is always tempting, but it’s not always safe to use a free VPN to protect your Windows device. Some free VPNs log your data to sell to third parties, or worse still infect your Windows device with malware! That’s why I tested more than 50 free VPNs to find the safest options for your Windows devices.

Every free VPN on this list maintains high levels of data security and privacy, as well as providing reliable connections, good speeds, and solid customer service. While some have limitations, you won’t have to compromise your safety when using these services.

Of all the VPNs, ExpressVPN is the top choice for Windows with military-grade security, lightning-fast speeds, and an impressive global server network. While it’s not totally free, ExpressVPN allows you to purchase its service with confidence as it’s backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee. I’m sure you’ll think it’s excellent, but if you’re not satisfied for any reason, you can get a full refund with no questions asked.

Summary: Top Free VPNs for Windows in 2021

Top Choice
$6.67 / month Save 48%
CyberGhost VPN
$2.25 / month Save 83%
Hotspot Shield
$2.99 / month Save 77%
TunnelBear VPN
$4.17 / month Save 58%
Hide me VPN
$3.33 / month Save 74%
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Kate Hawkins
Kate Hawkins is a tech-focused writer and web expert with a keen interest in online security and privacy. She enjoys getting stuck into new technology and researching the latest cybersecurity trends to keep readers informed and safe online.