7 Best Free VPNs in 2022 (100% FREE + Safe)
It’s tricky to find a free VPN that’s safe and works well — but I did it. There are many free VPNs that are outright dangerous, exposing you to malware and trackers. Even when it passes the safety test, most free VPNs have data caps, are slow, or can’t unblock websites.
My team and I tested over 100 VPNs out there, and I shortlisted the best free VPNs in 2022. Do keep in mind that no free VPN can match up to the performance of premium VPNs. You’ll still need to put up with things like data limits and inconsistent speeds.
If you want to save yourself the hassle, I recommend you try ExpressVPN risk-free. It isn’t free, but it’s the fastest and most reliable VPN I’ve used. It’s backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee (which is honored 100%), so you don’t have to worry about getting stuck with a VPN you don’t like.
Quick Guide: Best Free VPNs You Can Trust in 2022
- ExpressVPN — Top-tier security and privacy with blazing-fast speeds on its global network of 3000+ servers. Try ExpressVPN risk-free!
- CyberGhost — Optimized servers for streaming and torrenting, but only free for 45 days.
- Proton VPN — Free unlimited data and fast speeds, but only 3 server locations.
- Hotspot Shield — 500MB of free data daily and decent speeds, but can’t unblock streaming services like Netflix.
- hide.me — Unlimited data with 5 free server locations, but can’t choose specific servers after 10GB is used.
- TunnelBear — Free access to all 48+ server locations, but only 500MB of free data per month.
- Windscribe — 10 free server countries available, but slow speeds and patchy connections at times.
The Best (100% FREE) VPNs in December 2022
- Unlimited data for endless streaming, torrenting, and gaming
- Global network of 3000+ servers in 94+ countries
- Audited no-logs policy, AES-256 bit encryption, kill switch, leak protection, and RAM-based servers
- Allows up to 5 simultaneous device connections
- Native app for Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV and Fire Stick, routers, and more
- 24/7 live chat and email support available
ExpressVPN isn’t normally free, so you might be wondering why I’m listing it as the #1 VPN. The reason is that ExpressVPN has excellent server speeds, top-tier security, and a strict no-logs policy. While it’s not free upfront, it’s backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can easily get a full refund if you’re not satisfied (no questions asked — I’ve tested it myself). This makes ExpressVPN tough to beat.
In my tests, I connected to over 50 servers in the US, UK, Japan, and more. I was impressed that ExpressVPN only caused a tiny speed drop of 18% on average (from my base speed of 115Mbps to 94Mbps). This is extremely fast, considering some servers were more than 15,000km away. I didn’t have any problems with slow loading pages, buffering videos, or lagging video games.
I could even stream my favorite shows and movies in HD. ExpressVPN consistently works with streaming platforms like Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, and HBO Max. I didn’t even have to waste time looking for a working server — every server connected on the first go. This makes ExpressVPN an ideal option if you regularly travel abroad and you want access to your streaming accounts back home.
ExpressVPN allows for the choice of multiple protocols including Lightway (ExpressVPN’s proprietary competitor to WireGuard), OpenVPN, and IKev2 in addition to the following security features:
- AES 256-bit military-grade encryption
- DNS & IP leak protection
- Obfuscation on every server
- An automatic kill switch
As soon as you connect to a server, none of your online movements are tracked, logged, or shared. The audited no-logs policy has even been proven in a Turkish police investigation, when no user information could be recovered after a physical server was seized by the authorities. ExpressVPN also uses TrustedServer technology, which means the network runs on RAM-based servers that can’t physically store any data. In addition, the company headquarters are based in the British Virgin Islands — a privacy haven with no mass surveillance or data collection laws.
You can sign up to a 1-month, 6-month, or 1-year plan, with the 1-year plan offering the best value for money at only $6.67 per month. At the time of writing, you can even get 3 months of ExpressVPN for free when you subscribe. Every plan is backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee, so it’s easy to get a refund if you’re not 100% satisfied with the service.
When I tested this myself, I was really surprised at how easy it was to get my money back! Other VPNs that I’ve tried wasted my time trying to troubleshoot or get me to stay, but ExpressVPN processed my refund immediately. The money was returned to my bank account within 5 days.
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- No data or bandwidth caps for endless internet browsing
- 8200+ servers worldwide in over 91 countries
- Strict no-logs policy, kill switch, leak protection, and advanced encryption
- Connect up to 7 devices at the same time
- Works on Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, Amazon Fire Stick, routers, and more
- 24/7 customer support over live chat and email
CyberGhost is great for beginners as it categorizes servers into specific activities, like streaming, torrenting, and gaming. These dedicated servers are regularly tested and optimized to guarantee smooth connections.
On the Windows app, you can connect to an optimized server by clicking into the For streaming, For torrenting, or For gaming server lists. On Mac, you only have the For downloading (torrenting) and For streaming categories.
During tests, I found CyberGhost’s streaming-optimized servers worked flawlessly with Netflix, Disney+, and Amazon Prime Video. I could also download large torrent files quickly and game online with nearly no lag on the torrenting and gaming servers respectively.
If you want to browse the internet with maximum privacy, you can connect to the unique NoSpy servers (available on Windows in its own dedicated list and in the All Servers list on the Mac app). These servers are based in Romania, which has strict data privacy laws and is outside of the 5, 9, and 14 Eyes Alliance (a global intelligence-sharing network). The NoSpy servers are also owned and operated by CyberGhost staff to ensure no third-party interference.
- AES 256-bit military-grade encryption
- Automatic kill switch
- DNS leak protection
- “NoSpy” advanced obfuscated servers for complete anonymity
The biggest downside is that my speeds dropped by 39% on average from 115Mbps to around 70Mbps. I also noticed a slowdown over long-distance connections (that I didn’t experience with other VPNs like ExpressVPN). You may find this impacts your connection if your regular internet speeds are slower, but you’ll only know by testing CyberGhost out for yourself.
Luckily, you can use CyberGhost for free with its 45-day money-back guarantee. Its no-questions-asked refund policy means CyberGhost is a great choice if you only need a VPN for a short time, like binge-watching your favorite TV show or traveling abroad. Once you’re done, you can get a full refund easily within 45 days — I tested the process myself and it really does work.
If you do want to use CyberGhost for longer, the best-value plan is the 2-year plan at only $2.03 per month (it’s one of the most affordable monthly VPNs).
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- Unlimited free data with no caps or ads
- 24 free servers in 3 countries (US, Japan, and Netherlands)
- Strict no-logs policy, military-grade encryption, kill switch, and leak protection
- Supports 1 device connection at a time
- Compatible with Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, Chromebook, and more
- Customer support available through email
Proton VPN has unlimited free data and server access in the US, Japan, and the Netherlands. Since you only get access to 3 server countries, I was expecting my speeds to slow down on servers on the other side of the world. However, I was impressed by the fast speeds — I only had a drop of 33% on average (from a baseline of 98Mbps to 62Mbps). There was minimal lag when streaming, browsing, and online shopping.
I was surprised to find ProtonPN is also a top free choice for streaming Netflix. On the website, streaming support is officially only available for Plus and Visionary subscribers. However, my team and I could access Netflix in every server country in tests.
The company has an audited no-logs policy and is based in Switzerland, which has strong data protection and privacy laws. To further protect your browsing activity, Proton VPN makes use of robust protections like:
- AES 256-bit encryption
- A kill switch
- DNS leak protection
- Split tunneling
- Customizable DNS Settings
While you can only connect 1 device at a time on the free plan, you can configure Proton VPN onto your router at home. This allows you to protect all of your devices as long as it’s connected to your WiFi. To get started and download Proton VPN for free, all you need is an email address. You don’t have to provide any other personal details.
Unfortunately, you won’t have access to the SecureCore, Tor, or 10 Gbit servers. There’s no torrenting support on the free plan either. This ensures the free servers aren’t overloaded for other free users, but it’s disappointing if you want to share files via BitTorrent.
Proton VPN’s paid plans can be a little pricey if you’re looking to upgrade. The cheapest plan comes to $3.99 per month and you’ll need to commit to a 2-year plan. For a similar price — but a shorter commitment on a 2-year plan — you could get ExpressVPN’s superior speeds and security for torrenting, streaming, and more.
- 500MB of data per day (around 15GB per month)
- 1 free virtual server in the US
- No-logs policy, AES-256-bit encryption, and leak protection
- Only allows 1 device connection
- Free app available for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android
- No email or live chat support on the free plan
Hotspot Shield’s free VPN offers 500MB of data per day, which is equivalent to around 15GB per month. While this isn’t much for downloading large files or streaming, it’s enough for secure browsing, checking emails, banking, and online shopping.
The free VPN uses the same AES-256-bit encryption and leak protection as the premium version (although there’s no kill switch on the free plan). I ran several leak tests and was pleased to find Hotspot Shield successfully masked my true IP and DNS address. You’ve also got access to the Hydra Catapult, OpenVPN and IPsec protocols.
I was pleased with the fast speeds, especially when I connected to the proprietary Hydra Catapult protocol. However, Hotspot Shield caps bandwidth to 2Mbps in an effort to get you to upgrade. This meant I had some buffering when streaming on YouTube. It also took some time for websites to populate.
You can’t unblock Netflix and other location-based streaming services anyway. This is reserved for Hotspot Shield’s premium users only — and if you’re going to pay, CyberGhost has optimized servers for streaming and it’s just $2.03 a month (compared to Hotspot Shield’s cheapest plan at $7.99 a month).
However, the biggest downside is that the free VPN is supported in part by ads. Even though the company doesn’t log any activity that can be tied back to you, your device OS and general geographic location is collected. This means you’ll see some personalized ads when you’re browsing.
I find Hotspot Shield is best suited for casual browsing, as long as you don’t mind a few personalized ads. Better still, it’s simple to create a free Hotspot Shield account and download the app onto your device. You can even sign up for the 7-day free trial of the premium version — if you cancel straight away, you’ll be able to keep using the paid plan for the duration of the trial.
- Unlimited data with no speed throttling
- 5 free server locations (US East, US West, Canada, Germany, and Netherlands)
- Military-grade encryption, leak protection, and a strict no-logs policy
- Allows 1 device connection
- Works on Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, Amazon Fire TV, Blackberry, routers, and more
- Customer support via email only
hide.me’s free plan has unlimited data and access to servers in 4 countries. However, once you use 10GB of data, you’re no longer allowed to choose your server connection — you’re automatically connected to a random free server instead.
As long as you don’t mind where you connect, hide.me is a good option for secure browsing. You’re protected by an audited no-logs policy, so your browsing history and identifying data is never shared or tracked. The company headquarters are based in Malaysia, which is outside any global intelligence-sharing networks.
I was surprised to find that you get access to some premium security features such as:
- Split tunneling
- Stealth Guard server obfuscation
- Access to IKev2, OpenVPN, and SoftEther protocols
I ran speed tests on hide.me’s free servers and it has fast download speeds, but slow upload speeds. While this is great for downloading and browsing, I had some buffering and lag when uploading files and making video calls.
Unfortunately, my team and I couldn’t access many streaming platforms on hide.me’s free servers. Netflix US and UK did work on occasion, but you have to be patient and try many different servers to find a working option.
On hide.me’s premium plan, Netflix, and Amazon Prime Video still didn’t work for me every time — so upgrading from the free plan isn’t really worth it. The cheapest 2-year plan is on the high side considering these limitations, working out at $2.49 a month. CyberGhost’s cheapest plan will cost you less and get you access to Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and more.
While I wouldn’t recommend it for streaming, torrenting, or gaming, hide.me does keep your data secure while browsing. It’s easy to get started — simply download hide.me onto your device for free. You don’t even need to create a username or provide an email address.
- 500MB free data per month
- Access to global network of servers in 48+ countries
- Advanced encryption standards, leak protection, kill switch, and no-logs policy
- Supports up to 5 connections at once
- User-friendly app for Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, routers, and more
- Email support available on the free plan
TunnelBear’s free VPN lets you access every premium feature on the paid plan. This includes access to all 48+ servers in its worldwide network, meaning you can easily browse the internet from anywhere.
Unfortunately, the mere 500MB per month data allowance means you’ll want to upgrade before the day’s over. I started watching a series on BBC iPlayer and the VPN stopped streaming before the episode ended. This was especially disappointing because TunnelBear even works with Netflix and Amazon Prime Video (and not many free VPNs do).
I claimed an extra 1GB of data by tweeting about the service — only to learn that this was a one-time gift and the next month I was back to the 500MB limit. Upgrading to Tunnel Bear’s premium plan will cost you $4.17 per month on the cheapest 2-year plan. For almost half that price, you could benefit from CyberGhost’s optimized servers for streaming instead.
However, TunnelBear is still a decent option if you only need to casually browse the internet. TunnelBear uses AES-256-bit encryption and leak protection on every server. I was especially impressed by its GhostBear feature, which obfuscates your connection and makes it look like regular internet traffic. TunnelBear even performs annual independent security audits, confirming no user data is logged.
It takes less than 1 minute to download TunnelBear’s free app and sign up for an account. You can connect to a server as soon as you’re done and start using the service.
- 10GB monthly data cap
- 10 free server locations (Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Switzerland, UK, and US)
- Military-grade encryption, leak protection, and no-logs policy
- Unlimited device connections on the free plan
- Works on Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, and more
- No live chat support available
Windscribe offers unlimited device connections on its free plan, so you can protect every device you own. Your traffic is secured by military-grade encryption, leak protection, and an audited no-logs policy.
However, this is as good as it gets. My speeds dramatically dropped by an average of 70% from 115Mbps to 35Mbps. At times, my speeds even slowed down to just 1 or 2Mbps and I found it hard to establish a working server connection. The 10GB monthly data allowance won’t get you very far either.
Even though Windscribe does work with streaming platforms like Netflix and Disney+, you won’t have enough data (and potentially fast enough speeds) to binge-watch your favorite shows. If you want to stream Netflix, you’ll need a VPN without data caps (like CyberGhost).
For these reasons, I also wouldn’t recommend using the Double Hop feature. This routes your connection through 2 servers for an extra layer of security — but it slowed down my connection to a crawl.
Side-by-Side Comparison of the Best Free VPNs in 2022
|Unblocks Netflix||Monthly Data||Server Countries||Torrenting Support||Maximum Devices|
No matter which free VPN you choose, you’ll have to deal with some limitations, like data caps and server restrictions.
If you want to avoid these limitations, I suggest you try ExpressVPN risk-free. While it’s a paid VPN, it’s backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee. If you change your mind about the service, you can get a full refund within 30 days. It’s super quick and easy over 24/7 live chat.
Avoid These Free VPNs Like the Plague
The sad truth is that you can’t always trust Google Play or Apple App Store ratings. Even if you find a VPN with many downloads and positive user reviews, it could still be malware. In fact, a study by research agency CSIRO found that 75% of free VPNs have at least 1 tracking library — despite claims to protect user privacy.
Through my own research and testing, I found some shocking facts about several VPN services that I had to warn you about.
- Cross VPN — Antivirus tests found Cross VPN as having potential trojan viruses, with alerts from 11 different antivirus services.
- Betternet VPN — Marketed as privacy-focused but found to have multiple tracking libraries in its software, logging data like general location, device information, and domain names you visit.
- SuperVPN — A dangerous VPN, particularly for Android users, and reported to have had the personal data of millions of users stolen — credit card details, login credentials, location data, and more.
- LinkVPN — Associated with SuperVPN with no transparency and links to China, which suggests data-logging and limited privacy for users.
- Fast Secure Payment — Found to have malware embedded in its apps.
“Freemium” vs Free VPNs: Hidden Costs You Should Know
A freemium VPN is a sample of a premium VPN. It’s a free plan offered by reputable VPN companies who let you try the free version with some limitations, in order to promote the paid plan. You can trust freemium VPNs not to sell your personal data — the companies won’t risk ruining their reputation and losing the trust of paying customers.
However, you’ll face the hidden cost of limited data, slow speeds, and restricted server locations. This is done in the hopes that you’ll get frustrated and eventually upgrade to the premium VPN.
When a free VPN doesn’t promote its premium version or show ads, your data is probably being sold to third parties. Your free VPN might even contain malware designed to mine your data for profit. In my opinion, this is the highest price you’ll pay as your private information and sensitive files could easily be stolen by cybercriminals.
The cost of using a free VPN far outweighs the price of a premium service, especially when you can try a top-tier VPN like ExpressVPN risk-free. You can even try ExpressVPN to make sure it works for you with the 30-day money-back guarantee. If you’re not satisfied, you can get a full refund as long as you request it within 30 days.
How I Tested and Ranked the Best Free VPNs in 2022
Any VPN can be listed on the app store with positive reviews, but that doesn’t mean it’s not dangerous. That’s why I strongly advise you to consider the below points when evaluating a free VPN:
- Business model — You don’t want your free VPN to make money at your expense. Some shady VPNs fill their app with ads, trackers, or malware (sometimes all 3!) to secretly collect and sell your private data.
- Restrictions — Free VPNs often have limitations due to lack of resources and funds. This could include slow speeds, finite bandwidth, overcrowded servers, zero torrenting support, and no access to streaming platforms like Netflix.
- Security features — Look for at least AES-256-bit encryption and tunneling protocols like WireGuard, OpenVPN, and IKEv2. Avoid protocols like L2TP/IPSec and PPTP, which are outdated and frankly shouldn’t be used anymore.
- User-friendly app — The last thing you want to do is spend time configuring and installing the VPN. That’s why every VPN I tested works on Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, and other popular devices.
FAQs About Free VPNs
Are free VPNs really safe?
Unfortunately, most free VPNs aren’t safe. At best, your private data is collected by trackers while your device is bombarded with pop-up ads. At worst, you could infect your device with malware and expose your sensitive files to hackers. The reality is that there are only a few trustworthy free VPNs — and I’ve tested them all.
What’s the best free VPN for Netflix?
Free VPNs do work with Netflix – and we even have a guide to the best free VPNs for Netflix. However, keep in mind you’ll still have to put up with some limitations. This includes data caps, speed restrictions, or access to a small number of servers and Netflix libraries.
For example, Hotspot Shield works with Netflix US — but you only have 500MB of free data per month. TunnelBear can unblock Netflix on all its global servers, but you’re restricted to just 500MB of free data each month.
As a big streaming fan, I personally prefer a VPN without restrictions (so I can binge-watch as much as I like in HD!). I found ExpressVPN easily connects to Netflix worldwide, so you can access your local streaming account from anywhere. I like that it even works with Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Hulu, HBO Max, YouTube TV, BBC iPlayer, DAZN, and more, so I can keep up with all my favorite programs.
Should I use a free VPN for torrenting?
You can use a free VPN for torrenting, but you’ll have to sacrifice either speed or data. Slow speeds can result in waiting hours for a single download to complete, whereas low data caps will restrict you from downloading large files. Many free VPNs only have a few server locations as well, which isn’t ideal if you need to connect to a specific country.
If you only need a VPN for a short amount of time, I recommend taking advantage of a premium VPN’s money-back guarantee. For instance, you can torrent on CyberGhost’s optimized servers for 45 days for free and get a full refund when you’ve finished.
Do free VPNs work in China?
In short, no. Only a handful of paid VPNs still work in China as it’s exceptionally tricky to overcome the Great Firewall. If you’re heading to China on an overseas trip, I suggest you download one of these VPNs before entering the country (as VPN websites are blocked inside).
Keep in mind that the government doesn’t officially condone using non-approved VPNs. However, no foreigner has been punished for using a VPN while on a vacation, business trip, or short-term stay to date.
How do free VPNs make money?
There’s always a hidden cost that allows free VPNs to make money. The most common way is by bombarding your device with pop-up ads. While it might seem harmless, all adware comes installed with trackers. Trackers keep tabs on your internet activity, which means your browsing history is no longer anonymous or private.
Free VPNs sometimes sell your data to advertisers. They keep track of sites you visit, your IP address, and data relating to your connection. This is a huge violation of your privacy and can compromise your security, depending on the data being tracked and sold.
Rarely, a free VPN can sell your data to the highest bidder — and this could mean your information is in the hands of a cybercriminal. It’s not a common occurrence, but you should be aware of the potential risk when looking at free VPN services.
Can I use a free VPN on any device?
It depends, but the free VPNs on this list have native apps for Windows, Android, Mac, and iOS. However, in most cases, you can only connect 1 device at a time. So if you’ve got both a smartphone and a laptop, you’ll have to log out of the VPN on 1 device in order to log into the other.
If you want to use a VPN on multiple devices at the same time, ExpressVPN offers up to 5 device connections at once. You can even install it on smart TVs and gaming consoles, which normally don’t have native VPN support.
If you have more than 5 devices, you can install ExpressVPN’s native router app. When you set up a VPN on your router, you can use every WiFi-connected device in your household with the VPN.
What’s the best free VPN for gaming? (PUBG, Minecraft, Roblox, and more)
Unfortunately, I can’t recommend any free VPN for gaming online. Even the best free VPNs in 2022 won’t guarantee you lag-free gaming.
The issue lies with ping (or latency). This is how long it takes for data to reach the server and for your device to get a response. Free VPNs have high ping, so it takes a long time to get a server response. During a fast-paced game, you’ll experience delays and might even lose connection to the game server.
However, a premium VPN can mitigate latency in ways that freemium VPNs won’t (or can’t afford to). ExpressVPN has blazing-fast speeds and low ping, as well as dedicated apps for smartphones and computers. You can even set it up on gaming consoles, like PlayStation and Xbox.
Are free VPNs legal?
VPNs are legal in most countries in the world, and using a free VPN to mask your IP address and keep your confidential data secure is permitted. However, it’s never legal to use a VPN connection to perform illegal online activities, like hacking, cyberstalking, or distributing copyrighted content.
My team and I don’t condone any illegal behavior, so make sure you’re aware of local VPN laws and regulations before you connect. This is especially the case in countries like China, Belarus, Russia, Iran, and North Korea, where non-approved VPN usage is banned.
Choose A VPN That Won’t Compromise Your Safety
The market is flooded with free VPNs, but many of them pose serious risks to you and your data. Slow speeds, bandwidth limitations, and connection restrictions are annoying — having your data logged and sold to generate revenue compromises your data security.
To keep yourself safe online and enjoy the internet without limitations, I suggest you consider a top-quality option like ExpressVPN. During my tests, I was impressed by ExpressVPN’s lightning-fast speeds, ease of use, and steady server connections worldwide. I also liked that there’s a 30-day money-back-guarantee, so you can always get a refund if you’re not completely satisfied.
I even tested the money-back guarantee myself to make sure it works. No one hassled me to stay when I asked for a refund over 24/7 live chat and better still, the money returned to my account in just 5 days.