Best Free VPN (if you absolutely have to use one)

A virtual private network (VPN) is essentially an encrypted tunnel that shuttles your data from your PC, phone, or console to the open internet. Along the way, anyone attempting to sniff out personal information is going to have a hard time, effectively making your time on the internet more private. Not only that, VPNs can provide workarounds for geographic restrictions, can provide a cover for those attempting to get around censorship, and they can get you around ISP bandwidth throttling.

Premier VPN services pretty much all rely on a subscription-based service. It costs money to host thousands of servers, and honest employees need to make a living. There are plenty of free VPN services out there, but the majority should be avoided due to security concerns. Let's take a closer look at free VPNs and see which ones, if you absolutely need to use one, are the best.

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What's so bad about a free VPN?

VPNs cost money to run, so unless the provider is incredibly generous, they're going to have to recoup costs somehow. While many top VPN services do their best to block advertisements, one of the least-harmful methods free VPNs use to make money is to run ads.

On the other hand, some free VPNs will take your information they collect while you're routed through their servers and sell it to interested parties. Unless you're just using a VPN to stream Netflix from a different country and don't really care who sees your information, it pretty much completely removes the necessity for a VPN.

A good VPN service will always provide you, the user, with a ton of extra features to make your internet experience as good as possible. There will usually be thousands of servers in countries around the world, you'll be able to use it to torrent, there will be a killswitch, and you'll have unlimited bandwidth with fast speeds. You're paying a premium, but you're getting what you pay for.

A collection of paid VPN services

The same maxim of getting what you pay for applies to most free VPNs. You'll have access to a lot fewer servers, there will be fewer protocols to use to connect, and bandwidth will be capped quite low. Providers of free VPNs who don't sell your data or bombard you with ads are usually providers who offer legitimate paid VPNs. They want to entice you with a free but limited plan in the hopes that you'll soon upgrade to a paid subscription. It's a tried and true business method.

Keeping this in mind, the best way to go about choosing a free VPN is looking for one from an established VPN provider that also has paid subscriptions. You want to ensure that they're upfront about what logs they keep about their users, and you also want to ensure that they're using a secure connection protocol.

If you absolutely need to use a free VPN and need some help deciding which ones have most of the required features, take a look at these three options. Think you'd rather go with a paid option? Be sure to have a look at Windows Central Digital Offers for some significant discounts on great VPN providers.

See VPN deals at Windows Central Digital Offers



Windscribe is a paid VPN service that also offers a free plan with stripped back features. You can use the service on one device, there are servers in just eight locations, and your bandwidth is capped at 10GB per month. That's a decent amount of bandwidth for free, but you don't have access to OpenVPN configs when using the free version.

There are minimal logs kept here; things like bandwidth to keep track of how much you used. Other than that, your information is treated as disposable. Windscribe, thanks to the higher bandwidth cap and lack of OpenVPN, is best used for unblocking streaming content in other countries. If you're in need of a VPN for security reasons, it's best to look elsewhere. Windscribe is primarily based in Canada.

If you want to subscribe to Windscribe on a paid basis, you can get a lifetime Pro subscription for $50 through Windows Central Digital Offers.

See at Windscribe



TunnelBear has three levels of subscription you can choose from; free, monthly, or yearly. The free subscription gets you just 500MB of data every month, but they offer OpenVPN connectivity to free users.

If you just need some protection in a browser, there are Chrome and Opera extensions available. TunnelBear is located in Canada and promises to keep minimal logs. They do keep credit card information (if you pay with one) and they keep some bandwidth information to keep track of how much you've used. Other than that, they try to keep the least amount of information possible. TunnelBear can't be used for torrenting; it's best used if you need some strong encryption for a short amount of time and for a small amount of data.

See at TunnelBear



ExpressVPN is one of the best providers out there and, while it doesn't offer an explicitly free version of the service, it does have a 30-day money back guarantee that you can treat as a free trial. If you happen to enjoy the full suite of services you get with a paid subscription, you don't have to do anything to keep using it.

ExpressVPN is located in the British Virgin Islands and promises to keep absolutely no logs. The company has servers in 145 locations in 94 different countries, plus it won't put a cap on your bandwidth. Next time you realize you need a VPN, give this service a try.

See at ExpressVPN

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More VPN resources

We've written a lot about VPNs in the past, so check out these links for way more information.

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