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.

Best Overall Choice: TunnelBear

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.

Easy-to-use

TunnelBear

TunnelBear's free plan caps your bandwidth at 500MB per month, but it gives you an otherwise unrestricted experience with apps for all your devices. It's super user-friendly and perfect for those looking to dip their tow into the VPN waters before making a financial commitment.

Paid plans start at $4.99 per month if you choose to upgrade.

Free

Another great option: Windscribe

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.

More data

Windscribe

While your experience is restricted on Windscribe's free plan, you do get a healthy 10GB of bandwidth and you can earn more by recommending friends.

Free

Money-back guarantee: NordVPN

NordVPN 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.

Firm favorite

NordVPN

NordVPN is currently offering its service with a 75% discount, bringing the monthly cost down to just $2.99 when you sign up for its 3-year plan. This is billed every 3 years at $107.55. Alternatively, there are some savings to be had on its 1- and 2-year plans.

$2.99/month $11.95/month 75% off

All Free VPN Deals

No data cap: ProtonVPN

There's no monthly usage limit for ProtonVPN's free plan, but it can only be used on one device at a time and is limited by server location.

Free at ProtonVPN

Protect: hide.me VPN

The VPN from hide.me performed acceptably in our review. Its free plan offers 2GB of bandwidth and can be used on one device.

Free at hide.me VPN

How to get the Best Free VPN Deals

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. It's always wise to read the privacy policy before signing up to figure out what's going on behind the scenes.

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, and they often offer some great deals on their paid plans too.

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.

Unless you are in desperate need of one of these today, you may want to wait for Amazon's Prime Day to bring some potential savings to these items. Be sure to check out our Prime Day 2019 Deals to keep up to date on all the deals and everything else Prime Day related. Pay VPNs might cost more but they also have a lot more features. Check out the Best of the best VPNs in this other Prime Day roundup.

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