The best free VPNs are one of the most essential cybersecurity tools in this continuously evolving age of digital technology. With them, you can keep your online activities private from snoopers and also bypass geo-restrictions implied by the government or website owners.
However, let’s not forget that even the top VPNs with no cost come with a handful of limitations. For example, some providers may have severe data caps, while others run small server fleets and aren’t able to bypass content blocks. Therefore, we suggest that you opt for a premium VPN instead, as they have no restrictions on speed or data usage, and can bypass even the most challenging geo-blocks.
Use a premium VPN for free
ExpressVPN uses only top-notch security features and is capable of unblocking the most popular streaming services anywhere. Use its risk-free 30-day trial and enjoy premium VPN services without paying a penny.
- Fast and stable connection speeds
- Top-notch security features
- 30-day money-back guarantee
With that in mind, we have compiled a list of the best 5 free VPNs of 2023. When testing, we made sure they included top-notch security features, didn’t collect user logs, and helped you unblock geo-restricted content from anywhere. Continue reading and find a reliable VPN service for your needs.
Top 5 picks for the best free VPNs
- ExpressVPN – Best VPN with a free trial in 2023
- NordVPN – Top risk-free VPN for streaming
- Atlas VPN – Freemium VPN for beginners
- Proton VPN – Free VPN with unlimited data
- PrivadoVPN – VPN with the most free server location
Are free VPNs safe to use?
Yes, some free VPNs are safe to use. However, the majority of no-cost VPNs pose security threats by using outdated features or cooperating with third parties. It’s no secret that free VPNs tend to collect their users' data and sell it to other companies or even governmental institutions. This way they either earn an income or receive approval to work in a heavily-censored country.
When it comes to the applications themselves, free VPNs usually include only the most crucial features that may also be dysfunctional. There are also only a few server locations to choose from, which results in slower connection speeds and low chances of bypassing content blocks. Additionally, most free VPNs come with data caps, meaning that you can only use a limited amount of protected data.
For casual users seeking basic or short-term online protection, a completely free VPN can be a solution. Nevertheless, for regular use, unblocked global content, and complete online privacy, we recommend using premium VPNs like ExpressVPN. VPNs like that come with free trials and money-back guarantees, allowing you to use top-notch services without risking your savings.
5 best free VPNs of 2023: overview
We have compiled a list of the best 5 VPNs that are either free or have free trials. When testing both types of providers, we prioritized robust security, good performance, and user-friendliness, as these aspects ensure you will want to use a VPN regularly.
Read on and find our insights on each best free VPNs 2023 separately.
1. ExpressVPN – Best free-trial VPN overall
- Has a 37-day risk-free trial
- Unblocks a variety of popular streaming services
- Uses a proprietary Lightway tunnel for the best speeds
- Servers in over 100 countries
- Unlimited monthly data
- There’s no free plan
ExpressVPN is the best VPN with a free trial, as it applies the most advanced security measures, is one of the speediest VPNs on the market, and bypasses various geo-blocks effortlessly.
|Number of servers||3000+ servers in 105 countries|
|Location||British Virgin Islands|
With it, your online traffic is encrypted with either AES-256 or XChaCha20 cipher, depending on what tunneling protocol you use. The provider also follows a strict no-logs policy and uses RAM-only servers that ensure your data doesn’t stay on the servers any longer than till the system reboots.
Moreover, ExpressVPN provides you with a list of extra features, such as a functional ad blocker or the MediaStreamer, which helps you bypass geo-blocks even on non-VPN devices. Another great addition to your online safety is a built-in password manager, which is available in ExpressVPN’s mobile apps.
Although this VPN doesn’t have a completely free app version, it provides you with a 7-day free trial and a 30-day money-back guarantee. Combining both options gives you over a month of free premium VPN use. If you decide to stay with ExpressVPN for longer, the prices start from $6.67/month.
Check our in-depth ExpressVPN review to find out more.
2. NordVPN – Risk-free VPN for streaming
- Retains over 90% of the baseline connection speed
- Unblocks streaming services on devices that don’t support VPNs
- Has a built-in malware protection
- Doesn’t limit data usage
- Located in a privacy-friendly country
- There’s no free application version
NordVPN is one of the most popular providers on the market and it can be titled as the best VPN for streaming with a free trial. The provider regularly unblocks a variety of Netflix catalogs, Disney+, Max, Hulu, and other top streaming services.
|Number of servers||5810+ servers in 60 countries|
Due to an extensive server fleet of 5810+ servers in 60 countries and the implementation of a proprietary NordLynx tunneling protocol, NordVPN helps you stream videos in full HD anywhere. Plus, the provider has the Smart DNS feature, which helps you bypass content blocks on devices that don’t support VPN apps.
Apart from geo-restrictions, this VPN helps you stay anonymous. It uses market-leading AES encryption and runs on RAM-only servers where your data gets nearly instantly wiped out. Additionally, NordVPN follows a strict no-logs policy which has been independently audited by Deloitte.
Like ExpressVPN, NordVPN doesn't offer a completely free version. However, you can take advantage of its 7-day free trial and 30-day money-back guarantee to enjoy a 37-day risk-free trial. The pricing starts from $2.99/month.
Learn more about the features in our NordVPN review.
3. AtlasVPN – 100% free VPN with a user-friendly app
- Doesn’t collect users’ logs
- Retains good connection speeds
- The application is intuitive on any device
- Uses industry-leading security features
- Has a 5 GB data cap
- Located in the US (5-Eyes country)
Atlas VPN is a freemium VPN provider that’s a great pick for beginners, as it offers simple-to-use apps and uses top-notch security measures. Whether you use it for free or with a premium plan, your online traffic is encrypted with AES and XChaCha20 ciphers.
|Number of servers||1000+ servers in 42 countries|
|Location||Delaware, United States|
|Simultaneous connections||Unlimited devices|
The free Atlas VPN version comes with a few extra security features. You get a functional kill switch that protects your IP in case a VPN connection drops. And there’s also the split tunneling feature, which allows you to customize your VPN traffic.
Atlas VPN is known for excellent capabilities at bypassing geo-blocks, but this works with a premium subscription only. On the bright side, free users can protect unlimited devices simultaneously and use the P2P connection on all free servers located in the Netherlands and the US.
Atlas VPN offers both free and paid plans. However, you can also access its premium service for free with a 7-day trial and 30-day money-back guarantee. Afterward, the prices start from $1.64/month.
4. Proton VPN - Reliable free VPN with unmetered data
- Doesn’t have data caps
- Retains around 80% of the baseline speed
- Free servers in three different continents
- Has a no-logs policy
- Free plan doesn’t work for streaming
- Number of features are available for paid users only
Proton VPN is one of a few free VPNs that are trustworthy and offer you unlimited data. The provider originally is a premium VPN, resulting in high-quality protection even for free users. Whether you pay or not, you will be guarded with AES-256 encryption and a strict no-logs policy.
|Number of servers|
The free plan allows you to use servers located in the Netherlands, Japan, and the US. However, if you want to unblock Netflix Japan or any other streaming service, you will need to upgrade to the premium service version. Additionally, the free plan does not provide access to P2P file sharing, which may make torrenting difficult.
On the other hand, free Proton VPN provides you with other crucial security features. For example, you can use the WireGuard tunnel, which ensures a fast and secure connection. There’s also a kill switch feature and DNS leak protection that protect your IP at all times.
Upgrading to one of its premium plans will give you more security features like an ad blocker, a double VPN feature, or a connection speed booster. Proton VPN’s prices start , and you may also use a 30-day risk-free trial.
Take a look at our Proton VPN review to learn more.
5. PrivadoVPN – Free VPN for travels
- Free servers in the USA and the UK
- Includes features like a kill switch and ad blocker
- Located in Switzerland
- No WireGuard tunneling protocol
PrivadoVPN comes with a 10 GB monthly limit and it has servers in 12 locations based in the USA and the UK, making it a suitable free VPN for traveling. The provider doesn’t collect users’ data and uses AES-256 encryption cipher, resulting in durable online protection even for free users.
|Number of servers||319 servers in 46 countries|
During our tests, we were able to bypass geo-blocks on Amazon Prime Video and Disney+. However, once the 10 GB limit is over, you can only connect to one server at the speed of 1 Mbps. Therefore, the free VPN version isn’t the best option for streaming full TV show episodes or movies.
Even though with free PrivadoVPN you receive a reliable kill switch feature, which prevents your IP from getting exposed, the premium version has much more to offer. With it, you get access to an ad blocker, built-in malware protection, and an advanced WireGuard tunneling protocol, among other features.
PrivadoVPN’s free version allows you to protect only one device at a time. Whereas with a premium plan, you can connect up to 10 devices simultaneously. To see that yourself, you can use a 30-day money-back guarantee. The prices start from $1.11/month.
Read our detailed PrivadoVPN review to find out more.
Other top free VPNs we tested
The best free VPNs market is growing daily, hence, choosing only the most worthy ones is getting complicated. Even though you have already seen the top 5 providers, we will be discussing additional free VPN options that we believe have great potential.
- Windscribe – one of the most favorite free VPNs by Reddit users, Windscribe ensures reliable online security without paying a cent. It allows you to choose from 11 free server locations and protect unlimited devices simultaneously. Yet, it has a 2 or 8 GB data cap, depending on whether you sign up using your email address.
- Hide.me VPN – this free VPN provider is a simple but trustworthy option. With it, you can use up to 5 GB monthly protected data and choose from 5 different server locations. The provider promises it doesn’t collect user logs and provides you with features such as a kill switch, DNS leak protection, and split tunneling.
- TunnelBear – a great choice for beginners looking for a free VPN with a user-friendly interface. It offers full access to its server fleet and the ability to unblock various streaming services, giving it an edge over its competitors. However, it's important to note that there's a 500 MB monthly data cap, which somewhat diminishes the benefits mentioned above.
- Hotspot Shield – another popular free VPN option that has no data caps. With it, you can choose from over 800 servers but they are all located in the US. A free version provides you with unbreakable encryption, a no-logs policy, a proprietary tunneling protocol, connection obfuscation, and some more features.
Methodology: How we tested free VPNs
Selecting the best free VPNs requires scrutiny and responsibility, as many seemingly good providers aren’t capable of ensuring lasting online protection. With this in mind, we followed the criteria below to test the top free VPNs of 2023:
- Security – VPNs are meant to enhance your online security in the first place and not all free VPN providers fulfill this duty equally well. That’s why we picked free-of-cost VPNs that apply advanced security measures and provide you with extra features.
- Number of servers – Most free VPNs will only let you connect to one or two server locations. However, we made sure the providers on our list covered a wider extent of the world.
- Data cap – To force you into upgrading to a premium version, many free VPNs put data caps. Nevertheless, we ensured providers on our list allowed you to protect at least 5 GB of data per month.
- Reputation – When choosing a free VPN, it’s important to know that it has a clean past. Hence, we made sure the providers we offer don’t have unresolved security or privacy issues.
Best free VPN services compared
To help you understand the differences between the best free VPNs on our list, we’ve created a table. Here’s how they stack up against each other:
|ExpressVPN||NordVPN||Atlas VPN||Proton VPN||PrivadoVPN|
|Price:||7-day free trial||7-day free trial||Forever free and 7-day free trial||Forever free||Forever free|
|Data cap:||Unlimited||Unlimited||5 GB||Unlimited||10 GB|
|Number of devices:||8||6||Unlimited||1 (10 with a paid plan)||1 (10 with a paid plan)|
|No logs policy:||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Unblocks Netflix:||Yes||Yes||Yes (paid version only)||Yes (paid version only)||Yes (paid version only)|
How to use a premium VPN for free
Yes, you can use a premium VPN for free, and, with some, like ExpressVPN, there are a couple of ways to do so. The first option is to claim a 7-day free trial, and the alternative or an additional method is to use a 30-day money-back guarantee. Combining both options will provide you with 37 days of risk-free premium VPN use.
Below, we will walk you through how to get a 7-day free trial of a market-leading VPN:
1. Choose a free or a free-trial VPN from our list. We recommend ExpressVPN.
2. Download and install a VPN on your smartphone to get a free trial.
3. Click the button saying Start Free Trial.
4. Read the free trial conditions.
5. Connect to the preferred server.
6. Start browsing the web anonymously!
Why use a free VPN
Whether it’s a free or premium VPN, there’s always the same question: “Why should I use a VPN.” There are many reasons for this, starting with access to global content and continuing with online protection from snoopers.
Here, we will review the most weighty reasons to use a free VPN:
- Security and data encryption – With the help of top-notch security features, the most reputable free VPNs help you mask your online activity, resulting in virtual privacy.
- Content restrictions – Whether you’re traveling or simply want to access content outside your country, free VPNs can help you spoof your real IP address and unblock geo-restricted websites.
- Bypassing data caps and bandwidth throttling – If you have a VPN enabled, your ISP won’t know how you spend your time on the Internet and will have no grounds to throttle your connection.
- Getting to know VPNs – A reliable free VPN can provide you with a great opportunity to learn how VPNs work in the first place. Due to limited services, free-of-charge VPNs aren’t long-term solutions, but they can encourage you to use a premium service.
What’s the difference between paid and free VPNs?
It's important to keep in mind that free VPN services usually come with data caps, a limited number of servers, features, and even connections. They can be helpful for people who want to try out VPNs before committing to a paid service. However, it's worth noting that many free VPNs collect users' data and sell it to third parties to make money. So you should use only the most reputable free VPN apps.
Paid VPNs have a more serious obligation to be transparent and protect your data. They provide you with additional security features, such as ad blockers, malware protection, specialized servers, and more. Most of them have a strict no-log policy that’s been externally audited multiple times and they use RAM-only servers so no data is retained.
Using the best free VPN or even a paid one has become crucial, as the number of cyberattacks keeps increasing daily. However, the market is flooded with free VPN services that see their users as products and sell their data to third parties. Hence, choosing a provider with no cost requires you to stay aware of potential threats.
After completing our thorough tests, we have learned that ExpressVPN is the best VPN with a free trial option. You can use all of its premium security features, such as a top-notch tunneling protocol or an ad blocker, for free for over a month.
Although getting a forever-free VPN is more tempting, we recommend you choose a premium VPN that has a free trial and a money-back guarantee. This way, you receive high-end protection without risking your savings.
Frequently asked questions
You should only use a free VPN if you’re hesitant about paying for a premium VPN and want to see what it’s like to use one. Most free VPNs are extremely limited in terms of advanced security features and server count, but they do change your IP address and encrypt your data so you can easily test them.
Yes, free VPNs do work. Most free providers are capable of masking your IP address and encrypting your data. Yet, they have no additional features, hence, the protection level is only basic. However, you can use a premium VPN like ExpressVPN with a free trial and enjoy unbreakable online protection without paying a penny.
Yes, but it depends on where you’re located. Free VPNs are completely legal in most regions, but if you’re in a country where it’s not, like China, you could end up being fined. Note that even in countries where VPNs are legal, you’re still not allowed to participate in any illegal activity with them.
Yes, you can watch Netflix and other streaming sites with a free VPN. However, only a few free-of-cost VPNs are capable of bypassing geo-restrictions. Therefore, we recommend you try a premium VPN provider like ExpressVPN using a 37-day risk-free trial, as it unblocks all popular streaming services and retains videos in high quality.