What you should know about the Top 5 free VPNs

June 15th, 2017

WIA_VPNBy Andrey Doichev

(Editor’s note: Andrey Doichev is a self-described VPN enthusiast who analyses and tests different VPN software. The full version of this article was originally posted here. Commentary and opinions are expressly Doichev’s.)

Who likes FREE Software? I sure do. And I reckon you do too!

In times where ISPs can sell your Internet browsing history to the highest bidder, Internet privacy has  become an imperative. We all know that.

The best paid VPN providers all claim that their services are better than their free competitors, when it comes to protecting your data. I’m going to play devil’s advocate and put those claims to the test.

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Doichev

We did all the heavy lifting and went on to compare the best free VPN services with the best paid VPN services to see just how much they differ.

Do paid VPN providers warrant me paying $10 a month? How seriously do free VPNs really take my safety? Let’s see if “Free VPN” really is too good to be true! According to our tests, these are the Top 5 totally free VPN services:

No. 1. CyberGhost VPN offers a zero logging policy, ample connection destinations and top connection speeds.

Another major plus, a rarity when it comes to free VPN providers, is that they do not cap your traffic. You can use their service as much as you want! CyberGhost offer one free and two paid options. Due to the latter, we’re confident that CyberGhost keeps your data secured and out of the hands of no-gooders. After all, it’s in their interest to keep you in their good graces, hoping you’ll upgrade to their paid options.

Drawbacks are few, but annoying. Before connecting, you’re forced to sit through a 30-second ad. On their free plan, CyberGhost drops your connection every three hours, forcing you to reconnect & watch another ad.

Pros: 100% free, zero logging. Quick connection (among free VPNs) and 14 server locations.

Cons: Ads, No BitTorrenting, forced connection drops, one connection maximum.

No. 2. HotSpot Shield is another free + paid VPN provider, which assures us their zero logging policy will be honored.

With their free version, HotSpot only provides a US server location and their  download speeds aren’t nearly as impressive as their paid servers.

But Hotspot does not put a cap on our traffic through them! As for how they restrict their free users, Hotspot Shield will force ads upon you, as expected. Another annoyance is that they restrict access to certain websites with a free version – Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer etc.

Pros: 100% free, zero logging and an okay connection (among free VPNs)

Cons: Ads, no Netflix/Hulu etc, limited to US servers and one connection maximum. US based.

 No. 3. TunnelBear is one step below both Cyber & Hotspot due to their 500MB imposed cap on their free trial.

If you tweet about them, you get another 1000MB of VPN-ing. Now you can stream two whole movies instead of almost one! Just kidding. With their slow connection speeds, you’ll be lucky to stream a song on Spotify. Jokes aside, TunnelBear is an easy to use VPN provider with 20 server locations – plenty from a free VPN. While we hate traffic capping with a passion, we can’t exactly blame them either.

Especially considering TunnelBear won’t force you to watch any advertisements, won’t drop your connection or limit you to only one connection during your free usage. Pretty awesome for a free VPN bear! Now if only you’d drop that silly cap.

Pros: 100% free, zero logging, an okay connection (among free VPNs), 20 server locations, 5 connections.

Cons: Data cap, very slow connection speeds.

 No. 4. PrivateTunnel’s “free VPN” is more of a trial than anything else, though useful in a pinch.

Their super aggressive data cap of 200MB is annoying to say the least – it renders their free VPN almost useless in our opinion.

They will, though, give you additional traffic for every referred friend. This is an amazing option since they don’t impede your VPN usage otherwise. There’s no ads, no connection drops, nothing. Your free VPN account is the same as a paid one.

Do you have a popular Instagram account? Perhaps you own a business or a hobbyist website? If you can refer enough people, PrivateTunnel is the only VPN that will enable you to refer friends and earn yourself a free lifetime account. Or, you know, you can pay $10 for a proper VPN.

Then again, they only offer 5 countries you can connect to. Meagre to say the least. Connection speeds are also nothing to write home about.

Pros: 100% free, zero logging, multiple simultaneous connections, no ads and you pay as you go

Cons: Data cap, only 5 server locations, unimpressive speeds and low customisability

No. 5. Hide.me VPN offers you a “free forever” option if you’re not ready to purchase a subscription.

Unsurprisingly, every time “free” and “forever” are found in a sentence, “data cap” isn’t far away. HideMe, though the most liberal among our free VPN options, will nevertheless cap your traffic to 2000MB/month.

Their connection speed restrictions aren’t as cool – you’re limited to a speed of 3Mbit/s. If you think that’s laughable, we wouldn’t blame you. Remember how we told you “free” doesn’t always mean what you think it means? Yeah…

While their zero logging policy is appreciated (and expected), their heavy restrictions on tunnel protocols, 3 server location and 1 max connection doesn’t get us excited at all.

Pros: 100% free, zero logging, no ads and a good client

Cons: Data cap, only