A VPN is software that you should never skimp on. It is one of those things that need to be taken seriously, because your very sensitive and personal information, as well as your right to privacy, is at stake. However, that does not necessarily mean that you must exclusively always pay for a VPN service. In fact, many people might now know that the top free VPNs out there are not doing a bad job at all for users that don’t want to pay a (modest) fee to protect their networks. For this reason, we’ll take a look at the top free VPNs out there.

The Top Free VPNs Out There

Some Background on VPNs

Especially post-2019 when the entire world changed (particularly the business, IT, and communications worlds) due to the global pandemic, VPNs became quite a staple all over the industry. VPNs are now utilized regularly by hundreds of millions of internet users worldwide, which includes everyone from casual internet users to IT experts and technicians, and the largest organizations.

Furthermore, rising internet blockages, censorship, geographical limitations, and the need for both increased cybersecurity and privacy have further launched VPNs to have their own successful market niche in the IT economy.

VPN technology draws its roots from Microsoft’s decades-old PPTP (Point to Point Tunneling) network technology, which appeared somewhere in the 90s internet and telecommunications boom. At the time, the internet itself was very primitive, let alone tunneling technology.

Today, it is estimated that nearly a third of all internet users connect to the internet by leveraging a VPN provider’s services. The market itself, for VPNs, is going to surpass $100 billion by 2027, according to some sources. VPNs can be split into two market niches; personal and business VPNs. These two types of VPNs do differ in what services they offer and how they are built from the ground up. Just like an internet service differs for enterprise and personal use, so do VPNs, antivirus programs, antimalware programs, firewalls, and all the rest.

Google Analytics also tells us that searches for VPNs have spiked to unprecedented levels in 2020, which follows the scope of the pandemic. Of course, people were already alerted to their own privacy and cybersecurity earlier than that, since about the start of the 2010s when government surveillance, data collection, and cybercrime all suddenly became big concerns in the world at large.

As far as VPN adoption rates and usage is concerned, the East takes the cake. This translates to the fact that countries like Indonesia and India have the highest amounts of VPN users, at over 40 million each. However, in terms of adoption rates, Middle-Eastern countries eclipse other regions (like Oman, Qatar, the UAE, and others).

What is a VPN?

A VPN abbreviation, when expanded, reads Virtual Private Network. This is because VPNs emulate a virtual private network, in that you are connecting to a server that is not public or “open” and this is being done virtually and remotely.

A VPN takes your internet connection and reroutes it through a proprietary global server of your choice, acting as a middleman between your computer, and the rest of the world. This means that your internet will be encrypted from prying eyes, and your location can also be virtually modified to be placed in another location entirely.

Such trickery has several advantages aside from outright security and anonymity (privacy), such as the ability to unblock censorship, trick websites into giving you lower prices, and ultimately throwing off any data collection algorithms. Of course, perhaps the best feature of a VPN is that it blocks cybercriminals and cyberattacks from compromising your devices and the personal data you are communicating to the internet.

Top-level VPNs also promise never to log your data and use advanced encryption algorithms that are almost impossible to reverse-engineer.

VPNs have changed the way we look at cybersecurity and privacy and have given the average internet user unprecedented access to true online anonymity and security like nothing else.

Why is it OK to Use a Free VPN Nowadays?

In general, it is not a good idea to use free software because it can be unverified, limited, and lacking in all-important customer support. Furthermore, Privacy Policies and Terms of Service might not be established with free software, translating into potential risks.

The same goes for VPNs, however, modern developments have allowed legitimate, high-quality VPNs to exist out there. On the other hand, it is silly to expect a completely free service to offer the same features and quality that a paid service can offer. No matter, here is a list of solid free VPN services that you can download today for all of your devices and platforms (in no particular order);

  • ProtonVPN
  • PrivadoVPN
  • Hide. me
  • Tunnelbear
  • Windscribe

This list of services is relevant as of this month. These VPNs will differ slightly in their features, but at the end of the day they work and they are free. Alas, you will have to cherry-pick one.

It is important to note that all of these services above run high-level AES 256-bit encryption algorithms, which is critical. Also, all of them offer at least 3 global servers to connect to, while Tunnelbear offers almost 50.

If you want to unblock Netflix for instance, you would need to use PrivadoVPN because the others cannot do this. On the other hand, ProtonVPN is the only one that offers unlimited data but it is slow on servers compared to the others. 

Not all of these VPNs can run P2P traffic either, which means torrenting and other downloads may pose a problem.

All of the above VPN services are confirmed not to include any hidden costs, nor do they sell customer information to third parties. All of them are legitimate and are not run by shady groups or individuals.

Finally, avoid these free VPNs at all costs;

  • SuperVPN
  • Hola
  • AnonyTun
  • Betternet
  • Psiphon Pro
  • Touch VPN

At the end of the day, a top-level VPN only costs a few dollars a month to subscribe to. You, your family, and your friends can share your subscription VPN account too. In all aspects, it is better to opt for a paid VPN service such as NordVPN, ExpressVPN, and others.

iLounge author Lucy Bennett

Lucy Bennett is a Contributing Editor at iLounge. She has been writing about Apple and technology for over six years. Prior to joining iLounge, Lucy worked as a writer for several online publications.