If you’re like me, you love the idea of FREE stuff.

Now it’s actually possible to get free VPN software. VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) give you the privacy and security you desperately need when you’re online.

In a day and age where cyber crime does billions of dollars worth of damage and ransomware attacks are more and more common, it only makes sense for everyone to be using Virtual Private Networks.

Experts predict that 2018 is going to be a rocky time for people who spend an exorbitant amount of time online. They have also predicted that cyber criminals will be targeting Androids with malware and that ransomware will remain a global pandemic.

What’s more, your internet service provider can sell your browsing history to third parties. And as of April of 2017, they are required by law to collect “metadata” about their customer’s exchanges. This includes everything from your address, date of birth and email address to the details of the people you communicate with online.

This mandatory data retention scheme has been the subject of much controversy in Australia, leading privacy groups like Digital Rights Watch to stress the importance of equipping oneself with the tools needed to avoid surveillance.

We’ll talk about this more in a second, but suffice it to say that there is no better time than now to properly protect ourselves against cyber threats and scrutiny.

In the past, Australia has seen our banks, government agencies and UGL fall victim to a data breach. These sorts of attacks are occurring with more frequency than ever before and nobody is safe from it unless they take action to shield themselves from vulnerability.

And what could be better than doing it 100% free of charge?

Let’s face it, the holidays are just behind us, but we’re still feeling the financial sting. The last thing we need right now is another monthly charge when we’re still in debt from buying all those stocking stuffers and big ticket items for the in-laws and the kids.

We could all use a bit more free in our lives and now we can get it right at home.

Free VPN vs. Paid VPN

To be clear, when it comes to being secure online, it’s always better to go with one of the best paid VPN providers if you can afford it. They’re better than the free ones for a number of reasons.

For starters, you usually get more gigabytes and bandwidth and, oftentimes, a premium plan delivers more advanced features such as intrusion detection and prevention.

Notwithstanding the benefits of paid VPNs, there are some drawbacks which I’ll cover below.

There are drawbacks to free VPNs as well, some that you don’t typically get with the more reputable paid VPNs.

Many VPNs claim to have a no logging policy, but users on Reddit have discovered that some services like HideMyAss do, in fact, save your log sessions and, in some cases, even sell them to third parties.

This is especially true of free VPNs since the only way many of them can afford to offer the “free” service is by selling your information to outside advertisers.

Before we delve into what makes the best free VPNs worth using, let’s take a look at what makes some of them not so great.

Cons of Free VPNs

  • They sometimes monitor your activity
  • They often collect data logs for the purpose of selling them off to third parties
  • They display ads whereas the best VPNs feature ad-blocking
  • Free VPNs have speeds that are 70% slower than paid VPN providers

A dependable, totally anonymous paid VPN offers lightning fast speeds, a firm “no logs policy,” widespread availability, round-the-clock customer support and a variety of advanced features such as speed tests, URL filtering, ad-blocking, intrusion detection & prevent and more.

According to our research, the most trusted and reliable VPN providers are ExpressVPN and VyprVPN. Both of these services are secure and easy-to-use. They are relatively inexpensive and able to be used across all major platforms.

That being said, there are plenty of free VPN providers who deliver sufficient speeds and adequate features for those who don’t want to spend any $ for basic surfing and streaming.

9 Best Totally FREE VPNs in 2018

Below you can compare the nine best free VPNs by their features, servers, data cap and device compatibility.

1. ExpressVPN—Unlimited GB, Unlimited Bandwidth, No Monthly Cap, No Throttling

What is ExpressVPN?

ExpressVPN is a premium VPN service that delivers the fastest and most reliable service around. Boasting a 30-day money back guarantee, they are one of the most trusted VPN solutions on the market.

With more than 10 million satisfied customers and over 145 servers in 94 countries, they are a global provider that can be enjoyed by one and all.

Other VPNs place data caps on your monthly usage, but ExpressVPN is unlimited all the way.

Although ExpressVPN is a paid service, you can use Google to find a promo code for a free period. ExpressVPN’s free trial last for 30 days (or longer with the right discount code). If you like what you see, you can choose to sign up or if you decide to go with another free service, you can ask for your money back and you’ll get a refund for your first month. No risk.

Features: 24/7 Live Chat, Award-winning apps for all devices, unlimited access to all content, split tunneling, Speed Test, no logging.

Server-wise, you can connect to any of their 145 servers in the following locations:

  • United States
  • Asia Pacific
  • Europe
  • Africa
  • Middle East
  • India

According to their website, they do not log your user sessions or personal data. What’s more, they have a wide array of payment methods, such as PayPal, Bitcoin, WebMoney, Carte Bleue, UnionPay, Giropay and a range of other cryptocurrencies.

For the discerning user who wants ultimate anonymity, ExpressVPN can’t be beat where anonymous payments are concerned. And if that’s not taking privacy to the absolute extreme, their mobile apps are ergonomic as all get out, providing an easy-to-use interface that’s intuitive and free of any bugs.

Do I Recommend ExpressVPN?

Absolutely! They are my favourite VPN provider, one that I have been using for over two years. Their wealth of locations, torrenting capability, non-existent data cap and and innovative technology make them the best VPN IMO. As far as free trials go, they are the only VPN that doesn’t place limits on the beginner.

Pros: 30-day free trial, no logging, max connection speeds, 94 different server locations, 3+ simultaneous connections

Cons: No dedicated IP, more expensive than other VPN services once your free trial is up, limited settings and configurations.

2. WindScribe.com—10GB/mo Data Cap, 11 Locations

 

What is WindScribe?

This Canadian-based company was founded in 2015, making them one of the new kids on the block in terms of VPN solutions.

Despite being new to the game, WindScribe has a rock solid reputation among the VPN community. Reddit has raved about this service, noting its generous monthly bandwidth and user incentives (If you send a Tweet @WindScribe, you automatically receive an additional 5GB).

Most free VPNs limit their bandwidth and those with no data cap are usually have slow connection speeds. With my 100 Mbps connection, this is what I was looking at with WindScribe:

 

  • Ping: 61ms
  • Download: 39.81 Mbps out of 100
  • Upload: 19.77 Mbps out of 100

For a free VPN, this is pretty darn good. Some paid VPNs like Pure VPN are actually slower than WindScribe.

Features: Adblock, firewall, no logging, 11 locations

Free users only gain access to certain features, but those features are awesome. They include WindScribe’s built-in firewall and ad-blocking. You also obtain P2P capability.

On the downside, you don’t get OpenVPN configurations and you won’t receive any of their premium features.

Server-wise, you can connect to any of their 11 servers in 46 locations:

  • United States
  • United Kingdom
  • Hong Kong
  • France
  • Germany
  • Luxembourg
  • Netherlands

According to their site, WindScribe do not log your sessions/data and you can sign up for their service without email. Users can also pay anonymously with Bitcoin.

Do I Recommend WindScribe?

Yep. They’re one of the best free VPNs available and they have a wide variety of locations. Like ExpressVPN, you can torrent with WindScribe and with an enormous data cap. They are definitely among the more legitimate free VPN solutions in the current marketplace.

Pros: 100% free, no logging, max connection speeds, 11 different server locations, adblock & firewall

Cons: 1 simultaneous connection max.

3. TunnelBear—5 GB/mo, 20+ server locations, 5 simultaneous connections, Free

 

What is TunnelBear?

This Canadian-based two-switch VPN service was founded in 2011. It’s a fairly popular VPN that enables users to access blocked content across the globe.

While their amateurish design might lead you to believe that they are disreputable, the truth is, they’re just simple. TunnelBear is super-user-friendly and dedicated to satisfying their clients.

Users can take advantage of their monthly 1GB Tweet promo, receiving a free gig every time you Tweet @TunnelBear.

As far as free VPNs go, TunnelBear is one of the best for faster speeds. If you’re looking for ideal streaming, TunnelBear allows you to bypass network gridlock and connect at a moment’s notice.

With Mac, Windows, iOS and Android compatibility, you’ll be able to use this across a number of devices.

Features: 900 servers in 20+ locations, fast speeds, advanced features, no logging

You’re offered a host of prospective locations:

  • United States
  • United Kingdom
  • Canada
  • France
  • Brazil
  • Germany
  • Australia
  • Hong Kong
  • Netherlands
  • Mexico
  • Japan
  • Denmark
  • Singapore
  • Sweden
  • India
  • Switzerland
  • Norway

The icing on the cake here is the fact that TunnelBear circumvents geoblocking. It is one of very few VPNs that are capable of fooling BBC iPlayer.

The only real downside is the limitation of the free plan. Free users start off with a dismal 500MB per month.

TunnelBear VPN Connections Speeds:

 

  • Ping: 98ms
  • Download: 15.09 Mbps out of 100 Mbps
  • Upload: 7.49 Mbps out of 100

Obviously, this is not an impressive result. You can forget about productivity at speeds like these.

Free Plan Conditions & Privacy

It is hard to ascertain exactly what you’re getting with TunnelBear because there is a scarcity of information on their website. There is no protocol, encryption, connections or bandwidth info.

Do I Recommend TunnelBear?

Yes. Even though they are far from my first suggestion to those looking for a VPN solution, they are a reputable company with ergonomic software and adequate features.

Pros: Easy set-up, nice design, multiple devices, widespread network, no logs, block options, fast speeds, advanced features (GhostBear, Vigilant Mode)

Cons: Lackluster 500MB for free users

4. VyprVPN—1 GB/mo, 2 simultaneous connections, superior encryption, firewall, free

What is VyprVPN?

VyprVPN Free is a unique plan that gives users two simultaneous connections, a variety of protocols,  an encrypted messaging app and NAT firewall totally free of charge.

The NAT firewall blocks a wide variety of hacker attacks, preventing them from reaching your computer.

Whereas other VPNs on this list give their customers unlimited bandwidth or multiple gigabytes, VyprVPN Free only gives you 1 GB, but that’s still a whole lot better than TunnelBear. Like I said, there are pros and cons to all of these and this one happens to outperform in that area.

Features: Multiple locations, smooth app (including their free Cyphr messaging app), fast speeds, no logs, no throttling

You’re offered a host of locations:

  • North America
  • Europe
  • Asia
  • Oceania
  • Africa
  • Central America
  • South America
  • Middle East

One drawback to VyprVPN is that they have been blocked by Netflix in the past. But VyprVPN has a rep for being geoblock optimized and they easily bypass most, if not all, of that content.

Do I Recommend VyprVPN?

I definitely do. I’ve tested them extensively and found them to be one of the more legit VPNs available to the general public. I’m particularly fond of their multiple protocols (L2TP/IPsec, OpenVPN, PPTP), especially their signature Chameleon Protocol which subjugates almost all attempts at blocking.

Pros: Their commitment to new technology and an open internet, speed & performance, onboarding & ergonomics, server options, security & encryption, customer service

Cons: No refund, keep log files, does not accept Bitcoin, limited number of devices that can be connected.

5. ProtonVPN.com—No Data Cap, Windows Only

What is ProtonVPN?

ProtonVPN is one of the newest VPN solutions around, but they’re also one of the best when it comes to free VPN service. Proton AG are a group of Harvard scientists and advocates for privacy.

After leading the charge to change the private industry (protonmail), ProtonVPN have stepped up their game by imposing no bandwidth caps on your traffic.

Their service provides excellent connection speeds for all users, particularly in terms of free accounts.

ProtonVPN Connection Speeds

 

  • Ping: 44 ms
  • Download: 34.40 Mbps out of 100 Mbps
  • Upload: 23.15 Mbps out of 100

Definitely a service with decent speeds for a free plan and with absolutely no data cap. Most free VPNs have low data caps, but this one’s got the goods. It’s certainly something that makes them stand out.

Warning: Do not expect these speeds to last. As the service grows in popularity across the world, free users will not be able to expect such fast connection speeds.

Free Plan Conditions, Privacy & VPN Client

The only servers that are available to free users are as follows:

  • Japan
  • Netherlands
  • Switzerland
  • United States

That amounts to about a half dozen servers. Of those servers, none of them are geoblock optimized or P2P optimized (,i.e. torrenting).

Free users do not have access to any of their advanced features (Secure Corse, Tor, etc.). The other big drawback here is their lack of standalone clients for operating systems. There are no apps for Android, iPhone or Mac. If you don’t have Windows, you don’t want to use ProtonVPN.

Do I Recommend ProtonVPN?

For free? Definitely. As a paid service. Definitely not. It’s worth getting yourself a free account while the getting is good, but don’t expect this one to be worthwhile in the long term as speeds with likely go the way of the dinosaur as more and more people find out about this VPN solution.

Pros: No data cap, fair download and upload speed

Cons: No app for Mac, iOS or Android, no Netflix, no Torrenting.

6. Trust.Zone—3-Day Free Test, 1 GB/mo, 109 locations, Unlimited Bandwidth

What is Trust.Zone?

Their slogan is, “The one to rely on,” and it’s easy to see why. Trust.Zone has earned accolades for its DNS leak protection. By utilizing their WebRTC protection tool and the engaging the built-in kill switch, you’ll ensure that no leaks occur and no leaks can ever occur when you’re using your Trust.Zone account.

Their system-wide hardware isolation makes them one of the most reliable free VPNs of 2018. Their strict no logs policy is just one of the things that makes them a worthwhile solution.

Alas, free users can only connect one device at a time. But if you give them a try and like what you see, you can opt in for a paid account and get three simultaneous connections.

Trust.Zone offers a range of different services including OpenVPN solution with AES-256 default encryption and L2TP over IPSec with 256-bit AES encryption.

Features: Excellent encryption, dependable customer service, anti-virus, 200 IP addresses, Bitcoin accepted

Alas, it is hard to determine Trust.Zone’s connection speeds as users cannot ping Trust.Zone hosts. But Trust.Zone cautions their customers to use servers that are closer to home for better results.

Do I Recommend Trust.Zone?

Yes. They’re a trustworthy VPN service with transparency when it comes to how their product performs. You can always try before you buy and get three simultaneous connections. Trust.Zone also features a built-in kill switch.

Pros: Free trial, P2P, properly secure, no logs, Bitcoin accepted

Cons: Ticket-based support only

7. Private Tunnel—Perfect Forward Secrecy (PFS), 2 GB for free

 

What is Private Tunnel?

Private Tunnel is the commercial off-shoot of OpenVPN Technologies. Your free trial comes with no strings attached, you can cancel at any time but probably won’t want to once you hear about their affordable plans that provide 100 to 500 GB.

Although they are quite limited when it comes to servers (about seven between the US, Canada, the UK, Switzerland and the Netherlands, their service is compatible across a bunch of platforms from Windows and OSX to Mac (in the case of the latter, you’ll need the open-source Tunnelblick interface released under GPLv2).

Unfortunately, Private Tunnel has some kinks to work out if they want to contend with better VPNs like ExpressVPN and the like. There is a data leak in the Mac OSX version so buyer beware.

Features: Exceptional encryption with OpenVPN protocol, easy-to-use software, 2 GB free trial, group plans for businesses, Bitcoin accepted

While there are plenty of good things to be said about Private Tunnel, the one truly questionable thing that can be said is that they are based in the US. This is a bad sign for most avid VPN users. US data retention laws could mean that Private Tunnel will be forced to hand over sensitive user information to a government institution.

For total privacy, users would be better off going with a more secure paid VPN solution, but that’s not to say that Private Tunnel isn’t any good. On the contrary, they’ve proven that they can protect your anonymity online with their 128-bit AES-GCM encryption.

Private Tunnel VPN Connection Speeds:

 

  • Ping: 25ms
  • Download: 50 Mbps out of 100 Mbps
  • Upload: 26 Mbps out of 100

For a free trial service, these speeds are really quite good. Their 7-day free trial can be obtained by using a PayPal card. If you cancel within that 7-day window, your PayPal account will not be charged.

Their free service is compatible with Windows, Mac, Android and iOS.

Do I Recommend Private Tunnel?

Yes, they are a trusted source for privacy and security with a money back guarantee. It’s a risk-free trial that provides excellent encryption.

Pros: Good download and upload speed, works on most devices, free of charge for the first seven days

Cons: Company is based out of a country with tenuous cyber privacy laws

8. Nord VPN—High-Rated, Strong Encryption, No Logging, Superior Customer Support

 

What is Nord VPN?

Nord VPN is one of the most well-known and well-regarded VPNs on the market. With fast network speeds and more than 750 server locations, they have quickly grown in popularity.

With a 30% speed drop when connected to a local server via OpenVPN UDP, users get the most out of their software. This Panama-based service boasts a host of advanced features and six simultaneous connections. That’s more simultaneous connections than any other VPN on this list.

Nord VPN comes with a 30-day money back guarantee and P2P capability. You get a kill switch, Tor over VPN, Smart DNS service, a dedicated IP and Socks5 proxies.

With servers in over 60 countries, it’s obvious why they’re considered the crème of the crop by users on Reddit and other social media platforms.

Nord VPN Connection Speeds

 

  • Ping: 40 ms
  • Download: 16.11 Mbps out of 100 Mbps
  • Upload: 12.83 Mbps

These speeds are pretty fair for a free VPN trial.

Nord VPN’s Smart DNS technology allows you to geo-spoof by settling your DNS requests at a specific location. This means you can watch your favourite episode of Games of Thrones from a coffee shop in Melbourne or even Vancouver without worrying about compromising your data or software.

You’ll be able to access more than 150 streaming services while signed into your Nord VPN account.

Streaming services include Amazon Prime, Crackle, Discovery, Hulu, ABCGo, Sundance.tv and TNT Drama.

Features: Smart Play, Double VPN, Tor over VPN, DHE-RSA-AES356-SHA encryption suite, iOS app, IKE ciphers, free trial, money back guarantee

NordVPN is one of the most advanced VPNs to offer a free trial. Their encryptions are concrete and their plans come without a data cap. They may be a bit pricier than other paid VPNs, but there are plenty of plans to choose from if you decide to stay with them.

Do I Recommend Nord VPN?

I definitely do! They are really a fabulous VPN that delivers optimal security and privacy to their wealth of existing clients. It’s worth checking them out for the sheer volume of advanced features alone.

Pros: P2P, Tor over VPN, Socks5 proxies, choice of IKEv2, OpenVPN, PPTP, L2TP or IPSec protocols, Double VPN, Dedicated IP, six simultaneous connections, free trial, 30-day money back guarantee, ad-blocking, CyberSec, no logging

Cons: Slower speeds than some of their competitors, payment routed through CloudVPN, Inc., a company based out of the US, a five eyes jurisdiction

9. Vanished VPN—3 x More Netflix Content, Lifehacker-recommended, 3-day free trial

What is Vanished VPN?

Vanished VPN is an Australia-based VPN service that’s ideal for those who are looking to access lots of Netflix content, particularly those who want access to Netflix libraries.

Their signature workaround enables you to stream tons of otherwise unavailable content using one of their secure proxy servers.

With Vanished VPN, you can readily set up multiple servers, each of which can be used to access content from a different country (for example, one server for Canadian Netflix content, one for Asian content and so forth).

Signup and setup aren’t as easy with Vanished VPN as they are with other VPNs. Since Vanished doesn’t have applications set up, you have to manually set your VPN connections and you also have to wait for an email to arrive with your username and password.

However, they are worth a try since you get a three-day window to check them out and they’re relatively inexpensive after that.

At speeds as low as 1 Mbps, Vanished is far from the greatest free VPN around, but they’re also far from the worst. You’ll be able to stream content from numerous networks during your free trial and they will not retain any logs of your user activity.

Features: Multi-device compatibility (Mac, Windows, OSX, Android, Playstation 4), geoblock optimization, affordable plans, no logs

Vanished VPN’s rather bare bones website offers very little information about their free plan, instead luring you in with the mystery of giving it a try.

As a startup, they aren’t the safest VPN on the market. In fact, should anything go wrong, users are actually held accountable and there is no phone number listed on their site (typically a sign of a shady operation).

Another questionable factor is their logging policy. Although Vanished VPN claim that they don’t save or sell user data, they do log your source IP address, connection start and stop times and the total number of bytes you use for a period of 30 days.

This is allegedly done for the sake of troubleshooting, billing and handling any crimes committed over their service. After the 30-day period has passed, this information is said to be wiped, but there’s no way for us to know whether that is what really happens.

Do I Recommend Vanished VPN?

Yes, but with a strong caveat. For very basic users who are in need of short-term anonymity while doing some casual browsing, Vanished VPN might be right for you.

If you’re anything like the rest of us who spend a lot of time online and need a dedicated host with rock solid encryption and an established reputation among the VPN community, this is not the VPN solution you need.

Pros: Wide variety of streaming content, good download and upload speed, works on many devices and you can cancel at any time.

Cons: Prolonged buffering when loading Netflix content, undesirable ad pop-ups, lack of customer support, no longer unblocks US Netflix.


Conclusion

So there you have it, our comprehensive guide to the best free VPNs in 2018. If you’re still unsure about why you would need a VPN solution, let me try to summarize what it is of paramount importance that people use VPNs.

If you live in Australia or even if you are just visiting, you need to be aware of the fact that private and state-sponsored organizations are spying on you. These institutions are monitoring and recording your online activity.

Australia is among the so-called “Fourteen Eyes,” a co-op of countries including New Zealand, Canada and the US, who have entered into an agreement by which they will collect, analyze and share intelligence…about YOU. Private citizens are simply no longer private.

In order to block them from collecting your sensitive personal data and to prevent against malicious cyber attacks, you need to use a VPN. The VPNs on this list are renowned for their ability to block ads, unblock censored content and provide the utmost security when you’re active on the internet.

If I had to boil this list down to my top three, I’d have to say ExpressVPN, VyprVPN and Nord VPN would be my choices. Express VPN is number one with a bullet because of their transparency and dependability.

ExpressVPN’s support staff are the friendliest and most knowledgeable that I’ve dealt with. Their interface is user-friendly and their features are rock solid.

VyprVPN is my second favourite as they allow you to view country-locked content with no problem and feature a unique, well thought out interface. They are also regularly improving on their technology when it comes to apps for your phone.

NordVPN would be my third choice if for no other reason than their honesty. They have been vocal about any kinks in their software and have consistently reached out to customers for feedback about their service. They’re easy to use, their pricing is reasonable and their customer support is every bit as reliable, if not as friendly, as ExpressVPN’s.

Now that you know about my top picks, it’s time to give them a go. No matter which one you decide to select, I know you’ll find that you feel much better about your online experience.

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