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Best Free VPNs | Top 5 Picks | 2021 Guide

Best Free VPNs to Try in 2021 | Top 5 Picks | 2021 Guide
Jordan
Major
Updated: 10 Aug, 2021
11 mins read

Introduction

In this guide, we will explore the top 5 free VPNs to try in 2021, considering the main benefits and drawbacks of each provider. You will learn about the key free features, which ultimately should help you decide which free VPN service best meets your needs.

However, before we delve into the specifics of each free VPN service provider, let’s have a look at the overall benefits that the software may offer and why it has lately been so popular.

About VPN and its benefits

It is not unexpected that an increasing number of Internet users are concerned about their online privacy. According to Cisco’s 2020 Consumer Privacy report, 89 % of respondents are committed to protecting the privacy of their personal details online and want more control over it, while 79 % of individuals are prepared to spend financial and physical resources to secure their data.

Cisco 2020 Consumer Data Study. Source: cisco.com

Based on the current survey, it becomes clear that many Internet users are searching for ways to protect their data online, which is where a free VPN can come into play.

What is a VPN? Virtual Private Network or simply known as VPN facilitates an encrypted connection that allows you to disguise your IP address and location, leading to the creation of a secure tunnel through which your data is transferred. More concretely, users may benefit from enhanced security and privacy by browsing the Internet using the VPN’s IP address, therefore concealing their footprints online.

Therefore, even with a free VPN, customers can enjoy immediate benefits such as protecting their network by limiting third-party access to their web activity, eliminating data throttling, and unlocking geo-restricted content.

Best Free VPNs to Try – Top 5 Picks

Now that we’ve covered the foundations and advantages of the VPN service, we’ll go over the top 5 free VPN providers worth exploring

1. Atlas VPN

Atlas VPN homepage. Source: atlasvpn.com

Atlas VPN is a freemium VPN service located in Delaware, USA, that offers both a free and paid membership. The VPN features over 700 servers in 28 countries and apps for Android, iOS, macOS, Windows, and desktop PCs.

For over 5 million clients, the company delivers a fast, pleasant, and anonymous Internet browsing experience, eliminating some of the technological complexity that may scare beginners and those unfamiliar with VPNs.

Comparison of Free and Paid subscriptions. Source: atlasvpn.com

As a free user, you get unlimited daily bandwidth constraints, three devices, encryption, and data encapsulation, as well as access to three locations: Amsterdam, New York City, and Los Angeles. 

The kill switch safety feature in Atlas VPN helps prevent data breaches by shutting down Internet traffic if your connection to the VPN server is lost; it is a commendable option for a free edition. Android users may also utilize the built-in ‘Always-on VPN’ function.

Below is the list of additional benefits for using the free version:

  • Encryption: the service employs military-grade AES-256 bit encryption, which scrambles your data into 256-bit chunks that even powerful computers may find difficult to decipher;
  • 3 Devices: users can connect and protect up to three alternative compatible devices simultaneously using the VPN at the same time;
  • Easy to use interface: users are simply a single click away from being safely secured by a ready-to-use configuration;
  • Streaming services: unblock geo-restricted YouTube streaming;

Unlimited bandwidth: there are no daily bandwidth limitations, which means that the maximum quantity of data transferred via the Internet connection is not restricted.

The Atlas Free VPN version, on the other hand, lacks streaming-optimized servers, peer-to-peer (P2P), 24/7 assistance, unlimited simultaneous connections, and the Safebrowse feature that comes with subscribing to the premium service.


You may download and sample Atlas VPN for free here to experience unlimited online access, privacy, and security, or upgrade to the premium version to unlock all of the app’s features. Read our in-depth Atlas VPN review to learn more about the company’s products and services.


2. ProtonVPN

ProtonVPN homepage. Source: protonvpn.com

The ProtonVPN project originated out of a wish to protect better activists and journalists who use ProtonMail. Based in Switzerland, the company has over 1255 servers in over 55 countries and a capacity of 1,468 Gbps. Whatsmore, the free service is also compatible with Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android devices.

ProtonVPN’s applications have been submitted to a thorough third party for a security audit. Moreover, it has also made its apps open-source, allowing the public to examine them for flaws. This degree of openness that ProtonVPN demonstrates is considered to be the gold standard in VPN security. 


OpenVPN, the most secure encryption technology known, is used by all of the apps, and the built-in VPN kill switch safeguards your true IP address in the case of a connection breakdown. Because of its minimal-logs policy, ProtonVPN is highly private.

ProtonVPN pricing page. Source: ProtonVPN.com

ProtonVPN’s free service offers 23 servers in three countries, one VPN connection per device, medium speed, a strict no-logs policy, and the ability to access geo-restricted material such as YouTube, Wikipedia, social networking sites, and news.

ProtonVPN is a free and secure VPN that you can use all the time as it does not impose any data restrictions. Because of its strong security and no-logging policy, the provider is an excellent general-purpose VPN.

Unfortunately, the limitless bandwidth cannot be used to stream infinite video material or for torrenting, as the service does not permit this; the only major streaming site that the free version supports is YouTube.

  • 23 servers and 3 countries: ProtonVPN currently only offers free servers in Japan, the Netherlands, and the United States;
  • No-logs: Under Swiss law, ProtonVPN users are not required to provide any log data history, and the no records policy applies to all users, including those using their free VPN;
  • Unlock blocked content: for streaming access, geo-restricted material such as YouTube.

3. Betternet

Betternet VPN homepage. Source: Betternet.co

Betternet VPN is located in the United States and has over 38 million global users. It provides VPN software for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android. There are over 3.3 million apps accessible on the Google Play and App Store, and Betternet has risen to the top of the VPN app charts in less than a year. 

The company’s own VPN apps are simple to set up, user-friendly, and can successfully mask your IP address by encrypting your data. Betternet has two modes available: Premium and Free, although the Free version has only virtual locations in the United States available. 

Below is a list of the features and benefits of the free service:

  • Bandwidth Cap: 500 MB per day, with speeds of 7Mbps;
  • Torrenting: Betternet presently supports torrenting on Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS devices;
  • Virtual Locations: 1 with unlimited torrenting;
  • Data encryption: to ensure the safety of the connection, Betternet employs military-grade AES-128 and AES-256 ciphers;
  • Registration: no need to register before using, it’s a case of downloading the relevant file from the website, clicking through a couple of installation prompts, and hitting ‘Connect’;
  • User friendly: custom VPN apps super easy to use.

To properly utilize the VPN features, one would need to subscribe to the premium service for unrestricted bandwidth, access to 17 virtual locations, and ad-free surfing. Furthermore, premium subscribers have a dedicated support staff that provides customized email help 24/7 and the option to link up to six devices to a single Premium account with quicker speeds.


4. Windscribe

Windscribe homepage. Source: Windscribe.com


Windscribe is a secure VPN that offers solid free and premium applications that help clients browse the web privately. The Canadian firm’s popular free comprehensive version draws in many customers worldwide due to its relatively generous monthly data limit of 10GB and its easy-to-use setup, especially for inexperienced users.

In addition, Windscribe Free is a suitable VPN for unblocking US Netflix and BBC iPlayer, as well as all versions of the app being protected by AES-256 encryption. Windscribe is supported on Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux platforms and has servers in 11 countries.

The firm is committed to privacy, as the ‘freemium’ VPN does not save users’ connection logs, IP addresses, or visited websites; when you are actively connected to a server, however, it keeps your username, the server you are connected to, and the amount of data transmitted. Still, this information is deleted three minutes after the session ends. On top of this, there’s also an adblocker, malware protection, and firewall built-in.

Windscribe’s generous free plan doesn’t cap speeds because of its high data allotment and commitment to safeguarding your privacy.

Windscribe also enables peer-to-peer traffic on its free servers, which is rare. It also features a strict security policy, a privacy-friendly logging policy, and it does not retain any records that may expose your identity.

The VPN program employs AES-256 solid encryption and comes with a VPN kill switch. This is unusual for free VPNs and keeps your actual IP address from leaking if the VPN connection is lost.

Below is the breakdown of the features found in the free version of the provider:

  • Streaming service: Windscribe proved to be a reliable free Netflix VPN, effectively unblocking US Netflix and BBC iPlayer on non-paying servers;
  • Bandwidth limit:  2GB of data (boost that up to 10GB if you hand over your email);
  • Servers: a vast network of server locations with 11 locations including the United States, UK, Hong Kong, Germany, Canada and Turkey; 
  • Security: the free edition of R.O.B.E.R.T.  allows you to view the Malware block list, which is the most useful component in the blocking suite;
  • Simple to set up and utilize: Windscribe’s bespoke applications are extremely simple to use while not sacrificing the requirement for particular capabilities that cater to experienced VPN users;
  • Encryption: VPN program employs Military-grade AES-256 encryption;
  • Kill switch: an automatic kill switch prevents your device from making unprotected connections. It continually monitors your connection to the remote server, and if it is inadvertently severed, the VPN Kill Switch disables your device from connecting to the Internet.

Depending on your demands, you may be able to use Windscribe Free indefinitely, but we anticipate that the majority of users will want to subscribe to the premium membership for faster servers, streaming, unlimited bandwidth, and access to all of Windscribe’s advanced features.


5. Hotspot Shield

Hotspot Shield homepage. Source: Hotspotshield.com

Hotspot Shield is a VPN service with over 650 million customers, 3,200 servers in more than 70 countries. It has a free version that is simple to use and that you can get up and running in no time.

The supported platforms and operating systems include Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS. 

The number of unique devices which can connect to the basic Hotspot Shield VPN is one. The free plan limits users to 500MB of data per day (around 15GB per month). Although, of course, that is no match for the unrestricted data that comes with paid-for service.

Security-wise, Hotspot boasts military-grade encryption. In addition to security, free Hotspot Shield is user-friendly, whether on mobile or on desktop.

Here are the main characteristics of Hotspot Shield’s basic free version:

  • Privacy first: no browsing device logs: Hotspot does not log data or activity that can be tied back to users;
  • Virtual locations: there is one virtual location available that is in the United States;
  • Connection speed: users have speeds of up to 2 Mbps;
  • Data limits: 500mb per day limit;
  • Customer support: support center only;
  • Hydra, IPSec, and OpenVPN protocols: Hotspot Shield employs hydra, a one-of-a-kind protocol known for its dependability and speed. Users can, however, connect to alternative protocols such as IPSec and OpenVPN.

If you pay $2.50 a month for the Premium edition of the service, you can pick from 70 countries and access almost everything; if you use the free version, you’re confined to one US-based location chosen by Hotspot Shield, and your speed is limited to 2Mbps.


Conclusion

The best free VPNs conceal your IP address, encrypt your online traffic, and allow you to access region-restricted material. Unfortunately, most free VPNs lack the resources to accomplish the majority of the above. 

However, the top free VPNs mentioned above offer different benefits depending on the user’s needs. Whether you want to stream Netflix in the US or prefer safety and want to stay secure when using public WiFi, the top free VPNs listed reviewed in our guide have something to offer.

Users may test the waters before deciding if they want to sign up for more premium VPN features and the benefits they offer in the long run, or they may be satisfied and wish to stick with the free VPN service.

Note: If you do decide to use a paid VPN service, be sure to read our top 5 mobile VPN 2021 guide, which details the premium features of paid VPN platforms so you can determine which one best suits your needs. Looking for the best VPN for Windows? Check this guide.

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Jordan Major
Author

Jordan is an investor and market analyst. He's passionate about stocks, ETFs, blockchain, and digital assets. At Finbold.com, he delves into the technicalities to obtain future trends for new market traders and gives insights into user-friendly platforms for beginners.