What Are the Best Free VPNs in 2018?

VPN Icon

CyberGhost is the best free VPN available to users in 2018. 

The provider supplies unlimited data usage, good connection speeds, decent global server coverage and good customer support.

CyberGhost
  • Unlimited Data Usage
  • Good Connection Speeds
  • Good Customer Support

About Free VPNs

In today’s always-online world, threats to your privacy and your personal data are on the rise.

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is arguably the best way to protect your online activities and its accompanying data from the eyes of those who are looking to steal your information or sell your browsing habits to advertisers.

While there are many reasonably-priced VPNs, some users may not have room in their budget for a VPN subscription. Other users might only feel the need to use a VPN when they’re checking their email while they’re waiting for their coffee at Starbucks, and don’t feel that justifies paying for a VPN subscription.

Whatever the reason for needing a free VPN option, these users will be glad to know there are a number of free VPNs available that offer service that will likely be “good enough” for them.

Top 5 Free VPNs


Provider

Price

Link

1

CyberGhost

$2.75

per month

2

Vypr VPN

$5.00

per month

3

ExpressVPN Logo

$8.32

per month

4

NordVPN Logo

$6.99

per month

5

Tunnelbear VPN Logo

$5.00

per month

Why Do You Need a Free VPN?

Over the last 12 months, we’ve witnessed the impending death of Net Neutrality in the United States and have also seen the President of the U.S. sign a bill into law that allows Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to sell their customers’ usage data to the highest bidder without first receiving permission to do so.

Other threats to online users also continue to grow. Hackers are always on the lookout to grab as much of your personal and business-related information as possible, and the government is always interested in what online activities its fine citizens are engaging in.

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is the best way to protect your internet connection and your online antics from the prying eyes of those looking to monitor your every move.

A VPN coats your internet connection in a layer of encryption, protecting your activities from monitoring by third parties.

In addition to protecting your connection, a VPN also allows users to appear to be inhabiting a different location, which could be down the street or on the other side of the world.

This makes a VPN an excellent way to access online content that might not normally be available in your area. (Although, be advised that many free VPN services don’t allow you to select which VPN location to use. You’ll need to upgrade to a paid level of service to gain that benefit.)

However, many users don’t have room in their budget for a paid VPN provider, or simply don’t think they would use a VPN enough to justify the added expense of a VPN subscription.

Free VPNs to the rescue.

Free VPN solutions, while somewhat limited in their services, can prove to be the correct solution for users who would like to occasionally protect themselves while online, but can’t afford the cost of a monthly or annual VPN subscription.

While most VPN providers restrict the amount of usage allowed for their free customers (after all, VPN providers are in the business to make money), they can still make for a great solution to protect an internet connection when using unprotected Wi-Fi hotspots, such as those found in coffee shops and hotels.

In this article, we’ll take a look at VPN providers that offer completely free service, as well as those that offer free trials to allow you to get to know their services in order to entice you into buying a paid subscription.

​How to Choose a Free VPN

When you’re searching for a free VPN that fits your unique needs, you’ll want to mull over multiple considerations while making your decision.

In this section, I’ll list the categories of service you should take a look at when making a VPN decision. I’ll also discuss the reasons why each feature is important.

1

Which VPNs Offer Free VPN Service?

Obviously, when searching for a free VPN, the most important factor to consider is, does the provider in question, in fact, offer free VPN service? (This is what’s known as the “DUH Factor.”)

I have listed my top 10 VPN providers in the table below, listed alphabetically. I have noted whether or not a provider offers free service or, at the very least, offers a free trial.

*  =Yes, x = No, FT = Free Trial, FTM = Free Trial Mobile Only

2

​Free Service Terms

If you’re looking for a free VPN, you’ll find that, while some providers do offer a truly free level of service (TunnelBear and CyberGhost are the only 2 providers in this roundup that offer that), most VPN providers put either a data or a time limit on their free service.

If the length of the provider’s free VPN offering is most important, you’ll want to take notice of what each provider offers. In the list below, I’ve listed the 5 VPN providers that offer free service and noted what the limits are on the free connection options.


Provider

Free Service Terms

Link

1

CyberGhost

Unlimited Time - Unlimited Data

2

Tunnelbear VPN Logo

Unlimited Time - 500MB per Month

3

Vypr VPN

Unlimited Time - 1GB Data Cap

4

ExpressVPN Logo

7-Day Free Trial - No Data Cap

5

NordVPN Logo

3-Day Free Trial - No Data Cap

3

​Connection Speed

Connection speed is always an important consideration when deciding on a VPN provider, as a faster connection speed is always better than the alternative.

When considering free VPN providers, connection speed is of particular importance, as some providers provide slower connection speeds to free customers in order to entice them to purchase a paid level of service.

The providers listed in the table below are ranked according to their connection speeds, fastest down to the slowest. Only 2 of the providers on this list offer a true free level of service.

In both cases, my testing has shown that, apparently, neither provider throttles the connection speed for their free users.

Rankings were calculated by first testing the speed of my ISP-provided internet connection, then connecting to each individual VPN service and again testing the connection speeds. I then compared the 2 speeds to determine the percentages used for the speed rankings.

All connection speeds were tested by visiting the Speedtest website.


Provider

DL Speed Before

DL Speed After

Speed (US%)

Link

1

Vypr VPN
65.77 Mbps
61.85Mbps

94%

2

NordVPN Logo
65.39Mbps
59.48Mbps

90.9%

3

ExpressVPN Logo
65.73Mbps
55.08Mbps

83.8%

4

CyberGhost
65.96Mbps
39.21Mbps

59.5%

5

Tunnelbear VPN Logo
65.23Mbps
18.35Mbps

28.1%

Top 5 Free VPNs

#1 - CyberGhost

CyberGhost VPN

PROS

  • check
    No Data Caps
  • check
    No Calendar Limit on Free Usage

CONS

  • Limited Server Numbers
  • Wait in Queue Before Connecting
  • Must Reconnect After 3 Hours

1

Free Service Terms

CyberGhost is the only free VPN on the top 5 list that doesn’t put any data caps or “free trial” limitations on its services. 

That said, there are a few limitations on the spooky provider’s free services. However, most users looking for a free VPN service will find that CyberGhost is an excellent solution for their needs.

This provider offers a completely free level of service, with no monthly data caps. The only restrictions on the free service are that only a limited number of VPN server locations are available (441 servers versus 1,291 for paid customers), there’s a short wait in a queue before connecting to a server, and your connections are limited to 3 hours at a time (but you can reconnect immediately).

CyberGhost Free Service Terms

Free connections are available in the United States, but predominantly in Western and Eastern Europe, covering countries such as the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Ukraine and Poland.

2

Connection Speeds

CyberGhost, while not offering protected connections as fast as other providers, should still offer fast enough connections for most users’ needs.

However, if you’re going to be using a VPN to access blocked streaming or gaming content, perhaps you should consider a paid VPN subscription, if at all possible.

The provider’s connections come in at 59.5% as fast as my unfettered, ISP connection.

3

Verdict

CyberGhost snagged the top slot in this “Best Free VPNs” list due to its truly free VPN service option, which lacks a “free trial period” limitation or data cap.

While users will experience a short wait in a queue to be connected, that’s a small price to pay for free VPN service. The provider’s connections are slower than others on this list, but the service should be up to the needs of most “free” users.


#2 - VyprVPN

VyprVPN Dashboard

PROS

  • check
    No Throttling of Free Account Connections
  • check
    No Calendar Limit on Free Usage

CONS

  • 1GB Data Cap

1

Free Service Terms

VyprVPN provides a 1GB free trial to customers who sign up for the service via the desktop or mobile versions of the VyprVPN app. 

You will need to enter your email and a password to set up an account, but you won’t be required to enter any type of payment information to get the free trial.

The 1GB of free data is available until you use it up, with no limit on the calendar length of the trial.

2

Connection Speeds

VyprVPN doesn’t throttle the speeds of its free trial subscriptions, which is nice when you take into consideration that in my testing, the provider’s encrypted connections came in at 94% as fast as my unprotected, ISP-provided speeds.

That’s more than enough to stream video and audio, but only about an hour’s worth of high-definition video, due to the 1GB free trial limitation.

3

Verdict

VyprVPN’s free trial option is good enough for 2nd place on this top 5 list.

While 1GB isn’t a lot of data, it’s enough for those who are looking to get quick protection for their wireless connection while they’re checking their email at the local Starbucks.

The provider’s data speeds are among the best in the business, and they don’t slow them a bit for free trial subscribers.


#3 - ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN Site Features

PROS

  • check
    Unlimited Data Usage During Trial
  • check
    No Throttling of Data on Free Trial Plan

CONS

  • Limited to iOS and Android Devices

1

Free Service Terms

ExpressVPN provides an unlimited data, 7-day free trial to new customers, but there’s a small catch: the 7-day free trial is limited to users who sign up via the provider’s iOS and Android apps. 

Plus, the trial is limited to use only on those devices. You’ll need to purchase a paid subscription if you want to use the service on your computer or other connected devices.

Once you’ve paid for a subscription, you can extend your subscription for an extra 30 days for free by referring new customers. So, don’t be afraid to use your friends and family to get free service.

2

Connection Speeds

When I tested ExpressVPN, it regularly provided nearly 84% of my usual, ISP-provided speeds.

The provider doesn’t throttle the connection for its 7-day free trial users, so even though you’ll be limited to a mobile device while trying the service, you won’t experience an overly-slow connection.

3

Verdict

ExpressVPN slid into 3rd thanks to its fast connections and the ability to earn free months of service by exploiting your friends and family.

It would have ranked higher on this list if it didn’t limit its free trial service to iOS and Android users.


#4 - NordVPN

NordVPN Site

PROS

  • check
    No Throttling of Free Account Connections
  • check
    No Data Caps on Free Accounts

CONS

  • You Have to Dig to Find Free Trial Signup Page

1

Free Service Terms

NordVPN limits their free trial service period to 3 days, but they allow you to use it on any compatible device during that free period. 

The single catch is that the provider makes it slightly difficult to find information about how to sign up for the trial. Luckily, you have me to provide you with the information you require. (Yeah, I get that same look from my wife when I use the “luckily, you have me” line.)

Visit the provider’s 3-day free trial page, enter your email address and click the “Submit” button. You’ll then receive an email with a link to complete the signup process. You can then download the app for your device(s) and begin your free trial period.

There are no data caps or other usage limits applied to the 3-day trial subscription.

2

Connection Speeds

NordVPN does not limit the bandwidth of free trial connections - instead, they provide their full speeds.

At nearly 91% of my usual, ISP-provided speeds, the provider will be up to a 3-day video streaming binge, if that’s what you’re into.

3

Verdict

NordVPN’s 3-day free trial, although a bit tough to find, offers plenty of time for trying out the provider’s services. Plus, the trial is the perfect length for a long weekend when you’re looking to protect your online activities while using an open Wi-Fi hotspot at a resort or hotel.

The provider offers great connection speeds and full device compatibility.


#5 -TunnelBear

TunnelBear VPN Dashboard

PROS

  • check
    No Throttling of Free Account Speeds
  • check
    No Calendar Limit on Free Accounts

CONS

  • 500MB Data Cap
  • Slow Connection Speeds Compared to Other Providers

1

Free Service Terms

TunnelBear offers a “Little Bear” VPN subscription that provides 500MB of data each month for no charge. While that isn’t a lot of data, you can score another 1GB of data each month by tweeting about the service. 

The “Little Bear” level of free service doesn’t require entering a credit card number, and all new accounts are automatically set to the free “Little” account.

2

Connection Speeds

While 500MB will be used quickly, it will be used at the full speed offered to paid accounts.

TunnelBear isn’t blazingly fast, with its connections usually coming in at around ¼ the speeds offered by my ISP, but that should still offer enough speed for most online activities, depending on your usual connection speeds - especially if you’re just looking to score free protection for checking your email while quaffing a caffeinated beverage at your local java pusher.

3

Verdict

Tunnelbear is the slowest provider on this list, and its free data cap is laughably tiny.

However, it’s still free and can act as a bit of added protection when you just want to do a quick email or look up a bit of information while you’re out and about.


Honorable Mention - Opera VPN

I wanted to mention Opera VPN, even though it didn’t quite fit in, as it’s restricted to the Opera browser on desktop platforms and doesn’t provide complete protection for all of your computer’s internet connection.

Opera VPN is built into the Opera browser and can be toggled on and off from the browser’s address bar. There is no need to sign up for an additional VPN service or app.

While the VPN’s speed isn’t quite up to the level of other providers, and you’re limited to just a few VPN locations, the VPN is totally free. If you don’t mind using the Opera browser, it makes a great way to protect your browsing session while on an unprotected Wi-Fi hotspot.

Opera also offers a free VPN app for iOS and Android devices. It has the same limited selection of server locations to choose from, but on the bright side, it protects all of your device’s internet activity, not just browser-based activity.

Opera recently launched a “Gold” level of service, which offers improved services, data speeds and connection options for a fee.

For more information, visit the Opera VPN website.

Making the Best Use of Your Free VPN

You’ve found a free VPN, downloaded the provider’s app, and you’re ready to connect. But before you get going, why not optimize your setup to get the most out of your newly protected internet connection?

Step #1 - Connect via Ethernet (If Possible)

While it’s safe to say the majority of my readers connect to the internet via a wireless router, there are benefits to connecting directly to your router via an Ethernet cable.

A cabled connection to your router will pay dividends by offering a more reliable and faster connection to the net. Videos will stream better, websites will load faster, and you’ll simply enjoy a better overall experience.

Ethernet port

Sadly, many of the computers and mobile devices today do not include a built-in Ethernet port among their features.

Luckily, there is a vibrant electronics accessories market out there, and that makes it fairly easy to find a connector to allow your device to connect to your router via an Ethernet cable. Amazon and other online retailers, as well as your local electronics store, are good places to start looking for such an adapter.

If your search for a compatible adapter proves fruitful, I highly recommend buying the doo-dad as it not only improves your overall internet-related experience, but will also prove to be handy if you need to connect to a network that doesn’t offer Wi-Fi connections. (The Shady Rest Hotel in Hooterville comes to mind.)

Step #2 - Select a VPN Server

While some of the free VPN providers do not allow you to pick and choose which VPN server farm to connect to, some of them do. If your free VPN allows this, keep reading. If they don’t, skip this and go to step #3.

For those of you who are still here, listen up. There’s streaming and gaming content all around the world that may normally be blocked in the area you live in. By selecting a VPN server near the content you’re looking to access, you improve the chances of unblocking that coveted content.

Step #3 - Test Your VPN Connection

Once you’re connected to your VPN server of choice and are ready to hit the net, load your browser of choice and visit the Speedtest website to test your connection speed.

The Speedtest website will test your device’s download and upload speed, as well as the location where your connection appears to be coming from.

SpeedTest Net Example

If you don’t think your connection speeds are up to the task at hand, or if it appears you’re not connected to the location you had selected, disconnect from your VPN provider, reconnect to your server of choice and check your speeds again. Repeat if necessary.

Step #4 - Enjoy Your Free Anonymity

Once you’re up and running and everything is set to your liking, go forth and enjoy your free anonymous activities on the web. It’s like a free, all-you-can-eat buffet out there. Well, except for Netflix and Amazon and Hulu and...

My Gratis Final Verdict

While the availability of free VPNs is quite slim when compared to paid options, there are still gems to be found.

The best free VPN service I’ve used is CyberGhost. The service offers unlimited data, decent connection speeds and has only minor downsides, such as waiting in line for a connection and the requirement to reconnect every 3 hours.

However, when compared to the limits put upon your usage by other free VPNs, CyberGhost is a gem.

Top 5 Free VPNs


Provider

Price

Link

1

CyberGhost

$2.75

per month

2

Vypr VPN

$5.00

per month

3

ExpressVPN Logo

$8.32

per month

4

NordVPN Logo

$6.99

per month

5

Tunnelbear VPN Logo

$5.00

per month