So you know it’s always a good idea to use a VPN, but you don’t have enough money to pay for one of the best VPNs right now. You take a look at the Microsoft Store and find dozens of free VPNs for Windows – how do you choose the right one?
If you’ve found yourself asking this question, then you’re in the right place to find the answer!
Granted, you shouldn’t really be using a free VPN on your Windows computer to begin with. But when you’re in a pinch, even a relatively cheap provider can seem beyond your means. So rather than let you expose yourself to dangerous frauds, we’ve put together a list of our best recommendations you can trust.
What to Look For in a Windows VPN
Before we take a look at our best free VPN recommendations for Windows (and why you should preferably be avoiding even these), let’s talk about what to look for in a VPN when you’re on the market:
- The provider is not based in a 5/9/14 Eyes country
- Strict no-logs policy
- 256-bit AES encryption
- Automatic kill switch
- IP and DNS leak protection
- Lots of servers
- High-speed connection
- Able to unblock streaming services
- Unlimited bandwidth
- OpenVPN protocol
- 24/7 customer support (live chat is best)
Unfortunately, most free VPNs fall far short of this standard. In fact, expecting even one of them to do so is highly unrealistic – and if the provider claims their free VPN does tick all of these boxes, you’ll know for sure they’re a dangerous scam!
Luckily, there are 7 free VPNs for Windows that come as close as possible to meeting all of the most important requirements.
The Best Free VPN for Windows
Our guidelines for finding the best free VPN you can trust are:
- Be wary of fake or compromised VPN review sites, but don’t let them stop you from doing plenty of research
- Use a freemium service, where the provider offers a limited free version as well as an unlimited premium upgrade
Using the above criteria, these are 7 free VPNs that work with Windows:
- Windscribe is a freemium service, so you can upgrade to the paid version at any time. The free version is almost exactly the same, with the only limitations being a 10GB/month bandwidth cap and a small server network to choose from (you can get an extra 5GB/month by Tweeting about the provider).
- ProtonVPN is another freemium option. There aren’t any data limits, but you can only protect 1 device at a time and connect to VPN servers in 3 countries.
- Speedify will give you 2GB for free every month and only start charging once you exceed that limit. But there are a few issues, unfortunately, including some invasive logs and less-than-ideal encryption standards.
- Tunnelbear has a cute bear-themed VPN and a 500MB free version for testing their service. There are a few other issues with the provider (including some user logs being kept), but it’s a good way to ease into the world of VPNs.
- Ultrasurf is actually a VPN-proxy hybrid, not a proper VPN, so you really should only be using it in the short-term. You’ll also notice a more drastic than usual drop in your connection speed, but on the plus side, Ultrasurf was built specifically for Windows users!
- Hotspot Shield offers a free VPN that still includes military grade encryption, but with caps on bandwidth, simultaneous connections, and how many servers you can connect to. This isn’t a provider high up on our recommended list in general, but if you’re in a bind and need something to help you get by, Hotspot Shield remains a viable option.
- ZoogVPN only offers 128-bit encryption with their free VPN and imposes a 10GB bandwidth cap per month, but is still worth checking out if you’re in a rush for a free VPN!
Why You Shouldn’t Rely on a Free VPN for Windows
Others in the VPN comparison industry have much longer lists, so you’d be forgiven for thinking we might be cheating you of variety!
But the VPNs we listed above really are the only free Windows VPNs you can trust, based on our objective review process.
Other free (and fremium) VPNs – including those other VPN sites are pushing, like Hide.Me and Opera VPN – have several of the following issues:
- Completely fake
- Logs your data and sells it to the highest bidder
- Are actually a government honeypot (or is otherwise known to give user data to the government)
- Has poor or nonexistent security
- Has major malware issues
The Better Option…
If you really are looking for a nothing more than a short-term solution, then a far better option is to take advantage of free trials and money-back guarantees. Just bear in mind that you’ll run out of reliable providers eventually!
If your plan is to upgrade to a premium VPN at a later stage anyway, then we recommend the following best VPNs for Windows:
- CyberGhost VPN – 14-day money-back guarantee (45-day guarantee on longer subscription terms)
- ExpressVPN – 30-day money-back guarantee
- NordVPN – 30-day money-back guarantee
- Surfshark VPN – 30-day money-back guarantee
- VPN Area – 30-day money-back guarantee
However, if you’re really only in it for the short-term, bear in mind these money-back guarantees often come with some restrictions.
Be sure to read through the ts&cs first to make sure you don’t lose any money you need refunded!
Hopefully, you understand why we don’t really recommend using a free VPN. But every rule has its exception – and for us, it’s using free VPNs as a short-term solution!