Even if you don’t use one, you’ve probably heard of virtual private networks at this point (VPNs for short). Basically, a VPN routes your internet traffic through a remote server that masks what you’re looking for, your personal data, and the location from which you’re accessing various websites. It’s a great tool to prevent your data from being stolen or your online presence being tracked, and there are so many VPNs to choose from now; not using one is like riding a motorcycle without a helmet – you could do it, but why?
For some people, the additional cost of a paid VPN each month feels like an extraneous expense, but just like with antivirus software, there are several high-quality free VPNs out there. Choosing one might seem tricky, but the following companies provide secure VPN services for no cost, adding a layer of protection while using the internet.
Your information is like currency online; hackers and scammers want your data to open fake accounts or sell to people who will use it for nefarious purposes. Companies want your demographic data to better target advertising, and there are a million other people and companies out there hungry for your personal information.
A VPN prevents most of that from happening. While you might still enter more information than you need to in forms online, a VPN prevents the siphoning of data by third parties. This includes the websites you visit and even your internet service provider, who might be tracking your online activity to sell to advertisers as well.
Preventing a data breach is also a huge concern. When data breaches happen, your information is freely available online for anyone to access. A VPN can prevent a data breach (from your computer in any case) and can make less information available online for hackers to use.
It’s a powerful tool for anyone who spends any amount of time online, and at this point, that’s just about everyone.
SurfShark is still one of the most recognizable names in free VPN services, hands-down. They have a paid option, but their free service is still one of the best in the business, protecting your online privacy and allowing you to prevent prying eyes from seeing what sites you’re visiting.
- Wide availability – iOS, Android, Windows, Linux, Xbox, and some smart TV apps as well
- No speed or data usage caps
- Servers in over 63 locations throughout the world
- SurfShark isn’t a member of any internet overseer groups like 14 Eyes
- Only free for 30 days, but they have the cheapest annual subscription fee – it’s $12.95/month, or roughly $30 per year, making it one of the most affordable VPNs available
TunnelBear is a bear-bones (get it?) VPN service that’s persistently free and does its job reasonably well, with a robust privacy and online safety settings to help you customize your browsing experience.
- It is available not only on all major devices, including Android and iOS, but also in-browser on Chrome, Firefox, and Opera.
- Split-tunneling available but only on Android
- No speed limits
- 20 worldwide server locations
- 500 MB data cap per month
ProtonVPN is a fantastic option if you want a quality free service that still offers the benefits of a paid company. This includes additional internet security tools, no data caps, and no direct slowdown of service.
- No speed limit, though they do prioritize speed for paid customers
- No data cap
- Split-tunneling available, but only for Windows and Android
- Only available on Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and Linux
- Only 3 server locations, but they’re in 3 major areas – the Netherlands, the US, and Japan
A VPN is a service that it’s worth investing in – your internet security is hugely important, now more than ever. If you can’t afford another monthly cost, however, a free VPN is better than none.