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Ultimate Guide to the Best Free VPN Services 2021

Ultimate Guide to the Best Free VPN Services 2021

Cyberattacks, data breaches, and government surveillance are on the rise. Threat actors are actively cashing in through phishing and social engineering attacks. For businesses, the shift to remote work increased the chance for hackers to exploit vulnerabilities in their systems.

Research shows that a small business in the UK is successfully hacked every 19 seconds. Each day, there are 65,000 attacks on small and medium-sized businesses. Of these, 4,500 hit their target. As a result of cyber-attacks and data breaches, companies are losing brand reputation and money.

Today, 88% of British residents worry about their privacy when shopping online. Mobile apps (86%), social media (86%) and banking (88%) also instill similar levels of privacy concerns. Over 60% of people in the UK are more concerned about security and online privacy now more than a year ago.

This is sad, but there is some good news. Users can enhance their online privacy and anonymity by using a VPN service.

What is a VPN?

A Virtual Private Network or VPN is a network that creates a secure tunnel between your computer and the internet. In simple terms, a VPN service connects your smartphone, tablet or PC to server’s on the internet, allowing you to browse online securely.

A VPN masks your real IP address allowing you to use the IP address of the server you’re connected to. By doing so, your online activity remains untraceable.

Originally, VPN technology was to provide access to corporate resources to branch offices and remote users. Using encrypted tunnelling protocol, VPN enhanced security for users and prevented cyber attacks.

Today, VPN not only secures connections. It also…

  • Helps users to bypass geographic restrictions
  • Helps users stream media from streaming services like Hulu and Netflix
  • Hides your real location online
  • Protects you from getting logged while torrenting
  • Protects you from snooping while using public WIFI spots

Next time you are surfing the internet or torrenting, keep your online activities anonymous with VPN.

How Does It Protect My Device?

Each device is usually assigned a unique identifying number called internet protocol address or IP address. When you connect to the internet via a public or private network, the IP address allows your device to send and receive information.

If browsing the internet via a private network, you have some protection. Private networks are password-protected, making it difficult for hackers to attack. With a public WIFI network, you are not secure at all.

To secure your online activities, you need a VPN. VPN services use secure and encrypted tunneling technology. By creating a secure tunnel between your devices and the VPN servers a thousand miles away, you’re able to access your favourite sites even on the go.

Common tunnelling technologies used by VPN include:

  • Point to Point Tunneling Protocol or PPTP
  • Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol/IPSec or (L2TP)
  • Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol or SSTP
  • OpenVPN

Thanks to encryption, your data is unreadable. This prevents hackers, your ISP and government agencies from snooping on your internet activity.

Besides encrypting your data, VPN also masks your IP address. How you may ask. VPN services have servers worldwide. A simple mouse click will connect you to any server in the world.

For example, if you are in London, you can connect to a VPN server in Singapore, Australia, Brazil or Canada. This means websites and government agencies will associate your internet activity with the VPN’s IP address and not your real IP address.

This is how VPN providers keep your online activity anonymous.

List of Free VPN Services…

ProtonVPN is a Swiss VPN provider created to protect activists and journalists using ProtonMail. Headquartered in Geneva, ProtonVPN employs several technologies to keep your internet activities anonymous.

One of the technologies is Secure Core. This is a network that ProtonVPN uses to prevent hackers and government agencies from compromising its VPN servers. The technology is available in Switzerland and Iceland. ProtonVPN routes user traffic through the Secore Core network masking your real IP in the process.

The other is Perfect Forward Secrecy. This technology uses ciphers to encrypt your traffic. It prevents hackers from decrypting your data even when encryption keys get compromised.

ProtonVPN has a free plan alongside several paid options. The free plan allows 1 VPN connection limited to servers in 3 countries. While you are free to connect to these servers, you’ll do so at medium speed. At peak times, the speed may drop as paid users are a top priority.

The good news is, ProtonVPN free plan has no ads and no logs. If you can live with that, all you need to get started is sign up with your email address.

Sign up to ProtonVPN free plan.

Like ProtonVPN, Hotspot Shield also offers a free VPN plan to users worldwide alongside its paid plans. Hotspot Shield has a range of technologies to protect your online activity. It encrypts your connection and uses military-grade encryption. By doing so, the VPN service shields your browsing activity from hackers and government agencies.

With the paid plan, users can connect up to 5 devices using one account. You can connect your desktop, laptop, tablet, smartphone and smart TV or router. It’s compatible with major operating systems such as Windows, macOS, iOS, Linux and Android.

If you select the free plan, you can only connect one device. But the connection between your device and the internet is always encrypted. The connection speed is typically limited to 2 Mbps while the daily data limit is 500MB.

Compared with other free VPN services, Hotspot Shield is generous with connection speed and data limit. Other restrictions include 1 virtual connection in the US only and no live chat support.

In addition to military-grade encryption, the free plan comes with an internet kill switch and multiple VPN protocols. If security is your only goal, Hotspot Shield free plan is an excellent option. If you want to connect more than one device and enjoy 24/7 live chat support, you can always upgrade to the premium and premium family paid plans.

Get free HotSpot Shield VPN.

New to the world of VPN? Windscribe is a VPN service that stops leaking of personal information online. This prevents hackers from stealing your data as well as using your identity for malicious activities.

Windscribe encrypts your browsing activity by routing your traffic through encrypted tunnelling technology. This has several benefits. First, it stops governments and corporations from tracking and selling your personal data. Basically, Windscribe helps you take back control of your privacy.

Second, it unblocks geo-restricted content. Streaming services such as Netflix restrict certain content. With Windscribe, you can unblock the geo-restrictions and access news, movies, and TV shows even on the go.

Windscribe offers a free plan called Build a Plan. The free plan has a generous data limit of 10 GB a month. With the 10 GB bandwidth, you can select from ten remote server locations. They include Germany, the UK, Canada, and Hong Kong.

Besides generous data limits, Windscribe does not store your logs or browsing activity. If you enable ROBERT, Windscribe VPN will automatically block tracks and ads on all your devices. ROBERT is a server-side IP and domain blocking tool that blocks malware and others.

Get started with the Windscribe free plan.

As the name suggests, TunnelBear VPN has one goal: to secure and encrypt your browsing activity, keeping you anonymous. Based in Toronto, Canada, Ryan Dochuk and Daniel Kaldor co-founded TunnelBear in 2011. In 2018, McAfee acquired TunnelBear and today, it continues to operate as an independent VPN provider.

TunnelBear offers two paid plans and a free plan. A couple of years ago, the free plan had a 2Gb data limit each month. While this was not a huge allowance like Windscribe’s 10 GB, it’s undoubtedly much compared to other providers.

At the time of writing, TunnelBear offers a 500 MB data limit. This is enough for streaming 30 minutes of content, but you cannot download large files more than 500MB. To increase the data limit to 1 GB, tweet the TunnelBear team.

TunnelBear allows users to connect to several countries. It uses AES 256 bit encryption to encrypt your browsing activity. With the strict no data logging policy, TunnelBear will not store your data. Unfortunately, the free plan does not unlock geo-restricted streaming websites such as Netflix.

Try TunnelBear for free!

Whether you want to join a Zoom conference or stream videos online, Speedify is an excellent choice. It provides a stable and reliable streaming and conferencing experience. By default, Speedify uses its revolutionary streaming mode.

The streaming mode prioritizes video and audio streams automatically by adjusting network conditions. For optimal performance, Speedify distributes your online traffic intelligently. If one of your connections gets disconnected while in the middle of a file transfer or video all, Speedify will reconnect you seamlessly.

Speedify offers three pricing categories, namely:

  • Individuals
  • Families
  • Teams

Each category has two to four pricing plans. With a single user account, you can use up to 5 devices simultaneously. You also have premium server access, unlimited usage and bank-grade encryption.

Speedify’s free plan boasts of a 2 GB data limit each month. This is a huge allowance, unlike TunnelBear’s 500MB data limit. With 2Gb bandwidth, you can check your emails, attach several documents to your emails, download a couple of files and even listen to music online.

The Speedify VPN app includes beautiful dark and light modes. You can switch between light and dark mode to suit your preferences. On large format devices such as tablets and PCs, Speedify app can expand thanks to dual-pane mode. This helps to make better use of your device screen real estate.

Save now with Speedify VPN!

Millions of people use Betternet to protect from known online scams and malware. Betternet encrypts your internet connection allowing you to experience a more private internet. Compatible with iOS, Android, Windows, and MacOS devices, Betternet offers a 7-day free trial.

While the VPN provider protects your devices from malware, data is currently limited to 500 MB. This is not enough to download large files, but it’s suitable for streaming 30 minutes of low-quality videos. It’s also great for checking your emails, sending and receiving emails.

Besides the 500MB data limit, Betternet allows you to connect to its US server location only. As such, it may be challenging to access geo-blocked sites in other countries. It does offer good speeds but no kill switch. So, if your VPN connection fails, the provider will not route your traffic through its encrypted network.

To ensure total anonymity, reconnect your VPN. You ought to know that Betternet collects more user information, unlike other VPN providers. Also, expect lots of ads when using the free plan.

To get started, visit Betternet and sign up. Provide the following details:

  • First Name
  • Last Name
  • Card Number
  • Expiration Date
  • CSC Code
  • Email

Your email address is for account activation while the card number comes in handy if you decide to upgrade to a paid plan.

Browse the internet privately with Hide.me VPN. Hide.me understands that freedom is a right, and that is why they offer a lifetime free VPN plan. There is no catch. Hide.me will not throttle your connection speed, sell your data to third party providers or serve you ads.

All plans, including the free plan, have the following features:

  • Split tunnelling
  • String AES 245 bit encryption
  • IP Leak Protection
  • Strictly no logs policy
  • Secure VPN protocols
  • Access to 1800 worldwide servers
  • Best privacy protection

There are a few limits when you sign up for the free plan. First off, Hide.me will give you 2Gb of data each month. This is not enough to stream HD or 4K videos on YouTube and other video sharing sites.

Its also not enough to play online games or even download large files exceeding 2Gb. But it’s ideal for general browsing, checking emails, sending and receiving emails.

Second, users can connect one device only. You can connect your laptop or smartphone or tablet. The good news is, Hide.me is compatible with MacOS, Android, Windows and iOS.

Third, you’re limited to five server locations. That includes Canada and the US. Paid users can access the 50+ server locations. However, Hide.me will not throttle your connection.

The Hide.me client has a user-friendly interface, and its performance is impressive. Overall, Hide.me is a solid VPN provider that’ll maintain your privacy and not make a profit by selling your data to third party providers.

Get Hide.me free VPN!

What’s the Catch With Free VPNs?

VPN services have expensive bills to pay. From expensive hardware to salaries and wages, the bills can total hundreds of thousands of pounds. That is why with free VPN plans, users have to pay one way or another.

VPN providers will serve you ads. In fact, some providers will hit you with several annoying pop-ups and even sneak ad serving trackers in your browser. These trackers collect your browsing data and even leave a digital trail.

In 2017, HotSpot Shield VPN received an FTC complaint due to its over the top privacy violations when serving ads. Researchers discovered that the VPN provider had a backdoor, allowing them to collect user data and sell to third party providers.

When the story broke, the VPN provider denied the claims. But since then, they now offer transparency reports annually.

Free VPNs also limit your bandwidth and data. Some VPNs offer up to 10 GB, which is pretty generous, but others limit users to 500MB. This is not enough to download files or stream a single HD or 4K video.

A slower connection makes it difficult to browse securely. In fact, if the number of paid users is high, the connection speed will be slow such that the connection will get interrupted frequently. This puts you at risk of hacking and phishing attacks.

When it comes to customer support, certain VPN providers will limit free users to email support or knowledge centres. Others like HotSpot Shield VPN continue to provide 24/7 technical support just like paid users. This comes in handy when users want troubleshooting assistance.

Are Free VPNs Worth It?

Yes, but it depends on the VPN provider and your needs. Suppose you’re in a country where the government agencies snoop on your browsing activity. A free VPN like ProtonVPN or Windscribe can come handy.

Unlike other free VPNs that serve you annoying ads, track your browsing activity and even sell your data. ProtonVPN and Windscribe have no strict logs policy and do not serve ads.

If you want to access geo-restricted content, browse anonymously or connect to your company network, avoid free VPNs. Some may promise not to log your browsing activity or sell your data. But it’s worth noting that you’ll not receive the same level of encryption as paid users.