5 best free VPN downloads 2020: change your IP without the cost

We've tested all of the best free VPN services so you can take a dip into the world of VPN and download without paying a penny

best free VPN

Install one of the best free VPN downloads on the web and you'll be able to encrypt your traffic, stay obscured online and allow you access to blocked or IP-restricted sites and apps - all without paying a penny.

We'll be honest right from the outset...these free services have their pros and their cons - especially if your real goal is to get yourself the best VPN service out there.

Indeed, there are some real dangers with free VPN services worth knowing about. The main one is that they need to make a profit somehow and this is not usually a good thing for the end user. Free VPNs tend to have fewer servers, little in the way of customer service and come with plenty of technical issues that standard VPN downloads do not have - yep, even our #1 free VPN pick Hotspot Shield is far from perfect.

Not to mention, the way some of the providers monetise is to turn you into a product they sell on to other parties. That essentially means logging some of your data and flogging it to people you'd rather didn't even know you existed. And if the plan is to stream Netflix with a VPN, you may as well forget it. Sometimes it might work, sometimes it might not. And even if it does, you'll be limited in terms of the GBs (or even MBs) you can stream in a month.

So our frank advice is to not download a free VPN unless it really is for occasional, very casual use. For the odd IP-hopping use case, they can work. But if you're planning on using the VPN a lot, then we'd highly recommend going for one of the overall best VPN services - they're not free but they're also pretty cheap in the grand scheme of things. With ExpressVPN leading the way...

Today's best overall VPNs

#1 ExpressVPN: the top VPN service in the world
From all our testing, we have concluded that our number one choice is Express. It lets you forget any security concerns, and has the benefit of 24/7 customer support, guaranteed access to Netflix US, almost constant uptime and a 30-day money back guarantee (no questions asked) if you change your mind. Check out ExpressVPN and you'll also get 3 months extra free with an annual plan.

#2 Surfshark: combines easy-to-uuse apps with some of the most attractive pricing of any premium VPN providers - starting at less than $2/£2 per month.

#3 NordVPN: the biggest name in the business is also one of the best, with some of the most impressive security features and protocols around.

The best free VPN downloads 2020:

Hotspot Shield VPN

(Image credit: Future)

1. Hotspot Shield Free VPN

The best FREE VPN service to download currently available

Number of servers: 1
Server locations: 1
Maximum devices supported: 1
Monthly data: 20GB
Reasons to buy
+Easy-to-use+500MB daily data allowance+Security focused
Reasons to avoid
-Performance can suffer a bit-Set up is a bit fiddly

Hotspot Shield is a premium VPN service that offers a free tier to hook customers in. And the great news is that the free tier is actually good enough for pretty much anyone who just needs a basic VPN to hide their identity and encrypt their web traffic.

It gives you 15GB of free data every month which works out at about 500MB per day - more than enough for regular web browsing and the occasional YouTube video.

The Hotspot Shield free VPN apps are really smart and easy to use as well, so if you're worried about not knowing how to work your VPN then stop worrying right now! The only minor complication with Hotspot Shield is that it does require you to agree to a free trial of the premium service when you first log in to the service - when that expires then you are free to fall back to the free tier.

 You can download Hotspot Shield Free here


2. ProtonVPN Free

Unlimited data allowance - and all for free

Number of servers: 3
Server locations: 3
Maximum devices supported: 1
Monthly data: Unlimited
Reasons to buy
+No monthly data limits+Great on the privacy front
Reasons to avoid
-Only three locations to choose from

One of our favorite things about ProtonVPN it doesn't have any bandwidth restrictions, so you’re free to use as much data as you want every month. 

Although, it does still come with a few restrictions - you can only utilise it on one device, only three locations, and free users get a lower priority when it comes to speed compared to paying subscribers. There’s no P2P support either. 

But if you can live with that, this is an impressive provider with a strict no logging policy, and you can sign up with nothing more than your email address. There aren’t even any ads on the website, let alone the client.

Speaking of clients, there are a good range of these – with native software for Windows PC, Mac, Linux, iOS, plus Android – and we found performance levels were pretty solid too.

However, speeds may drop at peak times when lots of users are around and paying folks get priority; at which point you may be tempted to upgrade to a paid plan. But clearly, with its unlimited data allowance, this is one free VPN download which is well worth considering.

Try ProtonVPN Free here

TunnelBear VPN

(Image credit: Future)

3. TunnelBear

Lots of servers, not much data

Number of servers: 1,000
Server locations: 20+
Maximum devices supported: 5
Monthly data: 500MB
Reasons to buy
+User friendly apps+Use it on mobile and desktop
Reasons to avoid
-Very basic-Only 500MB each month

TunnelBear is one of the best known best free VPN services available. It's a serious VPN that's serious about customer satisfaction, privacy and security. So the upside is that you're getting a VPN that works, and can be trusted not to hold loads of data on you and sell you out at the earliest opportunity!

The downside is that the free tier of TunnelBear only gets you 500MB bandwidth each month which is a lot less than Hotspot Shield above. That means for many people having it always-on will leave you caught short well before the end of the month, and absolutely rules out using it to stream endless episodes of Rick and Morty on Netflix. 

The free VPN tier at TunnelBear is certainly designed as a gateway to the paid tier which offers unlimited data but will cost you real money. If you're going to pay for a VPN we'd suggest getting a premium one like ExpressVPN, but if you're only interested in a free download then TunnelBear is a decent option.

Try TunnelBear here

Windscribe VPN

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

4. Windscribe

A good mix of data and servers

Number of servers: 10+
Server locations: 10+
Maximum devices supported: 1
Monthly data: 10GB
Reasons to buy
+10GB of data per month+Sterling privacy policy
Reasons to avoid
-No Android client

Windscribe's free VPN actually offers 20x as much free data as TunnelBear above, so if you're planning on staying connected at all times or streaming video/music through the VPN, this one will get you most of the way there.

Windscribe is easy to sign up for and doesn't require any personal information (makes sense to give your email address though, otherwise you'll be locked out if you forget your password). Windscribe will boost your data by 5GB if you send out a tweet about the service, and if you refer a friend who subscribes to the paid tier you'll be given access to that higher tier at no charge!

And of course, there's nothing to stop you installing more than one of these services at the same time and switching between them. So you could always combine your Windscribe account with either (or both) of the two above.

Try Windscribe here

5. Speedify

Speedify is a VPN download promising to speed up your connection

Number of servers: 1000+
Server locations: 50+
Maximum devices supported: 1
Monthly data: 10GB
Reasons to buy
+Awesome performance boosting+Solid on the privacy front
Reasons to avoid
-Basic service

Speedify the last (but not least) free VPN service that we recommend thinking about signing up to. It's a little different than the options above in that it's designed from the ground up to absolutely maximise your connection speed.

So if you're on a laptop with ethernet and wifi connections, it'll utilize both to pull bits out of the internet to the max. If you're on a phone it can use your 4G and WiFi connections at the same time to do the same time - to maximise throughput of data, improving download speeds and render times.

In our tests this all proved to be more than just hot air - it really did work to speed up our download and browsing speeds. At the same time it's doing all the things you'd want from a VPN, ecrypting and obscuring, so you're private, safe and anonymous.

Click through to give Speedify a try