Free VPN Services Tested and Compared 2019: Pros and Cons
Be wary of “free” VPN apps, they usually sell your private data and contain spyware/malware. The only safe way of using a VPN is to use free premium VPN trials or paid VPN services. We filtered through the crap to present you free but safe VPN services.
VPN – Short introduction:
VPN is that hot topic at school, university or at work, which is discussed increasingly often. And not without a reason. Because VPN offers three important functions that are essential in this day and age:
- Safety – Protection against WiFi-hackers and ID-thieves
- Privacy – Why would you accept that everything you do on the internet is tracked by strangers
- Bypass regional limitations
If you are new to VPN, you can read our extended article about what VPN is.
Nothing comes for free
The ‘Parasites & Unsafe’ VPN services
This group usually offers poor or no security and/or privacy because their main focus is to get information on your expense. For example, your devices could be infected with spyware or malware, which not only endangers your own privacy and safety but you are also simply used as a platform to spread viruses etc. to your contacts.
Be careful when a VPN service asks your permission to access your contacts, pictures, and other private information on your device. Ask yourself some critical questions if a provider is free and claims to be the fastest free VPN service.
The ‘Pushy & Restricted’ VPN services
These are the services which you can use like CyberGhost and Hide.me VPN. They have, however, different limitations that are mainly meant to persuade users to upgrade to one of the paid packages. Some of the most commonly used restrictions are:
- Downloading of torrents or streaming with P2P based apps like Popcorn Time is not allowed,
- Monthly data limit,
- Sponsored advertising,
- Limited speed,
- Time limits etc.
Free premium VPN trials
VPN trials give you the chance to try premium paid VPN for a limited time. This prevents you from wasting money on a shitty VPN and enables you to compare VPN services before you make a choice.
SpyOFF is giving away a 15-day free trial. It’s the best value premium trial we found so far as you can read in our critical SpyOFF review.
Overview of the 6 best free VPN services
|Goose VPN||Hide.me||TunnelBear||CyberGhost||SurfEasy||Hotspot Shield|
|Data limit||Unlimited||2 GB / m||500 MB /m|
1,5 GB /m (tweet)
|Unlimited||500 MB /m||Unlimited|
|Advertising||None||None||None||17 sec. while connecting &|
every 2 hrs.
|None||During web browsing|
|Speed||Full speed||min. 3 Mb/s||Full Speed||Full Speed|
(Faster than other free VPN's)
(Just not fast enough to stream)
|Time limit||None||None||None||3 hr. sessions||None||None|
|Systems||Windows, Mac, Android, iOS||Windows, Mac, Android, iOS||Windows, Mac, Android, iOS||Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux||Windows, Mac, Android, iOS||Windows, Mac, Android, iOS|
|Remarks||Only the first month is free.||-||-||-||On Blacklist of some streaming services ||Only virtual locations in the US|
Target groups of free VPN services
If you are a real streamer and you constantly use Netflix, or you download or stream movies and television series every day, a free VPN service is not for you because you would not have enough bandwidth and/or speed. In that case, we recommend trying the 15-day free trial period of SpyOFF. The free trial period is the best value on the market with speeds similar to IPVanish.
Hobby internet users
Are you someone that uses the internet on a daily basis but not very intensively? Then a free VPN service might be an ideal opportunity to try it out. Try different services and to see which of the free VPN providers fits best to your needs.
You will then quickly understand the advantages of VPN. If you like it, you can switch to one of the paid VPN services, which are really not that expensive anymore.
The Pros and Cons of free VPN services
Goose VPN is the only Dutch VPN provider and in our opinion also at the moment one of the best on the international market. Furthermore, Goose VPN is also one of the cheapest VPN services. Summarized these are the main advantages:
- 100% log free
- Excellent encryption (256-bit AES)
- Lightning fast
- 24/7 customer service (also in Dutch)
- Good P2P support for torrent fans
- The cheapest package starts with €2,99 per month (50GB)
- 1st-month free trial
hide.me VPN is actually the only free service that allows torrent downloading. They have a data restriction of 2GB/month, which is not enough for the average internet user. The speed varies and can be as high as with the paid service when traffic allows it.
But when there is more traffic, the paid users have priority. But still, you get minimum 3 Mbit/sec. Amongst the paid packages the cheapest is $4,99 per month (78GB).
Tunnelbear is a good alternative amongst the free VPN providers. They have good security and the speed is high enough for streaming, although somewhat on the low side. They have a data limit of only 500MB per month, which you can expand by 1 GB to 1,5 GB per month by tweeting about them.
But this is still not very much, which makes the data limit the only big disadvantage. On a desktop, you will reach the free limit fairly quickly. Therefore Tunnelbear is a good alternative for a mobile device. The cheapest paid package is $4,99 per month (unlimited data GB).
CyberGhost is one of the better VPN providers and would certainly have topped our ranking if not for some downsides. They have no data limit and are the fastest free VPN provider that we tested. But the downside is advertising.
With every server connection you make, you have to watch 17 seconds of advertising. And while browsing you have to watch another advertisement every two hours.
The user sessions are limited to 3 hours, after which you will have to login again and therefore get to watch another 17 seconds of advertising. Of the paid packages the cheapest is $4,16 per month.
SurfEasy offers good security and speed. They have no advertisements and no time limits, but a very small bandwidth of 500MB per month. Another disadvantage, at least for some users, is that their IP-addresses are blacklisted by some streaming providers.
But if you are a user that does not stream and you don’t need a high bandwidth, for example for a mobile device, SurfEasy could be a good solution to get to know VPN. Of the paid packages the cheapest is $3,99 per month.
Hotspot Shield is one of the better known free VPN providers without data limit and without restrictions on torrent downloading. It is however a pitty that the speed can not be called anything other than ‘average’. It just falls short of being enough for streaming.
Besides that, they also show sponsored advertising, which is placed on top of the browser while you are browsing the internet. Amongst the paid packages, the cheapest is $6,99 per month.
Hotspot Shield accused of snooping on web traffic
The Washington DC-based prominent privacy group ‘Center for Democracy & Technology’ (CDT) claims that Hotspot Shield violates its promise of “anonymous browsing” by intercepting and redirecting web traffic to partner websites, including advertising companies. CDT urges the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate the claim they filled beginning of August 2017.
Be careful with unknown free VPN providers. Otherwise ‘you get what you pay for’ might be an understatement. But if you are not a super progressive internet user and your traffic is fairly limited, take a look at the Pros & Cons and choose the free VPN service that fits your needs.