Everyone wants a secure internet connection while they are browsing through the public internet. You can use a VPN (a virtual private network) if you want to ensure complete data safety while surfing the web. A VPN provides you the freedom to browse and stream unblocked sites without being tracked.
There are various paid and free VPNs available in the market. But if you can leverage almost the same features with free VPNs, why go for the paid ones? You can install free VPNs for securing your network. This article will discuss virtual private networks, how they work, the benefits of using the same, and the 9 best free VPNs. So, let’s jump right into it!
What is a Virtual Private Network?
A VPN or Virtual Private Network helps you to create a protected network while you use a public network for browsing. It encrypts your network traffic and hides your identity on the web. The hackers or the third-party won’t be able to track your activities and compromise your data on the network. You can imply multiple levels of encryption, even in real-time.
How Does a VPN Work?
A VPN allows you to create a protected network connection (a safe network tunnel) between your computer or mobile and the server controlled by the VPN company. The company will transfer all the network activity through that secure connection. It will protect your activity from being monitored, even by the network owners.
This means that your ISP will not be able to monitor your activity and access your data. A VPN also hides your true IP address and uses the IP address of the VPN to which you are connected, which keeps on changing.
Note: you are not entirely safe with a VPN, as whenever you exit the secure tunnel, your activity can be tracked again. There are more chances of attack when you are connecting to unsafe sites without HTTPS.
It is also difficult to track when you exit the safe tunnel, but various trackers can be used to monitor that activity. So you should use a tracker blocker at your end to ensure more safety.
Benefits of Using a Virtual Private Network
There are various benefits of using a VPN connection other than protecting your crucial data from external access. It keeps the hackers away from your real identity on the network. Below are some benefits that you can leverage by using a VPN connection:
- Secure Encryption – To decipher the encrypted data, one requires the encryption key for that data. Without it, it will take years for hackers to decrypt the data. With a VPN, your browsing and streaming activities will be hidden on the public networks, thus, keeping your data safe and secure.
- Disguise your Real Identity – VPN servers act as the proxies for your connection as it shows your data is coming from another country without revealing your true location.
Some VPNs do not even store your activity, and those who do, do not share your logs with others. This keeps your browsing activity permanently hidden.
- Access to the Regional Content – You might not be able to access restricted data from any location but can only be accessed from individual parts of the country.
To determine your location, the connection uses local servers, meaning you cannot access data available for other regions. A VPN location spoofing allows you to change your location and thus, access restricted content.
- Secure Data Transfers – If you are working from home or any remote location, you might require files from your office network. In such a case, a VPN will create a secure and encrypted network connection to let you access those files without being compromised.
What Does a Good VPN Offer?
You can easily rely on a VPN for performing various tasks, but the VPN itself should be protected. Below are some features that can be expected from a typical VPN:
- Encrypting your IP address so the ISP or third-parties won’t track it. You can quickly transfer crucial data without anyone compromising it.
- In case your secured VPN connection is compromised due to any reason, the VPN will detect this downtime in no time and terminate some of the preselected programs immediately to avoid the risk of compromising data.
- Encrypting your protocols so you won’t leave any track for the hackers. A VPN encrypts your search history, cookies, and browsing history so that hackers will not be able to gain access to crucial information.
- Checking for unauthorized access to your network and alerting you if anyone tries to log in. This will create a challenging situation for the third-parties to gain access to your data and secured connection.
Challenges of VPN
No technology is perfect, and, therefore, comes with a set of challenges. Below are some challenges that you may face while using a VPN:
- It may not be able to protect you from downloading malware accidentally or to hand over your crucial data in any form to a phishing attack. To ensure safety against this, you can install an antivirus and enable multiple security authentication.
- With a VPN, you cannot completely hide your identity on the network. Many parties have various tools and trackers to monitor your activity and gather information about you. This can be protected if you use privacy-protected browsers with tracker blockers like EFF’s Privacy Badger.
- Some people use VPN for individual uses, but some countries have restrictions to this, and you might not be able to use a VPN, even for personal use.
- A VPN has its DNS resolution system. But some hackers still are able to monitor your DNS request and monitor your activity on the network. Hackers can use DNS poisoning that directs you to bogus pages to access your data.
Best Free VPNs
1. Hotspot Shield Free VPN
It is a public VPN service with its first release introduced in 2008. It was developed and operated by Pango former employee from AnchorFree. Its first release was for macOS and Windows. Hotspot Shield got its stable release in January 2019. Until then, it was operated by AnchorFree.
Hotspot Shield was commonly used by the government for bypassing information during the Arab Spring protest. Today, it is used for security along with testing. You can get its premium version by paying merely £3 per month. If you are new to the concept of VPN and looking for a hassle-free free VPN service then you can go for it. This VPN provides only one server with less customer support.
- Offers 500MB data capping per day. It is restrictive but lucrative for a free plan and better than most other competitors.
- Can work efficiently on Android, Windows, macOS, and iOS.
- Fully secure, allows you to make online bank transactions.
- User-friendly even when accessed by mobile or system.
- The free version offers a US-based location with a 2Mbps speed.
Its free plan is limited to 500MB monthly traffic, which is minimal, and you have to use it wisely when required.
- Allows you to protect your identity on the network efficiently.
- Supported on Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS.
- Provides you more than 20 servers with no live chat support.
- This VPN collects minimal user data and does not even require a name to sign up.
3. ProtonVPN Free
This VPN offers private and secure internet globally. Proton VPN is usually used by activists and journalists to protect their work from being exposed to the government. It is operated by Proton Technologies AG, a Swiss company.
It is operated from the company’s headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland and thus, comes under the Swiss privacy laws. ProtonVPN is also backed by a non-profit organization named FONGIT and has a partnership with Mozilla.
ProtonVPN has more than 1,060 servers located in 54 countries. In 2014, first, they launched ProtonMail for offering online privacy and later worked on ProtonVPN for the users already using ProtonMail.
This VPN offers only 3 servers with minimal live chat support. The free users will get low speed as compared to the subscribed users.
Does not ensure P2P support, and the user may face speed drops at peak time when many users are using the VPN at the same time.
- Available on Windows, macOS, iOS, Linux, and Android.
- Does not come with data restrictions and thus, offers you unlimited data.
- Comes with a strict no-logging policy.
- You can use your email id to sign up.
Speedify launched version 10 in 2020. Connectify offers Speedify for teams, a multi-seat mobile VPN subscription with advanced account management features.
- Provides encrypted data over the network along with a speedy connection, as the name suggests.
- Works for Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, and Linux systems.
- Provides more than 50 servers.
- Offers 2GB monthly data.
- Uses all available internet connections to provide better performance.
- Comes with turbocharging technology to speed up things.
Introduced in 2012, Hide.me provides internet security across the globe. It comes with server facilities in more than 70 locations.
- Offers privacy-conscious services that allow you to hide your identity.
- Can be used on Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS.
- Provides you 5 servers to use with no live chat support.
- Offers 2GB of data per month.
- Do not keep logs of the user activity.
6. Avira Phantom
Avira Phantom was launched in 2006. By 2012, Avira had accrued 100 million customers globally and ranks sixth in the antivirus market. It has its headquarters in Tettnang, Germany. It supports various charitable and social projects. In 2014, Avira built a partnership with DropBox to enhance the company’s benefits.
- Offers you unlimited devices even in the free plan.
- Available for Android, iOS, macOS, and Windows.
- Provides 500MB of monthly data.
- Ensures data encryption and prevents DNS leaks.
- Offers a virtual IP address to protect your identity.
- Facilitates P2P file sharing.
It has a decent network size covering more than 100 locations that are spread across 63 countries, which includes cities like Peru, Panama and Macedonia. These cities were added since the last review.
Windscribe has servers in the US and Europe, and simply masks the location using the false IP WHOIS data, appearing it is present elsewhere. This VPN offers no live chat support and provide one device at maximum.
- Offers more than 10 servers at more than 10 locations.
- You will get 2GB to 10GB monthly data.
- Does not log user activity
- Comes with an ad-blocker.
A group of networking geeks and techies founded ZoogVPN in May 2013. ZoogVPN has gained popularity during the boom years of the Internet. After that, the Internet got more regulated, restricted and a challenging place that may pose a great risk to an individuals’ right while accessing the internet, impacting their freedom and security.
Later, a commercial VPN service was introduced which is known as ZoogVPN, and was specially created to break down Internet censorship. It offers you real freedom and peace of mind getting online. ZoogVPN focuses on simplicity and availability to achieve success. It allows you to add innovation and improve services.
ZoogVPN comes with a strong team of management professionals, IT developers, IT system administrators, techie product managers and advanced publishers for growing the business along with great support provided by the existing and new customers.
Based in Greece, ZoogVPN operates from its different offices scattered all around the world, including different locations in Europe, Asia and North America.
- Free users can use IKEv2 and OpenVPN protocols.
- Ensures 128-bit encryption.
- Offers no limit on the speed.
- Provides 2GB to 500GB of data monthly.
- Allows one connection and can use up to 3 server locations.
- You can use torrent downloads in the free version.
- Allows unlimited data transfer.
- Let’s you choose from 11 locations.
- Allows a total of 3 connections.
- Ensures 256-bit data encryption with a strict no-logging policy for user activity.
Using a VPN is essential, especially if you are working with sensitive data, either professional or personal. Every business and user wants their data to be safe and encrypted while they browse, and ensure that no one is monitoring their network activity.
Having the right VPN service at your end will help people and businesses to have a safe environment to transfer essential data over the internet. However, it comes with some challenges but you will have various options to choose one of them that will suit you better to your purpose.
You can choose any of the free, or paid, VPNs available as per your business requirements. But if you are getting benefits with the free VPNs, why pay for it.