Does a free VPN (Virtual Private Network) sound like a great deal? The one short answer to this question is yes, but there’s a catch. The explanation’s not as complicated as it might seem. That anyone would consider writing a best free VPNs list is confusing when you consider the following information review.
With a variety of free VPNs available from the Apple Apps Store, Google Play Store, and Amazon App Store, we understand it’s tempting to download one to protect your personal information.
These companies provide a free hotspot shield because they believe in altruism, online privacy, and love of their fellow man, right?
Wrong… but with one exception I’ve recently discovered.
For reasons provided in this review, you should not trust most free VPNs with your security or anonymity, even if a review found online says a free option protects your data.
How VPNs Work to Hide and Protect You
A VPN encrypts all the traffic sent through your ISP (Internet Service Provider) connection in both directions. Your VPN encrypted app data transmission is sent to a remote VPN server owned or leased by your VPN provider.
Everything sent from you, whether a request to see a web page, your credit card purchase information, or request to watch a video stream, is then decrypted by the VPN server shield and transmitted to the recipient of your online transaction.
Even if the VPN app you are using has a good encryption algorithm, this is the point at which you must trust the VPN service.
The website, cloud app, email recipient, or other outside source users contact will get the request. Then, the same military grade encryption happens at the VPN server to send a signal safely back for review. This happens on Android or iOS smartphone, Mac and Windows PCs or any other VPN protected device users browse, stream, or download with.
This shield feature is why most seeking a secure connection get a trusted premium plan.
To learn more about how the best VPNs work to protect your anonymity and safety, feel free to review our article on what a VPN is and how they work.
People use VPNs and access their secure servers for a variety of reasons. VPNs keep online activity private from your ISP while using a public or private WiFi hotspot, for example. If your local officials or ISP censor the web, good VPNs allow you to bypass the censorship and browse as if you were in the VPN server’s location.
VPNs also act as a public WiFi hotspot shield to help avoid the threat of data and identity theft. Used as a hotspot shield, they keep your personal data safe while connected via hotspot WiFi.
Privately Use BitTorrent Protocol to Download and Stream
When using BitTorrent technology to upload and download files, VPNs can be used to mask where torrenting activity actually occurs. Many apps that allow you to watch or download files such as free movies and TV shows use the BitTorrent protocol. This advertises your IP address to everyone on the web unless you get a secure connection that good VPNs provide.
Many people masquerade their hotspot location sending Firefox or Chrome through proxy servers (AKA proxies), but fail to encrypt their data. When using a simple proxy server, your data is still easy to see by your ISP, government officials, and any other hackers looking to get at it.
The best VPNs also let you access geographically restricted services, such as accessing the BBC while in the US or reviewing and watching the USA Netflix library from the UK. Even the best free VPN can’t be trusted with these features, though. A true best free VPN for Netflix services does not exist due to their crusade against VPN access. Free VPNs just can’t afford to keep up, as constant real-time server updates are necessary. This is the only way to successfully unblock and watch Netflix from outside their geo-restricted zones.
Can You Trust Your Free VPN Provider?
While there are both free and paid VPN services available, there is a price paid for either option. Choosing even the best free VPN services may set you up to be taken advantage of if you choose a so-called “free” service plan.
You’ll be paying in ways you probably don’t even know about or have read about in reviews. The adage that “you get what you pay for” is right in the case of free VPNs.
It’s not easy to learn the truth about these free and premium services…
When researching the best free VPNs up for review, keep in mind these companies need to make money somehow. Linux and Windows servers, their maintenance, and the electricity required to run them cost a great deal. Having a collection of free servers all over the world, or worse, leasing server space from others as many free VPN download providers do, costs even more.
You’re placing an extreme amount of trust in any VPN service provider when encrypting your data with their algorithm and sending it through any number of servers.
Good VPNs prevent your ISP or WiFi hotspot operator from snooping on your browsing activity. Still, this doesn’t stop a VPN operator from snooping as any hacker with hotspot access might.
Research reveals that 84% of free VPN services leak user activities, 75% use tracking libraries, and 38% of the available VPN apps from free services place malware on devices. The money and time invested in building a secure VPN network are not the top priority for service operators providing a free VPN download.
Who’s Eyes are on Your Data Transmissions?
The operators of free VPNs can see the websites you connect to. The VPN operator can even see the full content of the pages if you’re accessing unencrypted HTTP websites. As mentioned above, most free VPN operators record your activities and data to sell for advertising purposes to keep their business running.
Simply put, when you use a VPN app featuring military grade encryption, you’re preventing the hotspot at the hotel, coffee shop, or airport and even your ISP from spying on your internet traffic. Instead, you’re trusting VPN services with access to your data transmissions. Why would you trust even the best free VPN providers with this information knowing they must somehow pay for the services they provide to you?
Metric Labs Investigation of Free VPN Providers
A recent investigation conducted by Metric Labs drew attention to this problem. They discovered the vast majority of VPNs available for free have links to China built-in while 86% of them had unsatisfactory privacy policies at best. Reviews of some free VPN terms and conditions have discovered that these VPNs explicitly stated their transfer of user data to China.
Most of the free VPNs reviewed had support emails pointing customers to generic personal email accounts on services such as Hotmail or Gmail. These VPN practices aren’t worthy of trust.
It doesn’t make sense to use VPNs based in China when using a VPN to escape regional censorship or for privacy.
No matter how repressive the government, you wouldn’t want to give a shady VPN hosted in any country access to your information. No matter where a VPN company is located, they are likely capturing and selling your data if offering these security services for free. You don’t want to choose VPNs that log all your activities and traffic.
What About Tor Network?
Tor is probably the best type of free VPN service you’ll find, but it’s nowhere near as speedy as a paid one. Most professional VPNs offer the Tor network shield within their app features for times when speed isn’t an issue. This feature allows you to get the extra security shield layers afforded by the Tor network when necessary.
While Tor offers a high degree of privacy, this shield comes at the expense of speed loss, bouncing your data transmission all over the internet for a very long time causing delays and buffering. Even a simple torrent download can congest the Tor network enough to upset not only one, but many seeders.
Tor is great for single transactions such as sending an email but try watching a video stream with it. It’s definitely not something you’d want to use for all your online traffic or streaming entertainment features because it is far too slow. The amount of buffering would make you batty. Upon review, you’ll find that the Tor connection is a super-secure shield yet features the slowest download speeds. Available on Android and iOS systems.
What Are Our Best Free VPN Recommendations?
We recommend that you stay away from the so-called secure support of any free VPN, even if called the “best” in some review. Every company has costs inherent in allowing them to run. You see, free VPNs need to pay for their servers, personnel, electricity, marketing plan, and internet bandwidth as a bare minimum. Think hard on why any company would spend all of that just to distribute a free VPN to its users.
If you aren’t paying for it, then you’re not the customer; you’re the product being sold.
If serious about using a VPN for privacy, bypassing censorship, or to unblock geographical restrictions online, we recommend doing some research and get a service you feel is trustworthy. You don’t need to use our top pick for best VPN service, but we do recommend you research and read reviews.
If using free VPNs, you may as well access your banking services from a random Walmart HotSpot without a VPN.
Which VPN Service is Best for Streaming Anonymously Online?
As many of our readers love the free access to online entertainment afforded by the one and only Kodi (among other free streaming apps), we investigated the best VPN for Kodi, which works great for streaming free movies and TV shows online. My True Media now highly recommends using Surfshark VPN after testing many different VPNs. Features vary among the top premium VPNs like ExpressVPN, NordVPN, ProtonVPN, Tunnelbear, and IPVanish.
World’s Most Popular VPN: NordVPN (30 days)
Fastest VPN (but expensive): ExpressVPN (30 days)
Popular Kodi Firestick VPN: IPVanish VPN (30 days)
Best VPN (Fast, Cheap, Secure): Surfshark VPN (30 days)
Trusted Free Streaming VPN: ProtonVPN (free VPN plan)
The VPN servers and apps provided by Surfshark VPN proved to give the best privacy for the money. Their transparent security policy also shows they keep zero log records of customers’ online activities. They have the best anti-leak shield protection in the VPN industry on top of their many other excellent security support features and huge number of server locations.
Surfshark VPN servers provide unlimited bandwidth (incredibly fast streaming and download speeds!). They also feature apps for nearly any internet device, including any Android or iOS smartphone, Mac computer, or Windows PC with very friendly user interfaces. Everyone here at My True Media entrusts them with our data security. Among all VPN providers we’ve ever tried, the Surfshark VPN commitment to customer support service seems the best, too.
Want to protect more than just a Firestick or Windows PC? Your entire family’s smartphones also need a good hotspot shield. Surfshark VPN also allows you to connect unlimited devices to be protected on your account simultaneously. Enjoy free software you can download on all your devices to get private, high-speed encrypted connections! Support a secure connection on multiple devices and platforms such as an iOS iPhone, Windows PC, Android tablet, MacOS desktop, Android Fire TV, and more through one router hotspot or download VPNs to all your devices.
Surfshark VPN offers a 30-day free trial period with no strings attached. You have nothing to lose with the Surfshark VPN 30-day money-back guarantee. Simply ask for a full refund if not completely satisfied with their premium privacy shield and get all your money back.
Our Best VPNs Service Conclusion is Free: Stay Clear
We have repeatedly attempted to find honest, transparent companies providing these free support services. It has become evident to us upon review that there is no free VPN worth using and available for free when speed, security, and privacy are considered. Best free VPN is typically a misnomer bordering on an oxymoron.
Take advantage of money-back guarantees when choosing your VPN security and choose very carefully. Before entrusting VPNs with your anonymity, privacy and security, free or not, test and review their service thoroughly. Get it in writing then make sure to review their policies for trustworthiness. Check that their securely encrypted tunnel is free of leaks and…
May your streams never run dry!