Top 10 REALLY Free VPNs for School in 2020

I tested 43 free VPNs to find the best VPNs for school. Discover the pros and cons of free VPNs, and learn how you can try two premium vendors free.

best VPNs School

Protecting all your school devices while accessing the apps you need is important, but premium VPNs aren’t always budget-friendly. I understand the appeal of a free VPN. That’s why I created a list of the top 10 VPNs for school.

Schools often place restrictions on social media sites and chat applications like Skype and Snapchat, making it impossible to use them without a VPN.

But, No “free” VPN is ever really free. Most leave out important security features and place limits on data and bandwidth.

Security like military-grade encryption, no-logs policies, and advanced obfuscation features are standard with premium vendors. That’s why I recommend a premium vendor like NordVPN. Aside from incredible security features, it can unblock streaming services in 140+ locations worldwide.

There are some free VPNs that are safe to use. I tested 43 free VPNs to find the best options for school. You’ll also learn how to try two premium vendors for free.

Best Free VPNs -Quick Guide

  1. NordVPN: IPv6 and DNS leak protection and a strict no-logs policy make NordVPN #1 on my list. Test its security features out risk-free via its 30-day money-back guarantee.
  2. Windscribe: Stealth mode and military-grade encryption keep you protected while uploading files to the cloud. It offers 10GB of free data per month, that’s enough to stream 4-hours of HD video.
  3. ProtonVPN: This VPN supports Perfect Forward Secrecy, to ensure your browsing and account information stays private. It offers unlimited data and bandwidth on the free plan.
  4. hide.me: Upload photos and files to your school’s file sharing platform at speeds of up to 23+ Mbps, that’s fast enough to comfortably stream an HD movie buffer-free. It offers free subscribers 2GB monthly.
  5. Hotspot Shield: Use P2P applications at will and stay protected with its secure Catapult Hydra protocol. You get 500MB of free data per day, enough to catch up on assignments and regularly check your emails.

Check out our other five free VPNs for Schools

What’s the Catch With Free VPNs?

The free VPNs on this list are safe to use, but many don’t have the advanced security features found in premium VPNs to keep you secure. There are a few areas that free VPNs can fail when it comes to protecting your anonymity and providing the features you need.

Security

To save money, most free VPNs cut corners on important security features. A secure VPN is expensive to build, and costs only increase with updates and security patches. Free VPNs can’t keep up with premium vendors when it comes to advanced security.

A lack of security features means your data could end up on the dark web or leave you vulnerable to malware. Some free VPNs have also been caught knowingly collecting and distributing user data to third parties for marketing purposes.

Premium services offer DNS and IPv6 leak protection, firewalls, and malware blockers as standard services. You won’t have to worry about missing out on essential updates or security patches with a premium VPN, and solid no-logs policies prevent it from collecting data.

Limitations

Most free services don’t have the security features to bypass deep packet inspection (DPI) methods used by companies like Netflix and Hulu. If you do find a free VPN that can bypass geoblocking and censorship, server access is often extremely limited.

Another issue you might face while streaming or torrenting is limitations on data, speed, and bandwidth. Most free VPNs use speed throttling to provide paid subscribers with better speeds, leaving subscribers on the free plan to deal with slow load times and buffering.

Compatibility

Many free VPNs don’t support apps, so you can’t use them on mobile devices and some newer laptop operating systems. Don’t worry, the free VPNs on this list all have compatibility guides, so it’s easy to know if one will work for you.

The Best Free VPNs for School (Updated2020)

Is it possible to find a free VPN that works for school? Yes. But remember, free services always come with some form of limitation, whether it’s speed, server availability, or other restrictions. I’ve done extensive testing to find the best free VPNs for school so you can unblock social media, chat, and calling applications and keep your digital footprint hidden.

1. NordVPN

NordVPN
  • IPv6/DNS leak protection
  • Supports P2P activity and offers Onion over VPN for Tor
  • Strict no-logs policy and AES 256-bit encryption
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Uses OpenVPN and IKEv2/IPSec protocols
  • Works with: Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, Netflix US, HBO GO, Showtime, SlingTV, YouTube, and Kodi
  • Compatible with: Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, Android, Raspberry PI, Blackberry, Windows Phone, Firefox, Chrome, Routers, Android Smart TV, Amazon Fire TV, Anonabox, and Xiaomi Mi Box

NordVPN is a premium vendor, but it made the top of my list because it offers a generous 30-day money-back guarantee. A month is more than enough time to see if it’s right for you. You’ll also have unlimited data and bandwidth, and access to all its security features.

Protect your sensitive data with failsafe options that include a kill switch, DNS and IPv6 leak protection, and military-grade AES encryption. The kill switch disconnects you from the internet if the VPN fails, and DNS leak protection helps prevent data from spilling over into other channels. NordVPN has a strict no-logs policy. It’s also registered in Panama, far from the 5/9/14-Eyes Alliance.

NordVPN’s SmartPlay feature can unblock streaming services in over 140+ locations from any of its 5,200+ servers in 59 countries. It also supports P2P activity like torrenting and offers Onion over VPN for Tor. Onion over VPN is an integrated feature in NordVPN’s app, so you won’t have to install it separately. Plus, the P2P specialty servers offer lightning-fast upload and download speeds. You can cover all your must-have mobile and desktop devices for school too. It lets you connect up to six devices simultaneously.

If you keep NordVPN after the 30-day trial, you can save on the cost of a subscription by visiting our vendor coupon page. It was disappointing to find out I couldn’t pay with PayPal, but it does offer Bitcoin through BitPay as an alternative.

Interested in learning more about NordVPN? Find out how it stood up to all of our testings in my colleagues in-depth vendor review.

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2. Windscribe

windows windscribe
  • 10GB of free data monthly with a chance to earn more
  • DNS/IPv6/WebRTC leak protection
  • Supports torrenting on most servers
  • Perfect forward secrecy and military-grade encryption
  • Stealth mode to hide your digital footprints
  • Works with: YouTube, Netflix US, Hulu, Kodi, and more
  • Compatible with: Linux, macOS, Windows, iOS, Windows Phone, Android, Opera, Firefox, Chrome, Routers, Amazon Fire TV, and Nvidia Shield

My top free vendor for school is Windscribe. It offers a substantial 10GB data allowance per month. You can also earn 5 GB more each month by tweeting about the service. Don’t worry if you don’t have Twitter. The original 10GB of data is enough to check email and social media regularly, and watch 3-hours of HD video.

Windscribes Stealth mode allows you to bypass geoblocking and censorship in even the most restrictive parts of the world. Perfect forward secrecy protects your location and data by frequently changing encryption keys. These changes can be as often as every time you refresh a page, or send a message. That way, if a key is compromised, only a tiny piece of your data is also compromised. In the rare case the VPN should fail, Windscribe protects you with features like DNS/IPv6/WebRTC leak protection and a kill switch.

I couldn’t unblock Netflix with the free version of Windscribe. It told me to upgrade and purchase the WindFlix add-on for access to streaming servers..No worries video fans! You can watch all the YouTube videos you want. It supports P2P activity, so you’ll have something to do in your spare time. Windscribe also has lightning-fast speeds that reduce buffering and prevent slow load times.

Windscribe’s chatbot Garry is pretty cool. It answers questions about plans and security features, and if it can’t, it forwards you to a live representative. Windscribe also has useful installation guides and an extensive FAQ section.

Find out how Windscribe stood up to extensive testing by reading my teammates full vendor review.

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3. ProtonVPN

ProtonVPN iOS devices
  • Free plan offers unlimited data and bandwidth
  • Supports P2P applications
  • Automatic kill switch and AES 256-bit encryption
  • Access servers in the US, Netherlands, and Japan
  • Supports use of double VPN
  • Works with: Netflix, Hulu, Kodi, YouTube, and more
  • Compatible with: Linux, Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android

Not only can you unblock Netflix and Hulu with ProtonVPN free, it offers unlimited data and bandwidth. On the downside, you only have access to servers in the Netherlands, US, and Japan. Netflix and Hulu are both US-based, so this is a good option for students looking to access those streaming services.

ProtonVPN offers an Always-On feature that connects the VPN the minute your device starts, so you’re never without protection. It also provides both IKEv2/IPSec and OpenVPN protocols to create secure tunnels for your data, an impressive feature in a free VPN.

You get industry-standard security features like DNS leak protection and a kill switch to help keep your data private if the VPN fails. It also supports the use of a double VPN, so you can double encrypt your data to make it even harder to access. Since ProtonVPN already offers AES 256-bit military-grade encryption, your data becomes virtually impenetrable.

It streams YouTube and Netflix seamlessly because you have unlimited data, bandwidth, and speeds. You only get coverage for one device though, so I recommend installing it on the school device you use the most. ProtonVPN doesn’t allow torrenting on the free version.

During testing, I noticed it doesn’t have an ad blocker — something to consider if you don’t want to download an additional piece of software. I found an ad blocker that worked well with ProtonVPN and its benefits still outweigh its disadvantages, so it’s worthy of the number three spot.

Read more about the advantages and disadvantages of using ProtonVPN in our in-depth vendor review.

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4. hide.me

windows hide.me
  • 2GB free data monthly
  • Split tunneling and port forwarding allowed
  • Built-in firewall and automatic kill switch
  • Access to five servers in the Netherlands and Canada
  • Unlimited server switching
  • Works with: Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, DAZN, HBO GO, Spotify, Kodi, and YouTube
  • Compatible with: Chrome OS, Windows, macOS, Linus, Windows Phone, Android, iOS, Blackberry, Firefox, Chrome, Routers, Android Smart TV, and Amazon Fire TV

hide.me offers 2GB of free data per month, enough to stream around 200 songs and download and upload assignments regularly. On the downside, you only have access to five servers that are split between Canada and the Netherlands.

DNS leak protection, an automatic kill switch, and a firewall are just the standard security features hide.me offers. It also supports split tunneling and port forwarding. Split tunneling lets you choose which apps can bypass the VPN. This feature saves data by allowing you to directly access the internet with some apps instead of running them all through the VPN. Using port forwarding lets you set preferences for your devices and servers, giving you more control over your settings.

couldn’t unblock Netflix and Hulu on the free version, but I could stream YouTube programming buffer-free with quick load times. The free version of hide.me only allows you to connect to one device, and with only 2GB of data you can only watch around 4-hours of SD video. hide.me doesn’t throttle connection speeds either, so it works well for torrenting.

large FAQ section, 24/7 live chat support, and ticketing feature provide help if you’re having trouble accessing or enabling features. The FAQ section provides answers to basic questions about features and plans. That said, setting up hide.me isn’t difficult, and the interface is extremely intuitive.

Want to learn more about what hide.me has to offer? Check out our in-depth vendor review for more information.

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5. Hotspot Shield

windows hotspotshield
  • 500MB free data per day
  • Access to a single US server
  • Uses Catapult Hydra protocol to improve overall
  • 24/7 live support
  • Works with: Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, HBO GO, SkyGo, Showtime, DAZN, YouTube, Skype, and Spotify
  • Compatible with: Windows, macOS, Chrome OS, iOS, Android, Blackberry, Chrome, Firefox, Android Smart TV, and Amazon Fire TV

Catch up on your important assignments, emails, and enjoy a few videos on Hotspot Shields 500MB free data plan. While it doesn’t have widespread server availability on the free version, it works well for students studying in the US or that need to access US-based sites.

Hotspot Shield uses 256-bit AES encryption and perfect forward secrecy. Its TLS-based Catapult Hydra secure protocol improves overall speed and latency.  It doesn’t log browsing activity but may keep information on the session duration. Hotspot Shield also offers a kill switch for Windows devices.

It won’t unblock Netflix or Hulu. When I tested it, I got a payment wall that encouraged me to purchase a plan to unblock the streaming servers. This isn’t an issue for studies, but it’s something to be aware of if you enjoy streaming. Still, the fast upload and download speeds made it easy to view YouTube videos seamlessly.

Hotspot Shield also supports P2P file sharing activities like torrenting, so you can download your favorite open-source music and videos. The free version is ad-supported, but it doesn’t affect speed or usability.

If you’re new to VPNs, you’ll appreciate the well-organized support page, it has separate getting started guides for each platform Hotspot Shield supports. It also offers a search feature, several help categories, and email or live chat support.

Want to learn more about how Hotspot Shield’s security features can keep you protected at school? Discover more of the pros and cons we found during testing in our extensive vendor review.

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6. OperaVPN

opera device image
  • Free browser-based VPN offers unlimited data
  • Battery saver feature is useful for laptops and mobile devices
  • Supported on Opera, OperaGX, and OperaMini for Android
  • Automatic update feature
  • Straightforward privacy and logs policies
  • Works with: Pandora, YouTube, Spotify, and Kodi
  • Compatible with: macOS, Linux, Windows, and Android

OperaVPN is a built-in feature in the Opera browsers, so you can’t use it for applications outside of Opera. It’s worth looking at despite having to download its browser to use because it doesn’t limit data or bandwidth and offers impressive security features. Opera and OperaGX browsers both support the use of OperaVPN.

OperaVPN has an Automatic Update feature that installs the newest security patches and settings for Opera. It also uses AES 256-bit encryption to protect your data as it travels through public networks.

While the service does keep crash reports and device information, it doesn’t log any of your personally identifiable information. I found the privacy policy very understandable and straightforward.

I couldn’t unblock Netflix and other popular streaming services with OperaVPN. That doesn’t mean you can’t relax with some entertainment after a long day of school. You can stream music through Spotify and Pandora, and watch YouTube videos and movies.

Discover more of OperaVPNs features in our in-depth vendor review.

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7. TunnelBear

  • 500MB of free data per month
  • GhostBear, Always-On, and Vigilant modes
  • Offers separate ad blocker software free
  • Onion over VPN
  • Closest Tunnel feature for the best server connection
  • Works with: YouTube, HBO GO, and Kodi
  • Compatible with: macOS, Chrome OS, Linux, Windows, Raspberry PI, Blackberry, iOS, Android, Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Routers, Nvidia Shield, and Roku

Don’t let TunnelBear’s cute cartoon bear mascot fool you, the free version of this VPN offers advanced security modes. You get 500MB of free data per month. That’s enough to communicate with teammates, send important emails, and update your social media pages regularly.

GhostBear mode masks VPN traffic as regular traffic, making your already military-grade encrypted data even less detectable by deep packet inspection (DPI) methods. The Closest Tunnel feature automatically connects you to the nearest and best server, and Vigilant mode is TunnelBear’s kill switch. Always-On mode that starts the VPN the moment your device turns on.

During testing I was unable to unblock Netflix or Hulu, but I did access HBO GO. The low data limit is enough to watch an hour of SD streaming, so it’s better for series than movies.

While I’ve covered the basics, TunnelBear has too many great features to fit into this summary. To discover all of its pros and cons check out our vendor review.

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8. Speedify

speedify device
  • 2GB free data monthly
  • 128-GCM based encryption
  • Access to all its servers
  • No-logs policy and DNS leak protection
  • Well organized support section
  • Works with: BBC iPlayer, Netflix US, Hulu, and YouTube
  • Compatible with: macOS, Linux, Windows, iOS, and Android

Research on the internet all day or watch about two hours of SD video with Speedify’s free service. You get 2GB of free data per month and full access to all 200 servers in 50 countries.

While it isn’t as strong as 256-bit AES encryption methods, 128-GCM based AES encryption is strong enough to keep scammers from accessing sensitive data. Speedify also offers DNS leak protection and strict no-logs policy.

Unblock popular streaming services like Netflix and Hulu to watch your favorite original series. Speedify offers channel bonding to increase streaming and torrenting speeds, but I wouldn’t recommend it with the free version. Channel bonding can take almost twice as much data as regular streaming. While Speedify does have dedicated P2P specialty servers, it doesn’t support torrenting.

If you’re still not sure you want to try it, read our vendor review for more information on the advantages and disadvantages of using Speedify.

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9. Betternet

betternet devices
  • 500MB of free data daily
  • Access to one US server
  • No-logs and military-grade encryption
  • Lightning-fast speeds
  • Uses Catapult Hydra secure protocol
  • Works with: Kodi and YouTube
  • Compatible with: macOS, Windows, iOS, Android, and Chrome

Get 500MB of data per day on Betternet’s free plan. You only have access to one US server. Despite limited server access, it’s still a good VPN provider for US students.

Betternet allows you to choose between two strong encryption levels, 128-bit encryption for trusted networks or military-grade 256-bit encryption for unsecured networks. It also uses Catapult Hydra secure protocol, the same protocol Hotspot Shield uses.

You can’t unblock Netflix, but it does bypass YouTube geoblocking and censorship restrictions. Since your data resets every day, you won’t need to worry about using up all your data on an hour of SD video. The next day, you’ll be able to download documents and recheck emails. Plus Betternet’s US server is lightning-fast, so you can do it all without buffering or slow load times.

If you need more information before you choose Betternet, you can find everything you need in our full vendor review.

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10. PrivateVPN

PrivateVPN Devices
  • 7-day free trial of a premium VPN
  • Unlimited data and bandwidth
  • 150+ servers in 60 countries
  • OpenVPN, PPTP, IKEv2/IPSec, and L2TP secure protocols available
  • The apps developers provide their support
  • Works with: BBC iPlayer, Netflix, YouTube, Kodi, and more
  • Compatible with: Chrome OS, Linux, macOS, Windows, Blackberry, Windows 10 Phones, Android, iOS, Safari, Firefox, Chrome, Xbox, Playstation, Roku, Google Chromecast, Routers, Amazon Fire TV, and most Smart TVs

PrivateVPN is the second premium vendor on my list. You can test its full features with unlimited data and bandwidth via a 7-day free trial. A week of free VPN access is plenty to protect mobile devices on a field trip, and for new VPN users to test one out.

OpenVPN, PPTP, IKEv2/IPSec, and L2TP protocols are available to protect the integrity of your data as it travels over network connections. PrivateVPN is located in Sweden and never keeps traffic logs or any personally identifiable information. Your data is also protected by the countries strict privacy logs.

Unblock streaming services like Netflix US and BBC iPlayer with lightning-fast speeds and unlimited bandwidth, for a seamless viewing experience. Plus, you can binge-watch movies for hours because you’ll have unlimited data to work with.

If you want to learn more about how PrivateVPN performed during testing, you can discover all the results in our full vendor review.

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FAQs

Are VPNs Illegal?

Using VPNs is legal in most countries, but a few areas still ban VPNs or place restrictions on use. Iraq, Belarus, and North Korea have made it illegal to use VPNs, while Turkey, China, and Russia only place heavy restrictions on use.

If you’re traveling in one of those areas don’t worry, there have been no documented cases of tourists getting in trouble for using one.

Do I Need A VPN for School?

Having a VPN on your desktop or mobile device is never a bad idea, especially when you participate in file sharing. While you don’t have to use a VPN for school, it adds a layer of protection that anti-virus alone can’t provide.

More people also mean more public hotspots, and if you need to use one you’ll want the peace of mind that a premium vendor like NordVPN offers. Perhaps more importantly, it can prevent the school or ISP from tracking your browsing history while you’re connected to the school’s network. You can also unblock chat software and sites schools consider distracting, including social media pages or streaming services.

How Do I Choose The Right VPN?

If you’re still undecided about which VPN is right for you after reading this article, check out How To Choose the Best VPN for more information about important points to consider when selecting a VPN. You can also click on the vendor review link at the end of each VPN summary on the list, to learn more about individual vendors.

Summary

While the free VPNs on this list are safe to use for school, most still place heavy restrictions on data, servers and locations, and features. Most free VPNs aren’t secure enough to use with school file sharing applications because they lack advanced security features.

A premium vendor like NordVPN has the advanced security features you’ll need to safely share files with classmates, teachers, and study groups. You also have unlimited data and bandwidth, access to all its servers, and the unblocking power to bypass geoblocking.

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