9 Best (FREE) VPNs for Windows in 2020 – SAFE & TESTED

Avoid the dangers of shady free VPNs by choosing from this list of the best free VPNs for Windows. Of all the options on this list, NordVPN came out on top with airtight security and blazing speeds. It's 30-day money-back guarantee makes is my top pick for free choices.

top free vpns for windows

There are dozens of free VPNs for Windows on the market, and it’s hard to know which ones are safe and reliable. That’s where I can help.

I ran extensive tests on 37 free VPNs using my Windows 10 laptop and put together a list of the best free VPNs for Windows, based on security, compatibility, and speed. 

Free VPNs always come with a cost. Even the best ones limit your data, speed, server locations, and more. Meanwhile, dangerous free VPNs may use invasive adware to collect and sell your personal information or worse.

Your safest option is to avoid the limitations of free VPNs by choosing a low-cost premium VPN.

I recommend NordVPN. It’s ultra secure, lightning fast, and offers unlimited data. It also unblocks Netflix US and provides anonymous torrenting. You can try NordVPN for Windows with no restrictions with its risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee.

That being said, some free VPNs are definitely better than others. After comprehensive tests, I ranked the best free VPNs for Windows and based my choices on security, data, speed, and performance with the Windows operating system.

Coronavirus Update: Many people are staying at home. This VPN doesn’t show on our list because it isn’t free, but with a low price of only $1.99, we think it’s worth the cost. The high speeds allow you to really enjoy the time that you’re forced to stay at home.

Best Free VPNs for Windows – Quick Guide

  1. NordVPN: Experience this top-rated premium VPN’s superb performance with its 30-day money-back guarantee. High-end security, fast servers, and unlimited data.
  2. Hotspot Shield: User-friendly VPN with 500MB of free data that resets every 24 hours. That’s enough data to download about 100 songs or browse the internet for 6 hours every day. The free tier only gives you the US virtual location.
  3. TunnelBear: Secure, reliable VPN with 500MB of data every month. You can’t use this VPN for streaming or downloading large files, but you get enough data for casual browsing.
  4. Windscribe: Premium security features and 10GB of free data every month, which is enough to download ten SD movies.
  5. ProtonVPN: Fast, secure VPN with unlimited data. Useful for secure browsing or bypassing censorship, but you need to upgrade if you want to torrent and stream.

What’s the Catch With Free VPNs?

Even the most powerful free VPNs limit your security, speed, and ability to stream.

Security

It’s expensive to maintain secure VPN services. To reduce costs, many free VPNs limit their security features or install intrusive adware so they can profit off your private data.

Premium VPNs have the resources to provide high-end security features and strong encryption protocols to protect your data and private information without resorting to adware.

Speed

Free VPNs typically operate smaller server networks than premium VPNs. Because there are many free users connected to the same few servers, these servers are often overcrowded and slow. This leads to buffering, lags, and low video quality.

Some free VPN providers even limit your connection speed on purpose to convince you to upgrade. Premium VPNs operate larger networks, often with thousands of high-speed VPN servers, so they never have to throttle your speed. This results in faster connections and less lagging.

Streaming

Streaming services like Netflix detect and block most VPN traffic. Many premium VPNs invest a lot of time, energy, and money into technology that can bypass these VPN blocks.

Free VPNs usually aren’t powerful enough to access Netflix and other popular streaming sites. Some free VPNs purposefully block streaming sites to convince you to upgrade to a paid subscription. You might run into a paywall when you try to stream with a free VPN.

The Best Free VPNs for Windows (Updated 2020)

I tested 37 free VPNs to bring you the best free VPNs for Windows. These services are safe and compatible with most versions of Windows.

1. NordVPN

nordvpn
  • Risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Unlimited data and bandwidth
  • 5,200+ servers in 59 countries
  • Robust encryption, automatic kill switch, and ad blocker
  • Works with: Netflix, HBO, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, Showtime, Sling TV
  • Compatible with: Windows 7 through Windows 10, Android, iOS, macOS, Linux, Firefox, Chrome, routers

NordVPN is a premium service, but you can use its 30-day money-back guarantee to test it risk-free.

It operates 5,200+ servers in nearly 60 countries so that you can unblock content from around the globe. A larger server network also means faster speeds. When I tested NordVPN, I was able to stream Netflix US from Australia without any buffering.

NordVPN unblocks hundreds of popular streaming services, including Hulu and BBC iPlayer. You don’t have to deal with any of the content and data limits that you get with most free VPNs.

In addition to streaming, you can use NordVPN to bypass government censorship and content blocks at your school or work. This means you can access your favorite websites and social media accounts from anywhere.

This VPN doesn’t keep any logs, so you can torrent anonymously on NordVPN’s dedicated P2P servers. With it based in Panama, it’s outside the jurisdiction of international intelligence-sharing agreements to protect your privacy.

NordVPN’s powerful security features include AES 256-bit encryption, IP/DNS leak protection, and an automatic kill switch so no one can access your data, even if your internet connection suddenly drops.

The built-in CyberSec security suite blocks ads, trackers, and malware. This gives you another layer of protection, securing your device from harmful content.

NordVPN also supports Onion over VPN. This setting routes your traffic over the Tor network via the Windows app so that you can visit.onion sites in any browser.

Customer support is available 24/7 via live chat. You can try NordVPN out yourself with its 30-day money-back guarantee. 

See how NordVPN compares to other top services in our detailed review.

Get Started With NordVPN!

2. Hotspot Shield

windows hotspotshield
  • 500MB of free data that resets every 24 hours
  • US virtual location only
  • Ad-supported VPN
  • No credit card required
  • Automatic kill switch, 256-bit encryption
  • Works with: Kodi, YouTube
  • Compatible with: Windows, Android, iOS, macOS, Chrome, Firefox

Hotspot Shield’s free plan includes 500MB of data per day. With this amount of data, you can stream for around 40 minutes in standard definition daily.

It uses 256-bit encryption and an automatic kill switch to protect your data and ensure your anonymity.

Hotspot Shield doesn’t log your browsing activity, but it does record some details, including your IP address. However, the service deletes these logs at the end of each session.

I was able to unblock Netflix US on the paid version, but Hotspot Shield doesn’t allow streaming on its free tier. I couldn’t access Hulu or Amazon Prime Video with either version.

You only have access to one server in the US with the free plan. Upgrading gives you unlimited data and unlocks over 3,200 servers across 70+ countries.

The free version also supports ads. According to the privacy policy, the ads come from Google. Hotspot Shield gives Google your approximate location so it can display relevant ads.

The ads show in the app using Google’s software. Hotspot Shield’s privacy policy says that Google may use this software to collect your IP address and device information. But since Hotspot Shield masks your real IP address, Google should only able to see the address of the VPN server you’re connected to.

The support team is available 24/7. However, when I got in touch, they told me that customer service only responds to premium users.

You can test the premium version with a free 7-day trial. Each new subscription comes with a 45-day money-back guarantee. 

Read our in-depth Hotspot Shield review to learn more about the VPN.

Get Hotspot Shield for Free!

3. TunnelBear

windows tunnelbear
  • 500MB of free data every month
  • User-friendly apps
  • Bypass censorship and VPN blocks with GhostBear mode
  • Security verified by an independent audit
  • Works with: Kodi, YouTube, HBO GO
  • Compatible with: Windows, Android, iOS, macOS, Chrome, Firefox, Linux

TunnelBear is a user-friendly VPN and great for beginners. Its free account offers 500MB of data per month.

This won’t be enough data if you’re planning a movie marathon, but you’ll be able to watch an episode of your favorite show with it. You can stream for roughly 40 minutes with 500MB in standard definition. You can also earn an extra gigabyte of data per month by tweeting the company.

Its GhostBear mode can bypass VPN blocks, censorship, and deep packet inspection. It’s one of the few VPNs that still works in China.

The free account includes unlimited speeds and access to servers in over 20 countries. During my tests, it was able to unblock HBO GO, but not Netflix US or Hulu.

TunnelBear uses 256-bit encryption and has a no-logs policy to ensure your online safety and privacy. It also performs annual independent security audits to identify flaws.

It’s based in Canada, which is part of the 5/9/14-Eyes Alliance. But because it doesn’t log your browsing activity, it won’t have any information to give to the authorities.

TunnelBear offers a program that blocks trackers and Flash, but it isn’t a built-in feature. You need to install it separately, and it’s only available on Chrome.

You can contact customer service via email. I reached out and received a reply about 24 hours later. According to its terms of service, all subscription fees are nonrefundable, but it does consider individual refund requests on a case-by-case basis.

You can learn more about TunnelBear’s performance and other features in our comprehensive review.

Get TunnelBear for Free!

4. Windscribe

windows windscribe
  • 10GB of free data each month
  • Built-in ad and malware blocker
  • High-end security features
  • Works with: Kodi, YouTube, Skype
  • Compatible with: Windows, Android, iOS, macOS, Linux, Chrome, Firefox, Amazon Fire TV Stick, Nvidia Shield, routers

Windscribe offers 10GB of free data per month and gives you access to ten server locations. This is enough for approximately 14 hours of streaming each month. You can earn extra data by referring friends and sending tweets to the company.

It protects your personal information with cybersecurity features that include 256-bit encryption and an automatic kill switch. Windscribe has a no-logs policy, which ensures that it doesn’t keep records of your browsing history on the server.

The built-in ad and malware blocker safeguards your device from accessing malicious content.

Windscribe’s Stealth and Wstunnel modes can bypass the Great Firewall of China. These are both available with the free version!

The free version can’t unblock Netflix or any other streaming services. Windscribe’s streaming-optimized servers are only available to premium users. Upgrading gives you unlimited data and access to all 50 of its server locations.

Use its split tunneling feature to direct specific traffic through your local IP address while connected to the VPN. This is useful if you want to access local websites and content, or if you have wireless devices on your home network.

Customer support is available via live chat and through the website’s ticketed support system. It offers a money-back guarantee, but it’s limited. You only have three days to request a refund after you subscribe to the service.

See how Windscribe compares with other VPNs in our full Windscribe review.

Get Windscribe VPN for Free!

5. ProtonVPN

windows protonvpn
  • Unlimited free data (but no streaming or torrenting)
  • 256-bit encryption, DNS leak protection, and perfect forward secrecy
  • Secure Core technology
  • Works with: Kodi, YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video
  • Compatible with: Windows, Android, iOS, macOS, Linux

ProtonVPN’s free package offers unlimited data and bandwidth on servers in the US, Japan, and the Netherlands.

It uses 256-bit encryption to safeguard your data from hackers and other cyberthieves and it offers OpenVPN and IKEv2/IPSec protocols. Perfect forward secrecy ensures that your encryption keys are never compromised.

ProtonVPN doesn’t log your browsing activity, and its home base is in privacy-friendly Switzerland. This means no government snoops can share your private data.

Its Secure Core technology adds an extra level of security to your data and helps defend against network-based attacks. It routes your traffic through multiple servers to prevent attackers from discovering your actual IP address.

The servers are in hardened data centers, and it operates its own dedicated network.

ProtonVPN can unblock Netflix and other streaming services. But because it limits connection speeds on the free plan, I experienced a lot of buffering when I tried to stream.

Upgrading to a premium account grants you a high-speed connection on 500+ servers across 40+ countries.

There’s no live chat support–the only way to contact ProtonVPN is via email or through its support ticket system. I submitted a question and received a response after approximately 24 hours.

All of ProtonVPN’s premium plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can test it out risk-free before deciding if it’s for you.

Read our extensive ProtonVPN review to find out how it performs under pressure.

Get ProtonVPN for Free!

6. PrivateVPN

PrivateVPN Devices
  • Try it free with a 7-day trial
  • P2P-optimized servers
  • Military-grade encryption, kill switch, and DNS leak protection
  • 150+ servers in 60+ countries
  • Works with: Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, HBO GO, YouTube, Showtime, Kodi, ESPN
  • Compatible with: Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Linux, Chrome, Firefox, Amazon Fire TV Stick, routers

PrivateVPN is a premium service that you can try for free with a 7-day trial. This is a great option if you only need a VPN for a short time, or you want to see what it’s like to use a premium service without committing to a subscription.

It uses some of the best security features, including military-grade encryption, DNS leak protection, and an automatic kill switch. All of these advanced features protect your online data and activity from anyone trying to access or use it.

It’s based in Sweden, a member of the 5/9/14-Eyes Alliance, but this isn’t a risk to your data because of PrivateVPN’s strict no-logs policy. 

During my tests, I used PrivateVPN’s streaming-optimized servers to unblock Netflix US, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu. I was able to stream in high definition, and I didn’t experience any buffering.

PrivateVPN also supports high-speed torrenting on its P2P-optimized servers.

Customer support is available via live chat. If a 7-day trial isn’t long enough, you can use PrivateVPN’s 30-day money-back guarantee to test it out for a whole month.

Take a look at our in-depth expert review to learn more about PrivateVPN’s security protocols and streaming features.

Get PrivateVPN for Free!

7. Opera

windows operavpn
  • Unlimited free data
  • Easy to install
  • Servers in three global locations
  • Works with: YouTube
  • Compatible with: Windows, macOS, Linux

Opera’s VPN service is built into its browser. It’s pre-installed and ready to go as soon as you enable it in the extensions menu.

It offers unlimited data and bandwidth for free, but it’s slower than most of the other free VPNs on my list. There are three server locations to choose from: Europe, North America, and Asia.

There’s no stand-alone app, so you need to install and use Opera’s browser in order to take advantage of the VPN. Because it’s a browser extension, it won’t protect any data transmitted outside of Opera. 

I wasn’t able to unblock Netflix or any other streaming services while connected to the Opera VPN. I had better luck with YouTube and was able to unblock its international versions.

There’s no dedicated support team. If you need help with Opera’s VPN, you need to contact Opera’s support team via the contact form on its website.

You can learn more about Opera’s VPN in our thorough Opera review, which also covers its security features.

Get Opera for Free!

8. hide.me

windows hide.me
  • 2GB of free data per month
  • No-logs policy
  • Support torrenting
  • Five global server locations
  • Works with: Spotify, YouTube
  • Compatible with: Windows, Android, iOS, macOS, Linux, Chrome, Firefox, Amazon Fire TV Stick, routers

hide.me is a reliable and secure VPN. It supports torrenting, but you won’t be able to download much with its 2GB monthly data limit.

It includes a kill switch, which jumps into action if your internet connection drops, securing your online data from exposure.

hide.me uses 256-bit AES encryption to keep your activity and data hidden from third parties, hackers, or others who may try to access it. This level of encryption also keeps you secure when on public networks.

Because of its strict no-logs policy, hide.me doesn’t hold on to any of your browsing history. Its home is in Malaysia, far from the prying eyes of the 5/9/14-Eyes Alliance.

I wasn’t able to unblock Netflix US or Hulu during my tests. The free service is limited to five server locations in Canada, the Netherland, Singapore, US East, and US West. Upgrading grants you unlimited data and access to a network of 1,400 servers in 34 countries, which includes 57 locations.

You can use hide.me’s 30-day money-back guarantee to try its premium service risk-free.

Take a look at our expert review to learn more about what hide.me can offer you.

Get hide.me for Free!

9. Betternet

windows betternet
  • Supports P2P connections
  • 500MB of free data per day
  • 256-bit encryption
  • Compatible with: Windows, Android, iOS, macOS, Chrome

Betternet offers 500MB of free data that resets every 24 hours. That’s enough to stream about one episode of your favorite TV show per day.

It uses 256-bit encryption to ensure your online anonymity and keep your data safe from prying eyes.

I carefully read its privacy policy and found out that it does share some general information with third parties. The free version displays ads using Google’s ad platform. Because of this, Betternet shares your approximate location with Google so that it can show relevant ads.

The service is based in the US. This makes it subject to all US law enforcement as well as the 5/9/14-Eyes Alliance. However, the privacy policy states that the company doesn’t log any of your browsing activities.

I wasn’t able to unblock Netflix or Hulu with Betternet’s free account.

You won’t be able to contact its support team if you run into trouble. Upgrading gets you unlimited data and access to customer service.

Learn more about Betternet’s performance in our complete review.

Get Betternet for Free!

FAQs

Will these VPNs run on my other devices?

The free VPNs on this list offer apps for all major operating systems, including mobile devices. This means you can protect your Android or iPhone in addition to your Windows computer.

Some VPNs on this list (like NordVPN) are compatible with smart TVs and even routers. Connecting your VPN to your router means you can protect every device in your household with no extra effort.

Do these free VPN providers keep log files?

None of the free VPNs on this list keep activity logs, meaning they don’t collect information about your browsing activity while you use the VPN. These VPNs don’t log your search history or the websites you visit.

On the other hand, some of these free VPNs do collect connection logs, such as how much data you use each session while connected to the VPN. Unfortunately, this is unavoidable. If a VPN sets a data limit for free users, then it needs to know how much data you use in order to enforce that limit.

For most people, connection logs aren’t really a big deal because they don’t contain sensitive information. But if you’re looking for total anonymity, you should opt for a premium VPN.

Are VPNs legal?

VPNs are legal in most countries, but a few, including China and Russia, ban or restrict VPN use. Check out our guide on VPN laws to make sure VPNs are legal where you live.

Summary 

Even the best free VPNs are limited. Data restrictions, low speeds, and ads can get in the way of your streaming and browsing. There are other hidden dangers when using free VPNs.

I recommend trying out a budget-friendly premium VPN. NordVPN is a secure and lightning-fast VPN that can unblock Netflix US and other streaming services. Best of all, you can try it risk-free with its 30-day money-back guarantee. 

If you’re ready to test out a premium service, take a look at our VPN deals page. We update it weekly so you can find the cheapest prices available right now.

Interested in learning about using a VPN for a Mac? Read our guide on the best free VPNs for Mac.

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