We review vendors based on rigorous testing and research but also take into account your feedback and our affiliate commission with providers. Some providers are owned by our parent company.
Learn more
vpnMentor was established in 2014 as an independent site reviewing VPN services and covering privacy-related stories. Today, our team of hundreds of cybersecurity researchers, writers, and editors continues to help readers fight for their online freedom in partnership with Kape Technologies PLC, which also owns the following products: ExpressVPN, CyberGhost, and Private Internet Access which may be ranked and reviewed on this website. The reviews published on vpnMentor are believed to be accurate as of the date of each article, and written according to our strict reviewing standards that prioritize the independent, professional and honest examination of the reviewer, taking into account the technical capabilities and qualities of the product together with its commercial value for users. The rankings and reviews we publish may also take into consideration the common ownership mentioned above, and affiliate commissions we earn for purchases through links on our website. We do not review all VPN providers and information is believed to be accurate as of the date of each article.
Advertising Disclosure

vpnMentor was established in 2014 as an independent site reviewing VPN services and covering privacy-related stories. Today, our team of hundreds of cybersecurity researchers, writers, and editors continues to help readers fight for their online freedom in partnership with Kape Technologies PLC, which also owns the following products: ExpressVPN, CyberGhost, and Private Internet Access which may be ranked and reviewed on this website. The reviews published on vpnMentor are believed to be accurate as of the date of each article, and written according to our strict reviewing standards that prioritize the independent, professional and honest examination of the reviewer, taking into account the technical capabilities and qualities of the product together with its commercial value for users. The rankings and reviews we publish may also take into consideration the common ownership mentioned above, and affiliate commissions we earn for purchases through links on our website. We do not review all VPN providers and information is believed to be accurate as of the date of each article.

What Is a Cracked VPN — Is It Safe to Use in 2024?

Ernest Sheptalo Updated on 6th February 2024 Fact-checked by Ryan Jones Senior Writer

A cracked VPN is a modified version of a legitimate VPN, altered illegally to bypass payment. These unauthorized versions are offered for free, promising premium services without the cost.

However, cracked VPNs come with significant privacy risks. These are apps that have been tampered with, and it’s easy and common for malicious actors to hide malware or spyware within them. Your device and sensitive personal information could all be compromised with just one bad decision.

Instead of taking the risk, consider getting a low-cost VPN like ExpressVPN. Not only will it protect your online privacy (instead of jeopardizing it), but it means you get access to 24/7 customer support and important app updates. It also guarantees fast speeds for streaming, gaming, torrenting, and browsing. You can try ExpressVPN without risk as it’s backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Try ExpressVPN Instead >>

What Is a Cracked VPN?

A cracked VPN is a pirated version of official VPN software that allows you to bypass the payment requirements. Essentially, it's an illegal copy of a legitimate VPN, distributed through unofficial channels.

To create cracked VPNs, cybercriminals alter the original code to disable, bypass, or trick license checks. This unauthorized modification grants you access to the VPN's services and servers without following proper payment or authentication procedures.

Established VPN providers often take multiple serious measures to prevent their products from being pirated. Due to this, successfully cracking a modern VPN demands advanced technical skills. Cracking a VPN also constitutes a breach of law in most countries, which may result in severe legal repercussions.

Because it’s difficult to do, and comes with the possibility of severe legal consequences, a significant portion of the “cracked VPNs” available online are just thinly-veiled malware. Even if you did find a working one, the person who created the crack likely isn’t doing it out of charity — instead, they’re probably looking to exploit you in one way or another.

What Are the Risks of Using a Cracked VPN?

Using a cracked VPN poses significant risks that can compromise your online security and privacy. These include:

  1. Malware. Cracked VPNs may come bundled with spyware or malware. That can include viruses that harvest your personal information and account credentials, ransomware that takes your device hostage unless payment is made, or adware that bombards your device with unwanted pop-ups.
  2. Privacy risks. There’s usually no way to tell if a cracked VPN is even a real VPN at all. Instead of using a VPN’s servers, it could reroute your traffic to a hacker’s server — giving them access to everything you do online.
  3. Missing features. Since cracked VPNs aren’t legitimate apps, they often lack important features and updates. These missing features could include crucial security enhancements, optimizations for better performance, and usability improvements.
  4. Shared accounts. Some cracked VPNs are just stolen or shared accounts. This means you may need to wait for someone to log out before you can use the service, or you might be booted off the VPN suddenly when someone else attempts to log in. You might even be linked to criminal activity carried out by someone else on the same account.
  5. Lack of customer support. Cracked VPNs do not offer any official customer support. If you encounter issues or need assistance, you're left without help.

It's important to prioritize your online safety by using a reputable and legitimate VPN service. Cracked VPNs not only expose you to numerous risks but also violate copyright laws — meaning you could end up in legal trouble.

How to Avoid Cracked VPNs

Stick to Official Sources

Always download VPNs from the official website of a well-known provider, official app stores (like Google Play), or by clicking a link from a trusted VPN review site. Avoid acquiring VPN software from unknown third-party websites, torrents, or unauthorized app repositories — real VPNs aren’t legitimately offered via these methods. A VPN app from an unverified source is likely illegitimate, fake, or an altered version hiding malware.

Keep in mind that a real VPN site shouldn’t have pop-ups or weird text. The "About Us" page should also offer insights into the company’s staff and include in-depth details about the VPN.

The URL of a site can also be a giveaway. A trustworthy VPN site should have a URL aligned with its brand and often starts with "https://”, not “http://”. Also, make sure the brand name in the URL is spelled correctly — many fake sites sneakily use intentional typos to make the URL appear as close to the official one as possible. For example, a fake site for ExpressVPN may be “ExpresVPN.com”.

You can also look for a locked padlock symbol in the address bar, indicating a site has a secure digital certificate. That said, fake sites can invest in a digital certificate to make themselves look more legitimate. So, don’t take a digital certificate as a 100% guarantee a site is safe — combine this factor with your observations about the URL and the site content to come to an informed decision.

Beware of Suspicious Payment Terms

Even paying for a VPN doesn’t guarantee it’s legit. Good VPNs don’t typically offer “lifetime” deals and they won’t let you use them for free outside of their standard money-back guarantee policy. You'll often encounter too-good-to-be-true offers such as these on social media and forums, usually posted by throwaway accounts (which is a good indicator that they’re not legit).

Real services use subscription plans instead. That’s not to say you can’t get a good deal on a legitimate VPN though, you just need to do a little research. The best providers offer plenty of great deals — and you don’t have to risk identity theft to get them.

The Best Low-Cost Alternatives to Cracked VPNs in 2024

1. ExpressVPN — Best Overall VPN With Fast Speeds and Exceptional Security

Best Feature Lightway protocol offers remarkable speed and robust security for seamless and secure online tasks
Average Speed 83Mbps (a 17% drop from my regular connection)
Security and Privacy Military-grade encryption to keep your online activity safe
Works with Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, (HBO) Max, and more

ExpressVPN provides the fastest speeds of any VPN I’ve tested. This is thanks to its custom Lightway protocol (the set of rules that defines how the VPN encrypts and routes your traffic). Lightway is based on lightweight code, allowing it to stay secure while maintaining a connection that’s fast enough for streaming, torrenting, and even gaming. I got speeds fast enough to stream my local Netflix in the highest quality, without any buffering.

Screenshot showing ExpressVPN's exceptional speeds.Even long-distance servers with ExpressVPN provided impressive speed

Its RAM-based servers also ensure your data is regularly wiped with every reboot. This is backed up further by a strict no-logs policy that has been independently audited more than once, so you can trust that your data is never stored. Plus, its Network Lock (a kill switch) instantly disconnects your internet when the VPN connection drops, ensuring your connection is never left vulnerable. Unlike cracked VPNs, ExpressVPN is highly secure and keeps your data private.

ExpressVPN’s 24/7 live chat ensures assistance whenever needed. Plus, frequent security and usability updates demonstrate its commitment to maintaining a secure and user-friendly experience. Cracked versions of ExpressVPN won’t get any of these updates — putting your privacy at risk.

While ExpressVPN is on the pricier side of all the low-cost VPNs I tried, you can still get a subscription for just $6.67/month. That’s because there’s currently a deal to get 49% off, which also comes with an additional 3 months of subscription for free. If you’re unsure, there’s also a 30-day money-back guarantee, ensuring a risk-free trial experience.

Useful Features

  • Extensive server network. ExpressVPN boasts an extensive network of 3,000 servers across 105 countries — giving you access to websites around the world. This entire server network is also equipped for P2P activities, enabling seamless secure torrenting from any location.
  • Supports all popular devices. Unlike most cracked VPNs, ExpressVPN provides apps for every major OS (including Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS). While it allows you to connect up to 8 devices at the same time, it also supports routers — allowing you to cover every device on your home network.
  • Split tunneling. You can set which apps use the VPN and which stay on your regular connection. For example, I routed my Chrome traffic through the VPN to play the geo-restricted Taiko No Tatsujin while keeping my bank app on my regular connection, allowing me to avoid security alerts that would arise from accessing it via a foreign IP.
  • Robust IP leak protection. Cracked VPNs often fail to hide your IP reliably. Conversely, ExpressVPN ensures your location is never left visible thanks to its always-on IP/DNS/WebRTC leak protection. Across all my tests, my real IP address wasn’t compromised once.
ExpressVPN Offer February 2024: For a limited time only, you can get an ExpressVPN subscription for up to 49% off! Don't miss out!

2. CyberGhost — Specialized Servers to Safely Torrent, Game, and Stream Without Delays

Best Feature Dedicated servers for torrenting, gaming, and streaming
Average Speed 78Mbps (a 22% drop from my base connection)
Security and Privacy Automatic WiFi protection ensures the VPN is active without manual activation
Works with Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, (HBO) Max, and more

CyberGhost has unique specialized servers for most online activities. The streaming servers are designed to work with specific platforms, while the gaming and torrenting servers guarantee fast speeds and smooth connections. All of these specialty servers are regularly replaced and maintained for their assigned function — they worked for their intended use-case consistently in my tests.

Screenshot of CyberGhost's simple and intuitive user-interfaceYou can locate an optimized server for a specific streaming platform by simply typing its name

Armed with AES 256-bit encryption, the VPN shields your data from unauthorized access. In addition, the potent Content Blocker feature gets rid of ads and malware on websites. When testing CyberGhost, it didn’t leak my IP/DNS addresses either, safeguarding my actual location. It also has automatic WiFi protection that connects the VPN whenever it detects an unknown network. This keeps you safe on public hotspots, which are known for being vulnerable to hackers.

Like with ExpressVPN, you can also install CyberGhost on your router — an option unavailable with cracked VPNs since they don’t provide the essential configuration files found on the official website. This unique advantage enables you to use the service across all devices connected to your network.

That being said, CyberGhost’s monthly plan is pretty pricey and comes with a short 14-day refund window. However, selecting a long-term plan gets you CyberGhost for as low as $2.03/month. The long-term plans come with an extended money-back guarantee, allowing you to try CyberGhost free for 45 days.

Useful Features

  • An audited no-logs policy. Unlike cracked VPN services, there’s no risk of CyberGhost tracking or storing your online activities. Its zero-logs policy has been audited to confirm that the VPN doesn’t record what you do while connected.
  • Smart rules. With CyberGhost's smart rules, you can customize how it works according to your preferences. For instance, you can set the VPN to automatically connect when you open certain apps, saving you time.
  • Great speeds. While not as swift as ExpressVPN, CyberGhost provides a satisfying streaming experience. I had no buffering watching Little Fires Everywhere securely on my Hulu account while in New York — my speeds remained consistently above 79Mbps with the VPN active.
February 2024 Deal: CyberGhost is currently offering 84% off its most popular plan! Take advantage of this offer now and save more on your CyberGhost subscription.

3. Private Internet Access (PIA) — Unlimited Simultaneous Connections To Protect All Your Devices

Best Feature Simultaneously connect an unlimited number of devices to ensure coverage for your entire household
Average Speed 71Mbps (a 29% drop from my base connection)
Security and Privacy RAM-only servers and IP/DNS leak protection to keep your browsing private
Works with Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, (HBO) Max, and more

PIA allows unlimited simultaneous connections, securing multiple devices with one account. It's great for households or those seeking hassle-free multi-device protection. Plus, you don’t have to compromise your privacy by installing cracked app versions on each device. During testing, connecting multiple devices to PIA didn't lead to speed drops — it maintained speeds above 70Mbps on each device.

Screenshot of PIA's server networkFinding the fastest server for large households takes no time

You can also customize PIA’s security features to match your preferences. Pick from 2 encryption levels: the super secure 256-bit AES or the slightly faster (but still safe) 128-bit AES. You also have a choice of protocols, like the secure OpenVPN or the faster WireGuard. Cracked versions may not have this flexibility due to code tampering, which can cause issues or crashes when making changes to the settings.

The only drawback with PIA's settings is that they’re quite daunting if you’ve never used a VPN before. That said, the default settings offer a good balance of speed and security for most online activities, including watching TV and movies.

Talking of watching content, PIA also has dedicated streaming servers. They’re a little like CyberGhost’s streaming servers, except they’re optimized by location rather than service. My UK colleagues had no issues getting the UK London Streaming server to work with BBC iPlayer.

Useful Features

  • Plans starting from $2.03/month. Paired with its unlimited connections, PIA’s price point makes it great value for money. Each plan is also covered by a 30-day money-back guarantee.
  • MACE blocker. The MACE feature blocks ads and malware at the DNS level, meaning it works within apps. Cracked versions of the VPN can’t keep MACE working, as it requires access to PIA’s constantly updated blocklist.
February 2024 Update: PIA doesn't usually have deals or discounts (it's already so affordable), but right now you can get a new subscription for a crazy 82% off!

FAQs on Cracked VPNs

Are cracked VPNs illegal?

Yes, using cracked VPNs is illegal. Cracking software involves circumventing its security measures to gain unauthorized access, which violates copyright laws and terms of service. It's important to access VPN services legitimately to ensure both your online privacy and legal compliance.

Are cracked VPNs safe to use?

No, using a cracked VPN isn’t safe. Cracked apps are typically modified versions of legitimate VPN software that have been tampered with to remove licensing requirements. These modifications can introduce security vulnerabilities, malware, or data leaks that put your online privacy at risk. That means that using a cracked VPN can sometimes be worse than not using a VPN in the first place. You’re better off using a reputable and properly licensed VPN service to keep your data and online activity safe.

Additionally, since cracked VPNs often violate copyright laws, using them could lead to legal consequences. We at vpnMentor highly recommend acquiring VPN services legally in all scenarios.

How do I know if I’m using a cracked VPN?

There are a few things to look out for. If you encounter any of these signs while checking out a VPN, don’t download it. That way, you avoid the risks that come with cracked VPNs.

  • Source. If you didn't obtain the VPN software from the official website or a reputable app store, there's a high chance it's cracked.
  • Activation. Cracked versions often bypass activation processes, so if you didn't have to pay for a legitimate license to access a premium VPN, be cautious.
  • Updates. If your VPN isn't receiving updates from the official source, it might be cracked.
  • Unusual behavior. Cracked versions might exhibit erratic behavior, such as unexpected crashes or unstable connections.
  • Lack of features. Fake or dodgy versions of VPN apps lack certain features or have some settings disabled due to code manipulation.
  • No support. Legitimate VPN providers offer customer support; cracked versions generally lack this.
  • Too good to be true. If you're getting a premium VPN service for free, it’s almost definitely cracked.

Can I stream movies with a cracked VPN?

Probably not. Technically, cracked VPNs work in a similar way to legit services, so it might be possible to stream movies. However, more often than not, cracked versions of VPNs don’t have the updates necessary to work with your local streaming platform of choice. Legitimate VPNs regularly update their apps and server lists to ensure they work with local streaming sites, at any time.

Cracked VPNs also usually offer an unreliable connection, which can lead to buffering or sudden disconnects — ruining your movie.

Are free VPNs the same as cracked VPNs?

No, they’re different. Free VPNs offer basic services with limitations, while cracked VPNs are illegal versions of premium VPN apps with tampered code. Only legitimate premium VPN services can give you guaranteed performance and safety.

In some cases, free VPNs can be just as dangerous as cracked VPNs. Some free VPNs can hide malware, while others may record everything you do online in order to steal and sell your data. Even the safest free VPNs limit your speeds, bandwidth, and server access — making them unreliable for streaming and other online activities.

Get a Low-Cost Legitimate VPN Today

Cracked VPNs just aren’t worth the risk. While they may be free — or come with prices that seem too good to be true — you end up paying in other ways. You risk giving a hacker access to all your data, or facing legal repercussions for using stolen software.

You can get excellent low-cost VPNs that are much safer. Using the legitimate version of a VPN app means you get guaranteed safety and access to all the service’s features. You also get regular security updates and help from customer support when you need it. Even better, services like ExpressVPN can be tried risk-free thanks to their money-back guarantees.

To summarize, these are the best cracked VPN alternatives…

Rank
Provider
Our Score
Discount
Visit Website
1
medal
9.9 /10
9.9 Our Score
Save 49%!
2
9.7 /10
9.7 Our Score
Save 84%!
3
9.5 /10
9.5 Our Score
Save 82%!
Privacy Alert!

Your data is exposed to the websites you visit!

Your IP Address:

Your Location:

Your Internet Provider:

The information above can be used to track you, target you for ads, and monitor what you do online.

VPNs can help you hide this information from websites so that you are protected at all times. We recommend ExpressVPN — the #1 VPN out of over 350 providers we've tested. It has military-grade encryption and privacy features that will ensure your digital security, plus — it's currently offering 49% off.

Visit ExpressVPN

We review vendors based on rigorous testing and research but also take into account your feedback and our affiliate commission with providers. Some providers are owned by our parent company.
Learn more
vpnMentor was established in 2014 as an independent site reviewing VPN services and covering privacy-related stories. Today, our team of hundreds of cybersecurity researchers, writers, and editors continues to help readers fight for their online freedom in partnership with Kape Technologies PLC, which also owns the following products: ExpressVPN, CyberGhost, and Private Internet Access which may be ranked and reviewed on this website. The reviews published on vpnMentor are believed to be accurate as of the date of each article, and written according to our strict reviewing standards that prioritize the independent, professional and honest examination of the reviewer, taking into account the technical capabilities and qualities of the product together with its commercial value for users. The rankings and reviews we publish may also take into consideration the common ownership mentioned above, and affiliate commissions we earn for purchases through links on our website. We do not review all VPN providers and information is believed to be accurate as of the date of each article.

About the Author

Ernest Sheptalo is a Senior Writer at VPNMentor, and an expert in the field of VPNs. Ernest produces detailed reviews, comparisons, and guides that help people access geo-restricted content, protect sensitive data, and bypass censorship.

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