The Best Free VPNs in February 2021: Hotspot Shield, ProtonVPN, and more!

The Best Free VPNs in February 2021: Hotspot Shield, ProtonVPN, and more!

In recent years, virtual private networks have become an essential tool for people who value their internet security and privacy. But regardless of growing online threats, not everyone is in a position where they can spend money on a premium VPN subscription, even if those options are the best VPN that you can get. If you’re concerned about internet privacy and don’t have a massive budget, you’ll be happy to learn that many free VPN services are available on the market. While these won’t be as powerful as paid-for offerings, they’ll still do a pretty good job at keeping you safe online. Read on to find out the best free VPNs of 2021.

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Best overall free VPN: Hotspot Shield

The Hotspot Shield homepage.

Hotspot Shield not only happens to be one of the best VPNs on the market thanks to its high-speed performance, but it’s also the best free VPN available. If you sign up for a free account with Hotspot Shield, you’ll get access to some excellent features at no cost. These include an internet kill switch, a range of VPN protocols, and military-grade encryption.

What’s more, Hotspot Shield provides a daily data allowance of 500MB. Although that’s not a massive amount and can easily be maxed out after watching a few YouTube videos, it costs nothing. Either way, you should get plenty of use out of this allowance. Plus, you’ll get a taster of what VPNs can provide.

Sadly, your free account will be limited to one device and a single US-based server. However, Hotspot Sheild is available to download on Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, and Linux. You do have the option of signing up for a premium account, but prices start at a hefty $7.99 per month. That said, upgrading to a paid plan will give you lots more features and better performance.

    Hotspot Shield
    Hotspot Shield’s free plan provides so many great features, including an internet kill switch, a range of VPN protocols, military-grade encryption, and a daily data allowance of 500MB.

Best free VPN for people who want no data caps: ProtonVPN

The homepage of ProtonVPN.

Just like Hotspot Shield, ProtonVPN also provides both free and premium plans. But what sets this company apart from other free VPN services is that all of its users get unlimited bandwidth and data, regardless of whether they’re paying a monthly fee or nothing at all.

Because of this, you can use ProtonVPN to browse the web, use social media apps, watch videos, and more without worrying about going over a set data allowance. However, given that ProtonVPN only provides its free users with “medium speeds”, you shouldn’t expect the best performance with a non-premium account.

Despite slower speeds, the free version of ProtonVPN has a no-logging policy and won’t bombard you with unwanted advertisements. However, you will have to deal with a one-device limit and just three server locations. If you’d like to access more VPN servers, better speeds, P2P support, and many other features, you’ll need to sign up for a premium account. ProtonVPN’s cheapest premium plan will set you back $4 per month.

    ProtonVPN
    If you want to use a free VPN for browsing the web securely on a daily basis, ProtonVPN will provide unlimited bandwidth and data at no cost.

Best free VPN for staying private online: TunnelBear

The homepage of TunnelBear.

TunnelBear, which was acquired by cybersecurity giant McAfee in 2018, is another highly respected VPN provider that offers a free version. What’s great about this offering is that it has easy-to-use apps for Android, iOS, Windows, and Mac.

When signing up for a free account with TunnelBear, you won’t need to part way with loads of personal data. In fact, you only need to provide your email address. But unfortunately, TunnelBear only provides 500MB of data per month. That’s very different from the 500MB of daily data provided by Hotspot Shield and the unlimited data allowance on ProtonVPN.

Realistically, you’ll only be able to use TunnelBear for quick, basic activities that require more security and privacy. For instance, that could be internet banking. If you leave your VPN on or try watching YouTube videos, your 500MB of monthly data will quickly run out. Should you like using TunnelBear and decide to upgrade to a premium account, the cheapest plan will cost $3.33 per month.

    TunnelBear
    Given that TunnelBear is owned by cybersecurity giant McAfee, you can rest assured that it’s highly secure and private.

Best free VPN for most people: Hide.me

The homepage of Hide.me.

Hide.me also offers one of the best free VPN services around. Unlike many free providers that impose stringent data limits, it provides a very generous data traffic allowance of 10GB per month. That should be enough data to browse the web, check your bank account, send emails, and more privately.

As is the case with most other free VPN services, you can only use a single device with your free Hide.me account. While the premium version provides access to 1800 servers in 72 global locations, a free account will limit you to just five VPN server locations. However, that’s still more than some free VPNs.

If you decide to take out a free Hide.me account, you don’t need to provide credit card information. In fact, the company claims that it won’t even “require you to signup or register” for a free account. What’s more, the no-logging policy also applies to free users. And there aren’t any adverts. Hide.me offers apps for Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, Linux, and other operating systems.

    Hide.me
    Hide.me will be an excellent free VPN for most people thanks to its generous 10GB of monthly data and easy-to-use apps.

Best free VPN for international servers: Windscribe

The homepage of Windscribe.

Most free VPN providers not only set tight data caps, but only allow you to connect to one server location from a single device. Windscribe is pretty unique in that it offers a 10GB monthly data allowance, ten server locations, and unlimited connections for its free users.

With a free Windscribe account, you’ll be able to connect to servers in the US, Canada, UK, Hong Kong, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Norway, and Romania. Windscribe offers servers in many other global locations, although you’ll need a premium account to access these.

To get access to the 10GB of monthly data and ten international server locations, you must provide your email address on signup. Windscribe is available on multiple platforms, including Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, and Linux.

    Windscribe
    While most free VPNs have just one server, Windscribe provides its free users with ten global server locations. It also offers a 10GB monthly data allowance and unlimited connections.

Best free VPN for performance: Speedify

The homepage of Speedify.

As you can tell by looking at its name, Speedify’s number one aim is to provide a high-speed VPN experience. Speedify claims to reach fast speeds because it “automatically prioritizes streams over other network traffic so you avoid stuttering, buffering and disconnects.”

But while Speedify may sport some innovative technology to improve bandwidth-intensive activities like streaming, gaming, and video calling, a free account is only beneficial for light web browsing. That’s because Speedify provides just 2GB of free data per month.

Still, this is a fair amount of free data (and more than some fee VPNs provide). And while you’ll struggle to stream videos or play games using a free Speedify account, you should still benefit from a fast browsing experience. Speedify also offers 50 server locations, multi-platform apps, no adverts, and lots more.

    Speedify
    For anyone who wants a free VPN that won’t compromise on performance, look no further than Speedify. It sports innovative technology to provide super-fast speeds.

VPNs are incredibly versatile at what they do, keeping you secure online and allowing you to access geo-restricted content. And while it may seem like all these great things will come at a high cost, you can actually find loads of free VPNs out there.

Unfortunately, not all free VPNs can be trusted. Many are malicious and should be avoided altogether. However, the providers listed in this article are not only highly trustworthy but genuinely provide lots of great features at no cost. If you want the best overall free VPN, though, make sure to choose Hotspot Shield.

About author

Nicholas Fearn
Nicholas Fearn

Nicholas is currently Features Editor at XDA-Developers, where he writes about everything from the latest Huawei smartphones to the best VPN services. With a technology journalism career spanning nearly seven years, he’s previously written for publications such as the FT, Forbes, Engadget, The Next Web, TechRadar, Android Central, Windows Central, iMore, Tom’s Guide, Laptop Mag, Macworld, Computer Weekly, IT Pro, and many others. As well as being a tech fanatic, he’s also a diehard Mariah Carey fan. He tweets at @nicholasgfearn.