VPNs are becoming more popular due to more exposure and the increased number of threats while we use the internet. As time goes on, this will only increase.
The more this happens, the more users wish to take their connection protection into their own hands, and a VPN is the best way to achieve this.
Many VPN providers offer premium packages and free alternatives, however. How do these perform compared to another provider’s offering, and is their VPN free as advertised, or is there a means behind why they offer this? We explain what full-free VPN companies can get up to in a way to fund their operations.
Here we have rounded up five such offerings to see what differs and how they perform.
Why Do I need a VPN?
As we said, the more time we spend online, the more threats we face. There is also geo-locations, which can affect what users can do and what they can’t do.
Many users become oblivious to these risks as nothing has happened to them, and they assume they are safe and protected the way they are.
Data retention can come from hackers who have broken into your system or another area that you visit. It can come from companies that use your private information for all manner of advertising purposes.
With Australian data retention laws, ISPs are requested to hold a user’s data for two years. This leaves anyone in Australia in an awkward situation and where there is only one possible solution.
We are now faced with governments who wish to intervene and make user tracking commonplace in the fight against terrorism.
Such was the extent of this; they have the net neutrality repeal in place, which allows ISPs to monitor and pass on user information and habits should they be asked.
We know countries are restrictive, as many internet users are blocked from accessing content outside their home country.
China and the great firewall of China is the best example. File sharing or torrent downloading is also restricted.
Even though there are many illegal files, other forms of content are delivered this way. Unfortunately, they all become tarred with the same brush. Any free torrent files will be subsequently blocked.
The Top 5 Free VPN Reviews
Servers: 35+ | Server locations: 20 | Devices supported: 5 | Country: Canada
Highlight: Ghostbear can mask you are using a VPN service.
This is one of the more well-known free VPN providers on the internet. Although this in no way means it is one of the best. With their free, does it do enough to sway users who are looking for free options to try the bear, or are there better alternatives around?
Tunnelbear Australia offers plenty of features and makes the user experience as easy as possible. However, they are let down by their customer support as it is by ticket only, and they fall well short on reliable speeds.
Any user in an extreme geo-location might have severe problems with being able to use the service. They have omitted two of the primary reasons users choose a free VPN service with no Netflix or torrenting.
For a free option, many users ask if Tunnelbear is safe. It is as it comes with some of the best options for usage and security. This TunnelBear review should be used as a guide, and any user who wishes to go for top free VPNs should at least give it a go.
Servers: Unknown | Server locations: 3 | Devices supported: 1 | Country: Malaysia
Highlight: Auto-reconnect on lost connection and auto-start on system boot.
This hide.Me VPN review covers what is touted as the fastest free VPN and most secure VPN service on the market. You would expect different results for something that turns out to be quite expensive. Read on to see if this VPN provider is something you can’t live without.
On paper, this hide.Me review service looks hard to beat; however, delve a little deeper, and things are not as they appear.
You find yourself wanting more for what you get in the package, especially at the cost of their service. It could have been a rare opportunity for Australian users to find a free VPN service located on roughly the same side of the world.
Although hide.ME comes with top-rated encryption and is full of features while having a high regard for everyone’s privacy. IP leaks were detected, and their claims of being the fastest were somewhat blown out of the water.
Is hide.Me safe to use? It might appear to be yes and no. While IP leaks are found, this isn’t for everyone.
This makes it a bit of a hit-and-miss affair. With IP leaks being detected, the chances for others to slip through unnoticed while you are surfing.
Servers: 34 | Server locations: 23 | Devices supported: 5 | Country: U.S.A (5 eyes jurisdiction)
Highlight: Channel bonding for increased speeds
Speedify promises a better connection. This aims to strengthen connections from cellular and Wi-Fi to generate more speed. If this is the case, all will be revealed in this Speedify review.
Although the company has been around for a while in their internet-boosting technology, it was only in 2016 that it combined its Speedify VPN service.
When using Speedify, you are presented with a clean interface that shows connection status, connection and disconnection slider, and any info on the server you’re connected to.
We know that most free VPN services slow down connections due to the required extra processing. Speedify aims to combine various connections to negate this slowdown.
This only works if there are two separate networks, so for many free VPN Australia homeowners, this could prevent them from using Speedify to gain a boost. When testing, their claims of speed increases were seen and justified, so does Speedify work? Yes, it can do if you have access to two separate networks.
Speedify covers most major platforms, so there is no worry about being left out in the cold. They are also free internet advocates, so they have no restrictions on data apart from their free package, 1GB. P2P file sharing is allowed when you connect through their Netherlands servers. As they have a limited number, this could reduce speeds due to the number of people connected from this region.
Support, unfortunately, is only by the ticket system and is an area that could do with being improved.
This, along with Netflix not being supported, low server count, and the company is based in the US. It could be seen as a not very viable option for the best free VPN services, even if it can offer decent speeds. (Read British Open Live)
As with most VPN services used in Australia, we would advise testing them before committing to any lock-in period.
4. Windscribe – Not Recommended – try other Free VPNs
Servers: 50+ | Server locations: 11 | Devices supported: Unlimited | Country: Canada
Highlight: Windscribe can spoof the time zone you are situated in
Windscribe VPN is a well-known VPN provider with a great deal going for it, considering the wealth of features available with its free offering.
Although it is another Canadian-based VPN company, do they do enough to sway users into risking a provider inside the five-eyes treaty zone. A Windscribe review will show where it lacks, and like others, it should be checked out further to see if it works in Australia
Windscribe reviews detail another free VPNs that offers an excellent VPN service, which is only limited by the lack of servers and countries in which they are based.
For users in Australia, this lack of server locations might be enough to prevent a high number of users from signing up or using their free version. If casual browsing while travelling.
This might be a good option. As with any VPN, asking if Windscribe is safe means you would receive a similar answer to others.
Servers: 1500 | Server locations: 94 | Devices supported: 3 | Country: British Virgin Isles
Highlight: By far the easiest VPN to use and configure
In theory, this is not an ExpressVPN free VPN trial. We thought it worthy of a mention as it is well known for its 30-day money-back guarantee, which the company will honour with no qualms.
Why would we include an ExpressVPN review? Because it offers more than the others, and with this 30-day money-back guarantee, you can test the service as it is with no restrictions.
ExpressVPN is, without a doubt, a dream of application and service to use. Once you have signed up (which you can cancel at any time within 30 days – No Questions asked) and the app is installed, you are presented with a simple interface with a large connect button.
Special 49% Off Deal
This is pretty much all there is to it. From now, you can access Netflix or any other geo-located services which are typically blocked or download torrents to your heart’s content.
All of this is available with some of the highest security available. On data retention,
ExpressVPN only preserves minimal information for troubleshooting purposes and is not associated with a user’s real IP address. Is ExpressVPN Safe? It is, and it is one of the most reliable VPN services available. You don’t become number one globally for no reason, and there are no free VPNs that can compare.
Why is it free? What’s the catch?
There are various reasons why VPN providers offer a free version. Some companies offer free versions as a promotional tool so users can get a good feel for their premium service. When this is the case, it is not anything to become disgruntled by.
On the other hand, there are some reasons the not-so-reputable companies use free versions, and these are as follows:
Selling User Bandwidth
Some VPN providers sell user bandwidth and, in effect, turn your system into a botnet. They have also been known to sell your bandwidth to other companies. If this happens, it can make your connection and your system slower as a result.
A downside to this is that you will be held responsible for anything that happens with your IP address, which shows.
Collecting and Selling User Data
Although your data and connection might appear secure and to the outside world, it is. However, Like Facebook, which purchased a VPN app in 2013, it was followed by other companies who have done the same thing to collect your activity data personally.
They can either sell it to third parties or use it for their benefit. When this happens, you can find all of your information for ad campaigns or anything else where target audiences are valuable.
One area that has raised many eyebrows is country elections, where users are targeted through social media advertising.
This can extend to any area of the internet where users are unaware of what they see has been designed for their eyes and many other users like them to see.
Web Code and Showing Ads
Many free apps come with adverts. Free VPNs are no different. Bundled ads can show up in your browser or in the form of screens if the app is standalone software, or as in the above example, your data can be sold for these marketing purposes.
This code is also used to personalise ads to provide users with items related to their internet usage.
When this happens, there is an excellent line between personalised ads being shown and malware being installed. This can quickly lead to the next item listed.
Scam VPN Providers
Some free VPNs can be created by scammers who have constructed this solely to collect user data. As everything is routed through their servers, they can access any login information you might use.
For the unwary, this can lead to both bank accounts and social media accounts being accessed.
Although no large-scale privacy breaches have been made this way, the possibility is still there for this to become a vulnerability that could have dire consequences before it was found out.
Paid VPN vs. Free VPNs
Of course, with everything, there are specific situations where it is advisable to choose the paid-for option when a VPN service is concerned. Almost everyone likes free software for something that appears to be an on-cost with no real benefits.
Privacy, geo-blocked content, and torrent downloading are areas you gain from having a paid-for VPN.
There is one exception, and some paid VPNs aim to get around this.
This area is anonymous when you sign up. With free VPNs, you don’t have to give any payment details to create a fake account. Apart from this, there are areas where a paid-for VPN wins hands down:
Even a top free VPN won’t offer the same as a premium account regarding protocol availability. Many free options only provide PPTP, which we know is insecure.
A paid-for provider allows you to use PPTP, L2TP, Open VPN, and many others in which to tunnel your secure connections.
VPN Connection Speeds
Free VPN services offer lower data usage, so the best free VPN for torrenting doesn’t exist when compared to a paid-for service. Although a few services provide full features on their virtual private networks, these data caps make them unusable for heavy usage.
You can only get the best free VPN for Netflix by utilising ExpressVPN for the first month and then cancelling your subscription.
With a free version, there are also several accessible servers. These have limited servers in very few countries, so connection speeds (especially in Australia can plummet as there is no VPN server to connect to, offering the best connection speeds.
With limited hardware resources, many people will be aiming to connect to the same servers. When server numbers are reduced, connections could be sporadic. A paid-for VPN such as ExpressVPN has thousands of servers, which is more than enough to prevent user contention when attempting to connect.
This costs money. Even some of the better-known VPN providers fall short on customer support, so when the service is free, there is nowhere a free VPN can generate money to support their free service apart from the means mentioned earlier.
Although ExpressVPN is not free, they offer a 30-day money-back guarantee.
You can see the best VPN for desktops, and the best VPN for Android might not be free after all.
Alternative – Tunnelbear VPN also offers an excellent free plan worth checking out (See our detailed review)