VPN’s 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 they can achieve this.
Many VPN providers offer premium packages and free alternatives, however. How do these perform when compared to another provider 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 which you can see what differs and how they perform.
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Why Do I need a VPN?
As we said, the more time we spend online, the more threats we are faced with, there is also the fact of 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 which you visit, or it can come from companies who use your private information for all manner of advertising purposes.
- Why Do I need a VPN?
- The Top 5 Free VPN Reviews
- Why is it free? What’s the catch?
- Paid VPN vs. Free VPNs
With Australian data retention laws, ISP’s 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 ISP’s 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 which is from 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 a lot of files which are illegal, there are other forms of content 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 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?
- No Logging
- Works on multiple devices
- Very safe and secure
- VigilantBear Kill-Switch
- 5 connections at once
- Varying speed problems
- TunnelBear Netflix not supported
- No torrents
- Can’t install on a router
- Lackluster customer support
- 500mb limit per month
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, and with no Netflix or torrenting, they have omitted two of the primary reasons users choose a VPN service.
For a free option, many users ask is Tunnelbear 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 wishing to go for top free VPN’s should at least give it a go.
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 which has a great deal going for it considering the wealth of features available with their free offering.
Although it is another Canadian based VPN company, do they do enough to sway users into risking a provider who is 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
- Safe and Secure to use
- Torrents allowed
- Works on most devices
- Download speeds can be slow
- No Netflix support
- Situated in Canada (5 eyes jurisdiction)
- 10GB per month cap on Free Version
Windscribe reviews detail another VPN who 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 to sign up or use their free version. If casual browsing while traveling.
The might be a good option. As with any VPN, asking is Windscribe safe, you would receive a similar answer to that of others.
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. For something that turns out to be quite expensive, you would expect different results. Read on to see if this VPN provider is something you can’t live without.
- No Logs guaranteed – connection logs are kept and erased after a few hours
- Automatic Wi-Fi connection
- Supports SoftEther VPN protocol
- Anonymous payment methods
- 2 GB monthly data allowance
- Limited speed for free version
- Limited Server coverage
- Support not consistent
- No Netflix or BBC iPlayer
- IP leak detected
On paper, this hide.Me review service looks hard to beat, however, delve a little deeper and things are not as they appear.
For what you get in the package you find yourself wanting for more, especially at the cost of their service. For Australian users, it could have been a rare opportunity to find a VPN service which is 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? This 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 it 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 the form of their internet boosting technology, it was only in 2016 when they combined their Speedify VPN service.
- High encryption
- Error connection and packet loss correction.
- Kill Switch
- 30-day money back guarantee
- No download limit
- 1 GB data cap
- 1 Google Analytics tracker used on their web page.
- The poor consistency of customer support
- No BBC I player or Netflix support
- Insufficient global coverage
When using Speedify, you are presented with a clean interface which shows connection status, connection and disconnection slider and any info on the server you’re connected to.
We know that most VPN services slow down connections due to the extra processing which is required. 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 rule them out of using Speedify to gain a boost. When testing their claims of speed increases were seen and are 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 of being left out in the cold. The also is a free internet advocate, so they have no restrictions on data apart from on their free package which is 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 connection from this region.
Support, unfortunately, is only by ticket system and is an area which 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 best free VPN services even if it can offer decent speeds.
As with most VPN services which are used in Australia, we would advise to test them out before committing to any lock-in period.
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 trial. We thought it worthy of a mention as it is well known for their 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.
- Super-fast connections
- Very high – 256-bit encryption
- Unlimited downloads
- Industry-leading 24/7 customer support
- High server count
- A little more expensive than some alternatives
- Limited configurations
ExpressVPN is without a doubt a dream of an 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 which has a large connect button.
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 a minimal amount of information for troubleshooting purposes and are 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 in the world for no reason.
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 for, 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, you will be held responsible for anything which happens as it would be 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 who purchased a VPN app in 2013, it was followed by other companies who have done the same thing to personally collect your activity data.
They can either sell it to third parties or use it for their own benefit. When this happens, you can find all of your information being used for ad campaigns, or anything else where target audiences are very valuable.
One area which has raised many an eyebrow is in country elections where users are targeted through social media advertising.
This can extend to any area of the internet where users are unaware 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 VPN’s 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 the above example, your data can be sold for these marketing purposes.
This code is also used to personalize ads to provide users with items which relate to their internet usage.
When this happens, there is a very fine line between personalized ads being shown and malware being installed. This can quickly lead to the next item listed.
Scam VPN Providers
Some free VPN services can be created by scammers who have constructed this with the sole purpose of collecting user data. As everything is routed through their servers, they have access to any login information you might use.
For the unwary, this can lead to bank accounts being accessed as well as any social media accounts users are signed up to.
Although no large-scale breaches of privacy have been made this way, the possibility is still there for this to become a vulnerability which could have dire consequences before it was found out.
Paid VPN vs. Free VPNs
As with the above, there are specific areas 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 the following are areas where you gain from having a paid for VPN.
There is one exception, and some paid for VPNs aim to get around this.
This area is anonymity when you sign up. A free VPN you don’t have to give any payment details so you can 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 offer full features on their virtual private networks, these data caps make them unusable for heavy usage.
The only way you can get the best free VPN for Netflix is by utilizing ExpressVPN for the first month and then cancel your subscription.
With a free version, there is also the number of servers which are accessible. These have limited servers in very few countries so connections speeds (especially in Australia can plummet as there is no VPN server where to connect which can offer the best connection speeds.
With limited resources of hardware, there will be a vast number of people 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.
As with all of the above, and the fact that ExpressVPN isn’t free apart from the first month where you can cancel with no quibble or questions.
You can see the best VPN for desktops, and the best VPN for Android might not actually be free after all.
Alternative – Tunnelbear VPN also offer a very solid free plan worth checking out (See our detailed review)