In our increasingly security-conscious age, people are keen to learn how to make themselves safer online. One option, predominantly when relying on possibly unsecured public Wi-Fi, is to use a VPN (Virtual Private Network). There are numerous VPNs out there that enable you to surf securely, anonymously and confidentially on the web.
VPNs work by linking two computers securely and privately over the internet. When you access a web browser and enter a URL on your device, the request is sent to the VPN server. The server then acts as an intermediary, requesting the web page from the site and conveying it back to you. That ensures the website can only see the VPN server- not the client device requesting it.
This information is encrypted, meaning external parties cannot see the information swapped. VPNs also conceal the location of the client, enabling you to access location-specific services in other countries.
Free VPNs are for those who are comfortable with the risks, or really cannot afford to shell out – here are just a few of the best free VPNs available right now.
CyberGhost has been one of the most popular free VPN services for many years, and even after all this while it is still worthy enough to recommend. It has tighter restrictions than the other services stated above, but if you only require a VPN for a few minutes here and there, CyberGhost will be more than enough.
It has been at the forefront of the VPN industry for many years and offers various premium models, but the free ad-supported version is acceptable for most casual users.
Although it does offer more features than most, the free version is bandwidth-restricted. It is not as useful if you watch a lot of Netflix or you are thinking about cutting the cord.
Unlike some other free VPNs, CyberGhost offers a one-click launch of both a browser session and a VPN connection; you don’t need to remember to launch two sessions in two different places when you want to be private.
Most of its servers are in Europe, but there are plenty of US-based ones available too.
TunnelBear is a very slick and uncluttered VPN provider, who aims to provide a great quality service to those with very little knowledge. They have also implemented some more advanced functions, to help those with a few more needs.
There are a few other features that are limited to paid accounts, features that might go unnoticed until you actually start using TunnelBear. It doesn’t have the most servers, but it does have decent geographic distribution. If you want to use VPN servers in Australia or India, you’ll have to pony up, but the other 18 countries covered by TunnelBear are available for free.
Overall TunnelBear is a great value for money service with the most attractive and amusing attitude we have ever seen.
Spotflux’s main objective is to protect and boost your internet connection through features like encryption, malware guard, and data compression. It does this by sieving all of your traffic “through the Spotflux cloud” — marketing speak that defines pretty much all VPN services.
The biggest draw is that Spotflux promises no network throttling at all for any reason, but the biggest defect is that the free version will show you ads. Advanced features like malware guard, ad-scrubbing, access to their premium network, and data compression are only available to paid users.
It will block dangerous sites, work on multiple platforms, and gives you a “set it and forget about it” peace of mind.
VPNBook is wholly free, there are no bandwidth caps or service limitations and there is no premium service.
That said, it is not suitable for beginners. There is no installer, no software, and little guidance. You are simply given a list of servers, and the rest is up to you.
You have a choice of PPTP VPN or OpenVPN. PPTP VPN is supported on almost all platforms, but it is easier for administrations and content providers to block. OpenVPN is more secure but necessitates you to download an OpenVPN client along with VPNBook’s configuration and certificate bundles.
The company has servers in the United States, UK, and mainland Europe.
#5 Hotspot Shield
Hotspot Shield is an entry-level VPN service that markets itself towards casual and beginner VPN users. An unlimited, free version of the VPN is available for everyone, making it an exceptional way to experiment and play around with a VPN service. Hotspot Shield has been around for many years. It is still one of the most popular free VPN services among users.
IT is not suitable for users who want to unlock geo-restricted content as well as improving their privacy. The free version only offers US-based servers, and access to services like Netflix, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer are only available to premium users.