You probably already know that free Windows 10 VPNs have serious limitations – restricted bandwidth, sluggish speeds, incompatibility with streaming sites, etc. But did you know that they could also pose a threat to your security and privacy?
To spare you the trouble of picking the wrong VPN, we’ve rigorously tested the most popular free providers that work with Windows 10. We’ve narrowed our recommendations to just four standout options that provide a good service and don’t engage in shady practices that put you at risk.
We’ll quickly walk you through each VPN and what they offer. We’ll also show you why you should consider investing a few extra bucks in the best premium VPNs for Windows.
Quick guide: The four best free Windows 10 VPNs
Each of these VPNs offers free tiers that passed our tests based on the following criteria:
Free plans with no expiry or mandatory upgrades Native apps for Windows devices and extensions for popular Windows browsers Decent server networks Fast enough for streaming Compatible with streaming sites Robust security Good support
The best free VPNs for Windows 10: in-depth analysis
Now, let’s get into the nitty-gritty and closely examine each VPN. We’ll show you how we evaluated each one based on security, privacy, speed, streaming, user-friendliness, and much more.
Plus, if you want to dig even deeper, check out our complete VPN reviews.
[[post-object type=”summary-section” pros-cons=”true” /]]
Methodology: How we chose the best free VPNs for Windows 10 (and you can, too!)
We’ve rigorously tested every VPN on this list against strict criteria. You can use the same standards to find the right free VPN for your Windows 10 computer.
The most important features include:
To learn everything you need to look for when choosing a free VPN, you can read our complete VPN review process.
How to install a free VPN on Windows 10
Installing a free VPN on Windows 10 is simple. Just follow these steps:
Choose a VPN with a solid free plan for Windows 10. We recommend Hotspot Shield. Download the Windows app from the VPN’s website. Install the app and follow the configuration steps. This should be super easy and only take a few minutes. Connect to a secure server anywhere in the world. Refresh or reopen any browser or app that’s connected to the internet. That’s it!
If websites are still detecting your actual location, try clearing your cache and cookies, so they no longer have any previously logged data about you.
8 reasons a cheap premium VPN is better than a free VPN
The VPNs listed in this guide are by far the best free VPNs for Windows 10 – but they’re still incredibly limited compared to premium providers.
For the best (never mind most private) experience, we recommend investing a few dollars each month in a cheap premium VPN. Here are just a few reasons why:
Zero limitations: Your bandwidth is never capped when using a premium VPN. You can stream, download, torrent, and video chat to your heart’s content. Global servers: Premium VPNs have thousands of servers located across the globe, guaranteeing you fast, reliable connections anywhere, from New York to New Zealand. Increased privacy: Get industry-best tools like RAM-only servers that guarantee your data and browsing activity is never recorded or shared. Access to content: The best premium VPNs work with Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, banking websites, and every other typically restricted website. Even better security: Premium VPNs can invest revenues from subscriptions into constantly improving their security against the latest cyber threats and snooping tools. More devices: Upgrading to a paid plan means you can install your VPN on every device you use on a single subscription (computer, phone, TV, console, and so on). Premium support: Premium VPN customers benefit from live chat support, email, support tickets, and more. Good value: Top premium VPNs offer simple plans with 30-day money-back guarantees, so you can try them out risk-free, and never spend more than a few dollars a month.
Still not convinced? Get out our guide to the best cheap VPNs to see how powerful they are.
Free Windows 10 VPN FAQs
Are free VPNs safe to use on Windows 10?
The free VPNs that passed our tests are safe to use with Windows 10. However, you should avoid most free VPNs, not just for your Windows computer.
We thoroughly tested every VPN we’ve recommended to ensure they don’t do anything shady to secretly profit from you. The common tactics used by VPNs that we look for include:
Inserting ads into your browser. Collecting your browsing and location data and selling it to advertisers and brokers. Allowing malware and other threats on their network for a fee.
If you’re on a tight budget, stick to the free VPNs we’ve recommended here – including Hotspot Shield, Windscribe, and Proton VPN. But to get the best protection, we recommend you invest in a cheap Windows VPN that’s independently audited to ensure it’s honest and trustworthy.
Is there a 100% free VPN?
There are lots of 100% free VPN plans available. However, to save yourself lots of stress and frustration, we suggest you stick to the top free VPNs that passed our tests, including Hotspot Shield, Windscribe, and Proton VPN.
Unlike most 100% free VPNs, they don’t use shady tactics to secretly profit from you (like harvesting your data and selling it to advertisers), and don’t enforce unreasonable restrictions on their users. You can still use our top picks to stream, download, video chat, and much more – without paying for a subscription.
Is there a free unlimited VPN for Windows?
Proton VPN is a free, unlimited VPN for Windows that doesn’t cap your bandwidth or usage in any way. While we think it’s a great free VPN, it still has some other limitations, such as a smaller server network, a single device connection, and incompatibility with some popular streaming sites.
If you want a completely unlimited VPN, we recommend Surshark. It’s incredibly cheap (subscriptions start at just $2.49/month), offers unlimited bandwidth, unlimited simultaneous device connections, excellent speeds, airtight security, and lots more. You’re also covered by a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can try it out risk-free for a month.
Are free VPNs legal?
Yes, in most countries, free VPNs are perfectly legal. A small number of countries – including China, North Korea, Iran, Oman, Russia, and the United Arab Emirates – have banned VPNs outright. Using one in those countries is currently illegal.
However, even in countries where VPNs are legal, that doesn’t mean you’re protected from the law if you conduct any activities deemed criminal in your country of residence (i.e., torrenting copyrighted media or criticizing the government).
While the best VPNs can hide the fact you’re even using a VPN, never mind hiding your online activity, we still recommend you consider local laws before using one.
The four free VPNs we’ve featured all work with Windows 10 and don’t enforce too many restrictions. They’re trustworthy, transparent, and secure.
However, they’re still incredibly limited. You can decide which one suits your needs the best and try it out. They’re free, after all – so you have nothing to lose.
But if you want the fastest, safest, most private experience, we suggest investing in one of the best-paid VPNs for Windows. Each one offers a generous risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee. So, there’s no harm in trying one out.