In this post we are going to explain what a VPN is, the advantages of using them in terms of our privacy, what they are useful for and leave you a list of free VPNs that you can connect to.
What is a VPN?
Let’s start with the essentials, what does VPN mean? They are the acronym for Virtual Private Network, which we can translate as virtual private network.
Therefore, a VPN is a virtual private network with which we can create a network without the need for its members to be physically connected to each other (as is the case with our local network, for example, to the home router we can have more than one connected computer and a printer between which we can share files). There are plenty of VPN services out there. In the case of the VPN, the connection is through the Internet and it can be with any part of the world.
But there is more, VPN connections have a very special feature: data tunnels. When we connect to a VPN all our network traffic goes from our device to our Internet provider, but from there it goes to the VPN server, from where it will go to the destination page (eg YouTube). The VPN encrypts the connection and for practical purposes, what it does is that your IP address is from the VPN server, your IP address being hidden and our Internet provider will not be able to see which places we access (the VPN server does).
There are different types of VPN connection:
- Remote access connection
- Connection VPN router to router
- Connection VPN firewall to firewall
- VPN in mobile environments
How do VPN connections improve privacy and security?
By being hidden our IP when we use a VPN server, our privacy and security improve, being able to avoid direct attacks on our equipment, the monitoring of places to which we connect or the operations or transactions we carry out on the Internet, such as online purchases or downloading files.
Keep in mind that the VPN server can see all this activity, but the best VPN providers claim not to save or maintain logs, so that our privacy is more assured.
What do we use VPN connections for?
The truth is that VPN connections are used for different purposes in the online environment, perhaps the most common is within corporate environments, due to the need for companies to keep the large amount of data and information they can handle safe. Next we are going to see the main uses of VPNs.
Where the VPN connections are most used is in teleworking , since it allows the workers of a company to connect remotely to the private network of the company. It also facilitates interconnectivity between different company branches that need to access a single private network.
In addition, it allows a secure connection, since the access is protected, the connection is encrypted and the workers have the same access as if they were sitting in front of the computer in their office.
To avoid censorship and blocks
It is no secret that on the Internet there are geographical blocks that prevent us from accessing certain sites and content from other countries. Through a VPN connection we can bypass these blocks, since if the VPN server is in another country, the web server will believe that we are browsing from that country. For example, if a video uploaded to YouTube in the US is blocked in our region and we connect through a VPN server that is in the US, we will be able to view the video in question.
We can apply the same to access content and censored sites in our country. For example, in China you cannot access Facebook, but if a Chinese citizen connects through a Spanish or North American VPN server, they will be able to access the social network.
For an extra layer of security
Using a VPN connection can add an extra layer of security to our browsing, this is because the connections through these private networks are accompanied by an encryption of the packets that are transmitted with them, which means that even if we are browsing in a public Wi-Fi network, our data is protected and if someone intercepts it, they will not be able to do anything with it.
Although it should be noted that, as we said before, our VPN provider can see everything we do on the Internet, so to have that extra layer of security, we must look for a trusted provider.
In P2P downloads
Let’s go with a slightly more controversial use of VPN connections. Some Internet providers completely block P2P downloads (person-to-person, such as those made through BitTorrent), whether they are legal or not. In order to bypass this blockade and be able to continue accessing P2P downloads, we can use a VPN connection.
Things to keep in mind when choosing a free VPN
You are probably thinking that VPN connections sound quite interesting and if on top of that there are free ones for PC, why not try one out. Waiting. Before signing up for any of these free VPN services, keep the following in mind:
- Free VPNs are not very reliable, although later we will see some exceptions that we must consider if we are considering using one of these services. We must be careful because some take the opportunity to introduce some type of malware onto our computers.
- You will notice that the speed suffers, especially if the VPN server is far from where we reside, so that we can suffer considerable latency. In addition, the maximum upload and download speeds will be limited.
- Security is not infallible, we have already said that the VPN provider will be able to see everything we do on the Internet, and also nothing is 100% secure.
- Continuing with the above, they do not provide anonymity, especially if the VPN provider keeps the connection logs.
- Falsifying our location is not always possible, this is especially notable with mobile phones, since there are more and more technologies that allow us to triangulate our location without the need to resort to IP.
- It is very likely that we will continually receive notifications to update to a paid version.
- We will see more announcements.
- Many do not offer the ability to download torrents and access streams.
What should I pay particular attention to?
If you are going to sign up for a free VPN, you should look at the maximum band allowed to use (because they are usually limited), the list of available servers, whether the connection speed is restricted, and the privacy policies. This last point is important, because if they are imprecise or not very clear, you may find that the VPN provider is selling your browsing data to third parties.
In addition to this, you must be careful with the security flaws that they may have. Although, as said there are exceptions, a free VPN will not offer as secure and complete a service as a paid one.
Finally, when it comes to registering for a free VPN, we must make sure that we do it on their official website.
The best free VPNs you can connect to to protect your privacy
Now that we know what a VPN is, some of its most common uses and what we should take into account before signing up for a free one, let’s see some of the best free VPNs.
Ivacy VPN offers us unlimited browsing and is compatible with all types of platforms. The best thing is that we will not have to install anything additional. VPN for mobile devices, iOS and Android, with which we can navigate hiding our IP address and will improve security when we connect from a public Wi-Fi, encrypting our data. Although it does not allow to skip blockades in certain regions.
Once installed on the mobile, we can activate or deactivate it by pressing just one button. And it is an unlimited network in terms of data.
The VPN provider Hotspot Shield is paid, but it has a free version, although quite limited. It is compatible with Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, and Chrome. In its trial version it allows a consumption of 500 MB of free data every 24 hours, with stable and secure connections and a decent speed. However, we will see a lot of ads while using this version.
It has a very simple interface to use and does not require any degree of knowledge to start using it. If the trial version convinces you, you can always contract the paid version and remove the limitations and ads.
Betternet is a completely free VPN, with no data or speed limits, so we can use it practically to access any website or Internet service. It also does not need us to register and among its services, it will hide our location and IP.
This VPN has an extension for Chrome and Firefox and is available for all devices, both mobile and computer.
Cyberghost offers two months free, although you will have to pay to access the service of this VPN. Of course, it is one of the best valued, since it allows access without data volume restrictions, although the speed is a little slower. It has servers in more than 90 countries and different privacy settings, such as 256-bit encryption, ad and malware blocker, and a no-logs policy.
The free version of Speedify offers us 1 GB of maximum monthly data. It has servers in 24 different countries and works in a simple and intuitive way, being able to choose which server to connect to or letting the service do it for us. It is compatible for Windows, iOS or Android, and it will improve our security when connecting through it.
Although NordVPN is not a free VPN, we include it in the list because it has a 30-day trial period, in which if you are not convinced, you can unsubscribe without explanation and they will refund your money.
As a payment option, it is one of the best VPNs, it allows up to 6 simultaneous connections, with servers in more than 62 countries, it has all kinds of encryption protocols and it is compatible with all platforms.
If you are looking for a free VPN for Android or iOS, apart from for your computer, Hide.me is an option to consider, since it is compatible with practically all devices.
It offers up to 2 GB free per month in its free version, enough to browse, but it does not fall short for streaming, although it does allow torrenting. It offers servers in 5 countries, has technical assistance and navigation without advertising. It has a good encryption system and a policy that promises us not to keep logs.
If you are looking for a VPN with an easy, intuitive and quick interface to activate or deactivate, ProtonVPN is an option that you should consider. Its free version only offers us to connect to servers in 3 countries (USA, Netherlands or Japan), but it has no data limitation, although the connection speed is somewhat lower than other VPNs on this list.
ProtonVPN can be used on iPhone, Android smartphones, and Windows, macOS, and Linux computers. On the negative side, we will receive continuous notices to move to the paid version.
TunnelBear is another of the VPNs with a free version, but with a limit of 500 MB per month, which will limit our browsing, but it offers access to servers in more than 20 countries and a good connection speed and without advertising.
They also promise not to keep any record of our data and use AES 256-bit encryption, which promises us security in our browsing. We can use this VPN for free on Chrome, Opera, Firefox, Android, iOS, Windows and macOS.
The free version of Windscribe offers us a total of 10 GB of data per month, which can also be expanded to 5 GB more just by tweeting about the service. It allows you to watch streaming content and download torrents. In terms of security, it has an advertising and malware blocker, does not save data records and has a good encryption system.
This VPN has an app for computers or an extension for browsers , and it is also compatible with practically all platforms and operating systems.
In short, using a VPN service to connect to the Internet and surf gives us an extra layer of security and, depending on the provider, more or less anonymity and privacy. It is an option to take into account especially for companies with remote workers, since it will keep the data and information on the private network safe.
We have seen that there are quite a few free options, but to be safer and, above all, if we are thinking of using it for our company, it is best to opt for a payment plan, since they offer a more complete and secure service.