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Are Free VPNs Safe to Use?

Are Free VPNs Safe to Use?


When it comes to protecting your privacy, the free services have a poor track record, most of which is backed by the sale of your data. Here’s why ProtonVPN’s free VPN is different.

The phrase “If you do not pay for a product, You are is the product’ that has been proven right over and over again. Classic examples are Facebook and Google, who don’t charge you for their products, but sell advertisers access to you and your profile instead. The vast majority of free VPN services unfortunately do the same, It sells your data to advertisers when they’re supposed to protect your privacy.Free VPN services caught doing so include Hola in 2015, Betternet in 2016, and Hotspot Shield in 2017. Overall, free VPNs are too good to be true. It is believed and should be avoided.

However, ProtonVPN is an exception to this rule. Our free VPN is the only one in the world with no ads, no malware, no logs, and no bandwidth limits. We do not sell your data because we do not collect it in the first place, nor do we try to generate revenue from our free users. This promise is backed up not only by our word but also by third party assessments and Swiss and European law. We are also one of the only free VPN services that open source for all of our apps.

How Can ProtonVPN Provide Unlimited Free VPN?

Running VPN servers, developing apps, and providing customer support costs money, which means that VPN services need to generate revenue somehow. Free VPNs usually do this by abusing your privacy and selling your data to advertisers. However, ProtonVPN uses a different model. Free plans are partially supported by paid plans, which come with additional features, such as servers in 30+ countries, faster speeds, our own Secure Core network, support for P2P file sharing and streaming services (Netflix VPN, etc.).

The main reason why ProtonVPN offers a free plan is because it’s run by the same team of scientists that created ProtonMail, the world’s largest secure email service, and the free VPN service is paid for by ProtonMail. ProtonVPN’s mission is to ensure that ProtonMail continues to be accessible even in countries with strong censorship. This unique reason is why ProtonVPN offers free with no bandwidth limits, and without the need to generate revenue from free users.

How to check if a free VPN service is safe to use?

Understanding the financial resources of a free VPN service is the first step in knowing if it is safe to use. Unless there is an obvious source of revenue, the service is likely not actually “free”, but rather operates in a form of data selling. There are also many other important factors to consider.

private policy

VPNs located in Europe (or that serve European clients) are subject to the EU General Data Protection Regulation. Under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), companies are required to disclose the data they collect from their users. If they do not, they face fines of up to 20 million euros. These fines generally mean that VPN companies must be transparent in their privacy policy about how they use your data. Thus, checking the privacy policy will let you know if a free VPN service will violate your privacy. ProtonVPN’s privacy policy clearly states that we do not log our users’ online activity, and we are obligated by law to do so.

Technical Security

A VPN relies on encrypting your internet traffic to keep it private. Not many VPN companies have the security expertise to do this. ProtonVPN secures user data with AES-256 encryption with a 2048-bit RSA handshake and HMAC SHA 256 authentication. We also use encryption exclusively with Perfect Forward Secrecy, auto-rotate encryption keys, and include DNS leak protection. These technical security measures cover all users, including our free users.

legal guarantee

Advanced encryption and legal security must be combined. ProtonVPN is headquartered in Switzerland, a country with some of the strongest data protection laws in the world, which allows us to offer a higher level of privacy protection to our users. In particular, Switzerland is not a party to the Five Eyes or the 14 Eyes surveillance agreements.

Trustworthiness and reputation

When you use a VPN, you basically trust that company with all of your internet traffic. This access to your data means that you must know exactly who is running the service. ProtonVPN is one of the only VPN companies with complete transparency about who is running the service. ProtonVPN was developed by the team that created ProtonMail, and we have a proven track record of working on security, privacy, and open source software.

Reviews by trusted third parties

VPN services can claim anything, but unless they are independently validated, you can’t take their word for it. ProtonVPN is unique in that our security and no-logs policies have been analyzed and evaluated by a trusted third party. After evaluating dozens of VPN services, Mozilla chose ProtonVPN to bring VPN encryption to Firefox users. This partnership makes us one of the only VPN services to have our claims checked by a trusted third party.

Open source and independently audited

All of our VPN apps are open source, which means you can look up and check our code at any time. While our apps have already been vetted by Mozilla, we have submitted them to another independent audit by security firm SEC Consult as part of the open source process. Now that our code is open to external scrutiny, we can leverage the IT security community to help us find and fix potential vulnerabilities.


Our mission is to create an internet where everyone can surf the internet safely and privately. Part of this mission is to provide a free VPN. This free plan provides activists, journalists, and dissidents around the world with a secure and private way to access the Internet. With no bandwidth limits, there is never a reason not to protect your online activity with a VPN.

i need it,
ProtonVPN Team

You can get a free ProtonVPN account here. Please also see our ProtonVPN reviews to see what independent reviewers think of our free service.

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