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A VPN is an essential online security tool, whether you’re using Windows 10, 11, and especially if you’re still using Vista, XP, or Windows 8. The great thing about Windows global domination is that every worthwhile VPN has a dedicated Windows app.

A windows VPN will secure your encryption with military grade encryption, anonymize your online activities by hiding your IP address, and bypass firewalls, and access geo-blocked content.

But not all VPNs are trustworthy

I downloaded free VPNs and purchased over 50 premium VPNs and was surprised at how bad most of them were. The issues varied from having trouble connecting to IP and DNS leaks, which exposed my real identity.

As a general rule, I don’t trust free VPNs for Windows. They rarely work as advertised, have limited server selection, data, and speeds. Instead, I prefer to get a premium VPN and take advantage of the free trial or a no-questions-asked money-back guarantee.

If you really want a free VPN, I included a few “freemium” VPNs in my list. These are trustworthy, as they come from reputable VPN companies, but are only in short-term situations.

I concluded that CyberGhost is the best VPN for Windows at the end of my testing. It is very easy to use, has servers in over 90 countries, doesn’t store user data logs, and doesn’t slow down my computer. Additionally, its 45-day money-back guarantee is longer than any of the other worthwhile VPNs I tested.

Quick Summary: The 5 Best VPNs for Windows

CyberGhostHigh-speed servers, powerful encryption, great for streaming
NordVPNSpecialty P2P servers, military-grade encryption, and works with Netflix
IPVanishAdvanced VPN protocols, unlimited data
PureVPNServers in 70 countries, robust security tools
SurfsharkUnlimited connections, good speeds
  • 45-day money-back guarantee
  • Optimized servers for P2P, streaming, and gaming
  • AES 256-bit encryption
  • Strict No-Log policy and kill switch
  • 7,600 Servers in 90+ countries

The CyberGhost app for Windows was incredibly easy to download, install, and use. I had the option to connect with the “Best Server” based on my location, or I could choose a server from the list of countries.

I downloaded CyberGhost for Windows laptop, which I often use while working at a coffee shop. I was happy to see that it comes with Public Wi-Fi protection. This gives me an extra layer of security and prevents hackers from using our shared network to steal my data or infect the laptop with malware.

I ran several IP and DNS leak tests and was satisfied with the results that CyberGhost protects my privacy and keeps me anonymous online. It comes with all the security features I expect from a VPN, such as an automatic kill switch, no-log policy, it’s located outside the Five Eyes and powerful encryption.

What helps separate CyberGhost is the additional features, like Privacy Guard, which improves the privacy settings for the Microsoft Store app, Microsoft Edge, Microsoft Defender, and Windows updates.

CyberGhost for Windows has the WireGuard protocol, which combines speed and security for a premium browsing and streaming experience. I do a lot of streaming on my Windows laptop, and CyberGhost was able to bypass geo-blocks so I could access my streaming accounts. I had no problem watching Netflix US, Hulu, Disney Plus, and HBO Max. CyberGhost designates streaming servers in over ten countries. I like that this takes out the guessing game of trying to find a working server.

CyberGhost comes with an attractive 45-day money-back guarantee. I personally tested this policy and requested a refund during the trial period. After chatting with the customer support agent for a few minutes. I received a full refund.

  • 30 day money=back guarantee
  • NordLynx VPN protocol
  • Large selection of servers
  • Public Wi-Fi protection
  • Specialty P2P servers

NordVPN has long been one of my favorite VPNs. When it comes to working with Windows, the VPN has no real weak points. I love the map interface, which helps users visualize where the servers are located. You can either pick a specific server, filter based on speed or “best,” or connect to the best server for your location.

NordVPN developed its own version of the WireGuard protocol, called NordLynx. I was very impressed with how fast NordVPN connected with NordLynx, and the speeds I got matched my speeds without a VPN. This was ideal for streaming and torrenting, both of which require fast speeds and tools to keep me anonymous online.

NordVPN for Windows has a Split Tunneling feature. This allows users to customize which apps or programs are protected by the secure VPN tunnel and which use your regular ISP connection. It also comes with a kill switch that blocks your internet connection in the event your VPN connection drops. It also has CyberSec, an online security tool that blocks ads and malicious websites.

I tested NordVPN’s P2P specialty servers for torrenting and was very impressed with the results. I was able to download a 2 GB movie in under 20 minutes, and my IP address was hidden the whole time.

In addition to Windows, NordVPN has apps for Android and iOS plus extensions for Chrome and Firefox. You can try it risk-free with a proven 30-day money-back guarantee.

  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Unlimited device connection
  • Unblocks major streaming sites

IPVanish is the rare US-based VPN that I would recommend. Even though it’s under the Five Eyes jurisdiction, the VPN has proven multiple times that it doesn’t store any user logs and has no data to share with government agencies or local ISPs.

The Windows app is very easy to use and has a Matrix-style layout with black and green colors. You can connect using WireGuard or OpenVPN, but secure VPN protocols that allow for unlimited speed and data.

I didn’t notice any speed slowdowns, deal with any buffering videos, or slow loading pages while connected to IPVanish servers that were thousand of miles away from my physical location.

IPVanish has the premium security tools that are required for any good VPN. In addition to the no-log policy, it comes with a kill switch, IPv6 and DNS leak protection, and LAN Blocking that protects your Windows computer when connected to public Wi-Fi.

There is also an OpenVPN Scramble feature. This is an extra layer of anonymity that is designed to bypass firewalls that detect and block OpenVPN connections.

While IPVanish can unblock streaming sites, like Netflix and Hulu, it’s not very consistent. I had times when I could binge Netflix in HD and other times when I would see a VPN or proxy error.

In addition to being one the cheapest VPNs, IPVanish has apps for most major platforms and allows for unlimited simultaneous connection.

  • 31-day money-back guarantee
  • AES 256-bit encryption
  • Unlimited speeds and servers

PureVPN has been around since 2007, making it one of the oldest VPN services around. It has a really nice client for Windows, with a single-click connection, a wide range of servers, and a choice of VPN protocols.

PureVPN doesn’t just claim to have a no-log policy; they back it up. In 2020 the VPN was audited by KPMG, one of the largest auditing firms in the world, and the results proved their claims. It did a good job protecting my privacy, I ran an IP, IPv6, and DNS leak test, and they all showed the virtual IP address and not my real one.

I was happy with the speeds I had while connected to the “best server,” but when I tried for a US server, it was a little slower, but not so slow that it was an inconvenience. While I connected with the US servers, I tried my luck watching US Netflix, Hulu, and HBO Max. For the most part, PureVPN was able to bypass the VPN and geo-blocks, letting me watch the shows and movies that I wanted. The big exception was Amazon Prime Video, which was restricted on the five servers I tried.

Speaking of servers, PureVPN recently cut the number of server locations from over 140to 78 countries. They did this by getting rid of a lot of virtual servers and eliminating unnecessary or slow server countries. They also upgraded the speed capacity for most of the servers to 20 Gbps.

  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • 3,200 servers in 65 countries
  • Excellent security features for Windows

Long considered one of the best budget-friendly VPNs for Windows, Surfshark has slowly increased its prices. On the positive side, they keep adding new features, so you’re getting more security features with your subscription.

All 3,200+ servers are encrypted with AES 256-bit encryption, so you can browse anonymously and prevent your ISP, government, and hackers from seeing what you’re doing. It also has Public Wi-Fi protection, which is an important safety when using your laptop at a coffee shop.

Surfshark is a fast Windows VPN that does a good job unblocking most of the streaming sites I tested, with the exception of Amazon Prime Video and ESPN.

If your privacy and anonymity are more important to you than speed, you can connect to MultiHop servers. This connects you to a VPN server and then reroutes you to a second server in a different country. Then, when you visit a website, even if they can somehow track where you came from, it would lead to the previous VPN IP address and not yours.

Surfshark has a feature called CleanWeb that cleans your browser from temp files, cookies, ads, and trackers. It’s free with your subscription but turned off by default

In addition to Windows, Surfshark has apps for all the major platforms, and it can be used on an unlimited number of devices. This way, you can secure your entire network with a single license.

  • Easy to use
  • Many locations and servers are available
  • Up to 5 devices connected at once

I had very high hopes for TunnelBear going in because it’s the free VPN developed by McAfee. It was clear that they put a lot of work into streamlining the setup process. It was quick and easy, with no need for any technical knowledge. But things started going downhill from there.

The data cap I found with TunnelBear was shocking. The limit was just 500MB for each month. Compare to Hotspot Shield Free VPN, which was already not so great at 500MB each day. I don’t think TunnelBear means for their free VPN to do much but recruit paid users.

Using the free VPN highlighted some of the key features that would be more useful in the paid version without the data cap. Users can use TunnelBear simultaneously on up to 5 devices, making it great for an entire household.

The biggest plus here is the number of server locations. Users can access over 20 different locations across major countries, and there are 1,000 unique servers in total. If it weren’t for the data cap, TunnelBear would be one of the top picks for dodging location blocks on streaming services.

  • No data cap
  • Very secure
  • Many features

Without a doubt, when looking for free VPNs, ProtonVPN Free was the most common suggestion I found. I knew I could trust this VPN from the makers of ProtonMail. It was easy to get set up and started with simple signup and installation process.

The most appealing feature by far was the absence of data limits. Nearly every free VPN I found had some restrictive cap that makes it unviable for most uses.

Free users have access to servers in the USA, Netherlands, and Japan, but that’s enough for anyone trying to access Netflix’s American catalog. Personally, I found easy access to the broader Godzilla canon through Japanese Netflix one of the top perks of this VPN.

The only downside I can find in any area is some speed throttling. ProtonVPN does give priority to their paying customers, so you might experience some slow down during peak hours. Aside from that, ProtonVPN Free is an obvious winner when it comes to compatibility and privacy.


  • Military grade encryption
  • Easy to install on Windows
  • Many premium features

Hotspot Shield Free VPN certainly seemed like a great choice at first. Setup was straightforward and easy to follow, and it was compatible with all the Windows, Android, and Apple devices I own. Unfortunately, this service has one glaring downside.

This free VPN has a data cap of just 500MB each day. This means that once you’ve gone through 500MB of data, that’s the end of it until tomorrow. For example, the lowest Netflix quality settings take 300MB per hour. So I could watch up to 3 episodes of my favorite shows each day, but nothing more.

I could only access one location with this VPN, the US. This VPN might be useful if someone needs to bypass location restrictions on non-video content, but not too much else. Of course, it has top-notch security and privacy if that’s what you really need from your VPN.

The entire browsing experience was marred by intrusive ads through their browser extensions. While I found this to be one of the faster options, the data cap makes it a poor choice for most uses where speed is a factor.

Hotspot Shield Free VPN has great security, but it’s clear that the product is only there to get you to invest in a paid plan.

  • Supports many platforms
  • Strong encryption
  • Above-average location count

Windscribe Free is another excellent choice if you’re trying to access foreign streaming services. I found even greater variety here than with Proton VPN free, with ten different locations available. These include the USA, Canada, UK, France, and Germany, all of which boast their own unique streaming catalogs.

It was easy to install on each platform, including Windows and Mac, along with iOS and Android apps. Browsing anonymously was very straightforward, with convenient browser extensions for all major browsers. The security features I gained through Windscribe were just great and instilled a great degree of confidence in my online privacy. End-to-end AES-256 encryption guaranteed that I wasn’t being monitored by eavesdroppers within the network.

The area where it really fell apart, though, was the speed. Windscribe Free really can’t compete with many of the other VPNs I tried. While it’s perfectly fine for casual browsing, it did cause some streaming services to stutter and revert to lower resolutions.

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CyberGhost Review: Optimized Servers but Is It Still Secure in 2024?



NordVPN Review: Great Speeds and Fast Download – But is it Secure?



IPVanish Review: Budget Friendly VPN, but Is It Any Good?



PureVPN Review: Large Network of Servers – But is it Good?



Surfshark: Comprehensive Security Features – But Is It Reliable?


How We Ranked & Compared The Best Free VPNs for Windows

You might be wondering how exactly I ranked these VPNs and why they made the cut while others didn’t. Each one of the VPNs I evaluated was rated based on some clear-cut criteria to give the most accurate VPN recommendations.

  • Reliable Security Standards

Security is the first area to look at for any VPN. Other criteria are important too, but any serious security problems are an automatic fail. A lot of VPNs out there, especially free ones, log user activity to sell to advertisers. Many websites try to do this anyway, but the whole point of a VPN is to avoid it.

Even VPNs that aren’t outright crooked could be mishandling personal information. Keeping logs of any kind is a definite downside. A VPN also needs a reliable encryption protocol to keep all user activity private.

  • Getting Around Region Blocks

Of course, one of the main reasons people use VPNs is to change their location to access content blocked in their country. This can be something as simple as accessing streaming content available elsewhere or as critical as avoiding strict online censorship in certain countries.

A VPN needs to have a variety of server locations to have reliable access to the most content. While having servers in many countries is a definite plus, even VPNs with many servers can suffer from unique compatibility issues that I only discovered during testing.

  • Lightning Fast Speeds

A VPN bounces your internet activity all over the place to provide privacy and spoof locations. If a VPN isn’t very well established, this can lead to significant reductions in speed. The best VPNs incorporate advanced network management to provide optimal downloads and uploads.

This is particularly important when streaming and torrenting, both of which need consistent high speeds for optimal use. This is one area where many of the free VPNs I tried failed, mainly because they throttle speeds compared to their premium paid versions.



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Why Do I Need a VPN for Windows?

Some people associate VPNs with illegal online activities where users must obscure their identities. In reality, VPNs offer reliable privacy and security for everyday citizens. Websites of all kinds try to gather your data. For the most part, they aren’t so nefarious, but people have a right to their privacy.

There are some VPNs that have extra features that ensure your Windows security and privacy features are enabled and working. The best example is CyberGhost’s Privacy Guard. It scans your Windows settings and checks for weaknesses and vulnerabilities.

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Why Aren’t free VPNs recommended?

VPNs route your traffic through other network locations, employing encryption and other security measures along the way. Developing and maintaining the software that supports these networks costs a lot of money.

A truly free VPN has to make its money somehow, either by selling ads based or selling your data to third parties.

The other problem with free VPNs is you’ll get limited server selection, slow speeds, and it won’t be able to bypass geo-blocks and firewalls.

The two alternatives are free trial and freemium VPNs. I prefer free trial and money-back guarantees, because they include access to all the premium features, while the freemium options are limited.

Finding the Right VPN for You

So that’s my list of the best free Windows VPNs out there today. There should be something for everyone among these offerings. Consider if you’re looking for speed, privacy, security, or data allowance to choose the best free VPN for your unique needs.

I recommend CyberGhost as it has everything I need for a free VPN for Windows. It comes with optimized servers for streaming, gaming, and torrenting, the WireGuard protocol is great for security, and its 45-day no-hassle money-back guarantee means I can use it free for a good amount of time.

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