A VPN is essential if you're concerned about privacy and want to make sure that you're safe when you connect to public WiFi. There are other benefits to using a VPN too. Free VPNs are available, but some have their drawbacks. Read on to find out about best free VPN options and whether they're right for you.

What's the best free VPN?

In attempting to pick the best free VPN service, it soon became clear that all had their drawbacks. If you can afford a few pounds a month, you're going to be better off choosing a paid-for VPN from our round-up, our favourite of which is NordVPN.

However, there are free options available if you're willing to put up with the limitations.

For example, although impressive in other respects, you’re soon going to use up the free monthly data allowance with Tunnel Bear at which point you’ll be paying for the service, or uninstalling it.

Windscribe has a free option, but your bandwidth is again limited and there are other downsides there too, including server locations. Even more limited is ProtonVPN, with just three countries and low speed available.

But overall, and this may not the be news you wanted to hear, we'd recommend taking a look at our VPN chart for a cheap paid-for service that'll treat you much more kindly.

If watching video is your main concern, then check out our guide to watching US Netflix for more tips.

Tunnel Bear

Get Tunnel Bear here.

Tunnel Bear operates servers in US, UK, Canada, Germany, France and Japan, plus there’s also one in Australia but this is only for paid customers.

The difference between the free and the subscription services are mostly concerned with your data allocation. The free service gives you 500MB per month although you can request an increase to 1GB via Twitter.

Apparently, bear-related puns increase your chances of success. Beyond this you can pay either monthly or annually for unlimited data. The download speed was reported as a respectable 12Mb/s.

Windscribe

Get Windscribe here.

Windscribe's free version is reasonably good, offering unlimited devices, a firewall, adblock and P2P. However, the limitations emerge when you start looking at the number of server locations (there are 11 compared with the 50 you'll get with the paid-for version) and your bandwidth, which is limited to 10GB per month.

You can have a look at which servers you'll be missing out on in Windscribe's handy comparison on its pricing page.

ProtonVPN

Get ProtonVPN here.

Another free option that's even more limited is ProtonVPN, which has just three countries available, only works on one device and has a low speed.

Still, it could be worth a try if you don't get on with Tunnelbear or Windscribe, before you decide to pay for one of the VPNs in our chart.

Opera

The latest version of the Opera web browser now includes a VPN client. Unlike other browsers, this isn't an extension or add-on: it's part of the browser. And it really is free, so you're not limited on the amount of data you use per month and you won't have to pay for a subscription.

To use the feature you have to go to the O menu, then Settings, then Privacy & Security and toggle the free VPN on.

Download the browser here.

Find out more about browser VPNs here.