Disclosure: Privacy Australia is community-supported. We may earn a commission when you buy a VPN through one of our links. Learn more.
Best Free VPNs with Free Trials
The VPN industry is an interesting one. There are few other products that offer as much as a VPN, for as long, for as cheaply.
But there are a few reasons for this. You cannot compare a VPN to a physical product like a gallon of milk. As much as there is, there is a finite amount of milk in the world.
But the only limit on the number of copies of a particular VPN that exists is the space on each computer to hold it.
So, if there is no scarcity, why do VPNs charge money? This is a good question, so good in fact that the companies that make, maintain, and distribute these VPNs seem to ask themselves the same question.
Many VPNs, even VPNs of singular quality, offer free trials. It is important for them to stay competitive in a market that is constantly evolving, where there are literally dozens of other products competing with it.
As a result, they make themselves at the very least free to try if they don’t offer a free version.
Table of Contents:
- What is a VPN
- What Extra Features Can a VPN Have
- The Best VPNs with Free Trials
- 1. ExpressVPN
- 2. CyberGhost
- 3. Private Internet Access
- 4. ProtonVPN
- 5. ZenMate
- Frequently Asked Questions
What is a VPN? 🛡️
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Some people want a free VPN because they have a need for a VPN, but not the funds for one. But others want a free VPN because they are unclear on what a VPN does.
For those people, we will spend a brief time defining a VPN, and what it can offer you.
“VPN” is actually an acronym. It stands for “Virtual Private Network”. VPNs are a service, which is why they cost money even though they are not a product that is produced and put on shelves. The exact nature of the service you are getting differs between each VPN, but some things are constant.
The core of a VPN is, as the name implies, the privacy it offers your computer. What it does is that it establishes a buffer space between your computer network at home and the computer network of the internet at large. This buffer keeps websites from tracking your activity and looking at your information.
That is the VPN at its most basic functionality: Keeping your computer from being tracked and stopping websites and ads from stealing your personal information. Both of these things happen all the time.
What Extra Features Can a VPN Have? 📝️
Separating the good VPNs from the ones worth paying for is a matter of knowing what they are capable of, as well as what you need. You should also keep in mind your computer literacy, as some VPNs are going to be more complex than others. Here is a brief list of features you might look for.
- Antivirus software
- Port forwards for torrenting
- Web browser plugins
- Easy to use interface
- Add-on support
These are just a few of the most common and popular tools that go along with VPNs due to doing similar things, if not doing things that are only possible with a VPN.
The Best VPNs with Free Trials 🆓️
Now that you know what a VPN does and what it can provide, let’s go over some of the best VPNs with free trials. Some of these trials are timed, while others are feature-locked, meaning that the more advanced tools they offer you are locked behind a monthly payment.
1. ExpressVPN – Best Overall VPN with a Free Trial
While many VPNs with free trials and free features tend to limit their features, ExpressVPN chooses instead to have a shorter trial that just blows all the others out of the water. ExpressVPN’s main selling point is, as you might guess, its speed. But what does it mean for a VPN to go fast?
All VPNs will slow down the functionality of your internet access somewhat. This is because they have to communicate with the private network hosted on the VPN service’s own data centres in order to provide their service. That means all of your internet activity is filtered through that connection.
For some VPNs, that connection is going to be highly tenuous. An Australian connecting to a VPN that is exclusively hosted in the United States, for instance, is going to experience a ton of slowdown.
ExpressVPN has incredible speeds due to having data centres on every continent besides Antarctica. These data centres are also highly secure, meaning that the app itself is easy to manage since so much of what keeps you safe is in the hands of ExpressVPN rather than on your computer.
The manner of ExpressVPN’s free trial means that it is not as easily navigated as other free trials. While its phone app has a one-week free trial, the desktop version instead has a 30-day money-back plan.
This means that within 30 days of getting the service, you can get your money back completely. If you do not get a refund within those 30 days, then you will be charged for the next month and ineligible for the refund. As a result, there is a thin line between when you can use it and when you can cancel it.
Essentially, you have to cancel on your very last day of using it to get maximum value and avoid paying for it. You also have to make sure to remove your credit card information so that you cannot be charged for the next month despite getting a refund for the previous month.
The most important and difficult part of this process is the actual cancellation of it. Sometimes ExpressVPN lets people cancel through their website. But if you use it enough, or if you are cancelling it the last day before you pay for it, you will have to do it over the phone instead.
This is a roadblock deliberately set up to make it harder for you to cancel it and get your money back. So, be sure to schedule adequate time to make the phone call and negotiate your cancellation. Worst case scenario, you mention to the agent on the other end of the phone what the contract says.
- Great speeds
- Highly secure
- One of the best reputations for service
- Hard to cancel
2. CyberGhost – Best No-Log Policy VPN with a Free Trial
Most people use VPNs exclusively for the privacy they afford the user. But at the same time, many VPNs log their users’ activity. What is the meaning of this? Isn’t that a violation of privacy?
Yes, but the reason it happens is just in case the user does something with their VPN that a government does not approve of.
If someone is selling guns and hiding their internet gun selling activity with a VPN, then the VPN company can be held partially responsible for the crimes. In that sort of case, the VPN will keep logs of all users’ data in order to make sure that they can help catch any wrongdoers.
The issue with that practice is that those logs exist on the VPN’s data centres. That means if the VPN is ever compromised at the source, then all of those logs will leak. CyberGhostVPN seeks to avoid this and respect its users’ privacy by having a policy of not keeping logs.
Their free trial is, like the ExpressVPN free trial, actually a money-back guarantee period. This period lasts for 45 days rather than 30 days however and, perhaps more importantly, has one day of being a truly free trial. That one day is important, as it is the day you are meant to use to cancel that free trial.
While CyberGhost has plenty of strong features, its biggest problem is that the free trial limits those features. Not only that, but it also limits those features to only one device at a time. This might seem fine, but if you want to secure yourself against tracking, then you can’t leave your phone unsecured.
It also throttles your speed for using the free trial, though it does not tell you that it does this. When users compare their speeds during the free trial to their speeds after upgrading, there is a noticeable difference. And remember, good speeds outside the free trial are not what we are considering here.
Also, as usual, capitalizing on the moneyback guarantee is not without its woes. It is easier this time, however, due to being done through a mostly automated chatbot rather than communicating over the phone with a person. You will be connected to a person eventually, but not until the last moment.
Like with the call centre, this person will likely read off a script and have English as a second language, so be patient and state your intent clearly. Be ready to quote the contract back to them and remove your payment information afterwards.
- Access to lots of different countries
- No log policy
- Layers of protection software
- Speeds are throttled on free trial version
3. Private Internet Access – Best Torrenting VPN with a Free Trial
Let’s signal one important thing upfront: Private Internet Access has a 30-day money-back guarantee, but it also has a 7-day free trial that is actually, properly free. Chalk that up as a win right away.
But that is not why most people give Private Internet Access a shot. The main reason is that it specializes in establishing ports for peer to peer connections.
These are the types of connections most commonly used for a style of data transfer called “torrenting”.
What is torrenting? Well, think of a download. When you are downloading something off of the internet, you are usually downloading straight from a single server. This server passes you all of the information that you need for the download and then closes the connection.
This has some drawbacks, including partly occupying that server, and exposing you to the risk of that server’s integrity. Torrents, on the other hand, pull from many different “seeds”. You get a little data by leeching off of one seed, and a little more from leeching off of another.
And eventually, you build up enough data for the whole download. As efficient as this is, it is a complex process. That is why a VPN that supports it can be so important. Torrenting does have a bit of a reputation due to being associated with software and music pirating, but the practice itself is legal.
Private Internet Access does not wholly focus on torrenting, but torrenting is a good object example in what they are going for: A VPN for the advanced user. Focusing on the advanced user means not only a lot of features that some people are just not going to get but also a more advanced interface.
The problem there is that an overwhelming majority of people are going to look at this advanced interface and just think that it is bad. Someone with experience in the field will be able to tell that there is merit to every design decision, particularly since they make a priority of nothing getting in the way.
But to everyone else, it will appear bare-bones and hard to read. This is especially noteworthy in regards to the free trial; if you are not an advanced user, then you are probably not going to be able to learn the program in the free week that they give you.
The moneyback month might make it more possible, but given how few VPNs have torrent supporting features, using up your time learning the best one rather than using it is less than ideal.
- Great torrenting tools
- More generous free trial than most options
- Highly secure
- Very advanced to actually use
4. ProtonVPN – Best Streaming VPN with a Free Trial
While the intended use of a VPN is to protect you from predatory online data collecting practices, there is a secondary function to the software that has surged in popularity in the last five years: Location spoofing. In particular, location spoofing with the intention of unlocking different streaming sites.
ProtonVPN is a VPN software that has a 30-day money-back guarantee like many other VPNs but also has an entire free version of the app. And while this free version is limited, it does still give you access to the ability to spoof your location into other territories. But what is the use of this? Why does it at all?
Well, when it comes to streaming there is a lot of hidden diversity in each platform. Take Netflix, for instance. Netflix is not available at all in some countries (very few countries, like China and Russia). But more to the point, the version available in Japan and the version available in Australia are very different.
ProtonVPN seeks to solve both of these problems with one highly elegant solution: The location spoofing we mentioned before. How this works is that when your VPN hides your information, rather than simply obscuring your location information, it provides false location information.
When you connect to Netflix, the server will ask where you are connecting from in order to retrieve the correct site to present to you. When it asks this question, ProtonVPN will tell it whatever you want to tell it. With some VPNs, you can connect to most major countries. But the advantage of ProtonVPN is that it specializes in connecting you to basically every country that has a unique version of a site.
This includes Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Disney Plus, and other streaming services. Not all of these are available with the free version, but you can always get Netflix unblocked in at least one other region.
The limitations of the free version are somewhat obvious as far as drawbacks go. But the thing about free versions of software like this is that most people are pretty much ready for it to be lesser than the full, premium versions. So, these limitations are known factors going in.
The question then becomes: What issues are not as obvious? And to that end, you should consider the infrastructure of ProtonVPN. We mentioned earlier that speeds are a result of widespread data centres. ProtonVPN has a huge number of data centres, meaning that it provides good speeds.
But those speeds fall off when it is streaming video, particularly in the free trial version. This is because you are not just filtering your internet connection through one other data centre. You are bouncing between several, and streaming videos at the same time on top of that.
This means that, depending on the speed of your own internet connection, you can lose a lot of video quality. Most internet connections will be fast enough to keep it watchable, but if you are connecting to anywhere outside the Oceania or Southeast Asia regions, you will not get 4K video.
- Connects to tons of different regions and streaming services
- Has DNS support for mobile devices
- Great security
- Has speed issues depending on your internet connection
5. ZenMate – Best Free Trial with No Frills
Several times we have said that a free trial is going to be difficult to cancel before it turns into a paid subscription. We say this like this is obvious and normal, but it really shouldn’t be.
The main problem is that once a company knows you are interested, they know there is a chance they can trick you.
This trick involves opening themselves up to losing an amount of value. In short, they use the opportunity to trick them as a chance to trick you. This is accomplished by getting you to input your credit card information. If they did not have your credit card information, then they could never charge you for a month that you did not want. ZenMate helps you avoid exactly this situation.
By no means is a fair free trial the focus of ZenMate’s business strategy. They are a good VPN that has good speeds and good security—a lot of “goods”, but not a lot of “greats”. Their biggest asset is unlimited bandwidth and unlimited connections to different devices. The app runs on tons of operating systems too. They also unblock far more streaming services than you would expect.
All of this together means that their free trial can feel quite expansive. The lack of bandwidth limitations means that you can not only watch as much video as you want but download a video in as high of a quality as you want. Normally this is restricted to a paid version of an app.
The copious amounts of “good but not great” features that ZenMate has might give some people the impression that it is lacking. But especially given that it is not trying to trick you with its free trial, it should be said that you rarely need a VPN to be any more than “good”.
There is a sort of myth around internet speeds that is half borne from practicality and half borne from marketing made by internet service providers. You do not need the highest speed VPN to have a VPN worth using, especially since the goal of a VPN is to provide privacy, not always streaming options.
The real place that it has issues is that its speeds are not just sub-optimal. They are actually capped. This is a balancing act with its unlimited bandwidth, as it ensures that no one uses too much of their bandwidth at once, and they can always empty out the data that was stored up.
This data speed cap will make some forms of online gaming, streaming, and torrenting next to impossible. So, only use it for streaming in standard definition and privacy settings, not for these things.
- Seven days free, 30-day money-back guarantee, with no tricks
- Customer support is easy to talk to
- Unlimited bandwidth and access to multiple operating systems
- Capped data speeds
Those are the best VPNs with free trials. If you want to upgrade those free trials to full-fledged versions of the software, then that functionality is usually quite easy to access. Not only that, but you also usually get the first year at a massively reduced rate. Why is this? Well, remember that VPNs are a service.
While you get the first week for free, the first month with a money-back guarantee, and the first year for usually 90% off, most VPNs are not looking to make their money in a week, a month, or even a year.
Think of how long you have had Netflix or subscribed to play an MMORPG. These are services that people make use of over the course of many years. The process of going from one VPN to another is tiresome because all of them want you to just pick a VPN to settle with forever.
To help you decide on a VPN, we have assembled some frequently asked questions and their answers.
Frequently Asked Questions ➡️
Are VPNs legal?
VPNs are totally legal. Even in countries where you would expect them to be illegal, such as China, they are legal. Part of the reason for this is that they are definitionally hard to legislate. Even if you are caught owning and paying for a VPN, they frequently make it difficult to track their users’ activity, meaning that you can be caught owning a VPN and still not be proven to have actually used the software.
Is torrenting legal?
Similar to VPNs, torrenting is another software that is easy to imagine being used for internet crimes but is so hard to prove that it is legal because it is not a problem on its own.
Are VPNs hard to set up?
Some definitely are. VPNs started as extremely technical software that was basically only usable by developers. In the last ten years, however, they have gotten increasingly more approachable. VPNs that were once considered the most complex of their kind changed their interfaces to be more marketable.
Should I leave my VPN on all the time?
The shortest answer to this question is that there is no downside to doing this unless it affects your internet speed. The effect it has on your speed will be there as much in the first hour as the one hundredth. There is an upside to your VPN being on all the time too, such as making remote attacks harder.
So, there you have it. If you want a VPN but are not sure which one to get or what is the best deal, then there are quite a few that have a free trial in one form or another. Always be careful with anything that asks for your credit card information. They will try their best to hang onto it if they can.
But also, remember that even if you pay for the first month it is not the end of the world. A VPN’s standard price is $10 a month, but they will likely only charge $1 to $3 for every month of the first year. This is to get you hooked on the program, which also happens to make it super cheap.
You Might Also Like: