You connect your VPN app to the internet. Then you browse the web. Suddenly, all your private data—including your IP address—is encrypted and secure. All the right information at your fingertips, without having to worry about any third-party monitoring or hacking.
While there are many free VPN apps available, connecting to one isn’t as easy as it seems. You’ll need to set up a VPN connection manually within your device, which can be a hassle. To make things easier for you, we’ll go over some of the best free VPNs for iOS and Android, as well as some alternative solutions that let you connect to a VPN without having to pay for the app.
Free VPN Apps for iOS and Android
When it comes to securing your personal data while online, nothing beats a VPN. The VPN app you connect to will encrypt all of your internet traffic, which makes it much harder for hackers or snoops to intercept your personal information—even if you give them access to your device.
While there are many free VPN apps for Android and iOS, not all of them are created equal. Some are simply designed to look like the premium apps while offering mostly free features. Others, however, are fully-fledged VPN servers that provide great performance and security. Below, we’ll discuss the best free VPN apps available for iOS and Android—and what to look out for.
NordVPN is one of the most popular VPN apps for iOS and Android, offering superior privacy and performance to users. As a general rule of thumb, fast speeds and great security should go hand-in-hand. With NordVPN, you’ll get both. To access the service, simply visit the VPN website and click on the download button. You’ll then have to extract the downloaded file and move it to your device’s storage. From there, launch the app to begin using NordVPN.
Once you connect to the app, you’ll notice that it’s very similar to the macOS version. It’s designed to look like a stand-alone app, but when you open the configuration page, you’ll see that it’s actually just a wrapper around the macOS VPN app. The great thing about NordVPN is that it’s very easy to use. After you connect to the app, you’ll see a menu on the left-hand side with a few options. From there, you can open the Settings app to check your connection status or change the VPN server. On the iPad, you can also use the Split View to monitor both the Netflix library and your activity on the internet.
IPVANISH is another popular VPN app that provides great performance, especially when compared to other free VPN apps. It’s a simple app with a clean user interface. To use the service, simply launch the app and click on the green button to connect to a VPN server. After you connect, visit a site that offers downloads to ensure you’re always protected whether you’re on public or private networks. One important thing to keep in mind, though, is that with IPVANISH, you need to manually confirm your location before the app can connect to a VPN server. Once connected, the app will inform you of any changes in your geographic location. Unfortunately, one of the major drawbacks to IPVANISH is that it only offers a few VPN protocols, including OpenVPN and L2TP/IPSec. If you need more security or performance, you’ll need to pay for the premium version of the app. Fortunately, it’s an affordable option—you can pay as little as $2.99 per month for access to the full VPN network.
For those looking for a faster, more secure option than the two apps above, ExpressVPN is the answer. It doesn’t get much simpler than connecting to a VPN and instantly being able to access sites that you normally couldn’t reach. If you’re looking for a robust, feature-rich app that also offers great price-performance, consider ExpressVPN. You’ll find the app’s pricing plan available on its website—you can try it for free for 30 days before you decide to install the app. The good thing about ExpressVPN is that it allows you to connect via some of the most popular VPN protocols, including OpenVPN, L2TP, and IPsec. In addition, you can use the app’s Smart Route selection to automatically select the best VPN server for your device based on the network you’re currently on. If you decide that ExpressVPN is the best choice for your needs, simply download the app from the app store.
If none of the above solutions seem to fit your needs, there are a few other options worth mentioning. On the iOS side, you can use the TunnelBear app to create a VPN tunnel on your iPhone or iPad. On the other end, you’ll need to have a dedicated VPN server or use the StrongestVPN app, which is a feature-rich web app that functions as a VPN server. If your computer is acting as a VPN server, you can use the OpenVPN app to connect to it from your mobile device.
Once you have a VPN server set up, all you need is the dedicated app. Your VPN address will be emailed to you, and all you have to do is copy and paste it into the OpenVPN app to connect.
With that being said, setting up a VPN server on your own is a task that takes some time to get right. If you’re serious about security, you may consider purchasing a VPN router from a respected vendor such as NordVPN. Alternatively, you can use a VPN service that offers dedicated IPs or provides free VPN servers for journalists, bloggers, and other website content creators. When selecting a free VPN service, make sure that there are no restrictions on the type of content that you can create or share while connected to the service.