NordVPN is one of the most reliable VPN service providers that give you superior privacy and security.
“I was looking for a provider with a decent VPN that also offered Smart DNS and believe me, there aren't too many out there that do both well. Most providers focus on VPN or Smart DNS, whereas CactusVPN is very strong on both. Speeds over the VPN are impressive considering the encryption process and whenever I've contacted their Support Team, responses have been quick and useful.”
John Parish – CactusVPN customer
“Best speed in many situations? ExpressVPN. Best stability. Best to unblock Netflix. One of the best customer services. If your router is supported by them, you can use their own firmware app in it. Voila!”
“It's a powerful kind of tool, and CyberGhost is one of the better VPNs we've tested. It boasts the largest network of VPN servers we've yet seen and allows a generous seven simultaneous connections. It has also expanded its reach beyond VPNs with other security tools.”
Just get straight to the point, would you? I’m in a hurry
|VPN||Best Price||Annual Price||Free Trial|
30-Day Money-Back Guarantee
|1 Year $48.99|
30-Day Money-Back Guarantee
|Yes, with OpenVPN (TCP & UDP), Wireguard®, SSTP, SoftEther, IKEv2|
|CyberGhost||Exclusive deal 2-year plan|
$3.67 per month. Save 69%+ 3 months FREE
$99.00 for the first 2 years
$ 4.92per month
$59.00 for the first year
|Yes, no card details, latest IKEv2, L2TP, strong 256-AES encryption, and OpenVPN protocols. DNS-leak protection, 7300 VPN servers in 91+ countries and 113 VPN locations, unlimited bandwidth with no throttling.|
|Hotspot Shield||Basic Free||Premium $7,99/mo |
Get ultra-fast VPN and 3 security apps: antivirus, password manager, and spam-call blocker.
|Yes, not as commitment-free but still quite good, with 115+ virtual locations in 80+ countries, 35+ cities, 24/7 live support, HD streaming with unlimited data, and so on.|
Why you should use a free trial
Free trials are terrific. It makes total sense for you to get to know the product before you decide it’s worth paying money for.
Therefore, you’re going to sign up, get your demo version of a program, use it to your heart’s content, escape the watchful eye of the world’s government and the best hackers there are in the world, and remain mysterious, stealthy, and very, very cool, like Tom Cruise’s character in Mission:Impossible: Rogue Nation (a definite must-see, by the way). Or at the very least Jack Reacher. That’s what VPNs are for, right?
You’ll be safe. For free. And maybe you’ll decide to sponsor a Just Cause in a month (but only if you’re completely satisfied with the free trial), and join the ®evolution that focuses on returning people their rights to privacy and building a brave new world where everyone is free. Forever. .
Well, that’s what VPN providers will sell you, but the truth behind the facade is far from pretty.
For example, some free versions offer much more limited functionality than their full-fledged counterparts. Also, even the best VPNs out there lie about their certifications and audits, of which there turns out to have no proof after an investigation, and yet others install software on your PC and ask for root access which would allow them to take you for pretty much every piece of data you have. Which you won’t know about unless you’re a specialist. Ouch!
But even if you decided to take the easy and safe demo option, you have bigger problems than that.
Your free trial isn’t free, and neither are you
All VPNs offer a free trial in the sense that you can request to get your money refunded, as per their money-back guarantee policy (which means signing up and actually paying).
But this is misleading because they say they offer a free trial when in reality they only offer a money-back guarantee. Plus your credit card details are going out there to intermediary companies you don’t know and can’t run audits on. And, by the way, that’s many intermediary companies. And anyone who cares to hack them.
In case you’re wondering if hacking will happen to you, there’s no need to get anxious, but just so you know, according to Cybersecurity Ventures,
- Cybercrime will cost the world $6 trillion by 2021,
- By 2021, a business will fall victim to ransomware every 11 seconds
- Americans lose $15 billion annually due to identity theft
- It takes 196 days on average to identify a data breach.
So should you give up your private data as you sign up and pay for a free trial?
But I can avoid giving up your personal data, right? Right?
You may think VPNs will make you safer. However, if they ask you to sign up and give away your credit card details, they are going walking on the Internet, creating a whole world of trouble. That’s why Jack Reacher doesn’t like using PCs, full stop.
If you think your personal data will stay safe on the Internet, history shows that as long as you’re on a PC connected to the Internet, sooner or later someone will be reading what you’re writing. Not even the NSA can keep its data secure, as a legendary cybersecurity engineer and crypto evangelist Andreas Antonopoulos will tell you. As the crypto adagio goes: “not your keys? Not your coin” (long story), and the same goes for your credit card information.
The only way of keeping it safe is never putting your physical wallet and your PC in the same room and never (ever!) giving away your credit card details, especially to people and sites you’re unsure of.
Basically, if you type your information into a PC, it’s not safe. This concerns all types of information, but the financial details are probably the most painful to lose, so in this guide, we’ll spend our time looking for the best VPNs with free trials, but these will be the few VPNs whose trials are actually free. Like Jack. These are VPNs that offer a “true” free trial. This means you won’t have to either pay up without using the product or give out sensitive financial data.
But like diamonds on the pavement in the middle of Times Square or true love, these VPNs are pretty hard to find. Which, by the way, we did.
Best Free VPN Trials
What are the best VPNs with free trials? What follows are brief descriptions of 2 VPNs you’ll probably get engaged with once you try them. They’re followed by more who offer a silver prize (payment details needed but no charge yet). And a couple of surprise appearances.
- Cactus VPN – 3-day free trial (No credit card payment details required for the trial period)
- CyberGhost – 1-day free trial (No credit card or payment details required for the trial period)
- Hotspot Shield – 7-day free VPN trial (credit card / PayPal details required, but won’t charge you)
- Norton360 VPN – 14-day free VPN trial ((credit card / PayPal details required, but won’t charge you)
We’ve also thrown in other options that aren’t ideal (but very attractive, so you may fall for them). But we’ll start with the best.
Cactus VPN – 3-day free trial (No credit card payment details required for the trial period)
With a slightly risky name for a VPN, your small new friend is surprisingly powerful, featuring unlimited bandwidth and speed, no logs policy, best data encryption, and much more. Even though you might need a VPN to access its site (doh!), it offers an array of functions you’ll be impressed with:
Which is actually free, no obligations
Hopefully, no information will be stored that isn’t completely necessary to store, plus for minimum periods of time.
Support is important, not only because you need to be able to not feel alone and abandoned, but also because they should be able to answer your more technical questions like server speed and location, spam lists and blocking, and so on. In short, they can help you out quickly and with maximum efficiency. In theory.
No bad publicity
CactusVPN hasn’t been noticed doing anything unseemly. Great!
Use funky new and ultra-compatible tech to avoid lags, tripping automatiс protection systems or dive deeper and access sites other VPNs aren’t powerful enough to unlock.
It’s a definite plus that CactusVPN uses WIreGuard. Want some state-of-the-art cryptography with minimal attack surface, exceptional performance, GPLv2 license, and crypto key routing? Find out more here.
Get a free month for referring a friend
Sharing is caring! Find out more in your dash.
Use it on an unlimited number of devices
Some systems will only allow you to use 6 devices at the same time, and if you want more, pay up. No more extortion! CactusVPN offers you true liberty across the board.
A very attractive price
A small VPN server network doesn’t mean slower speeds. In fact, fewer clients may make up for that.
Strong focus on security: perfect forward secrecy, 256-bit AES encryption, 2048-bit DHE-RSA, SHA256, and OpenVPN protocol as well as others like L2TP/IPSec, IKEv2, SSTP.
Great Price: you won’t find many VPNs with a strong set of features like this one that cost less than $7 a month (use the code in this video).
Uses very easily hackable (and hacked) PPTP, which is a clear minus. Are we still in 2007? Plus, we’d like to see more aggressive 4096-bit encryption, but this is just nitpicking.
Not too many payment methods:
Support could be better, and the site could use a better knowledge base.
Despite a few minor problems, this VPN offers a very convincing set of features, which makes it definitely worth it. It’s not the size; it’s how you use it! To avoid losing money on deals, the time is now!
CyberGhost – 1-day free trial (No credit card or payment details required for the trial period)
Unique features and things not to miss out on
15 years in the business
One of the most important things when it comes to doing business with someone, especially in the financial circles, is their rep. Therefore, CyberGhost comes highly recommended. Add to that the biggest score of servers you’ve ever seen, and you’re in business!
This doesn’t really count but it doesn’t sound too bad. “Your data was ghosted!”. Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands, anyone?
Great deals (check out my CyberGhost review)
According to PC Mag, there are additional cool features on offer (sort of like Special Ops of VPN servers):
“CyberGhost VPN offers NoSpy servers, which it says are specially tuned servers in a high-security server facility in CyberGhost's home of Romania. This is similar to ProtonVPN's Secure Core servers in that they also have increased physical security.”
When using a VPN there is always some trade-off between convenience and security. The term “split tunneling” is a general way of describing when a VPN user has configured their computer or device to use the public internet for some, but not all, online activities. When split tunneling in VPN takes place, an individual will be connected to both the private network and the public internet at once. In most cases, this is done so that users can access the geo-restricted content on streaming services like Netflix and Hulu while also having protection from cybercriminals with high levels.
There are quite a few types and nuances to split tunneling though, so if you’d like a detailed explanation check out this page from the apex predator of this industry (NordVPN), which we include in this article not for its free trial (which is anything but liberating) but for general excellence.
Good choice for beginners
An overwhelming amount of good reviews
Easy to install, intuitively understandable UI
Lobbies torrenting and offer untraceable servers
Compatible with TOR, which can be crucial
Plenty of servers
Proves fast when tested by PCMag
Fast enough for gaming.
Not the fastest (but not the slowest)
Sometimes gives away your location and the fact you’re using a VPN
Not sure what’s going on with the offer of installing an SSL certificate with exceptionally high access privileges?
Needs a 3rd party audit
Still not the fastest around.
With its good publicity and beginner-friendliness, CyberGhost is a tempting offer. Its reviews are outstanding and offered by some of the most reputable companies around. We like how much emphasis was put on encryption and security, and with that CyberGhost seems to have been specifically designed for easу of gaming, unlocking, streaming, and so on, so it will appeal to the masses, which means it has prospects. Good design score overall! What’s not to love? Join the legions of followers now!
Hotspot Shield: 7-day free trial (payment details required, but they won’t charge you)
Tempting features and intriguing offers
The first thing that catches the eye is the list of companies connected to HotspotVPN:
They also call themselves “the world’s fastest VPNs” although whether those were sarcastic quotes or “quote” quotes we couldn’t tell.
Combined with the simplicity of use and its good encryption, it already presents itself well at first look, but there’s more to enjoy.
This VPN uses OpenVPN, which is always good. The OpenVPN protocol has many benefits, including:
- it is open-source, which means anyone can review the code;
- it offers strong encryption;
- and it provides a variety of security features such as leak protection.
One major benefit of using an OpenVPN protocol is that it encrypts both incoming and outgoing data between your device and the server you are connected to. It is open-source and it uses TLS encryption for key exchange, AES-256 for data encryption, and SHA2-384 as its hash function. It does not support legacy or obsolete protocols such as PPTP or L2TP/IPsec. One of the reasons why OpenVPN is good for VPNs is because it offers high levels of security and strong privacy guarantees to the user.
What’s even better, however, is that it uses RSA certificates with 2048 bit key for server authentication (but could be better with 4096 RSA, considering even those can be hacked), and Elliptic Curve Diffie-Hellman algorithm (ECDHE) for Ephemeral Key Exchange.
The Elliptic Curve Diffie-Hellman algorithm (ECDHE) is a variation of the Diffie-Hellman key exchange that uses elliptic curve cryptography. The ECDHE has been standardized in RFC 5114 and it is good for applications where security against eavesdropping, as well as man-in-the-middle attacks are required. The key exchange protocol in the Transport Layer Security (TLS) handshake uses RSA to generate a session key. The Diffie-Hellman variant of this algorithm generates ephemeral keys, which are not stored on either server or client.
Works with Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, Smart TV, Routers, Chrome.
Some strong security here including the native Catapult Hydra protocol, which is “optimized to get the fastest connection speeds, especially over long distances” according to VPNMentor. The Catapult Hydra Protocol provides lightning-fast speeds combined with military grade security protocols such as AES 256 bit encryption
This is an OpenVPN-based protocol that utilizes features such as Key Exchange, Data Channel Encryption, Forward Error Correction and other technologies to ensure security and privacy. It provides better protection against DDOS attacks with its channel bonding capability. Hydra also encrypts data over the network by using strong encryption algorithms which are up to 256 bits in length.
Established influence over time still counts for something:
Speed tests work out great
VPNMentor turned up speed test results, and they’re very enthusiastic:
“These are excellent connection speeds across the board. Not many of the VPNs we’ve tested have been able to deliver such reliably fast connections.
We also found the connections to be stable and reliable over time. We didn’t experience any speed loss or dropped connections during our tests.”
Over 600 000 000 users can’t be wrong
Optimized for gaming
Not only that, according to VPNMentor.com, it provides robust encryption, leak protection, and malware protection
One of the most trusted VPNs in the world, it comes with great guarantees.
No multi hops or access to TOR anonymization
Testing reveals some DNS leaks
This VPN stores a lot of information:
- Real IP address (deleted at the end of each session)
- Email address
- Unique mobile ID
- Hardware model
- Operating system version
- “Network information”
- Your city-level location
- Unique advertising ID
- Unique mobile ID (IMEI)
- MAC address
- Wireless carrier
Also, some bad rep:
“In 2017, the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) filed a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), claiming “undisclosed and unclear data sharing and traffic redirection occurring in Hotspot Shield Free VPN.”
The free version offers lower speeds (throttling)
So some strong encryption here but we’re a little unclear on data retention, so while there is the choice of two strong previous candidates we say you should at least try them first. Not a bad choice though! It’s worth checking out the website.
How not to do it: Norton Secure VPN: 14-day free trial (payment details required, but they won’t charge you)
Norton Secure VPN offers reasonably high scores when it comes to speed, user experience, and cost, all averaging at around 8 out of 10. They will pull your credit card details though, which is dangerous and also collect quite a lot of user data.
Let’s go straight to the most important point on this list: logging user data, which will then be stored somewhere you don’t know and possibly given up to either the government or hackers.
Here’s what Norton Secure VPN collects:
- Subscriber information, which includes:
- IP Address / Geolocation (Anonymous)
- Serial Number Device ID
- Technical information, which includes:
- Device name and type
- OS version (mobile only)
- Security information, which includes:
- The total amount of used bandwidth (limited by the number of bytes transferred using the service)
- Information about possible security risks, as well as URLs of websites that the Program considers to be potentially dangerous … Another type of information is used to analyze and improve the functionality of Norton products.
Coupled with a lack of security features and even a lack of its own website and an extremely demanding subscription system that has no idea how you can purchase this VPN (and not a very good reputation), we decided this would constitute a very good example of what to steer clear of. Sorry!
While we’re on the subject of terrific VPNs, we know for sure the hassle of divulging your sensitive information and paying up will be worth it with two of the undoubtedly best VPNs out there: Express VPN and NordVPN. It’s definitely worth giving them a try.
Trial vs. Money-Back Guarantee: What's the difference?
A trial is a type of offer where the customer has access to the product for a set period of time and can make an informed decision about whether or not they want to purchase it. A money-back guarantee, on the other hand, offers a refund in case you are dissatisfied with your purchase. A trial is a period of time during which you can use the product for free, but there are restrictions on what you can do with it. A money-back guarantee allows you to try out the product and get your money back if you don't like it.
Does strong protection guarantee my safety?
Military-grade encryption is a term that refers to the highest level of encryption. Military-grade encryptions are generally considered unbreakable and used for highly sensitive data. The term “military-grade” can be misleading because it does not imply any particular use or application by military personnel, but rather a nigh impenetrable form of encryption that has been tested against known methods of attack in order to ensure security.
Military-grade encryption refers to the use of strong 256-bit AES or AES256 encryption. It's recommended for storing classified data, sensitive personal information, and even transmitting data over an unsecured network. Military-grade encryption does not provide absolute protection against all types of cyber attacks but it provides more security than standard Windows antivirus protection.
So basically the answer is no, meaning the more you DYOR and implement your own security practices, the better. Important! Do your own security right, don’t improvise, and ask pros for help.
Are free VPNs safe?
The quick answer is no. You can read this article by Wired aptly titled “Free VPNs are a privacy nightmare. You shouldn’t download them” or just take our word for it. Onу way or another:
“The three biggest threats when it comes to free VPN mobile apps are data harvesting; incomplete protection; and corner-cutting in development that potentially leads to vulnerabilities,” says Simon Migliano, head of research at Top10VPN.com”
“77% of apps previously identified as potentially unsafe in2019 still pose a risk. Almost 60% of popular free VPN apps were secretly Chinese-owned while nearly 90% had serious privacy flaws. 85% of 150 Android apps tested had unsafe permissions or functions. 25% exposed users via DNS, WebRTC, or IP leaks. 518 million installs from Play store – up from 260 million in six months.”
The bottom line here is: better stick to reputable and well-researched VPNs out there when it comes to your private info, and read guides like this one to dee-dive to the INternet’s seedy underbelly to get to the real state of things.
They don’t store our sensitive information, right? I mean..logless (duh!)
In most cases, a “free trial” is not actually free and the “trial” part is reminiscent of the old turkey and cranberry sauce joke: the trial is focused on you.
While VPNs claim they are “logless” as you read into the fine print you’ll find out that they store a pretty remarkable amount of your data including payment details, the time you connected to the VPN, and how long you were connected for, the IP address you originally connected from, and so on. When push comes to shove, will they give up that data to the authorities who will then use this data against you?
Your guess is as good as ours, but history shows that for some companies (we point fingers but the name starts with “Face” and ends with “ook”) the temptation to sell your data is so hard to resist that they do it every several years since inception and don’t feel too bad about it. But what’s happening with your data when you use a VPN? Cnet.com thinks the prognosis is less than optimistic:
“That's the core problem with even the best VPN — despite all the audits and transparency gestures many companies undergo, it's still a user-trust business. No matter how much we trust any particular VPN to help mask our internet browsing, it's virtually impossible to verify whether a VPN truly keeps no logs. And we engage in that service knowing that all of our data is essentially funneled to a single company, with servers whose activity no expert can verify.”
Your VPN may actually prove to be clean and honest about its no logs policy like ExpressVPN when after an investigation it turned it was true to its word – or, like UFO VPN, it might actually keep records while it says it doesn’t, or yield to the FBI asking nicely like IPVanish and PureVPN in 2016 and 2017 when they handed over the data, revealing what their “no-logs policy” actually was about (albeit for a good cause).
So what to do? Research shows many things like loglessness, impenetrable security, and spectacular speeds you’ve been told about VPNs today are misleading, to say the least.
How do you choose the best product? Study facts carefully and patiently. We’ve done most of the work for you but there’s no telling how far down the rabbit hole goes. Fortunately, it’s interesting, too!
- Find the most universally trusted and technologically advanced candidates out there (we did that for you),
- cross-reference their pros and cons (also done),
- find out who’s definitely not worth your time (check),
- learn what you can about the technical side of things (check),
- find out what real people in the community think (complete),
- and go for the option that allows you to sacrifice the least data and effort and get the most excellent performance in return.