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Best free Android VPN

Best free Android VPN

With an Android VPN, you can keep your data and online activity protected and private. A VPN can create a secure point-to-point connection through a public network, dodge geographical restrictions, and skirt content filtering and censorship.

A VPN subscription costs $20 to $80 a year, which doesn't seem like too much to pay for a secure Internet connection. But if you need a VPN infrequently -- say, for when you're in airports or hotels -- a free VPN might meet your needs.

Best free Android VPN: TunnelBear

TunnelBear puts an engaging wrapper on an easy-to-use tool, using a bear motif to help you navigate around the app.

You get 500MB of free data per month, but send a tweet to add 1GB to that monthly amount.

To get around geoblocking, TunnelBear has servers in 20 regions, from Brazil to the United Kingdom, though most are in the northern hemisphere.

TunnelBear uses AES-256 encryption and the open-source OpenVPN app to obscure and protect your data. The company says that it does not collect or store user activity -- see its privacy policy for details.

A limited second choice: Betternet Unlimited Free VPN

Betternet offers a free, ad-supported version of its VPN with unlimited monthly data. Like TunnelBear, Betternet uses OpenVPN and AES-256 encryption and says that it doesn't store users logs or share personal information.

Unlike TunnelBear, the free app offers no choice for an exit region. Instead, Betternet drops you into one of its servers with low latency but doesn't cap the number of users on the server, so transfer speeds can vary. While you won't be able to sidestep geoblocking, the app is a good choice for getting around Internet filtering.

How we evaluated Android VPNs

Although VPN services offer a wide variety of capabilities, we came up with a short list of essential points for comparing them.

First we looked at how easy the VPNs are to set up and use. Then we checked how much data you get for free and how many useful exit nodes the VPNs connect to.

Next we ran informal speed tests, checking throughput with and without the VPN, both running on Wi-Fi and over a cellular connection.

We looked at which security and privacy tools the companies say they use -- and if they weren't using OpenVPN and AES, then why? We looked at whether the VPNs leaked data and which user activities the services say they are or are not logging.

See our guide for much more info on how to choose an Android VPN.

More free Android VPNs

Avira Phantom VPN. A solid VPN that caps free data at 1GB per month.

Hotspot Shield Free VPN Proxy. Free server nodes limited to the US.

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Clifford Colby follows the Mac and Android markets for He's been an editor at Peachpit Press and a handful of now-dead computer magazines, including MacWeek, MacUser, and Corporate Computing.