A virtual private network is a key network security software you need on your personal computer (PC). For many of us still, desktop PCs are our sanctuary and where we do the heavy lifting whereas laptops are often used for light work such as writing or casual browsing.
Our desktop computers are usually powerful beasts that transfer a lot of internet traffic back and forth. Many gamers, for instance, have powerful desktop computers where they transfer several gigabytes of data per day. This also counts if you are a heavy video editor, or use Netflix a lot on your desktop PC. Whatever the case may be, without a solid VPN, you are at risk of cyber attacks from hackers, malicious code infections, email scams, and much more on your main home computer (or the desktop PC at work). The good news is that you do not have to necessarily pay for a VPN to encrypt your internet connection and anonymize yourself (although it is a good idea to do so). You can simply pick up one of the best free VPNs for PCs out there that are community and cybersecurity expert-approved.
Keep in mind, however, that free VPNs come with several limitations as is expected with any type of free software. There are also major risks if you download a third-party VPN that has not been community-approved, so stick to the ones in the link in the above paragraph!
Let’s take a look at what VPNs are and dive into the best free VPNs for your PC next!
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What Is a VPN?
Think of a VPN as a secure tunnel through which you can safely send all of your internet traffic through. It effectively obscures you from threats and invasive privacy-breaching internet algorithms.
The logic of this is that your internet service provider (ISP) as well as any apps and websites that communicate with your PC over the internet might create a risk on an unencrypted connection (that is, a connection that does not run through a VPN tunnel). Simply put, if you do not have tight security all the way from your router to your PC, and you do not use a VPN, the chance of getting hacked or infected is much higher.
With a VPN activated, no one can read your incoming or outgoing internet traffic. This is possible thanks to modern advancements in encryption that allow VPNs to encipher data up to AES 256-bit. This is effectively military-grade transmission obfuscation. Anyone looking at compromising you by sniffing your connection would have nothing to play with except a ton of random characters and symbols. Without a VPN, the websites you are browsing would be visible, as well as IP addresses and ports.
On top of that, not having a VPN on your PC compromises your privacy and your anonymity. This happens because, first of all, your IP address points to your approximate physical location. This way, you can be profiled by websites and have your data collected. Secondly, the fact that there are enormous data harvesting algorithms prowling the internet for information is reason enough to run your internet traffic through a VPN. This effectively throws off any logging or IP address collection.
Third, being anonymous is great cyber hygiene. A VPN allows you to connect to one of its servers (how many of them there are depends on the quality of your VPN) and effectively replace your own IP and DNS address with the VPN vendor’s own. This way, websites will be tricked into thinking you are somewhere else. Also, a good VPN will even disguise any hardware or browser information your device may be broadcasting.
For these reasons, VPNs are a great all-in-one tool for both cybersecurity and privacy. Whether you are a journalist, activist, company owner, regular citizen, or the parent of a child that you want protection for, a VPN is an essential piece of kit.
The Best Free PC VPNs You Can Install Right Now
Before we get into free VPNs that do what they say, let’s be aware that premium software is always the better option. A premium VPN will have many more features and solid policies compared to a free VPN, there’s no question about it! For instance, NordVPN has brilliant customer support in its premium version but can also scan the dark web for stolen information belonging to you or make you invisible on your local LAN connection! New features and innovations are constantly added to proper VPNs, which is all the more reason to purchase one (at a modest fee of a few dollars per month, no less). Most premium VPNs are a bargain for what you are getting. After all, what is more important than staying safe and away from prying eyes?
Now, when it comes to free VPNs there are a few caveats to list first. Some of these are that you may experience data caps, speed issues, as well as fewer servers to choose from. Proper customer service is also hard to come by with a completely free VPN. Then again, the software is free, of course! So, without further ado, here are the top community-reviewed VPNs for your PC in 2022 that often come up on any review site worth its salt!
- Hotspot Shield
Among these, there is one VPN brand that consistently hits the mark and is trusted by millions of users, and that is ProtonVPN! Of course, there are several reasons why ProtonVPN usually places first among other free VPNs.
Primarily, Proton is a security brand that specializes in its email service, cloud storage, and VPN service (its premium VPN is great, too!). Secondly, no other VPN on the list above offers unlimited data while providing class-leading security. On top of that, you get a satisfying amount of servers to connect to.
Finally, it is important to note that the other VPNs in the list should not be thrown to the side just yet. The other VPNs are all legitimate and work well, however, don’t expect features like unlimited data for free!