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The 6 Best Free VPN Providers – TechEye

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Free VPNs have a bit of a negative connotation, especially in comparison to paid platforms. Many free VPNs are plagued with constant advertisements, and many more aren’t very secure or privacy-focused since they collect and sell your data to third-party advertisers in order to make money.

However, not all free VPNs are complete wastes of time. In fact, some free VPN platforms are quite good, especially when you take their features into account and remember that they don’t cost anything to use.

In this guide, we’ll take a look at the best free VPNs for all users and see whether they’re worth the hassle of a download.

Want to jump straight to the answer? The best free VPN for most people is Hotspot Shield.

Why Choose a Free VPN?

The most obvious reason to target a free virtual private network instead of a paid VPN, like NordVPN, is the price difference. After all, if you could get free anonymity as you browse the Internet or access restricted content that your government doesn’t normally allow, all without spending a penny, wouldn’t you?

While this sounds like a great deal on the surface, there are some issues with free VPNs you should be aware of before downloading one.

For starters, remember that all VPN companies have to turn a profit in some way. If they offer their VPN services for free, that usually means that they are collecting something else from you – like your data. In fact, many of the best free VPNs will sell their users’ data to third parties in order to turn a profit.

This somewhat defeats the purpose of browsing anonymously and stands in stark contrast to many peoples’ reasons for turning to VPNs in the first place. Furthermore, many free VPNs will include data caps or otherwise limit the amount of stuff you can download or browse. This means that some free VPN services aren’t great for streaming video or torrenting: two popular activities that take up the majority of private downloading time for free VPN users.

Free VPNs also normally suffer when it comes to customer support or extra features. Many of these services are necessarily bare bones since their operators aren’t very profitable compared to their paid counterparts.

This doesn’t mean that free VPNs aren’t worth your time. It just helps to know what you’re getting into. Don’t download a free VPN service expecting the best of the best or unlimited bandwidth. Instead, use free VPNs as limited and temporary tools.

It’s often great to use a free VPN to see if it actually works for your needs before purchasing a paid tier of service. Or you use a free VPN for a very minor or brief foray into private browsing – for instance, maybe you really want to unblock an episode of a TV show that is geographically limited in your country, and don’t want to use the VPN beyond seeing that episode. Free VPNs are also useful for adding some protection while you browse on public wifi: a dangerous gambit at best.

Additionally, free VPNs can vary dramatically from the best to the worst. Keep reading if you want to see the top free VPNs available instead of scraping the bottom of the proverbial barrel.


The 6 Best Free VPN Providers (2020)

1. Hotspot Shield Free VPN

Hotspot Shield Free VPN is a phenomenal example of a free VPN service. There’s a lot to like right out of the digital box, including a 500 MB daily data allowance. This isn’t enough to watch tons of YouTube or stream a lot of television, but it’s great for general browsing and downloading some pictures. Since the limit refreshes daily, you may never feel the real restrictions of this cap. This limit is also fairly generous compared to many of the other free VPNs on the market.

Hotspot Shield Free VPN also offers military-grade encryption for users’ security. What this actually means is kept somewhat secret, as the Hotspot Shield Free VPN site only offers generalities. Still, it does assure users that their data will be safe from government snooping or from malicious hackers or malware. It’s also one of the fastest VPNs you can get for free.

Most users will appreciate that Hotspot Shield Free VPN is very easy to use and features an intuitive interface. You can access the VPN features via mobile devices, like an iPhone or Android phone, or your Mac or Windows desktops, and either way, you’ll be able to start browsing anonymously or from different IP addresses quickly and smoothly.

Hotspot Shield Free only offers a single US-based VPN server for connecting to, however, which is very limited compared to the 70+ countries you can choose from with the paid version.

One other thing to note is that all Android users will have to put up with ads. Even with these minor downsides, Hotspot Shield Free VPN offers a lot to like and is one of the most generous free VPN services you can find.

Key Features:

  • 500 MB daily cap
  • Intuitive user interface
  • Anchors users to a single US-based location
  • Support for all major platforms/OS

Hotspot Shield

Hotspot Shield Free VPN is a phenomenal example of a free VPN service.


2. TunnelBear

Many folks have heard of TunnelBear, and for good reason; it’s one of the most user-friendly free VPN services on the market. This is bolstered by its colorful and simplistic design, which can help set your mind at ease if you are just getting into using a VPN for the first time. TunnelBear unfortunately has a cap of 500 MB per month. This is a serious limitation and means you should only use the free version of TunnelBear for brief browsing activities or when you must be anonymous on short notice.

This also means TunnelBear is a poor choice for streaming and torrenting Netflix or other media, as you’ll blow through that monthly allowance pretty quickly. The good news is that TunnelBear only collects the bare minimum of data from its users, so you don’t have to worry too much about your data being exploited by third-party advertisers. You don’t even have to supply your first name when you sign up.

TunnelBear offers desktop and mobile clients for all users, and both run very well. They also offer a plethora of anchor locations, both domestically and internationally. Ultimately, we’d only recommend using TunnelBear if you only need to rely on a free VPN once in a while.

Key Features:

  • 500 MB monthly data cap
  • Has both mobile and desktop interfaces
  • Interface is intuitive and user-friendly
  • Doesn’t collect a ton of user data

TunnelBear

Many folks have heard of TunnelBear, and for good reason; it’s one of the most user-friendly free VPN services on the market.


3. ProtonVPN Free

ProtonVPN Free is most distinguished from other free VPN providers by a lack of data restrictions. That’s right – you can use this free VPN app as much as you want, making it the prime choice for streaming and torrenting to your heart’s content. Unlimited free data is incredibly rare for any free VPN provider to offer, so consider it if you want to use a VPN for the above activities more than anything else.

However, there are some restrictions. You can only use ProtonVPN Free on a single device, and there are only three anchor locations. Furthermore, all free users have lower data download priority compared to any of the paying subscribers, so you may see spikes and dips in your data download speeds.

But they also don’t log your online activity, so you won’t have too much data scooped for use by third-party advertising companies. You only need to supply your email address to sign up. We also like that there aren’t any incessant advertisements to sit through.

All in all, it’s a fantastic free VPN with advantages that help to offset many of the traditional downsides to using these affordable services. If you can stomach slow download speeds from time to time, ProtonVPN Free is a great choice.

Key Features:

  • No data cap
  • 3 anchor locations
  • Only use it on one device
  • Paid users get traffic priority

ProtonVPN Free

ProtonVPN Free is most distinguished from other free VPN providers by a lack of data restrictions.


4. Windscribe

Windscribe is one of the few free VPN services that are available for Linux, but it’s also noteworthy since it offers a relatively high data download limit of 10 GB per month. This is much higher than TunnelBear’s. To make things even better, Windscribe offers 10 anchor locations, including several in international locations like Germany, Switzerland, Canada, and Hong Kong.

They’re most notable, however, for their excellent privacy policy. They don’t store any VPN connection logs, site visits, or IP address stamps. It does store your username and how much data you transfer, but even that stuff is erased after three minutes upon ending your session. There’s even an ad blocker and firewall built into the software.

Thus, you don’t have to worry about your data being surreptitiously gathered and used against you at any point. The downside is that traffic speeds are notoriously inconsistent. While this can be a decent pick for torrenting or streaming services, it’s far from the most reliable on the market. All in all, it’s a good free VPN service for those concerned about privacy more than anything else.

Key Features:

  • 10 GB data cap
  • Excellent online privacy policy
  • Works for Linux, Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android
  • Inconsistent download speeds

Windscribe

Windscribe is one of the few free VPN services that are available for Linux, but it’s also noteworthy since it offers a relatively high data download limit of 10 GB per month.


5. Speedify

Speedify, as befitting its name, is a pretty fast VPN for general browsing and small file downloads. You get a 2 GB per month data limit, which is low but not as restrictive as TunnelBear. It boosts regular browsing speed by using the best available Internet connections based on your anchor point. It also uses “turbocharging” technology to improve this even further, though the technical specifics are a bit hard to determine.

Regardless, the free version of this VPN offers high speeds due to some choice servers in their collection. You’re still limited by your data cap, of course. Interesting, Speedify isn’t a great choice if you want to stream – this is partially because of the data cap, but there’s something about its servers that makes it uniquely bad for transferring streaming data from server to server.

Speedify is also pretty solid when it comes to privacy, though Windscribe is a bit better on that front as well. Ultimately, Speedify is a great choice if you mostly want to use a VPN for private browsing and aren’t concerned with torrenting or streaming shows from other countries.

Key Features:

  • Fast browsing speeds
  • Good privacy settings
  • Bad for streaming
  • 2 GB per month limit

Speedify

Speedify, as befitting its name, is a pretty fast VPN for general browsing and small file downloads.


6. Hide.me

Hide.me, as the name suggests, is a free VPN largely concerned with offering its users fantastic privacy and totally anonymous browsing. You get 2 GB of data per month to use with the free plan, and there are other limitations like device limits (one maximum) and a low number of server locations (only five between the US and Canada). However, they never throttle your connection speed and, most importantly, Hide.me doesn’t store user logs or data, nor does it pass any of that onto third parties.

Even better, there aren’t any advertisements to suffer through at any point. Hide.me’s client, regardless of the operating system you use, is slick and smooth, and they offer 24/7 technical support for all their users, even free ones.

It’s best to think of Hide.me as the ideal choice if you don’t want your data to be sent to any advertising agency period. There are better free VPN options in terms of download limits and anchor server options, but few do privacy and anonymity better than Hide.me.

Key Features:

  • Very good privacy policy
  • No ads to sit through
  • 24/7 technical support
  • 2 GB of data per month

Hide.me

Hide.me, as the name suggests, is a free VPN largely concerned with offering its users fantastic privacy and totally anonymous browsing.


How to Choose the Best Free VPN for Your Privacy Needs

Finding a handful of great free VPN’s is one thing – determining the best free VPN for your unique privacy or downloading needs is another. Let’s focus on the aspects you should consider as you select your free VPN.

Why Do You Need a Free VPN?

The first thing to think about is why you want to use a free VPN in the first place. Generally speaking, people use VPNs for one of three reasons:

  • To browse the Internet semi-anonymously
  • To download and/or stream shows and other media they can’t access due to geographic restrictions for their home IP address
  • To enjoy better browsing security against hackers

More private internet access is becoming more popular, through unblocking streaming is also quite important for most users. Each of these reasons is perfectly valid, and neither is more important than another. However, they each require different things from a VPN provider.

For instance, some free VPNs prioritize anonymity and use special channels or servers that are excellent at allowing their users to browse anonymously. They’ll also prioritize things like data log deletion, or even refuse to gather data logs and other privacy information from their users. Instead, they may use advertisements or other methods of generating revenue. Hide.me does this very well.

Some VPNs are better for streaming and usually come without data caps. That’s because streaming and media downloads can quickly run up a data limit. You’ll want to prioritize VPNs like ProtonVPN if this is what you’re interested in.

Still more VPNs are excellent in terms of security and are good choices if you suspect that your identity is at risk or you don’t want to be hacked when visiting a sketchy website. Hotspot Shield VPN is a good example of one of these services.

In short, figure out why you want to use a VPN and you can find the best free VPN for that purpose from the list above.

Does the VPN Have a Paid Version?

It’s also smart to see whether a given free VPN has a paid version you can upgrade to in the future. While you may not want to pay money for extra features or better bandwidth limits right now, you might come into more money later and decide to go through with an upgrade.

It’s often easier to upgrade within the same VPN provider that it is to switch providers outright. Thus, check to see whether a free VPN only comes as a free version or if there’s a better premium service available you can take advantage of later. Some premium VPNs have a 30-day money-back guarantee – this is almost as good as free VPN if you remember your time limit to spare your credit card.

Performance and User-Friendliness

Naturally, the user interface and performance quality of a given free VPN can impact how well you enjoy using the software or platform. Some VPNs, like Hotspot Shield Free VPN, have particularly slick user interfaces that are easy for beginners to grasp and fully take advantage of. Hotspot also has excellent performance rankings across the board, so you shouldn’t experience too much lag or sputtering, even when watching your favorite media.

Performance is most important if you want to stream or download media frequently. Nothing ruins a good show like rendering or buffering every few seconds. Most of the VPN services that have high data download limits also have good performance specifically for this reason, while others, like Speedify, aren’t very good in terms of streaming performance and are better for general but anonymous browsing.

Available Servers

The available servers or anchor points that a given free VPN offers essentially determines which places you can disguise your IP address as coming from. More servers mean more opportunities to find smooth connections to the servers you are trying to reach, and a better overall traffic load.

For instance, if a free VPN only has a single server for its free users, you can expect lots of buffering or poor performance since all the free users will be clogging that server, trying to download stuff or browse the Internet.

Multiple available servers are also important if you want to download or torrent media that is outlawed in your home country. Services like TunnelBear are great for this, offering a plethora of foreign servers so there’s almost always a place available where you can access and download media without too much trouble.

If you’re just interested in regular anonymous browsing, server variety isn’t quite as important.

Browser Extensions

Some VPNs offer browser extensions, which allow you to combine the VPN’s services with some kinds of browsers. Browsers like Chrome, Explorer, and Edge are notorious for collecting user data, while others, like Firefox, don’t need a VPN as much thanks to their user-friendly data logging policies.

Privacy Policies

As mentioned earlier, many of the best free VPN services turn a profit by selling the browsing or log data of their users. If this is something you don’t want to happen to you, focus on a free VPN like Hide.me, which doesn’t log data from its users and doesn’t sell any data to third-party advertising or marketing companies.

This can be important if you’re committed to lowering your digital presence on the web, or if you just don’t like the idea of your activity being tracked by any organization, whether it’s government or private. On the flip side, if you only want to avoid being easily hacked or you just want to download media from another country, privacy may not be quite as important and you can focus on other issues.

Security

The last big thing to keep in mind is security. This most important if you want to use a free VPN to lower the likelihood of attracting a hacker or identity thief as you browse a sketchy website. Some services, like Hotspot Shield Free VPN, are particularly good on this point, while others don’t put as much of a priority on it.


Takeaway

Ultimately, Hotspot Shield Free VPN is the best of the bunch thanks to its excellent security, intuitive user interface, and relatively generous daily data limit of 500 MB per day.

However, readers might also appreciate Proton VPN Free, which offers unlimited data transfer all without costing a penny. Others might want Hide.me, which is the best of the best when it comes to total privacy and protecting its users’ personal data and personal information. There are plenty of other VPNs we haven’t even mentioned, including OpenVPN, ExpressVPN, SurfShark,

The great news is that you can try any and all of these services as much as you like since you don’t have to put any money down upfront. Give them a shot and let us know what you think!




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Iran reveals use of cryptocurrency to pay for imports • The Register

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Iran has announced it used cryptocurrency to pay for imports, raising the prospect that the nation is using digital assets to evade sanctions.

Trade minister Alireza Peyman Pak revealed the transaction with the tweet below, which translates as “This week, the first official import order was successfully placed with cryptocurrency worth ten million dollars. By the end of September, the use of cryptocurrencies and smart contracts will be widespread in foreign trade with target countries.”

It is unclear what Peman Pak referred to with his mention of widespread use of crypto for foreign trade, and the identity of the foreign countries he mentioned is also obscure.

But the intent of the announcement appears clear: Iran will use cryptocurrency to settle cross-border trades.

That’s very significant because Iran is subject to extensive sanctions aimed at preventing its ability to acquire nuclear weapons and reduce its ability to sponsor terrorism. Sanctions prevent the sale of many commodities and technologies to Iran, and financial institutions aren’t allowed to deal with their Iranian counterparts, who are mostly shunned around the world.

As explained in this advisory [PDF] issued by the US Treasury, Iran has developed numerous practices to evade sanctions, including payment offsetting schemes that let it sell oil in contravention of sanctions. Proceeds of such sales are alleged to have been funnelled to terrorist groups.

While cryptocurrency’s anonymity has been largely disproved, trades in digital assets aren’t regulated so sanctions enforcement will be more complex if Iran and its trading partners use crypto instead of fiat currencies.

Which perhaps adds more weight to the argument that cryptocurrency has few proven uses beyond speculative trading, making the ransomware industry possible, and helping authoritarian states like Iran and North Korea to acquire materiel for weapons.

Peyman Pak’s mention of “widespread” cross-border crypto deals, facilitated by automated smart contracts, therefore represents a challenge to those who monitor and enforce sanctions – and something new to worry about for the rest of us. ®



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Edwards Lifesciences is hiring at its ‘key’ Shannon and Limerick facilities

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The medtech company is hiring for a variety of roles at both its Limerick and Shannon sites, the latter of which is being transformed into a specialised manufacturing facility.

Medical devices giant Edwards Lifesciences began renovations to convert its existing Shannon facility into a specialised manufacturing centre at the end of July.

The expansion will allow the company to produce components that are an integral part of its transcatheter heart valves. The conversion is part of Edwards Lifesciences’ expansion plan that will see it hire for hundreds of new roles in the coming years.

“The expanded capability at our Shannon facility demonstrates that our operations in Ireland are a key enabler for Edwards to continue helping patients across the globe,” said Andrew Walls, general manager for the company’s manufacturing facilities in Ireland.

According to Walls, hiring is currently underway at the company’s Shannon and Limerick facilities for a variety of functions such as assembly and inspection roles, manufacturing and quality engineering, supply chain, warehouse operations and project management.

Why Ireland?

Headquartered in Irvine, California, Edwards Lifesciences established its operations in Shannon in 2018 and announced 600 new jobs for the mid-west region. This number was then doubled a year later when it revealed increased investment in Limerick.

When the Limerick plant was officially opened in October 2021, the medtech company added another 250 roles onto the previously announced 600, promising 850 new jobs by 2025.

“As the company grows and serves even more patients around the world, Edwards conducted a thorough review of its global valve manufacturing network to ensure we have the right facilities and talent to address our future needs,” Walls told SiliconRepublic.com

“We consider multiple factors when determining where we decide to manufacture – for example, a location that will allow us to produce close to where products are utilised, a location that offers advantages for our supply chain, excellent local talent pool for an engaged workforce, an interest in education and good academic infrastructure, and other characteristics that will be good for business and, ultimately, good for patients.

“Both our Shannon and Limerick sites are key enablers for Edwards Lifesciences to continue helping patients across the globe.”

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Meta’s new AI chatbot can’t stop bashing Facebook | Meta

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If you’re worried that artificial intelligence is getting too smart, talking to Meta’s AI chatbot might make you feel better.

Launched on Friday, BlenderBot is a prototype of Meta’s conversational AI, which, according to Facebook’s parent company, can converse on nearly any topic. On the demo website, members of the public are invited to chat with the tool and share feedback with developers. The results thus far, writers at Buzzfeed and Vice have pointed out, have been rather interesting.

Asked about Mark Zuckerberg, the bot told BuzzFeed’s Max Woolf that “he is a good businessman, but his business practices are not always ethical. It is funny that he has all this money and still wears the same clothes!”

The bot has also made clear that it’s not a Facebook user, telling Vice’s Janus Rose that it had deleted its account after learning about the company’s privacy scandals. “Since deleting Facebook my life has been much better,” it said.

The bot repeats material it finds on the internet, and it’s very transparent about this: you can click on its responses to learn where it picked up whatever claims it is making (though it is not always specific).

This means that along with uncomfortable truths about its parent company, BlenderBot has been spouting predictable falsehoods. In conversation with Jeff Horwitz of the Wall Street Journal, it insisted Donald Trump was still president and would continue to be “even after his second term ends in 2024”. (It added another dig at Meta, saying Facebook “has a lot of fake news on it these days”.) Users have also recorded it making antisemitic claims.

BlenderBot’s remarks were foreseeable based on the behavior of older chatbots such as Microsoft’s Tay, which Twitter users quickly taught to be a racist conspiracy theorist, forcing the company to apologize for its “wildly inappropriate and reprehensible words and images”. GPT-3, another AI system, has also delivered racist, misogynist and homophobic remarks. A South Korean startup’s chatbot, designed to resemble a 20-year-old college student, had to be suspended after it rattled off racial slurs and anti-LGBTQ+ remarks.

Given the cesspool that is the internet, Meta appears to have expected similar things from its own service. Before logging on, users must acknowledge that BlenderBot is “likely to make untrue or offensive statements”. As Vice notes, Meta researchers have described the AI tech behind the bot as having “a high propensity to generate toxic language and reinforce harmful stereotypes, even when provided with a relatively innocuous prompt”.

“Everyone who uses Blender Bot is required to acknowledge they understand it’s for research and entertainment purposes only, that it can make untrue or offensive statements, and that they agree to not intentionally trigger the bot to make offensive statements,” said a Meta spokesperson in a statement.

My own conversation with BlenderBot did not veer into that territory, but it did highlight another flaw in the service: its utter inanity.

The bot began by asking me what subject I liked in school. The bot is open about which “persona” it is using in the conversation; our discussion involved a persona it described as “I like to read. I went to college.” When I asked it tough questions, such as which colleges accepted AI bot students, it offered nonsensical replies (“in some ways, aren’t we all chatbots?” No) and offered further reading by saying, “Here’s the link”, without providing a link. It also kept steering the conversation back to chatbots.

It did, however, maintain its firm stance against its own creators. When I said I wasn’t a fan of Facebook’s ethics, it wholeheartedly agreed: “Me too! That is why I stopped using it and just stick with reading books instead.”



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