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PrivadoVPN free review: How does it stack up to paid plans?

Verified by Molly Dyson

A VPN is increasingly becoming an essential tool in today’s digital landscape, protecting your online privacy, securing your data and enabling access to global content. PrivadoVPN stands out as one of the more generous free VPN plans by providing users with 10GB of data every 30 days. While there are other free providers that offer unlimited data, they are few and far between, and Privado’s 10GB cap is one of the more expansive limits on the market. The free plan also supports one simultaneous connection and allows access to 12 servers. 

As a team that has tested a multitude of providers, we bring a wealth of knowledge and unbiased judgment to our reviews. We’ve conducted a comprehensive examination of PrivadoVPN’s free service, scrutinising its performance, security and usability to provide you with a detailed assessment.

30-second review

Rating: ★★1/2

Despite initial frustrations getting set up, PrivadoVPN’s free offering proves robust and user-friendly. With 10GB monthly data, a stringent no-log policy and robust encryption protocols, the company signals that it takes user data security seriously, even if its policies have not yet been independently audited. Notable features in the free plan include a kill switch, DNS/IP leak protection and the fairly uncommon addition of streaming support. Twelve servers provide satisfactory connection speeds for streaming and large downloads, while broad device compatibility and exceptional customer support further enhance the user experience. Despite a single-device limit and potentially slower speeds from distant connections, PrivadoVPN’s free service stands out as a strong contender in the free VPN market.

PrivadoVPN is a well-rounded performer, excelling in many aspects and consistently delivering above-average results, albeit without reaching the realm of the exceptional.

How we research and rate free VPNs

100+
hours performance testing
500+
customer reviews read
100+
hours of research
25
competitors compared
4
VPN experts consulted

Our reviewers are dedicated to bringing you the most accurate and up-to-date information so you can make an informed decision when it comes to choosing a reputable free VPN. We will only recommend a provider after hours of testing, head-to-head feature comparisons, and after taking into account verified customer feedback and reviews and the opinions of industry experts.

Our free VPN review scores are determined by the following categories:

  • Privacy and performance (30%)
  • Features and functionality (30%)
  • Reputation and credibility (25%)
  • Plans and pricing/value (10%)
  • Customer experience (5%)

We research and test a total of 25 elements within these categories including:

  • Number and location of servers
  • Streaming service accessibility
  • Security features such as AES-256
  • Performance (upload, download, latency)
  • Value for money, guarantees, and customer service
  • Independent server-site security audits

All of our VPN articles are verified by our in-house team of fact-checkers, so you can be assured that our content is as accurate and up to date as possible. To find out more about our methodology, read our article on how we review VPNs.

PrivadoVPN free overview

  • Data limit: Free account users have a limit of 10GB of data per month​
  • Number of servers: Free account users have access to 12 servers​
  • Number of locations: 10
  • Maximum number of connected devices: One for free plan users
  • AES-256 encryption: Yes
  • No-log policy: Yes
  • Audited no-log policy: No
  • Headquarters: Switzerland​

Pros and cons

Pros Cons
No-logs policy (not audited) Can only access 12 servers in 10 countries
10GB free data allowance One-device limit
AES-256 encryption Not the best option for those with high data usage

How does PrivadoVPN compare to other free VPNs?

PrivadoVPN’s free service distinguishes itself in the competitive landscape of free VPNs with a fair balance of compelling features. It offers 10GB data transfer per month, which falls short of the Proton VPN free version’s unlimited data but matches Windscribe’s free offering (note: Windscribe offers 2GB free, but this rises to 10GB if you provide your email address). PrivadoVPN’s 12 servers in various countries don’t outshine the Proton VPN’s 153 servers, but beats the limited servers of some of its other competitors. The provider also impresses with its support for streaming, the one Achilles heel in Proton VPN’s free plan. However, its no-log policy, while reassuring, could benefit from an independent audit to inspire user confidence – a massive reassurance of security that Proton VPN and others have put forward multiple times. While all of these services have their strengths and weaknesses, it’s evident that PrivadoVPN’s free service holds a strong position in the realm of free VPN offerings.

VPN provider Servers Countries Data limit/month Platforms supported Torrenting Unblocks streaming Audited no-log policy
PrivadoVPN Free 12 10 10GB 6 No Yes** No
ProtonVPN Free 153 3 No limit 6 No No Yes
Windscribe Free 11 11 2GB – 15GB* 12 Yes Yes** No
Atlas VPN Free 3 3 5GB 4 Yes Yes** Yes
Hide/me Free VPN 5 5 10GB 19 Yes No Yes

*>2GB data requires email verification, social media promotion
** Limited library access; video/audio quality reduced by bandwidth limits
Best alternative to
NordVPN is one of the most trusted VPN providers in the world, offering top-notch encryption, incredible speeds, and extra features to make all your online activities more secure.
4.5
Excellent Trustpilot rating
24/7 customer support
AES-256 encryption
VIEW PLANS At NordVPN

PrivadoVPN free features

The standout features of the free version of PrivadoVPN include 10GB of data transfer per month and secure VPN protocols to protect your data. It operates under a no-log policy, which claims your online activity is not tracked; however, it’s worth noting its policy has not yet been independently audited. Furthermore, the provider is based in Switzerland, which has strong privacy laws that further protect your data. However, the free service limits users to only one simultaneous connection and access to just 12 servers.

Streaming support

Unlike some free VPNs, PrivadoVPN allows you to log into your streaming subscriptions back home from wherever you are in the world to access video content. This means you can use it as a VPN for Firestick or Android TV thanks to its native apps for those platforms.

Auto Connect

If you’re a heavy internet user, PrivadoVPN’s free version can automatically connect you to the best server whether you’re using it on a computer, phone, router, or other devices.

Server count and countries

Users of the PrivadoVPN free plan get access to 12 servers located in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Mexico, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States. This is more locations than other free VPNs offer; however, they could be more spread out, with all of them concentrated in the Western Hemisphere. If you’re connecting from further away, connection speeds could be slow. 

The provider also uses physical servers, which are more stable and secure than virtual servers. A physical server doesn’t have to share its resources (CPU, RAM, storage) with other systems, which can lead to better performance, especially for demanding applications or databases. And because a physical server isn’t sharing resources with other systems, it can be more secure.

Encryption and privacy

PrivadoVPN offers several layers of security to its users. First, it operates under a strict no-log policy, which means it should not track or store any of your online activity. This is a crucial component of any VPN service, as it ensures your browsing data is not available for anyone to access – not even the provider itself. However, at the time of writing, PrivadoVPN’s no-log policy has not been independently audited, unlike some other providers.

Privado also uses secure encryption protocols, allowing users to choose between leading VPN protocols such as OpenVPN, IKEv2 and WireGuard. This gives users the flexibility to find the perfect balance of speed and security for their internet use. 

The free plan offers a useful kill switch feature. This tool stops all your online activity if you unexpectedly lose connection to the PrivadoVPN client, preventing any data from being transmitted without protection.

In terms of in-app security, Privado has features such as DNS leak protection and IP leak protection. These ensure your personal data isn’t inadvertently sent over the internet, where it could be intercepted by nefarious parties.

Comparatively, PrivadoVPN’s security measures are similar to many other providers, though the lack of a VPN audit might be a concern for some potential users. Other VPNs, like NordVPN or ExpressVPN, have had their no-log policies regularly audited by independent third parties, offering an additional level of confidence in their privacy practices. On the other hand, PrivadoVPN’s base in Switzerland, known for its robust privacy laws, can offer some reassurance to users. It’s also worth noting the company has a transparent policy, claiming to own a lot of its own equipment and use the latest protocols and industry-leading architecture​.

PrivadoVPN free performance test results

Ensuring the quality of a VPN involves a series of steps to guarantee the level of security, speed, and reliability that meets your requirements. At Independent Advisor, we take the following approach to test each of the providers we review:

  1. Assessing connection speed: Our initial evaluation involves testing the internet speed without the VPN connected, utilising tools like Ookla’s speed test. Subsequently, we establish a connection with the VPN and conduct the test again. While it’s expected for a VPN to marginally reduce speed due to encryption overhead, our focus lies on identifying significant drops that may impact your browsing or streaming experience. We evaluate download and upload speed, as well as latency, observing how they are affected when utilising the service across different server locations.
  2. Verifying security: To verify a provider’s security claims, we employ services such as IPLeak.net to check for DNS leaks, which can potentially expose your actual location, even when connected to a VPN. We also examine for WebRTC leaks that have the potential to reveal your IP address.

Our research team employed these criteria when evaluating the performance of PrivadoVPN’s free service.

Speed test results

Download Speed (Mbps) Degradation (% of base value) Upload Speed (Mbps) Degradation (% of base value) Latency Latency % increase from base value
No VPN 72.8 102.6 40ms
UK to UK 51 70% 73 71% 77ms 92.50%
UK to US 36 49% 83.8 82% 101ms 152.50%
UK to Brazil 15.6 21% 51.4 50% 289ms 622.50%

Sometimes free VPNs can struggle to connect, but PrivadoVPN provides a quick and easy connection to all the free servers we tested. As expected, the connection speed declines when you connect to the VPN, and at 70 per cent of our base value download and upload speeds when connected to a server in the UK, this is about average. Likewise, we expected further declines the farther away we connected to a server. The UK to US speed was fast enough to stream videos and download large files, while the UK to Brazil connection was just about fast enough.

WebRTC leak test

WebRTC, or Web Real-Time Communication, is an innovative technology that enables direct browser-to-browser communication. It’s commonly utilised for instant communication applications, including video and voice chat.

Despite the usefulness of WebRTC, it poses a potential security risk known as a WebRTC leak. This situation occurs when the technology discloses your real IP address, even if you’re using a VPN or proxy to mask it. The issue arises because WebRTC requires your true IP address to establish a direct connection between browsers, which can sometimes circumvent the protection provided by a VPN. 

We tested PrivadoVPN for a WebRTC leak on all 12 of its free servers using the IPleak.net website, and it passed every test. We found no leaks and our IP displayed as the chosen server each time.

Breaches and audits

PrivadoVPN is a relative newcomer in the VPN market, having launched in 2019. While it pledges to adhere to a strict no-logs policy, to date it has yet to have its policies to be independently audited. On the other hand, many of its competitors didn’t do this for several years into their tenure, either.

To date, PrivadoVPN has not been subject to any disclosed data breaches.

Apps and compatibility

PrivadoVPN’s free service is compatible with Windows (7-10), MacOS (High Sierra, Mojave, Catalina and Big Sur), Chrome and Linux computers, and it works well as a VPN for Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Safari browsers with dedicated extensions. Free plan users can also download the app for Android or iOS devices. PrivadoVPN is also compatible with Firestick and Android TV.

Setting up a free account was unfortunately a frustrating experience. For starters, the company makes it difficult to find the true free plan. When you go to the web page where all of the plans are listed, you have to click on a button underneath where the paid plans are displayed. The next page prompts you to sign up for a 30-day free trial of the premium version, which requires you to enter your payment details, unless you click the “Continue with Free Plan” option at the bottom of the page. You can also download the app, where there is an option to ‘create a free account’, which gives you the true, free VPN. This felt like a lot of unnecessary hassle and over-marketing, in our researcher’s opinion.

Thankfully, from this point on getting connected is a breeze. However, a slight oddity is that when you first sign up, you are provided with an auto-generated username, which you cannot change. This username is a string of about a dozen random letters and numbers. Unless you have a photographic memory, you’ll never remember this. However, the app allows you to sign in with either an email or your username, so this doesn’t become much of an issue. 

Overall, the company offers an exceptional user experience through its feature-rich and user-friendly desktop and mobile VPN apps. Once you download and install the app on your computer or mobile device, within minutes you’ll be connected to a secure server. Once connected, PrivadoVPN encrypts your traffic and hides your IP address automatically.

Both the desktop and mobile apps come equipped with a range of notable features for a free VPN, such as a kill switch, which cuts off your internet connection if the VPN connection drops, and the highly secure WireGuard protocol (in addition to OpenVPN and IKEv22). PrivadoVPN also provides free users with DNS and IP leak protection, even offering a tool to check whether it’s working. It’s nice to see a free VPN that includes some of these strong privacy features without having to upgrade. 

Overall, the desktop and mobile apps are intuitively designed. The navigation is simple, and if your needs are even simpler, the Auto Connect option will connect you to your preferred server when you launch the app.

Customer support

PrivadoVPN offers a few ways of getting help with any issues you might come across. The support page is prominently displayed in the site’s primary navigation, and here you’ll find a wealth of tutorials, set-up guides and FAQs. Should these not answer your query, there’s the option to email the team by completing a web form to raise a support ticket. This allows you to submit screenshots and granular detail of the problem. The form calls for you to submit your username, which could prohibit prospective users from asking questions, but thankfully this field isn’t mandatory.

Interestingly, the meta description for Privado’s contact page states it provides a live chat, but in our tests we couldn’t see this option. We tried on Chrome, Safari and Firefox browsers. It’s possible the provider no longer offers this service and hasn’t yet updated the page. We reached out to the company to confirm if a live chat still exists, and the customer support team responded within a half hour. They didn’t directly answer the question, however, stating only that they can “readily help over email”. 

That said, we had some technical issues (on our end) setting up the desktop app, and the customer support team is quite remarkable. They responded to our researcher’s queries repeatedly within a half hour, providing step-by-step screen grabs to help solve the problem.

What do customers say?

PrivadoVPN’s free service has garnered a variety of responses from users on different platforms, but generally enjoys overall positive reviews. The company responds to the majority of reviews on all platforms, both positive and negative, showing it takes customer feedback seriously.

It’s worth noting that user experiences with VPNs can vary significantly based on factors such as the device used, the user’s location and the specific network conditions. They also include reviews for the paid-for premium service. As such, these reviews should be taken as individual experiences rather than a comprehensive evaluation of PrivadoVPN’s free service.

On Trustpilot, the provider has an average score of four out of five stars based on user reviews. 

“I don’t use VPNs that [often], but this limited free offer is working well so far, and I may decide to pay up and leave it running all the time.”

On the Apple App Store, the reviews are more mixed, with the provider getting 3.3 out of five stars. 

“After [connecting], the app said [I had a] secured connection, but [my] IP address didn’t change a bit, and, of course, I couldn’t access the websites which are easily accessible through other iOS free VPNs.”

  • THSBK, via Apple App Store

On Google Play, PrivadoVPN records a 3.9 out of five rating. Users tend to praise the service for its speed and reliability, while one of the common complaints is around the VPN’s high battery usage. 

“Good speeds and reliability, but battery usage is atrocious. I had it on for about two hours and it used 20 per cent on my [Samsung Galaxy] S22+, and caused my phone to heat up. [It’s] fine if you just need to do something for an hour or so, but I would not recommend it if you need a VPN for extended periods of time.”

  • Kiefer Swistak, via Google Play

Independent Advisor’s verdict

Following some initial frustration with aggressive marketing and trying to find the right page for the actual free VPN and not a free trial of a paid-for plan, PrivadoVPN’s free service is actually quite robust and hassle-free. Its free version is a commendable package, providing 10GB data per month, a strict no-log policy and solid encryption protocols, though the policy hasn’t yet been independently audited. But with a base in Switzerland — a country known for stringent privacy laws — coupled with features like a kill switch, DNS leak protection and IP leak protection, the provider seemingly goes the extra mile to ensure user data security.  Yes, the single-device limit is a drawback, but the free version supports streaming, which many other free VPNs do not.

Boasting 12 servers across various countries, it provides wider accessibility than many other free services, though the distribution might impact connection speeds from distant locations. 

In terms of performance, PrivadoVPN showcases a satisfactory connection speed – enough for streaming and large file downloads, even from afar, though expect a decline in speed. The free VPN also offers broad compatibility, with a version for just about every device one might use. The free service should definitely be considered one of the best free VPNs, and an understated hallmark of this is its excellent customer support.

Score: ★★1/2

Read our review of PrivadoVPN’s paid-for Unlimited plans.

Score breakdown

Reputation ★★
Privacy ★★½
Performance and features ★★½
Plans and pricing value ★½
Customer experience ★½

Frequently asked questions

Indeed, a free VPN typically doesn’t require any upfront payment to use. Nevertheless, it’s important to understand that “free” often comes with certain limitations. For example, free VPNs commonly have data restrictions, a smaller selection of servers, slower speeds, or may display advertisements to sustain the service. Some free VPNs are essentially a limited version of a paid option, designed to entice users to upgrade for enhanced features or better performance.

The security of a free VPN largely depends on the provider. Certain free VPNs can be considered safe, especially those offered by well-established and reputable companies that also provide paid options. These providers typically prioritise their reputation and adhere to stringent privacy protocols. However, there are free VPNs that pose risks and may compromise your data. Some might log your online activities, sell your information to advertisers, or even contain malware in certain cases. Therefore, it’s crucial to thoroughly research and choose a free VPN service that transparently outlines its privacy policy and has a solid reputation.

While some free VPNs can bypass restrictions on streaming services, this isn’t always guaranteed, and even if they do, the experience may not be optimal. Some streaming platforms actively block VPNs, and many free versions lack the resources to consistently circumvent these barriers. Additionally, the data limitations and slower speeds commonly associated with free VPNs can impede streaming quality. For reliable access to streaming services, it is generally recommended to opt for a premium (paid) VPN.

Round up of today’s best VPN deals
NordVPN 2 year £2.49 /Month
£2.49 /Month
Surfshark 24 month £1.79 /Month
£1.79 /Month
ExpressVPN 12 month £6.79 /Month
£6.79 /Month
CyberGhost 2 year £1.78 /Month
£1.78 /Month
Proton 2 year £4.26 /Month
£4.26 /Month
PIA 2 year £1.57 /Month
£1.57 /Month
Atlas 2 year £1.34 /Month
£1.34 /Month
PrivadoVPN 2 year £1.99 /Month
£1.99 /Month
Windscribe 12 month £4.60 /Month
£4.60 /Month
IPVanish 2 year £2.92 /Month
£2.92 /Month

The data in this review is reported from a neutral stance and should be used for informational purposes only. We review free VPN services from the perspective of:

  • The quality of the product based on the security it affords the user
  • User experience of the application(s)
  • Level and quality of customer service

Independent Advisor does not endorse the streaming of content from regions other than where the subscription is held, nor does it endorse the downloading or consumption of illegally pirated content.

Jeff Meyer

Writer

Jeff is a highly experienced editor and journalist with extensive experience in the tech industry, as well as for the automotive and DIY sectors, writing for both B2C and B2B brands.

Jeff has tested all manner of tech, from cameras to phones to EVs and home appliances. In his 23 years as a writer and editor, Jeff has written for global tech titles like TechRadar and Digital Camera World, as well as brands such as eBay, Canon, Panasonic, Eero, and many more.

His expertise extends to topics such as solar panels and VPN, a topic where he is a regular contributor.

In addition to editorial, Jeff also has many years experience producing video and podcasts. He is also passionate about renewable energy and green living, and explaining this technology to new audiences.

Molly Dyson

Editor

After growing up with a passion for writing, Molly studied journalism and creative writing at university in her home country of the United States.

She has written for a variety of print and online publications, from small town newspapers to international magazines. Most of her 10-year career since relocating to the UK has been spent in business journalism, writing and editing for admin professionals at PA Life magazine and business travel managers at Business Travel News Europe and representing those titles at conferences around the world.

Now an Editor at the Independent Advisor, Molly is an expert in a broad range of consumer topics, that include solar panels and renewables, home improvements and home insurance, and consumer technology such as home security and VPNs.

In her free time, Molly can usually be found exploring the outdoors with her husband and their young son or gardening.