5 Best FREE VPN for Public WiFi (2024)

Best VPN for Public WiFi

Public WiFi networks are available everywhere. They are free, convenient, and of great use to the public. But connecting to them can expose your device to several types of risks, including hacking, snooping, password cracking, and packet sniffing attacks.

To avoid these risks, you need a VPN that encrypts your connection and protects your device. A solid VPN allows you to enjoy the perks of free public WiFi without comprising privacy and security.

For a safe browsing experience on public WiFi, you need a VPN connection with strong encryption standards, robust security features, fast speed, and optimum privacy policies. We have shortlisted the top 5 public WiFi VPNs that match these requirements.
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Key Takeaways:
  • A VPN helps you bypass government-mandated and geo-restrictions and secures your browsing experience.
  • For secure browsing on public WiFi, the top VPN choices are ExpressVPN, renowned for its fast and reliable connections; NordVPN, with its advanced security protocols and expansive server network; and Atlas VPN, offering an intuitive interface along with robust privacy features, ensuring safety and privacy online.

Best Free VPN for Public WiFi Hotspot

 
#1 Best Overall

ExpressVPN

NordVPN

Atlas VPN Surfshark
VPN Provider ExpressVPN NordVPN Atlas VPN Surfshark
Number of servers: 5500+ 5500+ 750+ 3200+
No. of Server Countries 55+ 59+ 37 65
24/7 support ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Max connections 5 6 Unlimited Unlimited
Our Review We rate VPNs based on factors such as Speed, User Experience, Bandwidth, Countries Supported, Pricing, No Log Policy etc.
Excellent – 9.8
star-rating
Excellent – 9.7
star-rating
Good – 9.6
star-rating
Good – 9.5
star-rating
Free trial VPNs offer a 30-day money-back guarantee, but you must subscribe to the 1-month plan first. 30 days 30 days 30 days 30 days
Link Try Free Now Try Free Now Try Free Now Try Free Now

1) ExpressVPN

Strongest Encryption Standards

ExpressVPN works well with public WiFi and effectively encrypts your connection. Thanks to its best-in-the-game 256-bit AES encryption, you can reliably use this VPN with any public WiFi.

From unblocking geo-restricted content to offering superfast speed, this VPN is a great partner for nearly all purposes. ExpressVPN is safe, fast, and secure. Along with offering a stable and fast-speed connection, it also comes with a range of leakproof cybersecurity features. It helps you to connect to any of its 3000+ servers based in 94 countries and safeguard your browsing experience on public WiFi.

ExpressVPN

Key Specs:

Best For: Streaming content from other countries without interruption Server Countries: 94 Server selection: Manual Split Tunneling: Yes
Data Allowance: Unlimited Torrenting: Yes Kill Switch: Yes
Supported Platforms:
iOS, Android, Linux, MacOS, Microsoft Windows
No-logging policy: Yes Ip addresses: Dynamic Simultaneous Connection: 5
Able to unblock:
YouTube TV, Netflix, iPlayer, Amazon Prime, Hulu
Today Best Deal’s: Check Now!

Features:

✔️ Security: ExpressVPN prevents any kind of leak by securing your device with industry-leading encryption standards, including the 4096-bit DHE-RSA keys, perfect forward secrecy, and SHA512 hash authentication. It also offers standard security features such as a kill switch and split tunneling.

✔️ Lightway Protocol: ExpressVPN operates on the OpenVPN and Lightway protocols that ensure a stable, safe, and fast connection throughout your session.

✔️ Privacy: ExpressVPN has a strict and twice-tested no-logs policy. This VPN for public Wifi is based in the British Virgin Islands, which is a safe haven for privacy-friendly laws.

✔️ Speed: ExpressVPN is remarkably fast. It averages a speed of 475 Mbps across all major locations in the world and offers highly satisfactory streaming, video calling, and web surfing experience.

✔️ Streaming services: ExpressVPN unblocks nearly every major streaming service, including the staples such as Netflix US, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, Hulu, etc.

✔️ Compatible Devices: ExpressVPN makes apps for Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, and Linux devices. It also has browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox.

Pros

Swift network switch from one device to the other
One of the fastest VPN services in the world
24/7 live chat and Email support
Smart DNS proxy service that allows the VPN to work with devices like Apple TV and Xbox One

Cons

One of the most expensive VPNs
Allows only five simultaneous connections

How does the VPN protect against common public Wi-Fi threats?

  • ExpressVPN’s strong encryption standards prevent packet sniffing by creating an encrypted tunnel between your computer and the website server.

Visit ExpressVPN >>

30-Day Free Trial


2) NordVPN

Blazing Fast Speed

NordVPN offers sufficient protection and works well with public WiFi. From security to privacy, this VPN has it all. Boasted with a strong network of 5500+ servers around the world, NordVPN offers premium encryption and high-speed connection to its users.

NordVPN has a uniform and easy-to-use interface across its apps and browser extensions. This allows the VPN WiFi hotspot to be set up by both beginner and experienced VPN users.

NordVPN

Key Specs:

Supported Platforms:
Linux, Windows, MacOS, iOS
No of Servers: 5000+ Server Countries: 59 Split Tunneling: Yes
Data Allowance: Unlimited Torrenting: Yes Kill Switch: Yes
Able to unblock:
YouTube TV, Netflix, iPlayer, Amazon Prime, Hulu
No-logging policy: Yes Ip addresses: Static Simultaneous Connection: 6
Best for: Connecting double VPN, Onion over VPN servers, P2P.
Free Trial: Yes – 30 days Today Best Deal’s: Check Now!

Features:

✔️ Double VPN: NordVPN servers have the standard AES-256 cipher encryption. For extended security measures, you can install Double VPN and get your traffic through 2 independent servers at the same time.

✔️ Compatible Devices: NordVPN works with nearly all devices, including Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, and Linux. It also has browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox.

✔️ Privacy: NordVPN follows a no-logs policy and offers watertight DNS leak protection. All of the data is stored with RAM and is wiped out after each session. Additionally, NordVPN is based in Panama, which is one of the world’s leading privacy-friendly countries.

✔️ Threat Protection: NordVPN’s threat protection feature scans your downloaded files and blocks spam and malicious programs automatically. It also hinders invasive ads from appearing on the screen.

✔️ Dark Web Monitor: NordVPN’s Dark Web Monitoring prevents cache exploitation and secures your device from information leaks.

✔️ Obfuscated servers: NordVPN’s specially designed servers bypass VPN-blocking firewalls to connect with servers based in restrictive areas.

✔️ Speed: NordVPN offers blazing fast speed through its propriety NordLynx protocol. It also has the best-in-the-class WireGuard protocol to boost speed and provide a uniform and stable high-speed connection.

✔️ Streaming Services: NordVPN enables streaming of geo-restricted content from Netflix US, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, and Hulu.

✔️ Compatible Devices: You can download the NordVPN app on Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and Linux devices.

Pros

Excellent customer response time and professional staff
It offers a feature-packed 7-day free trial.
Unblocks nearly all streaming sites and geo-blocked content.
Has in-built ad-blockers and sophisticated spam filters.

Cons

Limited bandwidth and data caps.

How does the VPN protect against common public Wi-Fi threats?

  • NordVPN minimizes the risk of hacking and Man-in-the-middle attack through its unique Dark Web Monitor and Threat Protection features.

Visit NordVPN >>

30-Day Free Trial


3) Atlas VPN

Best Free WiFi VPN

Atlas VPN comes with essential security and privacy features which make it a decent VPN for WiFi. Even with a free plan, you get optimum speed, rock-solid encryption, a data breach checker, and built-in ad blockers.

Powered through 1000+ servers worldwide, Atlas VPN is a rapidly growing beginner-friendly VPN service. It offers multiple connection options with OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPSec, and WireGuard. Although Atlas VPN is based in the U.S., it maintains a strict no-logs policy and adheres to other privacy standards.

Atlas VPN

Key Specs:

Supported Platforms:
Mac, Windows, iOS, Android
No of Servers: 750+ Server Countries: 37 Split Tunneling: yes
Data Allowance: Unlimited Torrenting: yes Kill Switch: yes
Able to unblock:
YouTube TV, Netflix, iPlayer, Amazon Prime, Hulu.
No-logging policy: yes Ip addresses: Dynamic Simultaneous Connection: Unlimited
Free Trial: Yes – 30 days Today Best Deal’s: Check Now!

Features:

✔️ SafeSwap: SafeSwap is Atlas VPN’s propriety privacy feature that enables the automatic shuffling of the allotted IP address. It’s IP addresses switch in regular intervals without any manual effort and add another layer of security while using public WiFi.

✔️ SafeBrowse: Atlas VPN’s SafeBrowse feature blocks malicious websites that are known for installing ransomware, spam, and crypto-jacking programs. This feature also hinders you from accessing blacklisted websites that can threaten your data and device.

✔️ WireGuard protocol: Atlas VPN operates on the WireGuard protocol that ensures fast speed throughout your session. Users can also pick from IPSec/IKEv2 protocols that are equally efficient and offer ideal speed.

✔️ MultiHop+: Atlas VPN’s MultiHop+ feature tunnels your connection by rotating it through multiple server locations. This adds several layers of encryption on a single connection. MultiHop+ comes in particularly handy when you’re using public WiFi.

✔️ Compatible Devices: Atlas VPN works with Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and Linux.

Pros

Has a free VPN version with limited features
Blazing fast speed for transferring heavy files and streaming HD content.
Built-in ad blockers for a safe and pleasant browsing experience

Cons

Limited servers around the globe.

How does the VPN protect against common public Wi-Fi threats?

  • Atlas VPN for WiFi eliminates the chances of security vulnerabilities or misconfigurations with its SafeSwap feature. This in-built feature automatically shuffles your IP address and adds multiple layers of encryption that safeguard your connection.

Visit Atlas VPN >>

30-Day Free Trial


4) Surfshark

Most Affordable VPN

Surfshark is a feature-packed virtual private network that works well with public WiFi networks. The VPN comes with a wide range of fantastic security features, privacy policies, strong encryption, and cybersecurity features.

Users also get standard security features such as Avira-powered antivirus, webcam hijacking protection, and real-time spam scanning. Surfshark is easy to use, and its apps have simple and beginner-friendly functionality. It helps you to connect as many devices as you want and stream unlimited content on public WiFi with this VPN.

Surfshark

Key Specs:

Supported Platforms:
Mac, iOS, Android, Linux
No of Servers: 3200 Server Countries: 65 Split Tunneling: yes
Data Allowance: Unlimited Torrenting: yes Kill Switch: yes
Able to unblock:
YouTube TV, Netflix, iPlayer, Amazon Prime, Hulu.
No-logging policy: yes Ip addresses: Static Simultaneous Connection: Unlimited
Best for: Gaming, Browsing, and Streaming.
Free Trial: Yes – 30 days Today Best Deal’s: Check Now!

Features:

✔️ Encryption: Surfshark offers the market-leading AES-256 encryption that masterfully conceals your data and connection on public WiFi. It also protects your login details with SHA-512 encryption.

✔️ Tunneling Protocols: As a Surfshark user, you can choose from WireGuard tunnel, OpenVPN, and IKv2 protocols. Each protocol excels on its own in the speed and security departments.

✔️ Kill Switch: Surfshark has an automatic kill switch feature that blocks your IP address in the event of sudden VPN disconnection and takes your device offline. Hence stopping it from connecting to public WiFi in the absence of a secure VPN connection.

✔️ No-logs Policy: Surfshark offers a strict no-logs policy. This has been recently audited by Deloitte. Furthermore, it has reliable RAM-only servers that wipe out data after the end of each session. This allows you to maintain complete anonymity while using public WiFi.

✔️ Private DNS: Surfshark enables leak protection measures through Private DNS. Hence, every server protection is done using IPv4 stack to enhance user security.

✔️ Camouflage Mode: Surfshark’s unique Camouflage Mode conceals your VPN from your internet provider and allows you to stay private. This feature comes in handy when you are using Public WiFi.

✔️ Bypasser: Surfshark enables tunneled traffic through its unique Bypasser feature. This helps users in picking out the websites that need to be accessed through the VPN.

✔️ CleanWeb: Surfshark blocks malware, ads, spam, and annoying pop-up requests. It also stops video ads, screen-block cookie permissions, and shady sites. This feature makes it one of the best VPNs for WiFi.

✔️ Compatible Devices: Surfshark has apps for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and Linux devices. It also has user-friendly browser extensions for Firefox and Chrome.

Pros

A 7-day free trial that comes with all features.
GPS-spoofing for Windows and Android apps.
It offers two-factor authentication as an added layer of security for your device.
Smart DNS feature that enables VPN on non-VPN-friendly devices .

Cons

Limited features in the iOS apps.
Limited security and antivirus features in the standard subscription.

How does the VPN protect against common public Wi-Fi threats?

  • Password cracking is a very common threat for public WiFi users. Surfshark offers two-step authentication and protects your password and login details through its tested SHA-512 encryption. The authentication system negates the possibility of password hacking and protects the login credentials of your VPN.

Visit Surfshark >>

30-Day Free Trial


5) Private Internet Access

Vast Server Coverage

Private Internet Access (PIA) is a worthy consideration for a VPN while using public WiFi. It comes with essential security features, advanced encryption standards, an automatic kill switch, and built-in ad blockers.

PIA offers stable connections to millions of users with its dense network of 30000+ servers worldwide. This VPN has other perks, such as upgraded protocol options, automation rules, and customizable features. It helps you to make 10 simultaneous connections.

Private Internet Access

Key Specs:

Supported Platforms:
iOS, Android, Linux, macOS, and Microsoft Windows.
Total number of servers: 10,000+ Countries: 84+ countries
Data Allowance: Unlimited Bandwidth No-logging policy: Yes
Free Trial: No- 30 days money-back guarantee Simultaneous connections: 10+ Maximum supported devices: Unlimited
Split Tunneling: Yes Kill Switch: Yes Today Best Deal’s: Check Now!

Features:

✔️ Encryption: PIA offers AES-128 encryption. This is a step below military-grade AES-256 encryption. But it gets the job done. The VPN also offers OpenVPN and WireGuard protocol options with its paid plans.

✔️ MACE: MACE, PIA’s built-in ad-blocking system, filters out heavy ads and spam requests. It also blocks malicious sites right from the DNS level. MACE also offers swift malware detection that hinders user access to shady sites.

✔️ Open-Source Transparency: PIA’s 100% open-source and publicly available apps let people search for irregularities and lapses in security themselves.

✔️ Servers: PIA has fast-speed servers in 84 countries that facilitate lightning-fast speed. Users also get unlimited bandwidth with each subscription. Despite the heavy encryption, there is little to no speed throttling, which is a bonus while using public WiFi networks.

✔️ Dedicated IP: PIA offers an anonymous IP address that conceals your online activity without comprising on speed and browsing experience.

✔️ Compatible Devices: This VPN has apps for Windows, iOS, Android, Mac, and Linux. It also provides browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox.

Pros

Allows anonymous payment and Bitcoin transactions.
Allows P2P sharing and torrenting.
Has a tested no-logs policy.
Offers a clean user interface and uniform app design across all devices .

Cons

Underwhelming speed as compared to other VPNs in the same price range.

How does the VPN protect against common public Wi-Fi threats?

  • Evil Twin is the practice of setting up malicious hotspots in the disguise of trustworthy public WiFi networks. It is one of the most common hacking practices in the digital world. Private Internet Access’ unique MACE ad blocker filters out malicious hotspots and blocks connection to shady public WiFi hotspots.

Visit PIA >>

30 days money-back guarantee

How to Set Up a VPN for a Public WiFi

Here are steps to set up a VPN for public WiFi:

Step 1) Visit ExpressVPN’s website and click on the “Try ExpressVPN Risk-Free” button.

Set Up a VPN for a Public WiFi

Step 2) Select a suitable plan from one of the three plans: a) 1 month, b) 6 months, and c) 12 months, and pay.

Set Up a VPN for a Public WiFi

The VPN is now functioning.

Step 3) Install ExpressVPN on your device.

Set Up a VPN for a Public WiFi

Step 4) Connect your device to a public WiFi network or hotspot.

Step 5) Log into the VPN from your device and enable kill switch.

Set Up a VPN for a Public WiFi

Step 6) Select a suitable VPN server.

Set Up a VPN for a Public WiFi

That’s all! Your device’s external connection is now encrypted with ExpressVPN.

Best Practices for Using Public WiFi Networks With VPN

Here are all the things that you must keep in mind while using a VPN with Public WiFi:

  • Visit only secure HTTPS websites and avoid shady and spammy websites while being on public WiFi.
  • Enable two-step authentication, as it drastically reduces the chances of password hacking and other cyber-attacks.
  • Disable auto login for your social media accounts and Google Drive.
  • Set the WiFi network to “Public” to conceal your device from hackers.
  • Disable auto-connect from your WiFi setting and connect to the public WiFi only after you’ve turned on the VPN and enabled the kill switch.
  • Don’t type any sensitive information and passwords or hop onto banking websites while using public WiFi.
  • Use strong and diverse passwords for different websites.
  • Erase your browser history and forget public WiFi details after the end of each session.

VPN for Public WiFi FAQ

Yes. It is crucial to protect your connection through a VPN. Connecting your device to a public WiFi is far more dangerous than connecting to your home’s Internet service provider. The former exposes your personal information and puts your device at risk of hacking and cyber threats. A VPN with powerful security features and privacy protocol can encrypt your data and hide your IP address. Thereby securing your connection.

There are hundreds of VPNs in the market. To choose the best VPN for Public WiFi, you must consider these factors:

  • Encryption: The VPN must have the highest encryption standards that can conceal your data from third parties. You must only consider VPNs that have AES encryption.
  • Security: VPN for public WiFi must have essential security features such as a kill switch, traffic obfuscation, built-in spam blockers, and threat detectors.
  • No-logs policy: The VPN must value user privacy by maintaining a no-logs policy. It shouldn’t keep any logs and must also ensure that no login data or website timestamps are ever shared or sold in the outer world.
  • Speed: The VPN must also offer optimum speed that isn’t throttled due to heavy encryption.
  • Supported devices: The VPN must be compatible with most devices. It should also have user-friendly and accessible apps for Android, Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Linux devices.
  • Simultaneous connections: Lastly, a VPN for public WiFi must offer at least five or more simultaneous connections with one subscription.

It is risky to use a free VPN provider with public WiFi. Free VPNs compromise on speed, safety, and privacy. An unpaid subscription also provides lackluster encryption and does not block shady sites. The best VPN for WiFi is the one that is feature-packed and fits your budget, such as NordVPN and Surfshark.

You can, but only if the public WiFi you’re using hasn’t blocked HD streaming from sites like Netflix and your VPN is able to unblock Netflix. Most public WiFi networks block streaming sites to conserve bandwidth. You can pick any VPN that offers fast speed and secure connection and bypasses international geo-restrictions to stream HD Netflix content.

Nearly all VPNs work with public WiFi. If you’re unable to connect a public WiFi with a VPN, then it must be because of the public WiFi’s VPN policy.

Most public WiFi networks either block VPN traffic or heavily restrict VPN browsing activities. To use a best vpn for public wifi, you need to ensure that the WiFi isn’t blocking VPNs. You can also take care of some other steps, such as an unstable Internet connection or firewall blockage.

No. WiFi connection to a hotel, cafe, or open-space WiFi is highly unsafe. A hotel’s WiFi is likely connected to hundreds of devices. This exposes your device to spam, hacking, cyberattacks, and other kinds of attacks.

Some of the potential consequences of using hotel WiFi are eavesdropping, stolen credit card numbers/bank information, malware attack, etc. To safely use a hotel WiFi, you can connect it with a best VPN for hotel wifi that encrypts your connection, protects your device, and enhances your browsing experience.

Best VPNs for Public WiFi Hotspot (Free & Paid)

 
#1 Best Overall

ExpressVPN

NordVPN

Atlas VPN Surfshark
VPN Provider ExpressVPN NordVPN Atlas VPN Surfshark
Number of servers: 5500+ 5500+ 750+ 3200+
No. of Server Countries 55+ 59+ 37 65
24/7 support ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Max connections 5 6 Unlimited Unlimited
Our Review We rate VPNs based on factors such as Speed, User Experience, Bandwidth, Countries Supported, Pricing, No Log Policy etc.
Excellent – 9.8
star-rating
Excellent – 9.7
star-rating
Good – 9.6
star-rating
Good – 9.5
star-rating
Free trial VPNs offer a 30-day money-back guarantee, but you must subscribe to the 1-month plan first. 30 days 30 days 30 days 30 days
Link Try Free Now Try Free Now Try Free Now Try Free Now

Conclusion

Now that you’re aware of the risks that come with using public WiFi without a VPN, you must immediately get a VPN that offers a secure, private, and fast connection.

ExpressVPN is the leading choice for a personal VPN, as it comes with best-in-class encryption and commendable privacy features. You can also consider NordVPN and enjoy fast, high-speed, and secure connection while using public WiFi.