Best free VPNs: 10 best free VPNs for startups | How to hide your location online | VPN reviews

Charlotte Jee
Charlotte Jee

Charlotte Jee

Charlotte is Techworld editor. She joined as senior reporter in April 2014 having previously worked as assistant editor at Government Computing.

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In our increasingly security-conscious age, people are keen to learn how to make themselves safer online. One option, particularly when relying on potentially unsecured public Wi-Fi, is to use a VPN (Virtual Private Network). There are various VPNs out there that allow you to browse securely, anonymously and privately on the web.

With the exception of one, all listed are browser plug-ins, but with news of Opera's built-in browser VPN, we've got all the information you'll need to protect your online location.

VPNs work by connecting two computers securely and privately over the internet. When you open up a web browser and enter a URL on your device, the request is sent to the VPN server. The server then acts as an intermediary, requesting the web page from the site and sending it back to you. That means the website can only see the VPN server- not the client device requesting it. 

This information is encrypted, meaning external parties can't see the information exchanged. VPNs also mask the location of the client, allowing you to access location-specific services in other countries. 

However – be warned - some experts advise against using free VPNs. There are plenty of inexpensive versions out there and as ever, if you’re not the consumer, you could be the product – so read those T&Cs carefully. Other risks include slow loading, potential data limits or being bombarded by adverts.

But if you are comfortable with the risks, or really can’t afford to shell out – here are just a few of the best free VPNs available right now.  

Read next: 12 best paid-for VPNs for startups 2017

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