Best Free VPN services for Dark Web in 2022

Best VPN for Dark Web
Written by: Per-Erik Eriksson

Even though the Internet was officially invented nearly 40 years ago, the last decade has witnessed an enormous expansion of the web and its uses. 

This rise in the net’s popularity has come at a certain price: online security. Despite this, many people are still unaware of the threats lurking on the net and the need to protect themselves in the virtual environment. 

In case you don't want to read the entire article, here’s a quick summary:
  1. NordVPN Best VPN for most purposes. Incredibly fast speeds, easy to set up, and includes a 30-day money-back guarantee.
  2. Surfshark VPN This is the best, cheap VPN service with many included features and strong security.
  3. PrivateInternetAccess VPN PIA VPN is one of the best VPNs for streaming and unblocking content.
  4. CyberGhost VPN Best low-latency VPN for P2P sharing and gaming.
  5. Atlas VPN Atlas VPN has one of the biggest discounts on this list and supports 4K streaming.
  6. ProtonVPN (Free Version) Proton is perhaps the most trustworthy company in the VPN business. They focus on security over anything else and offer the best free VPN available.

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Best VPN for Dark and Deep Web

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VPN SERVICE
DISCOUNT
FEATURES
VISIT
1
NordVPN Logo
68%
DISCOUNT

30 day money-back guarantee.

  • Fastest VPN
  • Servers: 5300+
  • Countries: 60+

WHY I LIKE NORDVPN: NordVPN has long been regarded as one of the strongest brands in cybersecurity. With one of the largest server offerings on my list and support for most, if not all operating systems, making NordVPN an obvious choice for many. They have 24/7 customer support if you need help getting started. Their app is one of the most well-designed apps I have ever used. NordVPN even accepts cryptocurrencies as payment for extra anonymity.

2
Surfshark logo
82%
DISCOUNT

30 day money-back guarantee.

  • Best cheap VPN
  • Servers: 3200+
  • Countries: 65+

WHY I LIKE SURFSHARK: Surfshark VPN is perfect for those who want a cheap and reliable VPN that also has many extra features. "Camouflage Mode" hides your usage from your ISP, "Kill Switch" suspends your connection and protects your information if you temporarily lose Internet access, "MultiHop" to connect from multiple countries at the same time just to name a few. My favorite feature of Surfshark is "Whitelists" which allow the user to exclude specific apps and programs from the VPN connection.

3
Private Internet Access VPN Logo
81%
DISCOUNT

30 day money-back guarantee.

  • Best Netflix VPN
  • Servers: 35500+
  • Countries: 84+

WHY I LIKE PIA VPN: PrivateInternetAccess is at the top of my streaming tests, which is a great combination with their easy-to-use UI, Open-Source software and built in adblocker. PIA is also perfect for those who want to be able to pay with PayPal which for some reason, many other VPN services do not support. 30-day money-back guarantee, multiple Netflix libraries, and extremely affordable are the three main selling points for this VPN service.

4
Cyberghost VPN Logo
83%
DISCOUNT

45 day money-back guarantee.

  • Best torrent VPN
  • Servers: 7400+
  • Countries: 91+

WHY I LIKE CYBERGHOST: CyberGhost VPN is the first choice of many other cybersecurity experts, and the reason is clear; they have the most complete VPN service. An incredible number of extra features that are best suited for the more advanced users but also work flawlessly for every-day purposes like P2P-filesharing. Cyberghost VPN also has the longest stretching money-back guarantee at a full 45 days.

5
Atlas VPN Logo
83%
DISCOUNT

30 day money-back guarantee.

  • Incredibly cheap VPN
  • Servers: 750+
  • Countries: 43+

WHY I LIKE ATLAS VPN: Atlas VPN is one of the best new free VPN services. With the free version, you get unlimited data, no ads and zero logging. During my speed tests, Atlas VPN performed very well and could compete with mainstream services. Kill Switch, Ad-blocker, and P2P support all included with a regular subscription, which is incredibly cheap for such a robust service.

6
ProtonVPN Logo
33%
DISCOUNT

30 day money-back guarantee.

  • Best free VPN
  • Servers: 1713+
  • Countries: 63+

WHY I LIKE PROTONVPN: ProtonVPN is based in Switzerland and is most known for their e-mail service ProtonMail. They currently offer the safest free VPN services on the market. There is also support for TOR usage and P2P file sharing. I highly recommend ProtonVPN if you are intending to do some extensive online sharing. It goes without saying that Proton does not collect logs of any kind and is completely safe to use.

7
PrivateVPN Logo
82%
DISCOUNT

30 day money-back guarantee.

  • Best gaming VPN
  • Servers: 200+
  • Countries: 63+

WHY I LIKE PRIVATEVPN: PrivateVPN is the strong underdog in the world of VPNs. With a shy number of servers, it is evident that they are focusing on quality over quantity. Overall, PrivateVPN is a very decent choice of VPN, especially if you had enough of the excessive advertising by some of the other more known brands in this list. Setting up the VPN requires extremely little intervention, and you can even pay with Bitcoin.

8
ExpressVPN Logo
49%
DISCOUNT

30 day money-back guarantee.

  • Best Android VPN
  • Servers: 3000+
  • Countries: 94+

WHY I LIKE EXPRESSVPN: ExpressVPN is one of the fastest and most reliable VPN services. With the 30-day money-back guarantee, you will have a fair chance to see if you are happy with the service. They support almost every device and OS out there, and their 24/7 customer support is the best I have experienced among all the VPNs in this list. The only pitfall that ExpressVPN has is the price. It is double the price as some of the other services in this list. Despite that, I strongly believe ExpressVPN is one of the best VPN services you can get.

9
OVPN Logo
68%
DISCOUNT

10 day money-back guarantee.

  • Best reputation
  • Servers: 91+
  • Countries: 17+

WHY I LIKE OVPN: OVPN is the best alternative for people who expect heavy security from their VPN provider. No other operator has the same level of physical security that OVPN has. All their servers operate without any type of storing media, which would otherwise log information. One selling point that really stands out, is their insurance. They go out of their way to protect their customers by having insurance so that when some government requests documents, they will have the resources needed to fight the claim in court.

10
Hotspot Shield VPN Logo
77%
DISCOUNT

45 day money-back guarantee.

  • Fastest free VPN
  • Servers: 3200+
  • Countries: 80+

WHY I LIKE HOTSPOT SHIELD: Protect your personal information from hackers, snoopers, and ISPs with the fastest free VPN of 2021. That is right, the crown for fastest free VPN has already been claimed by Hotspot Shield, supported by multiple speed tests around the web, including my own. While their premium VPN service is one of the more expensive ones, the free version is good enough for people who just cannot pay for a VPN service, but still value their online privacy.

What Is the Dark Web and What Is It Used for?

The web as we know it is only one part of the Internet. Underneath the public network of websites lies another virtual layer – the deep web. The deep web stores hidden content not indexed by search engines: banking, e-mail, or social media accounts, for example.

The dark web is a segment of this hidden deep web, and the only way to access it is with the help of special software. A lot of illegal activity goes on there under the cover of anonymity, which is why many think that the use of the dark web is unlawful. 

However, not everything that goes on on the dark web is illegal. Some people use it simply because it provides more privacy, while others use it because it helps evade government censorship.

How Can I Use the Dark Web Safely?

dark web darknet deep web

To use the dark web safely, you need to have a particular browser with a ‘.onion’ domain. One such browser is the Tor browser (short for The Onion Router). The name onion is meant to depict the Tor network’s layered encryption, which is suggestive of the multiple layers of an onion.

You also need a reliable VPN (short for Virtual Private Network). A VPN’s job is to encrypt your online traffic and keep your IP address hidden from other entities.

Even though the Tor browser provides encryption, you are not advised to access the dark web without a VPN. A VPN, unlike Tor, also prevents others (including your ISP – Internet Service Provider) from knowing that you are using Tor.

In addition, you cannot use surface web engines to search the dark web – you need a private engine that does not track your web activity. One popular search engine is DuckDuckGo, which you need to open in Tor.

How to Use the Dark Web in 5 Easy Steps

Here is what you need to do to access and use the dark web safely:

  1. Download and install a VPN. 
  2. Connect to your VPN.
  3. Download and install the Tor browser.
  4. Start the Tor browser.
  5. Use a search engine suitable for the dark web.

What Are the Best VPNs for Accessing the Dark Web?

Security should be your priority when choosing the best VPN to access the dark web. For this reason, make sure to opt for a reliable VPN with top encryption and excellent safety features. In addition, get a VPN with a strict no-logging policy so that no trace of your activity remains.

Here is our list of the best VPNs for the dark web:

  1. NordVPN
  2. Surfshark VPN
  3. CyberGhost VPN
  4. PrivateInternetAccess VPN (PIA VPN)
  5. ExpressVPN
  6. ProtonVPN

Take a quick look at the main features of our top VPN picks for the dark web:

 ExpressVPNNordVPNSurfshark VPNCyberGhost VPNPIA VPNProtonVPN
HeadquartersThe British Virgin IslandsPanamaThe British Virgin IslandsRomaniaUSA (Denver)Switzerland
Number of servers3000+5600+3200+9600+N/A1800+
Countries9459100918464
Torrentingon torrenting serverson all serverson all serverson torrenting serverson servers outside the USon P2P servers
Simultaneous connectionson up to 5 deviceson up to 6 deviceson an unlimited number of deviceson up to 7 deviceson up to 10 deviceson up to 10 devices
Logging policystrict no-logging policystrict no-logging policystrict no-logging policystrict no-logging policystrict no-logging policystrict no-logging policy
Packages1-monthly, 6-monthly, 12-monthlyBasic, Plus, Complete (monthly, annual, biannual)1-monthly, 12-monthly, 24-monthly1-monthly, 6-monthly, 24-monthly1-monthly, 12-monthly, 36-monthly  1-monthly, 12-monthly, 24-monthly
Money-back guarantee30 days30 days30 days45 days30 days30 days

NordVPN

NordVPN is another highly reliable and secure VPN provider with many ultra-fast servers and outstanding safety features. In addition, its military-grade encryption (AES-256) guarantees that your online traffic will remain private. At the same time, the provider’s no-logging policy means that no information about your online activity is collected and stored.

NordVPN’s Dark Web Monitor informs you if your credentials are leaked on the dark web, whereas its multi-factor authentication keeps your Nord account secure. The provider also offers a dedicated IP address, one that is used only by you.

Other safety features include the kill switch, split tunneling, private DNS, and Onion over VPN (which provides another layer of encryption). Torrenting is also supported on all NordVPN servers.

NordVPN AdvantagesNordVPN Disadvantages
Fast speedsDoes not support torrenting on all servers
Seamless streamingExpensive monthly plans ($11.99–14.29)
Extensions for browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Edge) 
Nine different plans 
24-hour customer service 

Surfshark VPN

Surfshark VPN is an affordable VPN provider with a solid safety profile. Even though it is not as good a performer as the previous two for speeds and unblocking ability, Surfshark does not disappoint regarding security. It uses AES-256 encryption and has a kill switch. Its default protocols are IKEv2 and IPSec, but users can also choose to use OpenVPN.

Surfshark provides leak protection and has a private DNS on every server. It also has a handful of useful features, such as Camouflage Mode, which prevents your ISP from knowing that you are using a VPN. Another one is the Bypasser, which allows some apps and websites to bypass VPN (e.g., banking apps).

Surfshark AdvantagesSurfshark Disadvantages
Unlimited number of connectionsPricey monthly plan ($12.95/month)
7-day free trial on Android, iOS, and macOSSlower torrenting speed
Does not automatically extend your subscription 
Independently audited 

CyberGhost VPN

CyberGhost VPN has over 3,000 self-owned and self-operated NoSpy servers in their Romanian headquarters. This feature guarantees top privacy, security and performance. In addition, the company uses unbreakable AES-256-bit encryption and has a strict no-logs policy – the servers are configured to delete all the internet history as soon as users log off.

CyberGhost offers four different VPN protocols (OpenVPN, WireGuard, IKEv2, and L2TP/IPSec and allows users to choose which one to use depending on their needs. It also has a kill switch and split tunneling (for Android), My ID Guard (that informs you when your e-mail address or password is leaked on the dark web), and Smart Rules to help you customize your VPN settings.

CyberGhost VPN AdvantagesCyberGhost VPN Disadvantages
High-performing serversSplit tunneling only for Android
Unlimited bandwidthAd blocker does not always work
Secure downloads and streamingMore distant servers are a bit slower
Affordable 2 years + 2 months free plan ($2.19/month) 
The free trial does not require credit card information 

Private Internet Access VPN (PIA VPN)

Private Internet Access VPN (PIA VPN) is an affordable yet reliable VPN that lets you choose between two encryption types: AES-128 and AES-256. While the higher number means better security, this choice can also affect speed. Therefore, users are advised to select the type of encryption based on their needs.

PIA VPN uses open-source VPN apps and two of the best protocols: OpenVPN and WireGuard. It also has the kill switch and PIA MACE, which helps block malware, ads, and trackers. In addition, PIA’s proxy servers provide added protection by routing the connection through an additional server location.

One PIA VPN subscription equals ten simultaneous connections. Still, you can purchase additional connections if you wish to use this VPN for small businesses and offices.

PIA VPN AdvantagesPIA VPN Disadvantages
Good value for moneySpeed can be an issue
Unlimited bandwidth and dataFew additional safety features
RAM-only serversExpensive monthly subscription
User friendly 

ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN is a leading VPN provider with a large arsenal of safety features. In addition to its standard AES-256-bit encryption, proven unbreakable, ExpressVPN has the Network Lock kill switch. It automatically disconnects your device from the Internet if your VPN stops working.

Other safety features include a private DNS server, which makes the connection safer and faster, and TrustedServer Technology, which guarantees that no data is written on the hard drive. ExpressVPN’s top protocols (Lightway, OpenVPN, IKEv2) provide an added layer of safety. At the same time, Threat Manager helps protect you against malware and ads.

ExpressVPN has excellent speeds and unblocking ability, so you can enjoy all your favorite content no matter where you are.  

ExpressVPN AdvantagesExpressVPN Disadvantages
Unlimited bandwidthSlower speeds with OpenVPN
Split tunnelingAbove-average price
Built-in speed test 
Active blog with security tips 
24-hour live chat support 

ProtonVPN

ProtonVPN also uses AES-256 encryption and has perfect forward secrecy, frequently changing the keys used to encrypt and decrypt data. This means that users’ sensitive information will not be compromised even if one key is stolen.

The provider uses the most reliable VPN protocols (Open VPN, IKEv2, WireGuard), and its servers are protected by full disk encryption. In addition, ProtonVPNs’ Secure Core is a feature that protects the connection by sending traffic through several servers.

Another benefit of using ProtonVPN is its Swiss location. Privacy laws are watertight in Switzerland, and the country is not in any 5, 9, and 14-Eyes alliances requiring data exchange.

ProtonVPN AdvantagesProtonVPN Disadvantages
Kill Switch, DNS leak protection, Tor over VPNSomewhat limited unlocking power
VPN Accelerator (increases speed by 400%)More expensive than other similar VPNs
Apps 100% open source 
A high-security data center in Switzerland 
Free version 

The Best VPNs for the Dark Web Compared

The most important aspects to consider when choosing a reliable VPN for the dark web are:

  • Safety profile 
  • Size of the server network 
  • Speed 
  • Number of simultaneous connections 

Price – An important issue for most people. Yet, we believe that when choosing a VPN primarily for the dark web, you should not compromise your online safety by going for a cheap VPN with little protection. A good way of saving money is by subscribing to an annual or biannual plan offered by most of the above VPNs. You can also look for their discounts during the holiday season or on Black Friday weekend.

Safety – As far as safety is concerned, all of our top VPN choices for the dark web deliver. They all have state-of-the-art encryption (AES-256), known to be practically unbreakable. Having the kill switch and DNS leak protection has become an industry standard, and all our VPNs have them. In addition to this, our favorites take privacy very seriously. They do not store any information about their users’ online activity. The only pieces of information they store are the users’ e-mail addresses and billing information.

Additional safety features – One aspect in which our VPN picks differ is the number of other features they offer. These include features such as:

  • Double VPN – double encryption;
  • Private DNS – much safer and private than your ISP’s public DNS;
  • Split tunneling – lets you choose which sites and apps need a VPN;
  • Onion over VPN – provides safety even if the network is compromised;
  • Trusted Server technology ensures data is not written on the hard drive. 

More expensive VPN providers, like ExpressVPN and NordVPN, tend to offer more of these additional features, so if safety is your absolute priority, choose one of them. 

Server network – Of course, being on the dark web may not be the only reason you might need a trusty VPN. Many people use VPNs to access different content on streaming services in countries with viewing restrictions. In this case, the size of the server network is an important aspect to consider. The location of the servers is also important because the more locations a VPN has to offer the more likely it is to provide good unblocking. Even though NordVPN has more servers than ExpressVPN, the latter has more server locations, which gives it an advantage.

Speed – VPNs have a reputation for slowing down internet speed, which is a deal-breaker for many. With top providers, however, this is not an issue, as these VPNs can provide excellent service. 

In addition to the uploading and downloading speeds, you should also check the speeds on nearby and remote servers. Not all the VPNs on our list have outstanding speeds, though. Therefore, you need to decide whether you require an expensive but fast VPN (e.g., ExpressVPN, NordVPN), or a slightly slower one which costs less (e.g. Surfshark, CyberGhost VPN, PIA VPN). 

A number of simultaneous connections – This feat is especially important to people who have a large household and wish to ensure that all their devices are secure. Our VPN choices offer up to ten devices simultaneously. Still, Surfshark is the only one that allows an unlimited number of connections.

Dark Web Screenshots

dark web screenshot tor browser onion
Screenshot of TOR Browser in use
dark web market screenshot drugs flugsvamp
Screenshot of a Swedish dark web market called “Flugsvamp”.
darkweb screenshots ecstasy tor onion vpn pgp
Another screenshot of the same darknet market.

In Conclusion

The dark web is a subset of the deep web which is not indexed by search engines. Because of this, the dark web is frequently associated with illicit activities, so ISPs block it. Not all activity on the dark web is illegal, though, and many people may have valid and legal reasons for wishing to access it. 

To be able to use the dark web regardless of your ISP’s restrictions, use a VPN. VPNs hide your IP address and prevent your ISP from knowing that you are on the dark web. 

The dark web is full of dangerous people capable of harming you or stealing your information – another reason why it is essential to use a VPN.

When choosing the right VPN for the dark web, choose a VPN with outstanding safety features. To make your choice easier, we have compiled a list of VPN providers that will protect your identity and online traffic.

FAQ

Can I access the dark web with a free VPN?

Yes, you can, but you are strongly advised not to. The dark web is a very dangerous place, and using it requires a great degree of caution and protection. 

Is Tor enough to keep me safe on the dark web?

No. Tor encrypts your traffic so nobody can decipher it. However, Tor does not hide your IP address, so your ISP can see that you have been on the dark web.

What is the best VPN to use on the dark web?

The best VPN to use when on the dark web is one with the best encryption. Currently, that is AES-256-bit encryption because its code is literally unbreakable. Each of the VPNs from our top 6 list uses that very same encryption and is a perfectly safe choice to use on the dark web.

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