6 great free VPNs to keep you safe

Here are six tools to help keep yourself safe, secure, and private online and at hot spots -- for free

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Want to be safe when using the Internet or sharing files away when you're at a WiFi hot spot or are away from your office? Here are six great Virtual Private Network (VPN) solutions that do that for you -- and you won't even have to spend a penny on them.

Private Tunnel

This excellent VPN, previously called ShieldExchange and OpenVPN Shield Exchange works with Windows, Macs, Android and iOS devices. Sign up for the service, download and launch the software, and your Internet travels will be encrypted. It's that simple. There is a drawback, though. Only the first 100 MB are free, and that can go pretty fast. After that you'll have to pay. But the price is right -- you pay only for data use, with no monthly fee. So $12, for example, gets you 50GB of data, and $50 gets 500 GB.

HotSpot Shield Free

This popular free VPN also works with Windows, Macs, Android, and iOS. Unlike Private Tunnel, it's all free, all the time. But you'll pay another price for its use -- it delivers ads while you're using it. I find them annoying, and for me, it's worth paying the extra for a service like Private Tunnel, or get the for-pay version of HotSpot Shield. But if you want free and don't mind ads, it's a winner.

LogMeIn Hamachi

This isn't a general-purpose VPN like Private Tunnel or HotSpot Shield Free. Instead, you use it to create a VPN among multiple PCs, so that you can share files and printers and other network resources. It's also suitable for gamers looking to play in a VPN. But because it's Windows-only and not a general-purpose VPN, it's not for everyone.

Comodo Unite

Like LogMeIn Hamachi, this is a PC-only VPN that you use for connecting computers to one another to share files, resources, and more.

CyberGhost

This VPN, for Windows PCs and iOS devices, has some nifty extras, including the ability to choose which VPN server you want to use. Unlike Private Tunnel, there's no limit on your data use, although there is a time limit -- you'll get disconnected after three hours, although you'll then be able to log in again. And you may also see ads from time to time. If you pay for the service (varying costs), the timeouts and ads vanish.

OkayFreedom VPN

This one is Windows-only, so if you've got a Mac, Android or iOS device, you're out of luck. You're limited to 500 MB of data per month, although if you refer others to the service, you can up that to 1 GB. As with the other free services, you can pay to upgrade to unlimited data, in this instance $29.95 per year.

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