Microsoft Edge Adds a Free (But Limited) Built-In VPN

Sure, the new tool is capped at 1GB of traffic per month, but on the other hand, it's completely free.
Adam Rowe

Microsoft Edge may be moving up in the browser world with the launch of its latest feature update: A free VPN service will be bundled into the browser.

Edge Secure Network is set to roll out within a security upgrade, giving Edge users the ability to encrypt their traffic so that their data can't be harvested, and they can see region-locked websites.

It's not one hundred percent private, however: VPN use will still be connected to the Microsoft account that users have tied to their browser. Plus, the VPN feature can only be used for a limit of up to 1GB of traffic per month.

The Edge Secure Network

News of the upcoming free VPN service comes from The Verge, which uncovered a Microsoft support page revealing the tool.

Like any VPN, Microsoft's Cloudflare-powered VPN will route a user's data from Edge and through an encrypted tunnel, making it tougher for a hacker to access that data from a shared public Wi-Fi network. It'll work even for sites with unsecured HTTP URLs.

Your internet service provider won't be able to collect browsing data while the VPN is connected, although Microsoft will still have the data, at least temporarily, since it originates from your browser.

Turning On the VPN

Once it has rolled out, Microsoft Edge users can find the VPN by looking in the “Settings” dropdown menu for the “Secure Network” option.

When it's on, a shield-shaped icon will appear in the browser frame to let users know that their traffic is protected. The VPN will turn off once the browser is closed, and users will have to turn it back on each time they open a new browsing session — there's no ability to automatically turn it on.

You'll need to log into your Microsoft account in order to connect the VPN, which may give some users pause, given that one big benefit of a VPN is getting to avoid logging your presence. Microsoft acknowledges that it stores “minimal support data and access tokens,” saying that these are “only retained for the duration of the required service window.”

But why log into your account? To track how much data your VPN is using.

“A Microsoft account is required to access Microsoft Edge Secure Network and is retained to keep track of the amount of Microsoft Edge Secure Network data that is used each month. This data retention is necessary to provide 1GB of free Microsoft Edge Secure Network service and to indicate when the data limit has been reached,” the company says on their support page.

Cloudflare also has access to some protected data and says it “permanently deletes the diagnostic and support data collected every 25 hours.”

Staying Safe

Despite a few drawbacks, there's no denying that the new Edge VPN tool will hugely help to strengthen data privacy infrastructure. Everyone likes a freebie, and since the Edge browser is already used by millions, its VPN will be adapted rapidly even by those who might not have tried a VPN otherwise.

We've rounded up the top free VPN options in the past, but we'd still recommend a paid version for those who are serious about protecting their data and activity online.

Two of the most secure, according to our tests, are NordVPN and Surfshark. They're both available starting from just two or three dollars per month as well, making them among the least expensive picks for a paid VPN service.

Check out our full comparison table of the best VPNs, available below.

0 out of 0
Test Score
Our scoring is based on independent tests and assessments of features, privacy settings, ease of use and value.
Price From
Lowest price for single month subscription to cheapest paid tier. Other plans are available.
Verdict
No. of Devices
No. of Servers
Zero Data Logging
Kill switch
Ease of Use
Features
Privacy
Speed
Help & Support
Value for Money
Free Trial
Try
Click to find the latest offers, deals and discounts from the VPN provider
4.8
4.6
4.2
3.9
4.5
4.0
4.3
4.7
3.4
4.5

$4/mo

$1.99/mo

$2.03/mo

$9.99/mo

$3.29 per month

$12.95/mo

$9.95/month

$9.95/mo

Fast, effective, low-cost and simple – the best VPN we've tested, with risk-free money-back guarantee

Industry-beating good value, with a single low price to cover all your devices, plus great speeds and top security features

Powerful features and security, but a bit technical. Some massive savings currently available.

A safe, simple, outstanding VPN

Outstanding value, with an advanced VPN app

Good VPN privacy at good speeds

A decent option for expert users

Superb features, but at a higher cost

Excellent privacy features for the security-minded

A beautifully simple VPN, with great security provisions

6

Unlimited

Unlimited

5

10

8-12

10

5

5

10

5,000+ (60+ countries)

3,200+ (65+ countries)

1,300+ (55+ countries)

6,500

29,000+ (78+ countries)

3,000+ (50+ countries)

1,300+ (61+ countries)

3,000+ (94+ countries)

450

1,800+ (40+ countries)

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Adam is a writer at Tech.co and has worked as a tech writer, blogger and copy editor for more than a decade. He's also a Forbes Contributor on the publishing industry, for which he was named a Digital Book World 2018 award finalist. His work has appeared in publications including Popular Mechanics and IDG Connect, and he has an art history book on 1970s sci-fi coming out from Abrams Books in 2022. In the meantime, he's hunting own the latest news on VPNs, POS systems, and the future of tech.

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