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Free Internet Access Guide

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Free ISP

 Free Internet Access Guide

This free internet access guide will help you replace your paid internet service provider (ISP) with free internet access. There used to be many different free internet access providers with great features, service and reliability. NetZero still offers a free service in addition to the paid Netzero Platinum, but unfortunately all of the best free internet access providers went bankrupt and closed down or switched to a paid services years ago. Those that are left have severely limited their services and are generally slow and unreliable. That's why we just added a page on Discount Internet Access for those that want fast reliable access at a low discount price.

Continue on for background information or skip ahead to our provider recommendations that will help you find a free internet access provider to match your needs. If you're in a hurry, go to our top recommended free internet provider. Advanced users can compare all the options in detail with our comprehensive free isp comparison table.

Try Free Internet Access Risk-Free
You can keep your current internet service provider while you try the free internet service from these providers. This way you don't have to give up your existing service until you are satisfied that you have found a dependable free ISP. Since there is no cost or commitment, there is no risk to try these free internet services. You can even try out several free ISPs to find the one that is the fastest, most reliable, and best for you. If you have an AOL account, you can still keep it once you have a free ISP and save $12 a month by using AOL's bring your own access plan.

At only $6.95 per month Juno Platinum is one of the best dialup deals around. It isn't free, but it doesn't have the severe usage limitations of the free providers either. If fact, they offer unlimited internet access, reliable connections and 1GB of email storage.

Juno Platinum is only 6.95 per month for the first 12 months. Another option is to upgrade to the Turbo service, for just a little more each month. It claims to offer 5x faster web surfing, Pop-up Blocker, 2GB of email storage, Norton AntiVirus online and more.

Free ISP Features Overview
Most of the free internet service providers currently offer very limited internet access and email. They limit you to between 12 and 40 hours of internet usage per month, and generally have slow unreliable service. They generally support 56K modem dialup connections through nationwide (USA) access numbers and some offer Canadian numbers as well. Some free internet providers used to offer high-speed DSL service, but these providers have gone out of business. In order to cover the costs of the service, just about every free ISP forces banner ads to be displayed on your screen while surfing. They generally just support computers running various versions of Microsoft Windows, and do not support Mac OS, Linux, Sega Dreamcast or WebTV. Some of the free ISPs provide free web hosting, but most do not provide Usenet news servers. Most only offer online FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) and other automated help, and charge to call or email an actual person for tech support.

Recommended Free Internet Access Providers
The free internet access provider that is best for you depends on your specific needs. Here is a list of the most common feature requests. Just find the one that suits your needs and link to the recommended free internet access providers for complete details and to sign up. If you are a sophisticated user you may want to pick a service provider from our free ISP comparison table, or browse our list of top internet service providers or our choice for best free internet provider.

I don't want ads; is there a free ISP with no ad banners?
Banner ads can be very annoying since they slow down your surfing (while new ads are downloaded) and take up space on your monitor. Plus the software that displays the ads can be unreliable and cause your computer to crash. Unfortunately all of the free internet access providers with no banner ads went out of business. Discount Internet Access Providers typically do not have banner advertisements, so we recommend checking into these.

I have kids, is there a family-safe free internet service provider?
These days the best choice is arcZip. Although it isn't free, they are the best ISP around with fast, reliable internet access for just $14.95. They offer the latest technology available in Internet filtering, to help protect your family from questionable material (including pornography, hate, and illegal content) on the internet. They utilize BOTH leading-edge keyword filtering AND a continually updated database of questionable Internet sites for double-protection. Normally arcZip charges $2 more a month ($16.95) for filtered internet access, but you can get filtering included for FREE if you use promotion code FREEFILTER when you sign up for arcZip Internet Access.

I want a fast Internet connection, does anyone offer free dsl service?
A few companies such as Winfire! used to offer high speed free DSL internet service, but they have all gone out of business and shut down operations. If you want high speed access your only options are a paid provider. However, the efficiency, convenience and value that a always-on high-speed connection provides is worth the price. Compare the competing services and find the one that is best for you on our page of High Speed Internet Access Providers.

I use a Mac; which free internet access provider supports the Macintosh?
There used to be many choices, but the none of the remaining free internet access providers support the Mac. (Note that Bluelight has discontinued Macintosh support effective Feb. 28, 2001.) If you use a Mac, check out our list of Discount Internet Access Providers, since most of them support the Macintosh.

Can I get free internet access for my computer that runs Windows 3.11?
None of the current free internet access providers support Windows 3.1. You can try upgrading your computer to Windows 95/98/ME, or try one of out Discount Internet Access Providers, since most of them support AOL also still supports Windows 3.1, so one option you have is to join America Online and take advantage of AOL's 30 day free trial offer with unlimited hours of free internet access for 30 days.

What about free internet access for Sega Dreamcast, Linux or other platforms?
Basically it is the same answer as for Macintosh and Windows 3.1, since free internet access providers typically only support Windows 95/98/ME/NT/2000. Therefore for other platforms, you should check into a Discount ISP.

If I am from Canada, which free internet service provider can I use?
NetZero offers free internet access in Canada in addition to the USA. They are supported through ads, and provide unrestricted free internet access without any fees. However, they have a limit of 10 hours per month, and most Canadian numbers are not included for the free access (try NetZero Platinum instead.) Unfortunately, the two main Canadian free internet service providers, Funcow and 3Web are no longer an option. Funcow is out of business and 3Web no longer offers free internet access (only paid service.)

My needs are more complicated and my situation wasn't covered.
Use our free ISP comparison table to find a detailed comparison of many free internet access providers. Or browse our list of the best free internet service providers, our top recommended free internet provider or our guides to other free internet services.

Free Internet Access Closures
Unfortunately, many free internet access providers have been shutting down lately because they have lost too much money. It is really sad to see this happening since free internet access is great, but luckily there are still some free ISPs out there and there are some good Discount ISPs to chose from. To keep you informed on the latest mergers, closures and changes in free internet access providers we have added this section with information on those that have gone out of business or cancelled their free internet access services.

  • 1 Nation Online (1NOL) - They offered free internet access without banner ads, but have shut down.
  • 1stup - 1stup is a free internet access company that provided the service and telecommunications infrastructure for over 100 free ISPs including Altavista, Lycos, MyPoints and Excite. Currently 1stup is in financial difficulties and may close down and cut off free internet access service to all of its partners. Altavista and Lycos are no longer allowing new members and Altavista is terminating free isp service on 12/10/00. While the other 1stup partners have generally all shut down, Excite has partnered with WorldShare to continue offering free internet access with Freelane version 2.0.
  • 3Web  - They offered free internet access throughout Canada, but beginning July 15, 2001 they only offer paid service.
  • American Express Online - They switched to a paid internet access provider on July 2, 2001.
  • Bluelight - Bluelight stopped accepting new free customers and will cancel free service to existing customers on August 29, 2001. They will continue to offer paid internet service.
  • FreeInternet (FreeI.net) - This free internet access provider has shut down. Existing users were transferred to NetZero.
  • Freelane by Excite - After 1stup closed down, they tried to continue offering free internet access for several months. However, as of March 1, 2001 free internet access through Freelane will no longer be available.
  • FreeWWWeb - They had no ad banners and worked with any platform including Mac, Linux, Sega Dreamcast, Windows 95, 98, 2000, NT, 3.1, etc. It shut down and existing users were transferred to Juno.
  • Funcow  - Funcow provided free internet access in Canada. They shut down their operations in May 2001.
  • iFreedom - They shut down and existing users were transferred to NetZero.
  • InFree / OnFree - This provider used to offer free internet access without ad banners. They switched to a paid service, and just a couple months later went out of business. It does not appear that they will offer refunds for those who prepaid for 1 year of service.
  • Spinway - Spinway is a free internet access company that provided the service and telecommunications infrastructure for many free ISPs including Bluelight, NBCi, Address.com and NetTaxi. Bluelight has taken over Spinway. Other free ISPs powered by Spinway, besides for Bluelight, have been shut down. Although newspaper and online news reports have suggested that Bluelight may cancel its free internet access service after the end of the year, a Bluelight spokesman has assured us that they plan to always offer some form of free service.
  • Start Free - This free internet access provider has ceased operations.
  • WebFlyerNet - As of 12/6/00 WebFlyerNet has terminated its free internet access service.
  • WorldShare - They offered free internet access with no banner ads. They tried to switch to an ad banner system, but ended up dropping that idea and free internet access with it. Now they only offer paid service.
  • WorldSpy - This free internet access provider was very popular since it had no banner ads. It shut down and existing users were transferred to Juno.

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