The 5 Best Free VPNs for the Dark Web in 2022

Free VPN shield icon, laptop with Dark Web icon on the screen, trophy and Wi-Fi icon
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Quick Guide: The 5 Best Free VPNs for the Dark Web in 2022

If you’re going to surf the dark web, you’ll need to use a VPN to protect your privacy. This way your ISP and other third parties won’t be able to see you’re surfing the dark web. Moreover, in some countries, the dark web is blocked. In this case, a VPN can help you to circumvent this censorship.

That’s why we made a list of the five best free dark web VPNs, based on usability and dark web compatibility, speed and bandwidth, and security and privacy. These five meet that criteria:

  1. PrivadoVPN: Great speeds and 10GB data
  2. Windscribe: Extra obfuscation features
  3. ProtonVPN: No data limits and excellent security
  4. Hide.Me: No speed caps and easy account creation
  5. TunnelBear: Big server network without IP logs

Even though free VPNs have come a long way, we still have to admit it’s better to use a solid premium VPN for dark web surfing. If you want to go this route, we recommend NordVPN, thanks to its great speeds, huge number of servers and locations, and obfuscation technology that will circumvent dark web censorship.

To learn more about the best free dark web VPNs, you can read the complete article below.

Although the dark web can be a safe haven for those seeking online privacy and freedom, it’s infamous for harboring some questionable content and characters. Moreover, some countries where censorship is commonplace heavily scrutinize dark web users or block them from accessing it in the first place.

No user should ever access the dark web without the protection of a Virtual Private Network (VPN). After all, a good VPN hides the fact you’re accessing the dark web altogether. This means nosy third parties won’t be able to freely spy on you and you won’t be blocked as easily by oppressive regimes.

We’ve spent plenty of time testing the best overall VPNs for the dark web, but there is still the question that readers invariably ask: “What is the best free dark web VPN?” In this article, we’ve answered that question and rounded up the five best free VPNs you can use to safely and successfully access the dark web.

The 5 Best Free Dark Web VPNs

After thorough testing and researching, we’ve chosen five free VPNs as the best ones for browsing the dark web. Using these providers will offer you the speed, functionality, security, and privacy protection you’ll need to venture beneath the internet’s various layers.

1. PrivadoVPN: One of the best free dark web VPNs, period

Screenshot of PrivadoVPN website homepage

Excellent overall speedsLimited availability of free servers
No speed caps
10 GB monthly data limit
Obfuscation features
Strict no-logs policy

PrivadoVPN offers most of what you’d expect, and more, from a quality free VPN: a hefty 10 GB monthly data allowance, no speed caps, very solid encryption, and a strict no-logs policy. Many of these qualities also make this free VPN a great dark web VPN.

Just $1.99/month - or try out the free version!
  • Secure VPN with strong encryption
  • Doesn't keep logs
  • Limited server network
Visit PrivadoVPN

Usability and dark web compatibility

PrivadoVPN is very easy to use. The interface is clear and well-structured. In the app’s main window, you’re able to connect to a server and enable or disable the app’s kill-switch. That’s it. If you click on settings you’ll go to a separate window that is also clear and well-organized.

We have to conclude that PrivadoVPN is quite compatible with dark web use. It offers free servers in eight different countries — The U.S., U.K., Canada, France, Germany, Mexico, the Netherlands and Switzerland. This means that people around the world can use this free VPN to access the dark web, though users in Asian countries might experience lower speeds. Moreover, if you use the OpenVPN protocol (which we recommend), you can even “scramble” your data — an extra obfuscation technique that makes it much harder for countries that block VPN connections to do so.

Speed and bandwidth

PrivadoVPN doesn’t enforce any speed restrictions. This is good news, as it means it won’t affect your dark web browsing too much. When we tested PrivadoVPN, we hardly noticed any speed loss during day-to-day browsing.

As far as bandwidth goes, PrivadoVPN is also easy to recommend as a free dark web VPN. It offers a generous 10 GB of data per month. Even better, unlike with many other free VPNs, you don’t have to do anything extra to get this large amount of free data. 10 GB should allow for plenty of dark web browsing.

Security and privacy

PrivadoVPN offers some great security and privacy features to hide your dark web activities. First, it offers very secure 256-bit AES encryption. This encryption is provided by excellent VPN protocols: IKEv2, Wireguard, and OpenVPN. We recommend choosing OpenVPN, as this protocol offers by far the best balance between speed and security, and privacy.

PrivadoVPN is based in Switzerland. Thanks to the country’s long history of privacy-friendly laws, it has a strict no-logs policy. With this free VPN’s functionality and speed meeting more than adequate security and privacy protocols, we had to name it No. 1.

2. Windscribe: Plenty of speed, features, and data to browse in the dark

Screenshot of Windscribe, website homepage with added logo in the corner

Solid speeds overallSpeed differences based on servers
2 GB data limit (10 GB with email verification)Some anonymized logs kept
Two separate obfuscation features
Free servers in 10 countries
Good security protocols and encryption

Windscribe is one of the more well-known free VPNs and, we must say, for good reasons: it has pretty fast servers for being a free VPN, and considering they’re in 10 different countries, a decent number of server locations. You’ll also get a generous amount of free data if you give them your email address. We’ll break down this dark web VPN in more detail below.

Windscribe VPN
  • Excellent security features
  • Works with Netflix
  • Unstable speeds
Visit Windscribe VPN

Usability and dark web compatibility

Windscribe has a good offering of VPN servers around the world, even for free users. They offer free servers in the following countries: the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Netherlands, Romania, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Turkey, and Hong Kong. Free users in North America and Europe will have plenty of options relatively close to them. Users that want to evade the Tor block in China can connect to the server in Hong Kong.

Windscribe has two anti-censorship features. They offer the Stealth protocol, which, according to Windscribe support staff, “wraps the VPN packets in a layer of SSL encryption” to obfuscate it and make it look like normal internet traffic. Windscribe also offers its own “Wstunnel” which is an obfuscated VPN protocol that serves to circumvent censorship. According to Windscribe, this protocol is your last resort when none of the other protocols seem to work.

Though the VPN client is simple enough to install, the interface is more geared toward advanced users, so it’s possible first-timers might be a little overwhelmed.

Speed and bandwidth

Windscribe has a lot of speed potential. If you choose the right server, you can expect great browsing and even streaming speeds (gaming, not so much, according to our tests). However, Windscribe’s speeds are not very consistent across servers. You’ll have to try them all out to get optimum speeds.

We think Windscribe is quite generous with the free data they give their users. You start out with just 2 GB per month of free data, but you can easily expand this to 10 GB by adding and verifying your email address. Some people might argue that this is a privacy issue. However, you can quite easily get around the potential privacy dangers by just using a new, “burner” email address (or anonymous email) that you won’t use for anything else.

Security and privacy

Windscribe offers AES 256-bit encryption, which is in line with the industry standard. Moreover, they offer solid and well-renowned encryption protocols, such as OpenVPN (TCP and UDP ports), IKEv2, and WireGuard. They also offer the two aforementioned Stealth and Wstunnel protocols when your VPN connection gets blocked.

Windscribe is headquartered in Canada, which is a member of the 5 Eyes alliance, which is not ideal for safeguarding your privacy. Moreover, Windscribe is by no means a zero-logs VPN. This will probably be a bit disappointing for the real privacy aficionados, though they are transparent about the information they collect, such as “when you last used Windscribe as well as the total amount of bandwidth used in a 30-day period.”

3. ProtonVPN: For neverending dark web browsing

Screenshot of ProtonVPN, website homepage

No bandwidth limits and data capsSpeeds vary on user location
Strict no-logs VPNOnly three free server locations
Excellent security and encryption protocolsNo obfuscation technology

ProtonVPN is one of the best free VPNs right now. It also offers some features that make it a great dark web VPN. ProtonVPN’s free version offers unlimited data, which is very impressive for a no-cost tier. It also offers great security and decent speeds. ProtonVPN could easily be the best choice, but it depends on your location and needs. If you’re in a country with strict censorship, for example, its free version won’t make the cut.

A solid cybersecurity and privacy package for just $3.99/month!
  • Strong encryption
  • Specialized servers
  • Free subscription available
Visit ProtonVPN

Usability and dark web compatibility

ProtonVPN has a friendly user interface, though it can get a little overwhelming for beginners. That’s mainly because ProtonVPN offers a lot of different features, especially for a free VPN. However, there is one area where Proton can improve — its free server offering. ProtonVPN free only has three server locations in the United States, the Netherlands, and Japan.

Granted, this means many users will at least have a server within their continent to connect to, but it’s obviously a very limited number of locations. Many users will live very far from their nearest server, which might in part explain ProtonVPN’s relatively low speeds as well.

Moreover, ProtonVPN, unfortunately, doesn’t seem to offer any obfuscation technology. You won’t be able to hide your VPN use from third parties that are advanced enough to use deep-packet-inspection, such as the Chinese government. Of course, if these parties detect and block Tor, you don’t want them to also block the VPN, defeating the purpose of using the VPN in the first place. This is where the obfuscation tech comes in — you’re better off going with PrivadoVPN or Windscribe (or Surfshark) if you’re in a country that blocks the Tor network.

Speed and bandwidth

Bandwidth is where ProtonVPN really shines. After all, it’s one of very few completely free VPNs that offer unlimited data. This means you won’t have to interrupt your dark web browsing because of data shortages. Regarding ProtonVPN’s speeds (at least with the free version) we have to admit these aren’t the best.

This makes sense: although ProtonVPN doesn’t cap users’ speeds, the fact is all of their free users are distributed over only three servers. This obviously makes these servers very crowded and as such relatively slow.

Security and privacy

ProtonVPN’s great encryption protocols and no-logs policy will bring some light to the darkest parts of the web. ProtonVPN (both the free and paid versions) offer some of the best and safest VPN protocols out there. Among these are Wireguard and OpenVPN (UDP and TCP). For the best balance between security and privacy and speed, we recommend choosing the OpenVPN UDP protocol.

Furthermore, ProtonVPN takes its users’ privacy very seriously. It’s located in Switzerland, which means it doesn’t have to keep user logs, thanks to the country’s strong focus on consumer privacy. As such, you can feel confident you can browse the dark web safely and the fact you’re visiting the dark web and your online activity will remain private.

4. Hide.Me: Great for dark web surfers in Europe and North America

Screenshot of HIDEme VPN website homepage


Great browsing speedsUsers can’t manually choose server location
10 GB of free dataFour free server locations
Two obfuscation protocolsAnonymized connection logs

Hide.Me is another excellent free dark web VPN. The provider offers free users more than enough data and doesn’t enforce speed caps. Moreover, they have some great encryption protocols that offer a lot of security and privacy.
Try for just $3.00 per month and get three extra months for free!
  • Free subscription possible with servers in the Netherlands, Canada, and Singapore
  • Torrents possible
  • User-friendly software and apps
  • Free subscription has a speed limit and a data limit

Usability and dark web compatibility

Hide.Me is easy to download and install. If you just want to use the free version, you don’t even need to make an account or give your email address. This is great for privacy as well as convenience. We did expect a little bit more from the interface. Or maybe we expected a little less in terms of ads and clutter. Hide.Me puts a lot of effort into upselling and they try to accomplish this with a lot of intrusive ads and banners, unfortunately.

Even the free version of Hide.Me is a feature-rich VPN. This is great for people who like to customize their experience. However, it also means the app can be quite confusing and overwhelming for VPN first-timers. The “cluttered” presentation of all of the different options and features doesn’t exactly help. Something else we didn’t like is that if you try to minimize the application, it will just disappear altogether.

The good news is that Hide.Me offers servers in four countries: the United States, Canada, the Netherlands, and Germany. It’s just a bit unfortunate that you cannot manually choose between these server locations if you’re a free user: the app chooses for you. This VPN offers two VPN protocols that use obfuscation technology. This way, they can help you bypass firewalls that normally block VPNs, such as the one that China employs.

Speed and bandwidth

We are pleased to say Hide.Me doesn’t enforce speed limitations for free users. Moreover, this VPN has one of the better scores for speed out of all the VPNs we tested on our website. This should make it a useful free VPN for dark web browsing. This was confirmed when we used Hide.Me to access and browse some news sites on the dark web. This was a smooth experience. Of course, there were loading times, as you would expect when using a VPN on top of the Tor browser. Nevertheless, these remained bearable.

As far as bandwidth goes, Hide.Me offers a very generous 10 GB of free data. This is more than enough for a considerable amount of dark web surfing each month. This is especially true if you consider that a lot of dark web pages don’t contain nearly as much visual and video content as many surface web pages.

Security and privacy

Hide.Me offers a great deal of security and privacy. They offer reliable and very secure AES 256-bit encryption. Hide.Me offers several VPN protocols that provide this robust encryption in IKEv2, OpenVPN, SoftEtherVPN, SSTP and WireGuard (only for premium users).

Of all these protocols, we recommend using OpenVPN. After all, this protocol offers the best balance of security and speed out of the ones listed above. The only exception is if you need to get around VPN blocks. In this case, it’s best to go with either SoftEtherVPN or SSTP. These protocols have been specifically designed for this purpose.

When it comes to privacy, Hide.Me claims to be a no-logs VPN. They are located in Malaysia, which doesn’t require companies to keep data logs. They only keep anonymized connection data for a couple of hours.

5. TunnelBear: Great for bypassing dark web censorship

Screenshot of TunnelBear, website homepage with added logo in the corner

Free servers in 47 countries500 MB standard data limit (promo offers for more)
Good overall speeds, no speed caps
Obfuscation feature (Ghost Bear)
No activity or IP logs

TunnelBear is a good free VPN. It also lends itself very well for dark web browsing, especially in countries with internet censorship. TunnelBear’s standard free data allowance is very low: only 500 MB. However, in some countries that censor (parts of) the internet, TunnelBear gives users an impressive 10 GB. It also features plenty of server locations and useful obfuscation technology. Down below we’ll discuss TunnelBear in more detail.

  • Nice, intuitive software
  • Perfect for VPN beginners
  • Netflix and Torrents not supported
Visit TunnelBear

Usability and dark web compatibility

TunnelBear is a very useable VPN and very compatible with dark web surfing. It has an easy-to-use interface and a very easy installation procedure. Moreover, it has servers in 47 countries. This is quite an exceptional number for a free VPN. This means that, wherever you live, there will likely always be a server that’s relatively close to you and thus offers decent speeds.

Furthermore, TunnelBear offers obfuscation technology. This feature is called “Ghost Bear” and can help you to get around internet censorship. As such, it’s a great feature for a solid dark web VPN. Impressively, TunnelBear offers obfuscation technology for all of their “normal” server locations. This is something quite remarkable that not even many premium VPN providers offer.

Speed and bandwidth

The free version of TunnelBear doesn’t cap your speed, and for a free service, TunnelBear is surprisingly fast. In fact, during our speed tests, TunnelBear proved to have one of the best scores for local connections. It actually managed to beat five popular paid VPNs on this front.

As far as TunnelBear’s standard free data allowance, this is definitely on the low side: only 500 MB a month. However, you can increase this to 1.5 GB a month by tweeting (only once) about TunnelBear. We don’t recommend this for privacy reasons, but there is another way to get even more free data.

If you live in a country where the internet is censored, there is a chance TunnelBear will give you 10 GB of free data. For instance, in Iran and Colombia, free TunnelBear users receive 10 GB of data per month. In Venezuela TunnelBear also had a similar promotion for free users, although short-term. TunnelBear’s customer support implied that they do this in more countries that censor the internet. They state: “We provide 10GB of free data for users connecting from censored countries (censorship bonus).”

Security and privacy

TunnelBear offers a lot of security and privacy, especially for a free VPN. After all, it uses solid OpenVPN and IKEv2 encryption protocols on most devices. Both of these offer powerful AES 256-bit encryption.

As far as privacy goes, TunnelBear is very transparent about the information they collect. This information doesn’t include IP and traffic logs. This means TunnelBear doesn’t collect information about what you do while using their VPN service. The only negative remark we have here is that TunnelBear is headquartered in Canada — one of the 5 Eyes countries. For privacy protection, this isn’t ideal, as the 5-eyes countries share a lot of data with each other on their citizens. However, it seems TunnelBear manages to do a good job regarding privacy despite this.

Best Free VPNs for Dark Web Surfing: Criteria

We’ve analyzed many different free VPNs and their features to decide on the five best free dark web VPNs. During our research and testing, we’ve paid attention to three criteria in particular: usability, speed, and security. Here’s why we chose these criteria to focus on.

Usability and dark web compatibility (servers and features)

Usability, servers and features iconSimply put, for a VPN to be a good dark web VPN, it should allow people around the world to have dark web access. What this means in practice is that it should offer VPN servers around the world. This way, users can always connect to a server that’s relatively close to them and won’t be too slow.

It should also ideally offer technology to hide the fact you’re using a VPN. Many oppressive regimes that block Tor users or have made Tor illegal, also block VPN users. As such, you need a VPN that is able to effectively hide its own “presence.” This can be accomplished using obfuscation technology — a kind of tech your dark web VPN needs that also greatly improves your privacy.

Speed and bandwidth

Speed and bandwidth iconMany free VPNs enforce speed and internet traffic limits. This means your VPN connection will be interrupted after using a certain amount of data per day or per month. This is obviously not ideal, since that means you might have to end your dark web journey earlier than you would like.

Likewise, speed limits are an issue because they also affect your dark web experience. In fact, the Tor browser (the de facto dark web browser), is quite slow by itself. Using it in combination with a slow VPN will only exacerbate this issue.

Security and privacy

Security and privacy iconSaving money is great, but what if your VPN is not doing enough to keep you safe? Or even worse: what if your VPN isn’t careful with your data or actually sells this data? There have been instances when free VPNs were found guilty of this.

Think about it: building and maintaining a VPN network, especially if you want to turn a profit as well, costs money. If customers aren’t going to pay for these expenses, then who will? In some cases, the answer is the companies who are willing to pay for the VPN’s customers’ data. Sometimes these “free” providers simply sell their users’ data to make that money.

Moreover, you want to use a dark web VPN that has a strict no-logs policy. This means that the VPN doesn’t keep any data on its users or their activities. After all, the reason you’re using a VPN is to prevent your internet service provider (ISP) and other third parties from knowing you’re visiting the dark web. What’s the point if your VPN will just give up this information anyway?

Free Dark Web VPNs to Avoid

Our top five contains free dark web VPNs that we have thoroughly tested and researched. As such, we know that they are some of the best and safest free VPNs out there. Unfortunately, not all free VPNs put as much emphasis on quality, safety, and privacy.

Below we’ll mention some VPN providers that we think fall in the latter category. We recommend avoiding these free VPNs for accessing the dark web.

Hotspot Shield

Hotspot Shield has been the subject of a fair number of privacy controversies. If one has a look at Aura’s (the company that owns Hotspot Shield) privacy policy, it’s easy to see why. The third sentence of subsection three reads as follows: “Neither Aura nor any of the companies that comprise Aura, sell your personal data (except if you utilize our free products).”

Needless to say, this is not what most users look for in a VPN — free or otherwise. In fact, your data falling into the hands of third parties is exactly what you want to prevent by using a VPN.

Hola VPN

From a safety standpoint, this is quite easily one of the worst free VPNs you could use. After all, the free version of Hola VPN doesn’t even use encryption. Therefore, we can’t even call the free version a VPN.

It is in fact more like some sort of proxy. Moreover, HolaVPN logs a ton of (sensitive) user information, including your IP, your email address, web pages you visited and for how long, and more. Needless to say, we don’t recommend this free VPN for dark web use, normal browsing, or anything in between.

Urban VPN

This is another VPN that shows some worrying security issues. For starters, Urban VPN offers no clear information on the VPN protocols it uses to encrypt your traffic.

Moreover, it’s often unclear whether you are actually connected to a VPN in the first place. After all, many IP tools we used could easily detect our real IP address and location when we connected to Urban VPN. Lastly, UrbanVPN keeps some logs and sells “anonymized data” to third parties.

The Disadvantages of a Free VPN for Dark Web Browsing

Infographic showing the disadvantages of a free VPN for Dark Web browsing

We understand that the adjective “free” is one of the most beautiful words in the English language. However, is a free dark web VPN always better than a paid one? Unfortunately, it isn’t.

In fact, generally, free VPNs struggle to compete with their premium counterparts. This is the same for dark web VPNs. We already briefly touched on the reasons for this when discussing our best dark web VPNs criteria, but we’ll summarize them below:

  • Free VPNs often have data limitations, meaning you can’t browse the dark web as long as you want.
  • Some free VPNs have speed limitations, which is an issue in combination with the already slow Tor browser.
  • Most free VPNs offer far fewer servers than the best premium VPNs. This means your speeds will be much lower, because of crowded servers and too much physical distance between you and the VPN server.
  • Some free VPNs have been known to sell user data, to make money despite being “free” VPNs.

For these reasons, we recommend using a premium VPN if you’re really serious about dark web surfing. This brings us to the following.

The Best Overall Dark Web VPN

As we discussed, a good paid VPN is often a better choice for a solid dark web VPN. In our opinion, the best overall dark web VPN is NordVPN.

Our pick
Our pick
Only $2.99 a month for a two-year subscription with a 30-day money-back guarantee!
  • Excellent protection and a large network of servers
  • Nice and pleasing application
  • No logs
Visit NordVPN

NordVPN has all the qualities and features you’d want in a good dark web VPN. After all, it has blazing speeds to ensure Tor’s relatively long loading times remain bearable. Of course, NordVPN has no bandwidth limits.

Moreover, NordVPN has over 5,400 servers in a staggering 59 countries. This should make it easy for dark web users virtually anywhere in the world to find a NordVPN server relatively close to them. NordVPN also offers obfuscated servers. This serves to get around censorship in countries such as China and Russia.

The provider offers strong AES 256-bit encryption and excellent VPN protocols. We recommend choosing the OpenVPN (TCP or UDP) protocol since this is their safest and most privacy-orientated protocol and will allow you to access obfuscated servers. Moreover, you can be sure your data is in good hands with NordVPN, as they have a no-logs policy, thanks to the fact they’re headquartered in Panama, which has no mandatory data retention laws.

Conclusion: Free VPN Options for the Dark Web

There are some very worthwhile free dark web VPNs around. Based on their usability, security, speeds and privacy protection, we have decided on the top five as described below.

Keep in mind that, when it comes to free VPNs, no option is completely perfect, as each safe free VPN for the dark web will come with its own limitations. If you’d like to read more about the premium versions about these services, check out our full reviews, also linked below.

  1. PrivadoVPN: Great speeds and no-logs policy, but fewer free servers
  2. Windscribe: Decent speeds, obfuscation features, and multiple servers, but keeps some logs
  3. ProtonVPN: Fantastic security and no data cap, but only three (possibly slow) server locations
  4. Hide.Me: Multiple stealth options and 10 GB data, but keeps (anonymized) collection logs
  5. TunnelBear: Good obfuscation feature and large server network, but very limited data package

Though these VPNs might be limited in speed, network, or available data, they all provide decent services for accessing the dark web.

If you’re looking for the best possible, most private dark web experience, we recommend using a good premium VPN, such as NordVPN or Surfshark. Alternatively, you can check out our top 5 best VPNs.

The Best Free VPNs for the Dark Web: Frequently Asked Questions

Do you want to know what the best (free) dark web VPN is or do you have a question about surfing the dark web (with a VPN)? Check out our FAQ down below to see if we’ve already answered your question below. Alternatively, leave us a comment down below and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

The main issues of using a free VPN on the dark web are the following:

  • Free VPNs often have data- and/or speed limits.
  • Often, free VPNs have a limited number of servers and server locations compared to premium VPNs.
  • Some free VPNs have been known to sell users’ data to make a profit despite being “free.”

The best free dark web VPN, according to our research, has to be Windscribe. They offer anything you could expect from a free dark web VPN: a generous data limit of 10 GB (if you give them a (fake) email address), good speeds (although somewhat inconsistent), obfuscation technology to get around censorship, and 10 free server locations.

There are some good free VPNs out there that allow you to visit the dark web. Nevertheless, due to the restrictions of most free VPNs, such as limited server locations and data limits, it might not be as easy and convenient to surf the dark web with a free VPN. That’s why we recommend most people to look into an affordable premium VPN instead.

In our opinion, the best overall VPN for the dark web is Surfshark. This is due to its fast servers which will ensure your dark web speeds remain bearable, its great security, and the fact it makes the dark web safely available for many people worldwide thanks to its affordable price, many server locations, and obfuscation technology.

Tech journalist
Nathan is an internationally trained journalist and has a special interest in the prevention of cybercrime, especially where vulnerable groups are concerned. For he conducts research in the field of cybersecurity, internet censorship, and online privacy. He also contributed to developing our rigorous VPN testing and reviewing procedures using evidence-based best practices.