PrivateVPN Review: A Private Internet Experience
PrivateVPN is a Sweden-based fast-growing secure VPN provider. It has more than 150 servers spread over 60 countries around the world. PrivateVPN is fast and secure with AES-256-bit Encryption and an automatic kill switch feature. It provides a stealth mode feature to bypass geo-censorship. In this review, we will further discuss the features that make PrivateVPN one of the top 10 VPNs out there, in our opinion.
Are you in need of privacy and security? Do you feel like you're being watched while surfing on the Internet? Then by reviewing VPNs, you're doing the right thing! In this article, we will discuss the attributes of PrivateVPN to help you choose if it's right for you!
Let's go ahead and start:
A VPN's speed is dependent on many factors. These include the broadband width, the number of people connected to a server, and a server's proximity.
Broadband is simple and forward; the higher the broadband is, the higher the speed. However, if the number of users in a server with specific broadband is too high, the final rate of speed per user might drop.
The server's proximity also plays a vital part; the further away the server is from a PC's location, the longer the response time is, translating into lag-time.
When browsing and aiming for security, the closest server is automatically chosen. As for streaming, to avoid slowing down, they have 34 servers set in North America.
1. Speed tests
Although they're considered relatively fast in speed tests, however, relative to other VPN servers such as (NordVPN) which has over 5000 servers that are well optimized, it is relatively less versatile when it comes down to server choices.
2. Number of servers and geographic distribution
Short explanation: PrivateVPN has more than 150 servers spread over 60 countries.
Long explanation: PrivateVPN's network of 150+ servers spread over 60 countries is no small feat. However, it does seem small compared to other VPN providers like NordVPN, with more than 5000 servers.
That being said, PrivateVPN servers can still maintain good speed, comparable to other competitors with thousands of servers. However, PrivateVPN does suffer when trying to connect to far servers.
3. Fastest available protocol
Short explanation: IKEv2 is the fastest available protocol by PrivateVPN (recommended to use).
Long explanation: In the VPN world, many protocols exist, with differences between protocols making the difference in how secure a VPN is, how fast, and whether it can bypass geo-censorship. Typically, the trade-off is between speed and security, with the PPTP protocol typically being the fastest but the least secure.
Security and Privacy
One of the main reasons people might use a VPN is because they want to secure their VPN connection and stay anonymous while privately surfing the internet. The most important features regarding security and privacy include:
1. Encryption and protocols
AES 256-bit encryption means that when someone is trying to break the encryption, they would have to go through (2 to the power 256) probabilities to decipher the encryption. Governments and the military implement this encryption level to secure their data.
Are you new to VPN?
Use IKEv2 for speed, L2TP/IPsec (most secure but slowest) or OpenVPN (very secure, faster than L2TP/IPsec) for security, and L2TP for Obfuscation in combination with stealth mode.
Pro mode: PrivateVPN has a few options that vary in functionality, speed, compatibility, and protection uses OpenVPN with UDP/TCP, L2TP, IPsec, PPTP, and IKEv2. The default is OpenVPN with UDP/TCP; this protocol provides security and speed. The L2TP (layer 2 tunneling protocol) is used mainly for geographic censorship to using a VPN, such as in China's case.
In terms of security, it's relatively less secure than other protocols. That is why it's often combined with the IPsec (L2TP/IPsec) protocol to produce the desired effect while keeping the safety feature. However, It is relatively slower than its other counterparts.
|Platform||All platforms||Windows, iOS||All platforms||mac OS, iOS, Android, and Linux||All platforms|
|Security and protection||Basic encryption (weakest), supports encryption keys up to 128-bits, and it uses MPPE (Microsoft Point-to-Point Encryption)||IPSec encryption||IPSec encryption||IPSec encryption||OpenVPN AES 256-bit protocol|
|Firewall||TCP port 1723, and IP port 47 (easiest to block||UDP ports 500 and 4500 and ESP IP Protocol 50||Uses UDP port 1701.||Uses UDP port 500 (easy to block)||uses 443 port (hard to block) (masks deep packet inspection)|
|Speed||Possibly the fastest due to low encryption (fewer data to transfer)||Generally fast (faster than OpenVPN)||Relatively slow (double encryption)||Faster than OpenVPN||Generally fast|
2. Logs policy
Short explanation: PrivateVPN does not have a true no-log policy (no activity logs policy).
Long explanation: PrivateVPN doesn't keep activity logs; that being said, some logs are kept. To clarify this, PrivateVPN keeps information logs on who uses their services. This includes the E-mail and IP address. But what is done while the VPN is active is not maintained and hence even if requested by some government within the 14 Eyes Alliance, the lack of logs means they cannot provide any information.
3. Kill switch
Short explanation: PrivateVPN has a kill switch feature only on Windows.
Long explanation: PrivateVPN Kill switch feature (Connection guard) is a failsafe mechanism where in the event your VPN connection is compromised, it automatically closes down select applications. After the VPN is reconnected, all previous activities are resumed. Sadly, this kill switch feature is only available for the Windows version.
4. RAM-based servers
Short explanation: PrivateVPN doesn’t have RAM-based servers.
Long explanation: A RAM-based server means that the data, instead of being saved to SSD drives, is saved on RAMs. This is advantageous to security because RAM is wiped clean every time the servers reboot.
5. VPN based country
Short explanation: PrivateVPN is based in Sweden.
Long explanation: Since PrivateVPN is based in Sweden, which is a member of the 5/9/14-Eyes Alliance, this means countries within this alliance can get hold of this information.
Despite that, this information wouldn't be sufficient to track down any activities, as it only mentions the use of VPN by certain users but not what they did while using a VPN. (Read more on The 5/9/14 Eyes Alliance).
6. Warrant canary
Short explanation: PrivateVPN doesn’t have a warrant canary system.
Long explanation: A warrant canary is an indirect warning method to inform customers of governmental attempts to subpoena the information. The presence of the warrant on a company’s official website means the local government hasn’t tried collecting information yet. In the event the warrant canary is removed from the company’s page, it means they were asked.
Despite being based in the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliance and having some degree of logging, PrivateVPN doesn't provide a warrant canary which is worrisome.
PrivateVPN in Practice
In terms of the applications of VPN in the real world, we dive further into how PrivateVPN fares against the rest in the following categories:
PrivateVPN allows for streaming on many mainstream streaming platforms, including Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Video, BBC iPlayer, and ABC.
They have a server labeling feature showing what server can unblock which geographic restriction for specific streaming sites. This relieves you from going through a trial and error process to find out which server unblocks your preferred streaming platform, rendering it highly user-friendly.
Short explanation: PrivateVPN allows torrenting.
Long explanation: PrivateVPN supports unlimited P2P sharing, and it does so without restricting the bandwidth. Hence the speed won't be affected. In terms of privacy, the no activity logs feature means you won't have any legal issues. Another exciting feature PrivateVPN provides is the Port forwarding feature, though it's not available on all servers.
PrivateVPN allows torrenting and recommends the use of the servers in Sweden as they are better optimized for P2P.
Short explanation: PrivateVPN doesn’t have specialized gaming servers.
Long explanation: When it comes to gaming, the reason why you would want to use a VPN for games is variable, but one thing is clear, which is no one wants to lag at all.
Companies with specialized gaming servers make sure your gaming experience will be smoother than with companies that don’t have specialized gaming servers. (Read more on Why a Gamer Would Use a VPN).
4. Dedicated IP servers
Short explanation: PrivateVPN doesn’t have dedicated IP servers.
Long explanation: While mostly when using a VPN, you would want a dynamic IP (an IP that changes whenever you reconnect to a server). In certain situations, this is not the case. A static IP is recommended in the following situations:
- Business-related VPN security
- Regular online banking
- Avoiding the blacklist/bad neighbor effect
- Avoiding CAPTCHAs
5. Geo-censorship bypass (obfuscation)
China's restrictions on VPN services cause many users from China or living in China to search for a VPN to bypass this. PrivateVPN is one such example. The company doesn't clarify the exact process, so it doesn't get countered.
To use PrivateVPN in China, activate the stealth mode and use L2TP or (L2TP/IPsec) protocol, and you should be set to go.
6. Split tunneling
Short explanation: PrivateVPN doesn’t have the split tunneling feature.
Long explanation: The split tunneling feature means you can selectively use your VPN on a certain type/source of data outgoing from your device.
Split tunneling in certain situations is favorable. For example, you're torrenting while playing a videogame or watching a YouTube video. In such a scenario, you would want only the torrenting to be encrypted. VPN encryption will slow down the connection speed relative to not using a VPN since the encrypted data is larger than non-encrypted.
PrivateVPN completely lacks the split tunneling feature, which is a negative point.
If you need the split tunneling feature, then you might be interested in ExpressVPN, which has many top-notch features, including split tunneling across all platforms.
7. Tor over VPN
Short explanation: PrivateVPN has Tor over VPN support.
Long explanation: Torrent onion router (Tor) is a P2P program used to enter the dark web. Using a VPN adds an extra layer of anonymity, especially at the entry node, with the addition of data encryption. Despite supporting Tor over VPN, it lacks a .onion website, which is sometimes needed to access the websites in geo-censored regions.
PrivateVPN is compatible with Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, and routers.
PrivateVPN is compatible with:
- Routers (manual setup)
Does PrivateVPN have an ad-blocker feature?
Unfortunately, no, it doesn't include a built-in ad-blocker. Hence a 3rd party program is to be used in case an ad-blocker is required.
PrivateVPN is not available as a browser extension.
1. Supported languages
PrivateVPN supports the following languages:
2. Customer support
PrivateVPN provides customer support through live chat, e-mail, and TeamViewer. They are granted a password supplied by you, remote desktop access to your PC to help troubleshoot your problem and provide configuration.
PrivateVPN provides customer support in the following forms:
- Live chat
- Knowledge base
- Email and tickets
Pricing and Payment
In terms of plans and pricing, PrivateVPN has only one plan with no variation in features. The difference in how much you pay is dependent on how long you subscribe. The prices are $8.10 for one month, $5.03 per month for three months, and $2.07 per month for 24 months.
You can give PrivateVPN a try, as they offer a 7-day free trial period. During this trial period, you'll get to experience their service quality, capacity, and functional capabilities. According to their support forums, the free trial is accessible by requesting a gift code by e-mailing [email protected].
PrivateVPN provides a 30-day money-back guarantee period. However, this applies only if you are a new customer. Able to give a reason why they should refund you, and it only applies if you've used less than 100GB of traffic. I found these criteria to be a little too strict.
PrivateVPN provides multiple payment method options, including credit cards, PayPal, and Bitcoins.
As for payment methods, it isn't as diverse as other VPN providers, as the methods available are via Credit card, direct debit, and Paypal.
Available payment methods include:
- Major credit cards (Visa, Mastercard, etc.)
Do I use PrivateVPN? Well, PrivateVPN is relatively fast, provides robust AES-256-bit Encryption security, has a kill switch feature, and is cost-efficient. What's not to like? The only serious issue I could think of is with the kill switch limit to Windows. But if you are a Windows user or a user from a country with a geo-censorship, then a PrivateVPN might be for you.