Update: We have received many reader complaints (some highly irate and not fit for publishing here) regarding BTGuard. These are mainly centered on extremely poor abd slow customer service, although many also point to very poor speed performance. We experienced no problems during our test period, but have noticed an increasing number of similar complains, not just on BestVPN, but on reddit elsewhere on the web. It would also appear the problems have worsened over months since we reviewed BTGuard. In addition to this, as we reported in a recent news item (https://www.bestvpn.com/blog/7162/btguard-stores-passwords-in-plain-text/), BTGuard have made the error of storing users passwords in plain text file and then emailing them unencrypted to customers. This kind of sloppiness is unforgiveable in a company whose job is to protect users’ privacy. In light of these issues, BestVPN withdraws its recommendation for BTGuard, and advises that the service be avoided.
Pricing & Features
BTGuard offers two services, each with a simple flat rate and no trial period or money back guarantee.
BitTorrent Proxy ($6.95 p/m)
This package is designed for BitTorrent users who wish to download files anonymously, providing them with a proxy IP address behind which to hide their identity. Although not needed to preserve anonymity, BTGuard do offer an encryption package for those who want it, or who are suffering bandwidth throttling from their ISP’s. BTGuard provide a pre-configured version of the uTorrent BitTorrent client, and provide instructions for manually configuring other clients for use with its proxy servers. For those who only wish to conceal their identities for the purpose of filesharing, this Proxy service may be all they need. However, we will note that for a similar or even lower price, full VPN services are available elsewhere.
VPN ($9.95 p/m)
BTGuard’s full VPN package is a very simple affair, offering 256-bit AES OpenVPN encryption as well as 128-bit PPTP, with servers located in Canada, Europe and Asia. Pricewise it sits in the middle of the range, but feels is a little on the high side given the sparseness of its features. This review will only cover the VPN service. » Visit BTGuard »
Website & Customer Support
The BTGuard website looks good, and opens with a smart looking Flash animation. However, the support pages and FAQ use a generic forum interface that, while functional, looks ugly and does not match the rest of the site. It also quickly becomes apparent that the entire website is very Spartan in terms of features and information, although everything necessary is present and correct. Customer support is similarly basic, with only a ticket based email service on offer.
Privacy & Security
Despite slightly underwhelming first impressions, BTGuard scores very well in this critical area. Based in Canada and under no legal obligation to keep logs of users IP addresses or internet usage, BTGuard does not do so. However, it does appear that personal information is kept for billing and such like purposes, although since no usage logs are kept this should not be a be worry to most. BTGuard also scores very well with their use of 256-bit AES encrypted OpenVPN as standard, making the service very secure in technical terms. We only wish that more VPN providers would do the same. » Visit BTGuard »
Signing up is very easy and almost no personal information is asked for (other than email address and payment details). Payment is via PayPal or credit/debit card only. BTGuard does not provide its own VPN client and instead relies on the generic open source OpenVPN software. Downloading and installing this is easy enough, and is well explained by the provided guide. However, the need to download and extract the configuration files to the OpenVPN install directory feels somewhat clunky. Users who want to connect to servers other than their local default, automatically assigned servers, can download config files for Canada, Europe or Hong Kong servers.
Before running for the first time, the OpenVPN client’s properties must be edited to run as an administrator. Again, while not particularly difficult or arduous, this process feels clunky.
Firing up the client involves right clicking on the icon in the Task Bar, and navigating to Connect.
Once connected, the icon sits in the Task Bar showing green so that you know all is well.
As the OpenVPN client provides no additional information, we used whatismyipaddress.com to verify that everything was working as it should.
We ran the usual tests using our 10 megabyte UK broadband connection:
While it has to be said that we have seen better results, these figures are entirely satisfactory.
BTGuard provides detailed guides to setting up an OpenVPN connection in Windows, OSX and Linux, and for setting up PPTP in Windows, OSX and iOS. We were disappointed to find that that no PPTP setup instructions were provided for Android devices, although doing so should be easy enough.
- No logs kept
- 256-bit encryption as standard
- Speetest.net results were good
- Servers located in Europe, Canada and Hong Kong mean that users all over the world can benefit from the no logs anonymity afforded by BTGuard, without suffering major lags due to distance
We weren’t so sure about
- There’s nothing wrong with using the open source OpenVPN client, which a fine piece of software designed for robustness across a range of platforms. However, setting it up is a bit of a pain, and it lacks the style and features found in dedicated clients form other VPN providers
- Very no-frills
- As Android users we found the lack of documentation annoying
BTGuard offers a very bare-bones service, but scores strongly where it counts most – anonymity and speed (although we have seen faster). As such it is difficult to complain, and with servers located in Hong Kong and Canada, users in the Americas and Asia can have access to its no logs service without having to connect all the way to Europe (where most such providers are based). Pricing is perhaps a fraction high given the almost total lack of bells and whistles, but the service is a solid one and we can see why TorrentFreak recommends it. Note: We’re not quite sure whether we missed it when performing our initial review or whether it is a new feature, but BT Guard does accept Bitcoin payments, making it possible to pay for their service anonymously. This is great and adds more marks in BTGuard’s favor.