VPNAce make plenty of promises on their website including “easy setup” and “excellent support.” The service actually works very well, with some of the best download speeds we’ve seen, but the setup may not be that easy for all; the documentation lacks polish, which could frighten off novices. For everyone else though, this is a worthy service that performs impressively – and the support department is great if you do run into problems.
Putting aside a few mis-spellings and typos on the homepage, VPNAce creates a decent first impression. The service is compatible with all the major platforms and there’s a three-day free trial. While the company website could do with some more work (and certainly some better documentation), this is a service that performs well and deserves a place on your shortlist. Also, based on our communications with the support department, work is still being put into the service to make it better still.
Packages & Pricing
VPNAce keep their packages and pricing reasonably simple, with prices that get cheaper based on longer commitment periods. This is very standard for the VPN service industry.
Where VPNAce do differ a little from their competitors is that their packages come with limited bandwidth allocations. As you can see from the screenshot above, the “blue” plans above are limited to 10GB of data (for the monthly package at $8.95) up to 120GB of data (for the annual package at $79.95). If you plan to stream or download a lot of HD video, this 10GB per month allocation could disappear rather quickly.
The more expensive package, which ranges from $14.95 per month to $114.95 per year, is required to increase the data volume to 30GB (or slightly more) per month. This lands VPNAce at the more expensive end of average in terms of price.
While we wouldn’t mark a provider down for it, we were a little disappointed to find that it’s necessary to provide credit card details “up-front” to begin a free trial:
Having noticed on the provider’s home page that PayPal payment was available, we wondered how we could start our free trial using that payment method. A search of the FAQs revealed that those paying by PayPal are ineligible for the free trial. As we usually use PayPal payment wherever possible when conducting reviews, this was a disappointment.
We were pleased to notice that there is also a seven-day money back guarantee available.
Clicking the “support” link on the VPNAce home page resulted in our viewing a “Common Problems and Solutions Page” consisting of a rather uninspiring set of just three questions and answers:
When we first checked out the “contact us” page, we were pleasantly surprised to see a contact phone number, however the “small print” revealed that phone support is not on offer, and that the number was purely an answering service where customers can call and leave their email address to request contact.
This left us, essentially, with an email support ticketing system. VPNAce promise a reply back within 24-hours, and we were impressed that the test query we sent received a thorough, detailed response in just over one hour.
In addition, VPNAce also offer online chat support, which was instantly on hand to answer several small queries. Overall we were very impressed with the support provided.
Security and Privacy
VPNAce make clear in their FAQs that they use 128-bit encryption for all of their connectivity methods, which currently consist of PPTP and L2TP. The support department advised us that an OpenVPN option will be “available soon.”
While 128-bit encryption is probably adequate for the needs of the majority, some users may prefer to find a provider that offers the 256-bit alternative, which is quite widely available.
When it comes to privacy, VPN Ace confirm that they do keep some logs and that they will hand them over to legal entities if required. However, a response to a support query revealed that these logs do not stretch to exactly how each connection is used.
Although we would usually use PayPal payment to sign up to review a service, this method did not entitle us to a free trial, so instead we signed up using a credit card. We were only required to supply our email address and card details.
We chose the 1 month, 10GB service – though for the purposes of the free trial the service we chose was irrelevant, as the trial is limited to 3GB of traffic.
As soon as our card details had been accepted, we were taken to a new page stating that our account was ready to use:
This page included links to connectivity software (for Windows only), and manual setup instructions for all other supported platforms. This page also displayed an activation code, username and password.
Installation and Configuration
As we were using a Mac (running OS X 10.8) for our testing, we turned to the manual setup instructions. Worryingly, these were mis-worded on the web page as instructions for Windows, despite the Mac logo! Impressively, we were speaking to the support team via live chat when we noticed this, and they rectified it on the spot!
Regardless, the instructions that appeared were in fact for Mac. However, these were dense and purely text-based, with no screenshots to help out novice users.
Regardless, we got to work following the instructions, which essentially required us to create a new VPN connection within the “Network” section of our Mac’s “System Preferences.”
We followed the instructions to the letter, with almost no problems. The only exception was a request to tick a “Disconnect if idle” option, which didn’t exist on our Mac.
Still, following the instructions was relatively straightforward, and we soon had a new icon in our menu bar ready for us to connect to the UK VPN service. We clicked on this, selected “connect” and were connected via L2TP in a matter of seconds. An IP lookup confirmed we now had a UK IP address.
The main set of Mac instructions (as followed above) helped us to create a UK-based L2TP VPN connection, but the instructions went on to explain how to create alternative connections to servers in the UK and Germany.
VPNAce also make clear in their instructions that it is possible to set up a PPTP connection as an alternative to L2TP. The provider also recommends to customers that one “may work better than the other,” but neglects to go into any further detail on this.
It’s fair to say that the instructions could be a little better at this point. The fields that require completion for a Mac PPTP connection are slightly different to those for L2TP, and the instructions fail to address this. While we worked around this, we are always on the lookout for shortcomings that will trip up the technophobes and the instructions here were unnecessarily vague.
Connection Speeds and reliability
As the provider recommended trying both VPN protocols, we decided to set up both PPTP and L2TP connections for the purposes of our speed tests. We already had an L2TP connection via the UK, so we also set up a PPTP connection to the USA to get a good overall picture of the service’s performance.
As usual, we first performed a speedtest whilst disconnected from the service:
We then connected via L2TP to VPNAce’s UK server and ran the test again:
As the screenshot above reveals, this was a truly impressive result, with an imperceptibly small drop in download speed.
We disconnected from the UK server and connected via PPTP to VPNAce’s server in the USA:
While this result wasn’t quite so impressive, it was better than many of the services we test, with the VPN connection only resulting in a download speed drop of just over 1.5Mbps.
At this point, curiosity got the better of us, and we decided to do one more speed test. We configured an L2TP connection to the US server and ran a speed test with that configuration:
Essentially, this final test showed us that VPNAce’s USA server is perhaps not quite as fast as its UK equivalent. However, it could merely have been under heavy load at the time of our tests.
In any case, all of our speed tests produced good results, and the speeds obtained from the UK servers were the best we had seen from any provider. All in all, we were very happy with both speed and reliability, with decent performance every time and no connectivity issues.
VPNAce advertises compatibility with PC (Windows), Mac, iOS and Android. This isn’t the largest compatibility list we’ve ever seen, but covers all the basics.
Only Windows users have their own connectivity utility. Users of all other platforms must follow manual setup instructions, as we had to with our Mac.
We decided to have a go at using VPNAce on a test iPhone.
VPNAce on iPhone
We were pleasantly surprised to find screenshot setup instructions for iOS, in contrast to the dense, text-heavy guide we had worked through when testing this service on our Mac:
Unsurprisingly, the instructions guided us through creating a manual L2TP or PPTP connection on our phone via the device’s settings menus.
The instructions were straightforward and we were able to get connected first time.
As we had already extensively tested the speed of the service via WiFi, we opted to try it out over 3G. We used the mobile Speedtest.net app, and first ran a benchmark speedtest whilst connected to 3G (and disconnected from WiFi).
We then connected to VPNAce’s L2TP server in the UK and ran the test again:
Although the download speed we achieved whilst connected to the VPN over 3G wasn’t as impressive as it was over WiFi, it was still acceptable, with a performance drop of just over 1Mbps. Overall we were happy with the performance, and the simplicity of the setup.
VPNAce’s customer area was still under development at the time of our review. This was confirmed by the support team and illustrated by the non-branded WordPress login page.
We did, however, have access to a profile page with basics on our account, information on our bandwidth use and a cancellation link. Support informed us that password change functionality was imminent.
- Great performance and reliability
- Excellent, fast and thorough support
- Developers seem committed to improving the service
We weren’t so sure about
- Typos and inconsistencies on the website
- Documentation quality varies
- The need to provide payment details to begin a free trial
- Bandwidth restrictions
- No free trial for PayPal users
When we noticed typos on the VPNAce website, we thought we’d end up writing a negative review, but in fact our eventual impression was quite to the contrary.
VPNAce perhaps isn’t perfect for everyone; other services do a better job of holding your hand through the setup procedures, and some people will be put off by restricted usage allowances. However, this is all counteracted by some of the best speed performance we’ve seen and a support department who are fast and effective, and seem committed to continual service improvement.
We suspect that if we re-reviewed VPNAce in a month or two, we’d be even more impressed. This is a VPN service well worth checking out, despite the shortcomings described.