Review

IronSocket VPN review


Based in Hong Kong, IronSocket started out life as ‘HideMyNet.com’ (HMN), but has recently completely overhauled its services and rebranded itself. Despite perhaps a little too much honestly in its privacy statement (but for which we are inclined to admire it), IronSocket provides an excellent all-round service with top grade encryption, a no usage logs policy, great performance results, and servers all over the world.
Visit IronSocket
Disclosure: compensated affiliate: click here for more information

Pricing and services

IronSocket’s all-in-one VPN package starts at a very reasonable $6.99 per month, with discounts available for bulk purchases.

prices
The package lets you connect using the PPTP, L2TP and OpenVPN protocols, but we only recommend OpenVPN unless your device does not support it. For more information see here. By default you can connect a quite generous three devices simultaneously, and more can be added for $1.50 p/m per extra connection.

The service also includes access to IronSocket’s DNS servers (useful for streaming geo-restricted media content without the performance hit that comes with VPN), HTTP Proxy, and SOCKS5 Proxy (particularly useful for P2P downloading) servers.

There is no free trial, but there is a 7-day money back guarantee.

IronSocket runs servers in 36 countries located all over the world (including Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Egypt and Brazil), and has plans to launch more. P2P is permitted on some servers, depending on the local legal situation and political climate, which is fair-enough.

Conclusion

We liked

  • Good price
  • Great speeds (especially upload speeds)
  • Excellent encryption
  • Shared IPs
  • Servers all over the world
  • Access to DNS, HTTP Proxy and SOCKS5 Proxy servers included in price
  • P2P downloading is ok (on some servers)
  • 7 day money back guarantee
  • Hong Kong based
  • Very transparent privacy policy
  • Accepts anonymous payment using Bitcoins

We weren’t so sure about

  • A ‘no usage logs’ policy combined with using shared IPs is very good, but the number of session logs kept somewhat undermines these privacy measures
  • VPN client (all platforms) works fine, but lacks any bells and whistles such as a VPN kill switch, DNS leak protection etc.

We hated

  • Nothing

The website and customer service

The website is neatly laid out and looks good, if nothing that is going to wow you.  Most of the information you will need is readily available or can be found in the FAQ, although we were left with a couple of questions for the Support team. There is a blog section, which while new (it only started at the end of January this year), contains interesting and well-written articles, and is regularly updated.

The legal and privacy policies are easy to find (which cannot be said for all VPN websites), and are very comprehensive (see below).

Other than the FAQ, customer support comes in the form of ticket based email. IronSocket claims this is available 24/7, and certainly when we asked some questions the response time was around ten minutes, and was very helpful and informative (and unlike some VPN providers, IronSocket was happy to explain in detail the encryption it uses).

Privacy and security

IronSocket is based in Hong Kong, which is great, as Hong Kong has some of the least restrictive internet laws in the world, with almost no censorship or data retention requirements at all.  It is therefore something of a shame to see that while IronSocket keeps no ‘usage logs’ i.e. it does not monitor what you get up to on the internet, it does record a lot of personal details, and keeps extensive session logs(though typically purged after 72 hours);

  • ‘We store the IP address of the individual VPN server (in our network) used by you;
  • We store time and date information showing when you connect and disconnect;
  • We store a numerical value that shows the total bytes transferred per session’

In addition to this, a great deal of information is gathered through website cookies and other tracking technologies, which may be used by third party advertisers. In fairness to IronSocket, we commend the openness and transparency of its privacy policy, which although somewhat worrying, does clearly explain what data it collects and what it does with it.

Fortunately, it is possible to pay using Bitcoins, so there is no need to hand over your real personal details.

On the technical front, IronSocket implements ‘SSL with 256-bit AES encryption and 2048 bit key certificate. We will shortly provide subscribers with a 4096 bit key option for maximum encryption strength’ for OpenVPN, which is excellent.

It is also possible to connect out of TCP port 443 – the port used by SSL traffic (i.e. everything using https://), which is almost impossible for firewalls such as Chin’s GFC to block without breaking the internet.

All of which is excellent.

IP addresses for OpenVPN are static shared addresses, which is good as this makes identifying an individual with their online behavior difficult, although thanks to the extensive connection logs kept, not impossible (and end-to-end timing attack can be used to identify a user if the times he or she connects can be matched to the times monitored activity occurs on the internet). HTTP proxies use dynamic IPs.

L2TP also uses 256-bit AES encryption, while PPTP ‘uses 128 bit encryption over ‘GRE’ Protocol #47’, but to be honest we only really care about (and recommend) OpenVPN these days.

The Process

Signup is painless enough, and few personal details are asked (although these can be obtained from your payment method unless you choose to pay using Bitcoins).

Conformation emails arrived almost instantly upon signup, with links to setup instructions and account details.

Windows 7 Setup & the OpenVPN client

IronSocket uses the open source OpenVPN Connect client. Somewhat unusually, to download it you need select a server from the server list page…

servers

… and enter your VPN account details into a web interface. After that however the client downloads and installs normally.

OpenVPN connect 1

An icon appears in the Notification bar, which you right-click to bring up the server list and connect. Slightly irritatingly, you need to enter your password every time you connect.

 OpenVPN connect 3

When connected, the icon shows a green tick, and you can mouse-over it to learn some more details.

 OpenVPN connect 4

There is not a lot in the way of options, but it gets the job done.

OpenVPN connect 5

You can add additional servers quite easily by cutting and pasting the server address

OpenVPN connect 6

Compared with the standard OpenVPN client, OpenVPN Connect is slightly easier to setup as there is need to manually download and import configuration files, but is otherwise very similar in use.

Other platforms

OpenVPN is available for Windows, OSX, iOS and Android using OpenVPN Connect, and detailed setup instructions are provided for a number of popular router brands plus DD-WRT.

Detailed instructions are also provided for setting up using L2TP and PPTP on all platforms, as well as instructions for setting up HTTP Proxy and DNS Proxy on all platforms plus PS3, Xbox360, Wii, PSVita, WiiU, Boxee, Roku, and AppleTV.

Performance

We tested speed performance using our 20 Mb/s UK broadband connection. In addition to using the Flash based speedtest.net results, we timed how long a 100 MB download took using ThinkBroadband’s tBB meter, which often gives a more accurate picture of real world performance.

st none

tbb none
No VPN

 st uk

 tbb uk
Connected to VPN server in the UK

st nl

tbb nl
Connected to VPN server in the Netherlands

As you can see, performance was pretty good all-round, although, oddly, it was better to the more distant NL server than the UK one (we tested both IronSocket’s UK servers but got similar results). Note also the excellent upload speed results.

We also ran the service through DNS leak test.com, and it passed with flying colors.

dns leakThat’s definitely not our real IP!

Conclusion

We liked

  • Good price
  • Great speeds (especially upload speeds)
  • Excellent encryption
  • Shared IPs
  • Servers all over the world
  • Access to DNS, HTTP Proxy and SOCKS5 Proxy servers included in price
  • P2P downloading is ok (on some servers)
  • 7 day money back guarantee
  • Hong Kong based
  • Very transparent privacy policy
  • Accepts anonymous payment using Bitcoins

We weren’t so sure about

  • A ‘no usage logs’ policy combined with using shared IPs is very good, but the number of session logs kept somewhat undermines these privacy measures
  • VPN client (all platforms) works fine, but lacks any bells and whistles such as a VPN kill switch, DNS leak protection etc.

We hated

  • Nothing

Overall, IronSocket provides a very good service. It is fast, uses excellent encryption standards, has servers just about everywhere (and growing), and is happy to let you P2P download where appropriate. We also admire its detailed privacy policy, although (and perhaps IronSocket is just being more honest than other providers) we feel the amount of detailed logs it keeps compromises its otherwise top notch privacy measures somewhat. It should be noted however that most so called ‘no logs’ companies also keep similar connection logs, and the fact that IronSocket is based in Hong Kong makes it immune to most forms of international legal pressure. Basically, we like it.

Coupon

After we wrote this review Ironsocket sent us an exclusive coupon to use on BestVPN. If you’d like 25% off their normal prices, use the code BESTVPNSAVER


Douglas Crawford I am a freelance writer, technology enthusiast, and lover of life who enjoys spinning words and sharing knowledge for a living. Find me on Google+

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12 responses to “IronSocket VPN review

    This provider got really bad recently. They are now blocked by many US sites and support is not helpful.

    1. Hi Berissa,

      Unfortunetly sites such as US Netflix bare being very pro-active in blocking VPN providers. This is not really IronSocket’s fault, although VPN providers need to be pro-active back at evading these blocks in order to keep their customers happy.

    Terrible, unprofessional support who has no clue what is going on. They seem to cover US major cities but offer very small pool of IP addresses, usually just one outgoing IP address per city, 3 for NY and LA. They now block access to many torrent sites or perhaps they are being blocked. Heck even Amazon Instant Video is blocked. When I opened Google start page while connected to one of their VPN servers in US I was redirected to Google page for Saudi Arabia. Pathetic service, probably injected with malware, stay away

  1. This provider is getting worse and worse. His IP addresses are now more often blocked or marked as proxy and eventually banned by more and more sites. If you use it for geo restricted sites beware even Netflix and Amazon Video is no longer supported. Support does not react to complaints. If you try to access torrent sites beware Ironosocket censors torrent sites. Their website has not been updated for months. BestVPN should update its review and discourage from using Ironsocket. Avoid.

    great price many promotion so i just keep on subscribe , server around the world, great speed, openvpn for max security, socks5 for torrent and trolling, private dns. 3 connection, great cs

    pls add some china ip / server to stream youku,pptv & etc

    add some server at S.Africa then it will have server in every continent on planet earth

    The worst service I got. Paid monthly for few months, wanted to watch Romanian national news TV (blocked for out of country viewings). After few months they offered a deal, I paid for one year and next week their servers failed to circumvent Romanian national news TV. Customer service ignored my complain with the line “we did not promised you anything”. Refused to refund. Big dissapointment. So be careful with this company. Could be dirty.

    Truly great VPN service, got it from here with the coupon code, using their dns on my ddwrt router with great results for Kodi, speeds with openvpn .
    I refered a friend and got this:
    “Congratulations!
    We’re pleased you enjoy our service enough to refer a friend to us. As a special thank you, we’ve added 12 weeks of bonus time to your account.
    Remember, you can get even more bonus time added when you refer more friends!
    Kind regards,
    Your IronSocket Team”
    Got a couple of question for them and response was detailed and useful and fast.
    in Summary great service, lots of servers,openvpn,fast support, DNS Proxy, HTTP Proxy and SOCKS5 Proxy, and great price and referral system… you decide.

    great, cheap with big discount code last mth, 3 connection, smartdns, sock5 , basic openvpn client, not those fancy client..
    sock5 for torrent so you dont need to connect the vpn all the time cos some service will ask u to verify yourself if u login using other country ip. very annoying
    dns works wonder, great for mytv

    now it just need some more china server/ip/virtual ip , to be able to watch youku n other china vdo site

    Great VPN service. Has every feature you could ask for with best support. 10/10

    Using service for a couple of months.

    Price in comparison to other providers is perfect.

    World coverage is on the above average side. If you need any specific country you better review several services, some of them provide much more server options.

    Some servers are not stable enough. But most EU servers I am using have 99.999% up-time.

    Support response is lightning fast. While limited to “tickets” which is not a problem personally for myself.

    The disadvantage is lack of Provider specific software for connection arrangement. While all connection options are well described.
    OpenVPN could be a headache for average Windows user. Android phones are well supported by Google Play Store apps and fully compatible with provider servers.

    While I am only using OpenVPN protocol. Have no any comments on other features.

    Speed wise I am satisfied. Servers I am using do not downgrade my cable connection at all.
    http://www.speedtest.net/ one of the servers at Noon time.
    Ping 37 ms
    Download Speed 28.56 Mbps
    Upload Speed 15.05 Mbps

    Please leave your reviews and comments here

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