EarthVPN Review

EarthVPN

BestVPN.com Score 6 out of 10

EarthVPN has been making waves recently (pardon the mixed metaphors!) thanks to offering a very low cost service that keeps no logs and provides some very high-end features. Some people have thought the deal so ‘too good to be true’ in fact, they have accused it of being a honeypot (quite without any evidence whatsoever!). We obviously couldn’t wait to put this exciting new provider through its paces, and you will see we loved its dedication to privacy, low price and feature-set, but worried a little about some performance issues.

VPN Stats

  • Server Locations 54
  • Average Speed 22.66 Mbit/s
  • Simultaneous Connections 3
  • Jurisdiction Cyprus

Likes

  • Affordable
  • OpenVPN encryption
  • Good speeds
  • Accepts Bitcoin
  • No logs

Dislikes

  • Connection issues
  • Basic client

Features

Port forwarding
Total servers 190
Countries 54
Simultaneous connections 3
Bare metal or virtual servers Combination
Router Support
Allows torrenting
Port selection

Supported platforms

Windows
MacOS
iOS
Android
Linux

Protocols offered

PPTP
L2TP/IPsec
SSTP
IKEv2
OpenVPN
Other protocols SSH tunneling, SSL Proxy

Privacy

Jurisdiction Cyprus
Logs Traffic
Logs Connections
Logs Timestamps
Logs Bandwidth
Logs IP Address
Logs Aggregated or Anonymized Data

Performance

BestVPN.com SpeedTest (average) 22.66
IPv4 leak detected?

Payment

Visa/MasterCard
Amex
Cryptocurrency

Security

Kill Switch
Obfuscation (stealth)

Support

24-hour support
Live chat support
Money-back Guarantee

Unblocks:

Netflix
iPlayer

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Features

Port forwarding
Total servers 190
Countries 54
Simultaneous connections 3
Bare metal or virtual servers Combination
Router Support
Allows torrenting
Port selection

  • No logs
  • AES OpenVPN encryption (with 265-bit available)
  • SSTP available
  • Accepts Bitcoin payment and has a robust system in place to prevent other transaction being linked to users
  • Up to 3 simultaneous devices (for a small fee)
  • Good SSTP speeds


Speeds and Performance

We tested the VPN connection using our 20 meg UK broadband. The speed tests brought my connection speeds down by more than a half to around 9 Mbps on the London server and 12 Mbps on the Swiss server. This isn't terribly good, but not the worst VPN we have ever encountered either.

As we were a little disappointed with the initial OpenVPN tests, we tried connecting using the UPD protocol instead (which is in theory faster). However, this made little difference. The SSTP result, however, was very good, with speeds closer to 18 Mbps.

We decided to give the OpenVPN connection a bit more testing, and found the results were very server dependent, with many European servers proving faster than local UK ones. We did however sometimes have trouble connecting to some servers at all (most notably ones in the Netherlands). As far as reliability is concerned, we had no disconnections during our test period. One final test we performed was to check for DNS leaks and EarthVPN passed with flying colors.

Leak tests

BestVPN.com SpeedTest (average) 22.66
IPv4 leak detected?

Price

The basic VPN package comes in at an incredibly pocket-friendly $3.99 per month (or $39.99 annually), which makes EarthVPN just about the cheapest service we have yet reviewed. For such a low price you might expect a somewhat limited feature-set, but even its most basic package gives you access to features that many other VPN providers charge much more for *(or don’t offer at all), including PPTP / L2TP / SSTP / OpenVPN Protocols and access to 87 server locations in 32 countries (including servers throughout Asia, the US and Europe, and in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Panama and Brazil and Turkey). Additional options can be purchased for $1.99 each per month, and include:

  • adding an additional device such a phone (up to 3 separate devices can be connected from the same IP address but not from spate locations without this option)
  • upgrading OpenVPN to 256-bit AES encryption
  • having a static IP address
  • SSH Tunnel/Socks proxy enabled

Although other providers may supply at least some of these features as part of their basic packages, given the ultra-low cost of EathVPN’s basic pricing we think these optional extras represent good value for money to those who need them (although if you want them all it starts to get a bit more pricey). EarthVPN does offer no 'free trial' as such, but does offer a  no quibbles 7 day money back guarantee, which is pretty close. EarthVPN runs special offshore servers ‘on all continents’ which are specially optimized for P2P/torrent traffic, and where ‘DMCA or any equivalent does not apply’.

Ease of use

Windows
MacOS
iOS
Android
Linux

The website 

The website is well laid out, professional looking (if not overly stylish), and easy to navigate. The public facing website features a Google map of its server locations, setup instructions, and an extensive and informative FAQ that answered all our usual queries regarding a VPN service. The customer area (which can be accessed from the sign-up page without actually signing-up) includes a moderately populated knowledgebase and, very usefully, a Network Status page with a service uptime history report. 

Customer Support

24-hour support
Live chat support
Money-back Guarantee

A speed test page is also included, but we prefer to stick with speedtest.net to obtain accurate performance results. Customer support comes in the form of a ticked email system. We did experience some issues during setup (see below) and it took around eight hours for the support team to get back to us (by which time our issues had resolved themselves).

Signing up

Signing up couldn't be much easier as all you are asked for is a first name, email address and password. Once the order is processed and paid for, and confirmation/welcome etc. emails are received, you can go to the website’s setup area and follow the instructions to set the service up.

The Windows client is a very simple and bare-bones affair that lets you choose which server you want to connect to, which protocol, and which port to use.  This covers all the basics, but gives you none of the fancy DNS leak protection, internet kill switch, server statistics etc. seen on some other provider’s custom VPN clients.

By default, the client connects over TCP, although we usually recommend trying a UDP port first. We did have a little trouble connecting at first, as the client would not accept our password. After some failed attempts to reset it (the reset process required you to enter the old password first, which is just bloody stupid), it started working just fine on its own.

Once you are connected, an icon will show in the Notification Area of the Task Bar to let you know everything is hunky-dory.

Other platforms

EarthVPN is fairly comprehensive when it comes to setup options. At the moment it only has a dedicated VPN client for Windows (with OSX and Linux clients on the way), but it has detailed manual setup instruction with screenshots for Windows (PPTP, L2TP, OpenVPN, SSTP and SSH/Socks Proxy), OSX (PPTP, L2TP, OpenVPN, and SSH/Socks Proxy), Linux (PPTP and SSH/Socks Proxy) and DD-WRT routers (PPTP and OpenVPN). iOS (PPTP, L2TP and  OpenVPN on the way) and Android (PPTP, L2TP and OpenVPN are also well supported).

Privacy and Security

Kill Switch
Obfuscation (stealth)

Privacy is an area where EarthVPN excels. Based in Northern Cyprus. Although under the jurisdiction of Turkey, which does have mandatory data retention laws, it is our understanding that Northern Cyprus does not, and EarthVPN says it does not 'log any usage or user activity. Neither we nor third parties are technically possible to match an IP address to an account.’ Also, as noted above, it is happy to let users’ download using P2P/torrent software, as long they use its special servers (and since P2P traffic is blocked on their other servers, this should never be an issue). Encryption levels too, are good (although as usual we recommend avoiding PPTP with CHAPv2 authentication if possible).

Encryption Protocols

PPTP
L2TP/IPsec
SSTP
IKEv2
OpenVPN
Other protocols SSH tunneling, SSL Proxy

 L2TP/IPsec uses either 3DES or AES encryption with a 256-bit key, while OpenVPN uses 128-bit AES with an SHA1 hash algorithm and 2048 RSA key authentication. As we discussed in the pricing section, it is also possible to upgrade OpenVPN to 256-bit AES encryption. Windows Vista SP1 or later users can also take advantage of SSTP, which uses TCP Port 443 (as used by standard SSL transmissions, which makes it very easy to block) and 2048-bit SSL encryption, making ideal for use in highly restrictive counties such as China, Iran and Syria. 

All this is great, and is the sort of thing that warms the cockles of our heart here at BestVPN. Users can pay anonymously using Bitcoins (if necessary precautions are taken) or with PayPal, Credit Cards, Bitcoins, Alipay, Unionpay and Webmoney. EarthVPN makes sure that transactions are not linked to users by generating a unique key for every transaction so it can verify payment for the account is made, and then deletes that unique key. 

This is a great procedure, and one we wish more VPN providers would implement. All in all, EarthVPN appears to pay a great deal of attention to ensuring its user’s privacy, which leaves us impressed. Please review our note that the end of the article however, and follow the links provided before deciding to full trust EarthVPNs's security measures.

Final Thoughts

By and large we are quite impressed with EarthVPN, although the inconsistent speedtest.net results when using OpenVPN (the usual recommended way to connect via VPN) are a bit worrying. However, EarthVPN provides a surprisingly fully featured service at a very reasonable price point, and have top-notch privacy credentials. 

When all is said and done it is this last point that scores most with us, as technical issues can be fixed, but bad attitude less so. We, therefore, recommend EarthVPN 9but see out note below), although we do think it important it looks into improving OpenVPN performance across the board. 

Important note: Something of a spat has broken out on Reddit regarding whether EathVPN has exposed both its public and private keys in its OpenVPN .crt file.  If true, then this is an unforgivable error, but the issue has not been raised anywhere else on the internet that we know of, and is strongly denied by EarthVPN. We admit to being somewhat confused by the argument and counterargument, so we suggest that our readers check out the discussion themselves. For the purpose of this review we will assume everything is ok and judge EarthVPN accordingly, but we do feel duty-bound to bring this dispute to our readers’ attention, and if the accusations are found to be true, we remove our recommendation. 

The relevant links are: http://www.reddit.com/r/VPN/comments/1kuhps/earthvpn_as_a_nonus_alternative_to_pia/ (original post) http://vpnsecurityreview.tumblr.com/post/59920711273/were-sorry-earthvpn-or-nope-youre-wrong-or-how http://www.reddit.com/r/VPN/comments/1lhu16/earthvpn_security_part_2/


4 Comments

  1. W
    on November 28, 2017
    Reply

    I don't connect to their servers 24/7 like some heavy users. But I found their servers reliable and have no problem. Usually around 20mbs down speed when I tested them. There is only one problem I encountered within last 2 years of using them. Servers in China were down for some reasons and they were able to fix it within 24 hrs after I reported in the ticket. Also, looks like they have more than doubled their servers/countries since this review back in 2013. They are the ONLY (at least I didn't find any other) VPN service that has servers in China (Hong Kong is still consider outside of China) This is critical because now markets are filled with TV box from China. By connecting to China servers, these TV box can stream Netflix-like service for free. No need to bit torrent movies anymore. There are also free music streaming as well. Especially Apple Music only cost $1.50 USD/month if purchased thru China.

    1. Douglas Crawford replied to W
      on November 29, 2017
      Reply

      Hi W, This review is indeed rather old. You may be interested in VPN into China – Get a China IP Address (and yes, EarthVPN is listed there!). China is currently cracking down on VPNs operating inside the country, so not sure what effect this might have on these services.

  2. S
    on September 16, 2015
    Reply

    I tried this service for a month somewhat hesitantly, as there was only 1 review. Even though the review was positive, it seemed honest, giving both pros & cons of the vpn. My interest was to circumvent geoblocking of Hooq TV as I live in Canada. My ISP is Eastlink. I needed a vpn to run Android (a set-top box) and Linux Mint. While EarthVPN offers OpenVPN, I didn't bother with setting up this protocol as I was just interested in accessing blocked material. So I only tested PPTP. EarthVPN has a very big list of exit servers in numerous countries, a big plus. [I was able to access Hooq; however, not being able to pay for the subscription (requires foreign currency banking services, e.g., credit card issued from foreign banks) restricted me from actually using the service!] The speed was excellent when accessing servers in Canada (nearly 100% of maximum D/U speeds). Speeds using servers in southeast Asia were much lower, nearly 50% (only 1 test), but still fast enough to stream 720p. Signup was simple enough. They do not have clients for Linux yet, but the instructions for setup were reasonable. Connections establish within 5-10s; and a connected line dropped only once for me. I made perhaps 30 connections during the month. EarthVPN also only includes only 1 concurrent connection, but you can pay extra for additional concurrent lines. While it probably doesn't need iterating by me, I'll say price was a big factor for me to try the service. EarthVPN also allows P2P on certain servers, but I wasn't interested in this so can't comment on quality of connections in this regard. Everything considered, I would certainly entertain paying for a year's subscription, as the service is adequate for my purposes. The absolutely terrible CAD->USD exchange rate at the moment makes me cringe, but it's still one of the cheapest services available. Private Internet Access (PIA) VPN does not match the number of exit servers as EarthVPN, but has the same annual pricetag. Before committing, I'll compare some other services (I wish ExpressVPN was cheaper). Hope this review was remotely helpful. N.B. - please disregard my rating for customer service as I did not need to use it.

  3. beardy
    on October 26, 2013
    Reply

    I've been with EarthVPN for a few months after trying some bigger names like StrongVPN and finding they charge extra for things that are bundled in here for free. No problems with billing via PayPal and any communication is prompt and professional. It should be noted this works out at £1.99/month in the UK which is ridiculously cheap, and I have had very few issues on any of the devices I have tried it on including Windows 2008 R2 Server, Windows 7, Windows 8, and Android 4.1. I have manually configured PPTP which is easy under Windows and Android however I have also tried others via their utility. So far no success with OpenVPN but to be fair I haven't really pursued it thoroughly. Speeds are actually quite respectable for most traffic, it can max out my 14MB ADSL2 connection although it depends on the server, time etc. and as the reviewer notes, some servers inc. Dutch ones can be a bit iffy. Only one bugbear, the P2P speeds are dreadful even on their designated servers, and yet the same servers downloading NNTP is superb...Its almost as if the P2P traffic is throttled! It flips up to full speed occasionally, otherwise idles @ around 1KB/s, any time of the day, it makes no difference...Off the VPN I typically get 200-800KB/s depending on the torrent. So in summary, great all around VPN for surfing and downloading, superb value for money but if you're looking for the catch I think its very poor for P2P performance. Hope that helps.

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