Private Tunnel Review

Private Tunnel

BestVPN.com Score 7.7 out of 10
Visit Site  

Private Tunnel is the commercial child of OpenVPN Technologies, the people responsible for the OpenVPN protocol. Private Tunnel is relatively unknown in the VPN industry, so I decided to conduct a Private Tunnel review to see how the service performs. I usually recommend using the OpenVPN protocol when using a VPN, so finding out where Private Tunnel stands as a VPN service was especially intriguing. Keep scrolling to read further or hit the jump below to get started with a free 2 GB trial. 

VPN Stats

  • Server Locations N/A
  • Average Speed N/A Mbit/s
  • Simultaneous Connections N/A
  • Jurisdiction N/A

Likes

  • 2 GB free trial
  • Bitcoin accepted
  • Annual plan offers great value for groups
  • Excellent OpenVPN encryption
  • Simple client

Dislikes

  • Based in the US
  • Only email support

Features

So far, so good, right? Well, not everything is as peachy as it seems. Private Tunnel's headquarters are in the US, which is a huge black mark! Everyone should already know about terrible US data retention laws and shady governmental institutions. If you are on the lookout for a VPN that prioritizes complete privacy, Private Tunnel isn't going to be a safe bet.

As I mentioned earlier, Private Tunnel is the commercial child of OpenVPN Technologies, the company responsible for the OpenVPN protocol. This (theoretically) should give consumers plenty of reason for optimism, as OpenVPN is the most secure VPN protocol out there.

Private Tunnel has 12 locations available in 9 countries, including places such as Germany, US, UK, and Hong Kong. The measly amount of servers is somewhat underwhelming when compared to ExpressVPN (136+ locations) or HideMyAss (300+ locations).

At the time of writing this Private Tunnel review, both Netflix and BBC iPlayer cannot be accessed using Private Tunnel. If you are looking to unblock these streaming services, check out these (working) recommendations for Netflix VPN and and iPlayer VPN services.

Private Tunnel is pretty generous when it comes to connecting with multiple devices. Signing up to the fixed data plans allow you to connect an unlimited number of devices to the service at the same time. The annual plan with unlimited bandwidth allows up to 10 simultaneous connections, which should be more than enough for an entire household (or group of friends).

Visit Private Tunnel »

Speed and Performance

I conducted speed tests on a few of Private Tunnel's servers (Frankfurt, London, and New York City) to get a better idea of how server performance.

Graphs show highest, lowest and average speeds for each server and location. See our full speed test explanation for more detail.

As you can see, the Germany and UK servers performed quite poorly, both regarding download and upload speeds. It is also worth mentioning that the UK test was near impossible to do as I was constantly getting disconnected from the Internet.

The US results were a little bit better (when compared to Germany and UK), but overall I was pretty disappointed at the huge drop-offs in speed.

Leak tests

On a slightly more positive note, none of the Private Tunnel servers I tested showed any DNS or IP leaks.

Price

Private Tunnel takes a slightly different approach than most VPN providers when it comes to pricing. In addition to a free trial with 2 GBs of data, Private Tunnel has two data capped plans and one annual, unlimited data plan.

This pricing format should be attractive for those who simply need a fixed amount of data without a monthly subscription. 10 or 20 GBs should be plenty to stream a few sports events or movies or to use while traveling. The annual unlimited package with ten connections at 29.99 a year (only 2.49 a month!) is a great option for households or groups of friends.

As I mentioned already, Private Tunnel offers a free 2 GB trial to see if the service is right for you. If you do end up purchasing, Private Tunnel has a variation of full and pro-rata money back guarantees.

Private Tunnel accepts all the usual payment types, including bank transfer, PayPal, credit cards. I was also happy to see that Bitcoin as an option (through Stripe), as this can increase the level of anonymity.

Ease of Use

PrivateTunnel currently supports Windows, Mac, iOS 6.1+ and Android 4.0+ mobile devices. Linux users can also get Private Tunnel working, although this will require some prior experience with the command line interface.

It is worth noting that with a little bit of extra legwork, (downloading configuration files) Private Tunnel can also work on a variety of devices and operating systems.

I gave Private Tunnel a try on my iPhone to see how easy it was to setup and get connected to the service (OpenVPN). I was pleased to be set up and ready to connect in just a few short minutes.

Private Tunnel does not currently support Windows Phone or Blackberry but is looking into changing this in the future.

Customer Service

The second major issue I had with Private Tunnel was the absence of options when it comes to customer support. Email support coupled with a relatively small FAQ is fairly disappointing. Business hours for Private Tunnel are Monday-Friday, 9-5(PST).

To get a better idea of just how quickly Private Tunnel responds to emails, I sent them an email with a few questions regarding filesharing. I sent the email at 4 AM PST and got a proper response just a few hours later.

Private Tunnel is also active on Facebook and Twitter, with both of these profiles being used to post helpful information and communicate with customers.

Privacy and Security

As I mentioned already, Private Tunnel is in the US, meaning it could be subject to tremendous legal pressure when it comes to handing over customer data. Legislation such as the Stored Communications Act further tips the scale in the federal government's favor.

For anyone in denial over the worrying state of privacy in the US, the recent Edward Snowden revelations or the FBI vs. Apple controversy should shed further light on the matter.

Encryption Protocols

As far as encryption goes, Private Tunnel protects your data transmissions with 128-bit AES-GCM encryption. GCM (Galois/Counter Mode) is a proven security model that mostly avoids excessive speed restrictions without compromising safety.

While Private Tunnel doesn't claim to keep any activity logs, some connection logs do get saved. Private Tunnel claims only to use these for monitoring performance and maintenance. Private Tunnel also states: "We respect your privacy. We are not interested in what you do on the internet." While this is a nice touch, I'd like to see an entirely log-free service before recommending Private Tunnel as a completely secure VPN.

Private Tunnel doesn't explicitly forbid P2P activity, but it does comply with DMCA notices and actively terminates accounts which take part in copyright infringement.

For information about using a VPN when torrenting, take a look at the best VPN for torrent sites.

Final thoughts

Private Tunnel is a unique service due to being heavily affiliated with the OpenVPN protocol. As a result, I was curious to see the details behind Private Tunnel, and how it would compare to other VPNs. While the OpenVPN mark is there, being based in the US means anyone looking for a truly anonymous experience is better served searching elsewhere. Toss in some questionable server test results and Private Tunnel is a VPN you probably want to avoid.

All in all, Private Tunnel's single purchase plans and user-friendly approach might be right for groups or those looking to spend some time overseas. Check out the free 2 GB trial using the link below and let us know your experiences, good or bad.

Visit Private Tunnel »

13 Comments

  1. Gina Gershon
    on February 10, 2018
    Reply

    Always remember that this VPN does not completely make you anonymous. Applications can find out who you are. I used it on a game server and bingo it did not take them long to figure who I was. So be warned.

    1. Douglas Crawford replied to Gina Gershon
      on February 12, 2018
      Reply

      Hi Gina, A VPN is not anonymous because the VPN provider knows who you are and can see your data. Websites and online services you visit, however, should not know who you are! So something is wrong. Please see A Complete Guide to IP Leaks to find out why this might be and how to fix it.

  2. Art Northrup, Jr.
    on December 17, 2017
    Reply

    I've been experimenting with some different VPN's & connect speed is very important to me. I normally get around 70 Mbps without using a VPN & with the 1st VPN I tried, connect speed dropped all the way down to 3 Mbps. The best I got was 7 Mbps. I went back & forth with customer support & they never could figure out why, so I switched to another service. With it I get 28-32 Mbps & I could live with that if I had to, but with Private Tunnel I'm getting 42-55 Mbps. Private Tunnel doesn't charge by use now, it's a flat $6 / month. If you're not using the internet for a while the service will disconnect, but you can reconnect with one click. The service is pretty basic, but a lot of options other VPN's have I don't need. So since I haven't had any problems with Private Tunnel & my connect speed is better than with others I've tried, I'll probably stick with Private Tunnel.

    1. Douglas Crawford replied to Art Northrup, Jr.
      on December 18, 2017
      Reply

      Hi Art, Well. I live in the UK, and with a good VPN service and connected to a VPN server in Netherlands or Switzerland typically get 50-75 Mbps on my 8p Mbps connection (download speeds).

  3. Darren B
    on October 17, 2017
    Reply

    After six months of good service, access to bbc.co.uk/iplayer stopped working. When I asked the customer service department whether they planned to change their IP addresses they couldn't guarantee anything at all. In fact, they were pretty hopeless. I agree with the reviewer and conclude that these guys are ones to avoid.

  4. Noot
    on July 22, 2017
    Reply

    How do you find out what your ip is? You type ip in google search right? The ip of the device you are using is at the top of the search results and says "your IP". When I created an account with private tunnel my new tunnel ip is shown to me so I copy and paste into notes, then I added Google search to the bookmarks in private tunnel and went thru the tunnel to do the same Google ip search thinking my new tunnel ip would show up in search results. What happened my ip was still the same and not my new tunnel ip. Can a techie enlighten me as to why it wasn't the new tunnel ip I'm not that tech savvy? The bottom line is when you cant find so much as a phone number or at least an email there is something wrong. There is not even a contact link anywhere on the very limited private tunnel web page only FAQ, so how do people ask frequent questions if there is not a link to ask a question? If you decide to try private tunnel use PayPal so you can get rid of them easily and when you bring them up in PayPal you find a customer support number I think its a PayPal policy to include a phone number. Something is very wrong with Private Tunnel

    1. Noot replied to Noot
      on July 22, 2017
      Reply

      Forgot to include the number to Private Tunnel, you'll get a recording and instructions to email but I couldn't find an email link but at least you can leave a message. 925-399-1481

    2. Douglas Crawford replied to Noot
      on July 24, 2017
      Reply

      Hi Noot, I always recommend using ipleak.net to check your IP address. In your case either the software is not working correctly, or you are suffering from an IP leak. Please check out Complete Guide to IP Leaks for reasons why this might be (and fixes). A quick look at its website shows me that you can email Private Tunnel's support team email at support@privatetunnel.com.

Write Your Own Comment

Your comment has been sent to the queue. It will appear shortly.

Your comment has been sent to the queue. It will appear shortly.

Your comment has been sent to the queue. It will appear shortly.

  Your comment has been sent to the queue. It will appear shortly.