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PrivateVPN Review

PrivateVPN

BestVPN.com Score 9.5 out of 10
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PrivateVPN is an established VPN based in Sweden. It is a secure service with a bespoke client that can be used on up to six devices simultaneously. It is a zero logs VPN service that has 100+ servers in 56 countries around the world. That is a huge amount of servers that it is increasing regularly.

VPN Stats

  • Server Locations 60
  • Average Speed 58.85 Mbit/s
  • Simultaneous Connections 6
  • Jurisdiction Sweden

Likes

  • 30-day money back guarantee
  • Servers in 56 countries
  • Strong OpenVPN encryption
  • Zero logs
  • 24/7 customer support

Dislikes

  • Not much

Features

Total servers 100
Countries 60
Simultaneous connections 6
Bare metal or virtual servers A combination
Router Support
Allows torrenting
Port forwarding
Port selection

Supported platforms

Windows
MacOS
iOS
Android
Linux
Windows Phone

Protocols offered

PPTP
L2TP/IPsec
SSTP
IKEv2
OpenVPN
Other protocols IPSec, Shadowsocks

Privacy

Jurisdiction Sweden
Logs Traffic
Logs Connections
Logs Timestamps
Logs Bandwidth
Logs IP Address
Logs Aggregated or Anonymized Data
Website tracking? Google Analytics

Performance

BestVPN.com SpeedTest (max/burst) 305.6
BestVPN.com SpeedTest (average) 58.85
Data limits
Bandwidth limits
IPv4 leak detected?
IPv6 leak detected?
WebRTC leak detected?

Payment

Visa/MasterCard
Amex
Cryptocurrency

Security

Kill Switch
Obfuscation (stealth)
Self-hosted/Proxied DNS Proxy
IPv4 leak protection
IPv6 leak protection
WebRTC leak protection

Support

Free trial Yes - 7 days
24-hour support
Live chat support
Money-back Guarantee
Money back guarantee length 30

Unblocks:

Netflix
iPlayer

Features

PrivateVPN has all the advanced privacy and security features that you are likely to need. Whether you want a VPN to unblock foreign content, or to stop your ISP and the government snooping on your browsing habits - PrivateVPN has you covered:

Servers

PrivateVPN operates servers in 56 countries. Those locations include five cities in the US (including West and East coast), the UK, all over Europe (including the Netherlands and Switzerland). Plus: Brazil, Australia, Canada, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, and Russia. The only places that don’t really get a look-in are Africa, the Middle East, and China. As such, if these locations are of particular interest to you, you will need to look elsewhere.

Despite the number of countries covered, the total number of servers available is noticeably low compared to other providers. However, this is because PrivateVPN is a younger firm that has much fewer customers than those competitors. In reality, PrivateVPN is a popular service that is actively expanding the number of servers it has as it grows. For this reason, it is not a concern.

Simultaneous connections

Subscribers may connect up to six devices to PrivateVPN at once. This is truly outstanding and very few VPNs on the market offer more. With this in mind, PrivateVPN can be considered a highly useful VPN for large families that have VPN requirements on a number of phones, tablets, and laptops, both at home and when using public WiFi.

Torrenting

Torrenting on PrivateVPN is not only allowed but is a delight thanks to fast connection speeds. The service also provides strong encryption options to keep your torrenting secure and private. 

Does PrivateVPN unblock Netflix and other streaming services?

PrivateVPN is in the elite club of VPN providers that still unblocks an impressive number of streaming services all over the world. In fact, it can provide access to almost every streaming service!

Using PrivateVPN we were also able to stream content from both US Netflix and BBC iPlayer. This is due to the fact that PrivateVPN provides access to free dynamic dedicated IP addresses everytime users connect using the default protocol (OpenVPN TUN+UDP+1194) on the following locations: Sweden, Norway, Germany - Frankfurt 1, Netherlands 1, Ukraine, Switzerland, United Kingdom - London 2, France - Paris, USA - Buffalo and USA - Los Angeles.

This is truly awesome and means that PrivateVPN is one of the few VPNs that will give you access to almost all online streaming services! This is pretty mind-boggling because most VPNs charge extra for dedicated IPs that work with Netflix US.

Speed and performance

PrivateVPNs download speeds

Tests were performed using our top of the range scientific speed test system. Download speeds average at 52.59 Mbit/s which is very fast and compares favorably to top of the range VPNs on the market. Burst speeds (Max download speeds) top off at 139.62 Mbit/s, which considering the price of this VPN it is monstrously fast. In fact, I don't think it is possible to get better speed to cost ratio than you get with PrivateVPN.

Leaks

PrivateVPN has passed all IP leak, DNS leak, and WebRTC leak tests with flying colors, which is great news for their subscribers. (It has no IPv4 or IPv6 leaks.)

Price

Hands down one of the best things about PrivateVPN is the fact that you get a premium VPN service for a budget price.

PrivateVPN doesn’t mess around with splitting its VPN service into various plans, which is refreshing. However, the VPN is priced slightly cheaper for people who decide to commit for longer periods of time: rewarding customer loyalty with a discount.

Trials and money-back guarantee

Unlike many providers on the market, PrivateVPN offers a generous 7-day free trial of their service. This speaks volumes about the confidence the company has in their product and its ability to deliver a blinding service.

PrivateVPN also offers a highly generous 30-day money back guarantee. This is much better than many VPNs on the market. The no quibbles guarantee means that subscribers can change their mind if they want to.

PrivateVPN accepts all major payment methods - as you might expect from a premium VPN service. But, something that might interest the more privacy-conscious user is that it now also accept Bitcoin for payment. This means that you can pay for the VPN with added anonymity if you wish. 

Ease of use

PrivateVPN definitely attempts to make everything as simple possible as it can for its subscribers. The VPN software is aesthetically pleasing and easy to use.  In addition, PrivateVPN is packed with encryption protocol options and top-of-the-range privacy features to keep its subscribers secure.

Available platforms

The Windows Client

The Windows client is straightforward. It gives users the ability to toggle lots of protocol options and DNS leak protection is built in. The PrivateVPN client does include a kill switch called "Connection Guard" (which prevents internet traffic from traveling outside of the VPN tunnel). The kill switch even allows you to select specific software that should be terminate should the VPN connection drop out.

Overall the client was superb and certainly as good as any other that I have ever used in terms of ease of use and functionality. It even has an auto-connect feature that will reconnect your VPN in sequence with the killswitch should the connection.

The Mac Client

The Mac client looks similar to the other versions, and implements secure OpenVPN protocol with AES/GCM for data cipher. Sadly the client doesn't have a killswitch built in. However, a kill switch can be easily deployed if you are tech-savvy using the command line built-in tool called pf.

Although there is no active DNS leak protection built in, no DNS leaks were registered during our tests. This is what PrivateVPN told me:

"We have own DNS for each and every server we have which are pushed automatically to your OpenVPN client whenever you connect to it. The reason why we don't put this information in public is because those are in-tunnel DNS nameservers only and don't work as Public DNS nameservers. That being so, there are two of our Static DNS nameservers that are pushed along with server specific DNS nameservers: 108.59.1.193 & 95.211.121.23"

The Mobile Clients

PrivateVPN can be used with Android 4.0.3 and above, as well as iOS 9.0 and above. It is available on both the Google Play Store and App Store, It can also be downloaded as an .apk file for Android directly from PrivateVPN.

The app is a new addition (January 2017) to the PrivateVPN family. Just like the desktop app, the Android app is intuitively designed and works excellently. Also great news, I detected no DNS leaks when using the Android client. 

Customer Service

PrivateVPN has 24/7 support, which is handled via emails and a live chat feature on its website. I tried the live chat feature at the weekend and found it to be unavailable. However, it did prompt me to send a message which was answered in good time. I suspect therefore that while the chat feature is not 24/7, they do have support staff working around the clock.

To be absolutely certain, I tried the live chat again on Monday morning (during European working hours) and found it to be up and running. The representative was friendly and did his best to answer all my questions. In conclusion, I suspect that live chat is probably only available in European daylight hours. As such, if you live elsewhere you will have to communicate via email (which isn’t really a problem because they answer quickly).

Privacy and security

PrivateVPN is based in Sweden. Due to the fact that Sweden has data retention laws, this is far from ideal. However, after a discussion on this fact with PrivateVPN, they explained to me directly that the reason it remains based in Sweden is that it has full access to its central data center where they own all the hardware and even control the router. For that reason, PrivateVPN is able to be more confident than most about its zero-logs claim.

Logging policy

Although Sweden is not the most ideal place for a VPN company to be based.  The good news is that it doesn't keep any logs whatsoever. As such, if it is asked to comply with an investigation (using a warrant) PrivateVPN can’t actually provide anything at all about its subscribers to the authorities. In fact, this has occurred in the past and it had to tell the authorities that it had nothing.

I asked PrivateVPN directly about how it gets around local data retention laws and IPRED and it told me that IPRED applies only to ISPs and that it is not bound to keep any logs. The firm was also honest enough to admit to me that they have been coming under pressure “we’re getting complaints” its representative told me, but because it has “no such information about our customers” it can’t help with any investigations.

In addition, PrivateVPN informed me that it has a 100% record of providing privacy for its clients. I asked it the following question: has anybody ever got into trouble for piracy - or anything else - using your service? And it gave me the decisive reply: “No, never”.

All things considered, it would appear that subscribers are indeed safe using PrivateVPN. Its zero logs policy is watertight, and its privacy policy, which includes never sharing data with third parties, is highly commendable. Thus, we give PrivateVPN a thumbs up for privacy.

Also positive: the VPN told me that if anything did ever happen to compromise their operations in Sweden - it would move out of the country.

Encryption

On the technical front, the encryption used by PrivateVPN for OpenVPN connections is fantastic with an  AES-256 cipher, an RSA-2048 handshake, and HMAC SHA256 data auth used. 2048-bit DHE keys provide Perfect Forward Secrecy.

In addition, a number of other encryption protocols are available natively in the PrivateVPN client. PPTP is among those, but because it is no longer strong enough to protect users’ privacy, we strongly recommend against it. Instead, we encourage you to select one of the others (preferably OpenVPN). Available protocols are OpenVPN (UDP and TCP), L2TP, PPTP, IPSec, IKEv2, HTTP Proxy, and SOCKS5.

Although no DNS leak protection is built into its clients, PrivateVPN does handle DNS requests via its own servers. In order to set this up, users need to set their DNS settings manually. This is very easy to do, and the PrivateVPN team has both guides and a great customer service team available to walk you through the process.

PrivateVPN also IPv6 Leak Protection and DNS Leak Protection, which makes it an all-round great option for privacy and security.

Security features

The PrivateVPN software is well designed and has a kill switch to cut the internet should the VPN connection be lost. This is a useful feature that allows its subscribers to guarantee that they don't accidentally leak their web traffic to their ISP. In addition, users can specify software to be included in the kill switch feature. The killswitch is WFP based and has two layers of security: kill switch and application kill. This gives customers the choice to use application kill only if they prefer. It is a tried and tested killswitch that we can vouch for.

In addition, port forwarding is also supported by PrivateVPN. Though you will need to check its server list or communicate with them directly to figure out which server or servers have the features necessary to set up a particular device.

Stealth servers are a bonus feature for anyone living in a restrictive regime and need to disguise any traffic that can link a VPN back to them.

Finally, the service also offers DNS in the form of a proxy, which is handy when it comes to unblocking content. However, in reality, the dynamic IPs are probably going to have you covered there.

For anyone that anyone that wants to make use of the extra privacy afforded by shared IPs, please select the protocol OpenVPN - TUN+TCP+443 in the encryption settings. The ability to switch between dedicated dynamic IPS (OpenVPN TUN+UDP+1194) and shared IPs is an outstanding part of the service.

Encryption

Other Privacy features

HQN servers

High-Quality Network servers are available on the PrivateVPN network. PrivateVPN say that it aims “to purchase Internet capacity directly from the IP transit provider”. These tier-1 servers allows PrivateVPN to have no middlemen in its network which it says allows it to deliver better connections speeds. Please check the connection speeds section of the review for speed test results.

Remote control

For real technophobes, a remote installation feature is available. When implemented, it will allow a PrivateVPN customer support technician to remotely take over a subscriber's machine momentarily to help them set up the VPN. This shouldn’t be necessary, because the VPN is very easy to set up. However, the feature is an excellent addition that certainly can be considered a selling point that sets it apart from its competitors. The feature is also available for general maintenance and is handled with TeamViewer remote support software. PrivateVPN even provides a guide for getting remote control set up in its resources area.

Visit PrivateVPN »

Final Thoughts

PrivateVPN is a service that has been around for only a few years. In that time it has established a world-class service. Subscribers get access to a tier 1 network of servers excellently located around the world. Connection speeds perform well across all servers, with only a slight drop in performance when connected. This makes the VPN perfect for streaming and other data-intensive tasks.

Privacy with the VPN is great, and the zero logs policy speaks for itself. Encryption is also strong, and the ability to toggle between UDP and TCP in the client is fantastic. Availability of HTTP Proxy, SOCKS5, and port forwarding, is also a huge benefit. Plus free access to dynamic dedicated IPs. Finally, the auto-reconnect and killswitch features are a nice addition, that will deliver privacy even if the VPN cuts out momentarily.

With servers located all over the world the world, my overall impression of PrivateVPN is that it is an excellent VPN service that is well worth the money it asks (particularly if you sign up for a year). Thanks to its seven-day trial and 30-day money back guarantee anybody can test it risk-free to make sure it suits their needs. An impressive VPN.

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