Freeware invariably tends to bring an instant rush of joy to the head, especially regarding VPNs – Supernet is no exception. You’d imagine the most economical option might also be the best one. Well, that’s true to a point, but VPN services tend to roughly correlate quality with price, to a certain degree. Keep reading to find out about that price-performance relationship and more about Supernet.
Supernet are an entirely free VPN service, with no hidden in-app fees, or tier-level subscriptions. You may find and download the software in the Google Play store, or through the Supernet website. Here’s why the service is free: advertisements. However, no advertisements popped up during this review, which was a refreshing surprise in the over-saturated marketing environment of 2016.
Many competitors offer free plans, but only as temporary trial offers which subsequently require purchase of a full version. What’s more, these ‘free’ plans often have data caps, speed caps, or fewer servers.
Rarely do you come across a VPN provider offering a no-holds-barred app entirely free. Therefore, it might be worth taking things with a grain of salt, or considering how another company wants or needs to monetize VPN services – to be above board and provide high levels of privacy and security – while Supernet manage to provide these services for free.
Keep reading to find out why, or take a look at our roundup of some of the best cheap (under $7 per month) VPNs.
Browsing the Supernet website, it appears as though the service is under a parent company called Vpnster, which offered a similar product to Supernet. Here’s where things get a bit hazy. Vpnster is under yet another parent company, Roibax LLC, which also operated a third VPN service (Hideninja). Don’t fret if this paragraph engendered some uncertainty – without hastily speculating – it appears as though this layered confusion as to who exactly runs what and is liable for any issues may be intentional on the part of the person or people in charge. It very well may not be, though, the confusion remains unabated.
The only servers available at the moment are based in the EU and Russia, unfortunately leaving much of the globe in quite far geographical proximity to any given individual’s optimal server, performance-wise. The bright side is that there appears to be no limit on simultaneous connections, or, at least, two devices can be connected at once. I used my Android phone and Google Chrome on my laptop simultaneously with no issues, likely due to the non-existent registration process.
Supernet are based in the Russia, and theoretically could be subject to Russian governmental intrusions, or other surveillance (though, most VPN providers are also constrained by the same possibilities.
Supernet only offer five servers at the moment, with one each in the US, UK, Luxembourg, Russia and the Netherlands. Geographically slim pickings for much of Asia, Australia, South America, Africa, though updates are planned!
Looking at the Hola fiasco (from a privacy and transparency perspective), it’s important to beware that companies sometimes act without their users best interests at heart. In that particular instance, users bandwidth was being sold off without their knowledge, potentially leaving them responsible for crimes committed using their IP address, despite said users installing Hola in good faith and acting as such while using the service. This isn’t aimed to scare you away from Supernet, or equate them to Hola somehow (fingers crossed), just due diligence reminder.
Now let’s discuss encryption according to what conclusions can be drawn from Supernet’s encryption protocols being as how they aren’t disclosed and responses have gone unanswered. Being a closed source piece of software (and due to unresponsiveness), it’s unclear exactly what forms of encryption are used in the Supernet extensions and mobile clients. Downloading the APK file proved as fruitless as scanning the website and download stores in this regard.
On that note, users concerned with privacy, but still wishing for a free VPN, should look for providers using OpenVPN, preferably with SHA-2 authentication and AES-256 bit, though the default BF cipher and SHA-1 data authentication is better than not using a VPN to begin with.
The Supernet website was extremely easy to navigate, and information was generally well laid out in one continuous page. One nitpicky thing would be the overload of graphics on the home page. Couple that with the fact that the landing page page scrolls down awhile, might make it difficult to load with slower connection speeds, or when using a mobile device.
Supernet run at a minimum weekly updated pages on: Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and VK (as of mid-February 2016, they’ve since posted again on 3/9/2016). A cursory browse through old posts shows a focus on general security and web news, in addition to internal service outages or update PSAs.
Unfortunately, LiveChat supports is non-existent at this time. What’s more, navigating to a contact area for support from the main site is also a bit tricky. You have to first go into the Google Play Store, then find the link to help at Zendesk. The link itself was active when I first started writing this piece but is down at the moment. An email I’d previously sent through the help link was confirmed, but has received no reply.
It would behoove Supernet to focus strongly on improving their support, being as how there currently seems to be none (or it’s down for some reason).
Getting started with Supernet is quite simple. Providing they already support your device or browser (currently only Android, Chrome, Firefox), just navigate to the Google Play Store and hit ‘Install’, after you’ve carefully read over and accepted the permissions. After that, you should see the Supernet logo appear in the top right-hand corner of your browser, right under the minimize and close buttons.
The Supernet Chrome VPN client extension.
Pleasingly, the Supernet Chrome extension was quite simple to use. Clicking on the aforementioned shield in the top right-hand corner of the browser opens the extension. You can then select whether you’d rather use a UK or US server with the three dots to the right of United States. Then, just click on the shield till you see it turn green. A grey colored shield means the extension isn’t active.
Pretty straightforward of a process to get started with, if you’ve used extensions before, and not much in the way of confusing matter for novices who haven’t. The drawbacks to note are the lack of a killswitch, DNS leak protection and – of course – more servers to choose from.
Performance (Speed, DNS, WebRTC and IPv6 Tests)
Good news, Supernet performed admirably during testing, on both the UK and the US server. For the former, an average downstream speed of 15 Mbps, with almost 5 Mbps upstream is more than adequate, and not a bad drop-off from our test ISP’s 30 Mbps connection.
US speeds were – as expected slower – but still decent enough for most browsing and streaming needs, with an average download speed of 9 Mbps and upload speed at 4Mbps (with only a rough one to two Mbps slide from a US server test with no VPN). As a whole, Supernet is in the middle to upper tier with VPN speed, with just two servers to share the load, which deserves some praise.
Connecting and disconnecting in the Chrome Browser or Android was almost instantaneous, and connections proved stable through streaming a one-hour episode of HBO’s Western classic, Deadwood.
It was surprisingly great to see no simple DNS leaks. However, IPv6 and WebRTC have not been properly accounted for by the Supernet development team. These leaks would be something to take into immediate consideration if they are truly concerned with anonymity and security – more so at the high levels of each promised. Go to test-ipv6.com to check the former, while ipleak.net will display any WebRTC leakage or other DNS leak.
Those who’ve recently updated to Windows 10, should especially lookout for DNS leaks resulting from the factory settings.
As far as other platforms go, Supernet plainly show ‘Coming Soon’ messages for Mac OS, iOS, Windows, and Opera. It would be great, however, to know which technologies are used in the mobile Supernet clients, versus the browser-based ones, and how to what extent – if any – these differences relate to the platforms yet to be supported. Without sounding like a drunken parrot, the severe lack of transparency, if it’s there to begin with, raises a number of red flags with this company(ies) as a whole.
Supernet Review Conclusion
Intuitive to use
I wasn’t so sure about
Support is minimal to nonexistant
Unresponsive to technology questions
Vague information on encryption
Lack of obvious revenue stream raises credibility concerns
Usage and connection logging
Trail of parent companies looks shady
Users looking for high level of privacy and security, as opposed to unblocking and on-the-go needs, should take a thorough look at other services as the current murky legal and company situation leaves several important VPN provider concerns dangling regarding Supernet. Alternatively, if you’re looking for a VPN solution that’s intuitive and easy to setup (don’t forget free!), then Supernet might be right for you. Tap the link below to try them out for yourself, or feel free to peruse our aggregate of the top free VPNs for further options.