TorVPN is a UK-based VPN service that is very cheap and has some interesting features. The website makes a good impression and gives the buyer confidence. However, the service has a number of technical flaws. Additionally, TorVPN doesn’t include a custom app, so there are several security features that it isn’t able to offer. Read on to discover more about this Virtual Private Network (VPN).
There are a lot of imaginative features to the TorVPN service. Indeed, it’s easy to see that this could be a great VPN service if all bugs were fixed. The pricing structure is an example of that ingenuity.
The Free plan is a great idea. You can choose the one server to which you have access. On first taking up the service, you may think that you’re stuck with an allocated server. However, you can read later in this report how to switch servers to get the location that you want.
The Custom VPN option is a really good idea. It enables you to adjust the features of the service in order to get the deal you want. Among the options, you can select an allowance of up to 20 simultaneous connections. There are also higher-end plans offering a range of options.
You can pay for the service with PayPal, Bitcoin, and credit or debit cards processed by PayPal.
TorVPN’s features include:
Seven-day money-back guarantee
11 servers in eight countries
Third-party OpenVPN app for Windows, Mac OS X, macOS, iOS, Android, Linux, and routers
Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP) for manual setup on Windows, Mac OS X, iOS, Android, Linux, and routers
Secure Shell (SSH) tunnel for Windows and Linux
No activity logs
Allowance of up to 20 simultaneous connections
No data throughput limits on some plans
P2P allowed on Premium accounts
The company has 11 servers in eight countries. There are two servers each in Hungary, the UK, and the US.
TorVPN doesn’t have its own app. Instead, you download an interface from the organization that manages the OpenVPN standard. The company also offers PPTP. However, the OpenVPN system is much more secure, so this review will focus on that implementation.
Logs & Legal
The apps that you use as the interface for TorVPN don’t allow for extra security measures. Those three apps are Tunnelblick for Mac OS X and macOS, OpenVPN GUI for Windows and Linux, and OpenVPN Connect for iOS and Android devices. The security methods used by the apps are the same for the free and paid versions of the service.
VPN services that produce their own apps add extra features. These utilities include a kill switch. A kills switch blocks off the internet if the VPN connection drops. If the connection drops then quickly becomes available again, many apps will try to reconnect and continue running. The kill switch stops other apps from reconnecting without the VPN reconnecting first. You don’t get this feature with TorVPN. You also don’t get automatic WiFi protection to prevent your device from connecting to open WiFi hotspots without your knowledge.
Is TorVPN Private?
Although the company doesn’t keep activity logs, it does keep connection logs. I asked the support team for details of these logs and they confirmed their existence. They also told me that the logs are kept for “as long as necessary.” When I asked for clarification on the duration of data retention, I received no response.
If you want protection for P2P downloads, it would be better to investigate a different VPN service. Indeed because this is a UK-based VPN the fact that it keeps connection logs is extremely concerning. Those logs could be used to mount an e2e timing (time correlation) attack. And becuase it would appear that the logs are being kept indefinitely I don’t recommend this VPN for privacy.
The TorVPN Website
The TorVPN website is well presented and has a friendly feel. The information available is just enough to reassure potential customers. However, some deeper information in a knowledge base section would be nice.
There are two menu bars at the top of the homepage. These are fixed, so stay in view as you scroll down. The upper bar has few items on it. You can access the client area from this small menu. You can also switch the language of the site to Hungarian.
There are a few more links to services in the footer.
Instead of a blog, the company runs a Twitter feed. You can access this through a link in the footer.
TorVPN doesn’t add to the Twitter feed very frequently.
By clicking on “My Account” at the top of the site, you can log in to the client area. This contains account details and provides access to more facilities.
TorVPN Customer Support
The support functions include three elements: installation guides, an FAQ page, and customer support contact channels. The FAQ page doesn’t contain much information. It’s intended more as a marketing tool.
The company offers a live support chat channel, but it is rarely manned. When visiting the site regularly for a week, I never encountered anyone attending the chat service. You get to the live chat through a link at the top of the site. If the chat isn’t attended, TorVPN will present you with a form to fill in instead.
The contact form is very similar to the offline chat form. You can access the contact form through a link in the footer labeled “Email Us.”
You can also send a support request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
TorVPN Free Account
Click on the “Get Free VPN” button in the pricing section of the TorVPN homepage. This leads to a registration page.
You just need to create a username and password and enter your email address in order to register. This has to be a real email address, as you need to respond to a verification email.
The system isn’t perfect. My first attempt to create an account failed because the membership database thought I already had an account (I didn’t).
The registration did create an account, but without access to the service. I turned on a VPN that was already on my browser and registered again with a different email address. That worked.
The free account provides access to one server. The TorVPN site says that you can choose that server. My account opened with a server in Paris allocated to it. To change the server location, you need to delete the allocated server. Go to the Accounts section of the client area to see your current server allocation.
Click on the name of the server in the “Service accounts” box. This opens an overlay window where you can adjust server settings.
Click on Delete to remove this server. Now click “Add Server” and select a new server from the drop-down list.
Click on Info in the main menu to get instructions on downloading the OpenVPN GUI program, then select OpenVPN. The installation guide includes links to the download file.
After installing the program, go to the Accounts section of the client area.
Click on the “Download Open VPN pack for ” link and wait for the zip file to arrive on your computer. Click on it and extract the files within to C:\Program Files\OpenVPN\config.
To subscribe, click on the button beneath the description of your chosen package in the homepage pricing section. You have to register a username and password, click on the verifying email, then go to your account to buy a plan.
Click on the plan you want, then select a payment type.
Once the payment has cleared, this new plan will appear in the Accounts section of the client area. If you ordered less than the full complement of servers, TorVPN will automatically assign you a server. If this is in a location that you don’t want, follow the instructions explained in the Free Account section above to change your server allocation.
The TorVPN Windows VPN Client
The installation process creates a shortcut on your desktop. It has a keyhole icon and is labeled “OpenVPN GUI.” Click it to start the app.
You won’t see the app on your screen. Instead, look to your desktop system tray. The app runs only in minimized mode. Its icon is a computer screen with a padlock. If you don’t see it, click on the up arrow in the system tray to reveal hidden icons.
Right-click on the icon to open its menu. As your mouse pointer moves over each menu item, a submenu of VPN commands will appear. Click on Connect to start the VPN.
A window will open containing a stream of commands and responses showing the progress of the connection. A good feature of the TorVPN implementation of OpenVPN GUI is that you don’t need to enter your username and password each time you connect to a server. In fact, you never have to enter them because they’re embedded in the configuration files that you downloaded.
When the connection is established, the log screen will disappear and you’ll see a notification telling you that the connection is working. The app’s icon in the system tray will turn green.
You can change the display language in the app’s Settings screen.
Once a connection is broken, you have to wait a couple of minutes to let TorVPN remove the details of your session from the server. Then you can reconnect. You can check back in the Accounts section of the client area to look at live connections. There may be a record there even if you’ve logged out of the VPN. You can speed up the process of closing that connection by pressing the “Kill session” button at the end of the record for that session.
Performance (Speed, DNS, WebRTC, and IPv6 Tests)
I conducted speed tests with the protocol set to OpenVPN using User Datagram Protocol (UDP).
In each case, I performed five test runs with testmy.net from Nottingham, UK, with a Virgin Media residential internet service.
I used IPLocation.net to check on the actual location of the TorVPN servers. The Paris server was in Roubaix, up near Lille – quite a distance from Paris. The London server was in Whitstable, Kent, which is close to London. The Miami server was in Miami.
I tested the London and Paris servers on connections to London. I also compared the speeds on a connection to London without a VPN. The Miami server test ran to a test server in Miami and compared to tests to the same server without a VPN.
The graphs show the highest, lowest, and average speeds for each server and location. Our full speed test explanation has further details.
The Paris server dragged the connection speed down by more than half. However, the London server got speeds close to those of an unprotected line. The US server performed poorly, despite being in the same city as the test server. As a rule, the closer the VPN server is to your location – or to the destination of your connection – the faster the connection speeds. Routing complications do not explain the lackluster speeds of the US VPN.
DNS and IPv6 Leaks
I performed tests with ipleak.net while connected to the TorVPN Paris server to check Domain Name System (DNS) leaks and the Web Real-Time Communication (WebRTC) bug. The results weren’t good. The service accessed 42 different DNS servers in Belgium. However, one call went to the Virgin Media server in the UK. This DNS leak revealed my true location.
While connected to the Paris server, I accessed doileak.net, which detected my location as Sofia, Bulgaria. This test site detected calls to DNS servers in the Netherlands and to a Virgin Media DNS server in the UK. Again, this was a bad sign.
My ISP doesn’t use Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) addresses, so I couldn’t test for IPv6 leaks.
While connected to the VPN server in Paris, I tried to access a range of French streaming services. Netflix France spotted the VPN and wouldn’t let me watch videos. TV5 would let me watch a video but France 4 blocked me.
I tested access to British TV services from the Dominican Republic. The VPN got me into Netflix UK but not BBC iPlayer. Both the ITV Hub and the Channel 4 website let me watch videos.
I accessed several US streaming services from the UK while connected to the TorVPN server in Miami. I was able to watch a video at Netflix US, but ABC.com spotted the VPN and blocked me. The NBC website let me watch entertainment.
OpenVPN is available with OpenVPN GUI for Windows and Linux. The OpenVPN Connect app is available for iOS and Android. Users of Mac OS X and macOS can access the TorVPN OpenVPN service via Tunnelblick.
The TorVPN PPTP service is available for manual setup on Windows, Mac OS X, iOS, Android, Linux, and routers. SSH tunneling is only available for Windows.
TorVPN Review: Conclusion
The free service is a great way to trial TorVPN, and may come in useful for some people. However, you’ll probably run through the 2GB data allowance pretty quickly, but by then you may have more confidence to buy a subscription. The Custom VPN is another good idea. Its ability to get into US and UK Netflix makes this a very reasonably priced service, which many people may find useful.
However, because the VPN service impairs download speeds – you may have a frustrating time actually trying to watch Netflix streams. The live chat for customer support would be a good feature – if it was ever attended. Email response to support tickets is slow and it can take days to resolve an issue.
Seven-day money-back guarantee
Multilingual site and app
Accepts PayPal and Bitcoin
Online chat for support
Gets into Netflix UK
I wasn’t so sure about:
Online chat never manned
Slow support responses
Can’t get into many video streaming services
No kill switch
The fact that TorVPN doesn’t have its own custom app means that many important security features that other VPNs offer – such as a kill switch and automatic WiFi protection – aren’t available with this VPN. However, with just a few adjustments and bug fixes, this VPN could become a great service. Might be worth a test run for some people – particularly if you already have very fast net.
However, if you want a VPN for privacy, connection logs and its UK-base pretty much rule this VPN out.