ZoogVPN started up in 2013. The company is based in the Isle of Man and the service was originally called ZoogTV. The company has evolved the service, changing and improving many aspects of its operations. This has included bringing the price down to a very tempting level. Although not perfect, this Virtual Private Network (VPN) has a lot going for it and might well suit your needs.
In this review, you’ll find out how to access the VPN either through a paid plan or by using the free version. We’ll show you how to set up the VPN and what quality of service it offers. Read on for tips on ZoogVPN…
The free version of ZoogVPN gives you the opportunity to try out the service without risking any money. The paid plans give you another level of payment protection, with a seven-day money-back guarantee. The limitations of the free service are that you don’t get access to all of the servers that the company operates, just three of them. However, you may be lucky and find that those three servers are the ones you need because they are in very popular locations: the US, the UK, and the Netherlands.
The company doesn’t guarantee top speeds to its free users. It restricts the bandwidth available to free users in order to maintain top speeds for paying customers. That’s fair enough. However, over the period that I used this system, the server report page showed that none of the servers were anywhere near their full capacity. Thus there would have been no throttling of bandwidth to free users.
The one restriction on the free service that may force you to shell out money for the paid service is the monthly data throughput limit. This is set at 2GB per month. If you like to stream video or play online games, you could use up that allocation in a just a few hours.
ZoogVPN has slashed its prices. This is now one of the cheapest VPNs on the market. Taking out a longer-term subscription makes the service cheaper still. There is no one-year plan, but you can take out a two-year plan that costs about the same as a couple of months with most of the other paid VPNs on the market.
You can pay for ZoogVPN with a credit card, PayPal, or Bitcoin.
The features of the company’s package are:
Seven-day money-back guarantee
25 servers in 17 countries
Custom app for Windows, Mac OS X, macOS, iOS, and Android
Setup wizard for Linux, Blackberry, smart TVs, games consoles, and routers
OpenVPN through an app
Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP), Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP), and Internet Key Exchange version 2 (IKEv2) via manual setup
Allowance of up to five simultaneous connections
No data throughput limits on paid plans
P2P allowed on some servers
The company has a total of 25 servers in 17 countries. There are two servers in the Netherlands, three in the UK, and six in the US.
The OpenVPN implementation of ZoogVPN is available through its custom app. The OpenVPN standard can be implemented with different levels of security. Implementers can choose from a range of encryption ciphers, so the strength of security offered by OpenVPN varies from app to app. However, OpenVPN is probably the best VPN methodology available. It is the method that BestVPN.com recommends.
Logs & Legal
Isle of Man
The use of Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) is a good choice. This is the most widely used and most secure encryption cipher in commercial use today. One difference between the free version of ZoogVPN and the paid service is that the cipher key for the free app is 128 bits long and the key for the paid service is 256 bits long. The best VPNs in the world use AES with a 256-bit key.
Some security experts support 128-bit keys. They say that AES with a 128-bit key has never been cracked, so it’s good enough. They argue that there isn’t any point in trying to make something more secure than uncrackable. These people have a point because a longer key requires more processing. Extra processing creates unnecessary delays and will drain the batteries of mobile devices faster.
Extra Security Features
The ZoogVPN team missed a big opportunity to integrate extra security features into their app. The top VPN services in the world include a kill switch option. This utility blocks off the internet if the VPN connection isn’t active. This prevents apps on your device from connecting to the internet without protection in place. It’s a situation that can sometimes occur when the internet connection breaks and then returns quickly. In that case, you want to be sure that the VPN is the first app to reconnect.
Another nice-to-have feature that is missing from the ZoogVPN app is automatic WiFi protection. This is essential nowadays because hackers set up open WiFi hotspots to gain access to mobile devices. If you have WiFi switched on, your smartphone, tablet, or laptop will constantly search for available hotspots and connect whenever it can. That means that it will connect to a hotspot that has no password, even if it’s in sleep mode. This can make your device vulnerable to downloads of controlling software from hackers without you knowing it has even connected. It would be good to see automatic WiFi protection added to ZoogVPN.
The terms of service on the ZoogVPN website state that users shouldn’t connect to P2P networks on servers that aren’t specifically labeled as being for that purpose. This is good news, because it means that the company shares liability for torrenting on those servers that are marked for that activity. That fact should motivate it to keep your activities secret.
The company doesn’t record activities and doesn’t keep connection logs. The only records that it keeps are data throughput totals for both uploads and downloads. This is particularly important for monitoring free users who have a data throughput limit. The app is able to sign you in automatically because it stores a cookie on your computer with your credentials in it.
The data that ZoogVPN holds couldn’t possibly identify your activities, so your privacy is assured even if copyright lawyers or law enforcement agencies present the company with court orders for all of its information.
The ZoogVPN website looks great. The company has invested in a slick marketing presentation that includes just enough technical detail to inform visitors without overwhelming them.
A thick banner at the top of the homepage takes up a lot of space in the initial view of the site. This, however, disappears as you scroll down the page, while the menu bar beneath the banner stays visible.
The menu is well spaced with just five elements, plus a sign-up button and a log-in link. There are more links in the footer.
Among the links in the footer is one to the ZoogVPN blog.
Subscribers can log in to access the website client area. This part of the website doesn’t have many features. This is where you’ll get the software to download the app for ZoogVPN.
Further down in the account screen, you’ll see details of the servers that you can access. This includes some important information, such as which servers you can use torrents through and how much spare capacity each server has.
If you have the free account, you can check out the status of all servers by looking at the Servers page of the website.
Whether you have an account with the VPN service or are just browsing, you access the support section of the ZoogVPN website via the same route. The support menu item at the top of the site gets you into the support functions. There are also links to setup instructions, the FAQ page, and support contact pages in the website’s footer.
The Support Center acts as a menu for the company’s support resources.
The four support elements that you can access from this page are the Resources page, the FAQ page, setup guides, and a help ticket contact form.
The Resources page is a knowledge base, with links to articles about VPNs in general, solutions offered by ZoogVPN, and fixes for some technical problems.
The FAQ page has some quick answers about the service.
The VPN Setup Wizard page contains instructions for setting up a VPN manually.
There is a separate page that gives access to the ZoogVPN app. You can also access the interface software from the Account page after you log in.
The last facility that you can access from the Support Center is the contact form.
You can also send a support request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To access the VPN service, go to the Pricing page, or click on the “Sign Up” button. Both of these routes take you to the Pricing page.
Click on the “Sign Up” button in the bottom of the description of the Free VPN service in the Pricing page. This takes you to a registration form. Although this form includes a field for your name, you don’t have to write anything in it. You do need to enter a genuine email address, because you need to verify your address before the VPN will work. If you don’t want to give your real email address, set up a burner webmail account for communications with ZoogVPN.
If you want to buy a subscription, go to the Pricing page and click on “Select Plan” in the description of the subscription period you want to buy. A sign up form will appear. Click on the button for your preferred payment method, then enter your email address and make up a password. If you’ve already set up an account to use the free service, click on the link to log into it instead of filling out these details. If you want to set up a new account that is separate from your free account, stick with this form.
The system will add the VAT of the country that you’re in. This only applies to people who access the service from within the EU. If you live outside the EU, but plan to travel there, it’s better to sign up for ZoogVPN before you fly. That way, you won’t have to pay the sales tax.
Click on “Continue to Checkout” to process the payment. Once the payment has gone through, you’ll receive a confirmation email. You have to click on a button in that email to verify your email address and activate the account.
The ZoogVPN Windows VPN Client
The installer that downloads from the website client area will create a desktop shortcut for the ZoogVPN app.
Annoyingly, the installer needs to restart your computer before it finishes the install. Once you’ve got back into your desktop, click on the shortcut to access the app.
The first time you open the app, you’ll need to enter the email address and password that you set up when you registered. Check the “remember me” box so you won’t have to enter these credentials on subsequent visits.
The app is very simple. It shows your current IP address at the top and has a server selection field at the bottom. In the middle is a big connection button.
Before turning the app on, go to the Settings page. You access this by clicking on the cog symbol in the left-hand menu.
Your main task here is to decide whether you want to use User Datagram Protocol (UDP) or Transmission Control Protocol (TCP). TCP monitors connections and makes sure all data arrives in sequence. Traditionally, all internet apps used this method. UDP is better for apps that have high volumes of data. UDP doesn’t include any session management procedures, but voice and video apps need to be fast and have built in processes to deal with these functions, so they like to run over UDP. If you really don’t want to get that deeply involved with the techie details of the VPN, leave this setting on Auto.
You get back to the app’s main screen by clicking on the house symbol in the left-hand menu. Now you need to select a server.
If you’re using the free service, the servers that you have access to will appear at the top of the list. All other servers will have an “Upgrade” button next to them. Those servers that you can use for torrenting have a “P2P” symbol next to them. Select a server, then press the Connect button. The button will turn green once the connection is established. You’ll also see a counter of your session’s duration. The IP address at the top of the app will change to show the address that the world now sees on all of your connections.
ZoogVPN Performance (Speed, DNS, WebRTC, and IPv6 Tests)
I conducted speed tests of the ZoogVPN app with the protocol of the system set to OpenVPN over UDP.
In each case, I performed five test runs with testmy.net from a hotel in London. The download speeds of the bare connection were slower than a regular residential internet service in the UK, while the upload speeds were exceptionally high.
I used IPLocation.net to check the actual physical location of the three ZoogVPN servers that I tested. These were the three servers available to the free app – London, Amsterdam, and Colorado. The London server was in Enfield, North London. The Amsterdam server in Roosendaal in North Brabant, quite a long way from Amsterdam. The US server was in McAllen, Texas.
I tested the London and Amsterdam servers on connections to London in the UK. I also tested the connection speeds on an unprotected connection to the London test server for comparison. The tests of the Texas server ran to a test server in Miami and compared to tests of speeds to the same server without a VPN.
The graphs show the highest, lowest, and average speeds for each server and location. See our full speed test explanation for more detail.
The upload speeds of the European VPN servers were respectable and came within range of the speeds offered by the internet service without a VPN. The ZoogVPN server in the US made the upload speeds of the connection quite a bit slower. The relative performance of the European servers and the US server showed the opposite influence on download speeds. In these tests, the European servers dragged down transfer speeds to about two thirds of the average speed of the underlying internet service. The US server managed to match the download speeds of the unprotected connection in some test runs.
I performed more tests with ipleak.net while connected to the ZoogVPN server in “Colorado.” This test site confirmed the server’s location in McAllen, Texas. Calls to Domain Name System (DNS) servers all went to locations in the US, so there were no leaks to indicate that I was actually in the UK.
While still connected to the Colorado server, I accessed doileak.net, which detected my location as the US. All DNS references went to servers in the US. This site noticed that the timezone settings of my computer were incompatible with my reported location in the center of the US.
My ISP doesn’t use Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) addresses, so I was unable to test for IPv6 leaks.
From the Dominican Republic, I connected to the ZoogVPN London server and tried to access streaming TV from the UK. Netflix UK and BBC iPlayer spotted the VPN and wouldn’t let me watch videos. The ITV Hub and Channel 4 did let me watch online.
While connected to the ZoogVPN “Colorado” server, I tried to access videos on Netflix. However, the server spotted the VPN and wouldn’t deliver entertainment. The same thing happened at the ABC website. NBC did let me watch.
I was told that some of the US servers could get into Netflix, so I tried out the New York server, which is only available on the paid plans. I got to watch videos at Netflix through this VPN location. However, ABC still blocked me.
None of the UK locations available with the paid service got me into BBC iPlayer.
The ZoogVPN app is available for Windows, Mac OS X, macOS, iOS, and Android.
Setup wizards make L2TP and IKEv2 available for Linux, Blackberry, smart TVs, games consoles, and routers. PPTP is available for all of the above except macOS.
ZoogVPN Review: Conclusion
ZoogVPN offers a good service that is very cheap, or even free. The data transfer security of this VPN is good and its privacy procedures are excellent. The app is very easy to use, but misses some important features – particularly a kill switch and automatic WiFi protection.
Seven-day money-back guarantee
Accepts PayPal and Bitcoin
No activity or connection logs
I wasn’t so sure about:
No online chat for support
Slow speeds on some servers
Slow support responses
Can’t get into many video streaming services
No kill switch
No automatic WiFi protection
Check out this VPN risk-free by making the most of its seven-day money-back guarantee. That will give you the best opportunity to make sure this VPN can fulfill all of your requirements. Make sure you have plenty of time spare in your diary for the following week when you sign up for the service!