PrivateVPN Review 2020
|Price||$3.82/mo. (On a 1-Year Plan)|
|Servers||100+ Servers in 50+ Countries|
|Works in China||No|
|Compatibility||Windows, Android, Apple, Chrome, Firefox|
With its center of operations in Sweden, I was initially hesitant about the service. There are major loopholes in the country’s national interpretation of the GDPR that allow for its citizens’ surveillance. However, I was impressed with PrivateVPN’s steadfast attitude in denying authorities access to its users’ data.
With nearly 100+ servers spread across 50+ countries, PrivateVPN punches above its weight in the true sense of the phrase. Users will be able to unblock all major steaming sites with little difficulty. Similarly, thanks to the SOCKS5 proxy, there is dedicated support for torrenting as well.
However, the lack of a Chinese server means that it offers nothing of value to users inside China or ones that want access across the notorious Great Firewall. Users may also find its jurisdiction to be too big an issue for them to overlook, as a number of Reddit posts serve to illustrate.
When all is said and done, I found enough merit in PrivateVPN’s favor to consider it a reliable service. For users that don’t, I would suggest a reputable service like PureVPN based out of the safe location of Hong Kong. With its incredibly affordable plans, Chinese servers and a stringent no-logs policy, it doesn’t get much better than this VPN provider.
- Jurisdiction: Where Is PrivateVPN Located?
- Security: Is PrivateVPN A Safe Option?
- Leaks: Are Your IP, DNS & WebRTC safe?
- Servers: How Many Servers Does PrivateVPN Have?
- Streaming: Can PrivateVPN Unblock Netflix?
- Speed: How Fast Are PrivateVPN Servers?
- Compatibility: What Devices Can I Use PrivateVPN On?
- Pricing: Is PrivateVPN An Affordable Option?
- Trustworthiness: What Do Other Users Say About PrivateVPN?
Jurisdiction: Where Is PrivateVPN Located?
PrivateVPN is based out of Sweden. This is an entirely undesirable location to be based out of for a VPN as the country is part of the 14 Eyes.
Additionally, the country is part of the EU. While the primary data protection law in the EU is the robust GDPR, its national implementations leave a lot of loopholes. Using these loopholes, Swedish intelligence, as well as those in the other 13 countries, can have seamless access to all users’ activities online.
There have been instances of laws being enacted that make it easier for even regular law enforcement to have an oversight of all user activity, further corroborating the fact that Sweden remains an unsafe location for a VPN.
Security: Is PrivateVPN A Safe Option?
Yes, the service provides enough features and transparency to be considered a safe option to use. I am straying away from my usual mantra of steering clear of VPN’s operating out of contentious locations but PrivateVPN has a history of rebuking requests to share user data. This lends it enough credibility to be your next VPN provider in my opinion.
Pro-Privacy Logging Policy
I was positively surprised to see that PrivateVPN has a strict “no logs” policy. The company claims that the service does not store any kind of logs on their servers or any other device for that matter.
PrivateVPN Encryption & Protocols
As far as properly encrypting its users is concerned, PrivateVPN has the industry-standard AES-256 cipher. This comes along with the 2048-bit handshake, HMAC SHA256 data auth., as well as the 2048-bit DHE Keys.
Additionally, the service supports all major tunneling protocols like PPTP, L2TP, IPsec, IKEv2, SOCKS5, and the most popular OpenVPN protocol. The combination of these is sure to keep most users safe online regardless of what their distinct needs are.
PrivateVPN VPN VirusTotal Test
While a VPN service is meant to keep a user’s location anonymous online, it is also important that the service itself be safe and free of any malware. Hence, I conducted a virus test on the service itself using Virus Total.
Here is the result:
As users can see, the service is free from any hidden viruses or any form of files that may harm a user’s device.
Leaks: Are Your IP, DNS & WebRTC Safe?
To be certain that service is properly obfuscating the users and not exposing their IP, DNS, or WebRTC addresses, I conducted a leak test. Here’s the result of the test:
As users can see, there were no major leaks that should concern anyone.
Servers: How Many Servers Does PrivateVPN Have?
PrivateVPN is able to offer nearly 100+ servers spread across 60+ countries. Most of these servers are located inside the US, UK, Canada, and Australia. While this may be good for streaming, it does not bode well in terms of safety.
Does PrivateVPN Support P2P/File Sharing?
Users will find PrivateVPN to be a mixed package when it comes to supporting for torrenting needs. This is primarily due to the fact that not all of PrivateVPN’s servers are optimized for peer-to-peer sharing.
As most of this service’s servers are located inside countries that have severely strict anti-piracy laws, I would recommend users be extremely careful in choosing the right servers otherwise it may land them in unnecessary trouble.
Does PrivateVPN Work in China?
No, the service will not be able to unblock anything from China.
The service does not have a server inside China, leading to its inability to unblock the country for users inside or for expats looking to gain access to the country. Considering how the Chinese government has increased its crackdowns on VPN providers, I do not see the service establishing a server inside the country anytime soon.
Streaming: Can PrivateVPN Unblock Netflix?
PrivateVPN can unblock Netflix, but there is a catch. As I mentioned earlier, it has multiple servers in the US. Out of all the servers, only a select few were able to properly unblock Netflix. Hence, I should caution the users that they might need to test out several servers before finding the optimum one for unblocking Netflix.
I repeated the process for all other major streaming sites like Amazon Prime, Hulu, Hotstar, BBC iPlayer, and Disney+ and just as I expected I had to shuffle through a number of servers but in the end, all of them were unblocked. So, even though the service can unblock most streaming sites, it is nowhere near as smooth a user-experience as it should be.
Speed: How Fast are PrivateVPN Servers?
PrivateVPN offers an impressive ranger of servers that should be able to meet most users’ needs quite easily. However, to be completely objective, I conducted a speed test on a 100 Mbps connection connecting to 5 random servers in India, Italy, Portugal, Brazil, and the UK.
Here are the results:
Compatibility: What Devices Can I Use PrivateVPN On?
Users will be able to use the service on their Windows, Mac, Android, Linux, and iOS without any major issues. Considering how the service is good for use on up to 6 devices, I would say that users will find it easy to use across different platforms and devices almost seamlessly.
Pricing: Is PrivateVPN An Affordable Option?
PrivateVPN offers three of the standard pricing options that have quickly become the standard. There’s a monthly, quarterly, and yearly package. On the last plan, the yearly one, PrivateVPN has a strang offer. It offers a 13-month instead of a 12-month plan.
- Monthly ($7.67 per month)
- Quarterly ($4.88 per month)
- 13-Months ($3.82 per month)
PrivateVPN Payment Methods
Like most VPNs, PrivateVPN offers users the chance to pay via their Mastercard/VISA credit card as well as through PayPal. I was impressed by their support of Bitcoins as it allows users to avail of this service while maintaining anonymity over their financial transactions.
But there was also disappointment over the fact that there is no support for debit cards while although I find support for Bitcoin to be a good start, it would have been nice to have complete support for all major cryptocurrencies.
PrivateVPN Refund Policy
The service offers a 30-Day Money-back guarantee. In my experience, this is the standard time frame for a VPN provider in terms of a refund policy to provide users with a full month to decide whether they feel the service is up to their needs or not.
Trustworthiness: What Do Other Users Say About PrivateVPN?
Aside from what I feel about the service, it is important to know what other users feel about the service. In order to be certain to take into account a wider array of opinions, I headed over to the two most popular public forums, Trustpilot and Reddit. Additionally, I looked at the service’s own customer support section.
Here’s what I found out:
PrivateVPN Trustpilot Review
My first impression on PrivateVPN’s Trustpilot page was surprisingly positive. The service has a highly respectable 4.5 stars, a feat that even some of the more high-profile VPN providers struggle to maintain. Similarly, of the total reviews, 88% were Excellent while 6% were Great.
With the total number of reviews at 436, I would normally say that it is the bare minimum number that users should trust when seeing whether the average rating is believable or not.
However, I noticed someone shady and strange. Most of the reviews for PrivateVPN were done by individuals and users that only gave 1 solitary review on the site. I find it highly unlikely that a user would create an account just to give PrivateVPN a 5 Star and Excellent rating and never reviewing any other service at all.
Hence, I would advise users not to be fooled by this allure of the 4.5 Rating as I suspect foul play on PrivateVPN’s end.
PrivateVPN Reddit Review
Reddit on the other hand is stricter when it comes to ensuring that there are no paid or foul play being conducted on any of its subreddits. The community was also fairly active in discussing the merits and demerits of this particular service.
The logging policy continues to be a problem for a lot of users. Despite commending the service on its past history of ignoring the authorities’ request to allow access to user data, users don’t feel entirely safe with this particular service.
Additionally, it appears that the service’s problems with unblocking Netflix are a lot more complicated than I had anticipated. Apparently, users in the EU and the US will have two divergent experiences based on where they register the account. It might be just a tad too confusing for most users.
PrivateVPN Customer Support
The service has fairly user-friendly customer service. Usually, I don’t keep high expectations from customer support of most VPNs. However, I was thoroughly impressed by the detailed nature of PrivateVPN.
The service has a 24/7 live chat option that allows most users to interact directly with a service rep and ask any number of questions. In my own personal experience, I found the representative to be thoroughly professional and informed about the questions I asked.
There’s a “Getting Started” section that has all sorts of tutorials and FAQs related to most devices and platforms that will be enough to get most users familiar with how different devices will run the service.
My initial skepticism about PrivateVPN was quickly alleviated once I realized how seriously the service takes the issue of tracking its users. And while I found it to be a decent service, there were occasional issues that, though not anything serious, shouldn’t be there in the first place.
Perhaps most important, there is no Chinese server. Access to China has become a major reason why so many people begin using VPNs in the first place. That large chunk of users will not find PrivateVPN to be a great VPN for their needs.
For them and other users that still feel unconvinced by what PrivateVPN has to offer, I’d highly recommend PureVPN. It is a well-renowned VPN operating in the year for several years, making a name for itself as an affordable yet secure VPN option. Importantly, it is basewd out of Hong Kong, devoid of any data retention laws and offers a Chinese server as well.
Do I Recommend PrivateVPN VPN?
Yes, the service manages to tick enough boxes for me to highly recommend this service. In most cases, an unsafe jurisdiction is a terrible red flag for me. However, PrivateVPN has had a history of standing up to authorities demanding logging info and maintains that it will continue to adopt the same attitude in the future too.
Aside from that, the service has one of the most impressive sets of encryption and protocol that I’ve reviewed, while it also offers impressive support for torrenting as well as streaming sites. While there were a couple of minor hiccups, I would say none of those are serious enough to be a cause of terrible concern.
The payment plans are flexible too, and fairly affordable as well. The lack of a Chinese server does take a bit of the shine away from an otherwise excellent VPN service. That and an unsafe location are the only two major cons of opting for this service. If users find these to be a bit too important to overlook, I strongly recommend PureVPN. A VPN service that is quite simply; the complete VPN package.