Started in 2015, Anonymous VPN is based in Seychelles – an Indian Ocean archipelago that has become a popular location for establishing VPN services due to its distance from overreaching jurisdictions such as the US and the UK. Anonymous VPN is one of the smaller, lesser-known services in the online privacy market. It has some good features that indicate a positive future for the VPN service. However, our tests discovered a VPN that isn't quite able to compete with the top end of the VPN market just yet. This review will explain the areas of the service that need improving
Apple doesn't allow companies to make apps available for iPhones and iPads without its approval. This approval process can take years. Thus it's not unusual that a relatively new company doesn't have a custom app available for iOS. However, OpenVPN encryption is the best VPN protection available for online privacy services and you can connect to Anonymous VPN using third party OpenVPN connect for iOS. OpenVPN Connect is available at the Apple store for free. There are configuration files available at the Anonymous VPN website that will get this app working with all of its servers. A similar arrangement is available for Linux users. The server network provides access to locations in 25 countries.
I tested Anonymous VPN's speed with testmy.net. These tests were performed from Nottingham, UK, using a Virgin Media residential internet service. I tested the performance of three Anonymous VPN servers. These were the UK and Ireland servers, which I tested on a connection to London, UK, and the Anonymous VPN US server, which I tested on a connection to Miami.
The blocks in the graph represent the maximum, minimum, and average speeds over five test runs. You will also see records for test runs to London and Miami without the VPN turned on. This gives an idea of the effect the VPN has on the speeds of the underlying internet service. I used IPLocation.net to detect the actual locations of each VPN server. The UK server was in London, the Irish server in Dublin, and the US server in Manassas, Virginia.
The graphs show highest, lowest, and average speeds for each server and location. See our full speed test explanation for more detail. Each server roughly halved the speed of the internet connection, which isn't great at all. Fortunately, the speed of my underlying internet service was so good that the VPN didn't damage the playback of streaming video. However, anybody with slower internet could suffer greatly.
I performed more tests with ipleak.net while connected to the Anonymous VPN US server. These tests investigated whether calls to Domain Name System (DNS) servers gave away my location. Whenever your browser fetches a page, it first has to cross-reference the internet address for the given web address. This is performed by access to a DNS server.
Your VPN needs to manage these calls because they can be observed as they cross the internet. If your browser selects a DNS server that is illogically distant from its location, snoopers can work out that you're not really where you appear to be. The ipleak.net test showed my location as Virginia.
All DNS calls went to one DNS server, also in Virginia. A second leak risk comes from a system that is called Web Real-Time Communication (WebRTC). This is a store of data in the browser that helps speed up interactive applications. Checks on this information didn't reveal my true location.
I checked IP leak factors again with a different test site, doileak.net. The results of these tests echoed the findings of ipleak.net. Anonymous VPN successfully hid my true location. The only glitch was that the timezone settings of my operating system were different to the timezone of my reported location. My ISP doesn't use IPv6 addresses, so I couldn't test for IPv6 leaks.
Anonymous VPN has one service package. It offers three subscription periods for that plan. There's no free trial, but you can get your money back if you sign up for the monthly or yearly subscription plans. You just have to ask to cancel your account within 14 days of subscribing.
For just $2, you can have full access to the service for three days. This is an excellent way to try out the VPN and make sure that it's right for you before committing for a longer period of time. Many VPN services offer a wide range of payment options. However, you can only pay for Anonymous VPN with a credit card. This is a shame because many VPN customers like to pay with Bitcoin or through PayPal.
Privacy and security
The Anonymous VPN app allows you to select whether you want to use OpenVPN or IPSec. OpenVPN is the best system for VPNs. However, IPSec is also highly regarded. Cisco Systems created it. Cisco is the world's largest producer of internet routers and software. Both implementations include Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) encryption with a 256-bit key. This is the best protection currently available on the VPN market.
Anonymous VPN uses an RSA handshake with a 2048-bit key. This is the standard key length in the VPN industry. However, the top VPNs employ 4096-bit keys for extra safety. Dodgy VPNs use 1024-bit keys. As such, Anonymous VPN's implementation provides you the most common level of protection - not the best - but certainly not the worst. It is secure enough to keep your data private. Owners of iPhones and iPads (that connect using OpenVPN connect) do get full OpenVPN protection when using Anonymous VPN. However, they miss out on the little extras that the company has built into its custom app.
The key security feature that owners of Windows, Mac, and Android devices get is a kill switch. You've probably experienced a situation where your internet connection fails. Once the connection comes back, all your apps try to reconnect. This is a security problem because you can't dictate the order in which they connect. If the VPN isn't the first app to re-establish its service, those apps that start sending out internet messages first will expose your true identity. This is why the kill switch is so important. It ensures that no app can reconnect before the secure VPN link is in place.
The Seychelles is a good location for a VPN service. It is beyond the reach of the bullying secret services of the major powers. It's also a long, long way away from the major legal centers of Los Angeles, New York, and London. Copyright owners are likely to launch prosecutions against the people who download their property with P2P networks. However, they're unlikely to go to the effort and expense of flying out to the Seychelles. Anonymous VPN doesn't keep activity logs, which is a good sign that it will protect your privacy. Also, the company openly states that it allows P2P downloads on its network.
On the off-chance that the police or copyright lawyers get court orders to force the company to hand over its records, you want to make sure that there is nothing on file that can map your real identity to the fake address that the VPN assigns you. Unfortunately, Anonymous VPN does keep connection logs. These records detail which servers you connected to and when.
They also record the amount of data you downloaded. Traffic analysis (e2e timing attack) means that this information is all that law enforcement or copyright lawyers need to break through the privacy that the VPN is supposed to offer. Worse still, the company doesn't state the period for which it keeps those logs on file. It is also worth noting that Anonymous VPN doesn't make you totally anonymous. VPNs provide privacy, not anonymity. Sadly because of the connection logs that this VPN keeps - privacy is not as good as it could be.
Ease of use
When you're ready to subscribe to AnonymousVPN, navigate to the Pricing section of the homepage and click on the "Buy Now" button beneath the subscription period of your choice. The site will take you to a Shopping Cart page.Click on the Checkout button to proceed. Your next task is to register for an account. Finally, you need to enter your credit card details to buy the subscription.
You'll receive two emails from Anonymous VPN. The first of these confirms your membership with the login details that you set up on the registration page. These are your credentials for the client area. The username and password for the app are contained in the second email that you receive. This email also includes links to download files for the app. Click on the link for your operating system to download an installer. The app will install itself. Owners of iOS devices and Linux computers need to go over to the knowledge base to get installation instructions.
The Anonymous VPN Windows VPN Client
The installer creates a desktop shortcut for the app.
When the app opens, you'll need to enter your username and password. The password is different to that for the website client area. Before logging in, click on the slider symbol at the bottom right of the interface. This opens the app's Settings page.
Check the "Remember username and password" box so you don't have to type in your credentials every time you open the app. You can click on the sliders icon to return to the Settings page at any time. This page lets you turn on the kill switch, which ensures that the VPN always protects you when you access the internet. You can also choose here whether the connection to the VPN runs over User Datagram Protocol (UDP) or Transmission Control Protocol (TCP).
Generally, you're better off with UDP. It's much faster than TCP and is useful for interactive applications, such as chat and IP telephony. It is also better for streaming. You can choose which VPN system the app uses. The options are IPSec or OpenVPN. Both use strong encryption, but Open VPN is the best. Click on the slider icon to close the Settings panel.
The default server selection for the app is an automatic allocation. However, if you want to appear to be in a specific place, set this attribute to a named country. Click on the down arrow at the end of the Region field to get the server list, then on the country where you want to access websites.
Click on the Connect button to activate the VPN. That Connect button will change to Disconnect when the VPN connection has been established.
The padlock by the Connect/Disconnect button turns green when the VPN is working.
While in the UK, I connected to the Anonymous VPN server in the US so that I could watch TV from America. I got into my Netflix account and was able to watch videos from the US library there. The Netflix VPN detection systems are tough. The VPN industry uses them as a touchstone. Not many VPNs can get into Netflix from abroad, so this was an excellent result.
I also accessed the ABC and NBC websites while connected to the US server. ABC's access controls are actually more comprehensive than those of Netflix. NBC doesn't try very hard to block overseas access and just about any VPN service can get into it. ABC spotted the VPN and blocked the playback of videos. NBC let me watch. From Spain, I tried accessing British video sites. Unfortunately, the VPN couldn't get me into BBC iPlayer. I could watch videos at the Channel 4 and ITV websites.
The Anonymous VPN app is available for Windows, Android, Mac OS X, and macOS operating systems. There are instructions on the site for downloading a free interface for OpenVPN, then customizing it with files from Anonymous VPN. These instructions are aimed at users of iOS and Linux devices. However, the OpenVPN Connect software is also available for Windows and Macs. The configuration files that Anonymous VPN provides aren't operating system-specific. That provides another option for users of Windows, Macs, and Android devices.
I really enjoyed using the Anonymous VPN app. The designers have got the controls pitched at the right level to please everyone. Those who don't know much about networking technology just have to pick a location and press the Connect button in order to use the VPN. The service also caters for those who want the option of selecting whether the connection runs over UDP or TCP, and whether to use OpenVPN or IPSec.
The problem with getting into BBC iPlayer means that British expats and travelers are unlikely to choose this VPN. The service is quite pricey but can't compete with top-of-the-range services in a similar price range. Despite this, I am generally confident about recommending Anonymous VPN (as long as you're not a Brit abroad). However, with better choices available for a similar price you really are better off getting something else.