OverPlay is a US-based VPN company, with headquarters in Winter Park, Florida. Although the service is located in the United States of America, it endorses torrenting as long as the downloads are only for personal use.
As well as attracting torrenters, this company will be of great interest for those who want to watch streaming video, especially for those who like to use Kodi.
You cannot take out a subscription to OverPlay if you are in Cuba, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Sudan, Syria, Nigeria, or Ghana. The company has a smart DNS service and you can just subscribe to that. A second plan combines a VPN with the smart DNS.
You get an allowance of three simultaneous connections with the VPN service, but account sharing is not allowed.
You can pay with PayPal or credit cards.
The features of the company's package are:
Five-day money-back guarantee
Seventy server locations in 45 countries
OpenVPN L2TP, and PPTP
No activity logs
Allowance of three simultaneous connections
No data throughput limits
Smart DNS for video streaming
P2P downloading is allowed on the network as long as it is for personal use. The company does not allow connections to the service through another VPN system, through Tor, or from a virtual server, such as a cloud service.
Overplay has a large number of servers that are located in 45 countries. The server network has locations in Europe, Asia, Africa, Australasia, and North and South America. The USA servers are located in nine cities. Four UK cities host Overplay servers and the Canadian network involves Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver. There are servers in two cities in each of Australia, Spain, Turkey, Austria, Brazil, and Estonia.
Although there are no servers in Russia, customers in the west of the country are served by nearby locations in Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Finland, and the Ukraine. Chinese customers can connect to servers in Hong Kong and South Korea.
This is not one of the largest server networks in the industry, but it is very well distributed and ha a presence in countries that many VPN companies overlook.
The OverPlay app implements OpenVPN, which is the VPN protocol that we at ProPrivacy.com endorse. The app gives a choice of encryption strength and also lets you decide whether to use TCP procedures or UDP methods.
The Transmission Control Protocol is the communication methodology traditionally used over the internet. However, its session establishment procedures and transmission sequencing checks create delays that slow down interactive applications, such as internet telephony and high volume systems, such as video streaming. These applications work better with the User Datagram Protocol, which is UDP -- a very lightweight transfer protocol that has very few procedures.
The OpenVPN implementation of OverPlay uses AES encryption. You can select the length of the key used for this cipher. A longer key creates encryption that is harder to crack. However, a long encryption key makes the encryption process much more complicated. This creates delays and ties up more processor time. So, some people prefer to use a shorter key for speed and efficiency. The options for encryption in the OverPlay app are AES with a 256-bit key or with a 128-bit key.
AES requires that both the sender and receiver of an encrypted message possess the same cipher key. This is because that same key encrypts and decrypts the message. This necessity is a potential weakness because the messages that distribute the cipher key for AES need to be protected. OpenVPN uses RSA for this purpose. RSA is an asymmetrical system. Encryption and decryption is performed with different key. You cannot derive the decryption key from the encryption key and so the encryption key can be made public.
OverPlay uses RSA with a 2048-bit key. This is typical of the industry. However, the top VPN services use a longer key of 4096 bits.
One protection that customers have is that the company states clearly that it allows the use of its network for P2P downloading. This statement won't keep you out of jail if law enforcement agencies manage to trace you through subpoenaed connection logs. However, it does potentially incriminate the company as accomplices, so that legal black hole will motivate the company to protect the service to protect the identity of its customers. Ultimately, the only protection is an absence of records, so let's hope that the company keeps minimal or anonymized connection records. However, there is no guarantee.
The Support Center is accessed from the Support item in the top menu of the site. The main page of the Support Center is occupied by the Knowledge Base.
This FAQ page is well organized with issues organized into categories. Each category lists at most five issues with a link through to a longer list at the bottom of each section. The Knowledge Base is searchable, which helps you narrow down the articles in the Support Center to find those relevant to your problem.
Access to the contact form is through a link at the right of the Support Center page. This is the only channel available to contact support.
Replies to queries are delivered by email. You can expect a reply within half an hour of sending in a request.
In order to subscribe to OverPlay, you need to go to the Pricing page, or click on one of the Sign Up buttons on the Home page. Click on the "Select Plan" button in the description of the service that you want -- either the smart DNS service or the VPN and smart DNS package.
In the next screen, you need to decide whether you want to take up the service for one month or one year.
Enter your email address and then select whether you want to pay be credit card or by PayPal. The payment section of the sign up form extends as soon as you select a payment type.
I chose to pay with PayPal.
The payment phase is pretty straight forward. If you have a promotion code, you should enter it here. Those who pay by credit card need to enter the card's details. Those who pay with PayPal just need to click on the Subscribe button to proceed. After payment has cleared you will be presented with a Thank You page. The important document at this stage is an email that you will receive to confirm your account. You need to click on a button in this email in order to activate the subscription.
The email also includes your username, which is your email address, and a generated password. This password didn't work for me, so once I had installed the app, I need to go to the My Account section and change the password before I could get access.
The OverPlay Windows VPN client
Once you have installed the app you will discover a new shortcut on your Desktop. Click on this to open the OverPlay app.
The first time you open the app, you need to enter your username and password.
When I tried the service I was unable to log in until I went to the client area of the site and changed my password from the generated random string of characters that was sent to me in the welcome email.
After the first time you log in to the app you won't have to sign in again. On subsequent visits, you will be taken straight into the main screen of the app. That is, unless you specifically log out of the app. The logout function is accessed through an icon that looks like a door with an arrow exiting it to the right and is found in the top border of the app.
The Connection tab of the Settings screen gives access to some important features. In this page you can select whether to use TCP or UDP for your connections and you have a choice of ports -- 443 or 1194. You can also turn on the kill switch in this page. This is a function that will prevent other apps on your computer from connecting to the internet before the VPN is active.
The big decision you need to make before turning the VPN on is to select a VPN server. To get to the server selection list, you need to click on the location field.
The server list includes metrics that show the current load on each machine and the time of a standard message roundtrip to it (ping). When you press Save, the currently selected server will be copied into the location field on the main window of the app. You can also decide whether to use AES encryption with a 256-bit key or a 128-bit key. You can also select to have no encryption on the connection.
Press the Connect button to turn the VPN on. Once the connection is made, the Connect button changes into a Disconnect button. You will also see some details of the connection's status.
There is no time or data throughput meter in the app, so you don't need to worry about leaving the VPN on.
Performance (Speed, DNS, WebRTC and IPv6 Tests)
I connected to the VPN from a location in Spain and used the OpenVPN app with the UDP protocol.
While connected to the London server I checked in with the site IPLocation.net. This site looks at five separate location databases. In this case, one server reported that my IP address located me in London. However, none of the remaining four put me there -- two could not give any location, one placed me somewhere in the EU and the other placed me in Fair Lawn, New Jersey in the United States. I connected to the New York server and then checked with IPLocation.net again. Two of the panel of five location databases placed my location in New York. The other three could not tell where I was.
I used ipleak.net and doileak.com for test for IP and DNS leaks. Both reported my location as in the UK. The tests of ipleak.net could not place my location and detected calls to only one DNS server, which was within close range of the IP address detected, which also couldn't be placed to a geographic location. The tests at doileak.com placed the IP address in the USA and detected calls to DNS servers in the USA.
This is a difficult situation because if doileak.net's assessment was correct and my location could not be traced, that situation would make it difficult for me to get into go-restricted services. If doileak.com was correct, my connection to a server in the London would not get me into UK video streaming services. However, there were no IP leaks giving away my real location and there were no calls to DNS servers in Spain to draw attention to the use of an identity masking service.
I tested access to overseas streaming services while using the OverPlay VPN service. These were streaming services in the UK and the USA that would not otherwise give me access to videos from Spain.
Unfortunately, the BBC's server spotted that I wasn't in the UK and refused to let me watch its shows. The ITV Hub and Channel 4 had less stringent location checks and I was able to watch videos at those sites thanks to my connection through OverPlay. Netflix UK has extensive location detection procedures and also scans requests for evidence of VPN activity. That site would not deliver videos to me while I was connected from Spain through an OverPlay server in London.
When I connected to the OverPlay server in Miami, I was able to watch videos at Netflix. ABC spotted the VPN, but NBC let me watch.
I tried access to Netflix and other geo-restricted video services through Kodi. I was particularly interested to see whether the VPN would get me access to the BBC's channels through Kodi.
I was not able to access videos either with Netflix UK or Netflix USA through Kodi using the London and New York VPN servers of OverPlay. The London server did get me access to a live stream of BBC One and BBC 2 through the TVPlayer add-on in Kodi.
The custom OverPlay app is available for Windows PCs. Users of Windows devices can also opt to connect to the service with the PPTP and L2TP VPN protocols. Those connections have to be set up manually.
Mac OS X users can install the custom OpenVPN client or use the Tunnelblick app to access the OpenVPN service. L2TP and PPTP can also be set up manually. These options are the same on Macs that have the macOS operating system, except that PPTP is not available on that operating system.
Android and iOS devices can access the VPN with L2TP and PPTP, but those connections have to be set up manually.
OpenVPN can be set up on DD-WRT and Tomato routers.
The smart DNS service is OverPlay's main product. When you subscribe to the VPN, you also get access to the smart DNS service. Sometimes, smart DNS systems have more success at getting around geo-location restrictions on websites than VPNs do. However, smart DNS systems do not include the encryption and identity protection that VPNs offer. So, a smart DNS service won't offer you protection when you download with P2P networks. They also aren't very effective at getting around government controls on internet access, such as those imposed in China, Iran, and Saudi Arabia.
Depending on your circumstances, you may find that it works well for you to use the VPN sometimes and the smart DNS in other situations.
In order to use the smart DNS you need to alter the DNS settings for your regular internet adapter. This is a straightforward task and there are comprehensive instructions on the site to guide you through this task. After that, you need to log into the client area of the OverPlay website. A banner under the Smart DNS tab will tell you that your computer in not set up. Click on the "Check Again" link. When the banner turns green, the smart DNS system is in place.
The Smart DNS tab in the client area has a great feature that enables you to select a location for access to different sites. This facility resolves one of the big problems with smart DNS utilities -- some sites, such as Netflix have one universal web address. Smart DNS systems selectively divert your traffic to proxy servers in different countries according to website you want to visit. So, if you are in Germany and you want to watch videos at the BBC website, the smart DNS will send the request through a server in the UK. If you then want to visit the website of ABC, the smart DNS will divert that traffic through a proxy server in the USA. You don't have to nominate a country because the smart DNS system takes care of it all for you.
The location picker in the Smart DNS page of the OverPlay website takes care of those few circumstances where the smart DNS system cannot possibly know which country you need to appear to be in. Netflix is an example of this. If you are in Germany and you want to access Netflix UK, the smart DNS system cannot possibly know that country selection because Netflix.com gives access to video streams in every country in the world except for North Korea and Syria. So you set your preferred location for Netflix in the location picker and then the OverPlay smart DNS system will divert your requests through a server in the country that you nominated.
I tested access to geo-restricted video streaming services with the OverPlay smart DNS service and it gave better results than the VPN. I was able to watch videos at the BBC, ITV, and Channel 4 British TV station websites with the smart DNS. I was also able to get into Netflix UK because I nominated that country for Netflix on the OverPlay website's location picker. I then switched that setting to the USA and got access to Netflix USA just by typing in the same web address as before when I got into the UK version of the service. I was also able to get into the USA websites of ABC and NBC, which the VPN could not help me with.
The smart VPN didn't perform so well in Kodi. Although it got me into every geo-restricted channel that I tried, there was one exception to that performance. It wasn't able to get me into Netflix either for the UK or the USA through Kodi.
OverPlay Review Conclusion
I enjoyed using the OverPlay app. The level of detail in the interface is just enough to give you controls over the attributes of the VPN without requiring you to take a course in networking technology in order to use it. The information given on the server selection list is great, too, especially for those countries where the company runs servers in many locations.
The service does not include an instant live chat facility for communicating with the Customer Support team. However, my enquiries were deal with quickly and competently.
Five-day free trial
Good for Kodi
Competent smart DNS service
I wasn’t so sure about
No online chat for support
Can't get into Netflix on Kodi
OverPlay offers a good blend of a smart DNS and a VPN. With use, a typical user will establish routines to decide when to use the VPN and when to use the smart DNS. This package will give you security and protection when you need it and agility on the internet at all other times.