SaferWeb is a VPN provider looking to bring in the novice VPN user with simple software and a straightforward approach. They operate under the same company as [[post-object type="gotolink" provider="totalvpn"]]TotalVPN[[/post-object]], whom we have recently reviewed. We subsequently received a fair amount of negative feedback from our readers regarding their service. While this association with TotalVPN is slightly worrying, I decided to give SaferWeb a fair chance to impress before judging the service. Keep reading this SaferWeb review to see how they performed.
- Simultaneous connections 1
- Countries 30
- Jurisdiction United Kingdom
- Easy to use service
- Apps for most major platforms
- IKEv2 support
- P2P allowed
- No DNS/IP leaks
- Connection logs kept
- Based in the U.K
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SaferWeb has a somewhat stingy amount of server locations with only 30 servers to choose from. While this number might not seem so small initially, it is far fewer than ExpressVPN (136+ locations) or IPVanish (60+ countries to choose from). SaferWeb do have a lot of geographical areas covered, with servers on nearly every major continent.
SaferWeb only offer one simultaneous connection to their service. If you want to use multiple devices at the same time, two additional connections are 14.95 a year.
U.S Netflix (New York City server) and BBC iPlayer (London server) both checked out as fully functional when connected to SaferVPN's service.
SaferWeb don't offer a lot of extra features, but the company do try and upsell the user whenever they get a chance. "Supercharge" (access to faster servers for 24.95 a year), "Priority Support" (9.95 a year? C'mon!), and even a "Staying Safe Online" eBook (for 9.95!). SaferWeb tries it's hardest to yank every penny from the unassuming customer.
Pricing and Plans
SaferWeb advertise two plans to choose from on their homepage: Premium and Super Premium. The difference between these is the amount of locations (7 and 30) and simultaneous connections (one and three allowed). Right about now is when everything stops making sense, though.
Introductory pricing is meant to confuse the average shopper, and SaferWeb achieves this. SaferWeb offers vastly different prices after the one-month introductory term expires. You can see in the image below. My plan jumps from 8.98 a month to 17.96!
SaferWeb do offer a 30-day money back guarantee, although this is not an option for their month-to-month plan, which rather defeats the object. SaferWeb also doesn't offer any free trials, meaning you are forced to sign up to one of the plans just to try out the service.
Payment options include PayPal and the usual credit card brands, but I was disappointed to see the lack of a Bitcoin payment option.
Privacy and Security
SaferWeb customers can choose between using the OpenVPN, PPTP and IKEv2 protocols from within the client. I was happy to see support for IKEv2, makes configuring and using mobile devices with a VPN considerably easier.
As mentioned earlier, SaferWeb is based in the U.K and is forced to adhere to the country's strict data retention and monitoring laws. The U.K is one of the most undesirable countries for a VPN provider, with incoming legislation such as The Snooper's Charter set to further degrade general privacy.
One of the biggest factors for me is a VPN provider's encryption strength. Whether it's Blowfish-128 or AES-256, the strength of encryption is crucial for VPNs. Unfortunately, SaferWeb does not state what kind of encryption they use. Attempts at trying to request this information from SaferWeb were unsuccessful. I even tried examining their Windows client a bit further (looking at config files), but still found nothing.
SaferWeb's omission of the service's encryption methods led me to believe that they aren't willing to disclose this information for one reason or another. Whether this is due to using weak encryption or just lackluster transparency remains to be seen.
SaferWeb has a single server in the Netherlands that is strictly in place for P2P activity. I'd like to see some more options regarding locations before recommending SaferWeb for P2P activity.
As SaferWeb is a relatively new company, it is hard to know the exact policy concerning user's data.
Ease of Use
The SaferWeb website is somewhat limited, but this makes it also very easy to navigate. The client area has account information listed, while device-specific clients and tutorials are available.
I did like that you can view the real-time loads on all of their servers, which allows users to pick a server with less traffic.
SaferWeb also run a blog on their website, but upon further inspection, it appears to have last been updated over a year ago. While this isn't a major issue, it wouldn't hurt to see a little more engagement from the company.
SaferWeb offers the standard combination of an e-mail/ticket system and live chat when it comes to customer support.
As part of this SaferWeb Review, I conducted a quick support test using the live chat feature. While I did get quickly connected to a rep, my subsequent encryption-related questions went unanswered and abruptly disconnected me after a few minutes. Very disappointing to say the least.
SaferWeb ticks all the social media check boxes with a presence on Facebook, Google Plus, and Twitter. These profiles are regularly updated with helpful information concerning SaferWeb's service.
For those looking to sign up to SaferWeb's service, you will need a name, email address, and password when creating an account. The process is pretty easy, but keep in mind the shady billing practices I mentioned earlier!
SaferWeb does not offer Bitcoin as a payment method, but they do allow you to pay with PayPal (which also makes claiming a refund easier). There are also numerous and unwelcome attempts by SaferWeb during the signup process to upsell their service.
I did get a little confused after sign up, as SaferWeb sent an email notifying me that as a free user, my speeds will be limited. This e-mail is a little funny just due to SaferWeb not offering a free service in any format!
SaferWeb Review: Windows VPN client
The SaferWeb Windows client is relatively small at only 6 MB. Once installed, you just sign in with your credentials, and it starts to feel like every other VPN client based on OpenVPN out there.
SaferWeb's Windows client comes with two viewing modes, "easy" and "advanced". Easy mode is meant more for first time VPN users with a single button to connect to the nearest possible server. Advanced mode allows you to choose the VPN protocol (OpenVPN, IKEv2, and PPTP) and select locations from the server list.
Speed and Performance
I conducted a few simple speed tests to get a better idea of how SaferWeb's VPN service performs. All speed testing was done from our Budapest office.
Graphs show highest, lowest and average speeds for each server and location. See our full speed test explanation for more detail.
As you can see, the results were pretty poor. We experienced nearly a 90% drop in speed when connected to the Germany server. U.K and U.S results were slightly better, even though they were further away. These results lead us to believe that not all locations function at the same level.
Checking for WebRTC or DNS leaks didn't result in any problems, although it is always recommended to check this using ipleak.net
SaferWeb also has a client for Mac, as well as apps for Android tablets and smartphones. They also claim to be releasing a ChromeBook client soon. iPhone and iPad users do not need to download anything, as they can take advantage of iOS's custom VPN configuration to connect to SaferWeb VPN.
As part of this SaferWeb review, I decided to give SaferWeb a try on iOS to see how easy it would be to get their service up and going. Adding a VPN configuration on iOS is incredibly easy, and I was able to successfully establish a connection to SaferWeb.
While I gave this company a clean slate before conducting this SaferWeb review (considering their affiliation with TotalVPN), they disappointed me at nearly every turn. Whether it's dubious billing practices, upsell spam, or refusing to disclose encryption strength, SaferWeb is simply a VPN provider you should avoid. I would recommend checking out our monthly top VPN recommendations.
SaferWeb being a company based in the U.K should also be a warning sign for those looking for complete privacy on the web. Nonetheless, if you are feeling adventurous, feel free to try out SaferWeb and let us know your experiences below!