PrivateVPN Review

The ProPrivacy.com Awards are now recognized as the world's leading event for rewarding achievement within the VPN industry. At this year's exclusive event in Las Vegas, PrivateVPN was awarded second place in the Best VPN for Customer Service award. This is a testament to their fantastic live chat service and knowledgeable staff! Read on to find out everything you need to know about this exceptional VPN. 

PrivateVPN is an established VPN based in Sweden. It is a secure service with a bespoke client that can be used on up to six devices simultaneously. It is a no-logs VPN service that has 100+ servers in 56 countries around the world. That is a huge amount of servers, and it is increasing regularly.

Our Score
4.9 / 5
Readers' Rating
5 / 5
Pricing
$1.89/mo - $7.12/mo
Server Locations
60 countries
Simultaneous connections
6
Jurisdiction
Sweden
ProPrivacy.com SpeedTest (average)
55.5 Mbps
Available on:
Works with:
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1 User Reviews

Pete
on 2020-07-09 11:17:31.
Overall score: 5
I've been with PrivateVPN for 2 years now and with my subscription ending, I've just signed up for another 2 years. I was initially open-minded about looking around for a new provider as there are some quality competitors out there, but in the end I decided if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Performance has been virtually flawless at unblocking streaming services and if there is a block it is quickly fixed. Coupled with top notch security and very competitive price, it really was a no brainer to continue my subscription.
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Video review

In our handy PrivateVPN video review, we take a look at some of their pros and cons.

PrivateVPN Review | ProPrivacy

PrivateVPN Review | ProPrivacy
PrivateVPN Review | ProPrivacy

Features

PrivateVPN has all the advanced privacy and security features that you are likely to need. Whether you want a VPN to unblock foreign content, or to stop your ISP and the government snooping on your browsing habits - PrivateVPN has you covered:

Port selection
Port forwarding
Simultaneous connections 6
Total servers 150
Server Locations 60
Router Support
Bare metal or virtual servers A combination
Torrenting

Servers

PrivateVPN operates servers in 56 countries. Those locations include five cities in the US (including West and East coast), the UK, all over Europe (including the Netherlands and Switzerland). Plus: Brazil, Australia, Canada, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, and Russia. The only places that don’t really get a look-in are Africa, the Middle East, and China. As such, if these locations are of particular interest to you, you will need to look elsewhere.

Despite the number of countries covered, the total number of servers available is noticeably low compared to other providers. However, this is because PrivateVPN is a younger firm that has much fewer customers than those competitors. In reality, PrivateVPN is a popular service that is actively expanding the number of servers it has as it grows. For this reason, it is not a concern.

Simultaneous connections

Subscribers may connect up to six devices to PrivateVPN at once. This is truly outstanding and very few VPNs on the market offer more. With this in mind, PrivateVPN can be considered a highly useful VPN for large families that have VPN requirements on a number of phones, tablets, and laptops, both at home and when using public WiFi.

Torrenting

Torrenting on PrivateVPN is not only allowed but is a delight thanks to fast connection speeds. The service also provides strong encryption options to keep your torrenting secure and private.

Does PrivateVPN unblock Netflix and other streaming services?

Netflix
iPlayer
Hulu
Disney+

PrivateVPN is in the elite club of VPN providers that still unblocks an impressive number of streaming services all over the world. In fact, it can provide access to almost every streaming service!

This is a fantastic VPN for Netflix subscribers as it will unblock Netflix content from around the world. It also enables users to watch BBC iPlayer abroad. This is due to the fact that PrivateVPN provides access to free dynamic dedicated IP addresses every time users connect using the default protocol (OpenVPN TUN+UDP+1194) on the following locations: Sweden, Norway, Germany - Frankfurt 1, Netherlands 1, Ukraine, Switzerland, United Kingdom - London 2, France - Paris, USA - Buffalo and USA - Los Angeles. PrivateVPN will also enable you to unblock Youtube videos that are restricted in your region.

This is awesome and means that PrivateVPN is one of the few VPNs that will give you access to almost all online streaming services! This is pretty mind-boggling because most VPNs charge extra for dedicated IPs that work with streaming services.

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Speed and performance

PrivateVPNs download speeds

Tests were performed using our server-based, scientific speed test system. We test a range of VPN servers in four countries (UK, USA, Australia, Hong Kong) three times a day - to provide the most useful VPN speed test comparisons available anywhere on the internet. We test all VPNs using the OpenVPN protocol to provide consistency across those comparisons.

In the period ranging from December 2019 to April 2020, download speeds for Private VPN averaged at 39.1 Mbps. These are fast speeds that compare favorably to top of the range VPNs on the market. These speeds will permit you to stream in HD and to do other data-intensive tasks.

Admittedly, these speeds are slower than the fastest VPNs available on the market (and these are slower speeds than recorded the last time we reviewed the service). However, it would appear that the slowdown that PrivateVPN has experienced in March and April of 2020 has started to turn around, so hopefully the uptrend will continue. 

Burst speeds (Max download speeds) top off at 337 Mbit/s, which considering the price of this VPN is extremely fast. Overall, this VPN performs extremely well considering the cost.

We tested this VPN for streaming - when it was performing at the slowest rate recorded in the three-month period (around 20 Mbps) - and we had zero problems streaming Netflix US. This makes us extremely confident to recommend this VPN for streaming. 

With any luck, speeds will continue to push to the upside, and we should see speeds return to an average closer to 55 Mbps in the second third of the year. We will keep an eye on it and update this review when we have more data. 

Leak tests

IPv6 leak detected?
WebRTC leak detected?
IPv4 leak detected?
ProPrivacy.com SpeedTest (max/burst) 663
ProPrivacy.com SpeedTest (average) 55.5

PrivateVPN has passed all IP leak, DNS leak, and WebRTC leak tests with flying colors, which is great news for their subscribers. (It has no IPv4 or IPv6 leaks.)

Price

Hands down one of the best things about PrivateVPN is the fact that you get a premium VPN service for a budget price.

This cheap VPN doesn’t mess around with splitting its service into various plans, which is refreshing. However, the VPN is priced slightly cheaper for people who decide to commit for longer periods of time: rewarding customer loyalty with a discount.

Trials and money-back guarantee

Unlike many providers on the market, PrivateVPN offers a generous 7-day free trial of their service. This speaks volumes about the confidence the company has in their product and its ability to deliver a blinding service as VPN free trials are hard to find.

PrivateVPN also offers a highly generous 30-day money-back guarantee. This is much better than many VPNs on the market. The no quibbles guarantee means that subscribers can change their mind if they want to.

PrivateVPN accepts all major payment methods - as you might expect from a premium VPN service. But, something that might interest the more privacy-conscious user is that it now also accept Bitcoin for payment. This means that you can pay for the VPN with added anonymity if you wish.

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Ease of use

Android
iOS
Windows
macOS
Linux

PrivateVPN definitely attempts to make everything as simple possible as it can for its subscribers. The VPN software is aesthetically pleasing and easy to use.  In addition, PrivateVPN is packed with encryption protocol options and top-of-the-range privacy features to keep its subscribers secure.

Available platforms

The Windows Client

The Windows VPN client is straightforward. It gives users the ability to toggle lots of protocol options and DNS leak protection is built-in. The PrivateVPN client does include a kill switch called "Connection Guard" (which prevents internet traffic from traveling outside of the VPN tunnel). The kill switch even allows you to select specific software that should be terminate should the VPN connection drop out.

Overall the client was superb and certainly as good as any other that I have ever used in terms of ease of use and functionality. It even has an auto-connect feature that will reconnect your VPN in sequence with the killswitch should the connection.

The Mac Client

The Mac VPN client looks similar to the other versions, and implements secure OpenVPN protocol with AES/GCM for data cipher. Sadly the client doesn't have a kill-switch built-in. However, a kill switch can be deployed if you are tech-savvy using the command line built-in tool called pf. On the other hand, you could just connect using Tunnelblick (which now has a killswitch built-in) as this would cut a lot of the extra work out.

Although there is no active DNS leak protection built-in, no DNS leaks were registered during our tests. This is what PrivateVPN told me:

"We have own DNS for each and every server we have which are pushed automatically to your OpenVPN client whenever you connect to it. The reason why we don't put this information in public is because those are in-tunnel DNS nameservers only and don't work as Public DNS nameservers. That being so, there are two of our Static DNS nameservers that are pushed along with server specific DNS nameservers: 108.59.1.193 & 95.211.121.23"

The Mobile Clients

PrivateVPN offers an Android VPN (4.0.3 and above), as well as an iOS VPN app (9.0 and above). It is available on both the Google Play Store and App Store, It can also be downloaded as an .apk file for Android directly from PrivateVPN.

The app is a new addition (January 2017) to the PrivateVPN family. Just like the desktop app, the Android app is intuitively designed and works excellently. Also great news, I detected no DNS leaks when using the Android client.

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Customer Service

Free trial Yes - 7 days
Money-back Guarantee
24-hour support
Live chat
Money-back guarantee length 30

PrivateVPN has 24/7 support, which is handled via emails and a live chat feature on its website. I tried the live chat feature at the weekend and found it to be unavailable. However, it did prompt me to send a message which was answered in good time. I suspect therefore that while the chat feature is not 24/7, they do have support staff working around the clock.

To be absolutely certain, I tried the live chat again on Monday morning (during European working hours) and found it to be up and running. The representative was friendly and did his best to answer all my questions. In conclusion, I suspect that live chat is probably only available in European daylight hours. As such, if you live elsewhere you will have to communicate via email (which isn’t really a problem because they answer quickly).

Privacy and security

Self-hosted/Proxied DNS Proxy
Kill Switch
Obfuscation (stealth)

PrivateVPN is based in Sweden. Due to the fact that Sweden has data retention laws, this is far from ideal. However, after a discussion on this fact with PrivateVPN, they explained to me directly that the reason it remains based in Sweden is that it has full access to its central data center where they own all the hardware and even control the router. For that reason, PrivateVPN is able to be more confident than most about its no logs claim.

Logging policy

Although Sweden is not the most ideal place for a VPN company to be based. The good news is that this is a no-logs VPN, they keep no logs whatsoever. As such, if it is asked to comply with an investigation (using a warrant) PrivateVPN can’t actually provide anything at all about its subscribers to the authorities. In fact, this has occurred in the past and it had to tell the authorities that it had nothing.

I asked PrivateVPN directly about how it gets around local data retention laws and IPRED and it told me that IPRED applies only to ISPs and that it is not bound to keep any logs. The firm was also honest enough to admit to me that they have been coming under pressure “we’re getting complaints” its representative told me, but because it has “no such information about our customers” it can’t help with any investigations.

In addition, PrivateVPN informed me that it has a 100% record of providing privacy for its clients. I asked it the following question: "has anybody ever got into trouble for piracy - or anything else - using your service?" And it gave me the decisive reply: “No, never”.

All things considered, it would appear that subscribers are indeed safe using PrivateVPN. Its zero-logs policy is watertight, and its privacy policy, which includes never sharing data with third parties, is highly commendable. Thus, we give PrivateVPN a thumbs up for privacy.

Also positive: the VPN told me that if anything did ever happen to compromise their operations in Sweden - it would move out of the country.

Encryption Protocols

PPTP
L2TP/IPsec
SSTP
IKEv2
OpenVPN
Other protocols IPSec, Shadowsocks

On the technical front, the encryption used by PrivateVPN for OpenVPN connections is fantastic with an  AES-256 cipher, an RSA-2048 handshake, and HMAC SHA256 data auth used. 2048-bit DHE keys provide Perfect Forward Secrecy.

In addition, a number of other encryption protocols are available natively in the PrivateVPN client. PPTP is among those, but because it is no longer strong enough to protect users’ privacy, we strongly recommend against it. Instead, we encourage you to select one of the others (preferably OpenVPN). Available protocols are OpenVPN (UDP and TCP), L2TP, PPTP, IPSec, IKEv2, HTTP Proxy, and SOCKS5.

PrivateVPN handles DNS requests via its own servers, and its clients provide IPv6 Leak Protection and DNS Leak Protection, which makes it an all-round great option for privacy and security.

Security features

The PrivateVPN software is well designed and has a kill switch to cut the internet should the VPN connection be lost. This is a useful feature that allows its subscribers to guarantee that they don't accidentally leak their web traffic to their ISP. In addition, users can specify software to be included in the kill switch feature. The killswitch is WFP based and has two layers of security: kill switch and application kill. This gives customers the choice to use application kill only if they prefer. It is a tried and tested killswitch that we can vouch for.

In addition, port forwarding is also supported by PrivateVPN. Though you will need to check its server list or communicate with them directly to figure out which server or servers have the features necessary to set up a particular device.

Stealth servers are a bonus feature for anyone living in a restrictive regime and need to disguise any traffic that can link a VPN back to them.

Finally, the service also offers DNS in the form of a proxy, which is handy when it comes to unblocking content. However, in reality, the dynamic IPs are probably going to have you covered there.

For anyone that wants to make use of the extra privacy afforded by shared IPs, please select the protocol OpenVPN - TUN+TCP+443 in the encryption settings. The ability to switch between dedicated dynamic IPS (OpenVPN TUN+UDP+1194) and shared IPs is an outstanding part of the service.

Encryption

Other Privacy features

HQN servers

High-Quality Network servers are available on the PrivateVPN network. PrivateVPN say that it aims “to purchase Internet capacity directly from the IP transit provider”. These tier-1 servers allow PrivateVPN to have no middlemen in its network which it says allows it to deliver better connections speeds. Please check the connection speeds section of the review for speed test results.

Remote control

For real technophobes, a remote installation feature is available. When implemented, it will allow a PrivateVPN customer support technician to remotely take over a subscriber's machine momentarily to help them set up the VPN. This shouldn’t be necessary, because the VPN is very easy to set up. However, the feature is an excellent addition that certainly can be considered a selling point that sets it apart from its competitors. The feature is also available for general maintenance and is handled with TeamViewer remote support software. PrivateVPN even provides a guide for getting remote control set up in its resources area.

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Final Thoughts

PrivateVPN is a service that has been around for only a few years. In that time it has established a world-class service. Subscribers get access to a tier 1 network of servers excellently located around the world. Connection speeds perform well across all servers, with only a slight drop in performance when connected. This makes the VPN perfect for streaming and other data-intensive tasks.

Privacy with the VPN is great, and the zero-logs policy speaks for itself. Encryption is also strong, and the ability to toggle between UDP and TCP in the client is fantastic. The availability of HTTP Proxy, SOCKS5, and port forwarding, is also a huge benefit. Plus free access to dynamic dedicated IPs. Finally, the auto-reconnect and killswitch features are a nice addition, that will deliver privacy even if the VPN cuts out momentarily.

With servers located all over the world, my overall impression of PrivateVPN is that it is an excellent VPN service that is well worth the money it asks (particularly if you sign up for a year). Thanks to its seven-day trial and 30-day money-back guarantee anybody can test it risk-free to make sure it suits their needs. An impressive VPN.

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Written by: Ray Walsh

Digital privacy expert with 5 years experience testing and reviewing VPNs. He's been quoted in The Express, The Times, The Washington Post, The Register, CNET & many more. 

176 Comments

User
on May 4, 2020
Reply
Nice vpn and good client support.
Pete
on April 13, 2020
Reply
This review is well over a year old now. Any chance of an update? A couple of things I'd like you to focus on are: - the speed is much less than it used to be according to your daily speed tests. According to your results, it used to be in the fifties but it's been in the twenties for a long time now. - there's no mention of free dynamic dedicated ips on their website. Is this still on offer?
https://cdn.proprivacy.com/storage/images/proprivacy/02/member-dougjpg-avatar-image-default-1png-avatar-image-default-minpng-avatar_image-small.png
Douglas Crawford replied to Pete
on April 14, 2020
Reply
Hi Pete. Time, time, time... Ray tells me that "PrivateVPN is unusual in the way that it guarantees access to a large number of Netflix catalogs (the most of any VPN) because it does so by providing every user that connects to those servers with a dynamic dedicated IP for use during that session. This stops those services from flagging its IPs as belonging to a VPN - which helps with maintaining access for its users. However, if you require access to a dedicated static IP that you can connect to time and time again, this is slightly different and is a feature that you will need to pay for (because as far as we know there are no VPNs that provide this for free)." He's also updating his comments re. PrivateVPN's speed results.
craig
on March 25, 2020
Reply
They are the worst. Lies on their page with misleading info. Claim to have 30 day money back until you ask for a refund. They say there is a limit of 100gb until your guarantee is void. All fine print and misleading. The service was not helpful either, quite arrogant.
privatevpn client
on January 19, 2020
Reply
Website privatevpn.com has banned your privatevpn IP address !!! WTF Error 1006 Ray ID: ...... 2020-01-19 21:24:20 UTC Access denied The owner of this website (privatevpn.com) has banned your IP address (185.156.174.178).
https://cdn.proprivacy.com/storage/images/proprivacy/02/member-dougjpg-avatar-image-default-1png-avatar-image-default-minpng-avatar_image-small.png
Douglas Crawford replied to privatevpn client
on January 20, 2020
Reply
Hi privatevpn client. We have been aware for some time now that the PrivateVPN website bans visitors who use a VPN - which is rather weird. But banning its own customers is, indeed, WTF crazy! We can only presume this is unintentional, and have therefore reached out to ProvateVPN to alert them of this issue.
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