In our handy PrivateVPN video review, we take a look at some of their pros and cons.
PrivateVPN Review | ProPrivacy
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:
|Number of countries||63|
PrivateVPN operates servers in 60 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, Hong Kong, and Russia.
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.
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 several phones, tablets, and laptops, both at home and when using public Wi-Fi. For more information about check out our VPN for multiple devices page.
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. Check out our VPN for torrenting page for more information about why it's important to use a VPN for this purpose.
Does PrivateVPN unblock Netflix and other streaming services?
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 is also a great VPN for BBC iPlayer as it had plenty of fast services in the UK. This is because 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), Netherlands, Ukraine, Switzerland, the United Kingdom (two in London), France (Paris), USA (Buffalo and 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.
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 July 2022 to April 2022, download speeds for Private VPN averaged at 55.5 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.
These speeds hold their own against some of PrivateVPN's more costly competitors and show substantial improvements from our last tests. While there appears to have been a bit of a slowdown over the last month or so, this is reflected across the majority of the industry, with competitors taking a similar hit in speed across the board. All in all, PrivateVPN is matching the speeds of some of the top names in the industry.
Burst speeds (Max download speeds) top off at 663 Mbps which, considering the price of this VPN, is remarkably fast. Overall, this VPN performs extremely well considering the cost. With speeds like this, PrivateVPN can stream content seamlessly – making it a perfect VPN for taking full advantage of Netflix.
With any luck, speeds will continue to push to the upside, and we should see speeds continue to average over to 55 Mbps in the final third of the year. We will keep an eye on it and update this review when we have more data.
If speed is the main thing you are looking for, check out our fastest VPN page. The list of VPNs on this page is updated weekly based on our speed testing data.
ProPrivacy.com SpeedTest (average)
ProPrivacy.com SpeedTest (max/burst)
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 free VPN trials that offer the service in full 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.
Ease of use
PrivateVPN attempts to make everything as simple as 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.
The Windows Client
The Windows VPN client is straightforward. When you download it for the first time, you're presented with a pretty run-of-the-mill log in or sign up page, which handily takes you through to PrivateVPN's subscription page if you're not already a user.
Once you're logged in, PrivateVPN handles your onboarding by giving you two options: unblocking streaming services such as Netflix, BBC, and HBO, and taking you straight to PrivateVPN's location picker so you can get to the regional content you want to see. Connecting from a restricted country, on the other hand, takes you to the Stealth VPN section so you can protect yourself as quickly as possible using an enhanced connection.
Connecting to a PrivateVPN server is super simple, just pick a location from the menu and hit the connect button. Once you're online, you'll see that the client updates to show your new IP from the dashboard, which is pretty useful if you need to do some quick troubleshooting.
Once you open up the location picker, PrivateVPN gives you a range of locations to choose from in an easy-pick menu. If you need help choosing, there's a ping readout which refreshes in real time and gives you an idea of what your latency will be like. You can also pick favorites if you need to bookmark a server for easy access.
Clicking "Advanced View" from the client dashboard takes you to a highly configurable options menu for PrivateVPN, giving you access to information like your chosen connection type, whether port-forwarding is available, and your data upload and download during this session. You can also choose from this menu which type of OpenVPN encryption to deploy, or whether to use another supported protocol, but you need to disconnect first before you can start changing settings. Unfortunately, we couldn't find a WireGuard implementation here, but we hope there's one coming soon.
Thankfully, PrivateVPN isn't short on options. You can choose whether your client starts up and connects on Windows boot-up, which will ensure that your connection is covered by PrivateVPN from the moment you log on. You've also got easy access to log files for quick diagnostics and an option to reinstall network drivers.
You've also got access to all the network connection safety features we'd expect to see from an industry leader. IPv6 Leak Protection, DNS Leak Protection, and PrivateVPN's proprietary Kill Switch all function as intended, making sure that your real IP address doesn't leak to any third parties while you're browsing the internet, even if your connection suddenly drops. The kill-switch ensures that if your connection drops out, you won't start sending traffic from your home IP address.
One feature we haven't really seen in other VPNs is the Application Guard, which goes one step beyond just a normal kill-switch by terminating designated programs if the network connection drops. We'll leave it to you to come up with an appropriate use case.
The Stealth VPN option attempts to disguise the VPN traffic going to PrivateVPN by minimising the tell-tale network signifiers that indicate VPN traffic. While this feature does make it more difficult for Deep Packet Inspection to determine that you're using a VPN, we also experienced a slower connection while using this feature and so would only recommend that you use Stealth VPN in situations where you absolutely need to. If you think your ISP is shaping your traffic, turn Stealth VPN on and see if it makes a difference to your connection.
Finally, clicking through to the Help & Support section will give you some useful quick-links to both the FAQ repository on PrivateVPN's website, as well as the Live Support section if you need to find a representative as soon as possible to solve an issue.
Overall, the Windows client is superb. It's easy to use, very functional, and the UI is pleasing and easy to read. The location readout is easy to navigate, whether you need to find a server close to you or a dedicated IP server on the other side of the planet. We'd like a broader choice of protocols, but OpenVPN is certainly enough to ensure your browsing remains secure.
The Mac Client
The Mac VPN client looks similar to the other versions and implements a 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: 22.214.171.124 & 126.96.36.199"
Unfortunately, PrivateVPN doesn't offer a Linux client. Instead, there's some guides on creating your own OpenVPN entries in the NetworkManager client so at least you've got the connection profile saved and don't have to enter your details again every time you want to connect. Again, we hope that we see a Linux GUI tool in the future, but for now PrivateVPN's support has you covered.
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.
Money-back guarantee length
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 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 a problem because they answer quickly).
Privacy and security
IPv6 leak protection
WebRTC leak protection
PrivateVPN is based in Sweden. Because 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 can be more confident than most about its no logs claim.
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 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 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”.
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.
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.
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.
Other Privacy features
High-Quality Network servers are available on the PrivateVPN network. PrivateVPN says 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.
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.
PrivateVPN has established a world-class service at a very competitive price point. 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. Couple that with its dedicated streaming servers, and PrivateVPN is ideal for watching your favourite shows 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 makes it perfect for getting around Netflix's sophisticated attempts to block VPNs from unblocking its libraries. Finally, the auto-reconnect and kill-switch features are a nice addition, that will deliver privacy even if the VPN cuts out momentarily.
With servers located all over the world, our overall impression of PrivateVPN is that it is an excellent VPN service that is well worth the small amount of money it asks (particularly if you sign up for its longer subscriptions). 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. All in all, a premium VPN without the premium pricetag.
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