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SaturnVPN is a small VPN service based in Houston, Texas. The business was started in 2013 by four friends who were all network engineers. The partnership has now expanded to five members and the VPN is run with a small number of servers for a very low subscription fee.
This VPN could offer just enough for those who don't need access to servers in lots of different countries. However, as you will read in this report, it is doubtful that this VPN could be of use to anyone.
Pricing and Plans
You are able to access all of the VPN protocols offered by the service with one package. The subscription plans offered by the company include a one month period, or three and six month subscriptions. There is also a one-year and a two-year plan. Longer subscription periods work out cheaper per month. However, you have to pay for the whole period up front.
Prices are given in US Dollars and you can pay with credit cards, PayPal, Bitcoin, Webmoney, and Perfect Money.
Each subscription allows the account holder to connect to the network on two separate devices simultaneously.
The features of the company's package are:
- Servers in six countries
- Three-day money-back guarantee
- Anonymous accounts
- P2P allowed on most servers
- Allowance of two simultaneous connections
- No data throughput limits
The company has servers in different countries for each of the protocols that it supports.
PPTP: USA, UK, Poland, France, Germany
L2TP: USA, UK, Canada, Poland, France, Germany
Kerio VPN: USA, UK, Germany
Cisco AnyConnect: USA, UK
OpenVPN: Canada, UK, Germany
The VPN protocols offered by SaturnVPN are PPTP, L2TP, SSTP, and OpenVPN. There are also two proprietary implementations available, which are Cisco AnyConnect and Kerio.
Unfortunately, the customer support team is not very knowledgeable about the methods used by the VPN, so any information that isn't on the website, or can't be deduced by looking at log files, simply isn't available.
The company's implementation of OpenVPN isn't very successful. It uses Blowfish encryption with a 128-bit key. The company uses Diffie Hellman for key exchange, which is the standard methodology used for OpenVPN. The session establishment processes are covered by 1028-bit RSA encryption. This is very weak and RSA doesn't recommend using such a short encryption key, because there are rumors that a number of authorities, including the Chinese security services, that can crack this level of encryption. Most VPNs use a 2048-bit key for RSA and the best VPNs use a 4096-bit key.
SaturnVPN bans P2P downloading on its UK and USA servers, but allows it on the company's German servers.
You can speak to a customer support operative via live chat. You can see whether the chat is manned by looking at the message box in the bottom right of the screen.
Clicking on this message opens a chat screen. You first have to identify yourself and write a question.
When a support operator is available, your conversation can proceed.
Unfortunately, the 1st Line support operatives are not very knowledgeable, so if you have a complicated question, you will need to contact technical support. The Contact page on the site gives the support email address and you can also send a message from this page.
You don't need an account at the website to use the free trial. However, you can create an account that will get you into the Client Area of the website.
However, there are no facilities of use in the Client Area.
Other support features of the website include a FAQ page.
The site also includes a large library of set up guides.
SaturnVPN offers two levels of free account. The first is accessible by clicking on "Free VPN Account" in the main menu of the site.
However, this option only gives you access to PPTP and L2TP, which have to be set up manually. To get a proper idea of the SaturnVPN service, you need to progress to the second type of free trial, which you get by filling in a form, which is accessible on the Free VPN Account page. Click on the "Request Free Trial for 1 Day" button to get to it.
I got an email within an hour and a half with my login credential for the one-day free trial that models the full service exactly.
The SaturnVPN Windows VPN client
SaturnVPN has three tempting apps with highly developed encryption. The favored VPN methodology of ProPrivacy.com is OpenVPN -- which SaturnVPN offers. The company hasn't created its own app, but instead, invites users to download the OpenVPN GUI program. This is a very basic interface that was created by the organization that manages the OpenVPN standard. There is nothing wrong with this interface except that it only operates in minimized mode from the system tray. After downloading the interface you next have to download configuration files from the SaturnVPN website and then move them into the config directory of the area where the OpenVPN software is stored.
I already had OpenVPN GUI installed, so I just downloaded the config files. This gave me access to one server in Canada, one server in the UK, and two servers in Germany. Unfortunately, with the trial account that the support operative gave me, I could not connect to the Canadian server. I was able to connect to the British and German servers, but they blocked off my internet access entirely and I was unable to connect to any website while I had a VPN connection established.
The VPN connection log files showed an error when trying to authenticate the UK and German servers during the connection procedures. When I tried to visit any website with the VPN turned on, the web access failed during the "Establishing secure connection" phase of web access.
I moved on and decided to review the Cisco AnyConnect implementation instead. However, the download link in the installation guide was broken and I was unable to get the software on my computer.
My next option was the Kerio VPN offered by SaturnVPN. Although I have reviewed many VPN services, I had never heard of Kerio, so this was a new experience for me. I decided to check out the site of Kerio to find out more about the VPN methodology. The page would not load.
I followed the installation instructions on the SaturnVPN website and got the interface on my computer. Logging in required me to refer to the server name page on the SaturnVPN website.
I tried all of the server names, but I was not able to connect with the credentials given to me for the free trial. When I alerted the support team about that, I was told that they needed to turn that access on for me. However, after completing all other tests, I returned to Kerio and it still didn't work.
There seemed to be something wrong with the server's identification certificate.
I checked out the certificate and discovered that it had expired a long time ago.
I had one more option. SaturnVPN offers SSTP. This is a good VPN system that was created to replace PPTP. So, I clicked on the link to get install instructions for Windows 10 and this is what I got:
All of the above systems use Transport Layer Security procedures to establish a connection to a server. TLS requires the server to identify itself with a certificate, and in every case, the SaturnVPN server did not have a valid certificate. So, this probably explains why I could not connect with OpenVPN or Kerio. In the cases of SSTP even if I had been able to get the connection establishment software on my computer, I still wouldn't have been able to connect securely because of this certificate problem.
I got a working download link for Cicso AnyConnect from the support desk and was able to install it. However, I encountered a security error message when I tried to connect with it.
I dismissed the error and continued with the connection. This enabled me to perform a speed test on the Cisco AnyConnect implementation of SaturnVPN.
The Statistics page of the app's settings system provided some interesting information, including the cipher being used for the connection -- AES with a 128-bit key.
Performance (Speed, DNS, WebRTC and IPv6 Tests)
The ProPrivacy.com performance tests usually include speed tests that connect through VPN servers in three different countries. Typically, these tests are performed on an OpenVPN implementation. The Cisco AnyConnect app uses the OpenSSL library for security measures, which is exactly the same system that OpenVPN uses. So, these tests were performed with Cisco AnyConnect with all of the SaturnVPN servers dedicated to this methodology -- one in the USA and two in the UK.
The speed tests were performed with the services of testmy.net. The UK tests went to a server in London and the US tests went to a server in Miami.
I used IPLocation.net to discover the actual location of the SaturnVPN servers that I tested. The US server cisco2.saturnvpn.com was located in Kansas City, Missouri. IPLocation displays the location results of five different services. In the UK, cisco3.saturnvpn.com and cisco4.saturnvpn.com were both reported as being in the same location. However, in the list of results for both servers, two of the supporting IPLocation services couldn't detect the precise location, two placed the servers in Gosport, Hampshire, and one thought the servers were in Kent.
You will probably have a faster internet service in your home. However, if you go away to a poorer country for your vacation the internet speeds shown in the unprotected connections of these tests show you the conditions that you can expect while you are away. It is while you are on vacation that you will need to rely on a VPN more so that you can get into the TV websites from back home.
HBO recommends a speed of 2 Mbps in order to watch SD video comfortably over the internet. It recommends 3 Mbps for streaming HD video -- all of HBO's online library is rendered in HD. It is a shame that the Saturn VPN server reduced the speeds on the line. However, as you will see in the Streaming Video section of this report, this didn't really present a problem.
More tests were performed with ipleak.net while I was connected to the SaturnVPN Cisco server in Kansas City, to check DNS leaks and the WebRTC bug. The site reported my location in Kansas City. It also checked through all DNS calls issued by my browser and discovered access to 71 different DNS servers. All of those servers were located in California and Iowa, which are all consistent with a location in Kansas City, so SaturnVPN successfully hid my true location, which was in the Dominican Republic.
While still connected to the SaturnVPN server in Kansas City, I accessed the test site doileak.net which also detected my location as being in the United States. This report also checked on the difference between the timezone of my operating system and the time zone of my reported location and found them to be consistent. This is the type of anomaly that can give away the secret that you are using a VPN. However, SaturnVPN successfully covered up that problem and there were no indications that I wasn't actually in Kansas City.
My internet service provider does not use IPv6 addresses and so I was unable to test for IPv6 leaks.
I tested each of the three Cisco AnyConnect servers of SaturnVPN to see whether they could get me into video streaming services in the UK and the USA. While connected to the USA server of SatuenVPN, I was able to watch videos streamed from Netflix, ABC, and NBC. This is an exceptional performance.
Both UK VPN servers had exactly the same results with UK streaming services. Neither could get me access to videos at Netflix, but both got me into the BBC iPlayer and videos at the Channel 4 website.
SaturnVPN offers several different clients and also has VPN servers that can be accessed through different protocols via a manual setup. The table below shows which will work on which operating system.
|PPTP||L2TP||SSTP||Kerio||OpenVPN GUI||Cisco AnyConnect|
|Mac OS X||✔||✔||X||✔||✔||✔|
SaturnVPN Review Conclusion
SaturnVPN is great for getting into overseas streaming video sites. However, their retention of connection logs for an unspecified period means that you should not rely on this VPN for identity protection when downloading copyrighted material.
- Easy-to-use Cisco AnyConnect
- Free trial
- Good DNS and IP leak protection
- Gets into Netflix USA
I wasn’t so sure about
- Connection logs
- Only two simultaneous connections
- Security certificate error
- Connections that don't work
- Low speeds
The authentication certificate failures on every connection attempt with all of the apps to all of the servers offered by SaturnVPN means that you should not use this service. This failure exposes you to the risk of man-in-the-middle attacks where an interloper poses as the server. Those fraudsters could be hackers seeking to steal your bank details, or copyright lawyers or the police spying on your activities.
Check out the reviews on ProPrivacy.com of other VPN providers to find a better service.
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