PrivateVPN Review 2019

BEST FOR: Simple VPN for securing private data

  • Fast
  • Works with Netflix
  • Zero logs
  • Live chat support
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PrivateVPN Overview

Joel Timothy

11 October 2018

PrivateVPN is a VPN that is continually growing its user base. It was founded in 2009 in Stockholm, Sweden. It is a product of the Swedish company Privat Kommunikation Sverige AB.

The name of the VPN itself promises you a VPN that puts users’ privacy and security before everything else, and that is something that we will seek to verify in this PrivateVPN review. PrivateVPN claims to be the “fastest growing VPN worldwide”, and they promise to let you protect anything.

Let’s dive into the details and weigh its pros and cons.

Pros

What we liked

  • Easy desktop and mobile installation
  • No logs
  • OpenVPN 2048-bit encryption with AES-256
  • Works with US Netflix
  • Excellent speeds and unlimited bandwidth
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • 6 simultaneous connections

Cons

What can be improved

  • More servers could be added
  • Live Chat is not available 24/7
  • Performance issues especially with the mobile clients

Security & Privacy

Privacy

Sweden is a tricky country to base a VPN in due to some stringent data retention laws. In 2009, the country passed an anti-copyright piracy law called IPRED. This law allows copyright holders to make Swedish ISPs produce data about users who are under the suspicion of illegally sharing copyrighted material. This is in addition to a 2008 law that allows ISPs to monitor all internet traffic. This data is kept for 6 months. On a brighter note, in 2014, the European Court of Justice banned mandatory data retention, stating that it is a violation of human rights.

Additionally, most of these laws in Sweden only apply to ISPs, though there have been talks of expanding this to include VPNs. PrivateVPN states that they do not keep any logs, and even if a court order demands data, they can’t provide something that they don’t have.

PrivateVPN does not collect or log any traffic or use of its service. If you are browsing our site, you don’t have to provide any identifiable information.

PrivateVPN claims that the only data they collect is your email address, which is used for:

  • Verifying your identity when you log in to our site or are using our service
  • Completing your order
  • Internal record keeping and improvement to our site
  • Sending promotional emails for services we think might interest you
  • Analyzing usage of our site to better understand how our visitors use the site and our services.

Further, PrivateVPN owns the hardware at their data center, and they control everything there. This is something that increases our confidence in their zero-logs claim.

Security

PrivateVPN offers military-grade security for OpenVPN connections with an AES-256 cipher, an RSA-2048 handshake, and HMAC SHA256 data authentication. They also implement perfect forward secrecy using the Diffie-Hellman Key Exchange (DHE).

PrivateVPN also provides its users with quite a number of security protocols to choose from. Available protocols include:

  • OpenVPN (UDP and TCP)
  • L2TP/ IPSec
  • L2TP
  • IPSec
  • PPTP
  • IKEv2
  • PPTP
  • L2TP/IPSec
  • IKRv2
  • SSTP
  • OpenVPN

Before you switch between these protocols, it’s important to understand each of them and when you should use them. PrivateVPN provides a detailed explanation of each of the VPN protocols. However, OpenVPN is the best protocol if you are looking for a good balance of security and speed. The protocol can’t be breached and offers good speeds.

During this PrivateVPN review, we learned that PrivateVPN also offers AES-128 bit encryption in their Windows client as the default option. This can be a great option in cases where you don’t need much security, like when you want to access Netflix.

Pricing & Payment

PrivateVPN has regularly changed its pricing structure. The VPN is now reasonably priced, after a considerable adjustment. There are three plans that you can subscribe to:

Monthly Plan: $7.67 a month

3-Month Plan: $14.63 billed quarterly, which is $4.88 per month.

12+1 Month Plan is $49.68 annually. This is $3.82 per month.

1 month

$7.67

Per month

30-day money-back guarantee

most popular
12+1 Months

Now get an additional 1 month

Save
65%

$3.82

Per month

Billed at $49.68.

30-day money-back guarantee

3 months

$4.88

Per month

Billed at $14.64

30-day money-back guarantee

*Although we make every effort to ensure all prices are accurate, we cannot guarantee thet they are always up to date

Payment Methods

PrivateVPN supports 3 major forms of payment:

  • Credit Card
  • PayPal
  • Bitcoin

There may be few few payment options, but the first two are the major forms of payment, and most users will be comfortable with them. The bitcoin option is quite relevant, as it allows privacy-minded users to pay anonymously.

Credit cards
Payment Service

30-Day Money-back Guarantee

PrivateVPN take pride in their service, and so they confidently offer a generous 30-day money-back guarantee. We were glad to find that PrivateVPN’s money-back policy doesn’t include any tricky clauses that can catch the user by surprise. All you have to do is cancel your subscription within 30 days of signing up. To do so, get in touch with their ever-present support team. They tell you that you will receive your money back within 5 business days.

Performance

Throughout the duration of this PrivateVPN review, the client performed quite well. However, we had problems connecting to a server sometimes. At a certain point, we couldn’t connect at all. We then closed the app, and on restarting we couldn’t even log in. After some time, it worked again. When it works, connection takes around 10-15 seconds.

The Android app, which has had quite a number of complaints, didn’t perform well for us. At some point, the app just closes itself. There are complaints all over the Google Play Store, and we can now understand why. PrivateVPN Android has some stability issues that need to be addressed.

Speedtest

For this PrivateVPN review, we ran some speed tests to get an idea of how fast the VPN is. We did the first speed test without a VPN connection in order to have a baseline to gauge our speed rates.

PrivateVPN Review

We then connected to a VPN server near us.

PrivateVPN Review

This test was done with AES-256. You can see that there’s a considerable drop in speed. We noticed that changing OpenVPN encryption between 128 and 256 has no effect for this VPN. We expected AES 128 to be faster, since it offers less encryption. However, these speeds are still considered decent for using a VPN.

When connected to a server far away, we got the speed rates below.

PrivateVPN Review

They are not the best, but these are still decent enough speeds overall

This speed test was recently conducted on April 20, 2019.

Servers & Location

PrivateVPN offers 100+ servers in 60 countries. This number of servers may not be the best in the business, but the number of countries is impressive. With so many locations available, you can access content from almost all parts of the world; PrivateVPN servers are strategically placed to ensure that. The US has the most servers with 14, while the UK has 6. South America and Africa are also covered by PrivateVPN servers.

PrivateVPN server connections are unlimited, and you can connect up to 6 devices simultaneously. This is one of the highest numbers in the VPN industry, ensuring even a large family gets coverage with PrivateVPN.

PrivateVPN’s servers are quite fast, and they don’t have IPv6, DNS and WebRTC leaks. This greatly helps in privacy and accessing legal worldwide streaming channels.

Features

PrivateVPN has a number of features that are designed to help improve privacy and security. These include:

Kill Switch

A kill switch is one of the most essential tools offered by a VPN. The primary purpose of a kill switch is to disconnect your internet if for some reason your VPN connection is dropped. This is usually done in order to prevent your identity from leaking back to the ISP and avoids that whatever you were doing online is not exposed. PrivateVPN’s kill switch comes in handy especially if you want to leave your device unattended in a safe place, and what you are downloading needs to be kept private.

Features
Smart DNS
Bypass Netflix
Onion Tow Web Address
Split Tunneling
Stealth Technology/Servers
Allow Torrenting
Automatic Kill Switch
ipv6
Open Ports

Application Guard

With the PrivateVPN Kill Switch, you can even select the software to be included in the kill switch. This means that you have the option to restrict internet only for specific software, while others function normally. This is possible through a tool available in the PrivateVPN Windows client.

P2P

PrivateVPN allows P2P VPN torrenting. Though not really a feature, we include P2P here because there are VPNs that don’t offer it. Torrenting is illegal in many countries, and you may end up getting a copyright infringement notice from your ISP or even face legal charges.

PrivateVPN gives you the chance to do legal torrenting safely while using their servers. PrivateVPN recommends using their Sweden servers for file sharing. To enhance P2P, PrivateVPN provides port forwarding.

Port Forwarding

PrivateVPN offers port forwarding which increases P2P performance that is necessary for uploading torrents. It helps your speeds if a local firewall is blocking or throttling a certain port associated with peer-to-peer file sharing. PrivateVPN port forwarding can be found under Advanced mode > Dashboard Tab > Port forwarding.

HQN Servers

PrivateVPN offers high-quality network servers. They say that they aim “to purchase Internet capacity directly from the IP transit provider.” Such servers mean that PrivateVP has full control of their server network – especially in Sweden – and this eliminates middlemen who can end up compromising privacy as well as internet speeds.

Remote Assistance

This is a tool that sets PrivateVPN apart. If you really don’t want to struggle with installation of your VPN client, you can let PrivateVPN do it for you. This is done using TeamViewer to allow their techs to access your system. Though installation is very complicated , their remote assistance can really help with troubleshooting if you’re experiencing a problem with your PrivateVPN client.

 

PrivateVPN Setup & User Interface

The Website

PrivateVPN Review

PrivateVPN’s website is quite well organized, and we were easily able to find the information we were looking for. PrivateVPN support is available for all, and there’s a floating button for contacting support. Whenever not online, the button opens a ticket that you can complete and submit to the support team.

PrivateVPN Review

The website provides sufficient information about the VPN, and it’s also easy to sign up. They don’t offer a free trial that you can start with, but they claim to offer coupons that help you test out the service. When we contacted them to find out more about this, they told me that they are out of coupons, so we can’t verify how this process works. However, PrivateVPN has a 30-day money-back guarantee that is totally transparent.

Getting Started with PrivateVPN

Signing up is quite easy. All you need to do is to click the Get PrivateVPN button. You will then be required to provide the details of your payment method. When successful, you can then provide your email and password to create an account.

You will be logged in automatically.

You will then be presented with installation guides for your various devices.

PrivateVPN Review

This is a very helpful section. In case you don’t want to install the client yourself, you have an option at the bottom of the page to install TeamViewer instead and let PrivateVPN do the set up for you.

Installing the client is quite straightforward though, and you surely won’t require support. Some people will find the remote control assistance quite helpful, especially with protocols like IKEv2 which don’t have a proprietary client. The PrivateVPN client is based on OpenVPN, and you can’t switch to IKEv2 within it.

PrivateVPN Windows Client

PrivateVPN Review

To download the Windows client, for example, go to “Why PrivateVPN> Apps” on the PrivateVPN website. After PrivateVPN downloads, installation takes about 2 minutes. After it installs, it will tell you that a reboot is required. We couldn’t do a reboot at that moment, and so we chose the option ‘“Later.” We then started the client, and it worked right away.

 

PrivateVPN Review

Connecting to a VPN server of your choice with PrivateVPN is easy. When the app launches, you will already have a server selected for you. You can click the server and select one of your choices.

Remember that selecting a server should be based on what you want to do online. For example, PrivateVPN recommends Swedish servers for recommending.

PrivateVPN Review

You can also access the PrivateVPN client dashboard that gives you information about your connection.

PrivateVPN Review

The dashboard can be accessed by clicking “Advanced.”

Customization Options

To customize your VPN connection, you need to disconnect your VPN.

You can then click “Advanced.”

PrivateVPN Review

From here, PrivateVPN lets you choose your connection location, connection type, and OpenVPN encryption. PrivateVPN uses AES-128 bit encryptionas the default encryption once you launch the VPN. This kind of encryption is considered weak, and should only be used with services that don’t require much security.

If you want to connect to a legal streaming service, there’s no need to use AES-256 bit encryption which is more secure but noticeably slower.

The VPN client doesn’t give you the option of selecting a protocol like IKEv2, since it can only be chosen through manual configuration. This is explained in PrivateVPN’s online troubleshooting guides. Manual configuration allows you to turn on IPv6 Leak Protection, DNS Leak Protection, and kill switch.

PrivateVPN Review

Application Guard lets you add apps to be terminated on disconnect.

PrivateVPN Android Client

PrivateVPN Review

Though it has a lot of details on the home screen, the PrivateVPN Android client is quite simple. To select servers, you just need to tap your current one. You can then click “Connect.”

PrivateVPN Review

The only other button available is the “Settings” button. It gives you a number of options that you can use to customize your VPN experience.

PrivateVPN Review

The Android client performed poorly due to shutting down issues. You can leave the VPN connected, and when you check your phone later, the app isn’t even running. PrivateVPN should focus more on this clients and eliminate these performance issues.

Device Compatibility

PrivateVPN supports the most common devices, but more could be added. Currently, they have apps for:

  • Windows
  • Mac OS
  • Android
  • iOS

You can, however, install the VPN on Linux and compatible routers through manual configuration.

Compatibility

PrivateVPN is a well-loved VPN service for legal streaming, and it deserves the acclaim.

Netflix

This VPN is great for Netflix lovers and users should be able to access Netflix US via PrivateVPN.

Devices

  • iOS
  • Android
  • Windows
  • Mac

Browsers

  • Chrome
  • Firefox
  • Safari
  • Internet Explorer

Others

  • Android Boxes
  • Router Configuration
  • DDWRT Router

Customer support

PrivateVPN has live chat support, but it’s not available 24/7. When not online, customers are given a simple form to fill out to submit a query. My ticket was answered in 7 hours.

We connected with the live chat, and it only took about 20 seconds for an agent to respond in a very helpful way.

Apart from the live chat and the email ticket system, PrivateVPN also have troubleshooting guides and FAQs. The FAQ section is not the largest we have seen, and it may not answer some of your questions.

Conclusion

PrivateVPN proves to be a decent VPN without any major flaws other than the Android app issues. Otherwise, it’s a decent VPN but not an exceptional one. It offers a great way to secure your private data as well as stream content from all over the world. The fact that they keep zero logs is attractive, and we were satisfied overall with the VPN clients, except for the occasional app failure. PrivateVPN’s pricing is affordable – if they could work on the smartphone app issues, then we would definitely recommend PrivateVPN.

Written by: Joel Timothy

Joel is a tech writer and editor with a special interest in cyber security and internet freedom. He likes helping readers tackle tricky tech and internet issues, as well as maximize the boundless power of the internet.

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