PrivateVPN is seriously underrated. Forget about chasing big names; this VPN punches well above its weight class. With a 7-day free trial, it's a low-risk option that gives you a taste of its solid capabilities.
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Overview of advantages and disadvantages
PrivateVPN runs a relatively small operation with just over 200 servers across 63 countries. Specifically, here's how the servers are distributed:
Although the geographical coverage is solid, the low number of servers can lead to overcrowding. This can significantly affect your online experience. It's a glaring issue, especially when most competitors boast far larger server counts. And let's remember that PrivateVPN allows up to 10 simultaneous connections per user, which can exacerbate the congestion issue.
However, the silver lining here is the inclusion of unique server locations like Hong Kong and Cyprus, which you might not find with other VPN providers.
Yes, PrivateVPN operates in China using its Stealth VPN mode. This feature utilizes the L2TP protocol combined with AES 256-bit encryption to bypass the Great Firewall. You can connect to nearby servers in countries like Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, and the Philippines for optimal speeds.
While you may experience some drop in streaming quality, it won't be significant enough to ruin your viewing pleasure. So, yes, you can stream content while in China.
Baseline for Download/Upload: 1000 Mbit/s
PrivateVPN's speed isn't precisely industry-leading. One reason could be the absence of the WireGuard protocol, known for its high speed and robust security.
Let's cut to the chase. I tried PrivateVPN's customer support, and it's a mixed bag.
Live Chat: It's there, but take your time. I waited 10 minutes, and nobody showed up to chat. That's like waiting for a bus that never comes.
Email Support: Now we're talking! I emailed them and got a detailed reply in just 3 minutes. That's faster than making a cup of coffee.
Knowledge Base: It's there, but it feels like a rough draft. For instance, they need to explain how their port forwarding works. You're left to your own devices to figure it out.
Guides for Setup: One shining star is their device setup guide. These are separate, detailed, and found in the 'Getting Started' section. So, if you're fumbling around trying to get the VPN running on your gadget, these guides are a lifesaver.
So, their email support could give Usain Bolt a run for his money, but the live chat and knowledge base need some TLC.
PrivateVPN may not be the Swiss Army knife of VPN features, but it has some nifty tools worth your attention. Whether it's about torrenting or just staying private online, here’s what you can expect:
Port forwarding is a standout feature here. When you connect to PrivateVPN, you automatically get a random port number. Plug this number into your torrent client, and you're good to go. This feature is permanently on, so there are no toggles or settings to mess with. It can't be disabled, which may be a drawback for some.
PrivateVPN supports HTTP and SOCKS5 proxies across all their servers. HTTP is your go-to for regular browser traffic, while SOCKS5 is more versatile and suitable for torrenting and other types of traffic.
Stealth VPN is a game-changer if you're dealing with geo-restrictions or heavy censorship. It masks your VPN traffic, making it look like regular web traffic. It benefits streaming services like Netflix and Disney+, as it prevents VPN detection. The downside? A possible dip in connection speed due to the added layer of encryption.
PrivateVPN lets you customize your encryption level, with options that include:
The numbers 128 and 256 refer to encryption key lengths. Higher numbers mean more possible combinations and, hence, better security. CBC vs GCM is a more nuanced choice. CBC is generally less secure as it depends on previous data blocks for encryption. GCM, on the other hand, randomizes data blocks, making it more secure.
You get limited tunneling protocols, including OpenVPN (TUN+UDP+1194) as the default. Also available are:
Stealth VPN can also be enabled as an extra layer.
The kill switch kicks in if your VPN connection drops, preventing data leaks. However, the app doesn't auto-switch to another server. You'll have to reconnect manually.
No third-party audits have been done on PrivateVPN. This could be a concern, given that the service operates from a 14-Eyes country.
PrivateVPN has excelled in crafting a user-friendly interface. While the look and feel can differ across operating systems, the core experience remains consistent. However, it's not all sunshine and rainbows; some hiccups could affect your overall experience. Let's dive right in.
The Windows app is a breeze to use. It bombards you with notifications for everything that happens—ensuring you're always aware of your connection status.
For macOS users, the app mostly mimics its Windows sibling but with rounded buttons to align with Apple's design philosophy. However, it's not a 1:1 copy; some features didn't make the cut.
No native Linux app here. PrivateVPN gives you a manual and sends you off to set up OpenVPN via the command line. It's not as sleek as what you get on Windows or macOS, but it's robust and secure.
The mobile apps are a mixed bag. While they echo the desktop versions' design principles, they're noticeably less smooth.
Key Features for Android and iOS:
PrivateVPN offers three subscription plans, and each comes with the same set of features. The only variable here is the time commitment. The longer you commit, the more you save—pretty standard in the VPN world.
⚠️ Note: Opting for PayPal? Watch out for a 5% handling fee. For example, if you go for the 36-month plan, that's an extra $3.60.