PrivateVPN review: PrivateVPN is a basic Swedish VPN service in some areas and has some exciting and unusual features. The network is comparably small, with 60 countries and ‘more than 150 servers’ (providers such as ExpressVPN and NordVPN have thousands). However, torrents are supported everywhere, and you get easy-to-use clients for Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android, as well as installation instructions for routers, Linux, and more.
The company also scores for its technical features, including OpenVPN, L2TP, and IVEv2 support, a stealth mode to bypass VPN blocking, port forwarding support, system-wide and application kill switches, DNS and IPv6 leak protection, and the ability to connect up to 6 devices simultaneously.
PrivateVPN review: Privacy and logging
Does PrivateVPN keep logbooks? The website seems emphatic: “Our Swedish privacy legislation means that no traffic logs are kept for seizure by governments. Unlike many other VPN providers, even WE don’t know what you are doing online”.
That doesn’t exclude session logging, of course: connection times, bandwidth, maybe IPs. Because PrivateVPN imposes a limit of six devices, it probably keeps a list of user sessions, but we couldn’t find anything about that on the site. That’s unfortunate, but it’s not unusual, and since PrivateVPN is based in privacy-conscious Sweden, we suspect that all the details will be relatively safe.
While this is good news, potential customers should still trust PrivateVPN to keep its promises. Many providers are now subjecting their systems to public security and privacy audits, giving users truly independent evidence of what they are doing. We hope more of them will do the same.
PrivateVPN review: Performance
Unlike many of the competition, PrivateVPN makes no massive but vague promises about unblocking any streaming site in the known universe; the apps offer specific locations to unblock services such as Amazon Prime, BBC iPlayer, DAZN, Disney+, HBO, Hulu, NBC, Netflix, RTE Player, Sky, SVT Play and many more.
We didn’t check them all, but PrivateVPN succeeded with everything we tried, including giving access to iPlayer, US Netflix, Amazon, and Disney+. The company also doesn’t assume you’re just looking for US content. For example, open up the Netflix category, and you can also choose locations in Canada, Australia, Japan, France, Germany, and more.
Our speed tests were almost as positive, with PrivateVPN’s UK servers hitting 67-68Mbps on our 75Mbps test line, and little changed near European cities at 04-60Mbps. Long-distance connections are sometimes more of a problem. When we checked the locations with the highest latencies, the Philippines gave us 3-5Mbps, while Indonesia didn’t want to connect.
However, these were the worst performances, and most countries did a lot better. For example, the UK to Australia connections hit 15-20Mbps; you could struggle if you tried to stream Netflix in Ultra HD (the company recommends 25Mbps), but that’s different enough for most tasks.
Our test ended on an even more positive note because we performed the usual privacy checks, and our PrivateVPN connection all succeeded: no DNS leaks, no WebRTC problems, every visible IP always correctly linked to our chosen location.
PrivateVPN review: Pricing and plans
Prices are fractionally above the average at $10.95 per month, an equivalent of $7.31 if you pay three months in advance or $5.95 on the annual plan. Private Internet Access charges only $3.33 per month on the yearly plan (and two extra months are thrown in for the first year.) Card, PayPal, and Bitcoin payments are accepted.
As we write, the PrivateVPN website claims that you can get a free 7-day trial by emailing support. We tried this, and they said it wasn’t available; when we asked why the FAQ page said it was, PrivateVPN apologized for the ‘inconvenience’ and said it would be available ‘soon.’ If that’s the case, that’s great. There are very few vendors that have any trial version nowadays – but that still isn’t an excuse to offer something on the website that doesn’t exist.
Fortunately, if you decide to pay anyway, you are at least protected by a 30-day money-back guarantee. Please note, this only applies to new customers. You must provide a reason for requesting the refund, and you will only be eligible if you have used less than 100 GB of traffic.
Although it has a small network, PrivateVPN review has a lot to offer. Its reliable connections and ability to unblock sites like Netflix make it ideal for streaming. Unlimited bandwidth, high speeds, and robust security and privacy mean that it is also suitable for torrenting, although Mac users may miss a kill switch option. PrivateVPN works reliably in China and other countries trying to block VPN traffic. Although they are not entirely 24/7, the live chat and remote control support indeed sell features and make this an excellent option for both beginners and advanced users.
PrivateVPN is not as fast or as powerful as some but can be worthwhile if you use the advanced tweaks and settings.
- Unblocks Netflix, iPlayer, Amazon, Disney+
- Can be speedy
- Advanced configuration settings
- In-house support
- Relatively few servers
- Slow in a few locations