Alex Grant

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ZoogVPN Review – 2020

ZoogVPN Review - 2020

Founded in 2013, Greece-based ZoogVPN has carved out a niche for itself as an intuitive and simple VPN that caters specifically to users of online streaming services, such as Netflix.

Why Choose ZoogVPN


Zoog is easy to install, easy to use, and supported on a variety of platforms and devices. It also has some great video tutorials to assist in setup and unblocking content, as well as wallet-friendly subscription plans.

Best VPN for


  • Netflix, Hulu, and streaming online
  • Torrenting and downloading
  • Security and privacy

Works on


Mac

Windows

Android

IOS

Linux

Routers


Pros:

  • Great access to streaming services such as Netflix
  • Easy setup and simple UI
  • Many different VPN protocols to choose from
  • Very helpful website and tutorials

Cons:

  • Speed test was very poor (although streaming quality seemed unaffected)
  • UK-based, with connection logs kept for an unspecified amount of time
  • Customer service is ticket-based only

Pricing and Plans

ZoogVPN is one of the few premier services that offers a free plan. It is limited to only 2GB of data transfer per month, which goes pretty quickly even with average internet usage, but is better than nothing. Since some users of other VPNs report difficulty in utilizing free trials or money back guarantees, a totally free subscription is a great way to try the service out with no obligation or hassle of cancellation.

After that, there is only one basic plan that is sold in three different subscription lengths - one-month, one year, and 2 years (at the time of this post, pricing was $7.99/$2.99/$1.75 per month, respectively). They run frequent specials and discounts, so if you are considering getting a VPN soon, it pays to check out their very polished website from time to time. Compared to VPNs of similar quality, these pricing models are on the good side of average.


Features

ZoogVPN markets itself, and builds it features accordingly, as a VPN for content streamers who either want to bypass geographic restrictions on websites or at the very least access content usually unavailable through proxy servers. This is made clear by the content of their website and the types of help available in their tutorials and FAQ section. Zoog’s goal is to give customers a way to privately and securely access sites such as Hulu, Netflix, or Xfinity.

Since these sites are often changing their own security measures, we went ahead and tested ZoogVPN on Netflix - and it worked like a charm. Should a user experience problems with one of these sites, Zoog’s website contains information on how to change servers or security protocols in order to regain access.

The interface and option menus are set up differently than many other VPNs. Some users might find it to be refreshingly simple and minimalist, while others would wish that it had a little more charm. Either way, the application is unobtrusive and as easy to navigate as something with as much technical voodoo as a VPN could be. The same could be said for its sign up and installation procedures - while fast and relatively easy, it manages to feel tedious and mundane in a way that few modern VPNs have been.​

Note: At the time of posting this review there was no Mac option, however, now there is. It uses IKEv2 VPN protocol for lightning-fast connections. OpenVPN TCP/UDP is also available. Other features include VPN-on-demand for auto-reconnect and a Kill Switch.


Tests

Setting up a VPN is the easy part, and while an attractive UI and easy installation process is nice and all, most of the time your VPN will just be running in the background. Since all VPNs will have an impact on performance, latency, and speed, we started first with a few speed tests of ZoogVPN.


​Our baseline results before and after connecting to the nearest ZoogVPN server from www.speedtest.net.

Unfortunately, this was the largest drop in performance we have seen. When we tried doing some streaming on Netflix, however, performance seemed to be fine. With these numbers, it would be hard to recommend ZoogVPN for online gaming or torrenting purposes, but for regular web browsing and videos, it was serviceable. Also note that your mileage may vary, as there are many factors involved in speed over a VPN, so it could still be worth trying out Zoog and seeing what results you get.

Next, I went to see if our IP was successfully changed, which it was, and followed that up with a peek on ipv6leak.com which showed us that it was not leaking.

These basic tests left us satisfied that the VPN tunnel was working as intended for at least a basic level of security.​


Privacy

While the use of a VPN will keep your IP anonymous when browsing, we took a look to see what types of logs ZoogVPN keeps. Being based in the UK, they are subject to both national and EU data retention logs. According to their website, they do keep minimal connection logs regarding time and duration of sessions, as well as the amount of data transfer. While they do not state how long they keep these logs for, they do go on to say that they keep no logs whatsoever of online activity within a session. Still, for a user looking for the most privacy possible, it might be prudent to try some other VPNs - while their policy sounds reasonable, being based in the UK and not having as long as a track record of anonymity as other providers causes a small amount of skepticism.


Security

For security, Zoog has several protocols including OpenVPN, PPTP, IKEv2 and L2TP. We tested security via www.dnsleaktest.com, came back only with Zoog servers.


Final Thoughts

Overall, Zoog is not set to make huge waves in the world of VPNs. Its main appeal is the ability to access a variety of streaming sites, even across regions - they are very committed to delivering this, including guides and tutorials on how to stay one step ahead should the proxy-vetting of Netflix, et al. change. If this is a big priority, and you aren’t looking for blazing fast speeds for online gaming or torrenting, then ZoogVPN may give you all you need in a simple, affordable package.

CyberGhost Review – 2020

CyberGhost VPN Review - 2020

CyberGhost VPN stands out as a modern Virtual Private Network provider that has a real dedication to user privacy.

Why Choose CyberGhost VPN


CyberGhost is one of the most user-friendly VPNs, and one that doesn’t skimp out on extra features in the name of “simplicity.” It has blazing speed and top of the line encryption.

Best VPN for


  • Netflix, Hulu, and streaming online
  • Torrenting and downloading
  • Security and privacy

Works on


Mac

Windows

Android

IOS

Linux

Routers


Pros:

  • Excellent performance on speed test
  • Great UI and overall experience
  • One of the best no-log privacy policies
  • Comes standard with ad blocker and malware blocker
  • 1-click streaming and torrent-optimized settings
  • Connect up-to 7 simultaneous devices

Cons:


  • Limited servers overseas mean Cyberghost works best in North America and Europe

Pricing and Plans

CyberGhost offers four plans: $12.99 a month, $3.69 a month billed every two years, $2.75 a month billed $99 every three years, or $5.99 a month billed $71.88 every 12 months. (Note that these are billed up front, however, there is a 45-day money-back guarantee.)

Subscribed users can connect up to seven simultaneous devices. 

Also of note, CyberGhost has a reasonably effective free version that still has decent bandwidth and speed. Free users are limited to three hours of use per day, however.


Features

From the polished website to the attractive client, CyberGhost delivers an intuitive VPN experience. A lot of the VPNs out there suffer from cluttered interfaces and confusing menus; others go too far the other way and hide a lot of features to present a minimalistic client. With CyberGhost, someone finally found the sweet spot between these two extremes.

There is also a lot of material on the site to help you navigate through all of the features and options so that you get the most out of your VPN - the guides and troubleshooting FAQs are very thorough and useful. While there isn’t a live chat feature right now, almost any question I could think of was covered somewhere on their site, in a well-organized and well-explained fashion.

Once you are up and running, CyberGhost offers an impressive set of features. My favorite was he 1-click streaming option worked for me on Netflix. Streaming sites often block VPN users based on a proxy IP being detected, or regional restrictions, so this scored huge bonus points in my book. Other VPNs can be configured to get around this, but CyberGhost actually does the legwork for you. Another bonus was a set of features focused on torrenting - CyberGhost can be easily configured to start whenever you begin torrenting to prevent accidental lapses in security, download speed and details are tracked for you, and torrenting-friendly servers automatically selected.


Tests

An important part of choosing the right VPN is how well it preserves your data transfer speed. There will always be some loss of speed when connecting to a VPN, which is based on a combination of many factors. Fortunately, this is easily tested on www.speedtest.net, where I did a before and after test.

Speed tests before and after connecting to CyberGhost:

These results are among the best I’ve seen. The ping was quite high, which is probably due to the distance from the server (CyberGhost does not have as many North American based-servers as some of its competitors).

We also tested for basic security functionality at www.dnsleaktest.com and IPv6leak.com, and found no issues.


Privacy

CyberGhost also has one of the best privacy policies around. They claim to keep absolutely zero logs - not even connection times, user IPs, or traffic data. While privacy can always be compromised by certain government agencies, this is as good as it really gets right now.


Security

Cyberghost uses the current industry standard 256-bit AES encryption, which provides a high level of Internet security. In addition, the service comes standard with some useful bells and whistles like an ad blocker, malware-blocker, and DNS and IPV6 leak protection. There are alerts built into the interface that let you know when these end up being used, along with all of the relevant details.


Final Thoughts

Overall, this is one of excellent VPN that is easy to recommend to users in North America and Europe; even if you spend a lot of time off the beaten path, I would still try to free trial and test Cyberghost’s performance. There are not many providers out there who manage to combine an excellent privacy policy with high performance and extra features like 1-click streaming and wrap it up in such an appealing and easy to use package.

IPVanish Review – 2020

IPVanish VPN Review - 2020

IPVanish VPN combines solid security and better-than-average privacy. It’s easy for the tech-blind to set up and affordable (though not the cheapest option out there).

Why Choose IPVanish VPN


IPVanish is headquartered in Phoenix. The company was founded in 2012, and claiming it won the Info Security Products Guide’s 2016 Startup of the Year Award. It offers 24-7, 365 customer support, has a “zero log policy” and claims to be the fastest, most secure VPN network on the planet.

Best VPN for


  • Netflix, Hulu, and streaming online
  • Torrenting and downloading
  • Security and privacy

Works on


Mac

Windows

Android

IOS

Linux

Routers


Pros:

  • 0 logs
  • Accepts BitCoin
  • 700+ servers in 60+ countries
  • Solid encryption
  • Good leak protection
  • Customer support

Cons:

  • No free trial
  • Presence in Fourteen Eyes and Enemies of the Internet countries
  • Need separate SmartDNS provider

Pricing and Plans

Single plan pricing begins at $10/month-to-month then drops to $6.49/month if you sign up for a whole year at $77.99. Their 7-day money back guarantee will be processed in 10 business days if cancelled on the website. Refunds of variably priced currencies, including BitCoin, are paid at the US Dollar exchange rate at the time of refund.


Features

Location, location, location

IPVanish has more than 850 anonymous servers in over 60 countries, including six in Africa and nearly 70 in Oceania (which I’m told is unusual).

Multiple protocols

The subscription includes OpenVPN, the protocol most experts prefer, as well as L2TP/IPsec and PPTP, which purists consider unacceptably porous. IPVanish also has two protocols available for mobile devices – IPSec and IKEv2.

Well-connected

You can make up to five simultaneous connections on multiple devices (as long as just one is connected via PPTP or L2TP). The service can be configured for Windows, MAC OS X, iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Ubuntu, Chromebook and routers.

Few limits

IPVanish also provides unlimited bandwidth and unlimited daily access to servers and content. Most notable among the very few limits IPVanish does impose is one on “non-individual” or multi-party usage, complete with a sternly worded threat to terminate or restrict your account if there are more than two simultaneous logins from multiple IP addresses under the same username. You have been warned.


Tests

Using IPVanish cut my download speed nearly in half (from 83.53 Mbps to 43.4 Mbps) and reduced upload speed by about 20 percent (from 9.13 Mbps to 7.46 Mbps).

DNS test

Shows that IPVanish is, apparently, leak proof.

WebRTC test

According to these results, my IP address was on the Left Coast rather than in the Midwest.

IPV6 test

Ambiguous – results identical with and without IPVanish.

Testing on mobile

Running IPVanish did not appear to affect speed. Once you login, you can set the app to remember you and you will not see the login screen again.


Privacy

IPVanish is a mixed bag where privacy is concerned. On the plus side, the site does not keep logs, offers OpenVPN, helps disguise the fact you are using a VPN and accepts anonymous forms of payment, including BitCoin and PayPal. On the other hand, you will need to provide limited personal information to open your account and the bulk of IPVanish’s servers are scattered among all the Fourteen Eyes countries and two – one each in Cairo, Egypt and Hanoi, Vietnam – are in countries on the current Reporters Without Frontiers’ “Enemies of the Internet” list. This is also a US-based company and might provide any info it does have to the FBI or NSA if asked.


Security

IPVanish’s top tier OpenVPN security protocol employs the theoretically unbreakable AES-256 cipher, and although it ultimately communicates using the same protocol as many web browsers, its SSL is rated among the best. Still, there are some concerns regarding the number of persistent cookies and third party cookies it allows.


Website Blocking

Was easily able to watch latest Sherlock episode after connecting to a UK server, but puzzled over how to access Netflix for literally hours before getting frustrated and quitting. (Full disclosure: I’m not particularly tech savvy and was, frankly, baffled by the methods for getting round this that I found on Google, all of which seemed to required buying a subscription to a SmartDNS service).


Final Thoughts

Like many (most of you?) I didn’t give Internet security much thought until a recent need to send info securely to a potential employer. I couldn’t use the firm’s workaround of using a fax machine and a time crunch made it necessary to trust to email instead which led me to checking out the better option of using a VPN in the future. For the tech-shy, there’s a steep learning curve once you enter the Wonkdom of VPNs, including an alphabet storm of acronyms.

IPVanish’s website eased (though did not speed up) the process considerably. All things considered, IPVanish provides the security and privacy most of us could need at a slightly slower speed and slightly higher price than some other VPNs.

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