Why Choose Liberty VPN
The VPN provides a handful of servers in the US, the UK, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Hong Kong, and Singapore. PPTP, L2TP, SSTP, and OpenVPN protocols are available, but no torrenting or simultaneous connections are allowed.
Best VPN for
Liberty VPN offers a 3-day 100% money-back guarantee on all plans. They offer several subscription options – a monthly plan will set you off whopping $15, a three-month plan costs $38, bi-annual - $68, annual - $108. Unmetered bandwidth, no extra software, four protocols, and no simultaneous connections don’t justify the high-end pricing.
The company accepts PayPal and credit cards, but not Bitcoin. You are also to submit your whole set of personal details – your full name, zip code and address, phone number, and email. This is nowhere near private or secure.
Upon registration, you receive a welcome email containing your VPN login and pass combo, as well as a set of links to download/install/setup/troubleshoot instructions. The email itself is well-organized and I was able to find my way through the maze.
The point is Liberty VPN consists of two parts. One is a “VPN dialer” file, which you can download by following a link in your welcome email. This file needs no installation – it’s just a quick customized way to “fix” your computer’s settings and tunnel your traffic through Liberty VPN PPTP or L2TP/IPSec connection.
OpenVPN is available as a standalone download, consisting of the OpenVPN GUI and the configuration file. You need to get these from a totally different location by going to the provider’s website → Setup Instructions → How to set up OpenVPN SSL connection, which in turn tells you to log in to a clientconfig.com domain to download the files.
Phew! Usability is definitely not among Liberty VPN’s strengths.
You don’t get a user account with the Liberty VPN website at all. Instead, you get the VPN credentials, which you use to connect to its servers either via the dialer app or the OpenVPN GUI. But you get an account with Bluesnap, a merchant platform through which you buy a Liberty VPN subscription. It’s in this Bluesnap user account that you can access your customer information – the personal information and invoices.
Feeling confused? We’re just getting started.
The OpenVPN config file only gets you one server location – in the UK. The rest of the locations are available in the less secure PPTP and L2TP/IPSec protocols. In my tests, US servers refused to connect altogether, so I had to make do with the rest of the available servers.
Live chat support is unavailable; you can only count on the ticketing system.
No P2P is allowed. In fact, the welcome email and the Terms of Service explicitly reiterate the P2P ban clause multiple times.
Nothing illegal is allowed at all, even if it’s illegal in Iran or Cuba. See where we’re heading?
If you connect to Liberty VPN using the same credentials from two different computers simultaneously, the provider will send you a warning. Do that again and you will get punished big time, perhaps even banned.
The dialer app settings allow you to change the protocol and offer a few other minor toggles, as well as a way to enter the server address manually. Other than that, the service is bare-bones.
I tested the VPN dialer app and the OpenVPN GUI with Liberty VPN configuration. My speeds before VPN were around 35-40Mbps:
With OpenVPN enabled, Liberty VPN’s UK server had rather good speeds, considering it’s a long-distance connection for me:
And here’s the UK server when connected via the Liberty VPN dialer app showing significantly lower speeds – shouldn’t it be vice versa?
and the server in Toronto, PPTP connection via the dialer app:
For what it’s worth, my desktop Speed Test app by Ookla would refuse to measure speeds every time I enabled Liberty VPN. Sometimes, even its website would fail to work properly with Liberty VPN enabled, so I had to test the VPN’s performance with whatever tests that could work. Overall, the speeds were painfully inconsistent.
Likewise, the IPv6 leak website got blocked by the VPN:
So I had to test for any possible leaks using another service:
No WebRTC or DNS leaks were identified either:
The VPN also caused my Win 7 laptop to freeze at one point, so I had to force-reboot it manually.
Liberty VPN unblocked BBC iPlayer and Netflix Canada without breaking a sweat, so kudos for that:
It’s safe to assume this means “usage logs” in VPN terms.
Liberty VPN’s Terms of Service are another masterpiece that should have been titled “Nope.” As in – can I torrent? Nope. Can I connect to Liberty VPN from more than one device simultaneously? Nope. Can I use your VPN in Cuba? Nope. Can I access Skype in countries where it is illegal? Nope.
If you should break any of the nope clauses, your traffic may be filtered or blocked altogether without prior notification. You can’t break any laws of any country. DMCA violations will get you in trouble, too. In one of its ToS clauses, the company let it slip that it’s actually the US-based CaroNet that runs the business.
But the icing on the cake is this Remuneration clause:
So Liberty VPN is a strict nope. As in – should I use it? Nope.
Liberty VPN is a no-frills, overpriced, privacy-invasive service with super-shady origins. Stay away.
Why Choose GoTrusted VPN
With 70 servers in the US, UK, Europe, and Asia, GoTrusted allows only one simultaneous connection. No torrenting is allowed and although their VPN relies on a selection of protocols (PPTP, LT2P/IPSec, and OpenVPN), you never know which one is in action when you connect to its servers. Advanced users will be disappointed with the lack of meaningful controls.
Best VPN for
GoTrusted offers a 7-day free trial to first-time subscribers. You need to submit your payment details, however. You should not be charged other than a minor $0.01. During the first seven days, you can test the service without any limitations. After the trial ends, your credit card or PayPal account will be charged. If you wish to cancel, keep in mind the provider’s ToS are explicit about not issuing refunds after the first payment is charged to your account on the eighth day.
GoTrusted offers three subscriptions - $9.95/mo if paid on a month-to-month basis, $52.50 per six months, and $89.88 a year. You can pay with your credit card, PayPal, and WebMoney.
Each paid plan bundles the same feature-set – no speed or data caps, no limitations on IP switch or other “hidden costs.” The provider is stingy when it comes to simultaneous connections – you are allowed to use only one computer at a time. The only clause that qualifies as “simultaneous connections” says you can connect your computer and mobile device to its VPN service at the same time “at no extra charge.” Bitcoin is not accepted.
There are no fancy bells and whistles on offer here – support is available during the U.S. office hours only. I encountered a subscription glitch – once my subscription was confirmed with PayPal, I was supposed to be redirected back to the website and finalize my account setup.
This seemingly minor issue took them three days to fix. I subscribed on Saturday but was able to access my account only on Monday.
I expected a massive how-to’s library from a provider with over 13 years of existence, but the available FAQs are scarce.
GoTrusted only supports Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS. No love for Linux users, or anyone looking to set up a VPN on their routers.
The good news is GoTrusted has a native desktop app for Windows and Mac and manual setup guides for mobile devices. Of note: you can only setup L2TP/IPSec connection on your mobile device.
You are able to access the download links for your desktop installers from your spartan user account.
The Windows installer took me through the typical installation routine. The Windows app greets you with a login prompt and from there, it resides in the bottom-right corner of your desktop as a little floating window.
The UI is spartan, too. This is not necessarily a bad thing. If you are new to VPNs, you will find it easy to use. Click “Go Secure,” and your session status will display if you are connecting, connected, or disconnected.
If you click the Menu icon, you will bring up a few additional tabs of settings. If you think there’s anything of interest here, you’re in for a disappointment because you are given no advanced controls here.
The Advanced tab lists three connection modes – Standard (recommended/the fastest), Compatibility Mode (best in some locations), and Compatibility Mode 2 (slower but sometimes required).
The company does not provide any further information about which protocol and encryption are used in any of those connection modes, or which locations require the said compatibility mode. Go figure.
The General Settings tab allows you to change the server location. There is a short selection of areas – U.S. Auto/ East/ West/ Central, Canada, UK, Europe Auto/ East/ West, and Asia.
According to GoTrusted, each of the available three connection modes fall back to the optimal protocol and encryption based on your location. My guess is it was always something other than OpenVPN in my case.
Before connecting to the VPN, I checked my connection speed:
And here is my speed test result when I connected to their U.S. Auto, which cut down half of my speed:
their UK server ended up slower than my U.S. connection:
and their server in Asia saw my speed slowing down even more:
These results are just about satisfactory.
I was glad none of my security leak tests identified any flaws with GoTrusted VPN’s performance. There were no DNS, IPv6, or WebRTC leaks detected:
GoTrusted successfully bypassed the Netflix and BBC iPlayer geo-blocks – color me impressed.
But if you’re looking to watch Channel 9 outside of Australia, you’re out of luck since GoTrusted has no network coverage in Australia or New Zealand.
On the security front, GoTrusted offers OpenVPN with 256-bit encryption aside from L2TP/IPSec and PPTP. But you never know which protocol is enabled when you connect your VPN. The program goes as far as to say SSL encryption is enabled. I wouldn’t recommend using this VPN for anything other than streaming.
The company also logs and stores your personal data – name, email, address, payment details, cookies, survey data, and something called “evaluation and feedback” data, which is stored indefinitely. “All information pertaining to user satisfaction” is a broad and vague definition for a chunk of data the provider chooses to log and store indefinitely.
Also, the provider involves an undisclosed number of third parties in its supply chain and shares your personal data with them.
Top that off with GoTrusted’s U.S. jurisdiction, and you get a rather toxic mix of data retention laws, gag orders, and privacy clauses. The provider will disclose your data to law enforcement if the company, in its sole discretion, deems it necessary. This suggests the company does not intend to send you a prior notice.
In short, if you’re looking for some peace of mind and privacy, GoTrusted doesn’t fit the profile.
GoTrusted is overpriced for a VPN that offers no transparency about its tech specs or meaningful customization options. If you are new to VPNs, you might appreciate the ease of use and seamless streaming. But the fairly mediocre speeds and connection logs keep me from recommending it as a privacy solution. GoTrusted is a streaming solution, at best.
Why Choose My Expat Network VPN
My Expat Network is an interesting but limited and expensive proposition. It relies on L2TP and OpenVPN with 64-bit encryption for better speeds and offers a network of 120 servers in 12 locations.
Best VPN for
Even though My Expat Network aims to make things simple for non-techies, its pricing structure is needlessly mind-numbing. You need to select the country you wish to unblock, and the devices you intend to use, and only then the duration of your subscription. You can select all devices, and all countries, too.
All countries and PC/Mac/Router devices will set you off at $3.50 per month. The same pricing is found in the package covering all countries and tablet/mobile-only devices. If you choose all devices with up to 5 connections at once, it is billed at $6 per month.
Surprisingly, you can’t choose a one-country plan with all devices. If you need all devices, the subscription defaults to all countries. As I said, needlessly complex.
The company accepts only two payment methods – PayPal and credit cards. No free trials are available, but you should be able to get a refund during the first 30 days of your subscription.
Catering to a non-techie audience, My Expat Network also offers live support and remote assistance in installation and troubleshooting via TeamViewer.
My Expat Network supports Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, Amazon Fire, and routers. Your customer area offers shortcuts to downloads, manual installation guides, and FAQs. It’s a nicely designed and easy-to-navigate area, where you can also access your invoices and tickets. There is no live chat bubble, but the email-based support is prompt and savvy.
My Expat Network Windows client is a customized version of the OpenVPN GUI. If you are familiar with the latter, you will recognize its simplicity in My Expat Network solution. When active, the app is a mere icon in your task bar. Clicking it will bring up a small floating window with a selection of servers, each with a drop-down menu to connect, disconnect, show status, and connection logs.
The settings are minimalist, too, and consist of three tabs – About, General (where you can change the app’s language), and Proxy. The latter has three options – use My Expat Network config files, system proxy settings, or a manual configuration.
I appreciate the clean, spartan design, and the ease of use, but I certainly wish there were more toggles, like a kill switch or a DNS leak protection.
Torrenting of copyrighted material is explicitly prohibited. Five simultaneous connections are only available in the All-in-One plan, but considering you can set up your router to cover all your devices it’s not a limitation, per se.
My Expat Network uses low-level 64-bit encryption to provide faster connection speeds for streaming. Their servers are not supposed to be running at more than 75% capacity, and the provider claims to unblock even the live sports events. Unfortunately, in my time with the VPN, I was getting consistently sluggish connection speeds.
My initial speed without the VPN was above 30Mbps:
With My Expat Network enabled, it downright stalled. Ookla’s speed test would flake out repeatedly – taking the measurements turned into a debacle.
Check the speeds for the US connection:
the UK connection:
and the Australian connection:
The connection is never consistent; the speeds are disappointing and certainly not apt for streaming.
The good news is the VPN did not leak my DNS, WebRTC, or IPv6 details:
Here comes the greatest disappointment – the poor speeds prevented me from streaming BBC iPlayer. It kept buffering forever.
I was able to access Australia’s Channel 9, but then again, the speeds were unacceptable.
Netflix blocked me from the get-go while HBO was the only streaming website I could watch with My Expat Network VPN enabled.
The company is based in Hong Kong, which is relatively good because there are no data retention laws there but it’s still China. However, the provider has to keep connection logs and bandwidth use to comply with local laws in the US and the UK, and other countries where its servers are located. The company will disclose those logs to law enforcement if compelled. No file-sharing of copyrighted material is allowed.
The technical specs are weak – OpenVPN with 64-bit encryption for desktop and L2TP for mobile devices. The encryption is poor, but considering the provider never said it was meant for privacy, I appreciate the transparency.
My Expat Network does not monitor your usage activity.
My Expat Network is not meant for privacy or security. If you’re okay with that, go ahead and try it. Speed-, streaming- and performance-wise, my experience was awful – your mileage may vary. But then it’s also overpriced. Thankfully, there are better options for streaming and security on the VPN market these days.
Why Choose PandaPow VPN
Highlights include three simultaneous connections, intuitive cross-platform client, an ability to pause subscriptions, and pretty good speeds. The bad news is no P2P is allowed, and the provider keeps connection logs. Let’s dig into the details.
Best VPN for
PandaPow offers no free trials, but all its paid plans come with a 7-day money-back guarantee. Additionally, you can have more than one subscription per account and pause your subscriptions whenever you know you won’t be using them for some time. Kudos for that.
PandaPow Classic kicks in at $9 per month, $24 per three months, and $84 per year. You get three simultaneous connections and a cross-platform client.
The provider accepts PayPal, credit cards, AliPay, WeChat Pay, UnionPay, and Tenpay. Bitcoin is not accepted. One other thing you should know about their money-back guarantee is it doesn’t cover your iTunes purchases due to Apple’s restrictions.
PandaPow VPN is compatible with most flavors of Windows, Android, and iOS, but you would need Mac OS X and later. You can also run it on Windows Mobile, Windows RT, Chromebook, Linux, and BlackBerry. Now, that’s an impressive list because VPN providers seldom care to add Windows Mobile support, let alone BlackBerry.
PandaPow supports PPTP, IPSec, L2TP, and OpenVPN protocols. Availability of a native client for desktop and mobile devices as well as of OpenVPN configuration files offers a welcome degree of flexibility.
Upon subscribing, I received an instant activation email. I was immediately able to log into my client area, view my subscription, and access downloads, FAQs, and troubleshooting guides.
The website is not going to win any design contests, but it’s well-organized and easy-to-navigate. Customer support is available via email.
I’ve tested PandaPow’s Windows desktop and Android VPN clients. The usual installation routine for the Windows client took no more than a minute. My welcome email also contained all the information I needed to run the VPN. It specifically noted my VPN username and password, which were different from the combo for my client area.
The desktop software is a custom version of the OpenVPN GUI. If you are familiar with the latter, you will immediately recognize the similarities.
The design is spartan, but the program is extremely easy-to-use. Upon your first login, it asks you if you are in China. If so, you can apply China-specific settings.
You can choose a server and connect from different areas of the app. There is the main regions window, as well as the connection status window, and a quick shortcut to servers available from the taskbar if you right-click on the app’s icon.
The servers are sorted by region – US, Asia, and Europe. Each region comes with a list of locations, and each location may or may not have a drop-down list of servers. Los Angeles, for instance, has 24 servers, which is not bad if you ask me.
PandaPow’s Windows client may not sport a fancy color palette, but its straightforward user interface makes it apt for beginners.
Its Android port is also intuitive and bundles a nifty server speed test. You can run it on all servers, or pick specific ones:
PandaPow allows up to three simultaneous connections, but you can install and use it on as many devices as you need. The point is not to exceed the three concurrent sessions limit.
Although spartan, the Windows client offers advanced customization if you know how to go about it. Apart from auto-run on system boot, you can customize allowed protocols, ports, timeouts, and even edit the config file or initiate a TAP re-install if you’re having issues with it.
You can also add servers, set TAP metric, update the server URL, or remove the server file and install an old TAP driver. The app also shows a detailed log of your connections for debugging. And if you need to contact PandaPow’s support, the app offers a shortcut to copy your log file.
There is no kill switch or NAT firewall, and P2P is not allowed, but there are no speed or data limits.
PandaPow showed above-average results in my speed tests. Partly, this is due to the weak Blowfish encryption. Nonetheless, the results are promising.
My Internet speed without VPN was around 30Mbps today:
With PandaPow’s Dallas server, my speed increased slightly:
The speed dropped in long-distance UK connections:
and Australian connections:
The speed drop for long-distance connections wasn’t critical and I was impressed by PandaPow’s overall performance. Connecting/disconnecting was always swift; no errors ever popped up.
At the same time, my DNS leak tests identified the VPN was leaking my DNS, which came as a bitter disappointment:
No WebRTC or IPv6 leaks were identified:
PandaPow scored high on my streaming tests, unblocking Netflix, HBO, BBC iPlayer, and Australia’s Channel 9 in a single swoop. I had no trouble streaming; buffering times were minimal.
PandaPow is owned by DoEnter Ltd. based in Hong Kong. Since there are no mandatory data retention laws, Hong Kong-based VPNs are considered fairly reliable privacy-wise. At least you can hope the Fourteen Eyes surveillance agencies won’t be spying on your metadata. On a side note, the Chinese government might.
The provider logs your connection data, complete with your IP address, timestamps, the total amount of data transferred, as well as the transfer speed information. That’s a little more than I was hoping for, unfortunately.
PandaPow will disclose your account information to law enforcement if legally compelled to do so. At the same time, it will never “intentionally” disclose your private electronic communication or account information. In other words, you won’t be using PandaPow for privacy.
The provider’s strongest specs rely on OpenVPN-based proprietary protocol with Blowfish-128 cipher, HMAC SHA-1, and an RSA-2048 handshake. These are baseline specs, so security is fairly weak.
Panda Pow Classic VPN is a workable solution for streaming and gaming due to good speeds and the network coverage. It’s wallet-friendly, and you can pause your subscriptions. At the same time, it may leak your DNS occasionally. The company also stores your connection logs, so you won’t be using it to leak state secrets.
Why Choose EarthVPN
You might be tempted to try it out because it’s cheap and the highlights look good – OpenVPN, P2P allowed, unlimited data, and a seven-day money-back guarantee. But I strongly recommend that you avoid this provider.
Best VPN for
EarthVPN has an undeniable edge over its competition – affordable prices. Its monthly plan is priced at $3.99 while its annual subscription is only $39.99. That’s admittedly cheaper than most VPNs. The subscriptions include servers in 54 countries, 190 locations, multi-protocol VPN software, unlimited speed and bandwidth, and up to three simultaneous connections.
P2P is allowed, while the technical specs look good with up to 256-bit and 2048 RSA encryption for OpenVPN connections.
There is no free trial but the paid plans are supposed to be backed by a 7-day money-back guarantee. The provider supports credit card and PayPal payments.
Except that you get absolutely none of the advertised features.
The subscription process with EarthVPN is different than the subscription routine found with other providers. Normally, you being at a checkout and then proceed to your account setup.
With EarthVPN it’s vice versa. You create your user account first. Then you can configure your order to include additional services, such as mobile support, 256-bit encryption, static IP, and SSH tunnel – for an additional price. The system then generates your invoice.
I was unable to pay the first generated invoice – the website refused to process a PayPal order. Knowing how VPN providers sometimes get in trouble with PayPal, I decided to give Earth VPN some time. That was back in August 2017.
I re-visited the service several times afterward but to no avail – my payment couldn’t go through. Worse yet, the first invoice kept renewing itself every month. By now, I have seven unpaid invoices for the service I was never able to use. Each time it auto-renews I receive an email reminder. There is no way to delete or cancel the ungodly invoice.
I bombarded EarthVPN support with emails and tickets. My emails fell on deaf ears while my tickets were dismissed without a response. EarthVPN just kept closing them until I tired of opening the new ones.
EarthVPN acts like a discontinued service that keeps generating invoices but fails to provide VPN services or customer support. Do yourself a favor and steer clear of this one!