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Faceless.me VPN Review – 2021

Faceless.me VPN Review - 2021

Faceless.me is a VPN provider with at least five years presence on the VPN arena and undisclosed origins.

Why Choose Faceless.me VPN


It might be a tempting offer since the website looks busy, and the copy promises anonymity, encryption, OpenVPN, hassle-free installation, and cross-platform support. But if you give their free subscription-less service a try, chances are you won’t get any further with Faceless.me.

Best VPN for


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

Works on


Mac

Windows

Android

IOS

Linux

Routers


Pros:

  • None

Cons:

  • Dysfunctional
  • No support
  • Undisclosed origins

Pricing and Plans

The only positive thing about Faceless.me is the availability of a free plan that does not require a subscription. Download the program, install it, and connect to any of the two available server locations – in the US, and the Netherlands. The traffic limit is set at 2GB, but don’t get too excited about it – it doesn’t work.

The paid plan kicks in at $19.95 per three months and $29.95 per six months. The company willingly accepts payments made via PayPal and credit cards.


Features

I went ahead with Faceless.me free account. The VPN client is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux-based devices as well as iOS and Android.

The desktop software looks sleek, but that’s about it. It was never able to establish a connection. I checked for troubleshooting guides, double-checked my firewall rules, ran the program with admin rights, installed and re-installed it, tried on different computers to no avail.

I also emailed their support about it via their ticketing system:

Taking into account the fact that the free service might be unavailable due to free servers getting clogged at peak times, I revisited faceless.me VPN over the course of the past three weeks to see if I could get it to connect. Alas.

Their support never bothered to reply.

Additionally, the provider’s blog has not been updated since 2014. The company’s Twitter page was first created in November 2013 and last updated in January 2014. I was unable to find any valuable insight through its WhoIs information other than the website registration expiry date in July 2018.

The sure sign it’s discontinued is its Android app that hasn’t been updated since its first stable release in March 2013. The Windows desktop app comes with copyright dating back to 2011:


Final Thoughts

Do yourself a favor and avoid Faceless.me, even if its free offer seems great. There are better options out there, including the free ones. But Faceless.me is on its fast track to oblivion.

DefenceVPN Review – 2021

DefenceVPN Review - 2021

DefenceVPN is a relatively young VPN provider from Canada that can’t seem to iron out its rough edges like frequent and long-lasting outages.

Why Choose DefenceVPN


DefenceVPN has a 7-day money-back guarantee. I am willing to re-visit my DefenceVPN review when the provider sorts out its mess of a service.

Best VPN for


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

Works on


Mac

Windows

Android

IOS

Linux

Routers


Pros:

  • 7-day money-back guarantee
  • Prompt refund

Cons:

  • Dysfunctional service
  • Support never explained why they preferred issuing a refund over fixing access issues

Pricing and Plans

DefenceVPN offers no free trial. Its monthly plan is priced at $5.99, bi-annual at $32.99, and annual at $59.99. All plans are covered by a 7-day money-back guarantee. The paid plans buy you double data encryption, a kill switch, no logs, P2P-optimized servers with an overall network coverage spanning 16 countries.

Do note that a recurring subscription is set up automatically. Only credit cards and PayPal are accepted.


Features

DefenceVPN supports Windows, Android, iOS and Mac operating systems, but the problem is the VPN is dysfunctional as of this writing.

The first time I checked DefenceVPN’s website was in December 2017. It was under maintenance, which was confirmed by their social media accounts.

I re-visited DefenceVPN in mid-January 2018. Still under “extended maintenance.”

The third time I checked back with them was in late-January, and they seemed to be up and running, although their Twitter lacked any updates since December. To save myself the hassle of buying something that was still under maintenance, I emailed them directly at [email protected] and got a prompt reply:

The checkout went without a hiccup, but that was it. I couldn’t log into my account, or reset a password – the website kept saying it didn’t have an account under my name.

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.

I immediately proceeded to email their support again, asking for help. Note: I asked for help logging in. DefenceVPN replied shortly saying they were issuing an immediate refund. The refund was issued immediately, indeed, leaving me baffled, to say the least.

When I emailed them again asking if I could actually buy the service and use it, I got no reply. Zilch. Nip. Nada.

It would love to see DefenceVPN in action since the advertised features look promising. But the provider seems to be having a hard time getting past some undisclosed hurdles.


Final Thoughts

I can’t say DefenceVPN is a scam since the refund has been issued without a delay, and the support was prompt. But I can’t recommend it for the moment. It’s bizarre at best and dysfunctional at worst. Stay away.

Expat Surfer VPN Review – 2021

Expat Surfer VPN Review - 2021

Warning: Expat Surfer is either grotesquely incompetent or flat out hijacked to harvest funds from first-time subscribers. Avoid this scam at all costs.

Why Choose Expat Surfer VPN


ExpatSurfer by Copla Ltd. offers an easy way of accessing your favorite UK websites from abroad via Expat Surfer’s PPTP connection. There must have been a period of legitimate activity when the company started out, but those days are over. Expat Surfer acts like a long-discontinued but hijacked service with nothing to it but a checkout gateway harvesting the money from first-time subscribers, and Steve doing everything in his power to avoid refunds for a dysfunctional VPN. Avoid like the plague.

Best VPN for


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

Works on


Mac

Windows

Android

IOS

Linux

Routers


Pros:

  • None

Cons:

  • No service
  • Expensive
  • No refunds
  • Prohibitive Privacy Policy
  • Slow, incompetent and downright rude support

Pricing and Plans

Expat Surfer isn’t cheap at £6.99 or $10.26 per month, considering it is a mere PPTP connection with a hideous manual setup not apt for novice users and only two simultaneous connections.

Their annual subscription is priced at £70, roughly $99. You can also request remote setup assistance for additional £35, which is ridiculously overpriced since most providers offer assistance at no extra charge.

Making matters worse, Expat Surfer’s pricing structure has a catch. You are supposed to be entitled to a 2-days free trial if you check out with your credit card. The free trial is unavailable if you pay via PayPal.

And guess what – I was unable to pay with my credit cards. The website would refuse any of my credit card payments, leaving me with the only option – PayPal. But that was just the beginning of my absurd ordeal with Expat Surfer.

There is no money-back guarantee on offer. In exceptional cases, the company may decide to issue a refund but it will be subject to an admin fee of up to 50%:


Features

Expat Surfer supports a limited number of operating systems – Mac OS x 10.5 and 10.6, and Windows XP, Vista, and 7. Either the provider hasn’t updated its website in years, or the service is discontinued.

Nonetheless, my PayPal payment went through and I received a receipt from PayPal confirming my purchase. No welcome email from Expat Surfer ever came.

There is a total of six setup instructions on the website. The setup instruction for PPTP isn’t a light read, and the manual process is a hassle. But things came to a halt for me when I realized the setup guides did not contain the VPN server address.

The guides clearly point out the server address is delivered to new subscribers by the welcome email. The one that I never received.

So I logged into my user dashboard, which is a plain page listing my subscription details:

Since the server address was nowhere to be found in my user account, I used the Contact Us form to request help from Expat Surfer support. I did it twice on Friday and received no reply by late-Monday next week.

On Monday, I emailed their support directly at [email protected] I included everything I could think of in my email – the screenshot of my PayPal receipt complete with the transaction ID, the date and time of my transaction, PayPal’s confirmation, my email address I used to register with Expat Surfer, which was the same I was using to email them. I also included my username, and a detailed explanation of my problem along with the screenshot of the guide, which referred users to the welcome email for the server address.

The next day, Expat Surfer’s Steve replied with an odd email, saying they received none of my previous messages. Moreover, they couldn’t locate my account and he asked me for... my registered email, username, date, time and number of my PayPal transaction. You know, the same things I had already sent to him.

Nonetheless, I emailed them the whole bundle all over again, and they replied they couldn’t help me because I was problematic, and not providing them with the information they needed. At which point I opened a PayPal dispute. Steve replied again, saying he couldn’t help me until I provide the information they needed.

Last verse same as first. When I requested a refund and account cancellation, Steve said he couldn’t cancel my account since he couldn’t locate it in the first place because I wasn’t providing him with the information he needed (my email, username, transaction details, which I’ve now sent to him four times).


Privacy and Security

Expat Surfer relies on PPTP protocol, which is weak, so security is off the table. The company’s Privacy Policy and ToS explicitly state the company will monitor your activity if compelled by a relevant authority.

The good news is you are unlikely to get a VPN service from Expat Surfer in the first place..


Final Thoughts

Expat Surfer acts like a long-discontinued but hijacked service with nothing to it but a checkout gateway harvesting the money from first-time subscribers, and Steve doing everything in his power to avoid refunds for a dysfunctional VPN. Avoid like the plague.

OneVPN Review – 2021

OneVPN Review - 2021

OneVPN is a new Hong Kong-based provider unabashedly claiming to be the fastest VPN offering top-notch privacy and malware protection among a few.

Why Choose OneVPN


OneVPN claimed it offers zero logs, ad-blocking, NAT Firewall, and a whopping network of 390+ servers in 59 countries. I’ve seen my share of VPNs making those claims only to end up being yet another opportunist company on the VPN bandwagon. So I took OneVPN’s ad copy – like that of any other provider – with a grain of salt. Good for me.

Best VPN for


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

Works on


Mac

Windows

Android

IOS

Linux

Routers


Pros:

  • Accepts Bitcoin
  • Broad server coverage
  • Supports OpenVPN
  • Three simultaneous connections
  • Win, Mac, Android client
  • Unblocks BBC iPlayer

Cons:

  • The provider doesn’t honor its 7-day money-back
  • Messed up performance
  • Clumsy desktop client
  • Misleading privacy policy
  • Some advertised features are unavailable
  • Unresponsive support

Pricing and Plans

OneVPN offers no free trial but covers your paid subscription with a 7-day money-back guarantee. To qualify for a refund, you must email the provider before that term expires. You are also not to consume more than 3GB of data. Be warned: my ticket regarding the refund was dismissed without a reply. The refund was never issued.

Their monthly plan will set you off $7.95, which goes down to $4.99 if you pay on a bi-annual basis (a total of $30). As you would expect, a yearly subscription offers an even bigger discount at $47.88 for the entire year of OneVPN.

OneVPN_pricing

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.


Features

OneVPN offers no free trial but covers your paid subscription with a 7-day money-back guarantee. To qualify for a refund, you must email the provider before that term expires. You are also not to consume more than 3GB of data. Be warned: my ticket regarding the refund was dismissed without a reply. The refund was never issued.

Their monthly plan will set you off $7.95, which goes down to $5 if you pay on a bi-annual basis (a total of $30). As you would expect, a yearly subscription offers an even bigger discount at $48 for the entire year of OneVPN.

You get three simultaneous connections, software for Windows, Mac, and Android, unlimited bandwidth and sessions, “up to” 256-bit encryption, and all those fancy features mentioned above plus a “speed booster.”

Admittedly, OneVPN accepts a broad range of payment options – PayPal, credit cards, Bitcoin, Alipay and gift cards, as well as multiple options via Paymentwall, including WebMoney, GiroPay, and others.

OneVPN provides a native client for Windows, Mac, and Android. Other devices and routers require manual setup; detailed instructions can be easily found on the website. Since the platform supports PPTP, L2TP, and OpenVPN, you can set up either of those protocols on Linux, routers, Apple TV, Boxee, Feebox, Chromebook, and Qnap NAS.

Upon subscription, the provider sends you a welcome email with your username, password, and a link to activate your client area. The latter gives you a quick access to your invoices, account details, and support tickets. The downloads and setup guides can be accessed without logging into your client area.

Support is supposed to be available via live chat, but it was never online during my tests. It also closed my tickets without ever bothering to respond. No kudos for that.

Usability-wise, OneVPN is a bit of a mess. The program’s real estate is occupied by a map, which is not a map but a picture of a map with a tag over Hong Kong. Even if it was meant to be a map, it never worked. Re-starting the app never solved the nag. This is misleading. I don’t need to be looking at the map of Asia when I am connecting to other regions.

The app consists of merely one tab with your login details and a quick drop-down menu for servers and protocols – PPTP, L2TP, OpenVPN TCP and UDP. This drop-down menu is infuriatingly finicky. For instance, there’s a switch to sort your servers in a different order, but if you click it, the drop-down menu closes altogether.

The gear icon is not what you’d expect it to be. Instead of giving you at least a minimal level of control, the gear icon stands for connection logs.

On the performance front, however, OneVPN is downright odd. Despite claiming to have speedy servers that are optimized for bigger capacities, none of its US servers ever managed to connect.

It kept connecting me to French and Canadian servers despite the fact that I was trying to connect to servers in the US. It took several restarts to get its OpenVPN feature to work correctly, but the issues with the US servers persisted.

Also, if you disconnect and then re-connect, the app does not connect you to the last server used. Instead, it makes a pick of the closest server. Although the user interface is dead-simple, the simplicity doesn’t help when VPN starts acting funny.

OneVPN advertises a load of fancy features – an ad-blocker, a NAT firewall, malware protection, and something called One-Stream. My question is – where are these features other than on the provider’s main page?

The app’s settings are non-existent but for the protocol and server switch. Allegedly, the ad blocker and anti-malware features are embedded by default, and users don’t get to mess with those settings.

You are allowed up to three simultaneous connections per license. No mention of P2P torrenting is found on the website, so it’s unclear if the company allows file-sharing.


Tests

OneVPN leaked my DNS. I would check and re-check for DNS leaks every time I switched servers via PPTP and OpenVPN, but the leak was persistent. This is no good – DNS reveals your real location.

No WebRTC or IPv6 leaks have been detected, a weak consolation for DNS leaks if you ask me.

As far as speeds are concerned, my initial connection speed was slightly over 30Mbps:

OneVPN chopped a half of my speed for short-distance connections like Canada (US servers never had capacity in my tests):

I was able to stream BBC iPlayer without any hiccups, although the connection would occasionally drop:

Netflix immediately recognized I was using a VPN and locked me out:

I was unable to connect to an Australian servers.


Privacy and Security

OneVPN advertises a zero-logs policy, but most VPNs make that claim, so let’s dig the company’s legal pages. Their Privacy Policy states:

I appreciate the brevity, but things like “basically” and “about all” make the legal statement sound vague.

With regards to logs, the provider goes on to reiterate the zero-log policy:

And here’s the catch – if the company keeps track of your simultaneous connections, then there must be a record of your login sessions somewhere.

On top of that, the zero-logs statement makes no sense when you read the refund policy clause of its ToS – you don’t get a refund if you exceed the 3GB data cap. So the company must keep a record of your used bandwidth. Also, OneVPN auto-renews your subscription so there must be a record of your payment details somewhere at some point.

The above doesn’t necessarily mean OneVPN is doing something nefarious behind the scenes. But neither are they being transparent about their privacy policies, and this is off-putting.

Hong Kong is an okay zone for privacy, but it’s still a part of China so I wouldn’t get too comfortable having my metadata stored there.

OpenVPN and “up to” 256-bit encryption sounds good, but you never know which encryption type is at work when you connect.


Final Thoughts

OneVPN exaggerates its capacity and features, failing to disclose its privacy policy fully. Its performance is sporadic at best although it is an affordable solution. The provider doesn’t honor its money-back guarantee closing support tickets without a reply. Find yourself another VPN.

ShellFire VPN Review – 2021

ShellFire VPN Review - 2021

ShellFire is a Germany-based provider with 16 years on the VPN market, servers in 35 countries across the globe, great privacy and security specs, and a cross-platform client.

Why Choose ShellFire VPN


ShellFire has all the right ingredients to be a decent contender but performance is where it falls short.

Best VPN for


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

Works on


Mac

Windows

Android

IOS

Routers


Pros:

  • Free plan
  • No logs
  • No leaks
  • Embedded streaming links
  • Decent encryption
  • Accepts Bitcoin
  • 14-day money-back guarantee
  • Wide server coverage

Cons:

  • Poor performance
  • One concurrent connection per license
  • No meaningful settings (like a kill switch or firewall)
  • Sloppy Windows client
  • No P2P
  • Germany-based

Pricing and Plans

ShellFire offers three plans. Their free plan offers two servers – in Germany and the US – and 128-bit encryption with the OpenVPN protocol. It doesn’t limit your traffic but the speed limit is 1,000 kbit/sec. The free account requires that you register and verify your email address.

Their paid Premium plan costs €2.90 per month in a yearly subscription and € 4.00 when paid on a monthly basis. PremiumPlus will set you off €5.00 per month in a yearly subscription or € 8.00 when paid monthly. All paid plans come with 256-bit encryption, unlimited traffic, servers in 37 countries, and no speed limit alongside direct links to some of the most popular streaming services sound like a lucrative proposition.

Note: ShellFire only allows one concurrent connection per account.

You can pay via PayPal, credit cards, Bitcoin, Sofort-Transfer, wire transfer, and even Pay-Per-Phone. All paid plans come with a 14-day “right to cancel without giving any reason.”

Currently, ShellFire offers an alternative to its paid accounts – users can pay for VPN with their computing power. Install ShellFire VPN Crypto version, let your computer mine some crypto for the provider, and access all the premium features. It’s worth noting the crypto version of the app is still in Alpha, but you can get your hands-on experience and decide if you’re okay with the concept and performance.


Features

ShellFire offers a native client for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS. You can also setup OpenVPN or PPTP connections manually using their config files and guides. In this case, you can extend your VPN to your Ubuntu devices.

I tried their free app for Windows, the Crypto-mining Alpha version of their Windows premium app, and their Android app. I had multiple issues with all of them, unfortunately.

My first woe is the UI doesn’t scale well. It looks huge, with parts of the program not fitting into the screen. The app didn’t allow me to resize it, so I had to move it around manually to access its top and bottom parts separately. It’s a pain.

Second, parts of the UI are in German. I figured out the meaning of the big blue buttons, but inconsistent UI translation paired with the messy disproportionate design make a bad impression.

Additionally, the UI contains too much visual clutter. I couldn’t care less for a visualization of how my traffic travels from my PC to its destination. I’d rather have a small but tidy window that says “connecting” and scales well.

The app’s settings are too basic to make a difference while the servers list is yet another mess. The servers are listed alongside their location, speed, security, and paid/free status. At the same time, you can not sort them. There is no way to see, say, all US servers or display the free servers and hide the premium ones. I couldn’t grasp the principle based on which the servers were listed – three separate US servers were lines apart. 

Unnecessary clicks, scrolling, and redundant visualizations make ShellFire’s Windows client an unlikely recommendation.

Making matters worse, performance was downright horrible. At first, I thought the VPN connection kept dropping because I was using the free plan, but then the problem persisted with the premium plan and the crypto-mining version. Then I installed ShellFire’s Android app only to confirm that the VPN connection never lasts more than a minute. Literally.

Auto-reconnect takes ages, so measuring speeds and running security check-ups turned into a debacle. Unfortunately, from what I can tell based on reviews on Google Play, the connection issues are common.

ShellFire offers useful manual setup guides, minimalist FAQs, and email-based support that works 9-5.

The premium plans come with a selection of embedded US streaming channels. You need to connect to a US server first, and then launch the streaming, which opens in your default browser.

You can also switch between UDP for faster connections and TCP for more secure connections.

The app allows you to toggle some fairly basic settings – save login data and login automatically, save VPN choice, start on boot, connect automatically, and show VPN status after establishing a connection. Lackluster settings don’t make ShellFire any favors, alas.


Tests

As I said, the connection was unstable all the way through – on desktop and mobile. Even measuring speed was a hassle. Here is my default speed before connecting to the VPN:

ShellFire’s US server:

and UK server:

While it worked, it did not leak my DNS, IPv6 or WebRTC:

The persistent problem of connection drops understandably translated into poor streaming results. While I was using the Premium servers, the connection would drop regularly allowing both Netflix and BBC iPlayer to identify where I was. The same thing happened when I tried the embedded streaming link to CBS. One moment it launches Criminal Minds and starts buffering, the next moment it says the content is not available in my region.


Privacy and Security

ShellFire does not log user data. Since they are based in Germany, however, the company must comply with legal warrants and cooperate with local law enforcement agencies. In which case, the provider would grant law enforcement access to specific user’s live data streams. Let that sink in for a moment.

Germany is home to patent trolls and a part of the Five Eye and Fourteen Eye alliances. You are well-advised to avoid illegal activities while using ShellFire. Additionally, some users report the VPN actively filters out certain keywords, and torrenting is one of them.

The providers ToS and Privacy Statement are short. The company logs all access to its website, including your email if you provide it, date, time, and purpose of access. It also uses cookies, targeted ads, social media buttons, Google Analytics, and allows opt-out of some of them.


Final Thoughts

ShellFire has a few aces up its sleeve – the crypto-mining premium client, embedded streaming, and a wealth of servers. But its performance and the lack of meaningful settings leave a lot to be desired. I find it hard to recommend.

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