PrivateVPN Review - 2021

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PrivateVPN is a Sweden-based provider operating since 2009. Currently, they offer about 80 servers in 55 countries, which includes Vietnam, Egypt, Finland, India, Israel, Malta, and Thailand.

Why Choose PrivateVPN


PrivateVPN is a feasible proposition if streaming and torrenting is your priority. It’s fairly robust on privacy and security, too, while the desktop client is intuitive and stable. The service has many virtues that make it a worthy contender – the speeds are reliable; P2P is allowed; the streaming services aren’t as capricious when you access them with PrivateVPN.

Best VPN for


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

Works on


Mac

Windows

Android

IOS

Routers


Pros:

  • Six simultaneous connections
  • 30-day money-back guarantee for new customers
  • Unblocks Netflix US, BBC iPlayer
  • Accepts Bitcoin
  • No logs
  • Kill switch, port forwarding, firewall
  • P2P and unlimited bandwidth
  • OpenVPN, AES-256 encryption

Cons:

  • Sweden is part of 14 Eyes
  • No free trial
  • Live chat isn’t 24/7

Pricing and Plans

There is no free or trial plan with PrivateVPN, but the paid subscription is covered by a 30-days money-back guarantee. You can pay on a monthly basis - $5.48, once per trimester - $11.25, or once in 37 months - $72. With these prices, PrivateVPN is one of the most accessible services that offer a healthy bundle of privacy and performance.

PrivateVPN_pricing

You can connect up to six devices per license, and the paid subscription grants you access to all servers in 55 countries, with unlimited bandwidth and P2P support. I like that all three subscriptions have identical features, so you can subscribe for a short term and get the full hands-on experience with the service before committing long-term.

The company accepts payments made with PayPal, credit cards, and Bitcoin.


Features

PrivateVPN supports a wealth of platforms from your regular Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS to Chromebook, routers, and Linux. I tested their native Windows desktop software with a monthly subscription.

I didn’t require a setup guide, but it was nice to know an excellent selection of instructions are available from the knowledge base (even though the website’s color scheme hurt my eyes). The installation was lengthier than what I expected, and it required a computer reboot. After that, PrivateVPN is fairly straightforward – log in and start browsing.

I’m not a big fan of the design choices they made here, but the app is intuitive. Even if you’re new to VPNs, you will easily find everything you need – the servers, the kill switch, the protocols, and a few more tweaks.

If you’re having a hard time installing the app or setting up OpenVPN native software, you can take advantage of the provider’s guided installation, where you get to share your screen with their support.
You can contact PrivateVPN mostly via email. Even though there is a live chat option, it opens a pop-up window where you can send them an email. Not sure if it’s me (because I live and work at night) but if there is a live chat support, it definitely isn’t 24/7.

The app isn’t the most advanced VPN client for desktop I’ve seen, but it offers a reasonable combination of usability and functionality. So it doesn’t appear intimidating if your tech skills are basic, but it’s not bare-bones if you’re looking for a few extra bells and whistles.

You can choose from five connection types – OpenVPN TUN+UDP+1194 (default), OpenVPN TUN+TCP+443, OpenVPN TAP+UDP, PPTP, and L2TP.

You can also customize port forwarding, toggle the IPv6 leak protection, the DNS leak protection, the kill switch, as well as tweak Application Guard behavior (firewall). The latter lets you make a list of programs, which will be blocked from accessing the Internet when your VPN connection drops out. All toggles are self-explanatory, so PrivateVPN is a feasible choice if you’re buying your first VPN ever.

You can also access client logs folder and install or repair Windows TAP adapter if things don’t go as smoothly as they should.

P2P is allowed, and you can connect up to six devices simultaneously. It’s worth mentioning the provider manages its servers located in Sweden while the rest are managed by “trusted third-parties.”


Tests

I always run VPNs through a series of security and performance checks, and you should, too, because no VPN is 100% infallible.

PrivateVPN showed average results in my synthetic speed tests. For instance, here is my speed reading before I connect to the VPN:

And here is my speed when I connect to their US server:

Understandably, and lamentably, overseas connections aren’t nearly as speedy, but just about enough for streaming:

PrivateVPN did not leak my DNS, WebRTC, nor IPv6 when I was testing it:

PrivateVPN is one of the few providers that unblocks Netflix US these days. Give their dedicated page a good read for a list of servers that provide the functionality, and you’ll have your originals ready to stream:

I had no problems accessing all shows and documentaries on the BBC iPlayer, either:


Privacy and Security

PrivateVPN is emphatic about keeping no usage logs, but I’m not a big fan of their Privacy Policy because it’s mostly about using their website – not their VPN. Ah well, proceed to their ToS instead. However, there isn’t much to discuss here, either. New clients are entitled to a 30-day money-back guarantee while the provider has no data on you other than your email, password, and username.

Short, sweet, but I have a little doubt about connection logs because the provider needs to keep track of the number of simultaneous devices connected per license somehow. There is no word about connection logs on their website, so on the surface, PrivateVPN looks like a no-logs provider.

On the security front, PrivateVPN deploys OpenVPN, AES-256 bit encryption with 2048-bit DH key, which is currently the best combination for efficient yet secure VPN connections. I appreciate how the provider discloses and explains security and protocols under the hood. Unfortunately, many providers prefer to keep these details vague, so clarity in technicalities is always welcome.

Finally, it’s a Swedish provider, and Sweden is a part of the 14 Eyes surveillance club, which is something you’ll want to keep in mind if state surveillance is a concern. 


Final Thoughts

PrivateVPN is a feasible proposition if streaming and torrenting is your priority. It’s fairly robust on privacy and security, too, while the desktop client is intuitive and stable. Give it a try.

Alex Grant