SwitchVPN Review - 2019
SwitchVPN offers a decent server coverage with 145+ servers in 35 locations. They deploy OpenVPN, solid encryption, and allow up to five simultaneous connections. Torrent junkies will be happy to know P2P is allowed.
However, their ToS, DMCA and Privacy Policies look prohibitive even for the most undemanding eye while the efforts company takes not to disclose its origins only makes it look more suspicious.
SwitchVPN is a newcomer in the VPN business. The parent company CS Systems is an Indian technology company. But sometime between 2015 and now, the VPN brand SwitchVPN moved its headquarters and registration to the American soil. So, SwitchVPN is a US-based provider, for better or worse.
Pricing and Plans
SwitchVPN has two plans - $9.95 monthly and $79.92 yearly. Both come with a no-questions 30-day money-back guarantee, unlimited bandwidth, OpenVPN, and a slew of other protocols. Top it off with mobile and desktop apps, and up to five simultaneous connections per account, and it starts to sound lucrative.
The company accepts credit cards, PayPal, and Bitcoin. There is no free or paid trial, which is a shame because the provider is fairly new and their reputation is something of a gray zone.
SwitchVPN supports Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS. You can also install it on routers and Netduma R1 using OpenVPN config files.
I tried out their Windows client, which is a sleek app with well-compartmentalized functionality. It’s intuitive, too, so the user experience is overall positive.
If you’re a newbie, you’ll be just fine – choose the server, hit the big button, and enjoy the ride.
This doesn’t mean VPN-savvy users will be bored here. Click the gear icon and discover five tabs worth of settings from changing protocols to running diagnostics.
Switch VPN also comes with native Android and iOS apps. However, the mobile functionality is significantly reduced if compared to the desktop client. You can’t choose protocols, there are fewer servers than in the desktop app, and the Android version has issues with Samsung devices.
The company offers support via live chat available round the clock. There is also the knowledge base, which is a scarce collection of basic FAQs and links to legal documents.
I contacted support and received a rather timely response, although my question was non-technical. Overall, however, the impression was that of a very busy agent multi-hopping from one chat to another. So, they didn’t ask if there was anything else they could do for me once my little inquiry was answered.
SwitchVPN software comes with a few bells and whistles – a kill switch, auto reconnect, an option to add a server to favorites and choose protocols. The VPN supports PPTP, L2TP -IPSec, TCP – OpenVPN, and UDP – OpenVPN.
You can also set MTU size manually, and enable HTTP, or SOCKS5. The encryption used is 256-bit SSL, backed by a virtual firewall.
I tested SwitchVPN with a rather sluggish connection, which turned to a crawl with VPN enabled. Here’s my speed reading, if Ookla speed test is correct, before connecting to the VPN:
Then I tested how SwitchVPN affected the speed. First, with a US Miami server:
Then with US Atlanta server:
And a UK London server:
As you can see, the drop was nearly double even for the short-distance US servers. Nonetheless, P2P is allowed, and I was able to stream. Overall, network performance was stable, while the software didn’t freeze or stutter. There were no lags when connecting/disconnecting.
I then took the VPN for a few security tests, and the results were good. No DNS leak was detected:
No WebRTC leak:
And no IPv6 leak, either:
With Netflix cracking down on VPN providers, I wasn’t expecting SwitchVPN to bypass Netflix VPN blocks. And it didn’t.
BBC iPlayer isn’t as finicky, and I could browse and stream, although buffering was noticeable, but not aggravating.
Privacy and Security
Technical specs of SwitchVPN look solid – OpenVPN, 256-bit SSL encryption, backed by a kill switch, and a handful of customizable tweaks. You’d think properly implemented OpenVPN and rock-solid encryption is enough to hop on the bandwagon. But wait.
First of all, using a US VPN provider for P2P is a bad idea due to copyright laws in the US, but SwitchVPN allows torrenting. Their DMCA Policy, however, clearly states the company doesn’t intend to cover your back.
Browser types, language preferences, referring sites, server information, data and time of visitor requests, usage metrics, duration of session and previous activity – we’re just getting started.
Your IP address, network routes, usage statistics, technical data, media access control addresses, traffic patterns, social sharing patterns – sounds like the NSA-level of tracking.
Names, addresses, emails, phone numbers, payment information, verified identity data is also collected.
Note: the company will disclose this data to law enforcement, as well as share non-personally identifiable parts of it with third parties for “research or informational” purposes.
ToS explicitly state the company reserves the right to monitor your usage:
Logging doesn’t become less logging if you call it other names.
CS Systems also does a good job of hiding its India-based origins, which only raises more more questions as to why do it in the first place.
They have the US jurisdiction written all over their ToS, but it’s nothing flattering in the world of VPNs. Their website may read well, but this press release certainly doesn’t. The bottom line is the resulting contradiction doesn’t instill trust.
SwitchVPN looks capable and robust. The catch is it counts on you being so idle as to skip their Privacy Policies and ToS. The technology under its hood may be right, but it does nothing to protect you from the snooping provider. My verdict – steer clear.