Is Opera VPN Safe?

Headshot of Top10VPN.com Site Editor Callum Tennent

Callum oversees how we test and review VPN services. He's a member of the IAPP, and his advice about VPNs has featured in Forbes and the Internet Society. Read full bio

Our Verdict

We don’t recommend using Opera VPN to protect yourself online. It isn’t a full VPN, it doesn’t use a tunneling protocol, and its logging policy is overly invasive. Put simply, Opera VPN is not a safe or secure service to use.

illustration of a hand putting documents into a safe branded with the Opera logo

A trustworthy VPN is crucial for any privacy-conscious internet user to ensure a safe and secure browsing experience. However, using an unsafe VPN can often be more dangerous than not using a VPN at all.

Opera is the world’s eighth most popular web browser. Developed by Norwegian-based Opera Software, it claims to include a free browser-based VPN service that lets you surf the internet with enhanced privacy.

In this guide, we’ll take a detailed look at Opera VPN to see whether it is a safe and trustworthy service to use.

What Is Opera VPN?

Opera is a web browser available for Windows, Linux, MacOS, Android, and iOS. Unlike most mainstream browsers, it claims to include a free, built-in VPN that increases your privacy, security and freedom online.

To activate the VPN feature, you simply need to open up the browser and navigate to Menu > Settings > Privacy > VPN and enable it. An icon will appear in the address bar displaying your VPN status.

screenshot of the Opera browser address bar when the VPN is turned on

You can choose between three vague server locations in Europe, the Americas, and Asia. There’s no further information on where exactly these servers are located or how many servers are in Opera’s network.

screenshot of the Opera VPN interface displaying the available virtual locations

NOTE: When we tested Opera’s VPN servers, there appeared to be at least six different locations: Argentina, Germany, Singapore, Sweden, USA, and Vietnam. Often, however, the country we connected to did not fit the continental location we had selected (e.g. we were assigned a Vietnamese IP address after choosing the ‘Americas’ virtual location).

When you use Opera VPN, only traffic from within the Opera browser will go through the VPN servers. Anything you do outside the browser – such as torrenting or watching Netflix via another app – will remain unprotected.

Opera’s service is therefore not actually a full VPN. A proper VPN encrypts and protects all of your internet activity, not just what is sent within the browser.

Instead, Opera VPN is more of a secure proxy service that spoofs your location by hiding your IP address. It’s better than most proxies because it actually encrypts your data, but it won’t offer the same kind of comprehensive privacy and protection that a full VPN offers.

So, given that Opera VPN isn’t really a full VPN, is it still safe to use?

Is Opera VPN Safe to Use?

Opera browser logo

Opera VPN is not a safe service. It misleadingly advertises itself as a VPN, has an invasive privacy policy, and lacks any form of tunneling protocol. For these reasons, we cannot recommend Opera VPN as a safe and secure VPN solution.

In 2016, Opera’s synchronization service was hacked. More than 1.7 million users had sensitive information such as passwords and login details exposed during the incident.

More recently, a number of users have complained that their real IP addresses are being leaked while using Opera VPN.

The rest of this guide will take a more detailed look at the safety, privacy, and security of using Opera VPN. Alternatively, if you just want to find a free VPN that’ll reliably hide your IP address and keep you safe online, check out our recommendations for the best free VPNs in 2020.

Strong AES-256 Encryption but No VPN Protocol

Opera VPN uses the ultra-secure AES-256 encryption cipher to protect all of the data sent through the browser. However, it doesn’t feature a tunneling protocol like OpenVPN or IKEv2, which you would expect from a VPN. Instead, it just uses the standard TLS encryption protocol, which is also used on HTTPS websites.

While the encryption ciphers used are secure, Opera VPN provides no additional security over a free plugin like HTTPS Everywhere. Also, because it is a browser-based service, it will not encrypt any traffic from outside of the Opera Browser, such as a separate email application.

EXPERT TIP: For this reason, Opera VPN is not safe for torrenting or P2P activity. It’s important to keep your IP addresses hidden when torrenting, but Opera VPN only protects traffic from within the Opera browser. Since downloading torrents files takes place in external applications such as uTorrent or BitTorrent, Opera VPN will leave you exposed.

No Data Leaks but Very Few Security Features

There is very little information given about Opera’s security features, probably because they are practically non-existent.

Not only does Opera VPN lack VPN protocols, it also doesn’t support Perfect Forward Secrecy or use a VPN kill switch to safeguard your privacy when the connection drops. Opera VPN also appears to provide little-to-no protection against IP, DNS, and WebRTC leaks.

Despite this, our latest round of testing showed absolutely no data leaks while using Opera VPN. This is a good start, but we’d like to see Opera introduce a range of additional security features to make sure it remains leak-free.

Opera’s Invasive Logging Policy

One of the most worrying aspects of Opera VPN is the company’s intrusive privacy policy, which makes clear its reliance on third-party data processors.

Opera makes money by selling your data onto third parties.

This isn’t unusual, since many free online services make money by selling user information to third-party advertisers. However, using a VPN service is all about protecting your privacy, so Opera’s logging policy conflicts with that completely.

The privacy policy also dramatically undermines any benefit you get from encrypting browser traffic. Some of the third parties Opera shares your browsing data with include Google and Facebook, which are two of the most privacy-unfriendly companies in the world.

As for the VPN service itself, the most notable thing about Opera’s privacy policy is that it is hardly mentioned. The policy only states: “We do not log any information related to your browsing activity or originating network address” when you use Opera VPN.

screenshot of Opera's privacy policy

This would be encouraging if true, but we would like to see the service undergo an independent audit before we can trust such a claim. Other VPN providers, like ExpressVPN and NordVPN, have submitted to these third-party audits – it’s an excellent way to build trust within the VPN community.

Based In a ‘Nine-Eyes’ Jurisdiction

For maximum privacy and safety, a VPN’s jurisdiction is also worth considering. Depending on where the service provider is located, it could be subject to extreme surveillance or data retention laws.

Opera Software is based in Norway, which is a member of the Nine Eyes intelligence sharing agreement. This means its jurisdiction is less than ideal when it comes to preserving internet privacy and anonymity.

That said, given Opera’s intrusive logging policy and minimal array of security features, its jurisdiction is somewhat of a moot point anyway. There are plenty of safer alternatives to Opera VPN which are still based in non-privacy-friendly jurisdictions, such as Private Internet Access and IPVanish.

You Can Sign Up for Opera VPN Anonymously

One privacy advantage Opera VPN does offer is that you do not need to sign up to use the service. This means there is no need to provide your email address, payment information, or any other personally identifiable information before you start using it.

This is better than the vast majority of VPNs, where you need to create an account or register payment information in order to use the product.

Nonetheless, Opera’s intrusive privacy policy means the browser can collect information that can easily be used to trace your activity back to you. In reality, the lack of a sign-up process is a convenience and a small anonymity boost, but nothing more.

Opera VPN Pros & Cons

PROS CONS
  • Free
  • Anonymous sign-up process
  • AES-256 encryption
  • No data leaks
  • Unblocks Netflix US
  • Very easy to use
  • Intrusive logging policy
  • Small server network
  • Only secures browser-based traffic
  • No VPN protocol
  • Doesn’t use a kill switch
  • Dangerous jurisdiction (Nine Eyes)

The Bottom Line

Opera VPN is not a safe, secure or private service. It is not even a full VPN, despite its misleading claims.

That said, Opera VPN does come with some positives. Aside from being free, it is easy to use, offers unlimited bandwidth, and can even be used to unblock American Netflix. It also doesn’t throttle your connection speeds like many free VPNs do.

If you’re at all interested in protecting your privacy and safety, though, Opera VPN is not a good choice. It lacks critical security controls, makes money by logging your information, and doesn’t use an established VPN tunneling protocol.

Only information sent from within your browser window is protected by the VPN. This means you’re forced to use the Opera browser when you’re looking to spoof your location.

A far better option is to use a privacy-focused browser, like the excellent Mozilla Firefox, alongside a trusted and fully-featured VPN. Here are our recommendations for the best VPNs in 2020.

About the Author


  • Callum Tennent

    Callum oversees how we test and review VPN services. He's a member of the IAPP, and his advice about VPNs has featured in Forbes and the Internet Society. Read full bio