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AirVPN Review

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Simon Migliano Head of Research at Top10VPN

Simon is a recognized world expert in VPNs. He's tested hundreds of VPN services and his research has featured on the BBC, The New York Times, CNet and more. Read full bio

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Our Verdict

AirVPN is a fantastic choice if privacy is your main priority. It uses top encryption cipher AES-256 and runs exclusively on OpenVPN. The apps are fast and secure, but they cannot unblock Netflix and can be hard to use. AirVPN is a reliable choice for advanced users, but we do not recommend it for beginners.

An independently-operated VPN founded by activists, hacktivists, and hackers sounds almost too good to be true – or is it?

That’s the backstory of AirVPN, which promises its users “the air to breathe the real internet”, so we decided to put it to the test for ourselves.

In our AirVPN review, we answer important questions such as:

  • Is AirVPN secure?
  • Will AirVPN work in China?
  • Does AirVPN unlock Netflix?
  • How easy is AirVPN to use?
  • Does AirVPN allow torrenting?

You’ll find the answers to these, and many more, below our brief overview of AirVPN.

AirVPN Pros & Cons

  1. Fast same-country speeds
  2. Works well in China
  3. Torrenting permitted on all servers
  4. Connect securely to 22 countries
  5. Detailed manual setup guides
  1. Very small number of VPN servers
  2. No access to streaming
  3. Based in privacy-unfriendly Italy
  4. Complicated desktop app
  5. Limited customer support

AirVPN Key Summary

Data CapUnlimited
Speed71Mbps
Logging PolicyNo Logs
Data LeaksNo
JurisdictionItaly (14-Eyes Member)
ServersNot Disclosed
IP Addresses200+
Countries22
US NetflixYes
TorrentingUnlimited
Works in ChinaYes
Support24/7 Live Chat
Cheapest Price$3.69/mo over 24 Months
Official WebsiteAirVPN.org

Read on to see if AirVPN is the right choice for you, starting with its VPN connection speeds.

Who is AirVPN?

About & Logging

AirVPN was formed in Italy in 2010 by a small group of activists and hackers, with the help of two lawyers.

Originally it was operated by Iridium, a satellite communications company, but AirVPN took over in November 2012. Paolo Brini is listed as the current owner of AirVPN, which is operated from Perugia (Italy).

Even today, AirVPN is operated exclusively by activists and ‘security issues aware persons’. It’s still based in Italy, putting it within reach of EU data retention laws.

Logging Policy

AirVPN’s logging policy is fairly vague, so we contacted customer support for clarification.

After speaking to them we feel confident that AirVPN doesn’t monitor anything you do while connected to the VPN. It only collects ‘technical data’ for server maintenance purposes, but you can request for this to be deleted at any point.

AirVPN also doesn’t log any information that could be used to personally identify you, such as date/timestamps or your IP address, making it one of the most privacy-friendly VPN services out there and mitigating its Italian jurisdiction.

Above-average same-country speeds

Speed & Reliability

While AirVPN isn’t reaching the exceptional peak speeds of some of the fastest VPN services, it does stand out for the sheer level of reliability on offer.

AirVPN is equally as fast on both same-country connections and across longer distances, so you’ll be able to do pretty much anything you want to while connected to the VPN without breaking a sweat.

Local Speed Test Results

Before using AirVPN:

  1. DownloadMbps

    96.6

  2. UploadMbps

    96.44

  3. Pingms

    3

When connected to AirVPN:

  1. DownloadMbps

    71.59

  2. UploadMbps

    74.54

  3. Pingms

    18

Download speed without AirVPN: 96.60Mbps

Download speed with AirVPN: 71.59Mbps

Our download speed loss when AirVPN is running: 26%

AirVPN’s upload speeds were quick too, coming in at almost 75Mbps when connected to a VPN server in the same country – perfect for torrenting.

It’s not an ideal VPN for keen gamers, though, with ping times hovering around 18ms, even when we were connected to a VPN server in the same city as us.

If you’re based in the UK, here are the average speeds you can expect from AirVPN connecting out to a handful of popular locations:

USA: 40Mbps (download) & 47Mbps (upload)
Germany: 55Mbps (download) & 72Mbps (upload)
Singapore: 33Mbps (download) & 16Mbps (upload)
Australia: No server available

To read more about how we test VPNs, you can read our full speed testing methodology here.

38 cities spread over 22 countries

Server Locations

Globe with a blue flag22Countries
Image of a city landscape40Cities
Image of a pink marker200+IP Addresses

AirVPN offers one of the smallest server networks we’ve ever seen from a premium VPN service.

AirVPN only provides 200 individual VPN servers, which could lead to server congestion at busier times. Thankfully the ‘server load’ section on the app makes it easy to see which locations are approaching capacity.

Screenshot of AirVPN's desktop app showing the percentage load of each VPN server location

It’s clear that AirVPN is targeting the US market, with 37 servers in ten cities across the country. US-based users can choose from AirVPN servers in:

  • Atlanta (5)
  • Chicago (3)
  • Dallas (10)
  • Fremont (3)
  • Jacksonville (1)
  • Los Angeles (3)
  • Miami (3)
  • New York City (3)
  • Pennsylvania (1)
  • Phoenix (5)

There’s also three city-level AirVPN servers in the UK (London, Maidenhead, and Manchester) and Canada (Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver). Other countries with city-specific choice include Germany, Spain, and Sweden.

Europe has the best AirVPN coverage with 153 servers spread over 15 countries, while Asia is limited to Japan, and Singapore.

AirVPN used to maintain a Hong Kong server, but this was removed in July 2020 following escalation of China’s digital surveillance in the region.

South America is covered only by VPN servers in Brazil, while Africa is ignored by AirVPN altogether.

Great VPN for torrenting but not streaming

Streaming & Torrenting

While certainly fast enough for buffer-free Full HD streaming, AirVPN doesn’t work with either Netflix or BBC iPlayer.

Because there are no AirVPN servers optimized for accessing streaming sites, it’s a case of trial and error, and we haven’t been able to watch Netflix through its US servers for several months now.

It’s the same story with BBC iPlayer, which has been inaccessible via AirVPN’s UK-based servers since we can remember. If accessing this service is important to you, check out our top VPNs for BBC iPlayer here.

Surprisingly, given the difficulty we’ve had accessing BBC iPlayer or Netflix, AirVPN was one of the few providers to work with Disney+ at its launch. Which is great to see.

Thankfully, on AirVPN’s website there is a list of ‘blocked websites’ which users can check to see if the situation with these streaming sites ever changes.

Torrenting

AirVPN is, however, a strong choice for anonymous torrenting and P2P activities.

Its good download speeds and impressive upload speeds, minimal logging policy and suite of advanced privacy tools (including a VPN kill switch) make it ideal for P2P activity.

Advanced torrenters will also like that AirVPN allows port forwarding on up to 20 ports simultaneously, to speed up transfers even more. You can do this in the ‘Client Area’ of the AirVPN website. Read more about AirVPN’s remote port forwarding here.

Works in China with some manual configuration

Censorship

Currently, the only way to connect to AirVPN in China is to use the OpenVPN protocol over SSL, which encrypts your OpenVPN ‘fingerprint’ to make it undetectable. This is simple enough to do on desktop but more complex on mobile.

If you want to connect out from China on mobile devices using AirVPN you’ll have to install OpenVPN files and do some manual configuration – there are step-by-step guides on the website to walk you through the process.

AirVPN should work in other high-censorship countries, such as Turkey and Iran, due to its range of additional obfuscation tools such as SSH/SSL tunneling and access to Tor through the VPN.

Its limited server network is bad news for speed, though, as it means you may find yourself having to connect to an AirVPN server far away from your physical location.

Compatible with all major platforms & routers

Platforms & Devices

Apps

Windows LogoWindows
Mac LogoMac
iOS LogoiOS
Android LogoAndroid
Linux LogoLinux
Router LogoRouter

AirVPN offers custom VPN apps for:

  • Microsoft Windows
  • MacOS
  • Android
  • Linux

There is also an AirVPN setup guide for iOS, however, it requires installation of third-party OpenVPN software. We advise iOS users to use VPNs with custom apps for iPhone or iPad instead.

AirVPN is also supported on DD-WRT, pfSense, Tomato, and AsusWRT routers, but again has to be manually installed and configured. This means AirVPN isn’t a very good choice if you want a plug-and-play VPN service.

You can have up to five simultaneous connections, too. Other providers offer more, but this should cover most people’s devices.

Games Consoles & Streaming Devices

AppleTV LogoAppleTV
Amazon Fire TV LogoAmazon Fire TV
Chromecast LogoChromecast
Nintendo LogoNintendo
PlayStation LogoPlayStation
Roku LogoRoku
Xbox LogoXbox

AirVPN offers a native VPN app for the Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick. It can also be used with a range of other games consoles and streaming devices either by connecting them to a configured router or sharing the VPN connection from another device running the software.

There are no manual set-up or troubleshooting guides for any of these devices, but you can find lots of useful hints and tips in AirVPN’s online forums.

Browser Extensions

AirVPN unfortunately doesn’t offer any browser extensions for Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox, which is hardly surprising given its lack of native apps for a broad range of devices. Some of its rivals, such as ExpressVPN, offer full-featured VPN extensions for all popular browsers.

One of the most secure VPN services we’ve seen

Encryption & Security

Protocols

OpenVPN (TCP/UDP)

Encryption

AES-256

Security

DNS Leak Blocking

First-party DNS

IPV6 Leak Blocking

Supports TCP Port 443

VPN Kill Switch

WebRTC Leak Blocking

Advanced features

Split Tunneling

TOR via VPN Server

Please see our VPN Glossary if these terms confuse you and would like to learn more.

AirVPN is a fantastic choice if pure privacy is your priority. Encryption is via top cipher AES-256 and the software runs exclusively on OpenVPN, which offers the best security/performance balance.

The VPN kill switch is an essential feature to protect you in case of connection drops, and AirVPN also operates its own DNS servers, keeping your personal information confidential.

Results of AirVPN's DNS and IP leak test on browserleaks

AirVPN’s protection against DNS, IPv6 and WebRTC leaks was also proven to be 100% effective in our latest tests.

You can use AirVPN to access the Tor browser, giving you an extra layer of encryption should you need it. The desktop app also offers ‘doublehop’, a feature that regularly switches your IP address to prevent your location from being tracked.

Cluttered apps with some usability flaws

Ease of Use

How to Install & Set Up AirVPN

AirVPN’s desktop VPN client, playfully nicknamed ‘Eddie’, is outdated, cluttered and downright confusing. More tech-savvy VPN users will love the advanced features but even the tech-literate may well struggle.

AirVPN’s settings list is separated into tabs, each with loads of different options. This is where it could get confusing for less experienced VPN users, so we like that there’s an option to reset all settings to default just in case.

VPN server selection is way more difficult than it needs to be – the list is long and there’s no search feature. Even worse, each VPN server is named after a star, which gets frustrating after a while when all you want to do is choose a city and connect.

24/7 live chat makes up for limited resources

Customer Support

Email support via an online formYes
Online ResourcesYes

AirVPN says that its customer service isn’t outsourced in order to provide “high-quality support”, however a lack of live chat and slow email replies can be frustrating when you just have a simple question.

We like the extensive knowledge base on AirVPN’s website though, which includes an extensive FAQs section divided up by topic. There’s also a whole host of AirVPN community forums covering every topic you could think of, so you may find you don’t actually need to contact the support team very often.

Longest plan is excellent value for money

Pricing

AirVPN Coupon

AirVPN Pricing Plan

Each AirVPN pricing plan includes the same features but they get cheaper on a monthly basis the longer the subscription you sign up for.

A single month of AirVPN is the most expensive option at $7.76, but this can be reduced by 53% on the 2-year plan, which is just $3.65 per month. You can also opt for the 12-month plan which comes out at $4.52, with a saving of 42%.

  1. Monthly

    US$7.76/mo

    Billed $7.76 every month
  2. 6 months

    US$5.35/mo

    Billed $32.15 every 6 months
    Save 31%
  3. 12 months

    US$4.52/mo

    Billed $54.32 every 12 months
    Save 45%
  4. 2 years

    US$3.65/mo

    Billed $87.58 every two years
    Save 53%

All plans have 3-day money-back guarantee

Payment & Refund Options

AirVPN offers a free trial, which can be obtained by sending a message to the support team and using the coupon code they send you. We received in less than a day, but people have reported on the forums that they were left waiting for a code for over 24 hours.

There’s also a money-back guarantee, however this is only valid for three days, which is stingy compared to the 30 days offered by most other VPN services. It is ‘no questions asked’, thankfully, and refunds are usually back in your bank within two working days.

AirVPN accepts the largest range of payment methods we have seen from any provider. This includes most major credit cards, PayPal, and a whole array of cryptocurrencies. Lots of international options are also accepted, such as Alipay and Giropay.

Do We Recommend AirVPN?

The Bottom Line

We do recommend AirVPN, but with one serious warning: AirVPN is absolutely not a VPN for beginners.

In fact, when talking about VPNs that we actually recommend, AirVPN is probably the most intimidating and unfriendly of all. It’s still super secure and produces fast download speeds, but be warned that it takes some getting used to.

Alternatives to AirVPN

ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN

It's our highest-scoring VPN for a reason: ExpressVPN does a lot of things well, but ease of use may be top of the list. ExpressVPN is so simple anyone can use it - and get great performance while doing so, too. Read ExpressVPN review

CyberGhost

CyberGhost

If streaming is important to you then you shouldn't download AirVPN. CyberGhost is a much better alternative, thanks to its unflinching access to Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and more. Read CyberGhost review

About the Author


  • Simon Migliano Head of Research at Top10VPN

    Simon Migliano

    Simon is a recognized world expert in VPNs. He's tested hundreds of VPN services and his research has featured on the BBC, The New York Times, CNet and more. Read full bio


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