blackVPN has a lot going for it; solid encryption, leak protection, decent speeds, and almost no logging. It still has a long way to go, though, since half of the custom apps are still in beta, there’s no VPN kill switch, and customer support leaves much to be desired.
Although we could watch Netflix while connected to one US server, it’s hard to recommend blackVPN for streaming popular services due to its tiny server network. Uploads are pretty fast but, again, the lack of a VPN kill switch should put heavy torrenters off. Currently, blackVPN is a good choice for securing public WiFi and browsing privately.
Pricing & Deals
blackVPN offers three different packages for different uses: Privacy, Global, and TV.
All three packages offer the same level of security and encryption, but the Privacy plan offers 16 locations, excluding the US and UK servers, and the Global package includes them all. TV gives you access to just the US and UK locations, and is geared towards streaming.
The prices are in Euros only, but it works out at roughly $5.66 if you pay month by month for Privacy, and $10.75 a month for Global.
The discounts for a 12-month subscription aren’t huge – you’ll save 18% for Privacy and a measly 13% for Global.
blackVPN Pricing & Deals
blackVPN offers a 14-day money-back guarantee “regardless of the reason for your cancellation”. Payments are back into your account within 30 days, making it fairly risk-free.
There is also a three-day free trial available for Android users, which just requires your email address.
blackVPN accepts major debit and credit cards, PayPal, and 40 cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin.
Speed & Reliability
blackVPN is fairly quick locally – and internationally – but it’s still not got much on our top-tier VPNs’ performance. You’ll be able to stream in HD without much buffering on a couple of devices at one time, though, and uploads are great for torrenting (where permitted).
Downloads peaked at a pretty speedy 52Mbps in the UK (where we test from) and the Netherlands, dropping a little to 48Mbps in France. We couldn’t connect to the Germany server, and we’re still awaiting a reply from support as to why that might be.
blackVPN performed quite well across longer distance connections too, reaching 20Mbps connecting to the US East Coast, and a respectable 15Mbps to Australia – still just enough for HD streaming.
Latency was average, coming in at 9ms on same-country connections. While this will be absolutely fine for most, gamers will want to consider a VPN with ping times under 1ms.
To read about our speed testing methodologies, please read How We Review VPNs.
blackVPN doesn’t offer many server locations, but it covers the most popular ones in Western Europe and North America.
There are a total of 31 individual servers across 19 countries. Users in Asia-Pacific can choose from servers in Australia and Japan, and there’s a server in Brazil for those in South America. Those in Africa are left with no choice but to connect to faraway countries in other continents, though.
For a network of this size, it’s not too surprising that there aren’t any city-level servers. You can choose between US Central, East, and West, though, which will help US users to experience better performance.
Platforms & Devices
At first glance it seems like blackVPN has a decent range of custom apps, but two out of the four available are still in beta and have “some bugs”, according to the blackVPN website.
The MacOS and Android apps are fully-fledged, but customer support recommended using manual configuration for Microsoft Windows and iOS devices. Their beta versions were released well over a year ago, but still suffer from bugs and connection issues.
You can set up the VPN on your router too, provided it’s one of the following types: DD-WRT, OpenWRT, or pfSense. There are step-by-step guides on the website for configuring your existing router.
blackVPN permits up to seven simultaneous connections at any given time, but once you’ve set up your router, you’ll be able to protect any internet-connected device in your home. That includes the Amazon Fire TV, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4.
Streaming & Torrenting
blackVPN isn’t a great choice for streaming fans due to the limited amount of servers. Streaming services like Netflix and BBC iPlayer actively block traffic coming from VPNs.
While we could watch Netflix through the US West server it’s not guaranteed to last, and BBC iPlayer didn’t work at all on the UK server.
blackVPN may be suited to torrenters, as long as you aren’t located in the UK, US, or Singapore, where “unrestricted P2P/bittorrent is not permitted”.
Other than those you’re free to torrent on any server you like, and uploads are pretty fast. The one thing that might stop you is the lack of a kill switch feature to prevent IP leaks.
Encryption & Security
We are impressed by the privacy and security features that blackVPN offers, but the lack of a kill switch is disappointing.
blackVPN uses OpenVPN, our preferred VPN protocol, which offers the best balance between privacy and performance. You can manually configure it to work with L2TP or PPTP too, but we wouldn’t recommend it. PPTP is outdated and not at all secure.
Strong encryption is used – AES-256 is considered unhackable, and blackVPN offers protection against DNS and IPv6 leaks. It also has its own zero-log DNS servers, so you can be sure that DNS requests (the websites you visit) are kept private.
Our biggest gripe with blackVPN is the lack of a VPN kill switch feature. There is one for the Windows beta app, but considering support recommend against using it, we’re not going to count it.
A kill switch is essential for maintaining privacy as it blocks internet traffic in the event of a VPN connection drop, which could expose your true IP address and online activity to third parties.
- OpenVPN (TCP/UDP)
- DNS Leak Blocking
- First-party DNS
- IPV6 Leak Blocking
- Supports TCP Port 443
- VPN Kill Switch
We can’t recommend blackVPN for use in China, or any other high-censorship country for that matter. It doesn’t have the tools to bypass the firewalls in countries that block VPNs, and the tiny server network will force users to connect over long distances, impacting on performance.
If you need a VPN for these countries, look out for those that offer stealth protocols or extra obfuscation tools. Our top pick for China is ExpressVPN – and if it works in China, it’ll work anywhere.
blackVPN collects very minimal user data – it logs when a user is connected and how much data has been used for that session. This is deleted as soon as the user disconnects.
blackVPN makes it very clear what it doesn’t collect: “No connection logs. No bandwidth logs. No DNS logs.”
blackVPN is incorporated in Hong Kong, which is out of the reach of the 14 Eyes international intelligence sharing alliance.
While we’ve found plenty of VPNs based in Hong Kong to have links to mainland China, our independent research indicates that blackVPN isn’t one of them.
Ease of Use
blackVPN has a very user-friendly Android app, but the MacOS client is clunky and confusing. Windows and iOS users can opt for the beta custom apps, but OpenVPN manual configuration is recommended instead, which can be a little fiddly.
The MacOS app is mostly hidden within the menu bar, where you can connect and change servers, but you can double click on its icon to reveal an extended client with advanced settings, such as IPv6 leak protection. The app isn’t pretty by any means, and we experienced some issues connecting.
When we first tried to switch servers there was no indication that you have to manually disconnect from one before you connect to another, so the app attempted to connect to two at once which led to it malfunctioning. We then had to restart our computer in order for it to work again.
The Android app, on the other hand, is straightforward and intuitive.
Before you can use the apps, you have to sign up for a subscription in order to receive your login details. Pretty standard stuff – as long as you can actually access those credentials.
After paying, we waited a while for the confirmation email to come through (we’re still waiting), but eventually had to contact support, who resorted to giving us the details over live chat. Not ideal for privacy.
Once you’re past that hurdle, if you’re using blackVPN on your Android device, setup is as simple as can be – just install it from the Google Play Store and log in.
Setting up the MacOS app isn’t as hassle-free as we’d like, though. Once you’ve downloaded the custom app you still have to install and configure the OpenVPN files for it to work. While this isn’t too hard, it’s not what we usually expect from a custom app.
blackVPN doesn’t offer the smoothest user experience, but there’s a decent level of support available on the website to help you through minor issues. The resources are organized by device type and offer setup guides and helpful troubleshooting tips. Still, there’s a lot of room for improvement and expansion.
Live chat is available too, but not all the time. In fact, one agent told us that there is no support – even email – during the weekend. The agent we chatted with was fairly unprofessional and lacked knowledge about basic things, so we would recommend you only use it if your query isn’t answered in the online knowledge base.
The Bottom Line
- Peak local downloads of up to 52Mbps
- Netflix available through US server
- Protection against DNS & IPv6 leaks
- Close to being zero-logs
- Connect to 18 countries
- No VPN kill switch
- Small server network
- Even custom app setup wasn’t hassle-free
- Overpriced - even on longer plans
blackVPN is pretty expensive for what it offers, but it’s still a decent choice for those who want to browse privately and use public WiFi securely.
Its very limited server network and lack of VPN kill switch mean that streaming fans and P2P users might not find what they need in blackVPN.
blackVPN is heading in the right direction, with a privacy-focussed logging policy and leak protection, but we’d like to see fully-developed custom apps for more popular platforms and improved customer support.