DotVPN is a relatively unpopular VPN, and now that we’ve used it ourselves we can totally understand why.
Not only is performance incredibly unreliable, it’s also blocked by all major streaming sites and torrenting is banned.
Throw in the fact that there’s no desktop apps and the customer support is well below par, and you have a VPN that’s hardly worth the budget price tag.
Pricing & Deals
DotVPN’s pricing structure is pretty simple – you can pay either month-by-month or annually. A single month is the more expensive option but still pretty cheap in the grand scheme of things, coming in at $4.99 per month.
Signing up for 12 months will save you 40% though, bringing the monthly cost down to just $2.90.
Get 40% off DotVPN's 12-month plan
DotVPN Pricing & Deals
There’s a 30-day money-back guarantee, but this is subject to a series of conditions. You’re not eligible for a refund if you’ve used more than 10GB of bandwidth or if you’ve connected to the VPN more than 100 times during the 30 days.
We were also told, in somewhat cryptic and broken English, that you won’t be able to get your money back if you “asked for a solution to a technical problem… and received an official response on the impossibility of its elimination”.
Full terms and conditions can be found here.
Payment & Refund Options
Unusually, DotVPN doesn’t accept payment via credit or debit card. You can pay using PayPal, a handful of cryptocurrencies (Bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin), or what DotVPN calls ‘Local Payment Systems’.
These include AliPay, Giropay, Easypay and a host of other gift and pre-paid cards.
Speed & Reliability
We were disappointed by DotVPN’s performance in our speed tests, to say the least. Not only was it thoroughly underwhelming both locally and internationally, results in the same location also varied wildly from one test to the next.
Downloads peaked at 32Mbps in the UK (we test from London), which is decent enough, but nowhere near as quick as we’ve seen from other providers at a similar price point.
If you’re going to be connecting over longer distances regularly, stop reading now. Out to the US from Europe came in at an appalling 4Mbps, Japan and Singapore averaged around 1Mbps apiece, and the Canada server failed to connect at all.
Latency was another major issue, failing to get below 30ms even on same-country connections. We usually expect it to increase internationally but this was the most dramatic we’ve ever seen – over 700ms in Japan is virtually unheard of.
To read about our speed testing methodologies, please read How We Review VPNs.
DotVPN has servers in just 12 different countries, with next to no choice for those located outside of North America or Europe.
The only servers outside of these continents are located in Singapore and Japan – we were incredibly surprised to see no options in Australia or South America. Africa is also lacking in any coverage.
There are no city-level servers, which could be frustrating for those in larger countries such as the US, as it means you could end up connecting to a server over a thousand miles away. It’d be great even to see a choice between East and West coast at some point.
The browser extensions offer more server locations (30 countries) but these are only proxies and nowhere near as secure as the mobile apps.
It’s definitely not worth sacrificing your privacy for the sake of more coverage, especially considering there are providers out there with servers in over 190 countries worldwide – such as HideMyAss!.
Platforms & Devices
On desktop DotVPN is primarily a browser extension, but it does now offer full VPN apps for iOS and Android devices – these can be downloaded from the website, App Store or Google Play Store.
DotVPN informs us that a desktop app for Windows and MacOS will be released in mid-2019 – when we know more about this we will be sure to update the review.
DotVPN offers proxy extensions for Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Opera browsers. These only protect your browser traffic, so any other programs or background services (such as Netflix or Spotify) will operate outside of the VPN tunnel.
Games Consoles & Streaming Devices
As there are no native apps for games consoles or streaming devices, nor is there any way of configuring DotVPN at router level, it’s near impossible to use the VPN on anything other than the platforms advertised on the website.
At a push, you could set up the VPN on your mobile and connect the devices in your network that way, but there’s no online support for this and no indication as to whether or not it would work.
If you need a VPN that’s compatible with these sorts of devices, it’s worth looking into our top pick ExpressVPN.
Streaming & Torrenting
Streaming fans will be disappointed to hear that DotVPN isn’t currently working to unblock either Netflix or BBC iPlayer. This is most likely due to both services recently cracking down on VPN providers but, even so, there are still loads of choices that offer reliable access to both sites. Check out our Best VPNs for Streaming here.
It’s much the same story for torrenting, which is banned on all servers. DotVPN states that “this feature will certainly be added, although we cannot provide the exact date”, so we’re not holding our breath.
Encryption & Security
The level of security on offer with DotVPN depends on which version of the software you use. The Android app offers the highest level of protection, using the OpenVPN protocol and AES-256 encryption, followed by iOS (with the same encryption but the slightly less secure IPSec protocol).
As the browser extensions are only proxies, they offer a much lower level of privacy. They utilize 4096-bit encryption (which has been cracked multiple times before) and tunnel using SSL-proxy. Not the best combination for protection, but excellent for speed.
There are next to no advanced features either, so no VPN kill switch or split tunneling. There is an ad-blocker, although the number of ads blocked never increased beyond zero. We also didn’t detect any DNS or IPv6 leaks in our latest tests, which is promising.
- OpenVPN (TCP/UDP)
- SSL VPN
- Ad Blocker
- TOR via VPN Server
The fact that DotVPN has no sort of additional obfuscation tools means it’s not a solid option for use in China or other high-censorship countries.
It states in the support section that it always tries its best to overcome any sort of online blocks, but “unfortunately, in some cases, to overcome the blockage is not possible”.
There are more reliable options out there that do a much better job, such as Astrill.
DotVPN’s logging policy is short and to-the-point, but includes all of the necessary information.
The only thing it collects is your originating IP address, which is then deleted after 24 hours. It states that this is to help prevent spam, fraud and other abuse of the service.
It’s a little unusual that this is the only bit of personal data that DotVPN monitors, but we can’t find any evidence to suggest it collects anything else.
Collecting IP addresses is never ideal, as these can be used to personally identify you, but the fact that they’re deleted so soon means it isn’t too much to be concerned about.
DotVPN is based in Hong Kong, meaning it isn’t subject to any sort of data retention laws. It will only share the (limited amount of) personal information it has on you if demanded by the Hong Kong Court, and considering this is deleted every 24 hours it’s highly unlikely that this will ever be a problem.
Ease of Use
DotVPN’s mobile apps couldn’t be any easier to use. Simply select your server location from the list and the VPN will connect automatically. There is a settings menu but it’s limited, only allowing you to switch on the ad-blocker, tracking protection and firewall, amongst a couple of other things.
The browser extensions are equally user-friendly and a lot more aesthetically pleasing. The servers are separated by continent and there’s an estimate of the ping time in each location, which is helpful. The settings are exactly the same, though.
Annoyingly, on a number of occasions both the Android and iOS apps failed to connect, forcing us to restart the app and try again.
All you have to do to use DotVPN is download the app from either the Google Play Store or the App Store. If you’re using the browser extension, simply download it from the relevant store or follow the links from DotVPN’s website.
DotVPN’s customer support is very limited in comparison to our top-tier providers. Online resources consist of a series of FAQs covering most basic issues – there aren’t even any setup guides.
The help desk is supposedly available ‘around-the-clock’ but we found this is definitely not the case. There’s no live chat, and after sending an email we were left waiting over 24 hours for a response.
The Bottom Line
- Easy to use apps
- Basic level of privacy
- Terrible international speeds
- No access to Netflix or BBC iPlayer
- Lacks desktop apps
- Small server network
- Limited customer support
DotVPN offers an incredibly basic level of privacy but, unfortunately, that’s pretty much all it has going for it.
Appallingly inconsistent speeds, lack of access to streaming services and harsh torrenting restrictions are just a few of the reasons why you should avoid this VPN, not to mention the ridiculously small server network.
Even the user-friendly apps can’t make up for all of its downfalls, and the fact it’s only currently available on mobile is dismal. We’re hoping to see some major improvement with the introduction of the desktop app in the coming months.