Le VPN offers a sleek, modern set of custom apps and a diverse server network, but when it comes to privacy and performance we have some definite concerns. Local speeds are good enough for browsing and streaming, and strong uploads combined with some P2P-optimized servers makes it a decent choice for torrenters, however gamers and those looking to connect internationally on a regular basis should consider other options. Access to Netflix and BBC iPlayer is inconsistent.
Le VPN offers strong encryption and some good privacy features, such as first-party DNS servers, however this is let down by its intrusive logging policy, collecting detailed connection metadata (including IP addresses) and storing it for an undisclosed period of time. You can connect via OpenVPN or L2TP, but just bear in mind that many servers were L2TP-only, while we couldn’t connect to some no matter what protocol we used. Customer support features live chat and some decent online resources.
Pricing & Deals
Le VPN offers three different pricing plans to help you find your ideal option. As is usually the case, this plans all offer the same features, however the longer you sign up for the less you pay on a monthly basis.
A single month is the most expensive option at $9.95, but you can cut this cost by 50% by committing to the annual subscription, coming in at a very reasonable $4.95 each month. There’s also a six-month plan for those looking for a shorter-term solution, costing $7.50 per month and saving you 25%.
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Le VPN Pricing & Deals
Le VPN offers a seven-day money-back guarantee in place of a free trial, which is pretty stingy in comparison to the 30-day refund periods offered by most top-tier providers. There are also loads of restrictions as to who is and isn’t eligible for a refund – if you pay via any ‘alternative’ payment methods such as Qiwi, CashU or Openbucks, you won’t be able to get your money back. If you purchased the VPN through the App Store or iTunes, you will have to go direct to them to request a refund.
Refund requests are only processed during working hours Monday to Friday, so make sure you don’t get caught out and leave it till the last minute. Le VPN aims to return your money to your account within seven days of you receiving confirmation of the refund via email, but they say it’s often actually much quicker than that, making the process relatively risk-free. You can also sign up to their affiliate scheme, where you receive commission for every customer you refer that ends up purchasing the VPN.
Le VPN accepts a good range of payment methods including all major credit and debit cards, PayPal and Bitcoin. You can also use loads of different international options, such as Qiwi Wallet, Yandex, Openbucks, Diners Club International and many more.
Speed & Reliability
Le VPN’s performance was nowhere near as good as we expected, however it’s decent enough on local connections for HD streaming on a couple of devices. The main issue was the fact that some servers were ‘unreachable’ on all protocols, meaning we couldn’t even test speeds in the Netherlands, Singapore, Japan or Canada. What’s more, we usually test all servers using OpenVPN, our preferred protocol, but unfortunately some of our test locations weren’t available on OpenVPN, meaning we were forced to use L2TP instead.
Downloads on local connections are pretty good, reaching 66Mbps in France and 63Mbps in the UK, which is more than quick enough for buffer-free streaming and speedy downloads on at least one or two devices. Connecting out to the US from the UK you can expect speeds of around 15Mbps, which is nowhere near as quick as some of our top-tier providers, but definitely good enough for general browsing and streaming on a single device. We were impressed with performance across long-distance connections, such as Australia at 12Mbps, which isn’t to be sniffed at considering we test from London.
High latency (even on local connections) means we’re hesitant to recommend Le VPN to keen gamers. The lowest ping we found was 7ms on the UK server, which isn’t too bad, but there are competitors out there offering latency of 1ms or less for a speedy, lag-free gaming experience. As expected, connecting internationally produced ping times of way over 300ms.
Once we were up and running, we found Le VPN’s connections to be pretty reliable, with no connection drops and very little fluctuation in performance. The main issue is finding a server that works with your chosen protocol, as this can take a lot of trial and error. Thankfully you can select an option that cuts off your internet connection while the VPN is connecting, meaning there’s no chance of your true IP address being leaked when you switch servers.
Uploads were much the same as downloads – good enough on local connections but nothing to shout about elsewhere. They peaked at a fairly impressive 89Mbps in the UK (over OpenVPN) and hovered around 50Mbps across the rest of Europe (over L2TP). As is usually the case, international connections struggled to reach speeds of more than 10Mbps, but this usually isn’t an issue for torrenters.
Overall, Le VPN produced good enough results for us to recommend it to keen streamers and P2P users who are exclusively going to be connecting locally, but anyone other than that should look elsewhere. International results weren’t consistent enough and high ping means there are far better options out there for gamers.
To find out about our speed testing methodologies, please read How We Review VPNs.
Le VPN operates an impressive server network with a whopping 114 countries to choose from, spread all over the world. This is one of the biggest networks we’ve seen from any of our providers, so unless you want to connect to an incredibly exotic location, your needs should be well and truly covered.
Le VPN operates 800 individual servers, which is a decent enough number but still at the low end of the scale. We also experienced quite a few issues with servers sporadically becoming ‘unreachable’ – notably Canada, Japan and the Netherlands on various different occasions. We suspect this is probably due to servers reaching capacity, which suggests that Le VPN needs to invest in its network in order to ensure that all locations are available to connect to 24/7.
As is usually the case, Europe and North America have the best coverage, closely followed by Asia and the Middle East. We were extremely disappointed by the lack of city-level servers on offer, with a choice of just 7 locations in the US and none anywhere else. Usually in a network this size we’d expect to be able to drill down to specific cities at least in the US, Canada, Australia and the UK, so Le VPN will need to step up its game in order to compete with top-tier providers in this area.
It was good to see loads of servers in areas that aren’t usually covered very well, such as Africa and South America. Usually these continents are limited to just South Africa and Brazil respectively, so it makes a refreshing change to see choices in Egypt, Madagascar, Bolivia, Uruguay and many more. Servers in Vietnam, Japan and South Korea will be a bonus for those who are going to be connecting out from mainland China.
You can find the complete list of Le VPN server locations by country and city on their website below.
Platforms & Devices
Le VPN offers well-designed custom apps for all popular platforms including Microsoft Windows, MacOS, iOS and Android. They have also partnered with FlashRouters to offer routers with the VPN software pre-installed, so you can protect all of the internet-connected devices in your home without having to install individual apps on each one.
Le VPN also provides detailed setup guides for those devices lacking native VPN apps, such as Linux, Google Chromebook and Windows phone. These contain step-by-step instructions as well as loads of useful screenshots to make the process as simple as possible, even for VPN newbies. You can also manually configure the software on DD-Wrt routers, but unfortunately no other models are currently compatible.
Le VPN doesn’t offer any browser extensions for Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox or Safari, which is quite unusual for a provider of this size and popularity. This is unlikely to put off most people, however heavy browser users seeking a more lightweight solution should look into providers such as ExpressVPN, which offers full-featured VPN extensions for all popular browsers.
Games Consoles & Streaming Devices
You can use Le VPN with all of your games consoles and streaming devices by connecting them to a configured router that’s running the VPN software. You can either buy a pre-flashed router or install it yourself (DD-Wrt only) and this will protect all of the internet-connected devices in your home simultaneously. This includes devices such as your AppleTV, Amazon Fire TV Stick, Xbox 360, PlayStation and many more.
Another option you can try is to piggyback off the VPN connection from another device running the Le VPN app, such as your laptop or mobile phone. This is a much less reliable option however, so your best bet is to install the VPN at router level wherever possible – we’ve written a handy step-by-step guide to help you out.
Streaming & Torrenting
In theory, Le VPN should be an excellent choice for streaming fans due to its proprietary HybridVPN DNS service, which is designed to work with all popular worldwide streaming services, however this is not the case in reality. During our most recent tests, we weren’t able to access Netflix, even when we connected to the dedicated US streaming server and used HybridVPN (which sacrifices a layer of privacy in favor of speed). Nevertheless, it should work with other popular services such as Hulu and Amazon Instant Video.
The UK lacks a dedicated streaming server but we were able to watch BBC iPlayer during our tests using HybridVPN DNS. Access hasn’t been very reliable following the BBC’s recent crackdowns on VPN providers, so if it’s a priority we’d suggest other providers such as NordVPN, which also works to unblock Netflix.
Good uploads are a plus for torrenters, but P2P activity is limited to four European countries and Canada.
Encryption & Security
Le VPN will be private enough for most everyday users but perhaps isn’t the best choice for those seeking the closest possible thing to online anonymity. The desktop app defaults on startup to OpenVPN, the most secure protocol, however the majority of servers won’t work with that protocol and you end up connecting via L2TP. While this isn’t such a bad thing, as L2TP still offers a decent level of protection, it’s a little frustrating that OpenVPN isn’t an option on every server.
Encryption is via AES-256, the cipher favored by the US federal government and considered ‘unbreakable’. Le VPN also operates its own DNS servers, meaning there’s no risk of your web traffic being routed through less-secure third-party servers, such as those owned by your ISP or Google, further protecting your personal data. There’s no kill switch as such, but Le VPN informed us that ticking the option in settings to ‘block internet connection while reconnecting’ does the same job. We’re not sure how much we believe this but so far we’re yet to experience any dropouts, which is reassuring.
Le VPN also offers its own service called HybridVPN, which combines the “security and reliability of a VPN” with “the ease of use of a SmartDNS”. This means that your traffic first passes through the VPN tunnel and then through Le VPN’s SmartDNS servers, providing you with the best balance of speed and security. We’d only really recommend using this to access media streaming sites but it’s a nice added bonus to have.
- OpenVPN (TCP/UDP)
- First-party DNS
- Supports TCP Port 443
- VPN Kill Switch
- Smart DNS
Due to a lack of additional obfuscation tools, we would hesitate to recommend Le VPN as a good choice for users who are mainly going to be connecting out from China. Due to the fact it operates mainly on OpenVPN or L2TP, two very widely-known VPN protocols, it’s incredibly unlikely to overcome the Great Firewall and unblock government-censored content. If you want to beat the censors, you need to look for a provider offering a ‘stealth’ protocol, as this masks your VPN connection and makes you appear as normal browser traffic. We’ve put together a roundup of our top VPN picks for China to make your decision easier.
Le VPN is a decent choice for use in other high-censorship countries, such as Turkey and Iran, but it wouldn’t be one of our top picks. It’s true that a good-sized server network really works in their favor here, however as other governments begin cracking down on VPN providers, connecting via OpenVPN simply isn’t going to cut it anymore. If unrestricted internet access is going to be critical to you while you’re away, we’d advise signing up to a backup VPN or opting for a more reliable provider.
Le VPN operates a fairly intrusive logging policy, collecting detailed connection metadata and storing it on their system for a lot longer than we’d like. The information they collect includes:
- A time stamp when you connect to and disconnect from the VPN
- Your originating IP address
- Total amount of data transmitted during your session
- The IP address of your chosen VPN server
While they state that this is used for administrative and troubleshooting purposes, as well as to prevent abuse and fraud, we don’t see why it’s necessary to collect quite so much information – time or date stamps and amount of bandwidth consumed should usually be enough. Thankfully they don’t monitor anything you do while you’re using the VPN, such as “emails, chats, VOIP calls [or] websites visited”, but this is standard for most VPN providers.
We don’t like the fact that Le VPN states that this data is stored “for up to five years after your account has become inactive”, as this just seems like an excessive amount of time. Overall not one of the better logging policies we’ve seen, so if you’re looking for the highest levels of privacy we’d recommend looking at zero-logs providers such as PrivateVPN.
Le VPN is based in Hong Kong, making it exempt from any data retention laws or intelligence-sharing agreements with other nations. Normally this would be a positive thing, but as their logging policy is so intrusive, we’d be wary to recommend it to those seeking high levels of privacy.
Ease of Use
Le VPN’s desktop and mobile apps are incredibly sleek and user-friendly but lacking in advanced features. The main screen on desktop is compact and well-designed, packing in enough connection info without looking too cluttered. Underneath the big ‘connect’ button you can see your chosen server location, VPN protocol and new IP address, and it’s really easy to tell whether you’re connected or not thanks to the green or red circle around the Le VPN logo.
You can organize the list of server locations by country or region, and we like that you can choose your favorites to go in a separate list so they’re easier to find. The P2P-friendly servers can be found grouped together under the ‘By Region’ tab, saving you scrolling through all 114 countries to try and find the ones that allow torrenting. Additional settings are hidden behind the three dots in the top right hand corner – these are pretty limited but include the option to ‘block internet connection while reconnecting’, which Le VPN states is their version of a VPN kill switch (so make sure you switch it on).
You can also select your VPN protocol under the relevant tab, but be sure you’ve unticked the ‘automatically select protocol’ box as this will prevent the VPN from downgrading to a weaker protocol if OpenVPN isn’t available. The app defaults on startup to OpenVPN over UDP 53, which is the quickest, most secure option, but you can also choose between OpenVPN over TCP 443 or TCP 80.
Getting started with Le VPN is pretty simple, even if this will be your first time using a VPN. Simply download the relevant application from the Client Area in your account, and then install the downloaded application. You’ll have to agree to Le VPN’s terms and conditions and click the ‘next’ button a few times, but overall the process is pretty self-explanatory and you shouldn’t encounter any issues. Once the installation is complete, find the Le VPN icon on your desktop and double-click it to launch the app – you’ll then be prompted to enter your username and password that you received in your confirmation email.
You can find step-by-step setup guides for all popular platforms in the support section of the Le VPN website, which include useful screenshots to help you get back on track should you get stuck, and don’t forget you can always email the support team if you get really lost.
Le VPN’s customer support is fairly standard for a provider of this size. There are some useful resources on the website, but unfortunately the link to the knowledge base has been removed from the main menu, so it’s not always clear where you need to go if you’re having problems. Once you’re in the right place however, the information on offer should help to troubleshoot most common issues and provide you with hints and tips to get the best out of the service.
At first glance, it looks like Le VPN does offer a live chat feature, however whenever we clicked on it we were told ‘sorry, we aren’t online at the moment’. It doesn’t make sense to call it live chat if there are never any support agents available to speak to, so we were forced to submit a ticket and wait for a response whenever we had a question, which was pretty frustrating. After speaking to someone from Le VPN, we’ve been informed that there are customer support agents available to speak to twice a day during peak times for website visitors (morning and evening European time) – while this does make a lot of sense, it would be helpful to include this information somewhere for customers to see.
The Bottom Line
- Local download speeds of up to 66Mbps
- User-friendly custom apps for popular devices
- Connect securely to 114 countries
- Optimized servers for P2P activity
- Inconsistent access to servers
- Intrusive logging policy
- OpenVPN not available in all locations
- P2P limited to five locations
Le VPN is a good choice if you’re mainly going to be browsing or torrenting and don’t mind some trial and error when it comes to finding the best location to connect to. The price isn’t too bad at just $4.95 per month on the annual plan, however there are better value options out there that do a more reliable job. Performance is good locally but less consistent internationally, and half of the time we weren’t even able to connect to our chosen server at all. High ping times mean gamers should look elsewhere. Access to Netflix and BBC iPlayer is unreliable.
Privacy-wise Le VPN does a decent job, operating on OpenVPN with strong encryption. However, what the website doesn’t tell you is that most servers are only available to connect to via the L2TP protocol, and while this is probably the second-best option in terms of security, OpenVPN is the industry standard. There is a kill switch of sorts and Le VPN operates its own DNS servers, but this comes with the caveat of an extremely intrusive logging policy, where your originating IP is collected and stored for an undisclosed period of time.
Customer support is pretty standard with some decent online resources and access to live chat at peak times of day. The apps aren’t a good choice to use in China and other high-censorship countries due to a lack of additional obfuscation methods. Overall an inconsistent VPN with some privacy concerns, however the sleek, user-friendly app makes it a solid choice for VPN newbies.