personalVPN is a prime example of a middle-of-the-road VPN: it doesn’t do anything particularly wrong, but not a lot particularly well, either.
It’s strongest feature is its commitment to privacy, with a good logging policy and useful security features, but that is undermined by having no kill switch.
It’s also prides itself on being extra fast, but we tested nothing but mediocre speeds.
It’s not clear who personalVPN will appeal to. Casual users will be put off by a multitude of plans and an unfriendly app, and experienced VPN users will be dissatisfied by its performance shortcomings. This is a disappointingly average VPN.
Pricing & Deals
There are a lot of plans with personalVPN.
There is ‘Basic’, ‘Pro’ and ‘Premium’, all of which grow cheaper the longer the subscription. We tested on the Pro plan, but basic is the cheapest.
Get 33% off personalVPN's 36-month plan
personalVPN Pricing & Deals
On Pro and Premium the minimum length subscription is six months, which might be quite long for people looking for a short-term fix. Basic has a one month subscription but it might not do all that you want it to. There are also one-year, two-year and three-year options.
This is a bit much when most providers simplify things with one-month, six-month, and one-year or over options.
When it comes to VPNs, simple is better.
It’s also not the cheapest option on the market. For a lower monthly price than the basic personalVPN plan you can get a top-tier provider such as NordVPN.
personalVPN seems to pride itself on privacy, so it’s strange it wouldn’t include anonymous cryptocurrencies as payment options.
Paypal, Credit Card are accepted, but it’s quite limiting when compared to privacy-conscious top-tier providers.
Speed & Reliability
European servers peak at 80 Mbps downloads for the Netherlands, which is good, but drops to 44 Mbps for Germany and 47 Mbps for the UK (where we’re based). Again, not bad, but not blowing our socks off.
Move further afield from Europe and it’s generally lacklustre performance. Go to Singapore and you’re looking at a shocking 1.35 Mbps for downloads and 1.29 Mbps uploads, for example.
personalVPN does a decent job covering the popular server locations, chiefly Europe and North America, even if the limited global reach is disappointing.
Asia is okay for coverage, but there’s only a couple for Africa – Cairo and Johannesburg.
There’s only one for the entirety of South America, in Rio de Janeiro, and for the entire Middle East, in Israel.
This isn’t a VPN for anyone outside of the West.
Platforms & Devices
personalVPN works with all major platforms and then some: Windows, MacOS, Linux, Chromebook, Boxee, Blackberry, iOS & Android.
It also sells routers with its VPN integrated.
There’s a 30-day money-back guarantee, which is about as good as it gets in the absence of free trials.
It allows five simultaneous connections, which is generous, and the Premier account allows up to eight.
You can also refer a friend who then receives 15% off, and you receive 15% of their purchase in credit.
Streaming & Torrenting
How does it fare for streaming?
Not too well.
BBC iPlayer didn’t work, and we tried a number of UK servers.
But Netflix did, even if it took some buffering and was jittery at times.
All-in-all this isn’t one for streaming fans.
personalVPN doesn’t advertise torrenting – but it isn’t actively preventing it, either.
You can get away with torrenting on its encrypted servers, but there are far better options out there that offer dedicated servers, which you can find in our roundup of the Best VPNs for Torrenting.
Encryption & Security
personalVPN has military-grade encryption: AES-256.
It also supports the major VPN protocols – OpenVPN, L2TP, IPSec, and PPTP. It’s functional with Tor Browser too. So far, so good.
This is all very positive, and perhaps personalVPN’s strongest point, but there’s no kill switch. If your connection suddenly drops, you risk exposing your true IP address.
- OpenVPN (TCP/UDP)
- DNS Leak Blocking
personalVPN boasts “Stealth Modes” that present VPN traffic as normal web traffic – good for circumventing aggressive censorship.
Support tells us that the VPN works in China in this mode, which is a big plus and should mean that it will work in any country on Earth.
Some privacy policies are suspiciously short, others intimidatingly long. personalVPN gets it just right. In no uncertain terms, the service states it “absolutely do[es] not capture or store logs of a user’s internet activity, browsing, content, websites, or servers visited.”
This is great, but some information is retained.
Your email address and name used when creating the account, website analytic data, and chat history should you contact support are all logged.
This means that your browsing activity remains unknown, but you can be identified as a VPN user.
This is justified “for the purpose of securing customer’s accounts, and prevent unauthorized logins and abuse”.
What about legal requests for information?
Well, personalVPN shows reluctance to comply with such requests, stating “we scrutinize each and every legal request we receive” and, “For overly broad subpoenas, we will question or attempt to narrow the scope of any subject matter sought”. But it can’t defy the law.
So, it reassures that even with a legitimate legal request, no information is retained and so there is nothing to give.
Despite all the promised dedication to privacy and security, personalVPN is still within the legal jurisdiction of the US, part of the Five Eyes intelligence apparatus.
The US has proven to be one of the most intrusive surveillance countries in the world.
It also goes towards further undermining its privacy and security pros.
Ease of Use
personalVPN could do with a touch more personality when it comes to its interface, which is neither completely intuitive nor pleasant to look at.
If you want to change to a specific server location, you have to go to ‘Advanced Connect’, which means choosing your protocol every time. Even if you know a thing or two about protocols, it’s annoying having to select it every time.
The Map Overview that features orange pins where server locations are positioned is particularly horrible – hard to navigate and slow to load. While you can zoom in and out, you cannot even connect to a location from here and so it is merely decorative.
There’s a decent amount of customisation settings, such as automatic connection, favorite gateways, custom gateways, DNS mode and a ‘Low Profile Mode’ to disable update and location detection.
personalVPN is pretty simple to set up and takes only a couple of minutes.
Simply log-in to the client area and download the relevant software, followed by some prompts to install.
personalVPN has email support and a live chat, which is great.
We received responses to our email enquiry within the hour. It was a word-light response, but it answered the question fine.
There are also a number of annotated, easy-to-follow setup guides for a number of different platforms and a decent FAQ on the website. Not to mention guides for more complex settings, such as DNS servers.
All this is serviceable, but nowhere near the top levels we see in a provider like ExpressVPN.
The Bottom Line
- Good logging policy
- Great security features
- Decent customer support
- Not good value for money
- Too many plans
- Mediocre performance
- Jurisdiction in the US
personalVPN is not good value for money. You can almost certainly get a faster and more secure VPN at the same price, or lower.
Whatever positives this provider has are consistently undone by glaring detractions. Take performance, which is sometimes good but then wildly inconsistent and terrible elsewhere; or privacy, which seems strong with top encryption and bypassing censorship until you realise there’s no kill switch and its based in the US; in the case of streaming, it works with Netflix but not BBC iPlayer.
It’s hard to recommend this to anyone looking for a VPN with specific needs. This is an unpolished, if serviceable, VPN with no obvious appeal.