Disclosure: We review VPNs independently, however we may earn commissions if you buy a VPN via links on our site.

PrivateVPN Review

 Rated 4.9 out of 5 
1735 user reviews
Image of PrivateVPN's app on desktop

Simon Migliano 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 and more.

Ask Simon About PrivateVPN

Our Verdict

How is this calculated?

Our overall rating is reached by combining several subcategories. The subcategories are weighted as follows:

  • Logging & Jurisdiction: 30%
  • Speed & Reliability: 25%
  • Security & Features: 20%
  • Streaming: 10%
  • Torrenting: 5%
  • Ease of Use: 5%
  • Support: 5%

See our full methodology in how we review VPNs.

PrivateVPN is a cheap and safe VPN that unblocks 14 Netflix libraries. It's not the fastest VPN we've tested, but it's quick enough to stream, torrent files, and encrypt unsecured WiFi networks.

Ranked #7 out of 56 VPNs

PrivateVPN Category Ratings

  • 9.89.8/10
  • 8.88.8/10
  • 9.59.5/10
  • 8.98.9/10
  • 8.58.5/10
  • 9.49.4/10
  • 9.19.1/10
  • 8.38.3/10
  • 8.38.3/10
  • 9.59.5/10

PrivateVPN Pros & Cons

  • Unblocks Netflix, Prime Video and more
  • Very cheap on a three-year plan
  • Advanced features for torrenting
  • Firestick app unblocks streaming apps
  • Zero-logs policy and no IP address leaks

  • Unreliable speed performance
  • Logging policy lacks important details
  • No Smart DNS feature
  • Live chat is not always available
  • No browser extensions
  • No WireGuard protocol

Why Trust Our Review?

We’ve spent thousands of hours testing and reviewing 56 VPN services using our impartial review process to recommend you the best VPN software.

Here are some of our key VPN testing statistics:

Total Hours of Testing30,000+
Weekly Speed Tests3,000+
VPN Services Reviewed56
Streaming Platforms Tested Daily12
IP & DNS Leak Tests Performed9,500+
How Much We've Spent On Testing$25,000+

PrivateVPN is a simple VPN service that hides your IP address and protects your data transfers with strong encryption. It has native apps for Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, and Amazon Fire TV.

For this PrivateVPN review, we put each application through our comprehensive testing process to find out how it compares to other VPN services.

We found that PrivateVPN is one of the very best VPNs for streaming. It works with streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and BBC iPlayer.

However, some servers are often overly congested and you can’t always stream titles in HD.

The VPN service is a very good choice for P2P file-sharing. It includes dedicated torrenting servers, port forwarding features, and a functional kill switch on all desktop apps.

It’s also one of the cheapest VPNs around, with prices as low as $2.00 per month on a three-year plan.

It’s one of a small number of VPNs that keeps working in China and other highly-censored regions. It easily bypassed the Great Firewall in our tests.

The VPN is based in Sweden, a Fourteen Eyes jurisdiction, but its zero-logs privacy policy means the VPN’s servers won’t store any of your web data.

Although its server network of just 200 total servers is tiny compared to competitors, the VPN provides good worldwide coverage.

Another downside is that live chat customer support isn’t available at scheduled times. In our experience, it’s only accessible at random times of the day.

Overall, while it’s not perfect, PrivateVPN is a very good VPN aimed at streaming and torrenting fans on a budget.

PrivateVPN Key Data

Data CapUnlimited
Logging PolicyNo Logs
Data LeaksNo
JurisdictionSweden (14-Eyes Member)
IP Addresses7,000+
US NetflixYes
Simultaneous Connections10
Works In ChinaYes
SupportLive Chat
Cheapest Price$2.00/mo over 3 years
Money-Back Guarantee30-day Money-Back Guarantee
Official WebsitePrivateVPN.com


PrivateVPN works with Netflix, Hulu and more

How is this calculated?

Streaming is rated by the number of different services unlocked, how many regional libraries are viewable, and how consistently the VPN can access them.

Netflix, BBC iPlayer, HBO Max, DAZN, and Amazon Prime Video are all tested on a weekly basis.

PrivateVPN is one of the best VPNs for streaming. It unblocked every service we tested it with, including 14 Netflix libraries. It doesn’t work on Smart TVs or PS4, which is disappointing, but it does have a fully-featured app for Amazon Fire TV.

Ranked #3 out of 56 VPNs for Streaming

PrivateVPN runs many servers that work with streaming platforms around the world.

In our streaming tests, the VPN always worked with US Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, and Amazon Prime Video.

The VPN service recently removed its dedicated streaming servers from its app. When we contacted it, a representative from PrivateVPN told us that this is because “all servers now work for streaming.”

Testing all of PrivateVPN’s servers with Netflix, we found that 53% of servers unblock the streaming service. In other words, the VPN unblocks 14 Netflix regions.

PrivateVPN working with US Netflix.

PrivateVPN always worked with US Netflix in our tests.

Our Netflix VPNs tests found that PrivateVPN is the second-best service for unblocking Netflix libraries (14 regions).

Even better, PrivateVPN unblocks a variety of streaming services around the world, including Hotstar and Sky Go.

The service’s Canada VPN servers even unblocked DAZN’s Canada library from overseas, which many VPNs are unable to do.

We were able to stream Sky Go content using PrivateVPN.

We were able to stream Sky Go content while using PrivateVPN.

One drawback of streaming with PrivateVPN is that the VPN doesn’t offer a Smart DNS feature. Smart DNS lets you spoof your location and bypass geo-blocks on devices that are not VPN-compatible.

This absence means it’s harder to use PrivateVPN on devices like Apple TV, PlayStation, and Xbox. If you own these devices, read our ExpressVPN review and why its Smart DNS tool is the best we’ve tested.

How Does PrivateVPN Compare to Other Streaming VPNs?

We test 56 VPNs for streaming and assign each a score based on performance and features.

In the table below, see how PrivateVPN compares to other popular streaming VPNs:

Privacy & Logging Policy

PrivateVPN Doesn't Keep Logs

How is this calculated?

We dissect the logging and privacy policies of every VPN. A VPN should never log:

  • Your real IP address
  • Connection timestamps
  • DNS requests

A base of operations outside of 14-Eyes or EU jurisdiction is preferable.

PrivateVPN is a verified no-logs VPN service that has never supplied user data to any third-party. A minor downside is its base in Sweden, which is a 14 Eyes jurisdiction, but this is offset by its private logging policy.

Ranked #20 out of 56 VPNs for Privacy & Logging Policy

The only information that PrivateVPN retains is your email address — used for logging in, resetting your password, and renewing your account. PrivateVPN confirmed to us that this is not linked to your activity in any way.

PrivateVPN is one of the very few no-logs VPNs because it doesn’t even log anonymous usage data. This level of privacy is typically reserved for more expensive services.

The privacy policy categorically states that:

“PrivateVPN does not collect or log any traffic or use of its service.”

PrivateVPN no-logs privacy policy

Excerpt from PrivateVPN’s no-logs privacy policy.

Although this statement is promising, it’s also short. We’d like the logging policy to explicitly state that it doesn’t log DNS requests, connection timestamps, or IP addresses, too.

PrivateVPN has not always fully disclosed its logging practices, either. Although it is no longer the case, the VPN previously logged IP addresses of users signing up for the free trial it previously offered. PrivateVPN told us these IP addresses were securely stored in a “dummy database” and linked to “no other data.”

Although this type of logging was done privately and only to prevent abuse of its free trial, the problem is that PrivateVPN did not disclose its logging anywhere.

This damages trust between the user and the VPN provider. This is no small issue, either, given the level of sensitive data that is handled by the VPN.

While PrivateVPN’s logging policy has still not been audited by a third-party, real-world tests support the VPN’s claims.

Despite this, we are confident that PrivateVPN is now a true no-logs VPN and that this wrongdoing was a result of careless management rather than anything malicious.

Logging Policy Is Verified Through Real-World Tests

PrivateVPN is one of the few VPN services that has had its no-logs privacy policy verified by a real-world case. The VPN has been unable to give away user data, despite being asked by law enforcement on several occasions.

While PrivateVPN’s logging policy states that it will provide data if “necessary in order to […] comply with a decision of a public authority or court of law,” this simply means that it is forced to respond to requests from law enforcement, not that it has to provide any information.

The important thing to know is that because PrivateVPN doesn’t store any user data, it has no logs to provide.

Although not known publicly, we have seen documents showing that, due to its no-logs privacy policy, PrivateVPN has always been unable to comply with law enforcement. We absolutely do not condone any illegal activities performed while using a VPN, but these real-world cases act as a trustworthy and practical test for a VPN’s logging practices.

This means you can trust PrivateVPN to keep you private and safe, though we hope to see a full third-party audit in the future.

PrivateVPN is based in Sweden

Miss Group, the company behind PrivateVPN, is located in Sweden. Sweden is a relatively safe VPN jurisdiction, but it is certainly not perfect for user privacy.

Sweden is part of the 14 Eyes, a group of 14 nations that share surveillance information. Although we don’t typically recommend VPNs based in a 14-Eyes country, Sweden conducts less invasive VPN data collection and surveillance than its partners.

In Sweden, VPN providers are not considered an ‘electronic communications network’ nor an ‘electronic communications service’. This makes PrivateVPN exempt from Sweden’s intrusive laws, like The Electronic Communications Act.

On top of this, PrivateVPN’s no-logs policy means that it is unable to provide any information about its users, even if it was asked to comply with an investigation.

Speed & Reliability

Very fast speeds across the server network

How is this calculated?

Speed ratings are calculated using upload speeds, download speeds, and ping (latency).

We test average speeds regularly using a dedicated 100Mbps connection in London, UK. Local download speed is considered the most important factor.

When connected to a nearby server, our test results show that PrivateVPN is fast. Our download speeds dropped by just 6%— meaning the VPN is fast enough for all web activities. However, PrivateVPN's global speeds are less impressive, and its congested servers often lead to slowdowns.

Ranked #17 out of 56 VPNs for Speed & Reliability

To maintain fair and unbiased speed testing, we measured our internet speeds before and after connecting to a nearby London VPN server while using a UDP OpenVPN connection. We performed a series of tests over several days and then took the average number for each.

Here are the results we recorded when connecting to a nearby PrivateVPN server:

Local Speed Test results before using PrivateVPN:

  • Download Speed: 100Mbps
  • Upload Speed: 99Mbps
  • Ping: 1ms

Local Speed Test results with PrivateVPN:

  • Download Speed: 94Mbps
  • Upload Speed: 95Mbps
  • Ping: 12ms

Download speed loss when PrivateVPN is running: 6%

Long-Distance Speed Test Results

PrivateVPN’s speed on long-distance connections was almost as good. We recorded fast speeds across a range of locations.

Despite experiencing mediocre speeds when connecting to a US server, it performed more admirably in other far-away locations like Australia and Canada. We were able to play online games and stream HD video from these countries without any buffering or interruptions.

Here are the full results we recorded when connecting to far-away servers from London, UK with a 100Mbps internet connection:

  • USA (New York):
    • Download: 62Mbps (38% slower)
    • Upload: 67Mbps (32% slower)
  • Canada (Toronto):
    • Download: 84Mbps (16% slower)
    • Upload: 65Mbps (34% slower)
  • Germany (Munich):
    • Download: 80Mbps (20% slower)
    • Upload: 95Mbps (4% slower)
  • Singapore:
    • Download: 32Mbps (68% slower)
    • Upload: 26Mbps (74% slower)
  • Australia (Melbourne):
    • Download: 49Mbps (51% slower)
    • Upload: 31Mbps (69% slower)

Although PrivateVPN is not close to being the fastest VPN available, these speeds will still allow you to reliably stream, torrent, and browse the web without any issue. You do need to be wary of its slow congested servers, though, but through some trial and error, you will be able to find a fast VPN server.

PrivateVPN’s Speeds Versus Other Popular VPNs

To keep our speed test results as scientific as possible, we also record results using our in-house VPN speed testing tool.

These tests run automatically four times per day and the results are displayed exactly as we find them — so there’s no possibility for any bias or human error.

The graph below compares PrivateVPN’s average loss of internet speed to other popular VPNs while running on our New York server.

Provider speed comparison chart

Use our Speed Test Tool to compare PrivateVPN’s speeds across different cities.
These results show that PrivateVPN’s speeds are poor compared to other top VPN providers.

These speed test results are in contrast to other providers like ExpressVPN and NordVPN. As you can see, speeds from these services remained both fast and consistent, which is essential for reliability.

PrivateVPN performed worse on international connections. When connecting to London from New York, PrivateVPN is consistently outperformed by other top VPNs, like Surfshark.

PrivateVPN is a cheaper VPN service than some of its competitors, so congested VPN servers and slower speeds are somewhat expected. That said, we hope it can increase its server capacity and improve performance in the future.

Price & Value

Exceptional value on all pricing plans

How is this calculated?

Price & Value for Money receives a rating, but is not factored into our Overall Rating. We believe the reader should decide what is or isn’t a reasonable price.

A good rating here isn’t just based on how cheap the VPN is, but for the value it offers overall.

PrivateVPN is a bargain across its subscription plans. A monthly price of $2.00 is cheaper than any of its competitors, and you'll also benefit from a 30-day money-back guarantee period.

Ranked #4 out of 56 VPNs for Price & Value

PrivateVPN Subscription Prices

Three billing options let you pay monthly, every three months, or every three years.

The PrivateVPN monthly package costs $9.99, but you can lower the monthly cost by 85% to $2.00 if you pay for three years in advance. There is also a three-month plan, which costs $6.00 per month.

  1. Monthly


    Billed $11.99 every month
  2. 3 Month(s)


    Billed $17.99 every 3 months
    Save 50%
  3. 3 Year(s)


    Billed $72.00 the first 3 years, annually thereafter
    Save 85%

These impressive prices make PrivateVPN a great VPN choice if value is your main priority.

By contrast, other cheap VPNs, like NordVPN, Surfshark, and CyberGhost, all cost more, making PrivateVPN a clear price winner.

PrivateVPN Free Trial

PrivateVPN no longer offers a free trial. If you want to test the VPN, take advantage of the service’s 30-day money-back guarantee.

You will need to provide a reason for asking for your money back, but all refunds are processed within five business days.

Payment Methods

PrivateVPN accepts the following payment methods:

  1. American Express
  2. Bitcoin
  3. Mastercard
  4. PayPal
  5. UnionPay
  6. Visa

How Expensive Is PrivateVPN Compared to Other VPNs?

Use the table below to compare PrivateVPN’s pricing information to other top VPNs. You’ll find information about each VPN’s monthly cost, refund policy, and free trial period:

Server Locations

Small network of 200 servers across 63 countries

How is this calculated?

The global spread and coverage of the VPN server network is the most important factor here.

We also consider the number of city-level servers, plus how many IP addresses are maintained.

This rating does not directly contribute to the Overall Rating, but instead makes up a portion of the Security & Features rating.

PrivateVPN covers a wide range of server locations, with servers in 63 countries around the world. Despite the decent number of countries covered, the network consists of just 200 servers, which is too small for a popular VPN service. That said, its dedicated IP servers are excellent for security and speeds.

Ranked #19 out of 56 VPNs for Server Locations

Globe with a blue flag
63 Countries
Image of a city landscape
75 Cities
Image of a pink marker
7,000+ IP Addresses

Servers are available in popular locations like the US, the UK, Australia, Japan, Germany, and Canada. All of these include city-level servers, too, so you can connect to the nearest server to you in a specific country.

Sadly, the app does not allow you to connect automatically to the fastest server, and it doesn’t include any information about server load, either.

PrivateVPN server locations

PrivateVPN has just 200 servers located around 63 countries.

Disappointingly, though, South Africa is the only African server available. There are plenty of VPN servers located near China, however, including Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Vietnam — making connections from behind the Great Firewall fast and reliable.

Virtual Server Locations

13% of PrivateVPN’s server locations are virtual — meaning they are physically located in a different country to the IP address. For example, we discovered that PrivateVPN’s South Korea server is actually located in a server park in the US.

PrivateVPN virtual server locations

PrivateVPN uses virtual server locations.

PrivateVPN uses a relatively small number of virtual server locations. This increases transparency and ensures that your data is not diverted to any country other than the one you’ve chosen.

Virtual server locations can also drastically hinder your internet speed if you think you’re connecting to a nearby server, when in fact it’s located on the other side of the world.

For this reason, the PrivateVPN app needs to highlight which server locations are virtual, and which are physically located. Other VPN services, including top-tier VPNs like CyberGhost, are very upfront about this.

Although PrivateVPN does list all of its virtual server locations on its website, they are concealed and not easy to find.

Dedicated IP Servers

All of PrivateVPN’s apps come with a separate tab allowing you to connect to ‘Dedicated IP’ servers. These servers have several unique features which make them very useful for certain activities.

PrivateVPN dedicated IP servers

PrivateVPN’s dedicated IP servers are perfect for torrenting.

Firstly, PrivateVPN owns all of these servers, with none rented from third-parties. This makes these servers excellent for privacy and security, as it removes any additional intermediaries that are responsible for your data.

We spoke to a PrivateVPN representative and found that a subset of these servers are 100% owned by PrivateVPN — meaning it has full control of the hardware, servers, network equipment, and everything else.

These servers are:

  • Denmark – Copenhagen
  • France – Paris
  • Germany – Frankfurt
  • Italy – Milan
  • Spain – Madrid
  • Sweden – Stockholm
  • Switzerland – Zürich
  • The Netherlands – Amsterdam
  • UK – London
  • US – NYC 1

All of these servers have a 10GB dedicated internet connection, and as PrivateVPN wholly owns them, the bandwidth is not shared with any additional renters. This makes these servers particularly fast — great for demanding tasks like streaming.

Secondly, all ports are automatically enabled on PrivateVPN’s dedicated IP servers — making these servers perfect for torrenting and P2P file-sharing. With other servers, you are forced to manually configure your torrent client, which is often a lengthy and complicated process.

Having all ports open allows all incoming P2P connections to transmit directly to your device. Without this, you will get low priority from other seeds and your download rate would suffer.

Finally, these servers issue dedicated IP addresses — meaning that when you connect to one of them, your IP address will not be shared with any other user. These IPs are still dynamic, too, so you will get a different IP when you reconnect.

In all, PrivateVPN’s dedicated IP servers are one of the VPN’s main strong points — allowing tighter security, faster torrenting, and reliable streaming. However, the VPN does not promote these servers anywhere, nor does it provide guides to educate users about their use, so we’d like to see it focus on these more in the future.


PrivateVPN Is Excellent for Torrenting

How is this calculated?

We calculate the average download bitrate of every VPN using a bespoke torrenting setup.

Testing also factors in the percentage of servers which permit P2P, plus useful features like port forwarding.

PrivateVPN allows P2P traffic and port forwarding on all of its servers, making it a great choice for private torrenting. The VPN’s use of AES-256 encryption, private DNS servers, and no logging ensures your torrenting activity will not be traced back to you.

Ranked #9 out of 56 VPNs for Torrenting

We tested PrivateVPN with various torrent clients, and each time we were able to download a torrent file without any interruptions quickly. Our most recent speed test results measured a bitrate of 5.1 MiB/s from our 100Mbps internet connection, which means you won’t have any trouble sharing large files like movies, music, and software with others.

A screenshot showing that the VPN allowed us to torrenting and P2P share successfully.

Our torrent file downloaded quickly while using PrivateVPN.

The VPN also operates its own no-logs DNS servers, which means there is no third-party involved in resolving your DNS requests. This is a must-have feature for private P2P file-sharing, so we’re glad to see PrivateVPN cover it.

Although torrenting is allowed on all of its servers, PrivateVPN recommends you only connect to a location from the ‘Dedicated IP’ server list.

These servers are owned and controlled by PrivateVPN, unlike all other servers which are rented from third-parties. A PrivateVPN representative confirmed to us that only PrivateVPN has direct physical access to these servers and no one else.

This allows for an additional layer of control and security, which is essential when it comes to keeping torrenting activity private.

Additionally, these servers allow most ports to be forwarded automatically, so there’s no need to configure any port settings on your torrent client. In fact, it’s our number one recommended VPN if you want to seed torrents. For the fastest speeds, we also recommend you connect to the dedicated IP server location that is closest to you. You can read all about PrivateVPN’s dedicated IP servers here.

PrivateVPN’s superb torrenting performance makes it an excellent choice for using Kodi, Popcorn Time, and all other torrent-based streaming platforms.

Device & OS Compatibility

Simple & attractive apps for all major devices

How is this rated?

A quality VPN should maintain functional, fully-featured applications and extensions for as many platforms and devices as possible.

This does not directly contribute to the Overall Rating, but instead makes up a portion of the Ease of Use rating.

PrivateVPN has native apps for all major platforms and devices, including Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android. Its apps are some of our favorites, prioritizing simplicity over functionality. However, we do wish the VPN included browser extensions and a Smart DNS tool.


PrivateVPN is available to download and install on the following devices:

  1. Windows
  2. Mac
  3. iOS
  4. Android
  5. Linux
  6. Router

PrivateVPN’s apps function and look almost identical across all platforms, enabling a familiarity and a continuity that we appreciate.

The only notable difference is that the iOS app does not include a kill switch — so your true IP address is at risk of exposure if your VPN connection drops. However, many top VPNs struggle to provide a kill switch on iOS, so it’s not necessarily a deal-breaker.

For alternative platforms like Linux, PrivateVPN’s website provides plenty of manual setup tutorials to guide you through installation.

You can connect up to six devices at the same time, too, which makes PrivateVPN a good choice if you want to protect your family’s devices as well as your own.

Games Consoles & Streaming Devices

  1. Apple TV
  2. Amazon Fire TV
  3. Android TV
  4. Chromecast
  5. Nintendo
  6. PlayStation
  7. Roku
  8. Smart TV
  9. Xbox

As PrivateVPN is a VPN designed for streaming, we were very disappointed to discover that it does not offer a Smart DNS feature. This means the VPN cannot unblock streaming sites on devices like PS4 and Apple TV.

As these devices do not allow for the installation of VPN apps, most top VPNs include Smart DNS. This tricks websites and apps into thinking you’re connecting from a country different to your own without the need for a full  VPN.

Due to its absence, you will have to install PrivateVPN at router-level if you want to unblock streaming sites on a games console or streaming device. Unlike many other VPNs, PrivateVPN does not offer any pre-installed routers for sale, either, so you will have to do it manually.

To do this, read PrivateVPN’s router setup tutorial. This process is complicated if you’re inexperienced, so double-check each step before starting.

Alternatively, you could use PrivateVPN’s Fire TV app if you want to stream movies and TV shows from around the world on your TV. Amazon Fire TV Sticks are very affordable, too, so it’s a good option. You can read more about this in the section below.

Amazon Firestick & Fire TV

PrivateVPN features a great app for Amazon Fire TV Stick, with the ability to unblock over 30 Netflix libraries directly onto your TV.

The app comes with the same choice of servers as the desktop and mobile apps, so you can also stream sites like Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, and HBO Max.

Some other VPNs, like Private Internet Access, struggle to unblock streaming services on Firestick due to the device’s stricter VPN-detection techniques. However, we connected to PrivateVPN’s US, UK, Australia, Japan, and Canada servers and they all worked with Netflix.

One drawback to the app is that it hasn’t been optimized for Fire TV — so it’s left looking like a blown-up version of the Android app. As it was originally designed for touch input, it makes it difficult to decipher what setting you’re controlling at any given time. The only indication being that the element in focus gains a faint green-colored border.

Image of PrivateVPN's app for Amazon Firestick

PrivateVPN unblocks Netflix on Fire TV.

The main negative to PrivateVPN’s Firestick app is that it doesn’t feature a kill switch. This is particularly problematic for Kodi streamers, as if your connection drops for any reason, you may accidentally reveal your IP address.

Overall, PrivateVPN is a great choice if you regularly stream content on an Amazon Firestick. It works flawlessly for unblocking geo-restricted apps.

Ease of Use

Easy to install and set-up

How is this calculated?

This rating mainly consists of the intuitiveness of setup and everyday use.

Device or platform compatibility and customization options are also a factor.

One of the best features of PrivateVPN is its easy-to-use and simple apps. The apps have been recently updated, too, further enhancing their intuitiveness and attractiveness.

Ranked #20 out of 56 VPNs for Ease of Use

How to Connect to a Server with PrivateVPN

  1. Connecting to a server on PrivateVPN for Android

How to Change Settings in PrivateVPN

From the app’s home screen, you can only connect or disconnect from the VPN using the large on/off button, or change your server location. However, the app is more configurable than it first seems as it allows you to choose between this ‘simple view’ or an ‘advanced view’.

Image showing the PrivateVPN app's simple and advanced modes

PrivateVPN’s desktop apps feature both a simple and advanced view.

From the app’s advanced view you can manually configure a range of settings. You can adjust the VPN protocol, the level of encryption used, as well as turn on advanced features like the kill switch and Stealth VPN. This makes the advanced view great if you want to tailor the service to suit your preferences.

The simple view, on the other hand, is perfect if you’re a VPN novice who wants a quick and easy way to connect the VPN and change server location.

Overall, the user experience of PrivateVPN’s apps is one of the very best we’ve seen — they’re easy to use and navigate, they don’t include any bloatware, connecting is quick, and they’re very stable.

Bypassing Web Censorship

Does PrivateVPN Work in China?

How is this calculated?

Our remote-access server in Shanghai, China routinely tests if a VPN can beat restrictions and access a free, open internet. Obfuscation technologies and nearby servers are also a contributing factor.

This rating does not directly contribute to the Overall Rating, but instead makes up a portion of the Security & Features rating.

Our latest tests found that PrivateVPN works in China. Using the VPN’s Stealth VPN protocol, we were able to beat the Great Firewall of China and unblock websites and services like Netflix, YouTube, and WhatsApp.

Ranked #5 out of 56 VPNs for Bypassing Web Censorship

Due to the strict nature of the Chinese government, it’s very difficult to test VPNs in China from outside of the country.

To ensure our reviews are 100% accurate, we have servers physically located in Shanghai that run Windows 10 on a virtual machine. This allows us to make a real connection within China remotely, just as if we were in the country itself.

PrivateVPN is one of the most reliable VPNs to use in China. We found it works around 89% of the time, which is far better than some other top VPNs, like NordVPN and Surfshark.

Image of PrivateVPN working in China

PrivateVPN works reliably in China.

Shadowsocks Proxy

It is worth noting that despite being branded as a bespoke PrivateVPN protocol, Stealth VPN routes traffic through the open-source Shadowsocks proxy. Shadowsocks is not unique to PrivateVPN and is available from many other VPN services. It’s simply not as safe or effective as custom VPN obfuscation tools.

In contrast to PrivateVPN, VPN services like Astrill have developed proprietary technology for bypassing censorship. These don’t rely on proxies and are a safer option if you regularly connect out from China.

EXPERT TIP: Make sure to download and install the app before entering China. PrivateVPN’s website is blocked by the Great Firewall, so you won’t be able to once inside the country.

Security & Extra Features

Is PrivateVPN Safe?

How is this calculated?

Top-rated VPNs offer OpenVPN or WireGuard protocols, AES-256 encryption, and a functional kill switch. We also consider additional security features and the global spread of VPN servers.

PrivateVPN is secure, but it doesn’t have enough advanced features to match other top VPNs. The VPN doesn’t offer WireGuard, RAM-based servers, or split tunneling. That said, it does come with AES-256 encryption and a kill switch, so it’s secure enough for standard web activities.

Ranked #14 out of 56 VPNs for Security & Extra Features

ProtocolsAvailable in PrivateVPN
EncryptionAvailable in PrivateVPN
SecurityAvailable in PrivateVPN
DNS Leak BlockingYes
First-party DNSYes
IPv6 Leak BlockingYes
Supports TCP Port 443Yes
VPN Kill SwitchYes
WebRTC Leak BlockingNo
Advanced FeaturesAvailable in PrivateVPN
Ad BlockerNo
Dedicated IPYes
Double VPNNo
Smart DNSNo
Split TunnelingNo
Tor over VPN ServerNo
Tracker BlockerNo

Despite not offering many configurable security features, PrivateVPN is a trusted safe VPN and does the basics very well. You can rely on the service to encrypt your data and keep your online activities private and anonymous.

The VPN’s website claims that the very strongest encryption methods are in use — including the AES-256 cipher and 2048-bit RSA handshake. To verify this claim, we analyzed the VPN connection logs, and we were pleased with what we found.

After our research, we discovered that PrivateVPN’s encryption and security are tough. The VPN implements its encryption as follows:

  • OpenVPN connections are established via an RSA-2048 handshake.
  • Perfect Forward Secrecy via an ECDH key exchange.
  • Authentication is provided using an SHA-384 hash.
  • Traffic is securely encrypted using the AES-256 cipher.
Image showing PrivateVPN's encryption protocols

PrivateVPN uses the best encryption protocols and ciphers.

Although the technical details of this may sound complicated, these protocols work in tandem to ensure your data is kept safe, secure, and private.

Kill Switch

A kill switch is an essential feature for any VPN user as it stops your internet connection altogether if your VPN connection drops at any point. By doing this, the kill switch protects your IP address and your true identity is never exposed.

PrivateVPN has a kill switch for Windows and macOS to keep you safe if your connection drops. It’s not enabled by default, though, so make sure to have it turned on within the ‘Connection Guard’ tab of the settings menu.

To test the effectiveness of PrivateVPN’s kill switch, we performed a number of IP leak tests while manually disconnecting the VPN. The kill switch worked flawlessly and our true IP address did not leak.Image of PrivateVPN's kill switch

A kill switch is essential for many online activities, like unblocking streaming sites and torrenting, so we’re glad to see it included. However, a major drawback is that there is no kill switch on PrivateVPN’s iOS or Amazon Fire TV app — leaving connections from these devices vulnerable. 

Split Tunneling

Unlike so many other big-name VPNs, PrivateVPN does not offer a split tunneling feature. This means that you are unable to exclude any apps from using the VPN connection, which may result in PrivateVPN stopping them from working properly. 

Although it may seem unusual to leave some of your traffic unprotected, there are some situations where this feature is necessary. A VPN will interfere with your wireless printer and smart home devices, for example.

As a result, we were unable to use any of these local services while running PrivateVPN. Without this feature, PrivateVPN lags behind some of its competitors and may become useless to you, depending on your use case.

Leak Test Results

Although PrivateVPN encrypts all VPN traffic with gold-standard protocols, data leaks can still occur. This happens when traffic is transmitted outside of the encrypted VPN tunnel, making your identity visible to third-parties.

Thankfully, PrivateVPN comes with IPv6 and DNS leak protection. To verify that these features are fully functional, we put PrivateVPN’s Windows and iOS apps through a series of real-world leak tests.

To test for any IP address leaks, we used ipleak.net. We used PrivateVPN servers in the US, UK, Australia, and Sweden. PrivateVPN did not leak our real IP address at any point — keeping our identity private and anonymous.

Image showing PrivateVPN passing our IP leak test

PrivateVPN concealed our real IP address.

PrivateVPN also passed our DNS leak test without any issues. This is helped by the fact that PrivateVPN operates its own DNS servers that resolve all your DNS requests, thereby removing any risk of leaks from third-party servers and data-handlers.

Image showing PrivateVPN passing our DNS leak test

PrivateVPN easily passed our DNS leak test.

In sum, these results show that PrivateVPN is safe and can be trusted to protect your identity as you browse the web.

Customer Support

Inconsistent customer support

How is this calculated?

This rating is based on our assessment of each VPN’s:

  • Email support
  • Live chat support
  • Online resources

Not every VPN offers all of these, and they often vary in quality and response time.

PrivateVPN's customer support compares poorly to other top VPNs. Although its email support stuff are generally well-informed, PrivateVPN's live chat is not available 24/7 and its online guides are limited.

Ranked #20 out of 56 VPNs for Customer Support

Customer SupportAvailable in PrivateVPN
24/7 Live Chat SupportNo
24/7 Email SupportNo
Live Chat SupportYes
Email Support via Online FormNo
No Support AvailableNo
Tutorial VideosNo
Online ResourcesYes

PrivateVPN has good customer support but it is inconsistent in both availability and quality of service. The support team can be contacted either through live chat or via email.

Despite being operational 24/7, its live chat is not always available. After reaching out to the company for an explanation, we were told that there are only four customer support agents in total, so the live chat system is shut down temporarily if there is a large queue or if the agents are on break.

The chat box will display either red or green depending on whether it’s available. It can be initiated from the bottom-right corner of the PrivateVPN website and it will prompt you to enter your name, email address, and question before proceeding.

This is extremely poor for a top VPN service. 24/7 customer support is now an expectation for good VPNs and, if not, then live chat is always available during set times of the day.

With PrivateVPN, though, the availability of a customer support agent is unpredictable and random — which can be extremely frustrating if you want a quick answer to a query.

In addition, PrivateVPN’s support agents differ substantially in helpfulness. Some agents are very knowledgeable, prompt to respond, and courteous. However, some others are very ill-informed, misunderstand queries, and are slow to reply.

Image showing a conversation with PrivateVPN's live chat customer support

PrivateVPN’s live chat is not available 24/7.

If live chat is unavailable, your question will be forwarded to PrivateVPN’s email support. This email support runs 24/7 and, in our testing, we frequently received a reply within an hour. The email support team is generally more knowledgeable than the live chat staff, so make sure to contact them if you have a more advanced query.

For any general issues, PrivateVPN’s online resources and FAQs page should suffice, but these are limited and only cover the basics. We would like to see more video walkthroughs and an update of the tutorials. Many still use screenshots from the old PrivateVPN app, for example.

The Bottom Line

PrivateVPN is a very good VPN choice

PrivateVPN is an excellent VPN service overall. It comes with intuitive apps for beginners, advanced security and encryption, as well as some of the most affordable prices on the market.

PrivateVPN is particularly well suited for streamers who want a quick and easy way to unblock streaming sites from around the world. The VPN accesses 14 different Netflix libraries, Hulu, HBO Max, and BBC iPlayer. However, we do wish PrivateVPN offered a Smart DNS feature, as users are left unable to stream content on devices like Apple TV or games consoles.

The VPN is also our number two pick for torrenting — coming with a robust kill switch, a zero-logs privacy policy, and fast bitrate speeds. In our tests, we were always able to download torrent files quickly and safely.

PrivateVPN is also one of the best VPNs for China, with its Stealth VPN protocol easily bypassing the Great Firewall in all of our recent tests.

However, we encountered some highly unreliable speeds when testing PrivateVPN. The VPN’s tiny server network and lack of information about server load means that servers are often overcrowded. It’s therefore impossible to decipher whether your speeds will be fast or slow before connecting. This is the VPN’s most significant drawback and will often frustrate your Netflix streaming with interruptions and buffering.

Overall, PrivateVPN is an excellent VPN for most users. It will work with any streaming service, hide your torrenting activity, and it will secure data on public WiFi. However, if you want a more fully-featured VPN with the fastest speeds, Smart DNS, browser extensions, 24/7 live chat, and numerous server locations — you’ll have to look elsewhere.

Additional research by Luke Williams

Alternatives to PrivateVPN

Surfshark VPN logo



Surfshark is a similarly-priced VPN that comes with more features. It’s based in a privacy-friendly jurisdiction, live chat is available 24/7, and it allows unlimited simultaneous connections. Read Surfshark review

The new ExpressVPN logo



If money is no issue, then ExpressVPN is the best VPN available today. It delivers very fast long-distance speeds, and it reliably unblocks streaming sites around the world in HD. Read ExpressVPN review

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