PrivateVPN is a fantastic zero-logs VPN that offers some of the fastest speeds on the current market. Both local and global performance is excellent, with reliable upload speeds and low latency making it very appealing to gamers and torrenters. Buffer-free access to major streaming sites is made easy through clearly labelled streaming servers. Well-designed, user-friendly apps are available for a range of platforms and are super-simple to set up and use.
PrivateVPN offers a high level of encryption and more advanced privacy features than most, such as first-party DNS servers and a VPN killswitch. It doesn’t even temporarily store any connection metadata, making it a true zero-logs VPN. Customer support is helpful and informative on the whole, but access to live chat is very inconsistent.
Pricing & Deals
PrivateVPN offers a range of different pricing plans to make it as easy as possible to choose the best option for you. They all have the same features but get cheaper on a monthly basis if you commit to a longer subscription.
A single month is fairly expensive at $10.95, but PrivateVPN offers a huge 67% reduction to $3.60 for a 17-month package, which is great value. There’s also a three-month plan, coming in at a reasonable $7.50 and saving you 31%.
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PrivateVPN Pricing & Deals
PrivateVPN offers a generous 30-day money-back guarantee in place of a free trial. You’ll need to provide a reason for requesting a refund, but the only thing stopping you from getting your money back is if you go over the 100GB data cap. This will be plenty for most, but if you usually stream loads of shows and movies, just keep an eye on the amount of data you’re using within those 30 days. Your card will be charged when you first sign up but all refunds are processed within five business days of the refund confirmation, making signing up to PrivateVPN relatively risk-free.
You can also earn rewards through the refer-a-friend scheme, which works on a points system. Every time one of your referred friends signs up to a new plan or adds to an existing one, you earn points which can be exchanged for free days using the service. The great thing about this is there’s no limit to the number of friends you can refer.
PrivateVPN accepts a wide range of payment options including most major credit and debit cards, PayPal, Bitcoin and a handful of international methods such as JCB, Discover and DCI.
Speed & Reliability
PrivateVPN has produced some of the best results we’ve seen so far in our performance tests. Download speeds were incredibly fast and more importantly very reliable across all locations worldwide, and upload speeds on local connections were equally as impressive. Whatever server you choose, you can expect buffer-free HD streaming and speedy multiple file downloads. Super-low latency makes it a fantastic choice for gamers and torrenters.
PrivateVPN Performance Data
- Download Speed Average:64.81 MbpsUpload Speed Average:26.16 MbpsPing Time Average:131 ms
- Download Speed Average:276.28 MbpsUpload Speed Average:177.62 MbpsPing Time Average:2 ms
- Download Speed Average:288.58 MbpsUpload Speed Average:114.04 MbpsPing Time Average:1 ms
- Download Speed Average:123.83 MbpsUpload Speed Average:147.32 MbpsPing Time Average:10 ms
- Download Speed Average:281.72 MbpsUpload Speed Average:188.04 MbpsPing Time Average:2 ms
- Download Speed Average:202.70 MbpsUpload Speed Average:122.70 MbpsPing Time Average:2 ms
- Download Speed Average:164.07 MbpsUpload Speed Average:37.50 MbpsPing Time Average:18 ms
- Download Speed Average:284.68 MbpsUpload Speed Average:197.34 MbpsPing Time Average:2 ms
- Download Speed Average:93.98 MbpsUpload Speed Average:56.42 MbpsPing Time Average:10 ms
- Download Speed Average:164.39 MbpsUpload Speed Average:51.91 MbpsPing Time Average:3 ms
- Download Speed Average:395.16 MbpsUpload Speed Average:196.10 MbpsPing Time Average:2 ms
- Download Speed Average:58.62 MbpsUpload Speed Average:30.39 MbpsPing Time Average:6 ms
PrivateVPN offers ridiculously fast download speeds on local connections, peaking at 395Mbps in Toronto, while other hotspots average 212Mbps. Connecting out to the US from the UK you can expect amazing speeds of 52Mbps, enough for HD streaming across multiple devices. Even the majority of more distant connections performed very well, such as San Francisco to Sydney at 56Mbps, but if you’re going to be connecting out from Australia expect slightly slower speeds closer to 16Mbps.
We also logged incredibly low latency of 1ms in Frankfurt and 2ms in Amsterdam, New York and Paris. This makes PrivateVPN a great choice for gamers. Ping times in a handful of locations weren’t quite as reliable however, ballooning out to a laggy 18ms in San Francisco.
PrivateVPN connects fairly quickly each time, at around 8 seconds on average. We found performance to be very reliable with negligible to no connection drops, presuming you have a stable internet connection.
Average local upload speeds of 120Mbps make PrivateVPN very appealing to torrenters and P2P users. Local connections in Amsterdam, New York and Singapore tested significantly higher than that, with Singapore delivering 197Mbps. If not for poor performance on the Japanese and Canadian servers, the global average would have been even quicker.
PrivateVPN has one of the highest global average download speeds we’ve seen in our tests so far. This means whether you’re connecting locally or internationally, you shouldn’t have any issues downloading multiple files or streaming your favorite shows in Ultra HD. Strong local upload speeds mean it’s also a great option for keen Kodi fans and torrenters, with P2P permitted on all servers.
To read about our speed testing methodologies, please read How We Review VPNs.
PrivateVPN offers a mid-sized server network, covering the most popular worldwide destinations and also including a few more unusual locations. 57 countries will be more than enough choice for most, but equally there are providers on the current market that do offer more, should you need it.
The number of individual servers operated by PrivateVPN is incredibly small at just over 100, meaning you could experience some congestion at busier times. Thankfully they maintain a much larger amount of IP addresses at over 7,000, which should go some way to preventing the servers from becoming too overloaded.
A choice of nine different US cities is nice to see in a network this size, although the midwest and northern states unfortunately aren’t covered. There’s also city-level coverage in a handful of European countries including the UK, Italy and Sweden. If you’re looking for greater US city coverage, HideMyAss and IPVanish are better choices.
The Asia Pacific region is served fairly well, with a server in Australia and several options across Asia such as Hong Kong and Indonesia. South America has a few choices such as Costa Rica, Colombia and Argentina as well as the usual Brazil. Africa is the only continent limited to two choices, Egypt and South Africa, but PrivateVPN is constantly expanding and adding new server locations.
You can find the complete list of PrivateVPN server locations by country and city on their website below.
Platforms & Devices
PrivateVPN offers a decent range of custom apps for various devices including Microsoft Windows, Mac, iOS and Android. They also provide a series of extensive setup guides to manually configure your router to work with the software, although it should be noted that it will only work on certain types of routers, which are listed on PrivateVPN’s website.
Additionally on the site you can find manual set-up guides for devices that don’t have specific apps, such as Linux, Kodi, Chromebook and Galaxy Tab. These are very easy to follow and include lots of helpful screenshots and videos to keep you on the right track.
Unlike many other top-tier providers, PrivateVPN unfortunately doesn’t offer any form of browser extension for Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox or Safari. Most of their rivals offer at least a proxy extension for Chrome, with some providers such as ExpressVPN providing full-featured VPN extensions for the most popular browsers.
This probably won’t affect the majority of people, but if you’re a very heavy browser user seeking a more lightweight experience you might want to look into other options.
Games Consoles & Streaming Devices
PrivateVPN is one of very few providers to offer a dedicated app for the Amazon Fire TV Stick, meaning all you have to do is download the app from the store and you’re ready to go. In order to use consoles or any other streaming device, you’ll need to connect to a configured router or another device running the PrivateVPN app, such as a laptop or smartphone.
Unfortunately there are only setup instructions for Kodi on PrivateVPN’s website, so it’s not 100% guaranteed that other devices will work. However as long as your router is configured correctly you shouldn’t encounter any major issues, and with a generous amount of simultaneous connections you can protect up to 6 devices at any given time.
Streaming & Torrenting
PrivateVPN is one of our top picks for incredibly quick, easy access to a whole host of major streaming sites. When it comes to Netflix, each server that works with the service is clearly labeled, so you don’t have to waste valuable streaming time trying out loads of different locations. You can currently access Netflix on three of their US and two of their UK servers.
Usually, iPlayer is accessible through clearly labelled UK servers but this is currently not the case. While PrivateVPN works to get those servers back up and running, you can access the site through a server named ‘Argentina – VT 1’, which is actually located in the UK. We love that PrivateVPN has also taken the time to identify the most reliable servers for a variety of other streaming services, including Sky, Hulu, ABC, and Prime, making it very appealing to streaming fans around the world.
PrivateVPN is also a fantastic choice for torrenters and Kodi users as all of its servers are torrenting and P2P-friendly, greatly minimizing the risk of slow speeds or congestion. Zippy uploads speeds are an added bonus here, along with a strict zero-logs policy.
Encryption & Security
PrivateVPN really lives up to its name in regards to privacy features and is considered to be one of the most secure VPNs in the current market. The desktop app defaults on startup to OpenVPN, the most secure protocol, though there are other options available should you need them. Encryption is via AES-256, a top cipher and considered unbreakable.
The desktop client includes a VPN killswitch, which blocks your web traffic should the VPN connection drop for any reason, preventing your true IP address from being exposed. PrivateVPN also handles DNS requests via its own zero-log servers, meaning your traffic will never be routed through any third-party servers (this does require some manual set-up but is very simple). For added peace of mind you’re also protected against DNS and IPv6 leaks, a great feature that isn’t offered by every other provider.
For those dealing with more sensitive information, PrivateVPN offers access to the Tor browser through their apps, giving you a double layer of encryption. TCP Port 443 is also supported, which makes you appear online as normal web browser traffic rather than a VPN user.
- OpenVPN (TCP/UDP)
- DNS Leak Blocking
- First-party DNS
- IPV6 Leak Blocking
- Supports TCP Port 443
- VPN Kill Switch
- TOR via VPN Server
Despite the recent VPN crackdown in China, PrivateVPN remains a decent choice for people who want to connect out from that country due to its propriety stealth protocol. This adds an extra layer of obfuscation so that your VPN traffic appears as normal browser HTTPS, making it a great deal harder for censors to detect and block it. Using the protocol will make it a breeze to access content that would otherwise be blocked by the Great Firewall.
PrivateVPN also remains a popular choice in other high-censorship countries due to its decent-sized server network, as you’ll rarely be too far from a high-performance server in a free-speech country. In addition to the stealth protocol, access to Tor through their software is also a huge bonus for those trying to access government-blocked content.
The only potential issue with this logging policy is that it could have a negative effect as PrivateVPN’s user base expands, due to the fact that they have no way of measuring server demand and usage. However we don’t think this is too much to worry about given the current excellent level of performance.
PrivateVPN operates under the jurisdiction of Sweden, making it subject to EU data retention laws and intelligence-sharing agreements. However, its zero-logs policy means that even if it was asked to comply with any type of investigation, it doesn’t have any information about its subscribers to give to the authorities.
In the past, PrivateVPN has received requests for user information from third parties and has had nothing to give them. They also informed us that if Swedish laws ever changed and required them to keep logs, they would move out of the country, showing how much they care about the privacy of their customers.
Ease of Use
PrivateVPN offers a range of simple, uncluttered apps with enough advanced privacy settings to please even more experienced VPN users. The desktop app has a functional and informative main screen displaying your connection status, location and IP address, as well as a drop-down menu of server locations.
Additional settings can be accessed by clicking on the ‘advanced’ arrow in the bottom right-hand corner. These are laid out in a very organized and user-friendly way, with simple on/off toggles for features such as the killswitch and DNS leak protection. The only downside here is the lack of embedded support, as VPN newbies might not be aware of what each option does.
The mobile apps are very similar to the desktop app in terms of design and accessibility, and they have recently been updated to include some advanced features such as Stealth Mode and the option to use TCP Port 443. You can also now use OpenVPN on both Android and iOS but they still lack the all-important killswitch feature and they’re in need of a makeover.
Downloading and installing PrivateVPN is incredibly easy and takes only a matter of minutes. There are step-by-step installation guides for loads of popular devices on the website which are very user-friendly and simple to follow. The general process is to click the set-up link in your welcome email, download the right software for your device and then follow the prompts given to you by the installation wizard. After that, all you have to do is log in and you’re ready to go.
The installation prompts are pretty self-explanatory but should you need any extra support the manual set-up guides have loads of helpful screenshots to get you back on track.
On the whole, PrivateVPN’s customer support is helpful and informative, however we don’t like that they promise a live chat feature but fail to consistently provide one. You can tell whether or not it’s working by the color of the icon on the site (green if it is, red if not). If it’s unavailable, you will be prompted to fill in an online form and wait for a response, but thankfully email replies are lightning fast and all of our issues were resolved very quickly.
The support section on the website contains a ton of useful information, including lots of video tutorials and troubleshooting advice. PrivateVPN also offers a remote control service to install the service or fix any problems if you don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself, which we love. A minor downside is the lack of search function in the FAQs section, however the list is not too long so this isn’t overly problematic.
The Bottom Line
- Excellent, reliable performance with speeds of up to 395Mbps
- Optimized streaming servers for Netflix, BBC iPlayer and more
- Very easy to use. Instant set-up on many popular devices
- Good-sized global network - connect securely to 57 countries
- Strong encryption and a strict zero-logs policy
- No browser extensions available
- Live chat availability is inconsistent
- Small number of individual servers
- Limited security features on iOS app
PrivateVPN is one of our top picks for providers that offer both robust privacy features and excellent global performance. It is also one of the cheapest options on the current market if you opt for the annual plan. If you’re looking for seriously fast speeds and super-easy access to a range of streaming services including Netflix and BBC iPlayer, look no further. Fantastic upload speeds on local connections combined with low latency make it a great option for torrenters, keen Kodi users and gamers alike.
On the privacy side of things, PrivateVPN couldn’t really get much more secure. Loads of advanced privacy features and a strict zero-logs policy more than make up for the fact it’s based in privacy-unfriendly Sweden, as even if a third-party requested your details there would be nothing to show them.
We really like PrivateVPN’s user-friendly desktop client but the mobile apps lack some configurable options, although this probably won’t affect the majority of users. Their proprietary stealth protocol also makes it a reliable choice for use in China. In terms of striking a balance between privacy and performance, PrivateVPN does a brilliant job.