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PrivateVPN Review

Simon Migliano
Simon MiglianoUpdated
PrivateVPN
Our rating: 4.35
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Incredibly fast zero-logs VPN. Easy access to major streaming services.

What we like
  • Fast, reliable download speeds - 45Mbps global average
  • Quick, easy access to Netflix, iPlayer and more
  • P2P and torrenting permitted on all servers
  • Simple set-up on a range of devices
  • Connect securely to 56 countries

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 3-month plan, coming in at a reasonable $7.50 and saving you 32%.

PrivateVPN Pricing & Deals

The prices below include the coupon savings.

Best Value Deal
17 Months
US$3.60/mo
Save 67%
Billed $43.20 every 12 months + 5 months free
3 Months
US$7.50/mo
Save 32%
Billed $22.50 every 3 months
1 Month
US$10.95/mo
Billed $10.95 every month
Get PrivateVPN30-day money-back guarantee

PrivateVPN offers a generous 30-day money-back guarantee in place of a free trial. This is a genuine ‘no questions asked’ guarantee with no hidden catches or restrictions, as long as you cancel before the end of the 30th day of your subscription. Your card will be charged when you first sign up but all refunds are processed within 5 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.

Payment Options

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:45.00 Mbps
    Upload Speed Average:25.04 Mbps
    Ping Time Average:138 ms
  • Download Speed Average:53.23 Mbps
    Upload Speed Average:124.85 Mbps
    Ping Time Average:52 ms
  • Download Speed Average:244.16 Mbps
    Upload Speed Average:105.35 Mbps
    Ping Time Average:2 ms
  • Download Speed Average:144.81 Mbps
    Upload Speed Average:227.53 Mbps
    Ping Time Average:3 ms
  • Download Speed Average:108.50 Mbps
    Upload Speed Average:117.31 Mbps
    Ping Time Average:4 ms
  • Download Speed Average:184.93 Mbps
    Upload Speed Average:142.72 Mbps
    Ping Time Average:3 ms
  • Download Speed Average:21.68 Mbps
    Upload Speed Average:42.72 Mbps
    Ping Time Average:29 ms
  • Download Speed Average:53.08 Mbps
    Upload Speed Average:56.70 Mbps
    Ping Time Average:4 ms
  • Download Speed Average:60.92 Mbps
    Upload Speed Average:42.71 Mbps
    Ping Time Average:3 ms
  • Download Speed Average:160.19 Mbps
    Upload Speed Average:86.57 Mbps
    Ping Time Average:3 ms
  • Download Speed Average:169.72 Mbps
    Upload Speed Average:159.97 Mbps
    Ping Time Average:2 ms
  • Download Speed Average:110.05 Mbps
    Upload Speed Average:24.82 Mbps
    Ping Time Average:24 ms

PrivateVPN offers ridiculously fast download speeds on local connections, peaking at 244Mbps in Frankfurt, while other hotspots average 119Mbps. Connecting out to the US from the UK you can expect amazing speeds of 69Mbps, enough for HD streaming across multiple devices. Even the majority of more distant connections performed very well, such as San Francisco to Sydney at 51Mbps, but if you’re going to be connecting out from Australia expect slightly slower speeds closer to 8Mbps.

We also logged incredibly low latency of 2ms in Frankfurt and Toronto and 3ms in London 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 very laggy 52ms in Amsterdam.

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 103Mbps make PrivateVPN very appealing to torrenters and P2P users. Local connections in London, New York and Paris tested significantly higher than that, with London delivering 228Mbps. 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 test for VPN speed performance.

Features

Server Locations

56Countries56Countries
69Cities69Cities
6,800+IP Addresses6,800+IP Addresses

PrivateVPN offers a mid-sized server network, covering the most popular worldwide destinations and also including a few more unusual locations. 56 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 almost 7,000, which should go some way to preventing the servers from becoming too overcrowded.

A choice of 9 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.

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

Apps

Windows LogoWindows
Mac LogoMac
iOS LogoiOS
Android LogoAndroid
Linux LogoLinux
Router LogoRouter

PrivateVPN offers a decent range of custom apps for various devices including Windows, Mac, iOS and Android. They also provide a series of extensive set-up 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.

Browser extensions

Unlike many other top-tier providers, PrivateVPN unfortunately doesn’t offer any form of browser extension for Chrome, 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.

Console & Streaming Devices

AppleTV LogoAppleTV
Amazon Fire TV LogoAmazon Fire TV
Chromecast LogoChromecast
Nintendo LogoNintendo
PlayStation LogoPlayStation
Roku LogoRoku
Xbox LogoXbox

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 set-up 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 labelled, so you don’t have to waste valuable streaming time trying out loads of different locations. You can currently access Netflix on 3 of their US and 2 of their UK servers.

The situation is the same with BBC iPlayer, which is accessible through 2 of their UK servers. 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. Upload speeds of up to 220Mbps are a 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.

Protocol
  • IKEv2
  • L2TP/IPSec
  • OpenVPN (TCP/UDP)
  • PPTP
Encryption
  • AES-256
Security
  • DNS Leak Blocking
  • First-party DNS
  • IPV6 Leak Blocking
  • Supports TCP Port 443
  • VPN Killswitch
Advanced features
  • TOR via VPN Server

Bypassing Censorship

Since the recent VPN crackdown in China, it is becoming harder to recommend PrivateVPN to people who are mainly going to be connecting out from that country.

It does work on some occasions but requires you to connect using the L2TP protocol, which isn’t as secure as OpenVPN. Even then it isn’t guaranteed to work, and as PrivateVPN is currently lacking additional obfuscation methods you might still be blocked by the Great Firewall. The customer support team has assured us that they’ll soon be supporting obfsproxy, meaning the Chinese government won’t be able to tell you’re connecting through a VPN.

Despite this, PrivateVPN 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. Access to Tor through their software is also a huge bonus for those trying to access government-blocked content.

Privacy

Logging Policy

PrivateVPN operates a very strict zero-logs policy, which seemed at first almost too good to be true. However after reading through their privacy policy and speaking with them directly, we feel reassured that they don’t even temporarily store any connection metadata. This means that from the moment you connect to the VPN service, none of your activity is logged, monitored or passed onto third parties, giving you absolute peace of mind.

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.

Jurisdiction

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, however they’re a little too stripped back for our liking. The iOS app is limited to IKEv2 or IPSec and neither Android nor iOS have any configurable options whatsoever. These need major improvements to bring them up to speed with the desktop client.

Getting started

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.

  • Installing software
  • How to use the app

Customer Support

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

What we like
  • Excellent, reliable performance with speeds of up to 350Mbps
  • 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 56 countries
  • Strong encryption and a strict zero-logs policy
What we like less
  • No browser extensions available
  • Livechat availability is inconsistent
  • Small number of individual servers
  • No advanced privacy options on mobile

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 leave a lot to be desired when it comes to configurable options, although this probably won’t affect the majority of users. It can be made to work in China at a push, however there are much more reliable options available for that purpose. In terms of striking a balance between privacy and performance, PrivateVPN does a brilliant job.