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Proxy Master by HotspotVPN Review

Rebecca Duff
By Rebecca DuffUpdated
Our Score3.1
User Rating
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Android-only free VPN with links to China and a worrying privacy policy.

What we like
  • Great local download speeds
  • User-friendly Android app
  • Some US servers work with Netflix

Proxy Master is an Android-only free VPN with a very concerning attitude to user privacy. If you use this VPN, not only do you consent to your personal information being sent to mainland China, you also expose yourself to a whole host of security issues due to a lack of VPN kill switch.

Performance is decent enough locally and access to Netflix is great, but you have to consider whether these minor perks are worth sacrificing your online privacy for.

Speed & Reliability

Proxy Master’s speed test results were considerably better than those we’ve seen from other free providers. Locally you can expect download speeds of up to 60Mbps, perfect for buffer-free HD streaming. Uploads aren’t to be sniffed at either, coming in at around 70Mbps on local connections, although torrenters should steer clear as P2P activity isn’t permitted on any servers.

Performance is a lot less reliable worldwide, though, at a measly 8Mbps down connecting out to the US and Canada from Europe (we test from London). Uploads were a little better, at around 30Mbps, but nowhere near as quick as on local connections. Latency wasn’t terrible, reaching 11ms at its lowest in the UK, so gamers shouldn’t experience too many problems.

Features

Server Locations

Globe with a blue flag9Countries
Image of a city landscape12Cities
Image of a pink marker?IP Addresses

We were pleasantly surprised by the number of server locations offered by Proxy Master, with nice countries to choose from. There are options in the US and Europe, as well as a couple in Asia, so if you’re mainly going to be connecting out from these parts of the world you shouldn’t have any problems.

US-based users will be pleased to hear there’s actually city-level choice within that country – you can select the generic East or West servers, or there are state-specific options in Florida and California. There’s no way of drilling down to individual cities in any other countries, however it is possible to choose a specific server in most cases.

Users in Africa and South America should steer clear of Proxy Master, with no server options in these regions at all.

Those in Asia are also limited to just Singapore and India, with no choice in the usually well-represented Australia or Japan.

If you want to use a free VPN with more server locations, we recommend using either Windscribe or TunnelBear.

Platforms & Devices

Apps

Android LogoAndroid

Proxy Master is only available on Android so if you’re looking for a VPN to use on any other devices, you’re out of luck.

If you need to protect a wide range of devices and platforms – Microsoft Windows, MacOS, iOS and AndroidHide.me’s free VPN is worth considering.

Streaming & Torrenting

Proxy Master is a mixed bag in terms of streaming – two of the US servers (East and West) allow you to access Netflix, but so far in our tests we’ve had no joy with BBC iPlayer. This is hardly surprising considering the harsh crackdowns on VPN providers recently put in place by the BBC, affecting both free and paid services.

There’s no mention of torrenting on Proxy Master’s Google Play Store listing, but when we connected to BitTorrent our internet connection abruptly dropped – as soon as we disconnected from the VPN, we were able to upload and download content as normal. Judging by this, it looks like P2P activity isn’t permitted, so torrenters should avoid.

Encryption & Security

Proxy Master offers an extremely basic level of security but nothing much beyond that. There’s a distinct lack of information regarding encryption, so we can’t be exactly sure what cipher is used – we suspect there’s a reason these details are being withheld.

The only thing we can be sure of is that the app uses OpenVPN and IKEv2 protocols, which is great, as these provide the highest levels of privacy. The one feature we’d really like to see in the future is a VPN kill switch, as without this your true IP address could be exposed if the VPN connection drops, leaving you vulnerable to potential hacks.

Even though there’s no mention of DNS leak protection in the app, we’re pleased to report that we didn’t experience any leaks during our tests. There’s also a split tunneling feature of sorts, allowing you to route certain apps outside of the VPN tunnel, which is good if you’re looking to increase your speeds. Proxy Master is certainly not the worst provider we’ve seen, but it could do with a few improvements.

Protocol
  • IKEv2/IPSec
  • OpenVPN (TCP/UDP)
Encryption
  • Undisclosed
Security
    Advanced features
    • Split Tunneling

    Bypassing Censorship

    There’s no mention of China on Proxy Master’s Google Play Store listing, so it’s safe to say that it’s unlikely to work in that country. It uses OpenVPN and doesn’t offer any additional obfuscation tools, making it easy for the censors to detect and block your connection.

    If you need a VPN that will work reliably to bypass the Great Firewall, we’d recommend VyprVPN.

    Proxy Master does state that it offers “perfect support for Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates”, however we can find absolutely no evidence to support this statement. Even if you were able to make it work, the limited number of servers means that you’d have to connect over a long distance, leading to massively reduced speeds. There are other providers that do a much better job.

    Privacy

    Logging Policy

    Proxy Master’s privacy policy is extremely vague, contradictory and overall very concerning. Not only is it hosted on a WordPress blog page, it also applies to a whole host of other VPNs owned by the same company, such as Unblock Master, Secure VPN and Easy VPN. It’s referred to throughout as ‘Our VPN’ rather than by its actual name, which contributes to the overarching feeling of uneasiness.

    Proxy Master claims to operate a “no-log network”, but then goes on to list the (incredibly detailed) amount of information it collects, including:

    • Your ISP and originating IP address
    • Connection and disconnection timestamps
    • Various application identifiers
    • Your email address and device operating system

    Although it doesn’t log anything you do while connected to the VPN, nor your chosen VPN server, this information could be used to identify you if it came down to it. Proxy Master claims that it is only used to “ensure the quality of the product” and “improve customer service”, but we know from experience that this level of detail isn’t necessary to maintain a well-performing VPN network.

    Even worse, there’s no mention of how long this information is stored for, so we have no idea whether it’s days, weeks, or even months. A poor example of a ‘privacy’ policy.

    Jurisdiction

    Proxy Master claims to be based in Singapore, but a recent investigation we conducted has revealed the company has proven links with China, the least privacy-friendly country in the world. You can read our full free VPN app investigation here.

    What’s more, in its logging policy it states that your personal data may be shared with the People’s Republic of China, which is a massive breach of user privacy. It also states that it will share your personal information if required to comply with law enforcement agencies, which is the last thing you want to hear from your VPN provider.

    Ease of Use

    Proxy Master’s Android app couldn’t really be any easier to use, but the incessant popup ads ruin the experience. On the main screen you can select your server, choose which apps you want to route through the VPN tunnel, and change your VPN protocol – it defaults on startup to ‘Auto’, so make sure you change it to OpenVPN before you connect.

    You can access the full list of server locations by clicking ‘Change Server’ below your current location. These don’t seem to be ordered in any particular way, but we really like that you can see the server load and predicted latency before you choose which one to connect to. There’s even a few tips on how to choose the best server at the bottom of the screen, which is great for VPN newbies.

    When you’re connected, you’ll be able to see a few speed stats about your current location, but judging by the results we saw in our performance tests, these aren’t accurate at all. It would be a much slicker experience if not for the ridiculous ads that we had to sit through every time we clicked out of the app or changed server – often with a five-second wait limit before being allowed to exit them.

    Getting Started

    Getting started with Proxy Master is as simple as downloading it from the Google Play Store. No need to provide your email address or set up a password, simply open up the software and you’re good to go. As we’ve seen with many other free providers, it does try and push you into the paid service before it lets you use the premium one, but simply click out of these prompts to get rid of them.

    • Installing software
    • How to use the app

    Customer Support

    If you happen to encounter any issues while using Proxy Master, all we can say is good luck. Because the company doesn’t have a website there are absolutely no online resources, so that means no setup guides or troubleshooting tips. There’s a handful of FAQs on the app, but these are so basic we’re not even sure why they’ve been included.

    The only way to contact the support team is via email (a Hotmail address, no less) but we’re yet to receive a response several days later. Leaving a review on the Google Play Store listing also seems to be an effective way of getting in touch, but you shouldn’t have to go to those lengths just to speak to a human being.

    The Bottom Line

    What we like
    • Very good speeds on local connections
    • Simple Android app
    • Some servers working with Netflix
    What we like less
    • Company has links to China
    • Very vague, inconsistent privacy policy
    • Torrenting not permitted
    • Virtually no customer support
    • Incessant popup ads

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