SkyVPN is an incredibly basic free VPN that’s only currently working on iOS and Android devices. Not only is performance capped at a ridiculously slow 2Mbps, making anything more than just general browsing impossible, but there’s also no access to Netflix or BBC iPlayer.
Speed & Reliability
SkyVPN is without a doubt one of the slowest VPNs we’ve ever seen.
On its website, SkyVPN promises “amazing speed”, but this is a far cry from what we experienced in our performance tests. We test from London, and considering the only available server is in the US, it’s hardly a surprise that both downloads and uploads were absolutely dire.
The highest speed we recorded was a very slow 2Mbps, both up and down, which is barely enough for general browsing, let alone downloading large files or streaming. Latency was well over 100ms too, so it’s definitely a no-go for gamers.
Free users are limited to just one server in the US, which is no good if you’re based anywhere else in the world. There’s not any sort of indication as to whether it’s on the East or West coast, so even if you live in the US you could still end up connecting to a server located on the other side of the country.
A server network this small leads to high levels of congestion and reduced performance, especially at peak times such as evenings and weekends. In order to guarantee the best possible performance, you’ll need to opt for a provider with a much wider global reach – we’d recommend HideMyAss!, which allows you to connect to over 190 countries.
If you’re willing to watch extra ads and complete surveys, it is possible to access servers in 11 different countries, but you only unlock a limited amount of bandwidth at a time. This feels like a marketing ploy by SkyVPN to push you to upgrade to the paid service – we’ll be focusing on the true free version of the app throughout this review.
Platforms & Devices
SkyVPN is available on Microsoft Windows, MacOS, iOS and Android devices. It was originally designed just for mobile, but was later adapted for desktop, which becomes very apparent when you compare the two versions of the app.
On the free plan it’s only possible to use the VPN on one device at once, so if you’re looking to protect multiple devices simultaneously you’re out of luck. Your best bet would be to choose a VPN that can be installed at router level as this saves you from installing individual apps – we’d recommend ExpressVPN.
Streaming & Torrenting
Fans of Netflix or BBC iPlayer shouldn’t waste their time with SkyVPN, as it doesn’t work with either of these popular streaming sites. Its inability to access iPlayer was hardly surprising considering the lack of VPN servers in the UK, however we expected it to at least work with Netflix, especially considering the statement on its website promising “access to any blocked websites”.
There’s no mention of torrenting anywhere that we could find on the site but, after conducting our own tests, it would appear that P2P activity is currently possible on the free server. However, it’s explicitly stated in SkyVPN’s Terms of Service that P2P activity is not permitted on the US server, therefore you shouldn’t attempt it as you’ll be violating the Usage Policy and could be suspended from using the service.
Encryption & Security
We’re not sure how SkyVPN has managed to accrue such a large customer base without disclosing any details about encryption or security on its website, but somehow that’s the case.
It talks about “military grade” encryption but offers no indication of what this actually means – usually a provider would disclose its encryption methods if they were of a high standard, so the fact this has been omitted is concerning.
There’s also no information regarding SkyVPN’s chosen VPN protocol, so we have no idea whether it’s OpenVPN, IKEv2, or possibly something far less secure, such as PPTP.
There’s no kill switch feature, so if the VPN connection were to drop without you noticing, your true IP address would be exposed to anyone who wanted to see it.
One positive among all the negatives is that we didn’t come across any leaks during our testing.
Seeing as we have no idea what VPN protocol SkyVPN uses, we’d be reluctant to recommend it to users in China and other high-censorship countries. Not only that, but it doesn’t offer any sort of additional obfuscation tools to mask the fact that you’re connecting using a VPN, which are essential if you want to bypass the Great Firewall and view censored content.
The fact that you’re only able to connect to a US server is another issue, as it would mean connecting over a very long distance in order to access the internet without any restrictions.
There are other providers that do a much better job. One of our top picks for China is Astrill.
Not only does it collect your originating IP address, it also monitors your online activity in real time, including any websites you may visit. Even though no logs of this information are maintained, there’s absolutely no reason for a VPN provider to track this amount of detail, especially just for “maintaining and improving” the service.
SkyVPN is incorporated in Hong Kong, which wouldn’t ordinarily be too much of an issue, however the fact that it monitors your online activity is a real concern.
Ease of Use
SkyVPN couldn’t be much easier to use on mobile, but unfortunately we can’t say the same for desktop. After several attempts at installing the software, numerous error messages forced us to give up.
The company’s expansion from mobile to PC was only fairly recent, so it’s possible this is just a teething problem. Nevertheless, it’s a shame we weren’t able to test out the apps on Microsoft Windows or MacOS.
The main screen is simple, with just a big ‘Connect’ button and your chosen server location. Clicking on your current server will bring up the full list of available locations – for free users this is just the US, but should you choose to upgrade to ‘Premium’, there are more for you to choose from.
There are no additional settings to speak of, and the entire experience was totally ruined by the constant stream of ads that popped up anytime we tried to do anything. If you minimize the app, switch server or disconnect from the VPN, you’ll be greeted with an infuriating full-screen ad. To make matters worse, many of them require you to watch for at least five seconds before you can close them.
If you’re just going to use SkyVPN on your iOS or Android device, all you have to do is go to the Google Play Store or App Store, download the app and begin using the VPN. When you first open the app, it will try and push you towards the paid version of the service, but simply exit this screen and it shouldn’t reappear.
If you’re planning on installing SkyVPN on your Microsoft Windows or MacOS device, you may be out of luck. We tried several different ways and none of them worked, including manually configuring the software – each time we were just greeted with a series of error messages and told that no servers could be found.
Judging by some of the user posts we’ve seen on SkyVPN’s social media, it would appear that other people are experiencing the same issue.
SkyVPN offers an extremely basic level of customer support. There are some standard FAQs on the website that cover the bare bones of VPN knowledge, but don’t expect to see answers to any sort of technical questions.
There’s also a blog that gets updated fairly regularly, however the most recent posts all focus on how you can make money by inviting friends to join the service.
We had to search for a while but we did eventually hunt down a contact email address for the support team – we’re yet to receive any sort of response a few days later. SkyVPN is also on Facebook and Twitter but, again, doesn’t seem to be very active on these platforms.
The Bottom Line
- User-friendly mobile apps
- Performance capped at 2Mbps
- Only able to connect to US server
- Undisclosed encryption and VPN protocol
- Incorrectly marketed as “no logs”
- No access to Netflix or iPlayer
As far as free VPNs go, SkyVPN is one of the worst we’ve tested. Performance absolutely dire, meaning you’ve got no hope of doing anything more than checking a few emails, there’s no access to popular streaming sites such as Netflix or BBC iPlayer, and the apps currently only work on iOS and Android.