Operating since 2012, VPN.ac is rarely spoken of when it comes to the big players in the VPN market – but has it been overlooked?
That’s what we’re here to find out. In this review you’ll learn all you need to know about VPN.ac, including:
- Is it any good?
- How many devices can you use with VPN.ac?
- Is VPN.ac better than ExpressVPN?
- Does VPN.ac work with BBC iPlayer?
- Does it beat censorship in China?
Before we delve into that, you can see VPN.ac’s most important pros and cons:
VPN.ac Pros & Cons
VPN.ac Key Summary
|Logging Policy||No Logs|
|Works in China||Yes|
|Support||Email support via online ticket|
|Cheapest Price||$3.75 over 24 months|
If you want to discover how we came to this assessment, read on and see whether VPN.ac is the service for you.
Who is VPN.ac?
About & Logging
VPN.ac is owned and operated by Netsec Interactive Solutions, a company established in Romania in 2009.
According to its website, VPN.ac is made up of “talented, forward thinking professionals.” These talented professionals are based at 76 Calea Dumbravii Street, 550399, Sibiu, Romania.
Being based in Romania may not seem great as it is potentially subject to the data-sharing agreements of the EU. However, in an interview one representative of VPN.ac actually argues that a Romanian jurisdiction is a benefit due to the country’s post-Communist anxiety about privacy-invasion and because “it will take a considerable amount of time until [the country will] have to fully implement EU requirements.”
This is hardly a legal guarantee – but there might be something to it. Data retention is considered illegal by Romanian courts. When the Romanian government introduced the EU’s 2006 Data Retention Directive as part of its inclusion into the EU, in 2009 the Constitutional Court of Romania (CCR) said that these laws were an unconstitutional violation of Romanian citizens’ rights to privacy (twice, following pressure from the EU), arguing that it made a gross “presumption of guilt.” Romania is the only EU country to have successfully thrown out the EU’s data retention laws.
This makes it a good place to base a VPN provider, but we can’t be certain that Romania’s membership of the EU won’t eventually result in some negative anti-privacy legislation.
We do see that the company often attends cybersecurity conferences in Romania, so we know VPN.ac has a genuine interest in internet security.
VPN.ac logs data, but it is erased daily and permanently.
“We do, however, keep some connection logs (to our VPN service) for security and support purposes. These are kept on a separate, encrypted server (located in an undisclosed location) and are automatically erased on a daily basis. We don’t keep any logs on servers, not even common Linux daemon logs.”
The information VPN.ac logs for a short period of time includes:
- Originating IP address
- Start and end time of VPN connections
- Amount of data transferred
While our instinct is to flinch when seeing that it collects your original IP, we actually like this approach; it is honest, clear, and poses no privacy threat when deleted daily.
VPN.ac keeps these temporary logs to combat attacks against the service, including brute force and MitM attacks. It’s more specific and legitimate than a VPN simply stating it keeps logs to ‘maintain the service’, which is often the case.
You can read more about logs, including what is and isn’t acceptable practice, with our guide to VPN logging policies.
All in all, there’s little to fear when using VPN.ac. You can trust it to protect your privacy.
Speed & Reliability
Local Speed Test Results
Before using VPN.ac:
When connected to VPN.ac:
VPN.ac picks up some fast, reliable speeds. Take a look:
Download speed without VPN.ac: 89.25Mbps
Download speed with VPN.ac: 83.9Mbps
Our download speed loss when VPN.ac is running: 6%
This local speed loss is minimal, meaning you shouldn’t experience any difference between using a VPN and not using a VPN.
That’s a great result.
When it comes to long-distance connections, we put VPN.ac through our scientific speed test to determine the average results that you can expect to get connected to these locations:
- US: 53.92Mbps (download) & 39.23Mbps (upload)
- Germany: 65.14Mbps (download) & 63.9Mbps (upload)
- Australia: 31.25Mbps (download) & 9.90Mbps (upload)
As you can see, VPN.ac’s long-distance speeds are quite impressive. We usually see much lower scores than this for the US and Australia.
You can do everything with VPN.ac that you would do without it.
Dedicated, quality servers
VPN.ac has VPN 117 servers in 21 countries available to connect to.
VPN.ac hasn’t increased its server selection over time but has actually decreased it, recently dropping from 25 countries.
It’s a small list no matter which way you look at it – the majority of its servers are in Europe, too.
However, while we would like to see more choice, it’s worth noting that these are bare metal servers, meaning that they are physical and not rented, and come with self-hosted encrypted DNS.
In other words, VPN.ac has gone for quality over quantity. Explaining its practice, VPN.ac states that it “focus[es] on fewer, where security is done properly and the bandwidth capacity is enough to ensure a fast and reliable service.”
There’s still the risk of congestion and reduced speeds, which is what happens when too many people are using the same servers, but you can be reassured in the knowledge that you’re safe and we’ve never had a bad experience using the service.
If a choice has to be made, then we’d always recommend a potential loss in performance for the guarantee of security. Having no virtual private servers (VPS) and no fake servers is a great step that we wish every VPN would take.
Reliable access to streaming services
Streaming & Torrenting
VPN.ac doesn’t identify servers optimized for Netflix, BBC iPlayer, or other streaming services, but it remains a good choice for hassle-free access.
We gained access to BBC iPlayer using VPN.ac’s London servers.
VPN.ac is also good for unblocking US Netflix, including on its DoubleHop servers. We accessed it on all of the US servers that we tested and didn’t have a single failure these servers, although some buffering was required.
VPN.ac doesn’t advertise its streaming reliability much, and its lack of attention towards designated streaming servers for its app shows that, but we can tell you it’s a solid choice for streaming regardless.
Torrenting is allowed on every one of VPN.ac’s servers.
VPN.ac goes even further to recommend the optimal server choices, informing you that the best servers are:
- Canada – Toronto
We are told these locations feature “over 28 gigabit servers” and so bandwidth won’t be an issue.
It’s nice to see a provider recommending how you can optimize your P2P activity with its service. Many ban or restrict P2P traffic completely, so be sure to choose carefully.
A good choice against censorship
VPN.ac is one of the best VPNs for beating censorship.
It comes with ‘China Optimized’ servers and a great array of obfuscation tools to bypass The Great Firewall. Using the OpenVPN XOR protocol alongside TCP-443 port will enable you slip through a crack in the wall and smuggle in a freer internet.
VPN.ac goes to great effort to ensure its service still works in China, offering a ‘China Status’ page and ‘Instructions for China’, detailing the current situation in the country and the best way to connect.
This information is viewable to anyone with an account, making it a solid choice for China – one of only a few.
VPN.ac will be a good choice for other censored countries too, including Russia, Turkey, and the UAE.
Available on popular platforms and more
Platforms & Devices
VPN.ac is available on nearly every device you can think of.
The usual custom apps, including Windows, MacOS, Android and iOS, are available with one-click.
You can also follow VPN.ac’s step-by-step setup tutorial guides for the devices lacking native apps, including Linux.
If you want to protect all of the internet-connected devices in your home, you can always install VPN.ac at router level. It’s compatible with routers:
Again, there are detailed tutorials on the website with helpful instructions that will save you having to download the VPN onto multiple devices.
VPN.ac is also generous in its allowance of up to six different devices using the same VPN subscription.
Games Consoles & Streaming Devices
VPN.ac offers a native app for the Amazon Fire TV and Amazon Fire TV Stick, and it also works with loads of other gaming consoles and streaming devices – just connecting them to a VPN.ac-configured router, for which there are step-by-step instructions on the website. This includes Apple TV, Google Chromecast, Nintendo, PlayStation, Xbox and more.
Once up and running, it’ll automatically protect the internet-connected devices in your home. If you’re willing to spend just a little extra time installing the VPN at router level, VPN.ac is a great choice.
VPN.ac offers SecureProxy extensions for Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Opera browsers.
VPN.ac is clear and open about the fact that using this makes you more vulnerable to IP leaks, and advises blocking Flash, WebRTC and Java, but it still provides a greater level of privacy for browsing than would normally be the case when browsing.
A super-secure VPN
Encryption & Security
DNS Leak Blocking
IPV6 Leak Blocking
VPN Kill Switch
Please see our VPN Glossary if these terms confuse you and would like to learn more.
VPN.ac does a lot right when it comes to protecting your precious privacy.
The desktop app defaults to OpenVPN; this is our preferred protocol, as it mixes security with speeds perfectly. There’s also the option of WireGuard VPN protocol, which not every VPN service has.
You can also choose to select IKEv2, LT2P and PPTP
OpenVPN is not available on the iOS version of the app, however, which has IPSec and IKEv2 only.
Encryption is provided by the AES-256 cipher. This is the one to beat, used by serious organizations looking to encrypt data, including the US federal government.
Alongside this groundwork are a bunch of additional privacy features, such as ‘Gateway Removal’ – VPN.ac’s kill switch. This protects your true IP address from sudden disconnections.
You’re also protected against DNS and IPv6 leaks.
What’s really great is that VPN.ac operates its own DNS servers, meaning that your web traffic won’t be routed through less-secure servers owned by third parties.
More than that, VPN.ac offers 22 easily-selected Double Hop servers. This means that your traffic is routed through two different encrypted servers before reaching its destination. This gives you an extra layer of privacy (although there will be a reduction in connection speeds).
Good for newbies and pros alike
Ease of Use
How to Install & Set Up VPN.ac
VPN.ac will appeal to seasoned VPN users with its huge number of customization options. It comes with the ability to select a number of protocols and ports that pros will want to exploit.
This comes at the cost of intimidating newbies but VPN.ac still makes it as simple as can be with an easy-going app and plenty of information available on its website. There is also a ‘Help’ tab with useful links to common issues users may experience.
You can also switch between ‘Dark’ and ‘Light’ themes, toggle auto-connect options, and much more.
VPN.ac packs a lot into its package.
We do wish that the servers were made more simple to switch between. You have to toggle the ‘On’ and ‘Off’ before making the changes, rather than re-connecting automatically once you select the server.
|Email support via an online form||Yes|
VPN.ac has a comprehensive knowledgebase. It offers FAQs, troubleshooting tips, setup guides and all-round useful information about the apps features.
The app says that “almost everything is already covered on site” but, failing that, allows you to contact VPN.ac via ticketing or a message form.
However, VPN.ac did respond only one minute later to our ticket enquiry, as you can see:
Our one complaint with VPN.ac’s support is that we’d like to see a more enthusiastic invitation to ask for help – plus the addition of 24/7 live chat.
The best VPNs are easily contacted and quick to respond over chat. As it stands, we had to wait for 24 hours before we got a response to our support form.
On the bright side, we really like that the company includes its Skype ID as a method of contact, as this is especially useful for users in countries like China where most other communication methods are blocked. It does advise, however, that this is not a secure communication protocol and should really only be used as a last resort.
Cheap but refunds should be clearer
VPN.ac Pricing Plan
VPN.ac offers four different pricing plans that all offer the same features but get cheaper the longer the subscription.
Surely such a comprehensive product comes at an expensive price, right? We thought the same – but we were wrong.
For a service as robust and secure as VPN.ac, its $3.75 a month price tag is a bargain.
This offer is part of its two-year plan, meaning that you have to pay $90 upfront every two-years.
It’s still quite cheap on the one-year plan at 58¢ a year, totalling $4.80 per month.
A single-month subscription, useful if you’re taking a trip to China and want to use a VPN only for that time, costs $9. That’s about standard for a one-month deal.
Whichever plan you are interested in, VPN.ac comes with a seven-day refund offer. We wish it would extend that offer to a whole month, but it offers an unambiguous promise of getting your money back if you’re simply ‘not satisfied’ – seemingly no questions asked.
That is until you read its Terms of Service which contradicts this somewhat by stating:
“We do not refund orders for vague reasons like “it doesn’t work” without providing us details and letting us help.”
We can only assume that being unsatisfied with the service is specific enough for VPN.ac. Just don’t complain that it’s not working. VPN.ac should do a better job of clarifying this.
US$9/moBilled $9.00 every month
US$8/moBilled $24.00 every 6 months
US$4.80/moBilled $58.00 every 12 months
US$3.75/moBilled $90.00 every 2 years
All plans have 7-day money-back guarantee
Payment & Refund Options
VPN.ac allows you to pay for its service with your usual payment methods, but also with cryptocurrencies. You can pay via any of these ways:
- Bitcoin and various altcoins
- Credit cards
- US gift cards
There’s plenty of options here, including cryptocurrencies, many of which will satisfy even the most demanding of privacy enthusiasts.
Do We Recommend VPN.ac?
The Bottom Line
Absolutely. It’s surprising to us that VPN.ac isn’t more popular – our testing has revealed that it has very few downsides.
We really admire its dedication to security and the fact that it evidently knows what it’s talking about. It may not be the best choice for VPN beginners, and we wish there was a bigger server list, but VPN.ac has thought of and covered most things.
This is a thorough VPN service that you can trust to keep you safe online.
Alternatives to VPN.ac
If you’re not fully won over by VPN.ac, we’d recommend ExpressVPN for the simple fact that it has more server choices and it is, after all, our number one recommendation overall. It’s more expensive, but not by much. Read ExpressVPN review
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Stable, fast and affordable service that lives up to is promise and then some. My one gripe is that Linux is treated like the redheaded stepchild, and that is unfortunate. "Official" Linux support is only available for Debian-based distros. The OpenVPN tutorial the reviewer mentions will be useful only to the extent that you use a 5-year old version of network-manager-gnome on your Debian install. There is also a Debian client app, which has been in beta forever. Other than that, you're pretty much on your own if you're a Linux fan.