It may be the cheapest VPN we’ve tested, but does paying $0.99 a month provide you with the privacy and performance you need?
The logging policy is questionable and lacks clarity, there’s no VPN kill switch, and it leaks DNS requests. It’s a ‘no’ on the privacy front.
Performance-wise, it’ll be fine for general browsing and streaming as long as you are near one of VPN99’s three server locations. Anything other than that, you’d be far better off paying an extra couple of dollars a month for a faster and more secure VPN.
Pricing & Deals
VPN99 has one price no matter how long you subscribe for – $0.99 per month, making it the cheapest paid VPN we’ve come across.
You can choose to pay this price month-by-month or for several months, or even years, in advance – somewhat unnecessary given that there are no savings to be made.
VPN99 Pricing & Deals
VPN99 offers a 24-hour money-back guarantee, which is very short compared to other VPNs, but for the sake of $0.99 it’s not a big deal.
You can request a refund by emailing the support team.
VPN99 accepts major debit and credit cards, as well as two cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin and Ethereum. You can’t currently pay using PayPal or any international methods such as Alipay.
Speed & Reliability
VPN99 isn’t a fast VPN, but it’s not the slowest we’ve seen either. We tested using the OpenVPN configurations on Windows – mobile devices (also using OpenVPN) performed slightly better for downloads but worse for uploads.
You can expect decent performance on local connections, but connecting internationally speeds are very underwhelming.
The Russian server produced the best speeds at 28Mbps up (average of 40Mbps on mobile) and 43Mbps down (average of 23Mbps on mobile). The Netherlands server wasn’t far behind. We test from the UK so it’s no surprise that connecting to the US was slower, at 11Mbps up and down.
These are all very mediocre speeds, and while uploads are quicker than downloads, torrenting is completely blocked by VPN99, so it’s not a huge advantage.
Latency was pretty high, but that was likely because we test relatively far from the nearest server. If you are a keen gamer it’s best to opt for a VPN with servers close by to your physical location.
VPN99 limits users to just three server locations, the USA, the Netherlands, and Russia.
If you are located in or near those countries this may be sufficient – unless you want to access certain geo-specific content – but if not performance will take a hit.
There are plenty of other reasonably prices VPNs that offer way more locations – HideMyAss! has over 190.
Platforms & Devices
VPN99 has recently introduced custom apps for Android and iOS, but they aren’t very well advertised on the website.
You can use the VPN on other devices, including Microsoft Windows and MacOS computers, but this requires manual configuration. There are simple setup guides for most popular platforms on VPN99’s website.
You can protect up to two devices at once, unless you configure your router to protect all internet-connected devices in your home, including games consoles and streaming devices.
Be warned though, VPN99 only provides PPTP setup instructions for Mikrotik routers. Since PPTP isn’t a secure VPN protocol, we wouldn’t recommend it at all.
If you’re looking for a quick, one-click solution for all your devices, choose another VPN – like ExpressVPN.
VPN99 offers browser extensions for both Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox, but note that they don’t provide VPN-level security as they are merely proxies.
The extensions are a bonus for those seeking a light-weight experience but shouldn’t be used in place of a true VPN connection.
Streaming & Torrenting
VPN99 unblocked Netflix through its US server first time of asking, but the lack of server choice means that if this one stops working there are no other options available.
It can’t be used to watch BBC iPlayer as you can’t connect to a server in the UK.
If you are a keen torrenter VPN99 is not for you as it blocks all torrent traffic. IPVanish is one of our top picks for P2P.
Encryption & Security
VPN99 offers strong encryption, but it’s not secure enough for carrying out sensitive activities, like accessing bank details.
The custom apps run on OpenVPN but you can choose between a handful of different VPN protocols if installed manually. We’d always recommend using OpenVPN as it offers the best balance between performance and privacy. Encryption is via AES-256, a cipher considered ‘unbreakable’.
Avoid PPTP at all costs – it’s an outdated protocol with known insecurities, and it’s easy to crack.
VPN99 doesn’t include a VPN kill switch and uses third-party DNS servers, both of which potentially put your personal information at risk of exposure.
To make matters worse, we recorded a DNS leak while using the VPN on Windows, which means that your ISP – or any on-path eavesdroppers – can view which websites you’re visiting. A member of the VPN99 team confirmed that this is an issue they are aware of and working to solve.
- OpenVPN (TCP/UDP)
We asked customer support if the VPN would work in China, to which an agent replied: “Not yet.”
China’s government is actively blocking VPN traffic, but some still work in the country. If you need a VPN to bypass the Great Firewall, read our roundup of reliable VPNs that work in China.
This is not what we expect from a privacy-focussed VPN. Simply stating on the homepage that it doesn’t collect logs is not enough to reassure us of its credibility.
When we got in touch with customer support asking for more details, the response was: “We have strict [sic] policy against the possibility of revealing any personal information about our customers”, which didn’t answer our questions about the collection of user metadata.
- Type of mobile device
- Unique device ID
- IP address
- Detailed connection timestamps
- Mobile operating system
- Type of mobile Internet browsers you use
- Information about the way you use the app
- A list of URLs starting with a referring site
- Your activity within the app
- The site you exit to
Until this ‘mistake’ is ‘fixed’, it’s not worth the potential invasion of your privacy.
VPN99 is incorporated in the UK, one of the most privacy-unfriendly jurisdictions on the planet. As well as being a member of the EU, which has strict data retention laws, the UK is part of the Five Eyes international intelligence-sharing alliance.
We don’t like that VPN99 states on its website that “jurisdiction of the EU guarantees confidentiality” – an outright lie.
Ease of Use
VPN99’s custom apps for Android and iOS are simple and user-friendly, but to the detriment of security, with no settings to play with whatsoever.
Using VPN99 on any other device is a little more fiddly as you have to use its configuration files with the OpenVPN GUI. The tray app can be clunky: it’s very raw and old-fashioned looking. You also have to re-enter your login credentials each time you change servers, which can get very tedious.
The browser extensions, on the other hand, are very easy to use, comprising of three flags on a map and a big ‘Connect’ button at the bottom.
Setting up VPN99 on Android and iOS is as simple as tapping ‘Install’ on the relevant app store.
If you want to use the VPN on any other device it isn’t as straightforward since you have to manually configure files with a third-party client.
If you want to use the OpenVPN protocol – which we highly recommend doing – you first have to download its client from the OpenVPN website. After following the installation prompts you need to return to VPN99’s website to download its configuration files and add them to the OpenVPN GUI. It’s not too tricky, but it may be a little fiddly for beginners.
If you run into any issues while using VPN99 the online resources are very limited, with just a handful of setup guides and no troubleshooting tips.
Email support is available, but responses can be slow. The reply to our first email left much to be desired, when our query about the VPN’s jurisdiction was met with a rather shocking reply: “Why does it concern you?”
Thankfully, after some perseverance, we managed to get some helpful responses, but it took longer than we would have liked.
The Bottom Line
- Decent local downloads and uploads
- Simple custom apps for Android and iOS
- Very cheap
- Leaks DNS requests
- No kill switch
- Limited server network
- P2P activity blocked
- Unclear logging policy
VPN99 is extremely cheap but the price is definitely reflected in its quality.
An unsatisfactory logging policy, no VPN kill switch, and DNS leaks don’t make for the secure and private VPN we hoped for.
The simple mobile apps don’t make up for the complex configuration required on desktop, and the choice of just three servers is a huge hindrance, particularly for performance.
If you’re looking for a secure, fast VPN, VPN99 just won’t cut it.