VPNBook’s “100% free” VPN service claims to use the latest technologies and most advanced cryptographic techniques to keep you safe online.
Its website also boasts about fast speeds and no logging – but so does almost every VPN website.
We wanted to test out VPNBook to find out if there is any truth in these statements, so we set out to answer questions like:
- Is VPNBook secure?
- How do you use it?
- Is VPNBook good for torrenting?
- How fast is it?
- Does VPNBook work with Netflix?
Before we answer them in more detail here’s a summary of VPNBook’s pros and cons:
VPNBook Pros & Cons
VPNBook Key Summary
|Top Download Speed||15Mbps|
|Logging Policy||Intrusive Logging|
|IP, DNS or WebRTC Leaks||Yes|
|Jurisdiction||Switzerland (Privacy Haven)|
|Works in China||No|
As you can tell already, it’s not looking good for VPNBook. Let’s start by investigating who’s behind the VPN company and how much user data it stores.
Who is VPNBook?
About & Logging
Unfortunately, there isn’t much information online about VPNBook online. There are no records of who founded it or when. The official VPNBook Twitter account was created in August 2012, which roughly lines up with the first appearance of vpnbook.com on the Wayback Machine.
All that VPNBook really discloses is that it’s based in Switzerland.
VPNBook is transparent about its business model, at least. According to its website, it makes money through advertisements (on the site) and donations.
There is a premium service, too, that provides users with a dedicated VPN server and bandwidth. It costs $7.95 a month and comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Switzerland is a great place for a VPN company to be based – it’s not part of the Five-Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance, nor is it a member of the EU, another organization known for data sharing among its members.
However, while it’s based in a privacy-friendly jurisdiction there’s no guarantee that VPNBook itself is private.
The policy claims that VPNBook doesn’t log “any personal information” or “any user’s internet data” but proceeds to say that it stores users’ true IP addresses and VPN connection timestamps.
IP addresses can be used to identify a user and match them to their online activities, so we definitely consider this personal information.
This data is automatically deleted every week. VPNBook isn’t for the privacy-minded.
Painfully slow speeds
Speed & Reliability
VPNBook is so slow that we had trouble even running speed tests with it connected.
Browser pages took up to a minute to fully load, and when we eventually could run the tests the results were unsurprising.
The fastest speeds we experienced were 15Mbps down and 12Mbps up on the France server (we test from the UK), with a ping time of 62ms.
The slowest speeds?
We couldn’t tell you because the page refused to load at all when we connected to the US servers.
Speed results from our physical location in London (100Mbps fibre optic connection) to a France test server.
Before using VPNBook:
When connected to VPNBook:
Download speed without VPNBook: 95.65Mbps
Download speed with VPNBook: 15.33Mbps
Our download speed loss when VPNBook is running: 88%
Speeds dropped to under 5Mbps on both Germany and Canada servers.
VPNBook is barely fast enough for browsing, let alone streaming, gaming, and torrenting.
If you’re still looking for a free VPN we suggest Hide.me, which provides fairly quick speeds across the board.
If you’re prepared to pay, take a look at the fastest VPNs available according to our in-house testing.
Just five server locations to choose from
Like many other free VPN services, VPNBook’s server network is very limited.
There are five countries to choose from:
There are no options in Africa, Asia-Pacfic, or South America. There’s not even a server in the UK, which is uncommon.
There are only eight servers available in total with eight different IP addresses. This will lead to congestion at peak times, which explains why VPNBook’s speeds are so poor.
There is no information available on whether these servers are owned or rented by VPNBook, or if they are physical or virtual servers.
Not good for streaming or torrenting
Streaming & Torrenting
Despite claiming to work with Netflix on its website, VPNBook didn’t unlock any streaming services during our tests.
We tried to watch Netflix on the two US servers available and both times we received a proxy error message.
There’s no way to watch BBC iPlayer either due to the lack of UK servers.
As for other video platforms?
There’s no point in trying. VPNBook is so slow that we could barely load the Netflix home page. Prepare for a lot of buffering and frustration if you attempt to watch a whole video.
While P2P traffic is permitted on two servers – Germany and Poland – we recommend you don’t use VPNBook for torrenting.
There are a few reasons why.
- VPNBook’s speeds are extremely slow.
- VPNBook logs personal information (your IP address), which could match you to your P2P activities.
- There’s no VPN kill switch and the VPN leaks DNS requests, both of which put your privacy at risk.
Doesn’t work in China
If you’re planning a visit to China don’t use VPNBook.
Firstly, there are no nearby VPN servers, so you’d have to connect over long distances which would bring speeds to a crawl (if not a complete halt).
Secondly, and most importantly, VPNBook doesn’t come with any obfuscation tools to bypass the Great Firewall.
Chinese censors can detect OpenVPN traffic and block it, which would leave you without VPN protection and all the websites you want to access.
While VPNBook does come with PPTP setup too – which is more effective at bypassing censorship – it’s not worth the risk.
PPTP is very insecure, which we’ll cover in more detail in the Encryption section.
No custom apps but compatible with range of devices
Platforms & Devices
VPNBook is compatible with pretty much all devices.
There aren’t any custom VPN apps.
That means you’ll have to manually configure it on any device that you want to protect, whether it’s your phone, computer, tablet, or router.
If you do set the VPN up on your router you’ll be able to protect all the internet-connected devices in your home, including game consoles and streaming devices.
As there’s no individual accounts, you can use VPNBook on as many devices you want.
However, if you’re a beginner looking for an easy-to-use mobile or desktop VPN we advise you stay clear of VPNBook.
All of our top rated free VPNs come with user-friendly custom apps for a simpler click-and-connect experience.
DNS leaks & sub-par security
Encryption & Security
Supports TCP Port 443
Please see our VPN Glossary if these terms confuse you and would like to learn more.
VPNBook doesn’t come with any security extras, but at the very least it does provide VPN connections through OpenVPN with strong AES encryption.
OpenVPN is our preferred VPN protocol – it’s open-source, secure, and pretty fast, too. Coupled with AES-128 or AES-256 ciphers it’s really safe.
But that’s where the positives end for VPNBook.
Alongside OpenVPN, VPNBook provides PPTP configuration files. While PPTP is easier to install on popular devices it’s not safe to use.
In fact, PPTP can be hacked in minutes.
You shouldn’t use it at all.
Even if you stick with OpenVPN VPNBook doesn’t come with a VPN kill switch, which may put your personal details at risk.
Should the VPN disconnect suddenly, your IP address would be exposed to your ISP and any other snooping third parties.
What’s worse, even when the VPN was properly connected we experienced DNS leaks:
This means that our ISP can still see all of the websites we visited while using the VPN.
VPNBook isn’t a very safe VPN to use and unlike other VPNs that lack security extras, VPNBook doesn’t have the advantage of being super easy to use and beginner-friendly to make up for it.
Tricky setup & clunky software
Ease of Use
How to Install & Set Up VPNBook
As we’ve mentioned before, VPNBook doesn’t come with custom apps, which means setup involves manual configuration.
It’s not too difficult, but it’s fairly fiddly and does require some technical know-how.
The easiest method is to install VPNBook using PPTP as this doesn’t require any third-party software. However, as we explained in the Encryption section it’s not safe to use.
That leaves you with OpenVPN setup, which is a little trickier. You’ll have to install the free OpenVPN GUI from OpenVPN’s website and download VPNBook’s configuration files one-by-one.
Thankfully, VPNBook’s website provides step-by-step instructions for this, so it shouldn’t be too hard.
Once installed, OpenVPN’s software is a little clunky and it’s not at all pretty, but It’s simple enough to use.
VPNBook publishes passwords for the servers on its website, which you’ll need to connect to the service, and these change every one to two weeks.
We did have issues connecting to certain servers through different ports, though, which is yet another annoyance.
Very basic online resources, no reply to emails
As is to be expected from such a low quality VPN service, VPNBook’s customer support isn’t very impressive.
There’s no live chat feature, and the online resources are underwhelming.
There are some simple setup guides for popular platforms with screenshots for easy following, but that’s it aside from three very basic FAQs.
The website looks dated, and is filled with incorrect information about the available servers and streaming compatibility.
There is a support email address but when we sent over a few questions about the service we received an automated response saying “due to the large number of emails we receive every day, we are unable to respond to every email individually.”
We’re yet to hear back.
Do We Recommend VPNBook?
The Bottom Line
Not at all. VPNBook is neither beginner-friendly nor configurable enough for more experienced users.
It’s lacking in security, servers, speed, and streaming access. Not to mention the intrusive logging policy that puts your privacy at risk.
Alternatives to VPNBook
The best free VPN around, Windscribe is safe, secure, fast, and user-friendly. It comes with simple custom VPN apps for a range of popular devices, including Amazon Fire TV. Read Windscribe Free review
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