VPNBook is a free, OpenVPN-based VPN provider that is slow and doesn’t protect your privacy.
Downloads were incredibly slow, and uploads on most servers struggled to even get started, making it a no-go for torrenters.
VPNBook doesn’t work with Netflix or BBC iPlayer, so streaming fans should give this VPN a miss too.
There are no custom VPN apps but you can download the OpenVPN client on a wide range of devices, so long as you don’t mind a small element of manual configuration.
In terms of privacy, VPNBook uses the OpenVPN protocol but it lacks of a VPN kill switch and in our testing, our true IP address was being leaked in the background, which is a big problem.
The logging policy states that your IP address will be collected, but it will be deleted after one week.
Customer support is non-existent, and don’t expect to be able to use the service in China.
VPNBook has a lot to improve on.
Speed & Reliability
VPNBook is one of the slowest, most unreliable VPNs we’ve ever tested. Performance was unacceptably bad on all servers, even those closest to our physical location, meaning even standard web pages took an absolute age to load.
Peak download speeds reached a paltry 10Mbps on the German server (we test from the UK), which is fine if all you’re going to be doing online is some general browsing and maybe streaming on one device. However, it’s a fraction of what you could get with some of our top-tier providers, such as NordVPN. Don’t even bother using VPNBook if you’re planning on connecting internationally – speeds in the US only just reached 1Mbps.
Latency is another issue, so gamers should definitely not consider this VPN. Even on local connections, latency came in at a fairly high 19ms, but this should suffice for most.
We were incredibly disappointed by VPNBook’s upload speeds, especially on its Polish and German servers, which are supposedly the only ones that permit P2P activity. Both of these failed to get off the mark at all, so it would be impossible to torrent. The only location we got reasonable speeds from was the US, coming in at 8Mbps, but even this is well below average.
To read about our speed testing methodologies, please read How We Review VPNs.
VPNBook currently provides VPN servers in just five countries – Poland, Germany, France, Canada and the US. If you live elsewhere, you should avoid this VPN.
Users in the US can choose between two different servers – one on the East Coast and another on the West Coast. It’s better than nothing, but if you want a free VPN with more US serves you should opt for one of these VPN services, or go for Windscribe.
It’s a shame that VPNBook doesn’t cover Asia, Africa or South America at all.
VPNBook is completely funded by advertisements and donations, and commits to adding more servers as and when it can afford it.
There’s no indication of how many IP addresses VPNBook maintains in total, however it looks like one IP is shared by several users at once – while this is great news for privacy, it could partly explain the slow speeds.
Platforms & Devices
VPNBook doesn’t provide custom VPN apps for any devices, but rather can be manually configured on any device that supports OpenVPN or PPTP.
PPTP is slightly easier to set up as it’s built-in to Microsoft Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android and Linux devices, but this protocol is a lot easier to crack than OpenVPN and therefore doesn’t offer as high a level of protection.
The OpenVPN client is a fairly simple tool to use, and VPNBook provides setup guides for many popular devices on its website.
OpenVPN also our recommended VPN protocol as it offers the best performance without compromising on privacy.
Because the software is based on OpenVPN configurations rather than device-focused apps, you can install VPNBook on pretty much any device, including routers.
Streaming & Torrenting
If you’re looking for a fast VPN that unblocks popular streaming websites, VPNBook is not the right VPN provider for you.
We weren’t able to stream Netflix on either of VPNBook’s US servers, and the lack of a UK server makes it impossible to watch BBC iPlayer.
Speeds on the closest servers were so bad that it took almost 30 seconds just to load web pages, let alone attempt to stream any content – it’s clear that VPNBook wasn’t designed with streaming in mind.
On its website, VPNBook states that torrenting and P2P activity is only permitted on its Polish and German servers, however when we ran our speed tests we found that uploads struggled to reach 1Mbps, which is too slow for torrenting.
Encryption & Security
When it comes to protecting your personal information, VPNBook is one of the better free providers we’ve seen, however it does also come with a few major flaws.
You can choose between OpenVPN and PPTP servers, but you should avoid using the PPTP servers as they are are far less secure. Encryption is via the most secure cipher, AES-256.
Unfortunately that’s pretty much where VPNBook’s privacy strengths end, as there are no advanced features to speak of. There’s not even a VPN killswitch, and worryingly when we ran DNS and WebRTC tests, our true IP address and DNS requests were being leaked, so our ISP would be able to see what we were doing online. This makes using this VPN essentially pointless.
- OpenVPN (TCP/UDP)
VPNBook is unlikely to work in high censorship countries, particularly China.
VPNBook’s PPTP servers may be an ok option for those living in or travelling to China – reports to show that PPTP is still working for most users. It’s the least secure VPN protocol though, and it’s also very easy for third parties (such as the Chinese government) to compromise.
The story is the same in other high-censorship countries such as Saudi Arabia, Iran and Turkey – OpenVPN is unlikely to work but PPTP will do the job in an emergency.
While it doesn’t seem to monitor your online activity, in the next sentence it admits that VPNBook does log your originating IP address and the time that you connect to the VPN, which we definitely class as ‘personal information’.
VPNBook states that this information is logged ‘in order to reduce abusive activities and keep this free VPN service online for legitimate users.’ These logs are automatically deleted after one week.
VPNBook is based in Zurich, Switzerland. While the jurisdiction itself isn’t too much to worry about, the fact that VPNBook collects your originating IP address and connection timestamp means that, if faced with a court order, the company would have to hand over your personal information to law enforcement agencies.
Ease of Use
VPNBook doesn’t provide custom apps for specific devices so it’s nowhere near as user-friendly as some of our other free picks. Because of this, there’s no ‘main screen’ to speak of, as the only way you can connect to the VPN is through the OpenVPN client icon in the taskbar at the bottom of the screen.
Right-clicking on the OpenVPN icon will bring up VPNBook’s server list. Clicking on one of these servers will then bring up a login screen where you have to enter a username and password – these details are available on VPNBook’s website and change every couple of weeks.
You have to disconnect from one server before you can choose another, but this isn’t made clear anywhere on the site, so we had to work it out for ourselves after receiving several error messages.
There is a settings button below the list of servers that opens in a separate window – here you can configure general OpenVPN settings but nothing that relates specifically to VPNBook. This includes whether or not you want OpenVPN to launch on startup, as well as manual proxy configurations – you should stay away from these unless you know what you’re doing.
Getting started with VPNBook is a little more complex than just downloading an app onto your device, as it works with third-party software such as PPTP or OpenVPN.
If you decide to use OpenVPN (which we recommend) you’ll first have to download the OpenVPN client onto your device. You then need to download your chosen server bundles onto your device from VPNBook’s website, and make sure they’re in the correct folder (simply follow the setup guide provided). Once you’ve done this, you’re ready to start using the VPN.
If you opt for PPTP, it’s a little easier, as this protocol is already integrated into most popular devices. All you have to do is enter your chosen server address (again, found on VPNBook’s website) along with the username and password and you’re good to go. Don’t forget though, this protocol doesn’t offer anywhere near as high a level of privacy as OpenVPN.
VPNBook doesn’t really provide any customer support beyond the setup guides for OpenVPN and PPTP.
There are three FAQs on its contact page, but they probably won’t solve most issues.
There are no troubleshooting tips or potential problem fixes, so if something does go wrong you’ll most likely have to contact the customer support team.
There’s no live chat feature, so you can either email VPNBook directly or fill in a support form on the website. This generates an automatic response informing you that your request has been received, but due to the number of emails the company gets every day, it’s unable to respond to each one individually. We are yet to receive a personalized response to the online form.
The Bottom Line
- Uses OpenVPN
- Compatible with different devices
- No speed or bandwidth caps
- Very slow speeds
- Leaks your true IP address
- Small server network
- Collects personally-identifying logs
- Doesn't work with Netflix or iPlayer