According to its website, X-VPN is the VPN choice of 50 million users around the globe. It promises to “unlock all content” and keep you safe and anonymous on public WiFi.
Pretty much all VPN services claim to do this, though, while very few actually do. So how can you trust X-VPN?
We put X-VPN’s apps through their paces to find out if the service really works, and to answer questions like these:
- Is X-VPN safe to use?
- Does it work with Netflix?
- How much does X-VPN cost?
- Is torrenting permitted?
- How fast is X-VPN?
There is a free version of X-VPN, too – we’ve written all about that in a separate X-VPN Free review.
Before we go into more depth about our findings, here’s a summary of X-VPN’s most important good (and bad) points.
X-VPN Pros & Cons
X-VPN Key Summary
|Top Download Speed||79Mbps|
|Logging Policy||Some User Logs|
|IP, DNS or WebRTC Leaks||Yes|
|Works in China||No|
|Cheapest Price||$5.99/mo over 12 months|
Let’s start by answering one of the most important questions: who owns X-VPN and how much information does it collect about users?
Who is X-VPN?
About & Logging
X-VPN is owned by Free Connected Limited, which was incorporated in July 2017 and is based in Hong Kong.
We like that Free Connected Limited has its own website, with an address and support email listed for transparency.
The website states that Free Connected Limited believes in “equal and fair access” to an internet “built on privacy, security, and transparency.”
From a data retention point of view, Hong Kong is a privacy-friendly VPN jurisdiction. It’s not part of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance either.
However, our free VPN investigation revealed that X-VPN specifically does have links to mainland China, which is a privacy concern.
Jin Li, the company’s director, and Chengdu Zhuozhuo Technology Co, the sole shareholder, are based in the Sichuan province of China.
X-VPN also says it will not disclose your information “unless in response to law enforcement requests when the Service is being used contrary to these Terms and applicable laws.”
We’ll have to take a look at X-VPN’s logging policy to see how much of a privacy concern this is, so read on.
X-VPN’s logging policy is clear and transparent but it does collect quite a lot of user data including:
- Chosen VPN server
- VPN connection timestamp (date and time)
- Choice of VPN protocol
- Network type
- Server CPU load and bandwidth
These logs are stored for 96 hours before being erased and are collected for troubleshooting and VPN service optimization.
When you open the app, X-VPN also logs:
- Device information
- App version
- Data usage
- City-level location
This information is used to help X-VPN with product development, and can be deleted upon request.
X-VPN also collects anonymous aggregated data of the sites visited via its servers, however none of these can be attributed to a specific user.
Most importantly X-VPN doesn’t store user IP addresses.
This logging policy should satisfy most users, but those looking for top-level privacy may want to get a no-logs VPN, such as Private Internet Access.
Fast on same-country connections, disappointing over distance
Speed & Reliability
Before we reveal how well X-VPN performed in our speed tests you should know that the service doesn’t use standard VPN protocols like OpenVPN, which we usually use for our tests.
Because of that it’s not fair to compare speeds like-for-like with other VPNs we’ve reviewed.
X-VPN employs a proprietary protocol named ‘Protocol-X’, but confusingly this isn’t the terminology used within the VPN apps, where you’ll find protocols labeled ‘Protocol A’ through to ‘Protocol I’.
For these speed tests we used protocol H, which claims to provide the highest level of security and the fastest speeds of all the protocols on offer.
Despite selecting the fastest protocol available X-VPN’s speeds were fairly mediocre.
The VPN performed well with speedy downloads and low ping times when we connected to nearby servers, losing about 15% of our normal internet download speeds. However, it was slow on longer distance connections, such as the UK to the US and beyond.
Speed results from our physical location in London (100Mbps fibre optic connection) to a London test server.
Before using X-VPN:
When connected to X-VPN:
Download speed without X-VPN: 92.88Mbps
Download speed with X-VPN: 79.15Mbps
Our download speed loss when X-VPN is running: 15%
Even on UK-to-UK connections, you can see that upload speeds take quite a hit. The situation is much worse over long-distance connections:
- USA: 22Mbps (download) & 5Mbps (upload)
- Netherlands: 81Mbps (download) & 44Mbps (upload)
- Singapore: 29Mbps (download) & 4Mbps (upload)
- Australia: 12Mbps (download) & 2Mbps (upload)
As long as you connect to servers closeby your physical location, X-VPN should be fast enough for most online activities including HD streaming, torrenting, and gaming.
Over 5,000 VPN servers in 52 countries
X-VPN’s server network is one of the biggest in the market with over 5,000 individual servers – these are a mixture of bare metal servers and rented virtual servers. The network covers 52 countries, which is about average.
The network covers popular locations like Australia, Canada, the UK, and the US, as well as plenty in Asia-Pacific.
There’s an Egypt server, which is handy for those in North Africa, but there are no other locations on the continent. It’s the same for South and Central America with only Brazil representing the huge area.
Thankfully, you can drill down to city level in several countries, which is not only great for optimizing performance but also for accessing state or city-specific content:
- Australia (2)
- Canada (2)
- France (2)
- Germany (2)
- India (3)
- US (18)
However, we did experience a few misconfigured servers during our testing.
For example, when we connected to the Germany server a leak test showed that the VPN actually connected to a US server.
We contacted X-VPN about this and a customer support agent told us “Sometimes it happens. Sorry for your inconvenience.”
This is clearly a huge drawback – if you want to access German content, you won’t be able to with a US IP address.
X-VPN’s casual approach to this issue is also concerning. We expect better from a well-established VPN service.
A great choice for streaming, not as good for torrenting
Streaming & Torrenting
X-VPN comes with servers optimized for streaming popular services like Netflix and BBC iPlayer.
Just select one of the servers from the ‘Streaming’ tab within the app and you’ll be able to watch all your favorite shows immediately.
It’s impressive that X-VPN maintains access to these services despite the harsh crackdowns on VPN traffic.
While X-VPN is a good choice for streaming fans, it’s not ideal for torrenters.
There’s no kill switch for desktop and X-VPN’s upload speeds aren’t ideal for P2P activities.
Also, there’s no mention of torrenting on the website.
When we contacted X-VPN a member of the team said that P2P traffic is only permitted on some servers but didn’t tell us which ones those were.
Take a look at these VPNs for torrenting instead.
Bad choice for China
A member of X-VPN’s customer support informed us that the company doesn’t support service in China due to “related policies.”
So, if you’re looking to bypass the Great Firewall X-VPN won’t work – try these VPNs for China instead.
X-VPN’s proprietary protocol does offer a couple of configurations geared towards bypassing censorship, so it could be a viable option for use in other high-censorship countries, such as Turkey and Russia.
However, there are speedier and more reliable VPN services available for high censorship countries, like NordVPN.
Simple custom VPN apps for wide range of devices
Platforms & Devices
X-VPN has custom apps for:
- Microsoft Windows
- Apple MacOS
You can use X-VPN on up to five devices at any time using just one account.
Games Consoles & Streaming Devices
X-VPN provides a VPN solution for streaming devices and games consoles via router configuration.
This is only an option for specific types of routers, though, so be sure to check if yours is compatible before you take out a subscription.
There are setup guides for Asus and TP-Link routers on the X-VPN website if you need help.
However, you can only use four VPN server locations on router:
- Hong Kong
- United Kingdom
There’s a simpler solution for Amazon Fire TV Stick users, though. X-VPN has a custom app that can be downloaded straight from the Amazon app store.
There’s a browser extension for Google Chrome, but we wouldn’t recommend using it.
Not only did it connect us to the wrong country – we selected the US and it gave us a Canadian IP address – but it also leaked our IP address through WebRTC.
WebRTC leaks are a browser issue which expose your true IP address, and usually browser extensions block these leaks, but X-VPN has failed to do so.
This puts your privacy at risk.
No VPN kill switch for desktop, and no transparency over protocols
Encryption & Security
DNS Leak Blocking
VPN Kill Switch
Please see our VPN Glossary if these terms confuse you and would like to learn more.
X-VPN doesn’t offer a sufficient level of security.
Firstly, it uses proprietary protocols rather than the standard ones – these are labeled from A to I and, according to X-VPN’s website, vary in speed and security levels.
While X-VPN claims its proprietary technology is better than the standard protocols, there’s no way to know this for sure because the company doesn’t publish any technical details about it.
Until we know more details about the technology, we’d rather stick with VPN services that use standard protocols like OpenVPN, which is open-source and has been through thorough testing.
Here’s what X-VPN has to say about its proprietary protocol, named ‘X’:
“Our self-developed protocol X is proven to be highly-effective in unblocking heavily restricted/censored networks thanks to its camouflage mechanics which disguises [sic] the data communication patterns.
“While we primarily focusing on circumvent performances of the protocol X [sic], we also implemented multiple unparalleled encryptions & authentication algorithms to ensure its security.”
According to X-VPN’s website, the service uses AES-256 cipher to encrypt traffic at least, which is considered very secure.
More worrying is the lack of VPN kill switch for the desktop apps.
A kill switch ensures your personal data remains protected in the event of a sudden VPN disconnection. Thankfully, these are available for Android and iOS.
There’s also a split tunneling feature called Application control, which allows you to choose which apps go through the VPN tunnel, but that’s about it for configurable options.
Even then, there’s a pop-up warning Windows users that the application control may lead to connection issues.
On the plus side, the main VPN apps didn’t leak during our IP, DNS, and WebRTC leak tests:
However, as we’ve discussed above, the Chrome extension doesn’t protect against WebRTC leaks.
Simple set up but lacks configurability
Ease of Use
How to Install & Set Up X-VPN
X-VPN is really easy to use, at the expense of configurability.
There aren’t many settings to play around with, particularly on desktop which doesn’t even have a VPN kill switch.
All you need to do is download the custom app for your device from X-VPN’s website, run through some installation prompts, select a server location, and connect.
You can choose to route certain app traffic outside the VPN tunnel using the Application control but that’s about it.
The main screen is very sparse – it displays the server you’re connected to but no other information like your new IP address is supplied.
The most complicated part of the apps is the protocol options. X-VPN doesn’t use standard VPN protocols and labels them from Protocol A to Protocol I.
While the desktop apps give some context about the security and performance of the various protocols, the mobile apps don’t, leaving users in the dark.
It takes no time to set up X-VPN’s browser extension for Google Chrome.
All you need to do is add it to your browser from the Chrome Web Store and log in. There aren’t any settings, so just choose and server and click the connect button.
We experienced WebRTC leaks while using the extension, though, so we advise against downloading it.
Disappointing and unreliable
|Live chat Support||Yes|
X-VPN does offer live chat support but it’s not at all reliable.
We were told that live chat is available Monday to Saturday but even within those days we were left waiting hours for a response on occasion.
When an agent did eventually answer they lacked technical knowledge and asked us to send an email with our questions for the manager.
It took a couple of days for the manager to reply, and they still didn’t answer all of our questions.
X-VPN’s online resources are particularly bad.
Aside from the poor layout and lack of search feature, X-VPN’s Help Center lacks in-depth guides.
There are a few basic setup articles and some general FAQs, but it lacks troubleshooting and technical resources.
There seems to be quite a lot of information on the website that conflicts with what customer support told us, too. It’s in desperate need of an update.
Not worth the price
X-VPN Pricing Plan
X-VPN is fairly pricey, particularly because it doesn’t provide any long-term plans to bring the monthly price down.
There’s a one-month plan for $11.99 or a yearly plan for $5.99 a month.
There are far better VPN services available for less money. Check out the best cheap VPNs here.
There’s a seven-day money-back guarantee in case you change your mind.
Just get in touch with live chat support to request a refund. The agent may ask you the reason for cancelling the service but they will issue a refund within that time period whatever the reason.
X-VPN accepts the standard payment methods like credit card and debit card, as well as PayPal.
You can also pay with cryptocurrencies through CoinPayments for more privacy, as well as via gift card.
Do We Recommend X-VPN?
The Bottom Line
Not at the moment. X-VPN is simple to use but it compromises on security and privacy. It’s not particularly cheap for a VPN of this standard, either.
You can watch shows on Netflix and other popular streaming platforms but the lack of transparency about the proprietary protocols, mediocre speeds, and missing kill switch for desktop are less than ideal.
Alternatives to X-VPN
CyberGhost is one of the cheapest VPNs on the market and it’s great for streaming and torrenting. CyberGhost also maintains a no-logs policy and comes with all the security essentials you need. Read CyberGhost review
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I use X-VPN in my school and it works for me most of the time. And the speed is good. I also have used other VPN, but they won't let me unblock the school wifi. When I contact the customer service with connection problems, they do a lot to help me, last time they even made a specific test version for unlocking my school wifi, and it works!!!! Although sometimes they won't reply at once, for me the connection is the most important part.