- Jurisdiction: USA
- Advanced Privacy Features: Kill Switch, DNS Leak Protection
- Number of Servers and Countries: 1000+ servers in 50 locations
- Streaming and P2P: Yes
Namecheap VPN Review
With internet privacy becoming an increasing concern for every internet user, the VPN market has exploded with new companies promising to improve on what VPN veterans have to offer. One of these companies is Namecheap, which has expanded its existing offerings of domain names, web hosting, email, and security to include a VPN service.
With a cheap service that offers fast speeds and robust security, Namecheap VPN’s combined history of strong development and activism has many wondering if this VPN service can take on the biggest names in the business. So, let’s take a look at Namecheap VPN and weigh up if this cheap VPN is worth your money.
Pros and Cons
Before we get into our Namecheap VPN review, here’s a quick summary of the pros and cons of this cheap VPN service.
- One of the cheapest VPN services we’ve seen
- Military-grade encryption
- 14-day free trial
- Easy-to-use apps
- Multiple payment methods
- Unlimited simultaneous connections
- An extremely bare bones VPN service, missing a lot of popular features
- Speed issues outside of North America and Europe
- Not so reliable for streaming
- Unclear policies around data collection
- Based in not privacy-friendly jurisdiction
- No browser extensions
About Namecheap VPN
Namecheap was founded in 2000 with an initial offering of domain registration and support, and since then it’s grown to encompass web hosting, domain security, WordPress support, and email. Its newest offering is Namecheap VPN, which was designed as a low-cost alternative to major players in the VPN industry like NordVPN and Surfshark.
As we mentioned before, one of the reasons why it’s so notable is that its pricing starts from only $1.88/month, which is one of the cheapest pricing plans we’ve seen for a VPN service. With that, you get access to Namecheap VPN’s 1000+ servers across 50 countries, DNS leak protection software, and military-grade encryption, all of which are available on an unlimited number of devices.
One of the biggest reasons why Namecheap VPN is criticized as a cheap reliable VPN is because it’s based in the US, which is not so good for privacy. Theoretically, being based in the US can force a VPN to log more user data than needed. Still, VPNs with no-logging policies, such as Namecheap, store very little information, if anything, about individual users.
While some states do have additional data protection laws, there’s little information on Namecheap’s website about where they’re based.
However, it’s worth noting that Namecheap is an active supporter of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Fight for the Future, both of which are organizations that fight to protect online privacy and educate internet users on data security. They were also major campaigners against the Stop Online Privacy Act (SOPA) in 2011, which would have allowed intellectual property owners to take down any website they consider to be infringing on that IP.
It’s up to you whether you think that this negates the privacy issues that come with Namecheap’s cheap VPN services being based in the US, but it’s good to know that this VPN provider is taking a stand against the removal of online privacy protections.
On its website, Namecheap states that it has a no-logging policy. However, as there are VPN providers out there with a supposed no-logging policy that states that they do collect data in their fine print, we did a bit more digging, and found this:
‘While we do collect connection and bandwidth data to ensure your safety and satisfaction, we never track or store your data or browsing history.’
We couldn’t find any information about external audits on the VPN landing page, which led us to dig deeper into the website’s legal documentation. The only references we could find to external auditing was on Namecheap’s data processing page, which was this:
‘Namecheap employs system Penetration Testing by an external security company. We also perform regular network and vulnerability scans’
In short, either Namecheap hasn’t conducted an external audit of their cheap VPN services, or they haven’t released the results.
We couldn’t find any information about Namecheap being open-source. Open-source software is often a popular aspect of VPNs as you can ensure that no malicious code or processes are hiding in the service.
Namecheap VPN doesn’t use its own servers for its VPN network, but rather uses a white-label version of IPVanish. This isn’t stated anywhere on the website, but we discovered this by looking at the server addresses used by Namecheap VPN.
We’ll go into more detail about this later, but it’s worth keeping in mind.
There’s a decent amount of information available about Namecheap on their website, including details of their core team and their work fighting the erosion of online privacy. They’re also clear about their GDPR policy for customers in the EU and EEA and how it affects their services, but this is a legal requirement for companies holding data from EU citizens.
As for their VPN, they have a help center on their website with key information on how to use their cheap VPN services, but the only information that’s available on its features is on the VPN landing page.
Namecheap VPN uses the industry-standard AES-256 encryption, which means that the encryption keys are virtually impossible to brute force. While no current encryption techniques are 100% sure, the AES-256 protocol is the closest thing we currently have to an unbreakable lock that keeps your data private.
This cheap VPN also supports both OpenVPN and IKEv2 VPN protocols, but it’s worth noting that OpenVPN requires third-party software to run.
DNS Leak Protection
DNS leak protection is a popular feature that prevents a user’s true DNS from being spotted, even when they’re using a VPN. Namecheap VPN has its own DNS leak protection to ensure that your privacy is protected when you’re online.
Random IP Addresses
With some cheap VPN services, you’re often assigned an IP address that’s shared with other users. This IP address is also often traceable back to that VPN’s servers, so you’re at risk of being blocked by services like Netflix that use VPN-detection software.
Every time you activate Namecheap VPN, you’ll be connected with a random IP address, which keeps your true location and the fact that you’re using a VPN hidden.
It’s not unheard of for cheap VPN services to have their connections crash out while you’re online, which is why a kill switch is such a popular feature. Namecheap VPN’s kill switch means that if the app detects that it has lost connection to the VPN servers, it will automatically block all incoming and outgoing data to protect your privacy.
Always-on is another popular feature that ensures all of your data is encrypted. Namecheap VPN’s apps were developed to start automatically on device startup, and you have the option to auto-connect to Namecheap’s servers as soon as the app starts. So, you don’t have to worry about forgetting to switch your VPN on.
Unlimited Devices and Connections
Many popular VPN services often only allow you to use their apps on a limited number of devices or only have a limited number of connections running at once. This isn’t the case with Namecheap VPN, as it allows you to install the app on an unlimited number of devices, and you can have multiple instances of the app running at once.
Absent Popular Features
Namecheap VPN currently doesn’t offer any browser extensions, which is a popular feature that many internet users like because it makes using a VPN more convenient. Whether that’s because a browser extension extends the VPN functionalities to the browser, or it acts as an additional proxy, it’s extremely popular with people who take their online privacy seriously.
Obfuscated servers conceal all of your VPN traffic as HTTPS instead, making it easier to access geo-blocked content. It’s the best option if you need to get around the Great Firewall and circumvent China’s VPN restrictions.
Namecheap VPN doesn’t use obfuscated servers, so you might find this service lacking if you’re looking to access the internet privately in China.
This feature allows you to use your VPN within the Tor network, which makes it an extremely valuable tool for people who access the deep web or use Tor to obscure their identity online. Unlike other popular VPN services, Namecheap VPN doesn’t offer this feature.
WireGuard VPN Protocols
While WireGuard is a relatively new VPN protocol, it’s quickly being adopted by some of the larger VPN providers because it offers better speeds and more powerful encryption. That’s not to say that WireGuard is perfect, but rather that it’s becoming more of a requested feature from VPN users.
Namecheap VPN currently operates on OpenVPN and IKEv2 protocols, which are increasingly considered legacy protocols.
One of the biggest advantages Namecheap VPN has over its competitors is that it offers unlimited simultaneous connections, which is a feature that’s unfortunately rare amongst VPN providers.
Unlimited connections is a highly requested feature among VPN users, particularly if they want to purchase a plan that protects their entire family while everyone is online. Plus, with so many devices able to connect to the Internet, having an unlimited number of simultaneous connections available means users don’t have to choose between encrypting data from their desktop, smartphone, or even smart TV.
While Namecheap only offers apps for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and routers, having unlimited connections means that you can reasonably encrypt all of the data entering and leaving your home. The lack of apps for smart TVs and gaming consoles is often regarded as a drawback of Namecheap VPN, but given that your router can be connected to the VPN regardless of how many other devices are connected, it’s not a major dealbreaker.
The only other VPN providers that offer unlimited simultaneous connections are Surfshark, IPVanish, and Perfect Privacy. Outside of those providers, the most simultaneous connections you can usually expect is 6. However, if these providers have a router app (and not all providers do), then you can use one device slot to protect almost all of your outgoing and incoming data.
Namecheap VPN has apps for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS, and you can also install it directly to Tomato, DD-WRT, and pfSense routers.
On all of these devices, the client was easy to install and started working without any hassle. The user interface is surprisingly slick and modern for such a cheap VPN. However, if you’re expecting your apps to have some cohesion between your devices, you’ll be disappointed.
While the Windows app was well-designed, both of the smartphone apps left a lot to be desired. Standing at 3.4/5 on the Google Play Store and 3.1/5 on the Apple Store, most reviewers say that the app is buggy, unstable, or flat out doesn’t work at times.
Unlike other popular best cheap VPN providers, Namecheap VPN doesn’t have browser extensions. While this may not be a deal-breaker for some users, particularly given the always-on feature in the desktop apps, it’s a substantial issue for others that only use a VPN while browsing.
The manual settings on these apps also don’t give you much control over your VPN service. As with most other VPN apps, you can choose which location you want to connect to, what protocol you want to use, and see your data logs. Aside from that, you don’t have many other options apart from telling the app what you want it to do on startup.
If you’re the kind of VPN user that likes to use specific settings or wants more control over their VPN, then Namecheap VPN might not be the right choice for you.
Namecheap VPN currently has 1000+ servers in 50+ locations, so you’ve got a decent amount of choice with this cheap VPN provider. This amount of servers is something we’re used to seeing with the larger names in the VPN world, as many cheap VPNs often don’t boast the same level of choice.
While this doesn’t come close to NordVPN’s 5500+ servers, it’s worth bearing in mind that you need to look for a VPN provider that balances how many servers they have and how many locations they have servers in. After all, only having a handful of servers across almost every location can lead to poor performance, but having a greater amount of servers in fewer locations can provide better speeds.
This is vital if you’re using a VPN primarily for streaming and torrenting, as you’re going to want speeds that can handle streaming and file sharing. However, it’s also worth bearing in mind if you need a VPN to mask your identity while browsing.
Namecheap VPN and IPVanish
It’s worth noting that multiple sources have reported that Namecheap VPN is a white-label version of IPVanish’s VPN services. You might be wondering where the issue lies here, but you need to remember that your data will be transferred through servers that aren’t directly owned by Namecheap VPN.
It’s also not stated on Namecheap’s website anywhere that they use a white-label version of IPVanish to provide their services, which is concerning from a company that claims to care about user privacy.
Some users may actively be avoiding IPVanish given their logging scandal in 2018, so the fact that this isn’t disclosed on the Namecheap VPN website is worrying.
As of now, Namecheap VPN reliably unblocks Netflix US and Disney+. However, it doesn’t bypass geo-blocking on other streaming platforms like BBC iPlayer and Amazon Prime Video. So, if you’re looking for a VPN that lets you access other versions of Netflix and streaming services from other countries, it only appears to be reliable if you’re a UK customer.
As for speeds, we found that connecting to servers in the US and UK gave us the best performance, which was key given that we were trying to unblock content in those countries. Netflix US performed well with above-average speeds, even in UK to US connections. Local connections performed even better.
With that in mind, Namecheap VPN is a good option if you want to encrypt your data on streaming platforms that you can already access without a VPN connection. However, if you want a VPN specifically for unblocking geo-blocked content around the world, then there are better options available.
While Namecheap VPN does allow you to torrent on its servers, it doesn’t have any dedicated torrenting servers as some other VPN providers offer. Unfortunately, the above-average speeds that you can access while streaming doesn’t seem to transfer across to torrenting, and we struggled to transfer large files.
As you can expect, speeds dropped significantly when we were connected to non-US servers, which is one main reason why you might struggle to torrent with Namecheap VPN. Plus, because Namecheap VPN only uses the IKEv2 and OpenVPN protocols, which are significantly slower than newer protocols like WireGuard, this cheap VPN service isn’t working with the best technology that’s available.
With all of that in mind, there are some good alternatives available to Namecheap VPN if you’re looking for a VPN for a specific purpose. If you’re looking for the best cheap VPN, then it’s worth knowing what alternatives are on the market.
NordVPN is a great alternative that’s fantastic for almost any kind of VPN use. While you only have a limited amount of device connections available, NordVPN supports Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, and Android TV, plus there are browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox. Plus, you can install NordVPN directly on your router, which only uses one of your six allowed device connections.
It’s one of the best-rated VPNs for streaming, particularly as it reliably unblocks most geo-blocked services, including Netflix. Plus, it helps you to avoid being throttled by your ISP, so you can always stream in high-quality. This throttling prevention also makes it the best choice for torrenters.
One of the defining privacy features of NordVPN is Tor-over-VPN, which helps you maintain your privacy while browsing the Onion network. This is particularly important for people whose internet connections are constantly monitored, as well as users in countries where they heavily censor the Internet.
Another big name that often comes up when you’re looking for the best cheap VPN is SurfShark. If you’re looking at Namecheap VPN because you want a cheap way to unlock geo-blocked streaming content, then SurfShark offers the best alternative. It can unblock almost every streaming service out there, and consistently streams in high definition.
It’s also a good choice for torrenters thanks to its no-logging policy, DNS leak protection, and military-grade encryption. It also supports the most popular torrenting software and has an automatic kill switch if your connection’s interrupted.
SurfShark also uses obfuscated servers, so if you want to bypass the Great Firewall or live in a country that restricts VPNs, then this provider can disguise your VPN traffic to appear as normal HTTPS requests.
Plus, SurfShark is based in the British Virgin Islands, which is notably privacy-friendly and doesn’t require this provider to hand over data to anyone.
Namecheap VPN is one of the cheapest VPN services on the market, with prices starting as low as $1.88/month when you sign up for a 3-year plan. And, if you want to pay monthly to try it out, then you get your first month for free before it renews at $5.88/month.
You also get a 14-day free trial of Namecheap VPN, and all plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee if you’re not happy with the service.
All in all, if you’re looking for a good cheap VPN and you don’t need the bells and whistles that come with more expansive plans, then Namecheap VPN isn’t a bad place to start. Namecheap VPN is a good option if you’re new to VPNs and want something simple to conceal your identity when you’re browsing online.
However, if you’re going to be using a VPN for streaming or torrenting, then NordVPN and SurfShark are better alternatives. While Namecheap VPN can support streaming and torrenting, and it’s certainly not the worst option on the market for that, you’ll get a better service from providers like SurfShark that don’t cost significantly more than this cheap VPN.
It’s also worth noting that Namecheap VPN, for all of its work with the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Fight for the Future, is a white-labeled version of the IPVanish.
In short, we’d recommend spending a little more money on a VPN provider like SurfShark or NordVPN, which will grant you more features and upgraded encryption options for not too much more money.