PrivateVPN

privatevpn
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

Jurisdiction: Sweden | Advanced Privacy Features: Kill Switch, IPv6 leak protection, Stealth VPN | Number of Servers and Countries: 160+ servers across 60 locations | Streaming and P2P: Yes

Pros

Streaming mode
Stealth VPN mode
Can bypass VPN connection blocks
Flexibility in ports and protocols
Free trial
Reasonable pricing

Cons

Small servers network
Lacks browser extensions
Is not audited by 3rd party
No double VPN option
No app for Smart TVs

PrivateVPN Review

privatevpn review

PrivateVPN is one of the well-known Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) out there. It packs a punch — it’s affordable, efficient, and gives you the functionality you need when streaming and torrenting. Here’s our thorough PrivateVPN review with all the details.

The Pros and Cons

So how does PrivateVPN stack up compared to other VPN providers? Find out below. In this PrivateVPN review and guide, you will not only learn about the pros and cons of using VPNs, but you will also learn about what VPNs are out there, what features you should look for in a VPN, what PrivateVPN is, whether you can get PrivateVPN on your Firestick, how to get a PrivateVPN free trial, and how you can use PrivateVPN to watch Netflix around the world.

Pros:

  • PrivateVPN Streaming Mode can help you bypass geo-blocks so that you can watch TV shows, Netflix, YouTube videos, and other exciting content from around the world! You can also use PrivateVPN to unlock content on your Firestick.
  • AES 256-bit encryption with 2048-bit DH key will make your online identity private.
  • Has port forwarding, which can help you stream and torrent faster;
  • PrivateVPN, like other VPNs, can stop and prevent bandwidth throttling, which is when your Internet service provider (ISP) limits your bandwidth. ISPs do this to get rid of network congestion, and bandwidth throttling can lower your Internet speed.
  • It can help you bypass sites and apps blocks, which you may encounter while at airports, hotels, work, and school. PrivateVPN stands out, particularly since it can even help you bypass firewalls, such as the Great Firewall of China.
  • It can be a gift to gamers! PrivateVPN will allow you to play on different servers as well as play games that are banned in your region. You will also get to play some games earlier and be able to bypass unfair IP bans. Finally, it can protect you against a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack. 
  • You can use it to avoid geographical price discrimination. Some online retailers are notorious for displaying different prices depending on what region you are from. For instance, many books are more expensive in Canada than in the US, so if you’re a Canadian bibliophile, you can set your VPN to the US and get what you want at more affordable prices. 
  • PrivateVPN, like most other VPNs, offers you a secure way to torrent. Torrenting, as many of us know, is not always safe. If you’re not using a VPN, all other members of the swarm (that is, all the people downloading and uploading a particular torrent) will be able to see your real IP address. Here is a list of properties that a VPN for torrenting should have. PrivateVPN has all of these properties, making it perfect for torrenting. 
  • Note that PrivateVPN works for a variety of platforms, including Mac. VPNs are as useful for Macs as they are for Windows computers. Although Macs are generally less prone to malware attacks than Windows, VPNs can still offer Mac users a lot of benefits. They can help Mac users get around firewalls and watch shows from all around the world since some streaming services such as Netflix and the BBC have country-specific blocks in place. 

Cons:

Although there are few cons to using PrivateVPN, there are some you should note before getting a subscription:

  • Although PrivateVPN claims to have a no-logging policy, it could be a more transparent company. Read our section about transparency below to learn more. 
  • PrivateVPN allows for up to six simultaneous connections per subscription. Usually, it is enough to secure all your devices, but some other great VPNs offer up to 10 or even an unlimited number of simultaneous connections.
  • According to our experience and tests, it is not the fastest VPN.
  • There is no app for Smart TVs.
  • It lacks browser extensions. In comparison, its competitors tend to have browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox.

All in all, PrivateVPN is a good choice for those who want to stream and torrent safely and effectively. 

About PrivateVPN

privatevpn

Founded in 2009, PrivateVPN is one of the recommended VPNs out there. A Swedish-based VPN provider, PrivateVPN offers solid VPN service at a competitive and reasonable price. 

PrivateVPN stands out for a number of features, which we will cover in this PrivateVPN review. It is great for streaming, gaming, and torrenting alike and offers you strong encryption to protect your data, personal information, and communications. It also gives you the ability to hide your IP address and location, to prevent snooping by third parties. 

Compatible with Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and Linux, PrivateVPN is easy to install and has a user-friendly interface, as well as a wide variety of VPN protocols to meet your specific needs.

This service stands out in particular for its strong customer service, which can assist you through live chat, remote desktop, and email. It also offers you the freedom to choose from several encryption algorithms, including AES 256-bit encryption, which is the strongest level you can choose from. Many military and government agencies use this level of encryption!

Finally, PrivateVPN gives you a free trial for you to test things out before you decide to purchase it.

Despite all of these amazing qualities, however, there are a few flaws you should be aware of. We will cover them later in this review.

Jurisdiction and Transparency

PrivateVPN is based in Sweden, which means that it is subject to Swedish laws and regulations. 

Generally speaking, PrivateVPN operations could be more transparent. There is definitely room for improvement.

On the surface, it seems like PrivateVPN is a transparent VPN provider. As a data subject, you have the following rights according to PrivateVPN’s privacy policy:

  • Right to access and obtain confirmation of and information about the processing of your personal data, as well as your rights as a data subject;
  • Right to request corrections of your personal data;
  • Right to erasure, that is, the right to have your personal data erased;
  • Right to object — the right to object against our processing of your data if the processing is based on PrivateVPN’s legitimate interests or if it used for direct marketing;
  • Right to restrict data processing is the right to demand a stop to the processing of your personal data. PrivateVPN will not have access to the data in question while the matter is investigated;
  • Right to data portability is the right to request PrivateVPN to transfer your data from one data controller to another. This is restricted to the personal data you have submitted to PrivateVPN. 

While their privacy policy states that they do not collect or create any logs about traffic or usage data and that the only information they store is the email address and password you used to create your account, they DO collect your IP address and cookies. On the same privacy policy, they write that sites may not load correctly on their servers if you disable cookies. 

This part of their privacy policy is also concerning:

“We restrict the access to personal data to our employees, contractors, and service providers who need the information in order to process it. Anyone with access to the information is informed and educated in how our security measures work and how we protect you as a user of our Service. We have chosen to work with well-known companies, and we make sure to collaborate with third parties that have a good reputation and will protect your personal data.”

The word “anyone” is particularly worrying. Just because certain third parties are said to have a “good reputation,” that does not make working with them safer or more secure.

Furthermore, unlike other popular VPNs such as NordVPN and ExpressVPN, PrivateVPN has yet to do an external or independent security audit. Usually, VPN providers request audits of their services to test whether their product is living up to its intent. NordVPN, for instance, announced its second audit after its 2018 breaches were revealed to the public. 

However, not all audits are equally trustworthy. In general, independent auditors (i.e., firms that independently publish their findings) are better judges of whether a VPN provider is as safe and secure as it claims to be.

On another note, PrivateVPN is more than happy to share with you all of their VPNs if you prefer an open-source VPN application. Their VPN Protocol includes OpenVPN, PPTP, L2TP, IKEv2, and IPSec. 

You should also note that PrivateVPN’s online chat is offered through LiveAgent. LiveAgent will be able to access, collect, and process the personal data you provide through the online chat platform.

All in all, PrivateVPN’s transparency leaves much to be desired.

Features

Let’s take a look at the many awesome features PrivateVPN offers. 

Supported Protocols

privatevpn protocols

PrivateVPN uses a number of different VPN protocols. If you are using a VPN app, you should set it to automatically select the VPN protocol that best suits your network. However, if you are not using an app or you don’t like the connection that was chosen for you, you can try the following: 

  • OpenVPN with UDP/TCP
    • This is your first choice. OpenVPN with UDP/TCP permits different types of authentication methods and uses a secure SSL/TLS protocol for key exchange. While it offers faster speeds than L2TP, it is not supported on all devices. 
  • OpenVPN over Transmission Control Protocol (TCP)
    • This is the most reliable VPN connection type. This connection discourages website failure and incomplete downloads by automatically re-transferring information packets during data transfer. 
  • OpenVPN over User Datagram Protocol (UDP)
    • This protocol is usually faster than TCP since it lacks the error correction feature. Apps that depend on real-time interaction, such as Zoom meetings, streaming, and online gaming, work better without the interruptions caused by data retransmission.
  • L2TP/IPsec
    • When L2TP and IPsec are used together, they can offer greater security than PPTP. However, they can be slower than OpenVPN and can be blocked by firewalls.
  • Layer 2 Tunnelling Protocol (L2TP)
    • This was developed as an upgrade to L2F (Layer 2 Forwarding Protocol) and PPTP (Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol). Ideal for mobile devices that are not compatible with OpenVPN, L2TP by itself does not offer very strong authentication or encryption. As such, it should be used with IPsec.
    • You can connect from China using L2TP. OpenVPN and, in some cases, PPTP is blocked by China’s firewall.
  • Internet Protocol security (IPsec)
    • This authenticates and encrypts each IP information packet in a communication. As one of the protocols offering the highest level of end-to-end security, IPsec offers protection for almost all mobile devices. 
  • Internet Key Exchange version 2 (IKEv2)
    • This is available on newer mobile devices and is a more secure version of the IPsec protocol. This VPN protocol is capable of executing mutual authentication between two parties, allowing your devices to switch seamlessly between cell and Wi-Fi networks.
  • Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP) 
    • This is one of the oldest protocols used today. As such, if you have a dated operating system or mobile device, this might work well for you. PPTP offers fast speeds and is easy to use. However, we do not recommend PPTP for high-risk browsing since it is susceptible to some security issues. We recommend using PPTP for low-risk activities such as streaming video or audio.

Compatibility with SOCKS5 and HTTP Proxies

PrivateVPN works on both SOCKS5 and HTTP proxies. Each of the servers that this VPN provides work for both SOCKS5 proxies and HTTP proxies. 

What is the difference between these two types of proxies? Consider the following before deciding whether to connect to PrivateVPN through an HTTP proxy or SOCKS5 proxy. 

HTTP proxies can only interpret and work with HTTP and HTTPS webpages. They are good for web browsing and accessing geo-blocked websites and applications. 

On the other hand, SOCKS5 can work with any traffic. This means SOCKS5 proxies are more flexible and secure. Nonetheless, HTTP proxies do offer better connection speeds. 

Port Forwarding

port forwarding

PrivateVPN is a great choice for those who need port forwarding. Port forwarding can help you stream games and Netflix faster. 

You can activate port forwarding by connecting to a server. Then, a random port number will appear in the app under the Disconnect button. Enter that port number into the program where you want to port forward (i.e., a torrent client).

Static IP Servers

private vpn static ip

PrivateVPN offers you static IP addresses.

Connecting with OpenVPN TUN + UDP + 1194, you will be able to access static IP servers for the following locations:

  • Sweden; 
  • Norway;
  • Germany — Frankfurt;
  • Netherlands;
  • Ukraine;
  • Switzerland;
  • The United Kingdom — London;
  • France — Paris;
  • USA — Buffalo; and 
  • USA — Los Angeles

Stealth VPN Mode

stealth vpn

PrivateVPN stands out in particular due to its Stealth VPN mode, which hides the fact that you are using a VPN. 

This is particularly useful when you’re in China, particularly when you’re at the airport, where it is harder to fly under the radar. 

Users have reported better luck using the L2TP protocol in China than OpenVPN.

DNS and IPv6 Leak Protection

privatevpn connection guard

PrivateVPN offers DNS and IPv6 leak protection. Protection against these leaks is automatically enabled. This means that your data is well protected by this VPN.

Flexibility

PrivateVPN gives you the ability to choose between 128 and 256-bit encryption.

What Popular Features Does PrivateVPN Lack?

Some popular features absent from PrivateVPN include the following:

  • The ability to connect to a higher number of servers. Compared to most other providers, PrivateVPN has a smaller total number of servers available. This is because they are a newer company that has been around for much less time than many of its competitors. PrivateVPN is constantly seeking to expand the number of servers it has;
  • An adblocker. Some VPNs come with ad blockers; 
  • Browser extensions. Most VPNs come with browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox; and
  • Double VPN — many other popular VPNs such as NordVPN and Surfshark offer the ability to use two VPNs at once.

Simultaneous Connections

You can connect up to six simultaneous devices with a single PrivateVPN subscription. This means you will be able to connect not only your desktop and laptop to this VPN but also your phone and some of your family members’ phones and computers.

This stacks up with other top-notch VPNs out there, like NordVPN, which also offers six simultaneous connections.

Supported devices

Device support is essential when you’re using a VPN; here’s how PrivateVPN stacks up.

Native Apps

Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS all fully support PrivateVPN. You can install PrivateVPN as an app on the aforementioned platforms. 

Browser Extensions

Browser extensions are not available for PrivateVPN. 

Manual Settings

For Linux, compatible routers, and Kodi, you will need to manually install PrivateVPN. Instruction guides are available on the website and through PrivateVPN’s customer service.

Network of Servers

PrivateVPN servers network is relatively small, with over 150 servers located in 60 different countries.

The servers include but are not limited to:

  • United Arab Emirates — Dubai
  • Argentina — Buenos Aires
  • Austria — Wien
  • Australia — Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth
  • Brussels
  • Bulgaria — Sofia
  • Brazil — Sao Paulo
  • Canada — Montreal, Toronto
  • Chile — Santiago
  • Costa Rica — San Jose
  • Hong Kong
  • Indonesia — Jakarta
  • India -Bangalore
  • New Zealand — Auckland
  • Singapore
  • Sweden — Gothenburg, Kista, Stockholm

We tested out a number of these servers and found that they are all great for streaming and torrenting. Online gaming was no issue, either, and video conference calls could be done with no lag or buffering. 

Streaming

PrivateVPN has a streaming mode and can unblock a variety of streaming services:

  • Netflix
  • iPlayer
  • Disney+
  • Hulu
  • Amazon Prime

Capable of unblocking Netflix content from around the world, PrivateVPN can also be used to watch BBC iPlayer from outside of the United Kingdom. Accordingly, it can be used to unblock geo-blocked YouTube videos as well. Use it with your Firestick to unlock even more shows!

This VPN works at fast enough speeds, so you can be sure that your streams will not lag.

Torrenting

PrivateVPN is a good choice for torrenting, and its Swedish servers are particularly secure and efficient. 

We tested a range of VPN servers in a couple of countries three times a day and found out the following:

  • Download speeds for PrivateVPN averaged at 55.5 Mbps, which is a fast speed compared to some of the top range VPNs on the market;
  • PrivateVPN will allow you stream in HD, multi-task, and run multiple programs in the background; and

PrivateVPN will also help to protect your identity from intrusive third parties when you are torrenting. When you enable it, it will mask your IP address, protecting your data with strong encryption. So even if you are torrenting while connected to an unsecured or public WiFi network (i.e., at Starbucks or McDonald’s), PrivateVPN will keep you safe.

The desktop version of PrivateVPN also provides you with an automatic kill switch (also known as a connection guard). This kill switch instantly turns on. This means that even if your VPN connection drops unexpectedly while you are torrenting, there will be no possibility that your IP address gets accidentally exposed. 

Alternatives to PrivateVPN

PrivateVPN, despite all of its great features, may not be the best VPN for you. It lacks some features that many other popular VPNs have. Some VPNs, such as Surfshark, are as affordable or even more affordable than PrivateVPN, but offer even more features. Others, such as NordVPN, are more well-established and, unlike PrivateVPN, have been independently audited. 

Here are some alternatives to PrivateVPN. All of the choices we have listed below have been independently audited and are arguably more transparent than PrivateVPN. 

We have listed the pros and cons of each of the alternatives below, so you can decide for yourself, which is a better return for your investment. 

Surfshark

surfshark

Like PrivateVPN, Surfshark is speedy, reliable, and has a strict no-logs policy. Based in the British Virgin Islands, Surfshark is a great bang for your buck.

Pros:

  • It is very affordable, even more affordable than PrivateVPN. At $2.21 per month (with three extra months for free), it is easily one of the most affordable VPNs out there;
  • All pricing plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee;
  • It is able to unblock Netflix (allowing you access to 15 different Netflix libraries), iPlay, Amazon Prime, and Disney+, and also provides excellent customer service;
  • It works with your Firestick;
  • Surfshark has many more servers than PrivateVPN. Equipped with more than 3200 servers distributed across 160 locations in 65 countries, Surfshark gives you more flexibility in terms of location compared to PrivateVPN;
  • In addition to coming with an ad blocker, Surfshark also offers Chrome and Firefox extensions in addition to Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and Linux apps;
  • Like PrivateVPN, it comes with a kill switch.
  • What’s more, Surfshark lets you install and run it on as many devices as you like, while PrivateVPN only lets you have six at a time;
  • Surfshark’s jurisdiction is the British Virgin Islands. There are no strict data retention laws in the British Virgin Islands since the British Virgin Islands does not have any data retention laws. This makes Surfshark (and any other VPN providers that share this jurisdiction) a very safe choice;
  • This VPN has been audited by Cure53, which is a German firm that conducts penetration testing. They try to hack into websites and software, indulging VPNs, to determine whether they work. Accordingly, they have tested Surfshark by trying to hack it. They were unsuccessful, proving that Surfshark is a bang worth your buck;
  • Works in China; and
  • Great customer support.

Cons:

  • In our opinion, people behind Surfshark do a great job. It is tough to find any serious cons for this new start in VPN industry.
  • Except, the one feature it lacks – dedicated IP option.

Read more about Surfshark in this review here.

ExpressVPN

expressvpn

ExpressVPN is another well-known VPN that is an alternative to PrivateVPN. Based in the British Virgin Islands, ExpressVPN is one of the priciest options out there. Take a look at the pros and cons below to determine if it’s the right one for you.

Pros:

  • 3,000+ servers available across 160 locations;
  • Audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers AG Switzerland and Cure53;
  • Has a Kill Switch for all platforms;
  • It works with your Firestick;
  • No logging policy;
  • Quite transparent — they set up a questionnaire and are willing to go through extra steps to explain user security setups;
  • Uses TrustedServer technology, which uses audited software that runs on RAM-only servers, rather than from the hard drive, which makes it a lot faster than it ordinarily would be;
  • Private Domain Name Service (DNS) feature makes it stand out from its competitors — ExpressVPN hosts their own DNS on every VPN server, so all of your data will stay on their servers and will be protected by all of ExpressVPN’s safeguards and protocols;

Cons:

  • One of the priciest options out there. Its 1 Month Plan costs $12.95 per month, while its 12 Months Plan costs $8.32 per month, and its 6 Months Plan costs $9.99 per month. However, all pricing plans do come with a 30-day money-back guarantee;
  • Customer service can be improved; and
  • It lacks many features that more affordable VPNs often have.

Read more about ExpressVPN in our review here.

NordVPN

nordvpn

NordVPN is another appealing alternative to PrivateVPN.

Run mainly by Tefincom, which is based in Cyprus but has connections to Panama and Lithuania, NordVPN is advertised as being based in Panama. It is subject primarily to Panama’s privacy laws, which gives it a number of advantages since Panama’s Law No. 81 on Personal Data Protection 2019 has stipulated high standards for data retention.

Under Law No. 81, NordVPN must:

  • only collect information when they have both the consent of the owner of the information as well as a clear purpose for having that data;
  • must make sure that any collected data is confidential and must be stored securely for up to seven years;
  • must ensure that the owner of the information always has the right to access, change, modify, or remove their information when it is held by NordVPN; and
  • make sure that public institutions can request data with a judicial order.

As one of the most well-known VPNs out there, NordVPN has the following pros and cons:

Pros:

  • As discussed above, NordVPN is safe and secure since it has high standards for data retention;
  • Relatively affordable — its 1 Year Plan costs $4.92 per month, while its 2 Year Plan costs $3.71 per month. All subscriptions come with a 30-day money-back guarantee;
  • Works with Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Android TV, and Linux;
  • Offers six simultaneous connections;
  • Extensions for Chrome and Firefox;
  • Has a kill switch that works on all platforms;
  • NordLynx Protocol;
  • Onion over VPN;
  • Obfuscated servers;
  • Double VPN;
  • It works with your Firestick;
  • Offers more than 5,500 servers in 59 countries;
  • NordVPN is somewhat transparent. Not only have there been two third-party audits of NordVPN, but NordVPN was also one of the first VPN companies to ever even go through an auditing process. They do not keep any logs of user behavior, as confirmed by their second audit, which was performed by PricewaterhouseCoopers AG Switzerland;
  • NordVPN is socially responsible — it offers an educational hub to educate people on how to stay safe online, offers an Emergency VPN service to individuals facing online censorship or threats of violence, and offers discounts to nonprofit organizations such as Amnesty International.

Cons:

  • Could be more transparent — they were hacked back in March 2018, and it took them a while to be transparent about the hack;
  • Since NordVPN’s company ownership is complex and multinational, it can be hard to determine who has the final authority; and
  • Does not offer free trials

Read more about NordVPN in this review here.

PrivateVPN Reddit

PrivateVPN has a Reddit, which you can access here. Subscribe for updates, videos, and reviews of this great product! Reddit is a great way to connect with other users about their user experience and learn more about what the world of technology has to offer.

Free Trial…?

One of the best features that PrivateVPN claims to offer is a 7-day free trial. If you find that the service doesn’t meet the mark, feel free to find another VPN provider at the end of the PrivateVPN free trial. 

To start your trial, however, you have to provide your card details and make a payment, to begin with. Essentially, PrivateVPN’s free trial is its 1 Month Plan, which you can read about below.  We wish they were more transparent and upfront about how the PrivateVPN free trial works. 

Pricing

privatevpn pricing

PrivateVPN offers competitive and reasonable pricing compared to other popular VPNs. They offer three plans:

  • 1 Month Plan, where you are billed $8.10 per month;
  • 13 Months Plan, where you are billed $3.82 per month ($49.68 billed every 12 months after the first 13 months), which comes down to $49.66 for the first 13 months and $49.68 for every year after that; and
  • 3 Months Plan, where you are billed $5.03 per month for a total of $15.09.

All of these plans have a 30-day money-back guarantee. This is one of the best things about this service. If you find something you don’t like about the service within a month of starting any of the three plans offered, you can get your money back without any hassle. 

However, note that PrivateVPN was offering a discount at the time of writing this review. Discounts may not always be available or may change depending on the time of the year. 

We recommend trying out PrivateVPN’s 1 Month Plan as a free trial. If you like it, you can upgrade to a yearly plan. This way, if you do not like it, you can still get your money back due to the 30-day money-back guarantee. 

Summary

In short, PrivateVPN is a great choice for you, particularly if you are primarily looking to stream Netflix and torrent. 

It is simple and easy to use and is naturally a great choice for those new to using VPNs. It will keep your activity private and unblock Netflix and iPlayer, Amazon, and Disney+, amongst others. It also works in China, so you can use it to jump over the Great Firewall if you need to.

With support for OpenVPN, L2TP, and IVEv2, PrivateVPN is a flexible yet affordable option for many. It offers a stealth mode to bypass VPN blocking, port forwarding, DNS and IPv6 leak protection, and the ability to connect up to 6 devices at the same time.

However, PrivateVPN may not be the most transparent company, especially compared to bigger names like NordVPN and ExpressVPN. It also has not yet been independently audited.

PrivateVPN also lacks a number of features that its competitors have, such as a browser extensions and double VPN. While it boasts having “over 150 servers,” its competitors have a couple of thousand servers worldwide. 

We believe you should decide for yourself whether PrivateVPN fits you. Try PrivateVPN’s free trial by buying their 1 Month Plan, which comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee. If you don’t like it, you can always get your money back. 

FAQ