Worried about your internet security? Would you like to have access to geo-restricted content? So, in your research, you must have come across a software called VPN. To help you see more clearly, in this review we study PrivateVPN to see how it compares to the competition. No parameter will be forgotten, we will review the security of this VPN, its characteristics, and its competence in many areas popular with users.
We won’t make you wait any longer to discover this VPN in detail, starting with its presentation and how it works.
PrivateVPN is not one of our 3 favorite VPNs. If you want to favor the best VPNs on the market, here are our top 3:
- 1 Overview of PrivateVPN software and how it works
- 2 The prices charged by PrivateVPN
- 3 How to use PrivateVPN and what are its features?
- 4 Connection speed with PrivateVPN
- 5 Security settings at PrivateVPN
- 6 Network of countries and servers available at PrivateVPN
- 7 Bypassing censorship with PrivateVPN
- 8 PrivateVPN: quality of customer support
- 9 Conclusion: what our PrivateVPN review highlights
Overview of PrivateVPN software and how it works
PrivateVPN software was created in the year 2009 in Sweden. Its head office is based in this country, which can be a good point regarding the processing of your data. That said, we’ll look at this setting in detail later in this PrivateVPN review.
For now, we’ll quickly explain how PrivateVPN works. Like all VPNs, the latter performs two manipulations to ensure your security.
First, the VPN hides your IP address. As you know, your IP address allows us to know a certain amount of information about you, such as your location or the ISP you use.
Camouflaging cuts short the risk of usurpation, but also, and above all, it allows you to browse anonymously. So no one can spy on your online activity, not even your employer or ISP.
Second, a Virtual Private Network encrypts your browsing data so that it cannot be read by others. Among this information, we find everything that you leave behind after your navigation, such as your passwords or your bank details.
It is therefore a good point that this data cannot be used, whether for fraudulent or advertising purposes. But the usefulness of VPNs goes further, in particular by allowing you to bypass geo-restrictions or even to download torrents.
So, is PrivateVPN optimal on all counts? This is what we will see in the rest of this test.
The prices charged by PrivateVPN
To start our review of PrivateVPN as it should, we are going to present the price offer of this software, so that you do not have any unpleasant surprises. The latter is divided into three parts which differ according to the duration of your commitment.
- The monthly offer is €8.40. Therefore, you engage here month by month.
- The subscription for three months is offered at 15€ (in total). The monthly cost of PrivateVPN is, therefore, €5 in this case.
- The solution for two years is displayed for €49, i.e. a price of €2.04 per month.
All PrivateVPN offers to allow you to connect up to six devices and are compatible with Windows, macOS, iOS, Linux, and Android. Also, they have a 30-day money-back guarantee. Also note that you can try PrivateVPN for free for seven days, by simply asking for customer service.
However, even if the points stated here are quite positive, we have some reservations about PrivateVPN’s pricing offer. Indeed, we go from a three-month subscription to a two-year subscription without an intermediary, while many people opt for annual subscriptions.
If you wish to benefit from an advantageous rate, you will therefore have to commit yourself for two years, which can put off more than one person. Our opinion on the prices at PrivateVPN is therefore mixed.
How to use PrivateVPN and what are its features?
If you want to get started with PrivateVPN, the procedure is quite simple to perform. We will explain how to do it later in our review dedicated to this solution.
Install PrivateVPN and use it
To get started with PrivateVPN, you must first go to the official page of the software. You can then click on the “Subscribe to PrivateVPN” button, which will automatically redirect you to the pricing page.
At that time, you must choose your offer and fill in the requested payment information. Once the payment has been validated, you can create a PrivateVPN account and download the VPN application compatible with your device.
All you have to do is click on this application to launch its installation automatically, then identify yourself on it using your email address and the password you configured when you registered for the service. You can then immediately use PrivateVPN.
But you will quickly realize that the interface of its application is quite inconvenient to use (which explains why it is not in our top 3 Windows VPNs). You have the choice between two display modes – simple or advanced – which are not alike. In addition, when you want to change location, the choice of servers opens in a new window.
To change location, you’ll need to manually disconnect the VPN, switch servers on the second window, then re-enable it on the first, as it doesn’t happen automatically.
In any case, you can activate or deactivate your protection via a single button, but the ease stops there. Although all the desired features are present on the PrivateVPN interface, it remains very unintuitive. Our opinion on this subject is therefore rather negative.
Among the features that PrivateVPN presents, we can talk about the feature called Kill Switch. The latter is not specific to this solution because it is found with the majority of VPN providers. That said, it is still very interesting.
Indeed, by activating the Kill Switch you will no longer be able to browse without your VPN. So, if PrivateVPN is having trouble working properly and keeping your connection stable, your connection is suspended so you don’t incur any risk.
As you can easily understand, this option is quite valuable since it ensures your security. It is therefore a good point that PrivateVPN gives you access to it. However, this is overall the only additional feature found in PrivateVPN, which is deplorable.
We would have liked to find here the possibility of having dedicated IP addresses or even accessing a Split Tunneling function that allows you to configure the applications which must or must not go through the VPN. Our opinion on the features of PrivateVPN is therefore quite average. You will easily understand that even if the Kill Switch is a positive point, it is not everything.
Connection speed with PrivateVPN
To continue this test of the PrivateVPN software, we will see what it is worth in terms of speed. On its official page, it claims to be extremely fast, so let’s see what it is and if it can claim the title of fastest VPN.
Speed test with a nearby server
Since connection speed (and speeds) is an important parameter, we will test it on several servers so that we can get a clear idea of it. To start, we, therefore, performed a speed test on our Internet connection without active VPN protection. The goal is to then be able to compare the results that we will obtain with PrivateVPN.
Once this test was completed, we activated PrivateVPN by connecting to its French server located in Paris. The results we collected are shown in the image below. You’ll find our initial results on the left, and those with PrivateVPN active on the right:
As you can see, these results have some differences. On our bare connection, the ping (load latency) was 17ms, with PrivateVPN that score increased to 34ms, but that difference didn’t seem significant.
In the same way, the upstream speed has not been modified, remaining at 0.7 Mbps. Where the connection has been hit the hardest is at the downstream rate (your downloads). Indeed, the latter went from 7.2 Mbps to 3.6 Mbps, thus inducing a drop in performance of around 50%.
This last point lowers our opinion on the speed offered by PrivateVPN, especially since this test was done on a server close to our real location.
Speed test with a remote server
As we explained before, we will be switching servers to perform a new speed test with PrivateVPN. In this way, we will have a more precise vision of what this VPN can offer you at this level.
So we changed the location and connected to Australia, which is a more remote location and quite in demand. The test results are as follows (left without VPN, right with).
It’s easy to see that the connection was hit harder here than with PrivateVPN’s French server. First of all, we can note that even though the upstream rate remained unchanged (at 0.7 Mbps), the ping went from 17 ms to 317 ms. This difference is significant enough to impact your navigation, so it should be noted.
Similarly, the download rate which was 7.2 Mbps was more affected, falling to 2.6 Mbps. This score represents a decrease of more than 60% from the original result, which is quite disappointing.
If our opinion on the speeds offered by PrivateVPN was mixed until then, our first impression was confirmed with this second test. This software seems to impact your connection quite strongly, which is a negative point.
PrivateVPN pour le streaming
As we stated in the introduction, Virtual Private Networks are used for several purposes. Among these uses is streaming. In this specific case, VPNs must make it possible to unblock geo-restricted content from platforms such as Netflix (see the best VPNs for Netflix), Amazon Prime, TV channels (French or foreign), and DAZN Hulu.
We, therefore, sought to find out if PrivateVPN could be satisfactory at this level. To do this, we activated the VPN on an American location, then we opened Netflix. Next, we tried to access programs available exclusively to US users.
The good news is that we had access to these contents without problems. It would therefore seem that PrivateVPN allows you to bypass the geo-blocks of streaming platforms. However, we still have a criticism to make at this level: the reading experience offered is more than average.
Indeed, the loading times are long and the image is of poor quality. So while PrivateVPN lets you unblock foreign Netflix catalogs, it doesn’t seem to be the best VPN for streaming.
If this is why you are looking for a VPN, you can, for example, choose ExpressVPN or NordVPN, which will give you a much better experience.
PrivateVPN for torrenting
Among the most frequent uses of VPNs is also the downloading of torrents. If you are looking for a VPN for this purpose, we will try to see what PrivateVPN can allow you to do.
What we can tell you right now is that PrivateVPN supports unlimited P2P traffic. This is good news in the context of downloading torrents since you can download without a volume limit and you will be fully covered at this level.
However, if PrivateVPN supports your P2P traffic, it is not enough to guarantee 100% secure downloads. To be competent in this area, a Virtual Private Network must also optimally camouflage your IP address. The goal is that you are completely anonymous when you download.
Indeed, you are aware that this activity can be reprehensible, it is, therefore, appropriate that we cannot go back to you. We will therefore devote the rest of our PrivateVPN review to exploring the security-related settings of the software, such as changing your IP address.
Additionally, the connection speeds seen earlier in this review make us seriously doubt the effectiveness of this VPN for downloading. As you will have understood, our opinion on this subject is far from being good.
Security settings at PrivateVPN
To go further in our test of the PrivateVPN software, we will look at the security it provides for your data and your identity.
Protection of your data and your anonymity
As we mentioned at the beginning of this review, your digital security is the basis of any VPN. So how does PrivateVPN handle this? First, to ensure the security of your browsing information, PrivateVPN uses 2048-bit encryption, according to the AES-256 standard. This encryption protocol is a reference in the field.
Therefore, we issue a fairly positive opinion on this point of security at PrivateVPN. Then, when it comes to hiding your IP address, PrivateVPN also says it’s completely safe. So we wanted to check if this was true, by testing the whole thing.
To do this, we carried out an IP address test and detection of possible leaks. First, here are the results we obtained by performing this test on our “bare” connection:
Here it is easy to see that our IP address is very exposed. We are precisely located and our DNS addresses are also on French soil. This means that our IP address has betrayed all this information, and it is, therefore, visible to any malicious website or person.
So we activated PrivateVPN on a server located in Sweden, then ran the same IP address test again. The results of this test are shown below:
It is easy to see that our IP address has been changed. We are this time located in Sweden (in Stockholm more precisely). Similarly, our DNS address is also located in this city, which indicates that there are no DNS leaks.
Given these results and the encryption process used by PrivateVPN, we express a positive opinion about the security parameters of this software. Indeed, the Swedish service seems reliable at this level.
Positive information stands out: PrivateVPN does not keep any browsing information. In this way, neither the sites you visit, the volume of data exchanged, nor the hours and duration of use of the VPN are kept.
If the storage of this information is not catastrophic in itself, what is more, disturbing is that the VPN grants itself the right to transfer it to third parties and use it for advertising purposes. Therefore, even if it does not keep any logs, we qualify our opinion about the confidentiality it can guarantee you.
Network of countries and servers available at PrivateVPN
In this part of our PrivateVPN test, we will look at the infrastructure it has. By this, we mean exploring the number of servers that this software has, but also the countries in which they are located.
This will allow us to have an overview of the power of PrivateVPN installations. So what does the provider’s official page tell us at this level? As much to tell you right away, what we discovered greatly disappointed us.
Indeed, although PrivateVPN offers you around sixty locations, it only has around one hundred servers. This figure is extremely low, which does not bode well for the service provided.
If you do not realize what this represents, know that the best VPNs on the market have several thousand servers. For example, CyberGhost provides you with more than 6800 servers in 90 countries.
You will therefore easily understand why our opinion of PrivateVPN and its infrastructures is negative. It clearly cannot compete with the competition at this level.
Bypassing censorship with PrivateVPN
There remains one common use for VPNs that we haven’t covered yet: circumventing censorship. You are probably aware that some countries practice government censorship, and thus prevent people on their soil from accessing a certain number of sites and content, such as Facebook, Google, or even certain news media.
Among the countries concerned, China tops the list with extremely strong censorship. It is therefore mainly for this destination that Internet users seek a Virtual Private Network. If this is your case too, we won’t keep you waiting any longer to tell you that PrivateVPN seems to be working for this country (this information should be taken with a grain of salt as the situation is constantly evolving).
Indeed, although we have not traveled to China to check the operation of the VPN, we have read a very large number of testimonials from PrivateVPN users there, who all attest that the software bypasses the Chinese censorship.
This is a positive point in the context of this PrivateVPN review because this possibility is highly sought after. However, if you want to use PrivateVPN for China, be sure to install it on your devices before you leave, because once there, it won’t be possible.
PrivateVPN: quality of customer support
Before ending our PrivateVPN review, we want to tell you about the customer support available with this service. The latter is accessible by three main means:
- Tutorials to get started and use the main VPN functions
- A FAQ
- A ticket service by email
We wanted to know what each of these elements was worth, and we can tell you that they are generally satisfactory. Indeed, the FAQ and tutorials are available in French, which is not the case with all VPNs.
In addition, the email ticket service responds fairly quickly (although the announced deadline is 24 hours, we obtained an answer and a solution to our problem in less than an hour). In addition, the answers provided are qualitative. However, we still regret that no live chat system is available, as may be the case with ExpressVPN or CyberGhost.
Indeed, a live chat would further increase the efficiency of the service. Our opinion about PrivateVPN’s customer support is therefore to be qualified slightly.
Conclusion: what our PrivateVPN review highlights
Our PrivateVPN review is now complete. As you may have noticed during your reading, this VPN has some positive points but also several negative points.
As for the advantages of PrivateVPN, we can say that it works for China, that it offers good security settings, or that it allows P2P traffic and unblocks certain Netflix catalogs.
However, this observation should be qualified. Indeed, the first criticism that can be made of PrivateVPN is its too low connection speed. The latter makes the experience of streaming and downloading torrents laborious.
In the same way, even if this software displays a satisfactory confidentiality policy, we were disappointed that it authorizes itself to yield certain information concerning you, in particular for advertising purposes.
In addition, the number of servers and locations available to PrivateVPN is very insufficient, and its interface is not very intuitive. Finally, we would have liked customer support to offer a live chat service to contact them.
In short, as you will have understood, our opinion of PrivateVPN is more than mixed. To be on the safe side, opt for ExpressVPN instead, which won’t disappoint.