Last update: 01.02.2020
Opera is one of the first companies to offer an alternative browser to users worldwide, as they had first entered this “racket” back in 1994. However, the Opera browser is not very popular nowadays, having a relatively tiny market share (2% on desktop and tablets as per 2018 stats) compared to Google’s Chrome, which is the current behemoth of the internet, or even Mozilla Firefox.
What makes Opera stand out among other browsers?
But, even if it’s not Mr. Popularity, Opera is a feature-rich and powerful alternative browser, which offers a rather unique feature to its users: an absolutely free of charge VPN service embedded in the browser itself. The thing is, as far as we know, there’s no other web browser in 2020 to offer a built-in VPN service, which means that Opera plays in a league of its own, at least for privacy-conscious users who are looking for simplicity and a “two for the price of one” kind of a deal.
And speaking of good deals, by free VPN we mean absolutely free: there are annoying no ads, no money required to activate the service, no questions asked, and best of all: there’s no contract to be signed in virtual blood or anything. Also, there’s no data-cap, as in the traffic is unlimited (!), and both downloading and browsing speeds are more than reasonable.
On top of a free unlimited VPN embedded in the browser (including no bandwidth limit), Opera also offers a very eye-candy interface and a built-in ad-blocker, which allows you to surf the web at lightning speeds.
Moreover, you’ll get a Turbo mode, which makes for a handy tool when you’re surfing the web using a poor internet connection, and even a Battery Saver feature, which helps a lot with saving your laptop’s battery while on the go. The Battery Saver will provide up to 50 percent extra battery time when browsing, so check that out when there are no power outlets available.
And, best of all, everything is available in just one download, the Opera bundle itself, i.e., there’s no third-party software required and you don’t have to install dubious add-ons for your browser.
How to use Opera’s built-in VPN feature
First, you’ll have to download and install the browser from Opera’s website. The installation process is pretty straight forward, and both the browser and the VPN are a one-time thing, i.e., we’ll assume you’ve already done that.
It’s important to know that Opera’s built-in free and unlimited VPN service is not enabled by default, as in it can’t be used out-of-the-box.
Hence, to enable the VPN feature, you must access the Settings menu. The first step is to click on the Menu (O) button located in the top-left of the screen, or simply copy-paste opera://settings/ in the browser and click Enter.
In this menu, click the Advanced tab, then Privacy and Security, scroll down and look for the VPN section, which is located somewhere in the middle. There’s an Enable VPN menu, and you’ll have to toggle the VPN button to enable or disable the service.
When the VPN is On, you’ll see a blue notification on the left in the address bar, as shown in the picture.
From now on, clicking on the VPN icon in the address bar will allow you to turn the VPN On and Off incredibly easily.
Also, the VPN icon will provide you with basic info about your VPN settings and usage, things like choosing a virtual location for spoofing your IP (Americas, Asia, Europe and Optimal as the default location), turning the VPN On and Off, your virtual IP address and data transfer information. However, the latter is just a courtesy of sorts, since there’s no data limit nor bandwidth limitation. When the VPN is off, the icon will turn from blue to grey.
It’s worth mentioning that, unlike most VPN providers, Opera doesn’t allow you to choose a “fake” IP based on particular countries, but instead uses regions, i.e., besides the default Optimal location (this one works best by the way), you can only choose between Asia, Americas, and Europe.
That’s about all; it doesn’t get any easier than that, even if you’re a “boomer-level” techie.
Advantages and caveats of Opera VPN
Now that you’ve learned how to use Opera VPN, here’s a short list of advantages and disadvantages. Let’s begin with the uplifting news.
- Free of charge, ad-free, hassle free
- Works with Netflix
- Very intuitive interface, incredibly easy to use
- You get both a fully functional VPN and a comprehensive ad-blocker with your web browser, not to mention the Battery Saver and the Turbo Mode
- Also works in private tabs
- Desktop versions include Windows, MacOS, and Linux
- Mobile version of Opera for Android with embedded VPN
- More like a proxy than a VPN that doesn’t protect your traffic outside the browser
- Few server-locations available
- No torrenting option since it works only for the browser
- No customer service, as in basically zero customer support, though it’s hardly needed considering how minimalist and easy to use Opera VPN really is
- No zero-logs policy, though Opera mentions something about “harmless” logging, as in the information collected on their users is not identifiable. However, Opera mentions it can share (read “sell”) your so-called unidentifiable metadata to third parties, which may or may not include security agencies (read “Big Brother”).
- Dubious jurisdiction, but let’s clarify on that since privacy is essential for VPN users: Opera Software AS is based in Norway, a 9 Eyes member, which is not so great in terms of internet jurisdiction. Also, it was bought by a Chinese consortium in 2017. Hence it’s not very clear where Opera’s VPN service falls regarding privacy rights: Norway or China. More transparency is required to give a definite answer. We would recommend you to read the Terms of Service carefully by clicking here.
- No kill switch
- Works only with the Opera browser
- Network performance on server locations other than “Optimal” is not stellar