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Much more than a hacktivist project, AirVPN offers an easy to customize, effective VPN with solid security and great functionality for torrenting fans.
It all started in 2010 when a confederation of hackers decided to create a tool to promote internet freedom. With participation from Italy, the USA, and Mexico, the group brought an international flavor to the product that launched as AirVPN.
From the start, AirVPN has been led by activists, not entrepreneurs, and it retains the mission to open the web up and protect those under repressive jurisdictions.
Nowadays, it has expanded from its humble origins, operating over 240+ servers in 20+ countries. Yet they continue to operate in the spirit of openness – allowing users access to real-time server-monitoring data and other innovative features. It’s become a multi-platform project, available for Android and iOS devices, as well as desktop computers and popular routers.
So how does it match up with its commercial rivals? Read my AirVPN review to find out.
Security is one area where AirVPN can be trusted to take a cautious, well-informed approach. For instance, they steer clear of using compromised protocols like L2TP/IPSec or PPTP. Instead, they operate solely via OpenVPN – which is seen as the gold standard for contemporary VPNs.
AirVPN offers the following main security features:
As you can see, AirVPN is rich in security features. This is a more watertight service than what is offered by an overwhelming majority of VPNs on the market today. However, I must mention that a few years ago, AirVPN had been struggling with leaks. Luckily, this seems a thing of the past: we weren’t able to find any leaks during testing and there have been no new Reddit comments on this issue.
The answer seems to be “No.”
So, are there any privacy issues to mention in this review? Not many, as it turns out. The most common thing that people want to know is where is AirVPN based? The answer is Italy, and some people may be concerned about that because this country is part of the Fourteen Eyes surveillance alliance.
While this is not ideal, the privacy practices of AirVPN in all other respects seem to be faultless. What’s more, Italy falls under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), adding another layer of privacy protection.
Another thing that I liked about AirVPN is that they don’t have any third-party trackers on their website. While this may seem like not a big deal, it’s super-rare even among the most privacy-focused VPN providers. I would like the Privacy Notice on the official website to be more detailed, but at the same time, I couldn’t find anything to suggest that AirVPN does more than minimal logging.
Judging from the promotional materials of AirVPN, it would seem that the service is a lot more concerned with security and privacy, rather than speed. Let’s see whether that reflects in numbers.
AirVPN has 240+ servers spread across more than 20 countries. This list covers all major regions of Europe, North America, and Asia. The official website contains information on server load, judging from which I can safely say the servers are usually well below maximum capacity.
With that said, 20+ countries isn’t much in comparison to most premium VPN services. Among the regions that suffer most are Australia, the Middle East, Africa, and to a lesser extent South America, which has a couple of servers in Brasil.
The number of servers hasn’t changed much over the years, and the FAQ hints at a possible reason why. And that’s because of stringent requirements for servers on the AirVPN network. With that said, I’ll venture a guess that it’s not very profitable to run an ethical VPN service.
As far as speeds go, my tests had decent results that are by no means spectacular. For this AirVPN review, I first ran a speed test from Europe without a VPN connection:
Afterward, I connected to several different locations around the world and reran the speed test.
London, United Kingdom
New York, United States
All in all, AirVPN’s speeds are not terrible, but there’s certainly room for improvement here. While the Mbps numbers are acceptable, the drop-off percentage is quite high. I was also surprised that the UK drop-off rate was higher than that of the US or Singapore.
One thing to note: if you connect to a nearby AirVPN server and aren’t happy with the speed, try others on the same continent. Speeds vary in unpredictable ways.
Setting up AirVPN isn’t exactly a chore: just surf to the AirVPN website and press the Get AirVPN button.
The AirVPN client (affectionately titled Eddie) is available on Windows, macOS, Linux, and Android. However, you can use AirVPN through other software as well. This way, you’ll be able to enjoy the service on iOS, ChromeOS, and routers (DD-WRT, Tomato, AsusWRT, pfSense). Unfortunately, there are no browser extensions available.
While not exactly difficult to use, Eddie is certainly aimed at advanced users more than it is aimed at newbies. Opening the Preferences menu should make that abundantly clear: there are so many settings to toggle that new users will likely be overwhelmed.
Having said that, choosing a server and connecting should be simple enough for anyone. The server list even conveniently shows the latency and load of each server.
It’s slightly harder to set up AirVPN for iOS than it is for Android, PC, or Mac. AirVPN client Eddie isn’t an option here, and users will have to install the OpenVPN software and configure it to work with AirVPN servers. All the information and files needed can be found on the website.
AirVPN works really well with Netflix and can unblock the libraries of multiple geographical regions. Thanks to its “double-hop” DNS routing setup, AirVPN can also work around the relatively small selection of servers.
While testing Netflix for this AirVPN review, I saw better performance when connected to the West Coast servers. This was unexpected, but other European users might be able to benefit as well. While my speeds were good enough to stream in HD, I’d suggest running your own speed tests before committing to a long-term AirVPN plan.
If you’re looking for a VPN to unblock the BBC iPlayer, however, keep looking. AirVPN did not manage to unblock the British streaming service, no matter how hard I tried. The same goes for other streaming platforms, such as Disney+ or Amazon Prime.
Yes, it does. One of the most attractive aspects of AirVPN is its liberal approach to torrenting. P2P traffic is welcome on the network, and users are guaranteed unlimited bandwidth. So, in theory, using AirVPN for torrenting is a good option, although it’s not among the best VPNs for P2P.
The service also offers more than enough security and is feature-rich. The availability of things like a kill switch, leak protection, and port forwarding adds a lot of value to AirVPN as a torrenting-friendly service.
My only reservation shared with Reddit users is that the speeds could certainly be better. They are also pretty inconsistent when moving from one server to another, so it may take some time to find the fastest one. Looking at the bright side, AirVPN allows P2P on all its servers.
AirVPN should work in China, although there were some complaints on Reddit a few years ago.
The key feature here is AirVPN’s ability to route web traffic via TCP port 443. This is the conventional SSL port used by secure web data. By routing all of your traffic through port 443, AirVPN can shield it effectively from most censorship measures, including Deep Packet Inspection (DPI). This feature is called Stealth VPN of Obfuscated servers by other providers.
Beyond the ability to climb the Great Firewall, AirVPN is definitely secure enough and should have reasonably good speeds in China. As for other countries where freedom of information is restricted, AirVPN is even a better choice than it is in China. Just make sure you look at the list of countries where servers are available – if there’s nothing close to your location, speeds may be bad.
Due to its sometimes-technical nature and a wide range of customization options, AirVPN users often ask for help, and you would hope for excellence in this area. The picture is mixed, though. Here’s what kind of customer support AirVPN offers:
Sure – the FAQ is detailed, and the AirVPN forums are one of the best places on the entire web to learn about privacy issues and VPN usage. When it came to getting help from the staff, though, I found that response times were slow, and the attitude of AirVPN representatives could have been warmer. It’s easy to see how newbies could be turned off by the lack of 24/7 live chat, especially when their questions can be answered easily.
AirVPN offers 7 pricing plans in euros, which can be converted into either dollars or bitcoins in real-time:
All plans allow five simultaneous connections and can be considered cheap when compared to other premium VPN services. This applies even to the monthly option, which costs less than $8 when most competitors charge from $10 to $13 or more.
There’s also an AirVPN free trial, but getting it is not that easy. You’ll have to contact their customer support first.
What I missed was the money-back guarantee. It can be considered a standard VPN policy nowadays, and not offering it can scare away new users. On the other hand, you have AirVPN free trial and a three-day plan that’s $2.20 only.
AirVPN customers can choose from a huge variety of payment methods. Those include credit cards, PayPal, bitcoin, and seven other cryptocurrencies. Most importantly, this means you can pay for the service entirely anonymously.
To sum up, AirVPN isn’t the cheapest option around, but it’s reasonably priced, and there’s no profit-gouging here.
This AirVPN review has shown that you should get this service only if you’re not new in the VPN industry.
Founded as a hacktivist project, AirVPN has become one of the world’s leading VPNs. It’s not the most user-friendly or stylish VPN on the market, but its security features, price, ability to unblock Netflix, and torrenting functionality all set AirVPN apart from the crowd. So, if you want a dependable VPN with constant updates and a passionate, helpful following – AirVPN is a great choice.
However, if you’re not that familiar with using VPNs, I’d recommend getting something else with a more user-friendly client and website.
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