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b.VPN is a solid privacy tool for activists, dissidents, and whistle-blowers. Unfortunately, being great at one single aspect does not make it a great VPN for everyone.
Also known as BackboneVPN, the Netherlands-based b.VPN is a relatively new player in the VPN industry. Boasting an impressive set of security features and known among the Chinese and Middle Eastern users for its proprietary Smoke Tunnel technology, b.VPN is a robust little tool mostly aimed at helping people bypass online censorship.
That said, is it more than just an anti-censorship VPN? Let’s take a look at what else this provider has to offer.
Security and privacy
When it comes to security, b.VPN boasts quite a comprehensive feature package:
• Unbreakable AES-256 encryption
• OpenVPN and L2TP/IPSec protocols (you can also use OpenVPN with TCP, UDP, or SSH modes)
• Kill switch
• IPv6 Leak Protection
• DNS Leak Protection
• Smoke Tunnel
This set of features makes b.VPN an excellent choice in terms of security even in countries that actively try to monitor their citizens’ data and block VPN traffic. This is in part due to b.VPN’s proprietary Smoke Tunnel double encryption feature that provides an additional layer of security against Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) and other online censorship techniques used by less than politically permissive states.
b.VPN’s remaining security credentials are up to par as well. The apps are leak-proof and use cutting-edge encryption, while the kill switch will reliably protect you from revealing your actual IP address in case of an unexpected VPN connection failure. All of these security measures make b.VPN safe to use both in potentially dangerous online environments and during your typical everyday browsing.
Does b.VPN log your data?
Short answer: yes.
Although b.VPN positions itself as a “no logs” VPN, it’s is not a zero-logs provider. Even if we disregard fact that the company is based in the Netherlands, which is a member of the 14 Eyes surveillance group, b.VPN is not exactly an exemplar of perfect privacy.
Although we wouldn’t accuse b.VPN of sharing your data with the Chinese, Russian, or Iranian governments, users in the West should certainly be wary of utilizing b.VPN for anything other than bypassing geo-blocking.
Speed and performance
Our tests have shown b.VPN to have low to below-average speeds, which amounted to 85-90% drops from our base 270 Mbps connection.
These numbers are unsurprising, however, because of the provider’s limited server network and sparse choice of available locations. In some cases, we were even unable to stream HD quality content. This means we can’t recommend b.VPN to anyone with a need for speed.
Admittedly, b.VPN is not advertised as the fastest VPN in the world – its strengths seem to lie elsewhere. Nonetheless, speed is always something to consider, and in the case of b.VPN, certainly an aspect to improve upon.
Compared to the top dogs of the VPN industry, b.VPN’s server fleet could be seen as a fledgling puppy. With 32 servers across 15 countries, both server and location selections are highly limited.
That said, the USA, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East are covered, which could be (barely) sufficient for b.VPN’s supposed target audience of people living under repressive governments.
The bad news is that such a small server network definitely impacts b.VPN’s speeds in a negative manner.
Ease of use and multi-platform support
While not the undisputed king of multi-platform compatibility, b.VPN offers apps for all the five principal operating systems:
Also, you can set it up on other types of devices by following the instructions given on the FAQ page:
• DD-WRT routers
• Smart TVs
• PlayStation 3 and Xbox
As for the b.VPN desktop app, it’s very straightforward and easy to use. Server connection times are relatively low, which means you’ll be able to switch between different servers in seconds.
Customization-wise, all the basics are covered: you can toggle the kill switch, swap between different encryption modes, or select your preferred protocol.
Overall, b.VPN apps are not the flashiest or the most feature-packed around, but they’re solid enough to get the job done for the vast majority of users.
Streaming and unblocking Netflix
Bad news for Netflix fans: the streaming platform returned the dreaded “Proxy detected” error when we tried to connect to the US Netflix library.
Unfortunately, other regions didn’t fare better either. Which is why for those looking for a good Netflix-capable VPN, our answer is to keep looking.
On a more positive note, the BBC iPlayer seemed to work fine, if relatively sluggishly.
Nonetheless, we wouldn’t recommend b.VPN to anyone whose primary reason for buying a VPN is streaming or entertainment.
P2P and torrenting
b.VPN allows P2P file sharing on all servers, with the only exception being those based in the US. This means that if you’re a US resident, torrenting speeds are likely to be subpar.
While we appreciate the fact that b.VPN permits P2P file sharing, the low server count coupled with the 14-Eyes jurisdiction prevent this provider from making the cut when it comes to torrenting.
China and online censorship
The ability to reliably bypass the Great Firewall of China is one of b.VPN’s few strengths.
Thanks to its proprietary Smoke Tunnel technology, users can safely evade online censorship and surveillance efforts in countries that use advanced VPN-blocking techniques, including Russia, Iran, Turkey, and others.
Paired with its other security credentials, b.VPN is a solid choice for anyone living in or visiting a censorship-heavy state.
b.VPN offers a modest but dependable array of support options:
• Email support
• Extensive FAQ section with comprehensive tutorials
• 24/7 live chat support
At first glance, this relatively short list might not look like much. However, the presence of the live chat option should be enough to satisfy the needs of most customers. The constant unsolicited beeping of the support chat window might sound annoying to some, but the answers provided by the team are fast, helpful, and mostly on point.
b.VPN offers the following subscription plans to potential customers:
• 1-month plan for $9.99/month
• 6-month plan for $50 ($8.33/month)
• 1-year plan for $90 ($7.50/month)
Paid subscribers are granted access to all servers, get unlimited bandwidth, and can use up to 6 devices simultaneously with their b.VPN account. Available payment methods are surprisingly numerous and include credit cards, PayPal, AliPay, and cryptocurrencies, among others.
If you decide to subscribe but end up disappointed, however, you can take advantage of the 7-day money-back guarantee.
For those still on the fence, b.VPN offers a couple of free trial options to test drive the service:
• 3-day unlimited feature trial with account registration
• 90-minutes daily limited feature trial for three days without account registration
Overall, b.VPN is quite an expensive deal for the amount and quality of features on offer. While Smoke Tunnel alone may be worth it for the Chinese users, everyone else can easily find better alternatives for b.vpn for a far smaller price tag.
b.VPN is a specialized tool aimed at helping people bypass online censorship.
Under different circumstances, it might have been the right VPN for that particular group of people. The problem is that the competition does it better. And cheaper, to boot.
While b.VPN does have the high-end security features to make evading censors a breeze, its other aspects leave a lot to be desired. Low server count, slow speeds, and overly high pricing are the main concerns here. Not to mention the logging policy and spotty streaming capabilities.
All things considered, our verdict is to give it a pass. If b.VPN brings any significant improvements to the table in the future, we’ll be sure to let you know and update our review accordingly.