Last update: 04.23.2019
Claiming to be inspired by The Pirate Bay founders, blackVPN greets you with a raised fist on their logo. But is the rebellious service really as revolutionary as it’s cracked up to be?
First impressions count, and the blackVPN website creates a good one right from the start. The neat, responsive layout with some added flair on the entry banner immediately draws your attention.
This is followed by an overview of 10 key features of blackVPN that make it worth your while to subscribe. Impressive at first glance, but if you’ve been shopping around for a VPN service, you’ll quickly realize that most of the features overlap with what the others are touting as well.
However, the features that are unique to blackVPN include the following: dedicated bare-metal servers, a pledge that all their servers are real locations, not virtual or fake ones; and AES 256-bit encryption with 4096-bit RSA certificates when connecting with OpenVPN.
In this blackVPN review, we’ll discuss its features, advantages, disadvantages and whether it’s worth trying out.
Security and privacy
blackVPN offers a robust security feature package, which is one of its main selling points:
- AES-256-bit encryption
- OpenVPN, SSL, IPSec/L2TP, and PPTP protocols
- Kill switch feature
- Physical servers for a stable connection that won’t drop
- ReadThenBurn feature that enables you to send your messages in a securely encrypted form
The ReadThenBurn feature is very simple to use. First, write the message you want to encrypt and send it to the intended person. Then share your secret URL or QR code with the receiving person. Your message will self-destruct after the person on the receiving end reads it. This is a highly secure way to share sensitive information.
Overall, blackVPN provides a solid offering security-wise – while not exceptional, it has all the essentials covered for a generally secure web browsing experience.
Does blackVPN log your data?
Short answer: probably not.
blackVPN hides your IP address to mask your real location and prevents anyone from logging your internet activities. There are no traffic, connection, or DNS logs.
Since blackVPN operates outside the jurisdiction of the “Five Eyes” and the “14 Eyes” jurisdictions, you don’t have to worry about your information being used against you. Although Hong Kong does fall under China’s oversight, you should be fine as long as you don’t plan on engaging in any nefarious activity against China.
Speed and performance
blackVPN has often been listed among the faster and more reliable VPNs currently on the market. Nonetheless, speeds may vary depending on your location.
In speed tests, blackVPN’s US servers performed below average when connected from Europe to the US: our download and upload speeds dropped to about 20% baseline. On a European server, however, the download speed was 35-40% of baseline, which we consider average.
Given the rather stark difference, it’s entirely possible that when you are in New York and connect to the US East server, the speeds will improve. After all, the closer you are to your VPN location, the higher the speeds you experience.
A quick tip to improve the speed is to find a server that is not in too much demand.
Speaking of servers, blackVPN operates a 27-strong server fleet spread across 17 countries around the world.
While not in the ballpark of the top VPNs like Nord or Express numbers-wise, blackVPN’s servers are all physical and company-owned. This is somewhat of a rarity in the industry and should provide greater speed and security, at least theoretically.
Ease of use and multiplatform support
blackVPN is available on the four major platforms, along with some extras:
- Linux and routers (via setup guides)
Until very recently, blackVPN didn’t have a mobile app. Now, there are apps for both Android and iOS, which you can download from Google Play Store and Apple App Store, respectively.
blackVPN’s default tunneling protocol is OpenVPN, and the download available on the website is not exactly a native app. The OpenVPN executable is customized specifically to work with blackVPN, with a test version of the dedicated blackVPN client also available. If you go with the default download, you can configure these standard files to use with OpenWRT or DD-WRT routers.
Unblocking Netflix and other streaming platforms
blackVPN has been known to work with Netflix. If you get blocked, tips in user forums suggest switching amongst the three US servers as a way to get back on. While it seems to work (for now), Netflix has become quite savvy in blocking region-jumpers, hence there’s no telling if blackVPN will be able to keep up in the future.
P2P and torrenting
For a service seemingly inspired by the founders of The Pirate Bay, blackVPN has a rather restrictive torrenting policy: your ability to torrent depends on your location and subscription plan.
The VPN supports unrestricted P2P file transfers meaning that blackVPN torrenting experience should not be troublesome.
Moreover, their torrenting bandwidth is unlimited.
Nonetheless, it’s important to note that torrenting is not allowed on the US and UK servers and is also restricted on their TV subscription plans. This explains why some clients in parts of the UK and the US experience problems when torrenting with BlackVPN; connections last for about 10 to 20 seconds.
There’s more information about torrenting in the signup terms and conditions. If your primary use for a VPN plan is torrenting, be sure to read these carefully. If you’re more of a streaming fan, read the previous section to find out if it works for Netflix.
Online censorship in China and elsewhere
blackVPN is a Hong Kong-based company. Hong Kong has no agreement with international law enforcement agencies. Therefore, the companies based there do not have to provide any information regarding their clients.
While it’s possible to use blackVPN in China, it is not a government-approved VPN service provider.
With blackVPN being based in Hong Kong, it might actually not be legal to use in China and possible for the government to interfere with the clients’ information. Therefore, it’s not very advisable to use this VPN in China.
And since blackVPN brands itself prominently as being “outside the Five Eyes and 14 Eyes countries,” users looking for a VPN for use in China are probably not their target market anyway. Users looking to bypass online censorhip in other repressive countries such as Iran, Egypt, or Russia should also look for a VPN with more advanced security features.
If you’re looking for a VPN that works in China specifically, be sure to check these out.
blackVPN customer support menu is quite impressive. There are many ways to get your VPN problems resolved. You can contact the blackVPN team using the following:
- Live chat
- Ticketing system
- FAQ section
The live chat is not active all the time and its availability hours are not defined either.
However, the overall efficiency of the customer care team is professional and fairly quick.
In blackVPN’s case, it may be necessary to have a responsive live support team, as their FAQ section often has very brief responses to questions. The “Help” tab on the menu bar does offer shortcuts to common issues like password support, username support and check account expiration. You can also find blackVPN trivia, such as why its logo has a raised fist.
blackVPN packages include the Privacy, Global, and TV plans with up to 7 simultaneous connections.
- The Privacy Package allows you to access to about half of blackVPN’s servers, and unlimited torrenting, at €49 per year. For shorter-term subscriptions, it is €13 for three months and €5 for one month.
- The Global Package allows you to access all the VPN locations and unlimited torrenting at a cost of €99 per year. It is €27 for three months, and €9.50 for one month.
- The TV Package facilitates access to all the USA and UK VPN locations for €75 per year. The price for a three-month subscription is €20, and a one-month subscription is €7.50. There are also US Server-only or UK Server-only packages available for €13 for three months, or €49 for one year.
There’s also a 3-day free trial and a 14-day money-back guarantee for those who want to take it for a test drive before comitting for a plan.
In terms of security, blackVPN offers something extra for its lower range pricing. Thanks to its AES-256 bit encryption and 4096 bit RSA certificates, plus support for OpenVPN, L2TP, and PPTP protocols, you can feel secure while connected to one of their bare metal servers.
With its no-logs policy and the new “ReadThenBurn” feature for messaging, you also get some extra overall privacy.
blackVPN’s speeds are also higher than some VPNs but not that impressive. Torrenting is available only with some of the packages, and the same goes for Netflix. A relatively easy to use Android app and responsive customer service give blackVPN extra points. But if you still need time to consider, take advantage of their 3-day trial and 14-day money back guarantee.