Last update: 11.16.2018
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? Find out in our blackVPN review.
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 and 4096 bit RSA certificates when connecting with OpenVPN.
blackVPN, which was founded in the Netherlands, moved their base to Hong Kong, outside the jurisdiction of the NSA and other international enforcement bodies. In this blackVPN review, we’ll discuss its features, advantages, disadvantages and whether it’s worth trying out.
Is blackVPN secure?
blackVPN offers solid security that is one of its main selling points. In addition to the AES-256-bit encryption and 4096 bit RSA certificates, blackVPN’s physical, bare metal servers promise a stable connection that won’t drop, and a kill switch.
There is also a ReadThenBurn feature in the BlackVPN, which enables you to send your messages in a securely encrypted form.
This 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.
blackVPN hides your IP address to mask your real location and prevent 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 & Performance
blackVPN has often been listed among the fastest and most reliable VPNs currently on the market. Nonetheless, the speeds may vary, depending on a user’s location.
In speed tests, blackVPN’s US servers performed below average when connected from Europe. The download speed dropped to 15 Mbps and the upload speed dropped to 22 Mbps. On a European Server, the download speed was 66 Mbps while the upload speed was 43 Mbps.
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 VPN speed you enjoy.
A quick tip to improve the speed is to find a server that is not in too much demand.
Apps & Extensions
Until very recently, blackVPN did not have a mobile app. They launched one for Android, and you can download it from the Google Play Store with a three-day trial. They’ve also submitted a test version of a blackVPN iOS app to Apple App Store, but it’s currently pending approval. You can, however, still test the app – just fill out a support ticket on the blackVPN website. Include the email address you use for the Apple Store, and customer support will get back to you with the details.
blackVPN’s default tunneling protocol is OpenVPN, and the version available for download on the site is not exactly an app, but it is customized specifically to work with blackVPN. You can still download and use the standard version of OpenVPN, as config files are also available. You can configure these standard files to use with OpenWRT Routers. blackVPN also supports DD-WRT routers with a download and setup guide.
How to install blackVPN
Setup is relatively easy, with downloads for your platform and tunneling protocols all available on the blackVPN website. Under the tab “VPN Setup” you can choose your platform: Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, and Linux.
Furthermore, you’ll find that BlackVPN supports SSTP, L2TP/IPSec and OpenVPN protocols on each platform. Its default is OpenVPN, which combined with AES-256 bit encryption alone, puts blackVPN’s security protocols at industry gold standard.
Once you’ve downloaded the files you need for your platform, the installation process will include instructions at every step. Before you can connect to the servers, you’ll be asked to enter the username and password that you created when subscribing. Hence, you may want to complete that step before installing.
blackVPN for 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 never 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 streamer, read the next section of our blackVPN review to find out if it works for Netflix.
blackVPN for Netflix
Netflix offers exciting movies and TV shows in different geographical regions as per their agreement with content copyright holders. Therefore, people in different regions have access to different shows with the US having access to myriad interesting shows that entice people from other regions.
blackVPN has been known to work with Netflix, notably with the most expensive plans. 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 time.
blackVPN packages include the Privacy, Global, and TV plans.
- 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.
blackVPN customer support is quite impressive. There are many ways to get your VPN problems resolved. You can contact the blackVPN team using live chat, the support ticketing system and email.
The live chat is not active all the time and the 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.
Does blackVPN work in China?
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 is not impossible 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. If you’re looking for a VPN that works in China, however, be sure to check these out.
Conclusion of the blackVPN review
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.
The fact that this company operates out of Hong Kong gives it an advantage over the other VPNs because it doesn’t come under the laws of the USA and European Union. They do not have to follow any court order from these countries, but you should take care not to use it for subversive activities in China or Hong Kong. With its “no logs” policy and the new “ReadThenBurn” feature for messaging, you also get some extra overall privacy.
Its speed is 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.