Disconnect offers a comprehensive open-source privacy suite that now includes a VPN service. Based in the US, this service has been running since 2011. Our Disconnect VPN review has found it to be easy-to-use, cheap, and not bad for torrenting.
But can a US-based company provide you with absolute anonymity? Or should you cut this connection from your network as soon as possible? Read our Disconnect VPN review to get your answer.
Security and privacy
Security is the primary concern for most, if not all, VPN users. Disconnect VPN secures their users’ information by offering the following security features:
- Military-grade AES 256-bit data encryption
- OpenVPN protocol for Mac, Windows, and Android apps
- IKEv2/IPSec protocol for iOS devices
Unfortunately, this is not a great security package. While the encryption and protocol combination is solid, there are no advanced VPN features like obfuscation, leak protection, or double VPN. Granted, some of the missing options are covered by the full Disconnect anti-malware suite, but the VPN app itself only offers barebones necessities.
Moreover, Disconnect VPN has no kill switch function, which means that if your connection to the VPN server is interrupted, your IP address becomes visible to any interested party.
Does Disconnect VPN log your data?
Short answer: maybe
Disconnect VPN is based in the USA, which belongs to the 5 Eyes group of countries that have agreed to share their surveillance data. This is a red flag, especially if you’re engaged in sensitive activities. Worried about law enforcement or intelligence agencies getting their hands on your information? Then you probably shouldn’t be using Disconnect VPN. Unless your main concern is protection from advertising cookies.
The Disconnect website declares that they do not gather personal information and the IP addresses of their users. However, they openly state that they can share your data in the event of a legal requirement.
There’s also a disclaimer that they have not received demands for such information. Yet. Be aware, though, that this situation may change at any moment.
Speed and performance
Speed is one of the most important points to consider when shopping for a VPN service. After all, it affects aspects like streaming, torrenting, and online gaming.
Disconnect provides no information about how many servers their VPN has. And the app gives you a choice of only four server regions: US, Europe, Asia, and Germany. Neither their exact size nor distribution is disclosed. For an open-source service founded on principles of freedom and transparency, all this secrecy seems a touch hypocritical.
Speed test results
Because limited server location options, Disconnect VPN’s speeds can vary drastically.
Our tests have shown different and inconsistent results when connected from Europe, with high to average speeds on European and German servers, and significant drops when using servers in the US and Asian regions.
The main takeaway here is that those with a need for speed should look elsewhere. There are much better VPNs on the market with far larger server fleets, better location choices, and higher speeds out there.
Ease of use and multi-platform support
Disconnect offers an all-in-one subscription-based software suite called Disconnect Premium, available for the four major platforms:
The full Disconnect service provides protection from malware and spyware, masks your IP address, and encrypts your data. Disconnect VPN is part of this software package and is not a standalone app.
The Premium service also comes with a browser extension named Disconnect Private Browsing. It helps prevent third parties from following your internet trail. Although all browsers have an inbuilt “private browsing mode,” it will only prevent other people who use your computer from seeing your browsing history and does not stop third-party tracking.
Installing Disconnect VPN is quite effortless. You can either sign-up via their website or their app for desktop or mobile. You can also easily install their native client on your Windows, Mac, iOS, or Android device.
The Disconnect VPN app is incredibly simple and easy to use, which is a big plus for casual users whose primary concern is third-party tracking of their everyday browsing activities. In essence, you press the VPN On/Off switch, and you’re all set.
However, Disconnect VPN would not make much of an impression on an advanced user who wants to have more options. Their “Settings” section is pretty bare-bones, allowing you to choose your preferred “Search Engine Location,” “VPN Server Location,” and “VPN protocol.” And that’s pretty much it. In other words, Disconnect VPN is great for casuals but may be insufficient for power users.
Online censorship in China and elsewhere
The use of VPNs in repressive countries like China is not only common but often essential. Especially for multinational companies whose employees need to access key platforms like Google, Facebook, and Twitter. Travelers and expats are the other key demographics of VPN users looking for internet privacy and access to their favorite websites in China, Iran, Turkey, and other restrictive states.
Disconnect VPN’s (assumingly) limited server locations and its default OpenVPN protocol may play against it in China, even though its encryption technology is top-notch. With Disconnect’s complete lack of information about its capabilities to bypass online censorship, it may not be a viable option in China or other repressive states.
Recommended read: Best VPN for China
P2P and torrenting
Although Disconnect VPN does not explicitly state that users cannot use their servers for torrenting, the fact that it’s a US-based service, as well as their requirement to use your credit card and personal details for subscription payments make it hard to recommend Disconnect VPN as a safe P2P privacy option, but really it might not be that bad.
Recommended read: Best VPN for Torrenting
Unblocking Netflix and other streaming platforms
Netflix is becoming increasingly savvy in detecting IP addresses associated with VPN servers. Also, there are rumors that they can block a whole series of VPN server-linked IP addresses, making it harder for VPN services to get ahead of Netflix’s blocks.
Unfortunately, Disconnect VPN is not known to have consistent connectivity to Netflix.
They don’t have any specialized streaming servers, and you can’t choose a specific US-based server to connect to.
Recommended read: Best VPN for Netflix
Disconnect VPN offers two different forms of customer support:
- FAQ section on the official website
- Email support
The FAQ section first highlights all Disconnect products, and within each type of product, information is further broken down into subsections. The subscription section covers topics like adding new devices, restoring purchases, auto-renewals and how to cancel a subscription.
The general section covers as many FAQs as possible so that you can find answers quickly, and don’t have to wait for customer support to respond to your email. Topics include an explanation of the Blocking and Encrypted modes, which one to use based on your current needs, as well as instructions for updating the Disconnect app, uninstalling it, and more.
The only other way to reach Disconnect customer support is via email, but wait times for a response can vary, sometimes reaching up to several days.
Disconnect VPN offers several cancel-anytime plans:
- 1-month Pro iOS plan for 4.99/month
- 1-year Pro iOS plan for $25.00 (2.08/month)
- 1-month Premium plan for 11.99/month
- 1-year Premium plan for $50.00 ($4.17/month)
With the free plan, you get the basic features, such as the ability to see who might be tracking you and make your search history private.
The Pro iOS plan is a free download with in-app purchases ranging between $4.99 for one month to $24.99 for 12 months. This plan protects iOS devices with tracker protection and DNS encryption using Disconnect’s SmartVPN technology.
The Premium plan costs $11.99 a month and promises to deliver several additional perks. These include hacker and ID theft prevention, freedom from censorship, and protection from malware and tracking. If you sign up for the entire year, the subscription rate goes down to $50.
Disconnect offers a 30-day no-questions-asked money back guarantee, so you can try their Premium plan and cancel any time if you don’t like it. However, the only accepted method of payment for Disconnect VPN is by credit card, which may not appeal to diehard privacy users. In that case, try the Free plan first.
As a VPN service, Disconnect is full of contradictions.
On the one hand, both the desktop and mobile versions are well designed and easy to use, especially for those who are new to VPN services. The connection is fairly speedy, and the Disconnect browser extension has been praised for being open-source — this is a transparent way to show that it’s doing what it claims to be doing.
On the other hand, the service is based within the privacy-unfriendly USA, the number of their VPN server locations is unknown, and some of the key security features such as the kill switch are missing.
Although Disconnect VPN is reasonably fast, there seems to be a tendency for dropped connections, which isn’t ideal for anyone with a need for speed.
Subscribing to the Premium plan also means that you will need to input your credit card details and personal information. This will not help you stay anonymous if government authorities ever order Disconnect to turn over their user database.
All in all, Disconnect is a decent choice for some, but a risky proposition for those who need real privacy and anonymity.