A great VPN with temptingly cheap annual plans. Awesome for dummies but no “Bingo!” feeling for the more serious users.
A VPN provider with a long history and name in the wider cybersecurity field isn’t always the best choice. At least, not when it comes to online security and privacy. We’ve seen it already in the case of Avast SecureLine VPN. Just because F-Secure is a big name on the market and has as many as eight products, including F-Secure Key, F-Secure Anti-Virus, and F-Secure Safe, this doesn’t make it the best VPN service. Not necessarily, that is.
F-Secure was founded back in 1998 in Helsinki, Finland. The main advantage of this location is its very strict privacy laws. In addition, this country is also unwilling to share personal data with other governments. In other words, Finland is not a member of any of the infamous Eyes alliances (Five/Nine/Fourteen Eyes) – the global “Big Brothers.”
But is this VPN safe to use? We will uncover the answer shortly in our F-Secure Freedome review.
This service provides you with the best possible level of encryption as well as secure and fast protocols (OpenVPN and IKEv2). However, F-Secure only supports the main platforms (Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android), but lacks router, console, and Smart TV support.
Its speeds are relatively good; however, latency seems to be an issue even with relatively nearby servers. Speaking of which, we find it quite disappointing that this VPN has only 29 server locations in 23 countries. This is bad coverage if you have the ambition to be considered a top VPN. However, despite this fact, F-Secure Freedome VPN can unblock geo-restricted content (unless you’re in China), let you stream HD videos, and even access certain restricted media centers.
The 5-day free trial with no registration and no payment details should give you an idea of what to expect. If you’re not looking for anonymity and protection in very sensitive situations, you may be just fine with this easy-to-use VPN. F-Secure also offers inexpensive annual pricing plans, which could be tempting for many.
Apart from protecting your online communications and spoofing your IP address, F-Secure also blocks unwanted third-party tracking and malicious sites.
All in all, our F-Secure Freedome review wouldn’t recommend this service for privacy-conscious users like journalists, activists, and hackers. If you have nothing to hide or lose, by all means, give this VPN a shot. For your general use, F-Secure may be totally fine. Let’s see in more detail what it has to offer.
Security & privacy: Is F-Secure Freedome safe to use?
It may not be that simple, though.
The headquarters location in Finland seems like the right place for your privacy.
Finland isn’t a fan of sharing personal data between governments. But, this doesn’t necessarily mean that F-Secure won’t log anything about you or your traffic.
Interestingly, this company doesn’t shout “no logs” in your face all over its website. In fact, they’re somewhat short on information about the VPN service and its features in general. Promotional generalities are all you will find.
In this particular case, you also need to make sure you open the right policy. Why? Because F-Secure’s site presents all their products and related legal documents.
And, here’s why we think this document is a bit controversial:
- “we need to process some metadata (such as volume, country, IP address) of your traffic when providing the service to you;
- as an information security company, we analyze the traffic for suspicious or malicious files and destinations (i.e., URLs);
- we automatically screen the traffic to inhibit usage that is against our acceptable use policy; and
- the service collects statistics to give you a view of your browsing history via the service, but we do not connect this information to you.”
So, our F-Secure Freedome review gathers, there is indeed some logging going on. If you want to practice your right to online privacy, this may be a concern even though, the data collected is anonymous.
The following sentence certainly makes you wonder if you are in good hands: “we may be obligated by applicable laws to disclose information without acquiring your consent…”
When you put all these details together, you may feel somewhat confused. “So, is F-Secure Freedome safe to use?” you may be asking yourself. This may give you a clue: “our goal is to secure your privacy when browsing the web, not securing your anonymity when committing crimes.”
Fair enough, right? In other words, as long as your online activities are considered legal, you have nothing to fear.
F-Secure Freedome VPN comes with the industry standard OpenVPN and IKEv2 protocols as well as AES-256 encryption.
Thorough tests indicate that this VPN solution doesn’t leak anything. No IP or DNS leaks have been detected.
That’s great news. The icing on the cake is that the clients come with a kill switch to make sure no leaks can occur when your connection drops.
However, some Android versions and devices, like Huawei running on Android 8 and 8.1, may have a firmware bug. This might leak traffic outside the VPN tunnel even if the kill switch is on.
According to our F-Secure Freedome review, this VPN supports anonymous payment methods, such as PayNearMe. And, you can also buy the boxed version from major retail stores in the US for cash or gift cards. This is great news for users wanting full anonymity.
The service comes with tracking protection. It blocks unwanted third-party tracking and malicious sites. How generous! But when you look into it, you may find something disturbing. Apart from logging tracking websites and keeping this data for three days, there may be something else in the background. We feel like F-Secure uses this feature to weed out all competition. Why?
Because this company wants to expose you exclusively to its own and its affiliates’ advertising. Crafty, right?
Do you see now why it is a bit difficult to answer our main question, “Is F-Secure Freedome safe to use?”
In general, our review has found this VPN relatively reliable. There have been no known court cases or criminal investigations where F-Secure has shared personally-identifiable user data. We do advise you to look elsewhere if your anonymity is of utmost importance.
Speed & performance
Our F-Secure Freedome review is a bit torn about the speed and performance, to be frank. The truth is that this small fleet of 29 VPN servers provides you with impressive upload and download speeds. However, the farther you are from a server location, the higher your latency will go. As you may know, low latency is critical when you stream videos or play online games. Anything below 50ms should already be fine, but the ideal latency is below 25ms.
Connection times may vary, but it’s possible to connect to a server location in under 10 seconds on average. This is not too bad. Some of the market leaders can’t do much better.
Keep in mind that several factors can influence VPN speed test results, including your hardware, your ISP (Internet Service Provider), and your distance from the server. Therefore, you also need to take our following results with a grain of salt.
Our base speed on our Windows 10 test laptop without VPN was 47Mbps (download) and 19Mbps (upload) with 3ms latency.
Here’s how F-Secure Freedome performed:
London, United Kingdom
The truth is, these are pretty impressive speeds despite the poor VPN fleet. Of course, the relatively high latency we experienced for farther servers might cause some delays or lags. This might be annoying when playing online games or watching high quality video streams. Nevertheless, we’ve seen worse, much worse.
How to download and install it
There are two ways for you to access the download page. It is really not rocket science. First off, you have to choose from the For home or For business options on the official site. Then, select the Download menu and select the F-Secure Freedome VPN option from the pop-up menu. Now, click the Download for Windows button or choose another platform (Mac, Android, or iOS).
The other option is to go to the Products menu and click F-Secure Freedome VPN. On the download page, press the Download for PC button.
Unless you press the Buy now or Buy or renew button on this dedicated download page, you’ll download the 5-day free trial. And, the good news is, you can do so without registration and leaving your payment details.
The F-Secure Freedome VPN software is available in 19 languages apart from English, including Swedish, Russian, French, and Chinese. It supports the primary platforms like Windows, Mac OS, iOS, and Android. No extra support for browsers, Smart TVs, routers, or consoles. This can be a downside for a lot of users.
Installing your desired VPN client cannot get any easier. After launching the software, you need to click the Start free trial button (supposing you have the free version).
Now, press the Accept button, and you’re almost there.
How to use F-Secure Freedome
This is an area where F-Secure definitely excels. We have seen several user-friendly and easy-to-use VPN solutions like TunnelBear. This VPN deserves a place among the top ten in terms of ease of use and the interface design.
Our F-Secure Freedome review has found the interface quite clear and easy to grasp. Its bluish and purplish colors are really pleasant to the eyes. This is what you see after launching F-Secure Freedome:
Apart from the massive Protection OFF button in the middle, there are three numbers lined up. These represent protected traffic (in GBs), harmful sites blocked, and tracking attempts blocked. As you can see, this software provides a bit more than the general VPN functionality and protection.
The Location button is at the bottom, which, by default, points to the nearest server location. So, all you need to do is press the Protection OFF button to get connected to your default server.
If you want to change your virtual location first, click the Location button and select your preferred server. The locations are divided into four main regions:
- Europe, 16 servers
- Asia, 3 servers
- North America, 9 servers
- Oceania, 1 server
If you are located in Africa or South America, you may feel a bit frustrated by the server selection. This could mean higher latencies and lower speeds for your connections.
Another (possible) drawback is that there seem to be no specialized servers.
Therefore, it may take some trial and error to find an ideal server for your needs.
If the Protection button is ON, you don’t need to turn it OFF and then choose another location. When you select your next server, the VPN will establish the connection automatically. That’s all. No unnecessary clicks or taps needed. We really like that about F-Secure.
On the left, there is a menu panel with the following options:
- Freedome: the VPN client itself;
- Browsing protection: by default, you are protected against suspicious and harmful websites. Click on the toggle to turn it off, if you wish;
- Tracking protection: also ON by default. You can see how many times information about you and your online habits was collected using tracking instruments. Turn it off if you don’t mind tracking;
- Tracker Mapper: this, again, is an extra feature where for 24 hours you can observe how you are tracked. This feature logs all the tracking activities while you are browsing the web, and generates a global map of your trackers. If you are concerned about your privacy, though, you may not want to turn this on. The logs are said to be deleted automatically after three days;
- Settings: this is a very basic screen with the most fundamental customizations. For example, whether to start the VPN automatically, show connection notifications, enable or disable the automatic kill switch, and language settings;
- Subscription: you can subscribe and purchase a plan through this screen;
- Help: there are links to support resources like the FAQ, the community, and Twitter.
There is yet another function we need to mention here. There is a link in the bottom right corner of the Freedome VPN screen: Invite friends. Clicking this will take you to a screen that will offer you a free deal. If you invite your friends to try Freedome (by email, Facebook, or Twitter), you will get a 3-month F-Secure Safe subscription. What’s more, you will get this subscription for five devices for free.
All in all, our F-Secure Freedome review has found this VPN very easy to use. However, if you would like some more freedom or a chance to tweak your security settings, F-Secure Freedome VPN may not be your best choice.
F-Secure Freedome for Netflix
One of the drawbacks of having a cybersecurity “big gun” as a VPN provider is that their hands are usually tied. So when it comes to Netflix, guess what happens. Basically, all of F-Secure’s servers have been blocked by Netflix. The VPN has laid down its guns. They ain’t marchin’ anymore!
What does this mean to you? Well, you won’t be able to stream any of your favorite Netflix TV shows and movies using F-Secure Freedome.
However, on a more positive note, you can stream shows from some other media centers.
If you have an account with a provider like DirecTV, AT&T U-verse, or WOW!, you can watch Comedy Central. All you need to do is change your virtual location with F-Secure Freedome and log into your account. The same goes for BBC iPlayer and NBC.
When you are not using a VPN to access geo-restricted media centers, this is what you get (e.g., for NBC):
Nevertheless, if Netflix is your thing, well, we advise you to choose one of these best VPNs for Netflix.
F-Secure Freedome for torrenting
F-Secure Freedome is not the best choice for Peer-to-Peer file-sharing and torrenting. Due to the fact that many of their servers are either in the US or hosted by US-based companies, F-Secure is very susceptible to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). According to a statement on their site, P2P traffic is blocked in the following server locations:
- Hong Kong
- United Kingdom
- United States
Unfortunately, F-Secure Freedome doesn’t have a large server/country list to begin with, so discounting these countries doesn’t leave much for the torrent enthusiast.
If torrenting is what you’re aiming for, it would probably make sense to check out our best picks for that.
Live chat support
One of the most disappointing experiences while using F-Secure Freedome is its support. Namely, its so-called live chat support. They should actually put “live chat” in inverted commas. Why?
Although there’s a live chat window to open if you land on the right support page, it’s usually unavailable. Select Support from the main menu and then, click the Chat with us button. Now, you are redirected to a support page where the Do you have a question? live chat window is available. Or, should we say, seems to be available.
It’s quite likely that you’ll see an error message saying, “Our chat service is currently unavailable.” But, the truth is, even when it seems available, it really isn’t. As we were testing for and writing this F-Secure Freedome review, we never managed to contact support this way.
If the chat window looks like it works, you have to enter your full name, email address, product, subject, and description. By the way, the fact that there’s no product-dedicated support makes us doubt the quality of service they can provide. Anyway, once you’ve entered the details, you can click the Chat Now button and voilá, this is what you get:
This is not what you would expect from this prestigious company, right?
There are four other ways for you to find help: How-Tos & FAQs, Help Forums, Chat Support, and Call Support.
If you want human help, you’ll have to call support over phone. But before you do, check the service hours for your country. Support by phone is usually available from 9am to 6pm local time.
Our review has found the F-Secure Freedome support below average. A field, they need to improve for sure in the future.
After the cold shower, it’s time for some sunshine. F-Secure Freedome has a 5-day free trial with no registration and no payment details required. This should be enough for you to decide whether you’re happy with this product. If so, you can choose from three 12-month plans:
These are some of the lowest prices you can get today for an annual subscription. Therefore, F-Secure Freedome can be quite tempting for beginner VPN users with lower expectations for online privacy and versatility.
While writing this F-Secure Freedome review, we noticed that the monthly prices in euro were only € 0.01 less. Based on the exchange rate, the euro price should have been around €3.60 for the $4.17 plan. But, it was €4.16, which is was around $4.82 at the time of writing. In other words, it’s more expensive to buy this VPN from Europe. So, how about using a VPN to spoof an American location and get lower prices (assuming the credit card won’t be a problem)? Just a tip on how you can benefit from having a VPN installed.
With your subscription, you also get a 30-day money-back guarantee. This is more or less the industry standard, though the number of days can be less in some cases. To order a plan, you have to enter your email, full name, postal code, and country. Apart from the usual Credit or Debit Cards, PayPal, and Wire transfer, F-Secure also offers Check/Money order and PayNearMe for users in the US.
We also need to mention that different rules apply when buying this VPN from other sources (Google Play and Apple Store). Make sure you know what you’re signing up for. You may not get support for a product bought from other sources than the official website.
Conclusions of our F-Secure Freedome review
This VPN solution can satisfy any novice VPN user. If you want to spoof your virtual location, read content or stream videos from restricted websites (unless it’s Netflix), or secure public WiFis, then bingo! You’ve got yourself a good and relatively reliable VPN service for a low price.
The Finland base should be alright for your privacy concerns. But this company seems too willing to share information with the authorities. The advertising practices are also questionable because affiliates can track your online activities.
On the positive side, though, we must mention that F-Secure Freedome doesn’t leak. For some, this may be more important than whether the provider shares data with authorities when forced by law.
Taking everything into account, our F-Secure Freedome review has concluded that this is a relatively secure and private VPN. You can certainly access geo-restricted websites, stream HD videos, and protect yourself on public WiFis. In more heavily censored countries like China, you may have to forget about using F-Secure Freedome. If you need serious protection and a versatile service, many VPNs around that are better than F-Secure Freedome.