With 100 servers in 40 countries Flow VPN is a reasonably-priced, old-fashioned VPN that unfortunately isn’t ideal for torrenting, streaming, or even actual privacy.
Flow VPN is set up in the UK, a country known by cybersecurity experts and novices alike as being bad for data security and privacy. Flow VPN, predictably, has a policy that logs nearly all your data. This deserves user attention, but not attraction.
This Flow VPN review will aim to highlight its positives as well as alerting you to any of the potential dangers. VPNs are a trust industry, and it’s important to be objective and informed.
Security and privacy
For some reason, Flow VPN seems to prioritize less safe protocols over OpenVPN (an industry standard that’s considered one of the best and most reliable), even though they support OpenVPN in addition to PPTP, L2TP, and IKEv2.
At a glance, Flow VPN:
- Supports L2TP/IPSec only on Android and Apple phones
- Only supports OpenVPN on Mac (not even iOS)
- Supports IKEv2 only on iOS (manually)
- Runs PPTP only on the Windows app
- Has no kill switch
- Is unclear about encryption
The last part is hard to figure out, though we assume its encryption is only as strong as its clients. The website only promises “the same type of encryption as online banking.”. However, it’s not always safe itself and is a slightly uninformed statement to make.
Some malicious downloads may even attack VPNs knowingly, and having a good VPN means getting a VPN that actively dedicates itself to making you more secure.
Does Flow VPN log your data?
Given what we’ve read on the company’s website, this question is now horrifyingly innocuous:
Flow VPN seems to have an all-logging policy.
After being outed in many widely-shared articles, Flow VPN seems to have hidden away its Terms and Conditions from being easily and markedly available and seen on their website.
The service basically logs – and claims it has a right to disseminate further however it so chooses without your consent, approval, or even knowledge – nearly everything, from your IP address to transaction references. All of this information is written in plain words on their website.
Given that the service hails from the UK, this isn’t very surprising: the United Kingdom, as mentioned at the start, is a country keen on data surveillance, being a part of the Five Eyes Alliance.
Speed and performance
This is one area on which Flow VPN gains some points.
With servers over 50 countries, the chances of you immediately being able to find a server with fast latency and connection speed are high.
(The actual number of locations are listed alternatingly as being 88 or “over 100” on the website, so the dubiousness is at work again.)
Our speeds tests found a reduction in download speed of no more than 50% even when connected to a server far away. This is a good sign – whereas our upload speeds actually increased, indicating that our ISP was throttling our data.
Of course, speeds are relative when it comes to VPN, as there’s no technical or theoretical way to ensure fast speeds. Let us know in the comments section below if your experience with Flow VPN was similar or not!
Ease of use and multi-platform support
Flow VPN is supported on the standard number of devices. It’s nothing special, but there isn’t a major platform that’s been left out. Plus you get browser extensions, as well.
Custom apps are available for:
- Firefox (extension)
- Google Chrome (extension)
The site even offers the official APK for download. This means that even if you’re in a country that might block VPNs, you’d still be able to download and access the VPN.
The user interface is largely uniform across all platforms. It’s aesthetically minimal, easy to grasp functionality-wise, and simple to use.
Unblocking Netflix and other streaming platforms
When looking for a VPN for Netflix and other streaming platforms, two things have to be considered. Is the speed good enough to stream without lagging, and will the VPN help you get around geo-blocking?
Luckily, we were able to bypass Netflix USA’s geo-restrictions and stream three episodes of a TV show exclusive to the region without the service shutting down. That’s a real problem, as many might know, due to Netflix’s blanket ban on VPNs.
Something that might help us in this regard is Flow VPN’s use of “via” routes. These connect you to the nearest server, which then routes your data forward. This also makes for added security (if it wasn’t for the whole aggressively-logging-all-your-information thing).
P2P and torrenting
Since torrent downloads connect your IP address to the files you’re downloading, making the trackers’ locations and IP addresses visible to anyone seeding or leeching a particular torrent, users want to find a VPN that really works and reduces the risk of copyright infringement notices or fines.
VPNs can usually guarantee secure torrenting through the use of a SOCKS5 proxy.
Flow VPN, however, has directly blocked any P2P connection you might want to set up over its service.
Their website addresses the concerns and claims that they took the decision to avoid any illegal action on their servers.
Needless to say, there’s VPNs out there that will unblock torrents for you and protect you while doing so.
Online censorship in China and elsewhere
People use VPNs the world over to bypass censorship and online surveillance.
Some countries, however, pose a bigger threat than usual to online freedom and privacy; China, for example, is known for its “Great Firewall” that not only blocks services and websites but VPNs themselves.
Flow VPN doesn’t seem to have any features that would make it ideal to get around VPN bans in China or elsewhere. This includes countries such as Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Iran that have similar attitudes towards online liberty. A good VPN dedicated to unblocking the Internet in such countries would have features such as Stealth Mode, or obfuscated servers.
Recommended read: Best VPN for China
This is another thing Flow VPN is good at. This makes it above-average at least on the communications front. Especially for people who might not be too well-versed with the nitty-gritty of the technical know-how of privacy and online anonymity.
Their customer support is based in the UK, and while there’s no live support, replies over their email system are received within a single business day. We found them to be professional and courteous, and respond to questions honestly.
The website also has a “knowledge base,” in addition to the FAQ section. While these are fairly basic, the novice customer is the one that Flow VPN is targeted and marketed towards.
However, the deeper you dig into the website, it’s probable that you can find an answer to your queries, including questions of why the VPN does what it does, and troubleshooting.
Flow VPN starts at 3.99 dollars a month, and from there it drops a dollar per plan:
- Monthly plan: $5.99/month
- Quarterly plan: $4.99/month
- Annual plan: $3.99/month
Subscription can only be set up through PayPal as of now. However, PayPal makes it much easier to cancel your subscription as immediately as wanted. (Every plan starts with a “free” three-day trial, but you still have to set up your subscription first.)
Given that their refund policy not very user-friendly, this might be of some concern and gives off the air of imposing something on you that you might not like. It essentially guarantees no refunds unless it’s proven “beyond reasonable doubt” that the service has had a dip in quality since the trial version. This is a bit concerning but is at least grounds for a follow-up.
Ultimately, even with the way payment is set up, Flow VPN is one of the cheapest VPNs out there. It’s below the average rate for the industry, which is good in terms of pricing.
However, given the security concerns, this might just be an incentive for budget-conscious users to end up losing control of their data (and, if unsatisfied, lose the right to a refund).
Flow VPN is a service that provides a reliable connection with above-average speeds. However, it’s hard to see what good the service might be for when there’s no extra-special security features. Not to mention that your privacy is almost guaranteed to be infringed upon with their specific blend of data surveillance and logging.
Even at this cost, there’s VPNs out there that might be slower and slightly more useless but won’t sell your data to third parties (or at least, not without your express consent).