FlyVPN has suspicious Chinese ties and a sub-par product
Founded in 2007, FlyVPN’s main focus is allowing you to bypass geo-restrictions. The VPN is available on all major operating systems – Windows, macOS, iOS and Android – and is quite a popular solution. Upon closer inspection, however, it doesn’t seem to be worth the significant price. Read the rest of our FlyVPN review to learn why.
When it comes to security, FlyVPN is a very basic service. Outside of offering a few tunneling protocol choices, there are practically no other features to speak of. Here’s a list:
- Tunneling protocols: OpenVPN, PPTP, and L2TP/IPsec
- Data encryption: BF-CBC (128-bit) and MPPE (128-bit) ciphers are available
While OpenVPN is generally a secure tunneling protocol, a lot of that depends on the cipher being used. The OpenSSL library, used by OpenVPN, has a number of solid cipher choices, such as AES-256 or ChaCha20. Yet FlyVPN has decided to use BF-CBC, which is considerably weaker and may be vulnerable.
There’s no kill switch to secure from leaks when connections drop (just an auto-reconnect function), as well as no DNS/IPv6 leak protection. This means FlyVPN is particularly untrustworthy on Windows, which is the most susceptible to these types of leaks.
Needless to say, FlyVPN doesn’t make any more advanced security features available either.
Does FlyVPN keep logs?
Short answer: Yes.
Simply put, the privacy-conscious should ignore this service.
Speed & performance
A service that doesn’t deliver on security had better deliver on performance and utility. Disclaimer: our speed tests were done using the free trial version of FlyVPN. Although this service does not limit the connection speeds, only 14 servers are available to non-paying customers – it’s possible that they have issues with overcrowding.
With the paid version of FlyVPN, you have access to over 300 servers spread across 40 countries when you purchase one of the paid plans. This is considerably less than most top VPNs, but it’s otherwise not a bad number. The network reaches more than just North America and Europe (as is often the case) but also has a presence in Asia, Oceania, South America, and even Africa. In other words, even if the speeds aren’t great, they should at least be more or less consistent regardless of where you’re based.
Speed test results
Before connecting to a VPN server, we ran a speed test to measure the baseline. Here’s the result:
- Download: 317.51 Mbps
- Upload: 305.39 Mbps
Then, we connected to the nearest VPN server and did it again.
- Download: 19.87 Mbps (93.75% drop-off)
- Upload: 7.79 Mbps (97.45% drop-off)
The test was repeated on 2 different US servers.
New York, US
- Download: 0.31 Mbps (99.91% drop-off)
- Upload: 0.38 Mbps (99.88% drop-off)
- Download: 8.74 Mbps (97.25% drop-off)
- Upload: 0.55 Mbps (99.82% drop-off)
As you can see, the speeds are consistently atrocious, in some cases absurdly so. The same can be said about the ping. Let’s put it this way, if you tried playing a first-person shooter game via FlyVPN’s New York server, you’d be teleporting so hard they’d ban you for cheating.
Ease of use and multiplatform support
FlyVPN has custom apps for all major operating systems:
This is a big plus, however, the sign-up and installation process could most definitely be streamlined. There are dedicated setup guides available on the website, but you’ll have to go through a verification process to proceed to the payment stage. Once this is done, you can head over to the download page before following the step by step installation process for your chosen app.
The VPN also supports Linux, including router software based on Linux (OpenWRT, DD-WRT).
As you can see in the above image, the FlyVPN app is intuitive and easy to use. Then again, there aren’t that many features to make everything difficult.
Unblocking Netflix and other streaming platforms
There happens to be a whole host of VPNs which are capable of unblocking Netflix US no matter where you are based in the world. Unfortunately, FlyVPN – or at least its Free version – isn’t one of them. We tried the US servers and got this every time:
Perhaps some of the Paid servers would fare better, and the option to get a Dedicated USA IP would certainly help (although we’d argue against it considering the price).
Even if we’d had more success bypassing the geo-blocking, there would still be the performance issue to contend with. Anything other than SD quality is likely cause for celebration if you’re a FlyVPN user.
P2P and torrenting
Given the lack of a kill switch and FlyVPN’s general disregard for security and privacy, it’s probably wise that you don’t use this particular VPN for torrenting. There is also no information available on the website to suggest that FlyVPN can even be used for torrenting.
It does, however, mention that you should not use their service to break the law by downloading copyrighted material.
And yet again there’s also the speed issue. In short, FlyVPN is not secure enough, not fast enough, and potentially doesn’t even support P2P.
Online censorship in China and elsewhere
We would go so far as to say using FlyVPN in China is dangerous for anyone who is a journalist, political activist, dissident, etc.
FlyVPN is officially operated out of the British Virgin Islands, however, the actual developers seem to be based in Hong Kong. While this is an autonomous territory and nominally outside Chinese control, it is reasonable to assume you can’t hide much from China in Hong Kong. Our fears are not lessened by the fact that FlyVPN has more servers in China than any other country. Our readers can rest assured that no data going through servers on Chinese soil is private.
We would go so far as to say using FlyVPN in China is dangerous for anyone who is a journalist, political activist, dissident, etc. And even if that weren’t the case, there simply aren’t any features to make this service good for bypassing the Great Firewall.
If you want a good tool for China, check our Best VPN services for China list.
FlyVPN advertises their support as being available 24/7. Here’s an illustration of what that looks like:
In reality, the support options at your disposal are:
- Live chat (NOT 24/7)
- Support tickets
The self-help resources on the website are very minimal and only cover the basics. Therefore, it can be said that FlyVPN has much room for improvement in the support department.
For the value it offers, FlyVPN is unreasonably expensive. Here are the pricing plans:
- 1-month plan: $9.90/month
- 6-month plan: $45 ($5.00/month/month)
- 1-year plan: $80 ($4.00/month/month)
There are also options by subscribe for a USA Dedicated IP or Korea Dedicated IP, both of which (extremely weirdly) cost exactly the same.
You’ll also find that there is a FlyVPN 30-day money-back guarantee and free version. The latter is perfect for testing out the service to see if it’s suitable for your needs, but that’s essentially all it’s good for. There are severe limitations, including fewer servers, 2 server switches, and a total of 20 minutes per server.
In terms of payment methods, you have multiple options at your disposal. This includes Visa, MasterCard, PayPal, Western Union, and a variety of other options. Yes, you can pay for it anonymously using Bitcoin.
To conclude our FlyVPN review, here’s the deal: this VPN is not secure, not fast, and not good for streaming or torrenting. It’s also not very cheap, which is why you should try your luck elsewhere. Perhaps on our Best VPN services list.