Guard Street VPN comes from a company offering many cybersecurity options, by partnering with Private Wi-Fi, a long-standing VPN service. Apps are available for Android, Windows, Mac, and iOS, and you can connect up to five devices with the VPN at a time.
The company is based out of Illinois and owned by hedge fund managers, in which both those facts don’t exactly exude qualities of anti-censorship revolutionary digital practices.
Speeds are largely unaffected, falling by more than 50%. It also comes with a “free” password manager but given that the prices are higher than the industry standard, you might want them to keep the password manager and bring the price down a bit.
While this review will collect all that it can in one place, any meaningful information is scant and hard to gather simply from using the VPN for yourself or reading the website.
Is Guard Street VPN safe to use?
Security-wise, Guard Street VPN offers pretty much nothing:
- Weak 128-bit encryption
- Unknown tunneling protocol
- No kill switch
- No advanced security features
As far as encryption goes, Guard Street VPN uses a 128-bit encryption key, which is considered to be on the lowest end of bits a key uses. You can pay through your credit card, however, over 256-bit SSL protection.
There’s little to no information on what protocols or ports Guard Street actually uses, with no option within the apps to change or switch, and the website simply touting “bank-grade” protection.
For reference, security and encryption protocols that are considered industry standards include OpenVPN (considered unbreakable by brute force), or newer protocols such as IKEv2, which might have a lower range of support on devices, but is secure, fast, and very ideal for mobile phones.
There are lower-end protocols that are still in use by many VPNs, such as PPTP or L2TP, but since Guard Street VPN simply fails to mention what they’re using, we can’t say much about how secure or otherwise it might be.
Users will also notice a lack of any “extra” features that most VPNs include by default – kill-switch, multi-hop, DNS flushing, et cetera. However, there is an optional ad-blocker, which might be useful to some (but perhaps hardly preciously valuable).
Does Guard Street VPN log your data?
As far as this review goes, we’ll just go ahead and say it: probably, yes.
Speed and performance
Guard Street VPN doesn’t advertise how many servers it actually has – however, within the app, you can select a server from a country of your choice.
In our speed tests, we were immediately met with an 82% reduction, taking our speeds of 50MB/s to 9MB/s. Whether Guard Street VPN is throttling connections remains to be seen, but the speeds aren’t encouraging so far in either case.
At the time of writing, Guard Street is available in 23 countries within the app – not a great number, particularly when much cheaper alternatives offer servers in a more diverse collection of countries and also list not only the number of servers in each country but also IPs and server status and load.
Ease of use and multi-platform support
The site advertises “compatibility” with the following operating systems:
However, the mobile apps aren’t available on the Play and App Stores at the time of writing.
The Windows GUI is bare-bones, with two tabs – one featuring “basic” settings (such as auto connection, or if ad-blocking and/or data compression should be allowed), and the “advanced” tab that lets you choose your location, and… that’s it.
While there is a money back guarantee, you can’t install nor download Guard Street without entering your credit card information and registering completely with the website (even having to provide your home address and phone number!).
Unblocking Netflix and other streaming platforms
Given that we were unable to access US Netflix on Guard Street VPN, it seems that Netflix has already updated its list of banned proxies and unblockers to include it.
Netflix is notorious for its blanket ban on VPNs and other software and apps that let its customers region-hop to present as being from somewhere else than they actually are, due to content restrictions and copyright laws and distribution deals.
The fact that Netflix doesn’t let Guard Street unblock it might mean that there’s a limited number of IPs, otherwise reconnecting and refreshing the IPs on the US servers might help (which it didn’t).
At worst, there are reports of there being a 1-IP-per-server situation through a review on their official website, which is concerning.
P2P and torrenting
Guard Street doesn’t seem to unblock any torrenting websites, despite advertising so, and we were unable to get around simple blocks certain DNS proxies can otherwise resolve.
The speed takes a big hit when you connect to a VPN, and the security isn’t mentioned anywhere on the essentially one-page website.
With this, you might be better off looking at alternatives that are not only more transparent about their activities but should also be more focused on allowing BitTorrent and P2P on their servers, not throttling the data, and making sure your IP address doesn’t leak.
Online censorship in China and elsewhere
Unfortunately, without knowing what protocols Guard Street VPN uses, it’s hard to wager at whether the service would be able to make it past the Great Firewall of China.
However, instead of trying, you’d be better off with a more reliable VPN that dedicates itself to bypassing censorship in countries with restrictive Internet providers.
When reached out to for comment on their security protocols through an anonymous profile, we were told by Guard Street’s support that we’d be made contact with soon. In the previous three working days, that hasn’t happened.
The support materials available on the website are also slight, catering more towards questions that one could Google and understand in a matter of minutes. There are VPNs, of course, that are geared towards beginners, but others still that seem to be exploiting beginners.
Given the limited resources that Guard Street VPN offers, one would expect prices that make it reasonable not to expect too much:
- 1-month plan for $11.97
- 6-month plan for $8.97/month
- 1-year plan for $6.97/month
These prices are significantly higher than the industry average, which also factors in the relative benefits of each VPN service, offset by the value. You can get a good VPN for 10 dollars a month, or a pre-paid annual subscription that would bring your monthly payment down to a little over 5 dollars.
However, there is a 30-day money back guarantee, so if you do sign up for the service and come to change your mind, you can get your money back within a month’s time, which is fair enough.
Guard Street VPN is a service that gives what it promises, but unfortunately what it promises isn’t much.
There’s no consensus on how Guard Street does what it claims to do, or why it should be chosen over other services – even their own website doesn’t make any special claims, except for some that are easily debunked, such as their no-log advertising.
At this price, there are definitely other VPNs, even on a start-up level, that strive to make the Internet a safer and freer place for anyone and everyone and might be more worthy of attention.