Last update: 12.20.2018
Using Opera VPN to protect your privacy is like trusting a wolf to mind the sheep.
Opera and its well-known web browser have been around since 1995. But this developer only announced its free VPN integration a good two years ago. So, we can say that it’s still a toddler on the VPN market, which also means it may trip here and there. For example, since Opera VPN is headquartered in Norway, a Nine Eyes country, allow our Opera VPN review to be a bit skeptical about its logging and data retention practices.
Being a member of the Nine Eyes global surveillance alliance simply means cooperation to collect and share mass surveillance data. What better way to monitor good old computer users than through online software like a browser, right? It’s like a clean window from the Moon looking over to the earthly plane. So, if you want real anonymity and online security, you may not find your best virtual guardian here.
Before starting the free VPN service, Opera purchased SurfEasy VPN based in Canada (Five Eyes member), which is a terrible and useless VPN with relatively high prices. It is a somewhat confusing step that despite having a paid VPN, Opera started up their free brand on the side. Certainly, not the best marketing strategy, but then again, our Opera VPN review guys are not here to evaluate or discuss marketing decisions. And, this weird strategy might even pay off at some point in the future; who knows?
It is important to get something straight: Opera VPN is not a real VPN even if its name may suggest otherwise, and misleadingly so. This is technically a proxy service with AES-256 encryption. What’s worse, this service exclusively encrypts Opera browser traffic, which is then routed through a SurfEasy server.
With the iOS and Android Opera versions not featuring a VPN, this service seems to benefit only Windows, MacOS, and Linux users.
Hopefully, our Opera VPN review will fill in all the gaps and helps you find out what this VPN software is capable of and what its limitations are.
Security & Privacy: Is Opera VPN safe to use?
We are still trying to process the fact that anyone would want to put their privacy and security into the virtual hands of a browser software developer based out of Norway. That’s a scary thought for a privacy-conscious computer user. But, we are not all the same, right? And, that’s totally fine, too, as it makes the world so colorful and fun to watch; or, should we say, monitor and spy on?
Is Opera VPN safe to use? The question has burnt into our inner ears, and uninstalling this service from our test computer didn’t help with that, either. Our first reaction would be something like this: “Man, are you serious?”
But let’s take a chill pill for the duration of this Opera VPN review and try to look professional, i.e., somewhat neutral. Well, that doesn’t mean that we will make you believe you are holding a diamond in your hand when it is just a dirty stone.
Since security and privacy are the most important characteristics of a reliable and useful VPN solution, only a true no logs policy follower service can pass the test. It has to be armored with the best and most secure features, such as OpenVPN, (preferably but not necessarily) multiple hops, AES-256 encryption, a kill switch, and IP/DNS leak protection.
Now, grab the arms of your chair because this will be a bumpy ride.
Notorious data collector becomes flag-bearer of online privacy.
Of course, they try to make it sound less dangerous and worrisome by adding that they assign a unique identifier to these data and “these identifiers are anonymized and cannot be linked to you as an individual person.”
However, this is a free service and let us not forget about the possibility that your data could be shared with (or even sold to) third parties, including the good old authorities should they be interested in linking you to certain shady internet traffic.
Let’s add into this mixture that this is not a real VPN with fast and secure protocols like OpenVPN and that Opera VPN also doesn’t have a kill switch or any other leak protection feature. Speaking of which, you may experience WebRTC leaks while using this free VPN service. This, again, can end very badly as you can be located by leaking your true IP address in this way.
Still, good news (just kidding) that Opera VPN enhances your privacy on your local network by “hiding” your online activities from your peers. Well, if you were to limit yourself to using the Opera browser that is.
Okay, let’s cut this part of Opera VPN review short. No, Opera VPN is not safe to use at all. If you simply want to browse geo-blocked content, feel free to give it a try. Otherwise, if you take your online security and privacy seriously, you may not find your ideal VPN software in this review. Sorry.
Speed: A big mixture of WOW and WTF
Well, this mixture of speeds is more like one WOW out of five emotional outcries. Do the math. Truth be told, we were astonished when we ran our first speed test for this Opera VPN review.
We’ve tested the VPN with Opera 57.0.x version. Our original download and upload speed averaging 250 Mbps in Europe.
First, we used the Optimal Location option, which is set by default. Without exaggerating, we got one of the best results ever; almost like there was no VPN in use at all. Well, in fact, there was no VPN in use because it is a proxy. Oops!
You may experience lightning fast speeds with the right location choice.
Anyway, here is what the shock and the WOW moment was all about:
We almost ended up uninstalling our own premium VPN to use Opera instead. Okay, just kidding. However, these are still impressive numbers.
Well, until you check out the other virtual location options, of course. That’s when the WTF kicks in even though the numbers are a bit misleadingly “good” compared to the experience.
After switching to the Americas, speedtest.net gave us a test server in Switzerland for some reason. That didn’t help the results, though.
The same story continued with Asia, only from another Swiss town this time. As expected, the ping was even higher, climbing above 500 ms, and the speeds were abysmal even without comparing to the original 250 Mbps.
When used with the Optimal Location setting, we could watch 4K videos on YouTube with a few momentary freezes. But our Opera VPN review team was pretty shocked to find that no other virtual location made it possible to watch anything above 480p, which YouTube set automatically when we refreshed the page.
It took about half a minute to get the 1080p (HD) version streaming, but it didn’t take more than 5 seconds when the video froze and started the annoying buffering, again and again, every few seconds.
Depending on your choice of virtual locations, therefore, Opera VPN can be like WOW or WTF. The latter could emerge more often though, making the whole VPN experience completely disastrous.
How to download and install it
This can’t really get easier. After clicking the green Download now button on its official website, you can easily install it. However, there is one thing you need to be wary of. When you see the installation welcome screen, don’t rush to click the Install button right away.
Make sure you click the Options link first. This will reveal some relatively important options you may want to reconsider.
You may want to import bookmarks from your default browser or not send usage information to Opera. Once you are done with the revision of these options, you can click the Install button.
The Opera VPN tool is turned off by default. So when your Opera browser is launched automatically, click the logo on the top left and choose Settings. In the left panel, choose Advanced > Privacy & security. Now, scroll down until you see the VPN section and simply turn it on.
Notice that you get Bypass VPN for default search engines turned on. While it’s convenient to get local search results while connected to a server in another country, we recommend disabling it if you care about your online privacy.
How to use Opera VPN
Well, this is where Opera can excel. What’s the word for “easier than easy”? For sure, we could use that to describe this pseudo VPN software. Once you have installed your Opera browser and fired up the VPN function, a blue VPN badge appears in the address bar.
If you click this VPN badge, the Opera VPN window pops up.
This is probably the simplest interface our Opera VPN review crew has ever seen, and the design is also minimal. In the top right corner, there is a Gear icon to click, which will take you to the VPN section in the browser settings.
There’s an ON/OFF switch to toggle the VPN on and off, information about the amount of data transferred, the virtual location, and the virtual IP address.
When your Opera VPN is on, your browser automatically assigns an optimal location.
These are the four virtual location options to choose from:
- Optimal location
Once you choose your virtual location, you can start browsing sort of protected right away. That’s all there is to it really. This may even be too simple for a total beginner user. There’s not too much to tweak here, which can be rather disappointing for some, especially those that want to connect from a particular country.
Opera VPN for Netflix
And, here comes a shocker: It is possible that you can actually stream Netflix TV shows with Opera VPN. We couldn’t believe our eyes.
First, we’ve tested Europe and streamed our show smoothly in HD. How else could it be, if fast.com gave us an absurd 280 Mbps.
But things went south as soon as we switched to the Americas. Fast.com gave us 9 Mbps, good enough for HD but nowhere near the 25 Mbps that Ultra HD (4K) requires. Our show started in SD but managed to pull off HD after a while. The streaming was smooth, but the loading and skipping times were 3-5 seconds long.
Needless to say, the results from Asia were the worst. Fast.com saddened us with 3 Mbps that are not enough for HD. Having that said, our show quality improved after some time but each skipping turned it back to SD again.
To sum up, Opera VPN can be good for Netflix if you don’t need country-specific content. And while Opera managed to unblock Netflix in all three regions, it’s highly unlikely that this provider will be able to keep up this feature as Netflix comes down pretty hard on all geo-unblockers and proxy users trying to access their servers outside the respective countries.
So, don’t open a bubbly just yet, and don’t count your chickens before they are hatched. Let us remind you that this free VPN is not even a VPN, which only works with the Opera browser. If you are more serious about your protection and accessing Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, or other media streamer centers, this Opera VPN review advises you to check out our Best VPN for Netflix page instead.
Opera VPN for Torrenting
Thank the Lord of VPN software that Opera VPN doesn’t allow P2P file-sharing and torrenting. Imagine what could happen if you were to download copyrighted or pirated files by accident. But you know what? Don’t even go there. And, no, we are not encouraging anyone to use torrenting for leeching or seeding pirated materials. Peer-to-Peer file-sharing is not only about that anyway.
If you are a BitTorrent, uTorrent, or Vuze user, you would want to use a reliable VPN software that offers the best possible security and privacy, right? So, be grateful that you can’t use the free Opera VPN for torrenting. That’s all we can say in this Opera VPN review.
However, if you want to protect your BitTorrent experience, you may be curious to see our Best VPN for Torrenting ranking.
Live chat support
We don’t think so. In fact, we know so: Nope, nada. All you have is the Help & support page on the official site. You can browse the relatively good knowledge base, the FAQ, the Opera forums, and the Opera blogs for help. But you can forget about getting live chat support for your Opera VPN, which is obviously a drawback; not that it would add too much value in this case, though.
Pricing: Its greatest strongpoint
The only field where Opera VPN is probably the strongest and occupies the top of the rank list of free VPNs, which is shared with hundreds of others, is clearly pricing.
You can’t do better than free, right?
Well, they could actually pay us for using it and then, that would be seemingly the best deal.
So, apart from being the simplest ever VPN, or rather, fake VPN, to use, it is also completely free without any annoying third-party ads or other pitfalls. This is surely a good point.
Opera VPN by Reddit
And, the last surprise towards the end of our Opera VPN review: there is some serious presence on reddit.com. If you want to know more about this free VPN solution, we recommend that you check out Reddit. There are dozens of useful threads and comments regarding security issues, technical questions, features, and alternative services as well.
Since you will only find a handful of Opera VPN reviews on the net right now, we believe that you can get some useful hints from this Reddit presence.
The bottom line of the Opera VPN review: We won’t sing hallelujah
Well, we won’t sing Figaro and Rigoletto either; Opera is not our cup of tea in any sense. Our review has unveiled this VPN proxy for us and hopefully, for you, too.
Yes, it is all free without the disruption of ads or other tricks. Yes, it is very easy to use. And, yes, there is also way too much sensitive logging and data sharing going on in the background.
If you don’t mind using Opera, which is otherwise a very good and fast alternative to other popular browsers (Safari, Firefox, and Chrome), you can, of course, have some fun with this fake VPN for free. Try to access geo-restricted websites, but, if you are in a strictly controlled and censored country like China, Saudi Arabia, Iran, or North Korea, well, you may want to walk away from this VPN solution.
Since your online security and privacy is our main concern, we cannot recommend Opera VPN for anything really, even though it stands higher in our VPN review ranks than the aforementioned not-so-Fantastic Four.
If you’d like to see which services we consider to be the Best VPN Services, please click on the link.
How about learning from other VPN users?
Do you have any related questions? Have you ever tried to use Opera VPN or any other VPN apps before? Maybe you have your own Opera VPN review written? What are your impressions?
Remember, sharing is caring!
Please feel free to leave your comment below.