Last update: 04.23.2019

Overview

Private Tunnel VPN was made by the legends behind the OpenVPN protocol. But how does it stack up against the competition?

Private Tunnel VPN was developed by James Yonan (better known as the original creator of OpenVPN). OpenVPN is the industry gold standard when it comes to VPN protocols. Since its initial release in 2001, OpenVPN has been downloaded no less than 50 million times. Thanks to its open-source code, developers in the online security community are constantly improving it.

Private Tunnel is highly secure – to the point that we noticed trade-offs in other areas of functionality. On the other hand, the app is easy enough to use, so you generally won’t find yourself in need of too much help from the customer support team.

Keep reading our Private Tunnel review to determine if this is the right VPN for your needs.

Security and privacy

Private Tunnel VPN has the following security features:

  • OpenVPN protocol
  • 128-bit AES-GCM encryption
  • DNS leaks
  • no kill switch

It’s not a shocker that Private Tunnel uses the protocol they created. OpenVPN was based on the almost identical TLS protocol, which is used by HTTPS. However, it’s worth noting that OpenVPN goes a step further – it always creates a new session for TLS every time someone uses it. This means that all clients receive the same level of desired security for SSL.

Many people think it’s somewhat strange that Private Tunnel VPN service employs 128-bit AES-GCM encryption. However, this is still a high-quality cipher and will provide robust data security.

That said, it’s true that this is not as strong or as secure as AES-256 encryption (which is applied by many VPN services on the market today). Private Tunnel VPN claims that most attackers do not invade the encryption algorithm, which is why they believe AES-128 is secure enough, while also winning on speed.

Does Private Tunnel keep logs?

The first thing to keep in mind about Private Tunnel VPN is that its registered in the United States. Since the US is a member of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance, putting the secrecy of your data in jeopardy especially if the government requests data.

For our Private Tunnel review, we took a look at the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy documents. We learned that the service does track the number of times you are logged in and your bandwidth usage. It also monitors your connection numbers to see if you’ve already reached your limit. Every two weeks, all data is discarded. When necessary, it will also comply with requests from law enforcement to provide client data.

However, Private Tunnel VPN does not track any of the sites you visit or the type of data you download or transfer.

Speed and performance

Private Tunnel is a predominantly stable VPN service with below average speeds.

When we began our tests, we had a base (non-VPN) speed of 22 Mbps, upload of 7 Mbps, and a ping of 4 ms.

base speed for Private Tunnel VPN review

Using that, we’ll calculate the speeds for four different server locations, including the speed dropoff percentage.

Germany

Private Tunnel VPN server speed - Germany

  • Download: 8 Mbps
  • Upload: 5 Mbps
  • Dropoff: 67%

Canada

Private Tunnel VPN server speed - Canada

  • Download: 2 Mbps
  • Upload: 1 Mbps
  • Dropoff: 91%

USA

  • Download: 2 Mbps
  • Upload: 1 Mbps
  • Dropoff: 91%

Hong Kong

Private Tunnel VPN server speed - Hong Kong

  • Download: 1 Mbps
  • Upload: 1 Mbps
  • Dropoff: 95%

The speeds here aren’t great, and the dropoffs are unfortunately a bit higher than we’d like. With speeds as slow as these, it will be hard to download, enjoy streaming music or videos, or Netflix.

Server coverage

A majority of users report that the service does not tend to lag at all, except when overcrowded. It seldom crashes, which makes the VPN reliable under a variety of circumstances.

The overcrowding happens because the number of Private Tunnel servers is deficient – there’s less than 60 of them. The spread is also uneven, to put it mildly, with 23 locations in a dozen countries, their list being made almost solely from the North America and Europe, with only Japan and Hong Kong having servers outside those two continents:

  • Canada
  • France
  • Germany
  • Hong Kong
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • The Netherlands
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • The United Kingdom
  • The United States

As we can see, there are zero servers in South America, Africa, the Middle East, and Oceania, meaning you should expect a serious drop-off when connecting from there.

Our verdict? When it came to the speed test for our Private Tunnel VPN review, this tool passed it in North America and Europe but failed in all other regions. That’s why business travelers and such should consider another option, like Astrill VPN.

Ease of use and multiplatform support

Users are not really limited when it comes to using this service on various platforms. Although we haven’t tried all of the available software for this Private Tunnel review, we can tell you that there are apps for all popular platforms:

  • Mac
  • Windows 
  • iOS
  • Android
  • Kindle Fire devices (Fire Stick, etc.)

Private Tunnel’s OpenVPN service can also be used on DD-WRT routers. 

If you want to use Private Tunnel on Linux, it is a bit more time consuming to set up. Additionally, it will require more technical knowledge, but we would say it’s safe to assume that Linux users have the necessary technical acumen. They will need to look at how to use the command line for OpenVPN, along with the configuration file that is provided on the site.

Game consoles are not compatible for use with Private Tunnel VPN. Moreover, the tendency is that most smart televisions, which are not Amazon or Android enabled, are also not functional with this VPN service. But to end this section with a happy note, Tor is supported.

Private Tunnel VPN for Netflix

Private Tunnel VPN was able to unblock Netflix on some of its servers.

We didn’t have luck with most of them, but the Atlanta, Georgia server allowed us access to Netflix’s US library. On our last attempt, it wasn’t able to beat Netflix at all, and now it is. While this is great, it is still pretty inconsistent, and that means that you’ll have to try a few US servers before you’ll find one that works for you for that particular instance.

However, it wasn’t able to get through the increasingly-difficult BBC iPlayer, so it seems likely users will not have much more luck with Hulu, HBO, and others. That’s why we suggest grabbing a more consistent VPN that manages to unblock Netflix.

Private Tunnel VPN for torrenting

Private Tunnel VPN is quite open about the fact that they do not want their service to be used for anything that is illegal. It should, therefore, come as no surprise that they frown on customers using their service for torrenting.

Their bottom line is that they do not allow any form of torrenting from any location. However, they do allow P2P on a few servers, and some users may choose to walk this line, trying to find them by trial-and-error. Our feeling is that if torrenting is one of your primary reasons for purchasing a VPN, there are much better options out there.

Is Private Tunnel safe for China?

Private Tunnel VPN wants to keep all their traffic legal and above board. So, although their protocol, OpenVPN, can get through the Great Firewall on specific ports, users in China will not be able to download or use Private Tunnel VPN.

So should you install Private Tunnel before you embark on a journey to China? You definitely shouldn’t. In addition to the issues with streaming and torrenting, let’s not forget those from the section above mentioning near-non-existent Asian server list, which will guarantee horrendous connectivity and the loss of hair.

Do you want to have good connectivity and more hair? Choose the best VPN for China.

Support

Private Tunnel VPN has the following support options:

  • FAQ guides
  • live chat
  • support ticket

Users who run into issues while using Private Tunnel VPN will want to start by looking at the company’s FAQ guides, which can be found under the support tab on their website. Unfortunately, some topics such as routers or torrenting are not well covered or not covered at all, putting you at the mercy of their Customer Support.

If you need more one-on-one customer service, you have two options. There’s a live chat feature where you should be able to get instant service. We’ve tested and it and can confirm the “instant service” part, though a more friendly and polite approach would be welcome. Chances are it’s saved for the premium clients.

Alternatively, you can submit a ticket through their contact form. They answer these emails during their office hours, Monday to Friday 9 am to 5 pm Pacific Time.

Plans and pricing

Private Tunnel VPN has two pricing models; Monthly and Yearly.

Monthly Plan: $6/month

  • No limits on data usage
  • Three simultaneous connections
  • Option to increase the number of simultaneous connections for $6/month per device

Yearly Plan: $35 ($2.92/month, you save $77)

  • No limits on data usage
  • Three simultaneous connections
  • Option to increase the number of simultaneous connections for $35/year per device

What’s unique and also great about Private Tunnel VPN is their offer to get extra simultaneous connections for a good price (that’s if you take the Yearly Plan), saving $37 per device. The maximum number is 100, but you can contact their Sales department for greater numbers.

All first-time users can take advantage of a 7-day free trial before they sign up for either of these plans.

Bottom line of our Private Tunnel review

Private Tunnel VPN comes from the same creators as the famous OpenVPN, which helps its reputation. Other than reputation and decent security, there’s little to this VPN – there’s no torrenting or streaming Netflix, and no chance to use it behind the Great Firewall of China.

Additionally, this service is based in the United States (with all of the privacy issues that implies), which may make some users a little leery. The customer support team is knowledgeable, and the response speed is impressive, but only in some regions.

To conclude our Private Tunnel VPN review: you can do better for the money by looking at the best VPN services list.