Last update: 09.13.2018
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. It’s been downloaded no less than 50 million times. Thanks to its open-source code, developers in the security community are constantly improving it.
It is highly secure – to the point that we noticed tradeoffs in other areas of functionality. It operates using OpenVPN Tunnelling Technology, which includes SSL for key exchange, all ciphers in the OpenSSL library, and multi-layer tunnels.
You get all of this security for an incredibly affordable rate of $6 per month or $35 per year, and it’s available on all main platforms (Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android). The downside, however, is that this VPN doesn’t come with a lot of extra features. It won’t give you access to Netflix or other streaming platforms. It also doesn’t allow P2P downloads, so that means no torrenting.
We found the customer support system to be a bit lacking as well, but it seems to be the standard operating procedure for these low-cost VPNs to not offer live chat support. 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.
Is Private Tunnel safe to use?
The first thing to keep in mind about Private Tunnel VPN is that its registered in the United States. Since the United States is a member of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance and is otherwise known as an online surveillance-heavy state, this puts the secrecy of your data in jeopardy. Especially if data is requested by the government.
In terms of security while browsing, this VPN is hard to beat. Many users appreciate the fact that this service ensures your true IP address remains hidden at all times. The result is that you can rest assured all your Wi-Fi connections are optimally secure at all times – something very important when using the internet in public places.
It is no surprise that this VPN company uses the protocol they created. OpenVPN was based on the almost identical TLS protocol, which is used by HTTPS. However, it is noteworthy 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. Additionally, you get the benefit of being able to dump all possible vulnerabilities. OpenVPN is the market standard for a reason – it’s been proven to be secure.
Many people think it is somewhat strange that this VPN service only employs 128-bit AES-GCM encryption. However, this is still a high-quality cipher and will provide strong data security.
With 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 makes the claim that most attackers do not invade the encryption algorithm, which is why they believe it is secure enough, while also winning on speed. The performance part is certainly true, but we wouldn’t recommend using this one for truly sensitive activities.
Protection from DNS leaks
If you are concerned about DNS leaks or malware, you will be glad to know that no DNS leaks get through when you use this service. In researching for this Private Tunnel review we checked for ourselves and can confirm this. Your DNS queries (and therefore your browsing history) should be completely hidden from your ISP.
Speed & Performance
Customers need to be aware of the fact that overcrowded servers are an occasional issue for Private Tunnel VPN users, causing drastic declines in speed when they happen.
This problem, however, is limited in scope. Most of the time the servers work relatively well. As a matter of fact, high speeds are one reason why people choose this service. When it came to the speed test for our Private Tunnel VPN review, this tool passed with flying colors.
This is a predominantly stable VPN service. 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. This is particularly beneficial for business users – you do not want the service to crash or lag when you are in the middle of an important transaction. That stability is why many business travellers rely on this VPN service in comparison to others.
How to download & install Private Tunnel VPN
Even if you are the type of person who has no patience for things that are technologically complicated, you will have no trouble using this tool. For our Private Tunnel VPN review we went through the whole process, finding it very simple and quick to install on a desktop computer. This service is designed to be truly user-friendly for all clients.
How to use Private Tunnel VPN
When you log on and connect for your first usage, the system will provide guidance that is direct and easy to understand. Thus, you will be able to avoid the hassle of figuring things out for yourself. You will see the huge connect button and the huge disconnect button. It is as simple as that. The other good news for those who want everything fast and trouble-free is that changing servers can be smoothly achieved with only two clicks of the mouse. People also appreciate the option of auto start mode.
Furthermore, you can also set a timeout for the app – if there is an unsuccessful connection, it will try to connect to another server. This gives users added data security.
Apps & Extensions
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, and Android). It is also available on the Amazon App store. This will enable you to have the protection you desire for your Kindle Fire devices, Firestick for your smart TV, etc. Private Tunnel’s OpenVPN service can also be used on some routers. Currently, the routers that it will function with are DD-WRT, Tomato, Vyatta, Open-Wrt, and pfSense.
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. And, sadly, the same goes for Tor.
Private Tunnel VPN for Netflix
We’re pretty sure that Netflix always knew we were using a VPN. However, in 2016 they began using their ban-hammer on every VPN service around. As a result, most of them will not help you access Netflix content nowadays.
Sadly, Private Tunnel VPN also fell and you cannot stream Netflix shows while connected to it. We’re not sure how well it works with most other streaming platforms, but we were unable to get into BBC iPlayer, so it seems likely users will not have much more luck with Hulu, HBO, and others.
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 a few P2P servers and some may choose to walk this line. Our feeling is that if torrenting is one of your primary reasons for purchasing a VPN, there are better options out there.
Is it good for users in China?
As mentioned above, Private Tunnel VPN wants to keep all actions 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.
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. These articles cover some of the most common issues so, with any luck, you’ll be able to find what you’re looking for.
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. 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. We gave the live chat a shot for our Private Tunnel review and had no issues.
Private Tunnel VPN has two membership models; Fixed and Flexible.
Fixed Plan – $6/month or $35/year
- No limits on data usage
- Connect up to three devices
Flexible Plan – $6/month or $35/year
- No limits on data usage
- Flexibility to add more than three devices
- $6/month or $35/year for each additional device
All first-time users can take advantage of a 7-day free trial before they sign up for either of these plans.
Conclusion of 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 speed is impressive, but only in some regions. To conclude our Private Tunnel VPN review: you can do better for the money.