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PrivateVPN, or Privat Kommunikation Sverige AB, is based in Sweden. This is a small VPN service with approximately 44,000 users, meaning less load on their servers and better speeds to you.
In this review, I’ll be checking whether PrivateVPN is safe to use and fast enough for 4K streaming. I’ll also try to see if this provider unblocks Netflix and allows torrenting on its servers. And let’s not forget the most important question – are PrivateVPN prices too high compared to the competition?
If you want to learn more, continue reading this PrivateVPN review.
Security and privacy features
With over 1,000 VPNs on the market, it’s only logical to ask yourself if PrivateVPN is safe to use. Unfortunately, in the past PrivateVPN allowed hackers to intercept its connection and even force apps to download fake updates. The apps could be downloaded and automatically executed without the user’s permission or notification. For example, when connected to a tampered public Wi-Fi hotspot, you could be prompted into a fake update, which could end up being ransomware. The issue is now fixed; however, the stain on their privacy track record remains.
Encryption and tunneling protocols
PrivateVPN uses military-grade encryption, which is virtually unbreakable. And should someone try a brute force attack, getting the right key will take billions of years.
This service uses a variety of protocols (the selection differs across platforms):
- OpenVPN (UDP and TCP)
- IKEv2 (iOS, manual config on Windows)
Some users may be missing IKEv2 on Android, but with OpenVPN available on all apps, security and speed shouldn’t be of concern. And while you can still use the less safe L2TP/IPsec in case OpenVPN doesn’t work, I recommend staying clear from the outdated PPTP protocol – it has serious vulnerabilities.
All in all, PrivateVPN encryption and tunneling protocols are great, guaranteeing high-level security.
Kill switch is one of the most important features of any premium VPN. Unfortunately, PrivateVPN offers it only on the Windows app. That’s not a big deal to Android users who have an “Always-on VPN” feature, but macOS and iOS people will be at risk.
The PrivateVPN kill switch is turned off by default, so in the left menu, you should find the Connection Guard tab and click the Kill Switch button to make it turn from red to green.
Not having or not using a kill switch means your IP address will be revealed to the website or service you were using in case of VPN failure. What’s more, your ISP will see what website or service you were using.
No identity leaks
PrivateVPN doesn’t have any IP, DNS, or WebRTC leaks. In fact, these services have a built-in IPv6 and DNS leak protection, which you can toggle from the above mentioned Connection Guard settings page of your app.
As you can see from one of my tests, PrivateVPN doesn’t have any leaks. I connected to their server in Manchester, UK and got assigned 188.8.131.52 IP. The image above shows that neither my location nor my IP address hasn’t changed – I was still being protected.
Previously, PrivateVPN replaced all its Google DNS servers with their own servers, which means an extra layer of security against prying eyes.
Sweden – a not so privacy-friendly jurisdiction
While PrivateVPN is registered in Sweden, which is not the most privacy-friendly country, it shouldn’ scare off the majority of users.
Sweden is part of the Fourteen Eyes intelligence alliance, which means it shares intelligence data with the US or any other member country. However, if you’re not a political activist or a journalist writing on sensitive topics, the chances of you attracting intelligence-level attention are slim.
Secondly, Swedish ISPs must log user information, such as the websites visited for six months, but this becomes impossible if you use a VPN. Thirdly, while Sweden has tough anti-piracy laws, ISPs again can do nothing about it if you’ve been using PrivateVPN.
As you can see, PrivateVPN’s jurisdiction won’t have much of an impact on you, especially if you’re using the kill switch to prevent your personal data from leaking.
This may mean no connection logs and no usage logs, but it doesn’t necessarily have to. I wanted to know for sure. So I asked the support team to clear up this “no logs” question for us. Here’s the good news I got:
“We don’t retain or log any identifiers namely IP addresses, timestamps of any sort of connections on our VPN or authentication servers, data used, the speed of connection at all. Period. So, basically even when ordered to actively investigate a user we are limited to the number of active logins which is just a numerical value. That being said, we have not received a court order to date.”
When asked about what they would do if the government were to force them to monitor users or provide personally identifiable data, a representative said that PrivateVPN would rather move to a more privacy-friendly country. Now that’s what I call “taking one for the team.”
Other technical features
Here are some security features that PrivateVPN has to offer:
- Stealth VPN (disguise VPN traffic and bypass DPI)
- Port forwarding (at least one open for torrenting)
- Application guard (close chosen apps on disconnect)
As you can see, PrivateVPN takes excellent care of your online security and privacy.
Stealth VPN also enables you to use PrivateVPN in China. It disguises VPN traffic as regular HTTPS traffic and stops the Great Firewall from detecting it. However, if you’re going on a trip to China, best make sure you have downloaded the app in advance.
PrivateVPN allows for purchasing anonymously. The only information you need to provide when signing up for this VPN service is a valid email address and a password. Combine that with an option to pay using bitcoin, and you get a chance to purchase PrivateVPN anonymously.
Finally, since PrivateVPN collects no logs save for the number of active logins, you can be pretty sure about staying incognito as long as you want to.
Speed: from good to great
PrivateVPN has improved its speeds significantly over the past few months. Not only these results are among the industry’s best, but they are also pretty consistent across the globe.
Their recipe for success is purchasing internet capacity from the IP transit provider, skipping hosting companies and other intermediaries. This allows PrivateVPN to offer higher speeds and less latency. I ran my speed test from Europe, checking download, upload, and latency numbers.
|Average speed||115 Mbps|
|Germany server||90 Mbps (70% drop-off)|
|US server||114 Mbps (62% drop-off)|
|Australia server||4 Mbps (98% drop-off)|
|Germany server||189 Mbps (38% drop-off)|
|US server||181 Mbps (41% drop-off)|
|Australia server||116 Mbps (47% drop-off)|
|Germany server||39 ms|
|US server||156 ms|
|Australia server||312 ms|
Depending on your connection, PrivateVPN speeds should be enough for all your needs. I’ve found that this VPN can seamlessly stream HD and 4K videos from Netflix and other platforms. Also, good news for hardcore gamers and online casino fans: you can enjoy great online gaming with this VPN unless you’re connecting to a remote server in another part of the world.
Does PrivateVPN support my device?
Probably yes. PrivateVPN has apps for Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS. Unfortunately, no browser extensions are available at the moment.
PrivateVPN subscription lets you connect six devices at a time. This means that one account should be easily enough for one household.
All apps are easy to install and use, the only difference between the desktop and mobile versions is the overall layout. The design is similar to PrivateVPN’s website which makes customization easy to suit your particular preferences.
PrivateVPN desktop apps: Windows and macOS
PrivateVPN apps for Windows and macOS share similar design but different feature packages.
While both offer AES-256 encryption, OpenVPN protocol, and Stealth VPN, the macOS version doesn’t have a kill switch, Application Guard, and DNS leak protection. This means that Private VPN for Mac is less secure when compared to the Windows app.
The main menu is similar to those of many VPNs – you have the Connect button, a list of available servers, and another button for settings. I recommend tweaking those first as the default configuration is not optimal security-wise.
What I really liked about the Windows version is the server list, which has a separate tab for specialized torrenting and streaming services. Sadly, the macOS app simply lists them all alphabetically.
PrivateVPN mobile apps: Android and iOS (iPhone & iPad)
PrivateVPN apps for Android and iOS have a nice design that resembles their website. Both have Stealth VPN, and both lack a kill switch. Luckily for them, Android users can turn on the native “Always-on VPN” setting.
The differences between Android and iOS apps no longer are as prominent as they were in the past. Now, both versions support OpenVPN (UDP/TCP), IKEv2, and IPSec tunneling protocols.
It’s also possible to check Connection Log when troubleshooting for potential problems. In addition, there is now a Stealth VPN option with changeable ports 22 and 443 for iOS. Previously, the feature was available for Android-only. Overall, both apps could be named equal in terms of performance and features so there’s no longer reason to pass PrivateVPN because it lacks support for your devices.
Netflix and other streaming platforms
PrivateVPN unblocks Netflix not only in the US, but in the UK, Australia, and other countries too. Despite its humble server fleet, this service provides you with excellent speeds for streaming HD and 4K (UHD) quality videos or other media.
I tried several different servers and everything worked just fine. I also tested the speeds from Europe using Netflix’s own Fast.com service and got impressive results in all countries but Australia.
Netflix US – United States
This VPN is great not only for Netflix. Most of 20+ PrivateVPN’s dedicated streaming servers, including those for Amazon Prime, Disney+ or BBC iPlayer deliver as promised.
Overall, it would be hard to find a VPN that’s better for streaming than PrivateVPN.
Read more: PrivateVPN for Netfllix
Does PrivateVPN support torrenting?
Yes, PrivateVPN supports torrenting or any other P2P file sharing.
The company recommends the servers located in Sweden for this particular usage. You should have no issues whatsoever with streaming, downloading, and uploading large files. The speeds this VPN provides are more than enough for your seamless experience.
What PrivateVPN could benefit from is the split tunneling feature that would allow you to choose which apps should be protected.
Support: live chat, email, FAQ, guides
PrivateVPN offers more than a few support options, which include:
- Live chat
- Configuration guides
While I confirm that PrivateVPN has live chat support, it’s not without flaws but you’ll be able to sort out any issues that you might have. Sadly, the chat isn’t always online.
Other than that, you can check out the FAQ for some basic knowledge about PrivateVPN. Also, you can learn how to configure this service on different platforms, such as routers. I really liked that PrivateVPN is willing to help novice users do the configuration using TeamViewer, a popular remote assistance software.
All in all, I can say that this VPN does all it can for relatively good customer support.
Pricing: is PrivateVPN cheap or very cheap?
PrivateVPN is a very cheap premium service. These are its prices:
- 1-month plan: $7.67/month
- 3-month plan: $4.88/month or $14.63
- 12-month plan + 1 months extra: $3.82/month or $49.68
While PrivateVPN no longer offers their 2-year plan, all three that are available have almost no competition. They offer the same features, including military-grade encryption, OpenVPN protocol, a kill switch, etc. and allow six simultaneous connections. Payment options include credit cards, PayPal, and Bitcoin.
This sounds like a pretty good deal. But there’s no need to take my word for it because PrivateVPN will give you a 7-day free trial – you just need to create an account.
There’s also a 30-day money-back guarantee, which supposedly gets processed within 5 business days. To be eligible for this refund, you need to provide your reason for terminating your account.
Should you get PrivateVPN?
By purchasing PrivateVPN for a very generous price, you get solid privacy, fast speeds, access to multiple streaming channels, and torrenting.
However, if you’re thinking about a long-term deal, take your time and choose the 7-day free trial first. A week of usage should give you a pretty good idea of whether you want to spend money on this product.