PrivateVPN, or Privat Kommunikation Sverige AB, is based in Sweden. It may not be the best place for privacy, but it’s far from worst either. After all, during ten years of service PrivateVPN has never been mentioned in any scandalous stories, so jurisdiction shouldn’t be of much concern to most users.
Speaking of users, this VPN has only 44,000 of them. Compared to such stars like NordVPN, which boasts over 12 million, or ABBA, PrivateVPN looks like an indie-VPN provider. But in this review, I’ll try to show that there’s no reason why the Swedes couldn’t have many more satisfied customers.
To be precise, I’ll be checking whether PrivateVPN is safe to use and fast enough. I’ll also try to answer if this provider unblocks Netflix and allows torrenting on its servers. And let’s not forget the most important question – are PrivateVPN prices not too high compared to the competition?
If you also want to learn more, continue reading this PrivateVPN review.
- Based in: Sweden
- Servers and locations: 150+ servers in 60+ countries
- Logs: minimal data collection
- Encryption and protocols: main protocols OpenVPN and IKEv2, military-grade encryption (AES-256)
- Netflix: Yes
- Torrenting: Yes, P2P allowed on all servers
- Apps: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android
- Support: Live chat
- Price: from $3.82/month
- Free version or trial: Yes, 7-day free trial
- Website: privatevpn.com
Security and privacy features
With over 1,000 VPNs on the market, it’s only logical to ask yourself if PrivateVPN safe to use. And the answer is a positive one – this provider has a clean history and plenty of security and privacy features, at least in its Windows and Android versions.
Encryption and tunneling protocols
PrivateVPN uses military-grade AES-256 encryption, which is virtually unbreakable. And should someone try a brute force attack, getting the right combination will take at least a couple of billions of years. However, only the Windows app has it by default, with others offering AES-128 encryption.
This service uses a variety of protocols (the selection differs across platforms):
- OpenVPN (UDP and TCP)
- IKEv2 (iOS, manual config on Windows)
Some users might miss IKEv2, available only on iOS or Windows (if manually configured), 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 And while you can still use the less safe L2TP/IPsec in case OpenVPN doesn’t work, I recommend staying clear from the outdated PPTP protocol – it has serious vulnerabilities.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.
PrivateVPN kill switch is turned off by default, so in the left menu, you should find Connection Guard and click the Kill Switch button to make it turn from red to green.
Not having or not using a kill switch means that in case of a VPN failure, your IP address will be revealed to the website ar service that you were using. 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 220.127.116.11 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 is 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 either.
First of all, Sweden is part of the Fourteen Eyes intelligence alliance, which means it can share your personal information 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, 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’ll be 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. Normally, you couldn’t dream of such a performance with 150+ servers in 60+ countries.
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. Mystery solved!
I ran my speed test from Europe, checking download, upload, and latency numbers without a VPN first:
- Download: 282 Mbps
- Upload: 256 Mbps
- Latency: 3 ms
PrivateVPN UK server speed test results
- Download: 213 Mbps (27% drop-off)
- Upload: 220 Mbps (14% drop-off)
- Latency: 41 ms
PrivateVPN US server speed test results
- Download: 176 Mbps (38% drop-off)
- Upload: 221 Mbps (14% drop-off)
- Latency: 116 ms
PrivateVPN Australian server speed test results
- Download: 29 Mbps (90% drop-off)
- Upload: 82 Mbps (78% drop-off)
- Latency: 310 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, but there’s a major difference between the desktop and mobile versions. The latter two look nice and have a design similar to PrivateVPN’s website. However, the former ones burn your eyes with an ugly combo of ocean blue shades and design that probably was left for the devs to create during unpaid overtime.
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.
Upon looking deeper, more important differences pop up. For starters, the Android app offers only OpenVPN protocol, when iOS has a bonus of IKEv2 and IPSec. On the other hand, PrivateVPN for iOS doesn’t have IPv6 leak protection and doesn’t show the server’s latency. The latter can be a nuisance when you want to choose the fastest one.
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 ant 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.
When it comes to security, I can only recommend using the Windows version because other apps lack a kill switch. On the bright side, PrivateVPN is a no-logs service, so you can be sure that there’s nothing about your activities on their servers.
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 also one that’s definitely not 24/7. Even a very simple question may take you long minutes to be answered, if not hours. When the live chat is offline, it turns into a form for submitting a support ticket.
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 one of the cheapest premium VPN. These are its prices:
- 1-month plan: $7.67/month
- 3-month plan: $4.88/month or $11.25
- 13-month plan + 25 months extra: $3.82/month or $72
All plans 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 online security and privacy, fast speeds, access to multiple streaming channels, and torrenting.
However, if you’re thinking about a long-term deal, be aware that PrivateVPN’s live chat is not 24/7 and only the Windows and Android apps have the most of advertised features.
I also recommend to 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.