Last update: 01.21.2019
RA4W VPN wants you to get raw with them, but are they keeping your data secure when you do?
RA4W VPN is a US-based VPN that protects your data using OpenVPN and the AES-256 cipher (market standard). Started in 2013, this service already has quite some experience in the area of online security.
They advertise high-speed transfers, but we’ve seen several complaints online that speeds are being throttled. On the other hand, if speed isn’t your main concern, it’s one of the cheapest VPNs on the market at just $3.49/month or $29.99 for a lifetime subscription – just keep in mind that they’re referring the company’s lifetime, not yours. Also, a lifetime is 500 months according to RA4W VPN – the provider estimates that you’ll be dead in 42 years, basically.
Anyway, not only is it cheap, but you get quite a lot of accessibility for that low price. Currently, the tool supports not just a range of mobile and desktop options, but several routers as well. Unfortunately, they only have an app for Windows.
Unfortunately, if you’re looking for a VPN that will unlock Netflix, then RA4W VPN is not the answer for you. However, if it’s torrenting you want, you’ll be happy to learn that this VPN gives you access to torrents and other P2P, just not on US servers.
Finally, during our RA4W VPN review, we found it very user-friendly – something that even non-techies could easily get up and running. However, if you do run into any issues, they have a good customer support team as well, which sadly lacks the 24/7 live chat option.
We hate it when VPNs don’t offer a free trial, and we know you do too. But it’s exceptionally frustrating when there’s no money-back guarantee either, just like with RA4W.
Keep reading this RA4W VPN review to decide if this low-cost VPN is the right one for you.
Is R4AW VPN Safe to Use?
The reason we started our RA4W VPN review by mentioning that it is registered in the US is that this is problematic for security. Firstly, the US is a member of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance, which means data gathered by intelligence in the US may be accessed by other Five Eyes countries. Secondly, it has an overall privacy-unfriendly atmosphere, where law enforcement has wide powers to access personal data.
On top of that, they’re using state-of-the-art encryption and VPN protocols. In terms of encryption, they use military-grade 256-bit AES encryption. Seriously, this is the encryption the US government uses to keep their information secure. To this date, there are no known direct breaches of this encryption.
They also use the OpenVPN protocol, which is the gold standard in the industry thanks to its security and open-source nature.
Speed & Performance
Generally, the speed tests for this RA4W VPN review showed good results, and we operated at 50-60% of our standard connection speeds. There are a number of facts that will affect the final result of any speed test, including the distance to the server, the original connection and the hardware itself. Ultimately, however, we wouldn’t recommend this VPN for users who are focused on speed – there are better options, such as Astrill VPN or NordVPN.
RA4W VPN offers 33 servers in around 20 countries. Sadly, these numbers haven’t changed since our initial review in September 2018. Not improving in this area means becoming worse, and that’s just what RA4W has done in the last months.
While the majority of servers are, unsurprisingly, in the US, they have decent international coverage as well. Rather surprisingly, they even claim to have two servers in Russia. They are probably Virtual Private Servers (VPS), but we wouldn’t recommend using them just in case they aren’t.
Users who aren’t focused on speed will be happy that the service allows two or even three simultaneous connections depending on the long-term plan chosen. The only restriction is that each connection has to be via a different server, something we don’t recall from any other VPN review.
How to download & install RA4W VPN
Since RA4W VPN doesn’t offer a free trial option, the only way to get the download link is by signing up for an account. Luckily, their entry membership fee is very affordable. Getting up and running is as easy as downloading the application – just click the green button and run the executable.
The only hiccup that we ran into when using the app for this RA4W VPN review was the fact that the username and password for the application are not the same as those for the website. Instead, you’ll find the login information on your user dashboard in the Member’s area of the website. This is not that uncommon practice among all VPN services. Therefore we see this as a minor con which is actually a pro made for user’s safety.
How to use it
Once you’ve navigated the oddly-confusing login procedure, you’ll be ready to use RA4W VPN. The client is very easy-to-use, if not exactly easy on the eyes. Bright green, really? But getting connected is as easy as clicking on the big green Connect button.
Anyone with a bit of technical knowledge, on the other hand, will find the Windows client rather aggravating. There seems to be a lot going on, but in reality, there isn’t much there. With no ways to configure our connection and change important settings, we found that even on Windows, we relied exclusively on OpenVPN software instead of the dedicated RA4W client.
What the dedicated client does give you, however, are your connection statistics (such as your upload and download speeds). Kind of interesting, sure, but not terribly useful, unless you want to compare the speed you will get from Ookla’s Speedtest.net website.
Apps & Extensions
At present, the service only has a dedicated client for Windows. The Home page is promising a “coming soon” app for iOS, which is kinda strange assuming there’s no Android or macOS app yet. We personally doubt there will be any new RA4W VPN apps soon. The last Facebook post was made in August 2018 and had zero likes. The same goes for the visitors post. One from July even questions if RA4W is still working. The situation on Twitter is slightly better – there are two tweets from January, but neither of them mentions anything about the long silence or the actual VPN service.
However, the use of OpenVPN means that it can be downloaded on a variety of other devices. You’ll need to know how to configure the OpenVPN app, but when you do, you’ll be able to use RA4W VPN on Mac (OS X and above), Android, iOS, and Linux. It also works with certain routers, including DD-WRT, AsusWRT and Tomato routers.
RA4W VPN for Netflix
If access to Netflix US is the reason you’re looking for a VPN, then you would have already closed this RA4W VPN review after reading the pros and cons. Unfortunately, it cannot get access to any Netflix content. This is also true for other streaming services as well, such as the BBC iPlayer and Hulu. Since it doesn’t offer support for Amazon Fire TV either, it seems that movie fans will need to look elsewhere, which unfortunately means a huge lump of VPN market.
RA4W VPN for Torrenting
RA4W VPN technically allows access to P2P servers and torrenting. However, as we mentioned in the introduction, there are some limits placed on access to servers when torrenting. For one thing, P2P is not allowed on any US servers.
Additionally, clients who are located outside the US are quite restricted when it comes to the servers that can be used for torrents. According to their website, the following is a list of servers where torrenting or accessing P2P servers is banned:
- All US locations
- Sydney, AU
- Frankfurt, DE
- Espoo, FI
- Hong Kong, HK
- Pune, IN
- Tokyo, JP
- Warsaw, PL
- Singapore, SG
- Zurich, Switzerland
- Hampshire, UK
- London, UK
- Johannesburg, ZA
That takes out more than half their servers, which means that the remaining servers are more likely to be strained by a load of torrent users. The providers recommend torrenting through their servers in Belarus or Russia to avoid problems – not the best solution from the security standpoint if you ask us.
Is it good for users in China?
Unfortunately, RA4W VPN is not available to users in China. It is, however, available in many other restricted markets, including Belarus, Russia, and Bulgaria.
In 2017, the Chinese government announced that they were banning most private VPNs. Since then, many established VPNs have found it difficult to penetrate the “Great Firewall of China.” Users will find more success with VPNs that are newer to the market and therefore not as easily detected by the Chinese authorities or high-end large service providers (like ExpressVPN or NordVPN).
Customer support is a bit brighter spot for RA4W VPN. At first, we were disappointed by the lack of a live-chat. However, we have noticed that many of the low-end VPNs with a supposed 24/7 service end up offering sub-par support anyway.
Instead, RA4W VPN customers will need to open a customer service ticket by filling out the contact form on the website. When we tried doing this for our RA4W VPN review, we were pleasantly surprised to receive a helpful, detailed and honest answer within a few hours of submitting our question.
For more run-of-the-mill problems, especially the type that occur during the installation and setup, we recommend searching through their knowledge base. They have a searchable FAQ section that covers a wide range of topics, from whether or not torrenting is allowed to issues with the configuration of the system.
Pricing and plans
At the moment, RA4W VPN offers four membership plans. All of them include unlimited bandwidth and devices, no logs, and free port switching. To have unlimited port switching, you’ll have to pay $5/month extra. Below are the four pricing plans:
- Monthly – $3.49/month, one device
- Quarterly – $7.99 or $2.66/month, one device
- Yearly – $15.99 or $1.33/month, three devices
- Lifetime (500 months) – $29.99 or $0.06/month, two devices
Those are very understandable prices. However, we would like to point out that RA4W VPN’s absurdly cheap Lifetime subscription should be viewed with suspicion. In the past, this pricing model has been used as a way to make a buck before disappearing and so on. While that’s probably not the case here (yet), Lifetime memberships always raise questions of sustainability and future trajectory – you have been warned!
RA4W VPN offers anonymous payments via Coinpayments (BitCoin and other cryptocurrencies), placing this option even higher than credit cards (powered by Stripe) which usually come as the first choice for most VPNs. A third option is PayPal either with or without automatic renewal.
Conclusion of our RA4W VPN review
The bottom line is that this is one of the most affordable VPNs on the market, but it feels like the embodiment of “you get what you pay for.” Yes, the long-term memberships cost next to nothing, but we’re not sure that you’re getting value for money with that. Maybe RA4W creators feel the same, that’s why they don’t offer a money-back guarantee, even for a week.
With 33 servers around the world, RA4W VPN offers decent coverage. However, we were disappointed to learn that half of them are off limits for torrenting.
Again, their customer service was this platform’s shining star. We were impressed with not just the speed but the clarity and quality of the response we got. The difficulties of getting past Netflix’ ban but are understandable but saddening, and we’d like to see RA4W VPN rework the layout of their client to improve its functionality.
We would be more optimistic if this was our first glance at the RA4W VPN service. But seeing that they haven’t improved since September 2018 and almost stopped their social media communication leads us to believe that those who got raw with RA4W have started to rot.