Switzerland is famous for its strict privacy regulations and “don’t ask, don’t tell” attitude towards VPNs. So you’d expect a company called SwissVPN to deliver a strong performance. But would that be correct? Offering a wide range of protocols and claiming to offer impressive speeds, SwissVPN talks a good game, but does it deliver? This review will check out everything it has to offer and deliver a definitive verdict.
The security features of SwissVPN are quite mediocre:
- A choice of 4 tunneling protocols: OpenVPN, L2TP/IPSec, SSL VPN, and the older PPTP
- AES-128 bit encryption
- Stealth protocol: SSL VPN
SwissVPN’s OpenVPN setup uses 128-bit AES encryption, which isn’t as secure as the more standard 256-bit AES, and there’s no kill switch either. That’s a major vulnerability because you risk leaking your identity if the VPN connection drops.
What about IP and DNS leak protection? We found no evidence of them when we tested the VPN. Static IPs are available as well if needed.
Does SwissVPN keep logs?
Moreover, Monzoon openly collects data to inform its marketing efforts, noting that personal information can be logged “to allow us to inform users of our services about new developments and promotions from our hotspot partners.”
Unusually for VPNs, Monzoon also keep personal data on file for 10 years after contracts end. That increases the risk of data leakage, and also begs questions about what the company does with its enormous data reserves. It’s also worth noting that the company is legally obliged to keep “connection data” for 6 months.
Speed and performance
Speed-wise, SwissVPN promises “15000/5000KBps as a standard rate,” which is a strange claim to make, as customers will invariably experience different speeds depending on where they are, what their baseline speed is, and so on.
In our speed test we found that both the upload speed and download speed were generally acceptable, but not stellar by any means – which is unsurprising given the VPN has just a single server location. If you’re located outside Europe, the situation will be worse.
It’s also important to note that the company offers a “Speed Boost” for a limited amount of time. This unusual feature allows customers to significantly increase their connection speed for 3 hour periods, 5 times per month. This sounds like a signal that ordinary customers aren’t enjoying the best speeds possible.
As far as data goes, there are no bandwidth limits, which will reassure streamers and torrenters.
Server coverage is a major problem when it comes to SwissVPN. The company only offers a single data processing center in the city of Zurich, which compares very poorly to the thousands of locations provided by rivals like NordVPN.
This means that it won’t be a suitable provider for travelers who want to switch between servers, and it seriously compromises the VPN’s unblocking potential.
Ease of use and multiplatform support
SwissVPN supports (but doesn’t have apps for) the following platforms:
- Windows XP and upwards
- iPad and iPhone
You can’t download the VPN in client form. Instead, the service for PC, Mac, or smartphone users is delivered via native VPN functions within operating systems. So don’t expect a slick mobile app or advanced features. You’ll need to follow instructions on the site to actually get the service up and running.
Unblocking Netflix and other streaming platforms
Netflix and Hulu blocking is one of the most annoying things about streaming entertainment content, and any good VPN should be able to work around it. The ability to defeat Netflix-style geo-blocking relies on switching your IP, and SwissVPN certainly provides this option.
However, there’s an obvious drawback. Because the VPN only has a data center in Zurich, users can’t pretend to be located elsewhere. We had some luck accessing Swiss Netflix, but that’s a very limited service for streaming fans.
So, if you’re planning to travel and want to access your favorite TV show wherever you go, this probably isn’t the provider for you.
P2P and torrenting
Online censorship in China and elsewhere
Again, the VPN’s home page doesn’t emphasize its ability to defeat censorship and makes no mention of China or other repressive regimes. Its SSL VPN protocol suggests that SwissVPN may well be able to work around the Great Firewall, but this is outweighed by the distance between Zurich and China. The likelihood of users enjoying viable speeds is very low, even if online surveillance can’t detect their activities.
The customer support options enjoyed by SwissVPN users is fairly limited:
There’s no live chat and no chance of accessing phone support, either. These are becoming standard features among elite VPNs, and their absence isn’t a good sign.
Then again, customers could try contacting the VPN’s parent company Monzoon, which has a phone line and TeamViewer facility. But even then, Monzoon doesn’t offer a specific support function for its privacy tools.
SwissVPN keeps pricing very simple. There’s no free VPN option, so let’s get that out of the way from the very start. Instead, the company charges a flat rate of $6.00 per month for access to its Zurich data center.
Customers can pay via Mastercard, Visa, American Express, PostFinance, Twint, and PayPal (so there aren’t any genuinely anonymous payment options – another big miss).
While there’s no free version, the company do offer an unorthodox “try before you buy” service. Users can connect to “connect-test.swissvpn.net” using “swissvpntest” as the user name and password, to test whether they can connect to the VPN, and get a feel for its speed. But it doesn’t allow you to surf the web in general or stream from sites like Netflix.
We found that a little ungenerous. Moreover, there doesn’t seem to be a refund policy or money-back guarantee. That’s not good enough at a time when the best VPNs offer 30-day guarantees and free trials.
If you are dead set on routing your web traffic through Switzerland and aren’t too fussed about encryption, speed, or unblocking, you may well have found the right VPN. SwissVPN is a basic service, with a single server location, no client, and modest specifications. With that said, you can get a lot more for the same price elsewhere.