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Time after time, we discover new VPN services that claim to provide the best in cybersecurity. Many of these crumble upon closer inspection, but as we began to compile the research for our SwitchVPN review, we became pleasantly surprised.
This lesser-known service appears to have been bubbling under the radar for quite some time, almost like the VPN world’s best-kept secret. A quick once-over provides a great first impression, but let’s dig a little deeper than that.
Ahead of a more detailed assessment, there were a few other things that really stood out to us. For instance, it has one of the most sensible subscription options we’ve come across. As well as this, it’s also quite cheap.
It isn’t all peaches and cream, however; SwitchVPN’s server fleet and resulting connection speeds are nothing to write home about, and its range of custom apps isn’t particularly outstanding, either.
Is SwitchVPN safe to use?
SwitchVPN gets off to a great start with its AES-256-bit encryption cipher, which is not only the industry standard for cybersecurity in 2020, it’s also the gold standard for cybersecurity, period.
Simply put, no brute force attack could hope to penetrate this level of encryption from now until the end of time.
SwitchVPN also supports a great array of protocols: OpenVPN, SSTP, IKEv2, L2TP/IPsec, and Socks5.
Of major interest for our SwitchVPN review are the first three. OpenVPN has been a favorite of cybersecurity experts for years now and is known to be completely reliable.
IKEv2 and SSTP are both newer protocols and are sometimes considered to be even more secure than OpenVPN. IKEv2 is particularly great for mobile users, whereas SSTP is the perfect tool for users wishing to bypass content censorship in repressive countries such as China.
Finally, we’re thrilled to note that SwitchVPN includes a kill switch in its arsenal. This basically ensures that your personal information is protected even when your VPN connection drops.
Sadly, SwitchVPN is located in the US, which means it’s right at the heart of the Five Eyes alliance. SwitchVPN will also leak your data to the relevant authorities if any illicit behaviour is detected.
That they have the ability to do this means that they log some of your data. As we’ve mentioned, being located within the Five Eyes alliance means that all five member nations can access your personally identifiable information at any given point.
On the plus side, SwitchVPN doesn’t have any DNS, IPv6, or WebRTC leaks. So that’s a plus, at least.
Speed & performance
SwitchVPN has 250+ servers across 43 countries. That isn’t a mind-blowing number of servers, but it isn’t terrible either.
With that in mind, SwitchVPN offered little in the way of surprises when put to the test. In fact, it performed exactly as you’d expect given the numbers quoted above. In other words, it’s perfectly serviceable with nothing to really complain about.
Ease of use & support
Although SwitchVPN’s connection speeds are generally fine, their website appears to be incredibly slow. The files needed for installation took far longer to download than they reasonably should have.
Regardless, once the files arrived, the installation process was quick and easy. Simply set the application going and it’ll auto-configure; after that, you’re up and running. Everything on the website is easy enough to find, although the FAQ is slightly lacking in technical aspects.
Of course, not every user is familiar with cybersecurity jargon, but there is some information we would have liked to have easier access to. Nevertheless, their support team is responsive and knowledgeable – they provided us with all the information we needed.
We’re impressed with SwitchVPN’s pricing—it’s definitely one of the cheaper options out there.
There are two basic packages: SwitchVPN and SwitchVPN Plus. The only difference is that the former allows for two simultaneous connections, whereas the latter package allows for five.
This is fairly reasonable given that many users are likely to only really need two simultaneous connections (on the laptop and phone).
The basic package is priced at $5.95 for a single-month subscription and $3.33/month for twelve months. The Plus package is $9.95 for a single month and $5.82/month for twelve.
Better yet, you’re able to pay with a variety of methods. This includes regular options such as PayPal and credit/debit cards, but it also included Bitcoin, which of course allows for tighter security.
The bad news is that SwitchVPN does not offer a free trial, although it does offer a 30-day money-back guarantee.
SwitchVPN for Netflix
It’s difficult to know what to make of SwitchVPN’s capabilities with unblocking geo-restricted streaming services.
For whatever reason, it often had issues with bypassing Netflix’s VPN detectors. On the other hand, it worked just fine with BBC iPlayer.
This spells bad news for streaming fanatics who may wish to access different libraries, or who simply want to keep up with their favorite shows while traveling abroad.
Of course, it’s not the end of the world; that it works occasionally means that accessing Netflix would just take a bit of trial and error. Still, trial and error may not be something everyone wants to put up with—it takes long enough to choose something to watch on Netflix anyway!
SwitchVPN for torrenting
SwitchVPN actively supports torrenting. On its homepage, it states that it basically allows you to use P2P networking on all its servers.
However, remember that torrenting copyrighted material is illegal and that SwitchVPN reserves the right to terminate your subscription if complaints are made regarding any such activity.
Is it good for users in China?
It is currently unclear, but SwitchVPN seems to have no “stealth” protocol to bypass the watchful eye of Deep Packet Inspection. That, in combination with the high-stakes atmosphere VPN users in China face, is why we would recommend a more proven VPN for bypassing the Great Firewall.
Apps & extensions
SwitchVPN’s app availability is slightly disappointing in that it’s only available for the standard Windows–macOS–iOS–Android range.
There is slight consolation in that SwitchVPN can be set up manually on other platforms, but this isn’t the easiest thing to do.