TorVPN brings together a bevy of features and benefits at a stunningly low price, but it might come at the cost of your privacy.
This TorVPN review will focus on what the service does and doesn’t offer – and it is more appropriate to call it a service instead of a product since there’s no actual TorVPN app.
Security and privacy
TorVPN runs through the OpenVPN client and app (which you must download separately).
As such, the standard OpenVPN protection applies. PPTP is also available but must be set up manually – and given that it’s much less secure and open to vulnerability than OpenVPN, you might not see the need to go the extra step.
Specifically, using TorVPN through OpenVPN provides:
- Access to the Tor network
- AES-256 encryption
- RSA-4096 handshake
- SSH tunnel
- Kill switch
- HMAC SHA1 for data authorization
- DNS leak protection in the OpenVPN app
Some of their servers are actually located at a considerable distance from where they’re claimed to be – for example, the Paris server showing up as being in Roubaix through IP location tests.
Still, you could perhaps overlook the issues if TorVPN had any sort of a no-logging policy. (TorVPN is based in the UK – a noted member of the Five Eyes alliance set up for mass data surveillance. The parent company, Lockspin UK, had a dearth of knowledge on their deserted-looking website, with little to none assurance being given.)
Does TorVPN keep logs?
Interestingly, the website makes no mention of keeping zero logs, a claim that seems ubiquitous in the VPN industry, regardless of the actual situation.
Even worse is that while TorVPN is very clear about data retention, it doesn’t once mention what logs they’re keeping – which could make some of the above excusable if it was just connection logs (what times you logged in, how much bandwidth was used, et cetera).
Given that the service notes your real IP address and saves your email ID, this is a clear warning sign. Some might say a Virtual Private Network without a no-logging policy isn’t a truly private network at all.
Speed and performance
The free version (or trial, however you want to look at it) offers you only one server. Our speed fell by slightly less than 50% as soon as we connected to a relatively nearby server, which would be a hassle on a slower connection (especially for the drop in upload speed).
Even after subscribing to a package and gaining access to “all basic servers”, the speeds remained disappointing – some of the faster servers were ironically the ones further away from our true location, which is worrying and makes us think they’re using Virtual Private Servers (VPS).
The server count doesn’t inspire confidence – the total is 11, and you’re only allowed to connect to whichever you want out of these on the Silver and Gold packages (the final two tiers), or the custom pricing plan.
However, the servers are spread across the globe, with locations ranging from Hong Kong to Sweden, and including the UK, US, Russia, Australia, France, and Hungary. If you find a server that gets you what you want (unblocks torrents, unblocks Netflix), it might be worth the low price to stick with it.
Recommended read: Fastest VPN
Ease of use and multiplatform support
Technically, you can run TorVPN wherever you can run the OpenVPN client (a service for Mac, service for PCs, and iPhones alike) or a PPTP client. While OpenVPN is easy to use, configuring TorVPN isn’t.
Simply put, there’s no actual custom VPN apps or browser extensions provided by TorVPN, or even customization toggles for the OpenVPN download.
Ease of use is then a redundant question, as you need to download both configuration files for UDP/TCP, as well as another standalone configuration file to be placed manually in the OpenVPN configuration directory. If you’re trying to set up the VPN on a work or school computer, this might be hard, given that you’d need admin access to do so.
Unblocking Netflix and other streaming platforms
The Terms of Service flat-out don’t recommend their own service for streaming or unblocking geo-restriction or getting around geo-blocking. This is what you need in a VPN to watch, say, a TV show only available on US Netflix or UK Hulu.
Nonetheless, our connection to the US server allowed us to access US Netflix, but the restricted speeds made it hard to continue Ultra HD streaming. It was, however, unable to unblock Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Fire TV – and, one can assume, other services as well.
P2P and torrenting
TorVPN allows P2P/torrent traffic on the network, but the speeds are not great and the fact that the service is based in the UK is not ideal either. Simply put, there are many better choices for torrenting.
Online censorship in China and elsewhere
There’s definitely better services out there if you’re specifically looking to unblock the Internet in a country with restrictive Internet practices and online surveillance. What a good VPN requires for getting around the Great Firewall of China are features such as a stealth mode to get around Deep Packet Inspection.
TorVPN doesn’t have the necessary features and lacks in the privacy department.
True to form (with the form being best described as confusion and unhelpfulness), TorVPN fails to provide a live chat option, even though they mention “live support.” Basically, these are the only customer support options:
There’s no phone support and the FAQs are a necessity given the complexity of setting up the VPN – yet they’re not as user-friendly or intuitive as they really should have been.
There’s only really one way to contact the service if you run into a problem, which is through the ticketing system via email. Having written to them through a disposable email address nearly three days ago, we’re yet to receive a reply at the time of writing this review.
As hinted at previously throughout this TorVPN review, pricing is the service’s strongest suit.
While there’s no money-back guarantee, there’s a “free VPN” on offer, valid for 7 days and limiting your traffic to 2GB (with no SSH tunnel and only one server). Whether you see this as a free version or a free trial might be subjective.
The six pricing plans are:
- Free VPN: as described above (with possible time limits and unguaranteed connection)
- Cheap VPN: $1.32/month. This is basically the same as the free VPN, except with SSH tunnel enabled and no time limits.
- Pro VPN: $2.52/month with everything as above except two servers and two simultaneous connections
- Silver VPN: $2.43/month for 3 months, now with 3 simultaneous sessions, all 11 servers, and a 100 GB of traffic
- Gold VPN: $2.20/month for the whole year, with everything in the last tier, unlimited traffic, and access to 4 servers
- Custom VPN: pricing based on what you choose (valid for 1-12 months, 10 to 1000 GB traffic, 1-3 or all servers, 2-20 simultaneous connections, whereas the rest of the plans only offer a maximum of four)
You can pay via Paypal (through your debit/credit card or the PayPal account itself), or Bitcoin – which is a nice option to have.
Their refund policy, however, is disheartening, essentially stating that it’s unlikely you will receive one, saying that they’re under no obligation to offer one, which is wholly at their own discretion.
Ultimately, this is one of the cheapest VPNs on the market, even at the highest level which removes all traffic limitations, or the custom plan that can get you more for an even cheaper overall cost.
TorVPN review: bottom line
At best, TorVPN is a proxy service that might work for you if you want something cheap to help you unblock blacklisted and geo-restricted services and websites. There’s no guarantee of your privacy, however.