The world of VPNs is full of providers with similar specifications on the surface, but huge differences when you peek under the hood. So where does Network Protect’s UltraVPN stand in the VPN world?
On the face of things, US-based UltraVPN talks a good game, with a slick website, good encryption, a “no logging” policy, and a worldwide server network. Add in P2P compatibility, attentive customer support, a 30-day money-back guarantee, and an app that even entry-level VPN users will find simple to use, and the early signs are good.
However, as any veteran VPN users will agree, it’s essential to look deeper, and that’s exactly what this UltraVPN review does. Every VPN has its flaws, and UltraVPN is no exception. So let’s have a closer inspection, and discover whether it could be the security and privacy solution you’ve been craving.
Security and privacy
UltraVPN comes with the following security features:
- 256-Bit AES encryption, which is military-grade and should prove uncrackable for attackers
- A secure Firewall function to create an extra barrier between local networks and the wider web
- OpenVPN as its tunneling protocol for all platforms other than iOS, and IKEv2 on iOS (as well as other platforms): both are secure options
- Kill switch included to cut off all traffic if your VPN connection fails.
- Active DNS leak protection ensures that your identity is masked at all times, and kept secret even from your ISP
All of this is encouraging. UltraVPN provides a good basic set of security and privacy tools. It will change your IP address and encrypt your data from the moment it leaves your device.
There’s no Stealth VPN setting, however, making UltraVPN less reliable in countries like China. A stealth mode also helps conceal the fact that you are employing a VPN, adding another dimension to privacy setups.
There aren’t really any bonus features either, such as Tor over VPN or multihop. While this doesn’t make UltraVPN bad for security by any means, it does make the service weaker than some of the others.
Does UltraVPN keep logs?
Network Protect is a US-based company, which is somewhat of an issue in itself. The US is not a privacy-friendly jurisdiction. If you’re keen to keep your streaming or browsing habits private and away from the FBI or copyright enforcement bodies, UltraVPN is a provider to avoid.
So don’t be fooled by UltraVPN’s marketing materials.
Speed and performance
Some users will be able to forgive a VPN if it provides blazing-hot speeds. UltraVPN states that it operates zero bandwidth caps, which is encouraging, and a slightly optimistic “no speed loss” policy. Of course, this is complete nonsense – it is not possible for VPNs to not lessen your connection speed.
How does the VPN measure up in speed tests? When we put UltraVPN through its paces, we found a range of outcomes, consistent with our distance from the servers. Overall, we would consider the speeds of UltraVPN decidedly average.
UltraVPN offers servers in 14 locations across the world, and a total of over 100+ “superfast” servers. That’s a small network in comparison with industry giants like NordVPN or ExpressVPN, who have thousands of servers.
UltraVPN has 57 servers in North America, 20 in Europe, 17, in Asia, 9 in Africa, 13 in South America, and 7 in Oceania, so the focus is on the USA and western Europe. Even so, there are some handy server locations like Greece, South Africa, and Indonesia, that you won’t always find on other networks.
Ease of use and multiplatform support
UltraVPN uses a VPN client for separate devices, and you can download the app for the following platforms:
- Windows (XP and later)
- Mac (Mountain Lion 10.8 and later)
- Android (KitKat 4.4 and later)
- iOS (8.0 and later)
- Fire TV (2nd Generation and later)
As you can see, you can download the VPN for a decent spread of devices, and clients are backwards compatible with some fairly antiquated operating systems. That’s something that XP or older MacOS users will appreciate, as it’s not routine with modern VPNs.
The addition of a Fire TV app is also great to see, providing security and the ability to unblock content for users of Amazon’s streaming devices.
When you fire up the desktop or mobile app, you’ll be presented with a standard map, showing server locations. You can toggle whether the Kill Switch is engaged, and the app clearly displays which P2P specialist servers are available.
When you connect, you’ll see a speed reading straight away, making it easy to search around for the best performance.
There are some neat extras, as well. For instance, users can also choose to download a separate browser add-on, which focuses purely on Netflix users. However, the configuration options are relatively basic, and there’s no Linux client – a disappointing omission for serious security fans.
Unblocking Netflix and other streaming platforms
Working around geo-blocking has now become one of the premier reasons to install a VPN, so it’s a key area for any UltraVPN review. And it’s an area where the provider performs relatively well.
We loaded up the app and connected to a US East server and we were able to access Netflix with no apparent problems.
The same applies for accessing Netflix content from outside the US. In fact, UltraVPN has gone beyond other providers here, adding a feature called “Ultra Fix”, which assigns users to the best Netflix server for viewing US content. If you intend to travel globally, this should mean that you can stay in touch with your favorite shows back home.
It’s no surprise to find that UltraVPN performs just as well when working around the blocking systems imposed by streaming platforms like Hulu, and Amazon Fire. Coupling the VPN’s Amazon Fire/Firestick client with a Prime account is a great way to maximize your viewing options.
P2P and torrenting
In some ways, P2P is an area where UltraVPN performs fairly well.
For one thing, the security features are great, and we couldn’t detect any IP leaks (while the Kill Switch provides extra protection).
UltraVPN also provides a portfolio of P2P servers that are dedicated to torrenting. Given the decent speeds for many servers on the UltraVPN network, finding a rapid P2P connection should be possible. Moreover, there are no download limits, no matter how many TV shows or movies you torrent – something that’s not a given with even the best VPNs.
Online censorship in China and elsewhere
The very best global VPNs work in the world’s most repressive countries just as well as they do in the USA or Europe, offering a powerful way for individuals to defeat surveillance and control systems like the famous Great Firewall. So how does UltraVPN serve users in despotic regimes?
Unfortunately, UltraVPN doesn’t work in the People’s Republic of China or Hong Kong, and remains on the list of blocked VPNs. It’s a handy anti-surveillance tool in countries like South Africa, Brazil, or Indonesia, but can’t be relied upon in China or Saudi Arabia. On the other hand, it does have a few Russian servers, and users there report excellent performance – something that sets it apart from many other US-based providers.
Even the most slickly programmed, quickest, more reliable VPNs sometimes develop flaws or service outages, and these problems mean that an effective customer support system is absolutely essential. Sadly, this is an area where VPNs vary wildly, even at the same price point.
UltraVPN offers the following support options for users to try:
- An extensive Knowledge Base with searchable FAQs and articles on crucial subjects.
- Email contact forms via the Knowledge Base which enable users to contact the VPN directly.
- A direct phone support line (for US users): (001) 833 262 8846
- Live support via online chat (again via the Knowledge Base at the base of the screen)
What’s missing here? Surprisingly little. There’s no UltraVPN customer forum, which is a little disappointing. But with telephone, live chat, email, and FAQ support available, customers should be able to find answers to most queries.
Response times are decent, if not stellar, but the actual quality of support provided is strong. UltraVPN seems to have staffed their support team well, with personable, well-informed expertise.
On the negative side, the Knowledge Base is a great resource in theory, but the actual content categories could do with more entries. Some common searches (such as “WebRTC” or “China”) come up blank when they should be covered in some form. Hopefully, that’s a problem that the developers can easily remedy.
UltraVPN offers a variety of pricing options for customers to think about:
- 1 month – usually priced at $9.99, but regularly discounted to $7.99
- 6 months – usually priced at $9.99 per month, but regularly discounted to $5.99 per month
- 1 year – usually priced at $7.50 per month, but often discounted to $3.75 per month
On top of the discounts listed above, UltraVPN periodically schedules 60% savings on all of its packages, so look out for those deals. While the face value prices aren’t that competitive, with the various discounts applied, UltraVPN comes close to providers like NordVPN in the value stakes.
UltraVPN does not offer a free trial version. Instead, it operates a “price promise”, which guarantees to provide customers with a full refund within 30 days of beginning their subscriptions. It’s a “no questions asked” money-back guarantee, so you don’t need to provide evidence of technical problems or performance flaws. Just use your account to process the refund, and there should be no difficulties.
When users come to pay, payment methods include Visa, Mastercard, Discover, PayPal and American Express. That’s convenient for everyday users, but the absence of crypto-currency payments (or any type of digital wallet aside from PayPal) is a major weakness. It means that users will have to enter their address, name, and credit card details – entrusting them to their VPN’s protection. Given the logging issues we’ve talked about already, that may be a risk security-conscious buyers aren’t willing to take.
Overall, UltraVPN offers decent value for money. Prices can be beaten by services with a similar reputation, but the money-back guarantee may sweeten the deal for people who aren’t sure if it’s the VPN for them. However, if you want to make secure payments, head elsewhere.
There are plenty of VPNs that struggle to raise their heads above water, offering standard features, and demonstrating enough weaknesses to put them out of contention. UltraVPN is an above-average provider, but it definitely falls into that category. Speeds, encryption, leak protection, prices, and Netflix unblocking are solid. The client is well-made, and the VPN caters for numerous platforms. But logging problems, a small server community, and payment security vulnerabilities all make this a second-rank VPN that security-savvy buyers should avoid.