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Looking for a free VPN service that still manages to basically offer the usual advantages and features of a paid VPN? Then it might be worth having a look at VPNBook: it’s easy and quick to set up, has zero service or bandwidth limitations, and offers great customer service.
The security on offer is industry standard, the speeds are good and you can use any website or torrent without limit – even if you’re based in a country which blocks certain content. Even better, you can see Netflix USA with it – and not every paid VPN service can say that!
On the downside, however, privacy isn’t guaranteed, as the service does include advertising for revenue and IP address and connection time logs are kept for a week. Some users will feel that this still represents a risk and privacy breach, as – in theory – these logs could be used to identify users. However, as a free service, it does have a lot of happy customers.
Is VPNBook safe to use?
VPNBook is based in Switzerland and has its customer service department located there too. That’s good to know because Switzerland has some of the world’s toughest privacy laws. The EU server is based in Romania, which is also ahead of the game when it comes to individual privacy rights.
What about logs? The company says that activity logs aren’t retained, but connection logs are which include timestamps and IP addresses – so your identity could be traced. Those logs are maintained for a week, and a court order would require them to hand the logs over to the authorities if an investigation was carried out.
All internet traffic is safely routed through a heavily encrypted tunnel using AES-256 (the industry standard) and AES-128. This avoids any corporate surveillance, government access or ISP monitoring.
Security is covered with PPTP and OpenVPN protocols through the GUI of the app. The latter makes use of a 128-bit key and AES encryption, bearing in mind that the majority of VPNs us 256-bit keys – so VPNBook is slightly behind the curve here.
Because the platform doesn’t have its own app, it can’t build in enhanced and unique security measures. For example, there is no kill switch or any automatic WiFi protection.
Speed & performance
On the subject of speed, there have been mixed experiences. On some servers, speeds weren’t quite fast enough for HD video streaming. However, although they took a while to load, content could be watched.
Canadian server speeds were better and allowed content to be viewed easily online. Generally speaking though, speeds seem to be acceptable. The fact that you can access Netflix US is also a huge bonus, given that the service is free!
Torrenting seems to be a problem speed-wise at times though, but free VPN services are generally not recommended as the fastest tools for torrenting anyway.
How to download and install it
No registration is needed to use VPNBook – you simply go to the website, download what you need and follow the instructions. VPNBook supports a wide range of mobile and desktop devices and there are no restrictions on the type of website you can use securely. It doesn’t have its own app, however, but instead requires users to download the free OpenVPN GUI software. Because of this, you’ll need to enter your username and password each time you choose a server to log into. Some people might find this to be a bit of a faff, but remember, it’s a free service – and a quality one overall.
If you have OpenVPN on your device, just download the certificates and configuration bundle from the website. Then, you can simply import the necessary settings into your client and away you go.
The PPTP option is also supported across all the major platforms – Windows, Apple, Linux, and PS3 – but it’s easier to block and if you are trying to access it in China or another country with government blocking protocols, it may not work.
Similarly, your ISP might try to block it. If that happens, opt for OpenVPN which can’t be blocked or detected.
Users like VPNBook for a number of reasons, but one of the primary perks is that you don’t need to use a software installer or standalone package to get up and running. Instead, choose the server info that fits and configure it in just a few steps with clients which are available. That’s basically it – you’re ready to go. Because the system allows you to connect to existing clients it’s must less user-intensive and invasive than some other VPNs on the market.
VPNBook for Netflix and China
Yes, you can use VPNBook to unblock Netflix US, Hulu, and other content streaming channels!
There is also no restriction on anonymous website surfing. With the free web proxy you can unlock any website, including Facebook and YouTube (ideal if you are in China, Russia or another restricted country) and use the SSL-encrypted, 256-bit traffic to avoid any government censorship whilst cloaking your IP address. No extra software is required and you can choose from six proxy server locations in Canada, the US, UK, and more.
It’s worth noting that OpenVPN is reportedly blocked at times by China, however, the information around this is varied. As a free service, if you live in China you may want to try it anyway.
On that point, let’s talk about customer service. Your average free service isn’t going to have a lot of support behind it. However, VPNBook takes a different stance. They deliver ready and helpful customer service via email or social media. Just send in your query and one of the team will help. The “How To” section on the website is also superb.
You’ll also notice a News section on the front page of the website which has all of the latest updates about server availability, password changes and so forth.
Yes, the service is free to use but VPNBook does ask for donations. You can do this via PayPal and help keep those secure servers up and running!
There are no limits on traffic or speed. Speeds aren’t limited regardless of how much bandwidth you use, whether you are using an intensive app, downloading a torrent, or watching a film.
Now, a word on ads.
Yes, VPNBook is free, but there are some adverts so that the company behind it can enjoy some income. The maintenance costs won’t be high with just six servers, but our VPNbook review can see that monetization is still a business necessity. The advertising is still pretty low key on the site, and we can see the advantages of this VPN outweighing the disadvantages – if, and it’s a big if – you don’t mind your data potentially being shared with advertisers.
So, the pros of the service are that it is free, because of advertising. It uses third-party OpenVPN for Windows, iOS, OS, Android, and Linux. Users can choose to use TCP or UCD and the service has strong privacy and good speeds.
Our VPNBook review was a favorable one in many ways. The service quality is excellent for a company that doesn’t even charge for its service. The fact that there are only six servers won’t be a problem for many people.
However, the fact that the service is monetized through advertising might be a concern for users. After all, this suggests that customer data is being used in some way, and there is zero guarantee that VPNBook doesn’t sell on customer data as part of a commercial arrangement.
In short, if you want to use a VPN service for general security or IP cloaking, perhaps to watch iPlayer abroad or to torrent non-copyrighted materials, then you may well be delighted to take advantage of a free service.
If, however, you want to guarantee the privacy of your data, then it’s probably time to pay for a service. Don’t worry, alongside our VPNbook review, we have a whole host of alternate VPN reviews to help you find the perfect VPN provider!