As its name loosely implies, Browsec is a VPN that is geared toward protecting your browser’s traffic. Although we were informed that a desktop client is in the works, for now users can only choose between a mobile application or a browser extension.
If you read on, you’ll find that this opens up a can of worms when it comes to security and features. Until a desktop client becomes available, Browsec stands no chance of making it onto our best VPN list.
With that said, we are still curious to see what Browsec has to offer customers today, and are interested in having a point of reference to return to in the not too distant future. Along the way, we were able to find some redeeming qualities, such as a generous free plan, which make us think that Browsec might have promise if they address some of the more glaring issues.
Strengths & Weaknesses
- Affordable pricing
- Free plan with unlimited bandwidth
- Responsive email support
- No desktop client
- No kill switch
- Weak protocols
- Unreliable speeds
- No knowledgebase
Alternatives for Browsec
- : PayPal, Credit card
- : 5
Average speedDownload Speed88 MbpsUpload Speed9 MbpsLatency12 ms
- : PayPal, Credit card, Bitcoin, PaymentWall
- : 5
- : PayPal, Credit card, AliPay, UnionPay, Webmoney, Monero
- : Unlimited
- : PayPal, Credit card
- : 5
Average speedDownload Speed62 MbpsUpload Speed9 MbpsLatency45 ms
- : PayPal, Credit card, bitcoin, Amazon Pay
- : 7
The first thing many VPN veterans will notice about Browsec is its lack of a desktop client. Your option on the computer is to connect through a browser extension for Chrome, Firefox or Opera. Mobile devices do have a dedicated app, though, which is available for Apple and Android.
Browsec informed us that a desktop client is due to come out by the end of the year, which, at the time of writing, is quickly approaching its end. The current lack of a desktop client means that the VPN is already very limited in its feature set on desktops and laptops.
We’ll look at the issues this causes in more depth in other sections, but for starters, it means that Browsec will not protect any traffic passing through applications that are not on your browser. Additionally, there is no kill switch, no way to connect on startup and no choices of protocol or encryption.
The only feature that the browser client has is “smart settings.” This allows you to define a list of sites that will cause the VPN to automatically connect — or, alternatively, disconnect — when you visit them.
This is somewhat similar to how split-tunneling works. However, in the case of split tunneling, the VPN connection is filtered on a program-by-program basis. You can read more about this and see a feature-rich VPN in action in our ExpressVPN review.
Aside from smart settings, the menus of the browser extension are devoid of any options or features. Additionally, the lack of a desktop client causes Browsec to immediately lose much of the functionality that most people look for in a VPN.
Browsec Features Overview
|Payment methods||PayPal, Credit card|
|Supports split tunneling|
|Free trial available|
|Worldwide server amount||42 servers|
|Desktop OSes||Windows, MacOS|
|Mobile OSes||Android, iOS|
|Browser extensions||Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Opera|
|Can be installed on routers|
|Can access Netflix US|
|Can access BBC iPlayer|
|Can access Hulu|
|Can access Amazon Prime Video|
|VPN protocols available||IPSec, TLS, HTTPS|
|Enabled at device startup|
|Passed DNS leak test|
|Malware/ad blocker included|
Although it is severely lacking in terms of features in its current state, the pricing manages to make up for it to some degree. Browsec only offers two plans, one on a month-to-month basis, and the other registering you for a full year.
While the website claims in one spot that there are “80 ways to pay,” this actually means you can use either a credit card or PayPal. Presumably, there are 79 types of credit or debit card accepted that allows this claim to not amount to false advertising. Browsec does not accept bitcoin or any other form of cryptocurrency.
Despite the somewhat misleading payments claim, Browsec’s pricing offers a compelling reason to sign up. The monthly plan is already affordable, even beating out our go-to example for affordability, CyberGhost.
The annual plan brings the price down even further. However, while Browsec stops there, CyberGhost does not. As you can read about in our CyberGhost review, the three-year plan offered by CyberGhost beats the pricing of the one-year Browsec plan when broken down into a monthly cost.
Another place that Browsec shines is its impressively generous free plan. This option lets you install the browser extension and connect without using an account. Free users get access to four servers and have an unlimited amount of data.
While the free servers’ speeds are capped at about one to five MB/s, Browsec still stands a good chance of landing a spot on our free VPN services list.
Ease of Use
The Browsec website makes it easy to install the browser client and sign up for an account. In fact, if you plan to use the free account, you don’t even need to sign up at all. Simply installing the extension and turning it on gets you access to a free VPN, which is a nice way to introduce people to the service.
The extension itself is easy to use, but that isn’t saying much, considering the utter lack of features. You can connect to the VPN by either clicking on a toggle switch in the bottom-right of the extension or by clicking the large “protect me” button in the middle.
The overall design of the extension is fine, but there are some glaring problems, as well. Namely, that you cannot choose a server before connecting. The list of servers only comes up after you are connected, forcing the VPN to disconnect and reconnect to the new server.
That said, the VPN does connect very quickly. However, it does not offer a notification or show any sign at all when it connects, which is unexpectedly concerning. The lack of any confirmation that the VPN has connected (or disconnected) after you click the button lends to feeling unsure at times about the VPN’s status.
Simply offering the choice of server before connecting and adding in some kind of confirmation or notification when the VPN connects or disconnects would go a long way toward improving the user experience.
Browsec was all over the map in our speed testing. Initially, things looked very promising, with the nearest server here in the U.S. returning a large portion of our download bandwidth back and almost all of our upload bandwidth.
The UK server suffered a bit, but still performed respectably in terms of ping and download speeds. The upload speeds from that server, however, was the first sign of trouble.
Moving to the Japan server continued the trend we saw with the UK server. Ping times were reasonable, given the vast distance — roughly 6,700 miles, or nearly 11,000 km — between us and Japan. Download speeds were also still good, but upload speeds suffered more than ever.
When testing servers in South America, we were not able to get a result from the Brazil server at all, despite the browser extension showing that we were connected and that the server was not overburdened with traffic.
This is where some kind of connection and disconnection notifications would be useful, as we mentioned, to confirm the VPN’s status.
Finally, we tried another South American server, this time in Chile. Much like with Brazil, we were hardly able to get any connection at all. Because of these wildly varying results, if you’re looking for a VPN that offers reliably high speeds, we suggest you check out our fastest VPN roundup.
As we’ve mentioned, Browsec does not offer a desktop client at the time of writing, but says it plans to have one ready before the end of 2019. Instead, users on desktops and laptops have to use a browser extension in either Chrome, Firefox or Opera.
The extension cannot run on startup and does not have a kill switch. This immediately rules Browsec out of consideration as being a reliably secure option for those trying to protect their online security and anonymity.
To make matters worse, Browsec’s protocols are far from the best. The browser extension uses HTTP proxy over TLS, which you can read about in our SSL vs. TLS comparison. The phone application uses IPSec.
If you head over to our VPN protocol breakdown, you’ll see that the top protocol most VPNs use — or at least offer — is OpenVPN. The lack of OpenVPN, even as an option, casts further doubt on the security of Browsec’s extension and mobile clients.
To give credit where it is due, though, we were not able to detect any DNS leaks during our testing. Additionally, both the mobile application and the browser extensions use AES-256 encryption to help improve the security situation.
Those facts do not even begin to make up for the lack of kill switch, though. Compounding that issue is the lack of notifications, which we’ve already harped on.
If the VPN encountered an issue, not only would there be no kill switch to stop the flow of traffic, but you would not even know or receive any kind of notification or warning, as far as we could tell.
If you’re looking for a highly secure VPN, we suggest taking a look at our NordVPN review. NordVPN offers a kill switch and OpenVPN protocol, and it has a strong track record of protecting its consumers.
In it, Browsec quickly outlines in broad terms what information is gathered and how it may be used. As is to be expected on any website, some information is gathered through cookies when you visit Browsec’s site.
This information is non-identifying and used to maintain and improve the site. Meanwhile, the personal information Browsec gathers is limited to your email and payment method to open the account.
Of the streaming sites that we tested, Amazon Prime was the only one to let us access content. Netflix and Hulu both detected that we were connecting through a VPN and told us to disconnect before we could watch anything.
BBC iPlayer did not see us as being in the UK, even though we were connected to the UK server, so we were not able to watch anything there, either. Additionally, as we saw in the speed section, sustained download speeds vary significantly from one server to another.
As one would expect, this meant that streaming performance varied from one server to the next. On the nearby U.S. server, we were able to watch full HD content without any buffering or other issues. On servers like Chile, however, getting things to run smoothly in HD did not seem to be in the cards for Browsec.
If you’re looking for a way to access geoblocked content and want to be able to watch it in HD, then be sure to read our guide on how to beat the Netflix VPN ban.
Browsec’s website is on the more bare-bones side of things. Because of this, there is no real knowledgebase on the site. There is a three-question FAQ with very general inquiries and a button in the bottom-right to contact support.
Although a knowledgebase would be a great addition, the customer support email was solid. Response times were usually within 15 minutes and offered informative and easy-to-understand answers.
Browsec has a long way to go before we can give it our seal of approval. Without a desktop client, it lacks all of the most important features we look for, such as a kill switch and connecting on startup.
However, there are some areas that make it seem like Browsec has the potential to be a diamond in the rough. All things considered, the pricing is compelling and the free plan is generous.
For the time being, though, we recommend finding a more full-featured option. However, we are already curious to check back in some time soon to see Browsec’s upcoming desktop client.
If you’ve tried out Browsec, we’re interested to hear about your experience in the comments below. As always, thanks for reading.