Goose VPN Review
Goose VPN is a Dutch VPN service that has a lot going for it in the privacy and speed departments, but has a rough interface and odd pricing scheme. Overall, though, it's worth checking out if you're in the market; read our full Goose VPN review for all the details.
Goose VPN is named after a Dutch game called the Game of the Goose, thought to be the first commercially manufactured board game. Unlike its namesake, Goose VPN is entering an already crowded industry. It’s struggled a bit to get up to speed with its competitors, especially those on our best VPN list, like ExpressVPN (read our ExpressVPN review).
However, this Dutch virtual private network service has improved every time we’ve reviewed it, so we’ve checked back in to see how it’s doing now. This time, our results were mixed. Goose VPN has decent speeds, good streaming performance and an excellent privacy record, but that’s all off set by its narrow selection of servers and slapped-together user interface.
“Mixed” is going to be the watchword for our Goose VPN review. This service unblocks Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video, but not BBC iPlayer. Its annual pricing plan is awesome, while its monthly plan is nothing short of gouging. In this review, we’ll cover Goose VPN’s feature set, pricing, ease of use, security, privacy and more before reaching our verdict.
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Strengths & Weaknesses
- Unblocks Netflix, Hulu & Amazon Prime Video
- Generally good speeds, especially for streaming
- Users can request a server location
- Great savings on annual plan
- Streaming & P2P servers
- No parent company
- UI full of glitches
- Excessively expensive monthly plan
- High speeds are unreliable
- Poor range of server locations
- Based in a Nine Eyes country
Goose VPN’s feature set is so streamlined it barely exists. It’s not as pared down as Bitdefender VPN (read our Bitdefender VPN review to see just how bad things can get), but it’s still missing a lot of the things we like to see.
Goose VPN has a kill switch that it calls “smart safe,” which instantly cuts off your internet access if your VPN connection drops for any reason. This kill switch feature ensures that you’ll never browse unsecured.
“Smart safe” is an important feature, if a bit basic. You can’t use the kill switch to cut off certain apps while keeping others connected; if your connection goes down, everything stops. This is the problem that services like Astrill have set up their app-kill features to avoid (read our Astrill review).
Related to that, Goose VPN also doesn’t have split tunnelling. With split tunnelling, you can run a riskier app, like a torrenting client, through the VPN to keep it secure, while using your web browser unsecured so that it’s faster. Goose VPN’s connection is all or nothing.
If you want split tunneling, NordVPN, one of our favorite services, offers it. Read our NordVPN review to learn more.
There’s another confusing absence: the ability to automatically connect to the fastest server. You can do this within the country you choose, but Goose VPN does not let you pick the best connection from its entire network. In its defense, though, it does have dedicated P2P and streaming servers.
There’s one other bit of credit we’ll give this service, and that’s the complete slate of platforms and devices it works on. You can install it on macOS, Windows, Android TV, Linux, Android, iOS, Chrome or on a router. Each plan supports unlimited simultaneous connections, similar to Windscribe, making it easy to protect your entire home (read our Windscribe review).
Goose VPN Features Overview
|Payment methods||PayPal, Credit card, Giropay, iDEAL (Netherlands only)|
|Supports split tunneling|
|Free trial available|
|Worldwide server amount||55 servers in 25 countries|
|Desktop OSes||Windows, MacOS, Linux, Android TV|
|Mobile OSes||Android, iOS|
|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, OpenVPN, PPTP, L2TP, IKEv2|
|Enabled at device startup|
|Passed DNS leak test|
|Malware/ad blocker included|
Goose VPN has only one subscription tier. However, you have a few choices for how long you want to sign up. Like with most VPNs, signing up for a longer term gets you a discount on the monthly fee (see our PureVPN review for another example of this).
- Unlimited GB
- Unlimited GB
Goose VPN is way too expensive at the monthly tier. In comparison, Surfshark offers similar functionality for about $3 less each month (see our Surfshark review to learn more).
At the one-year level, things look a lot better. In fact, Goose VPN has one of the cheapest annual subscriptions we’ve ever seen, though PIA is still cheaper (read our Private Internet Access review). At two years, it once again loses ground to Surfshark and CyberGhost, but its annual policy offers legitimately excellent savings.
There’s a 30-day money-back guarantee in place, meaning you can use Goose VPN for a full month without losing any coin. After that, if you’ve used less than 100MB of data, you’ll get it back, no questions asked. If you’re over that limit, though, your refund is “at the discretion of the Goose VPN management.”
Your payment options are limited, since Goose VPN doesn’t accept any cryptocurrency. However, credit cards, PayPal and Giropay are on the table, and you can use iDEAL if you have a bank account in the Netherlands.
Goose VPN sorely needs anonymous payment options. At this point, some VPN providers even accept cash payment (read our Mullvad review to learn about that), so there’s no excuse.
Ease of Use
Goose VPN’s user interface looks simple and easy to use, but we soon discovered that changing practically anything risks breaking it. Making your first basic VPN connection is pretty simple. Doing anything else might lead to a roulette wheel of unfortunate outcomes.
We had to quit and relaunch this app far more times than we would have liked. Goose VPN has other things to recommend it, but user experience is a major stumbling block. If you want to read about a VPN that actually is easy to use, check out our CyberGhost review instead.
Download and Installation
Paying for Goose VPN is complicated. When you subscribe, the company sends you an invoice, which is payable upon completion of your first month. It’s actually a pretty good system, but information on how it works is not forthcoming. We were actually charged twice for the wrong subscription when trying to create an account.
Something else that doesn’t help: the Goose VPN website was obviously translated into English by a non native speaker. It’s by no means unreadable, but it could use a copy edit.
Once you’ve received your invoice, downloading Goose VPN is easy. It installed on our device and was ready to go in less than a minute. All the download pages — even for unusual installs, like on a TV or router — are just as quick and helpful to use.
The VPN’s desktop window has very few buttons, which fits the overall service’s stripped-down approach. You can turn your connection on and off, choose a server, change your VPN protocol or open a menu in the top right.
The map does nothing, which isn’t a bad thing, since map-based server menus can be more trouble than they’re worth (see our TunnelBear review for an example).
The “use best server automatically” box in the preferences panel is misleading. At first, we thought it wasn’t linked to anything. Then we realized it removes the options from countries that have multiple servers, instead connecting you to the fastest server in that country. If you do this with the server menu open, it might glitch and become impossible to select anything for a minute.
That’s all frustrating, but it only hints at the larger problem: Goose VPN’s connection is unforgivably easy to break. When we changed the protocol from IKEv2 to IPSec and tried to reconnect, the servers refused to respond — twice — before we finally got through.
The “smart safe” kill switch is the worst offender. If you turn “smart safe” on while you’re not connected, then connect to the VPN, the feature will automatically turn off. However, its box will still be checked as if it’s on. Unchecking the box or disconnecting from the VPN turns “smart safe” back on half the time.
Toggling “smart safe” and the VPN connection in the wrong order quickly leads to situations where you’re not sure whether you’re connected or not, which you can see in the screenshot below.
Messing with “smart safe” can also gray out the tabs in the “preferences” window. We’re not sure why. It’s likewise unclear what we did to cause the connection to bounce on and off endlessly until we rebooted the app, but it wasn’t anything a typical user couldn’t also do by accident.
Many of these problems stem from the fact that Goose VPN seems to want you to disconnect before changing anything. It’s a cumbersome design choice that most of its competitors seem to have found a way around (read our ProtonVPN review for an example).
With so many other VPNs out there — including our current favorite, ExpressVPN — there’s no excuse for one that feels so unfinished.
We tested each country’s fastest server, as decided by Goose VPN. Each test used the IKEv2 protocol, which is theoretically faster than other protocols. As you can see, download and upload speeds were all over the place and a bit too jumpy to put Goose VPN on our list of fastest VPNs. However, with a bit more consistency, we could easily see it landing there.
The Canadian server was as far away from our location as the United States server was, yet it gave us the best speeds of any server we tried. Then there’s Hungary and India: we didn’t expect India — 2,000 miles farther from us than Hungary — to have faster download speeds.
We ran each country’s test several times to ensure the problem wasn’t on our end, and we got about the same numbers each time. We’re forced to conclude that some of the servers are under a lot of stress, which is unsurprising, considering there aren’t many.
That said, the speed drop from a local server was around 50 percent, which isn’t bad. It’s also great that the UK server was almost as fast as the U.S. server.
The latency jump is so big that we can’t recommend Goose VPN for gaming. However, for browsing, streaming or torrenting faster-starting connections, this is a low-impact service with nice speeds.
We don’t have many concerns about Goose VPN’s ability to keep you safe. It pairs all protocols with AES-256 encryption, which is the industry standard for VPN security. We tested it for DNS leaks, IP leaks and WebRTC leaks using ipleak.net, and we found it was airtight on all protocols.
The only thing holding us back from giving a perfect “security” recommendation is that the inconsistent availability of protocols sometimes forces you to rely on ones that aren’t as secure. Also, it’s a minor thing, but “IPSec” is not a protocol. We had to go to the knowledgebase to find out that the option in the menu means “IPSec paired with L2TP.”
Goose VPN supports different protocols based on your operating system. On macOS, you can only choose between IKEv2 and L2TP/IPSec, while Windows users can also access PPTP and OpenVPN.
That’s not great for macOS and iOS users. Choosing between a protocol that’s fast but proprietary to Microsoft (IKEv2) and one that makes VPNs far too easy for censors to detect (L2TP) means you’re sacrificing something no matter what.
We would have preferred to see OpenVPN implemented on every device. See our VPN protocols breakdown to learn why it’s our favorite.
Goose VPN has a clear no-logging policy that’s spelled out both in simple form (see the screenshot below) and in depth for those who are interested. It promises not to share information with third parties and not to store your IP address. According to all available reports, it’s kept that promise so far.
However, it does track your activity on its website for marketing purposes, as well as keeping your email address on file as a name for your account and hold on to data you volunteer for customer support purposes.
The answer to whether this service registers IP addresses is complicated by the bad editing on the website that we mentioned earlier. The highlighted bullet points in the screenshot below directly contradict one another. However, based on the rest of the info, we’re pretty sure that Goose VPN deletes the IP data after that one use.
This is why we don’t mind that Goose VPN is headquartered in the Netherlands, a country that’s part of the Nine Eyes and 14 Eyes intelligence agreements (see our Five Eyes explainer).
It might get served subpoenas, but it wouldn’t have any information to turn over. It could only affirm that you had an account and report how much bandwidth you used. It’s a similar strategy to the one Hide.me uses, which you can read about in our Hide.me review.
The fact that Goose VPN has no parent company makes us even more confident. It’s wholly in charge of its own server network, meaning there’s no private equity executives who might decide to pivot to selling user browsing data.
Goose VPN is one of the best streaming VPNs we’ve tested in a while. Its streaming servers can get around blocks and stream shows at good speeds. The only downside is that it can’t spoof UK servers well enough to watch BBC shows.
Similar to VPN Unlimited (see our VPN Unlimited review), Goose VPN has servers dedicated specifically to streaming. Streaming servers should be able to unlock geoblocked content while maintaining speeds good enough for streaming video.
Netflix was not only unblocked, but the video played cleanly without any lag. Hulu worked just as well, and so did Amazon Prime Video.
Goose VPN doesn’t have a UK streaming server, so we tested BBC iPlayer with the regular and streaming servers. Sadly, we were caught out every time, which left only one black mark on Goose VPN’s otherwise astonishingly good streaming performance.
Goose VPN is relatively new, so its selection of servers isn’t great. It currently connects 55 servers in 24 countries, with the United States, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Belgium and Germany getting the lion’s share.
Almost every represented country is in Europe, with only four in Asia (India, Singapore, Japan and Hong Kong), two in North America (the U.S. and Canada) and none in Africa, South America or Central Asia.
This spread is pretty poor, but it doesn’t tell the entire story. Goose VPN allows users to request a new server location using a form on its website (the form is temporarily down, but you can use the regular customer support channels).
Unless Goose VPN has a team of adventurers ready to deploy a new physical server anywhere in the world (we’d watch that movie), many of these will probably be virtual servers, which have less capacity to deal with high loads. Nevertheless, requesting servers is a unique option among VPN providers, and we give Goose VPN props for offering it.
Goose VPN’s customer support is quick, polite and helpful when you can get to it. We like the knowledgebase and email ticket features, but we wish there were more options.
The fastest way to get help is to go through the app itself by choosing “FAQ/Support” from the menu in the top-right corner. That opens a browser window with the FAQ and the support email address.
There are actually two different knowledgebases for Goose VPN. The one with the dark blue theme is available on the public-facing website seen by visitors who aren’t logged in. This knowledgebase organizes its help articles with large type under eight different buttons.
The other knowledgebase has orange trim and is available only to users.
It has exactly the same articles, but it’s more compact, placing every answer on the same page. As a registered user, just pick the aesthetic you like better. They’re about equally fast. The information in the articles is complete and helpful.
There’s no forum for talking with other users about your problems, no phone number and no way to live chat with a support technician. Sending an email is the only way to get help. Responses do tend to come within 24 hours, though.
Now that we are at the end of our Goose VPN review, we’re prepared to file it in the same category as Surfshark: it’s a little too new to fully trust right now, but it’s poised to grow into something great.
Our biggest hangup — the horrendous UI — is a point on which we’re prepared to give Goose VPN the benefit of the doubt. The developers have a quick update cycle, so it’s possible the team just broke the interface with this version and will have it fixed in a few weeks. Right now, though, it’s a reason to be cautious.
All our other problems — limited feature set, poor server distribution and no customer support live chat — are things that can be fixed with time. Goose VPN’s streaming power, affordable one-year plan and good security policies are enough to keep us watching to see what it does next.
Right now, we don’t recommend choosing Goose VPN over one of our other favorites. This time next year, who knows?
Goose VPN FAQs
- Goose VPN is a virtual private network based out of the Netherlands. For a fee, it provides an app that lets you route web traffic through one of its servers, granting you more privacy and freedom online.
- Yes. It also works with Hulu and Amazon Prime Video, but not BBC iPlayer if you don’t live in the UK.