OverPlay does a few things right, and a lot of them wrong. While this VPN will get you into Netflix, it screws the pooch on a number of other, more important, fronts. Read the full story in our in-depth OverPlay review.
OverPlay is primarily a DNS masking service. Based in the United Kingdom, its flagship service makes your DNS requests appear as though they’re coming from somewhere else. Its virtual private network service builds on top of SmartDNS to encrypt your browsing traffic.
At least, that’s the intention. For our OverPlay review, we tested the VPN’s user interface, speed, streaming capability, security, feature set, customer service and more. The picture we came away with wasn’t pretty.
The good news is that OverPlay is pretty fast and can get you into Netflix while abroad. The bad news is just about everything else. If you want the gory details, read on, but if you want a VPN service you can rely on, head to our best VPN list instead, or better yet, straight to our ExpressVPN review.
Strengths & Weaknesses
- Good upload/download speeds
- Secure protocols
- No privacy leaks as of yet
- Enthusiastic customer service
- Terrible UI
- Increases latency
- Very few features
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OverPlay consists of two products: a smart DNS service and a virtual private network. OverPlay SmartDNS is not encrypted and does not offer anonymous browsing. That bears repeating: if you get the cheaper service, your data is not secure.
When you attempt to access a site, SmartDNS automatically runs the DNS request through a server that has the right credentials to access it. For example, if you’re in China or another country that censors websites, your web traffic will appear to be coming from somewhere else.
The VPN service comes off as an afterthought. It has two protocols (OpenVPN over TCP or OpenVPN over UDP), two encryption settings and a limited kill switch. Split tunneling and trusted WiFi networks are nonexistent, though OverPlay works with VPN on demand if your computer has that feature.
Some features, such as “enable IPv6 leak protection,” are inexplicable. A VPN should protect you from IP address leaks all the time. It’s like a life jacket having a “press to float” button. (If you’re tired of the trend of stripping VPNs down as far as possible, take a look at our AirVPN review).
You can use an OverPlay subscription on three devices simultaneously. Although SmartDNS is available on a dizzying array of devices, OverPlay VPN works on only six: Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, DD-WRT routers and Tomato routers.
Speaking of devices, this service presents a vastly different interface and feature set to its Windows and Mac users. Only Windows users get the kill switch and the ability to change protocols. More on this in the “ease of use” section below.
OverPlay Features Overview
|Payment methods||PayPal, Credit card|
|Supports split tunneling|
|Free trial available||5 days|
|Refund period||5 days|
|Worldwide server amount||650 servers in 50 countries|
|Desktop OSes||Windows, MacOS|
|Mobile OSes||Android, iOS|
|Can be installed on routers||DD-WRT, Tomato|
|Can access Netflix US|
|Can access BBC iPlayer|
|Can access Hulu|
|Can access Amazon Prime Video|
|Encryption types||128-AES, 256-AES|
|VPN protocols available||OpenVPN|
|Enabled at device startup|
|Passed DNS leak test|
|Killswitch available||Windows only|
|Malware/ad blocker included|
OverPlay offers two subscription tiers. The first provides just the SmartDNS service, which gets around censorship but doesn’t encrypt your web browsing. The other subscription gets you complete use of the OverPlay VPN, plus SmartDNS.
- DNS service only
- Unlimited GB
- DNS service & VPN
- Unlimited GB
All of these plans are overpriced, with paltry savings on the annual plans. You can get complete VPNs for less than OverPlay’s DNS-only service.
OverPlay offers a five-day free trial and a five-day money-back guarantee. Payment methods are limited: Visa, Mastercard, Discover or PayPal. No cryptocurrency or wire transfers are allowed. (If you’re looking for a VPN with a completely free plan, you might enjoy our Hide.me or Windscribe reviews.)
Ease of Use
OverPlay’s interface makes the common mistake of assuming that “stripped-down” and “user-friendly” are synonyms. Its interface is definitely the former but never manages to be the latter. The number of unforced errors here is frankly astonishing. (For an example of what user-friendliness actually looks like, visit our CyberGhost review).
Installing OverPlay on Windows is relatively simple with the help of a setup wizard. On macOS, it’s a little trickier, since you have to go through the App Store.
When we tested OverPlay in 2019, the desktop app rejected our login credentials, despite the website accepting the exact same information. This year, it happened again. We did eventually get in (see “customer service”), but it was an early red flag.
Windows Desktop Client
On Windows, OverPlay has one of the barest interfaces this side of Bitdefender VPN. The main control panel consists of three buttons: connect/disconnect, change server and change encryption.
The server list is ill-conceived. Other than the search, the only way to navigate is with the hard-to-see scroll bar, which is both incredibly small and dark-gray on a dark-blue background.
There’s no way to sort the list by more than one factor at a time. To find the fastest server in the U.S., you’ll have to sort by country then hunt for the best option. Although it’s nice to see the load and latency for each server, the ping test frequently doesn’t display. (For a server list done right, check out our Surfshark review).
The preferences menu is even worse. Instead of having five tabs arranged in a line, OverPlay arranges them in a circle, reshuffling them for no apparent reason every time you click a different one.
macOS Desktop Client
Like on the Windows app, OverPlay’s main macOS panel has three buttons. One connects to the network, one changes your encryption type and the last opens the server list.
This list takes some work to navigate. It’s not all bad: macOS users can filter servers by multiple criteria. The problem is that setting the filters requires you to go to the list, click the filter, then click the “back” button, with no instructions indicating this.
When sorting by city or country, the names are listed in reverse alphabetical order for some reason. To use the search bar, you have to type your term and hit enter/return on your keyboard.
The preferences menu is too small to say much about. All you can do is program what happens when your laptop and the VPN start up, and enable or disable the VPN on demand.
We tested OverPlay’s speeds using OpenVPN over TCP. This protocol is slightly slower than UDP, but it’s more secure. Each test used AES-256 encryption, and although the results are decent, this service isn’t among the fastest VPNs.
|Los Angeles, California|
Latency is the big problem here. We could only get pings acceptable for gaming on the West Coast, which is closest to our physical location. If you need a gaming service, check out our best VPN for gaming list instead.
Download and upload speeds are one of OverPlay’s bright spots. Even in Eastern Europe and Asia, our speed never dropped below streaming quality. Singapore was the only site where upload speeds suffered enough to interfere with video chatting. On a WiFi connection, that’s impressive, although NordVPN is even faster and lacks OverPlay’s baggage.
OverPlay keeps it simple when it comes to security. You have two protocol choices: OpenVPN over TCP or OpenVPN over UDP.
OpenVPN is the best all-around protocol, so if you can have only two options, these are good ones. TCP is more secure while UDP is faster, but they’re both fine. We tested each one and found no DNS leaks or any other security holes.
You can also choose between two levels of encryption: AES-128 and AES-256. Experts disagree about which is stronger, but both are strong enough.
We have no reason to believe OverPlay is doing anything shady with its users’ data. It’s upfront about the cookies it uses on search engines and lets you opt out of them. However, when dealing with online security in the age of IPVanish, it pays to be a little suspicious.
Only two things give us pause. OverPlay is based in the UK, a Five Eyes country and, by the end of 2020, a nation no longer subject to the EU’s liberal privacy laws.
Using OverPlay’s American servers, we managed to unlock both Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. The playback speeds were good, with no lag on any videos.
Hulu remained blocked, as did BBC iPlayer on a UK server. If you want to unlock those sites, a service on our best VPN for streaming or best VPN for Netflix lists might be the one for you.
OverPlay uses about 650 servers, located in approximately 70 cities in 50 countries. The majority are based in Europe, North America and Asia. It hits some oft-neglected locations within those continents, including Estonia and Malta in Europe, Saudi Arabia and Turkey in Asia and Costa Rica in Central America.
It also covers Argentina, Brazil, Egypt and South Africa, but that’s the extent of its server spread. Most people living in the Southern Hemisphere should try another VPN service. We recommend Private Internet Access, which has a huge server network for a very low price.
We got to test OverPlay’s customer service when the app refused to accept our login credentials (see the “ease of use” section). Since the knowledgebase had no article on being unable to log in, and there’s no live chat assistance, we submitted an email ticket instead.
We bounced between three different support professionals until someone suggested a password reset, which worked. We can’t fault OverPlay’s support staff for dedication or enthusiasm.
We try to give an even-handed accounting of every service, but when it comes to OverPlay, there’s almost no good to balance out the bad. This is an overpriced, featureless VPN with a desktop client so broken we could barely finish reviewing it. Its best traits are average, and its worst traits are trainwrecks.
Most of OverPlay’s flaws can probably be traced back to it being a DNS masking service first and a VPN second. However, it’s possible to get a much better VPN with DNS masking included, and for less than OverPlay SmartDNS costs on its own (ExpressVPN or NordVPN, for instance).
In the end, there’s no reason not to run away from this whole service as fast as you can.
- OverPlay is a virtual private network that encrypts your online traffic. It prevents third parties from spying on you or stealing your information while you browse.