PrivateVPN is a rather average VPN provider based in Sweden. After a quick look at its feature set, we’ve determined that it doesn’t hold up in several aspects. Our updated PrivateVPN review goes into further detail below.
Key Takeaways: PrivateVPN Review
- PrivateVPN is a Swedish VPN that excels in privacy, customer service and unblocking streaming platforms.
- While not the fastest VPN, PrivateVPN has decent speeds.
- PrivateVPN’s security and server locations can improve, but they’re serviceable.
The best VPNs in the business are incredibly polished products, and PrivateVPN is far behind all of them. Even though it’s not the best product, it still has some shining features, particularly regarding router compatibility. Let’s take a look at how PrivateVPN fares now.
03/19/2023 Facts checked
Rewritten to account for the latest information and added info about the mobile app.
PrivateVPN claims to be the fastest-growing VPN worldwide. This claim isn’t completely correct, but you can rely on it for privacy and internet security.
Yes, PrivateVPN has above-average streaming performance and unblocks most of the popular streaming sites.
For the best price, you should get PrivateVPN’s three-year plan.
Alternatives for PrivateVPN
Average speedDownload Speed92 MbpsUpload Speed9 MbpsLatency5 ms
- : PayPal, Credit card, Bitcoin, PaymentWall
- : PayPal, Credit card
- : 30
Average speedDownload Speed94 MbpsUpload Speed9 MbpsLatency6 ms
- : PayPal, Credit card, Google Pay, AmazonPay, ACH Transfer, Cash
- : 6
Average speedDownload Speed80 MbpsUpload Speed9 MbpsLatency39 ms
- : PayPal, Credit card, bitcoin, Amazon Pay
- : 7
- : PayPal, Credit card
- : 8
PrivateVPN Review: Strengths & Weaknesses
- Easy to install
- First-class customer support
- Application guard support
- No split tunneling
- No WireGuard protocol
- Lack of extra features
After reviewing many VPNs, there’s a standard set of VPN features we’ve come to expect from any decent service. PrivateVPN provides most, but not all, of them.
Let’s start with device support. PrivateVPN is available on all desktop and mobile platforms, as well as routers that support VPNs. In fact, PrivateVPN is one of the best VPNs for NetGear routers.
Every good VPN has a kill switch that disconnects your internet when the VPN’s connection drops. With PrivateVPN, it’s active by default and can work for your entire device or on a per-app basis via the application guard feature.
Instead of disconnecting you from the internet, application guard allows users to select programs to terminate when the VPN disconnects, which is useful when torrenting.
No Split Tunneling
Unfortunately, PrivateVPN doesn’t support split tunneling — a feature that lets you enable specific apps or websites to bypass the VPN’s protection. Our tester sent PrivateVPN’s customer support a message regarding a possible implementation of the feature, only to receive a link to a guide on installing a third-party proxy extension.
We’re quite disappointed with the lack of split tunneling, since this feature is a bread-and-butter function every VPN should have.
Some countries worldwide restrict VPN usage, with China being the most infamous example. However, it’s not alone in this regard, as many other countries impose network restrictions of their own. The Stealth VPN function can help by obfuscating your connection.
The goal of obfuscation technology is to disguise your internet traffic so that it resembles pedestrian activity, even though your real IP address is hidden. Through this, the country’s cybersecurity solutions will find it more challenging to determine if your traffic is VPN traffic.
A major disadvantage to using Stealth VPN is that it can slow your internet connection down. While inconvenient, it’s the only option available for some users.
IPv6 and DNS Leak Protection
Accessing IPv6 sites with an IPv4 connection causes a compatibility issue. PrivateVPN’s IPv6 leak protection blocks these addresses entirely, eliminating any possibility of this blunder. Fortunately, most sites already have an IPv4 address to prevent these problems from happening.
As for DNS leak protection, it’s a standard feature in reliable VPNs. You don’t want anyone to see your DNS requests. PrivateVPN can hide these and your real IP address, though obviously, that’s just part of the job description for a VPN.
PrivateVPN Features Overview
|Payment methods||PayPal, Credit card, Bitcoin, Google Pay, Apple Pay|
|Supports split tunneling|
|Free trial available|
|Worldwide server amount||200 servers in 63 countries|
|Desktop OSes||Windows, MacOS, Linux|
|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|
|Encryption types||128-AES, 256-AES|
|VPN protocols available||PPTP, L2TP|
|Enabled at device startup|
|Passed DNS leak test|
|Malware/ad blocker included|
PrivateVPN is affordable, especially if you purchase one of the extended plans. A monthly plan goes for $9.90, while the next three-month subscription costs $6 per month. For the biggest savings, go with the three-year plan, priced at $2 a month for the first billing cycle.
All plans have a 30-day money-back guarantee, the industry standard for refunds. Only a few VPNs have a longer refund period, like CyberGhost’s 45-day money-back guarantee on everything but the monthly subscription. If you ask for a refund before these 30 days pass, you can get your money back quickly.
PrivateVPN has a seven-day free trial period if you want to try it out without paying. This trial surpasses those of ExpressVPN and NordVPN because you can try it for free on all supported platforms.
We applaud PrivateVPN for accepting Google Pay and Apple Pay, which are speedy checkout options. Users can also use PayPal, Stripe, or their credit card if they prefer. For those who want to stay truly anonymous, paying in Bitcoin is the way to go. Not many VPNs outside the top-tier premium services accept cryptocurrency, so we’re glad PrivateVPN does.
Surfshark (check out our Surfshark review) is commonly regarded as the cheapest premium VPN, but PrivateVPN rings in at an even lower price point. However, the former comes with extensive features, while PrivateVPN is barebones. You still get what you pay for when it comes to PrivateVPN, though you shouldn’t expect lots of bling.
PrivateVPN’s simplicity makes navigating the apps easy. The desktop and mobile apps are quite similar, with the settings menu being the main difference. If you’ve spent a while using the Windows app, the Android PrivateVPN app will appear familiar.
As always, we’ll start with the Windows app and its features. PrivateVPN first appears as a simple screen that lets you connect to its servers. However, you can click the “advanced view” button to reveal more settings. The interface is neatly ordered, and some settings have hints to explain their function.
The Windows desktop app separates its features into several tabs, but they’re all clearly labeled and easy to understand. There’s a hamburger menu in the top-left corner for managing your account, getting live support or quitting the app. Clicking on the second option, live support, immediately opens a tab in your default browser for live chat assistance.
PrivateVPN Mobile App
The Android app has everything grouped in the top-left corner, too. However, it places all VPN settings in one tab, where you can select the VPN protocol, activate the kill switch, activate Stealth VPN and more.
Regardless of the platform, we found that PrivateVPN’s application was easy to use and well thought out. It only took a few minutes to get acclimated, and we didn’t have any problems finding anything.
More tech-savvy users can install PrivateVPN on routers, and there’s a handy guide on the PrivateVPN knowledgebase that guides you through the process. It’s not too tricky, and the customer support agents are happy to help you if there’s an issue.
Having good connection speeds is always necessary when choosing a VPN. PrivateVPN hides your actual IP address without slowing things down to a crawl. Keep in mind that we ran our speed tests from a location in Malaysia, which means that nearby locations like Australia will show better speeds than more distant locations like the U.S.
This doesn’t reflect U.S. speed performance in general. If you’re in the U.S. connecting to a U.S. server, you should expect results similar to our Australian ones.
PrivateVPN Speed Test Results
|Argentina - Buenos Aires|
|Australia - Perth|
|Greece - Athens|
|Nigeria - Lagos|
|South Korea - Seoul|
|UAE - Dubai|
|US - Los Angeles|
Even so, we encountered some strange findings. Some servers, like the Los Angeles, Athens and Lagos servers, had disproportionate connection speed results relative to our distance to them. This may indicate the use of virtual VPN servers. While this isn’t bad per se, it can result in unpredictable speeds, like what we experienced.
Since PrivateVPN doesn’t mention whether it uses virtual servers, we can’t confirm with absolute certainty. However, the tests suggest some server locations aren’t where they purport to be. Nevertheless, they all offer perfect DNS leak protection and don’t display the original IP address.
PrivateVPN’s dedicated IP servers are especially speedy. We tried using the Swedish server and discovered it was close to the Australian servers’ speeds.
Despite the odd results, PrivateVPN’s speeds aren’t bad, inconsistent results aside. They’re less impressive than products like NordVPN, but you can visit your favorite streaming sites and use other services without significant lag.
PrivateVPN offers a number of security features to keep you safe online. VPN users may wonder if PrivateVPN’s security features keep them safe from DNS leaks or other loopholes. Both a quick and extended DNS leak test shows that there are no leaks.
You can choose between AES-128 and AES-256 encryption. These are secure ciphers governments use to protect classified data, and the main difference is that AES-256 is more secure, but slower. You can also choose an encryption mode between GCM and the less secure CBC, though there’s really no reason to choose the latter.
The mobile apps also have access to all four encryption ciphers. PrivateVPN’s apps are quite similar in security features across platforms, though the mobile version only has one protocol.
PrivateVPN offers three main VPN protocols: OpenVPN, PPTP and L2TP. Additionally, you can choose from three OpenVPN variants: OpenVPN-UDP, OpenVPN-TCP and OpenVPN-TAP+UDP. UDP and TCP are the best choices, with the former offering extra security at the cost of some speed. Protocols on mobiles include: OpenVPN-UDP, OpenVPN-TCP, IPsec and IKEv2.
OpenVPN creates a secure encrypted VPN tunnel, and it’s the most commonly-used protocol today. It’s not the fastest, but since its code is open source, security experts have improved upon it since its inception. PPTP and L2TP are outdated and aren’t as secure, so we suggest you only ever use OpenVPN, unless you’re in China (the Great Firewall blocks OpenVPN connections).
Considering all of this information, we find that PrivateVPN is quite secure and offers a surprising degree of customization. However, it doesn’t have extra security features like obfuscation or an ad-blocker, nor the more advanced WireGuard protocol, which would be nice.
The VPN service doesn’t keep any logs, allowing you to be anonymous when browsing the internet. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about your activity logs leaking, since they won’t exist in the first place.
A Swedish company, PrivateVPN Global AB, owns PrivateVPN. Sweden has been one of the world’s most privacy-friendly countries for many years. It adheres to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Swedish internet censorship is almost nonexistent.
Swedish internet privacy laws punish companies that fail to preserve individuals’ privacy. PrivateVPN, since its inception in 2008, has never experienced a security breach.
Thanks to the company’s strong background and no-nonsense policies, PrivateVPN is considered a truly private VPN.
PrivateVPN has no dedicated streaming servers and struggled to unblock some services, though most of them let us through.
PrivateVPN unblocks Netflix effortlessly and even displayed incredible loading times. We could watch U.S. shows on demand in HD without any problems. We’re glad to report the same results on Max, Peacock and Hulu. Even if you skip ahead, the video loads quickly or instantly. There weren’t any instances of buffering during our testing.
Unfortunately, PrivateVPN doesn’t unblock Amazon Prime Video or BBC iPlayer. Try one of the best VPNs for BBC iPlayer to get through to the latter. Disney Plus was a little problematic initially, but switching servers and reconnecting to the VPN solved the issue.
From our tests, we find that PrivateVPN’s streaming performance is above average. It couldn’t unblock some services, though the ones we could access performed brilliantly. We recommend reconnecting if the websites don’t load properly, but this only applies to the streaming services that PrivateVPN can unblock.
|Amazon Prime Video|
The PrivateVPN website states that you can choose from more than 200 servers in 63 countries. This is a small server network compared to Surfshark and HideMyAss, which have thousands of servers across over a hundred countries. It’s not the largest spread, but there’s a good variety of choice across six continents.
PrivateVPN doesn’t state if any of these are physical or virtual servers. While not a dealbreaker, we appreciate providers that share this information.
The good news is that you can connect to multiple servers with a dedicated IP address. Some VPN providers charge for dedicated addresses, but PrivateVPN includes them in your subscription. All 16 of these servers work for P2P downloads.
Users don’t connect to the closest nearby server by default, which is a minor oddity. The VPN selected a U.S. server at first. You can select your favorite servers for easy access, so scrolling down or using the search bar isn’t necessary in the future.
PrivateVPN’s customer support consists of a live chat, email and knowledgebase. The provider boasts that it takes around two minutes to receive a reply, though our first round of testing showed otherwise. An agent replied to our message within 10 minutes, though another tester received a response within a minute.
It’s also worth noting that the email and live chat support are intertwined. Sending a message requires you enter an email address, and you’ll get an email that lets you access the chat in one click. Alternatively, you can also reply to the email to receive further responses.
If you need help, the company can also remotely install PrivateVPN for you. This assistance is excellent for those who require assistance beyond standard guides and live chat.
Articles in the knowledgebase are brief and come with clear screenshots. You even get guides for each operating system and platform. We like how the Linux support includes many of the various popular distributions, like Debian, Fedora and CentOS. Not many VPN providers go the extra mile to help Linux users this thoroughly with their guides.
One thing we don’t like about the knowledgebase and blog is how some pieces are quite old and haven’t been updated. We would like to see some up-to-date instructions where applicable. The lack of a user forum isn’t a critical blow, but we’d love to have as many options as possible regarding assistance.
PrivateVPN is proud of its customer service efficiency, and for good reason. You’ll find the answers to your problems quickly. If not, the representatives are happy to help you after a short wait.
The VPN market is highly competitive, and products like PrivateVPN need to implement radical improvements and features to catch up. While it’s not the fastest or most feature-rich VPN out there, it’s still rather useful in some situations. It unblocks many popular streaming services and protects well against things like DNS leaks.
Where PrivateVPN shines is customer support and privacy, the latter thanks to Swedish privacy laws. If you’re looking for an affordable VPN that you can trust, PrivateVPN is a decent choice.
What are your experiences with PrivateVPN? What do you think the provider should work on first? Let us know what you think in the comments section. Thank you for reading.