PrivateVPN is a good service that offers a no-frills VPN experience at reasonable prices.
By Fedor Karmanov – Last Updated: 27 Nov'17
PrivateVPN is a reputable service that offers a no-frills VPN package at a reasonable price. If you’re looking for a more-or-less reliable way to unblock Netflix and BBC iPlayer and other streaming websites, PrivateVPN is a decent choice that stands well among our best VPN providers.
If you’re a more advanced user, however, you will find a better set of options elsewhere. PrivateVPN’s bare-bones applications provides no security features and offers no way to control your anonymity. In addition to having a very small amount of servers, PrivateVPN’s speeds were also pretty mediocre during our tests.
Overall, if you want a simple and unintrusive option to unblock your streaming services, we recommend you visit PrivateVPN and make use of the service’s 30-day money-back guarantee. If you’re looking for more than that, feel free to check out or other best VPN for Netflix or best VPN for BBC iPlayer picks, or simply browse through our VPN reviews.
- Reasonable pricing
- Unblocks Netflix
- 6 simultaneous connections
- P2P friendly
- Bare-bone clients
- Below-average speeds
- Limited amount of servers
- No security features
PrivateVPN’s biggest problem is its lack of features. While competitors such as IPVanish and ExpressVPN have a killswitch, IP leak protection and various other options, PrivateVPN stands out by not including any of that functionality (check out our ExpressVPN review or IPVanish review for a better idea of the kind of functionality we mean).
Instead, PrivateVPN keeps it really simple: upon opening the app, the user is greeted with a list of servers and a connect button. After a connection has been made, the application displays the user’s new IP prominently.
On the plus side, the service boasts six simultaneous connections (most other services only offer five, with only NordVPN also offering six, as you can read in our NordVPN review), and a port forwarding service. The service also offers several security protocols to choose from, such as OpenVPN, PPTP, L2TP, IKEv2 and IPSec but the application itself doesn’t seem to provide a way of easily switching between them.
To be fair, PrivateVPN does offer a killswitch in their Windows application, a service that they renamed into “connection guard.” This feature seems to work well; the connection guard allows specific applications to be blocked if the connection is lost, which is good if you’re only using the VPN to anonymize a certain part of your traffic. It is a bit disappointing, though, that this feature is only available for Windows.
PrivateVPN seems to be really proud of its Netflix unblocking capabilities, which work for the most part. However, out of the seven U.S. servers that we tested, only four successfully bypassed the Netflix firewall: U.S. New York, U.S. Buffalo, U.S. L.A. and U.S. Atlanta.
Still, it seems that PrivateVPN makes an effort to always outpace Netflix with new IPs, which is reassuring thought if streaming is your primary concern for using a VPN.
At the time of this review, PrivateVPN is offering a 25 percent discount on its regular subscription costs. We’ve collected the pricing for the three different plans in the table below.
|Plan||1 Month Plan||3 Month Plan||12 Month Plan|
$ 8 21monthly
$ 5 63monthly
$ 16 883 months
$ 4 50monthly
$ 54 00yearly
|Bandwidth||Unlimited GB||Unlimited GB||Unlimited GB|
You can pay for the service using most major credit cards, along with Paypal and Bitcoin. Overall, PrivateVPN is a bit overpriced. Even with the 25 percent discount, the service’s monthly subscription costs are the same as other leading VPN services, such as ExpressVPN, that offer way way more features for far less money.
While PrivateVPN doesn’t initially seem to offer a free trial, their FAQ points out that you can can email their support team to get a coupon for a seven-day trial. While this is a bit of a headache, it may be worth reaching out to them to try the service before committing to one of their long-term plans.
In addition to the trial, PrivateVPN also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.
PrivateVPN’s lack of features does work to its advantage, however, when you consider how easy the service is to use. After a painless sign-up and payment process, you can use your login info to access the desktop and the mobile applications.
Selecting servers was a bit of a pain, though. When you click on the application’s server list dropdown, the application displays the whole list at once in one big and clunky list that went off the edges of the screen.
Unfortunately, this list of servers also does not include any information regarding the server load or the expected speed of the server from your location, something that is a prominent feature in other VPNs, such as IPVanish. While these are all minor annoyance, we feel the need to be considered if you’re looking to use the service regularly.
Overall, PrivateVPN is very easy to use compared to other more robust VPN services. At the same time, we couldn’t help but feel that this easy of use wasn’t intentional and was the by-product of a practically featureless VPN package rather than a well thought-out design.
PrivateVPN supports Windows, Mac, iOS and Android, although as mentioned in the “features” section above, PrivateVPN offers a few extras in the Windows application that don’t show up anywhere else.
The mobile applications look pretty much identical to the desktop applications, and work pretty much as you would expect.
We docked points for the lack of a native Linux client, as well as for the absence of any kind of browser extensions or router options.
On the other hand, PrivateVPN supports six simultaneous connections, which is one connection more that what most other VPN services offer, so kudos to them for that.
PrivateVPN offers 80+ servers locations in 53 countries, which is a miniscule amount of connections compared to other VPN services. ExpressVPN offers over 1500 servers and, as our TorGuard review will tell you, other services are not far behind.
While PrivateVPN offers a good spread of server locations, the small amount of available connections makes this service difficult to recommend to those who use a lot of IPs.
We realize too that PrivateVPN’s priority is to provide its users with fresh IPs that will allow them to circumvent the Netflix VPN ban and other geoblocking tactics. On that front, PrivateVPN falls short: a good unblocking service should provide more than seven options for a Netflix server.
PrivateVPN’s connection speeds were pretty good for one server: our test of the U.S. NYC connection brought only a small decrease in speed that would be hardly noticeable if you were torrenting or streaming.
Things really went downhill when we tested servers outside the east coast of North America. The Los Angeles and the UK servers brought the test speeds to a crawl, worsening the ping by a factor of ten in the process.
This is quite unfortunate: if you’re looking to use the L.A. or the UK servers for streaming — and your connection is slower than ours — then you might be out of luck trying to load the latest episode of your favorite show.
|Home (Montreal, CA)||57.54 Mbps||60.14 Mbps|
|U.S. (NYC)||47.27 Mbps||66.37Mbps|
|U.S. (LA)||14.96 Mbps||21.91 Mbps|
|UK (London)||16.03 Mbps||27.97 Mbps|
|South Africa||6.47 Mbps||10.75 Mbps|
The South African connection speeds were especially bad, although that should be expected from a server located on the other side of the globe (from where I’m based, anyway). In any case, it was nice to see that PrivateVPN offers functional connections to servers located in more remote areas, such as Africa and South America, without resorting to fake virtual locations.
Those sound like logs to us: if a company tracks when you log in or log out of their VPN, they are inadvertently tracking your information whether they like to admit it or not.
PrivateVPN is supportive of torrenters using their services, as they point out on a website page exclusively dedicated to showing off how good their services are for torrenting.
On that page, they also point out that their service allows for port forwarding, which could help your speeds if a local firewall is blocking or throttling a certain port associated with peer-to-peer file sharing.
The service did not hold up, however, when we tested for DNS leaks. In one test, PrivateVPN exposed my IP address to dnsleak.com; the service passed the IPv6 and IPv4 tests fine, however. Because of this oversight, we wouldn’t recommend using PrivateVPN if your anonymity is of utmost importance.
Customer service was somewhat disappointing. The application claims to have “live support” in the top-left corner, but of the times that I tried to reach support, they were offline. What you end up getting is the email contact form, shown below.
PrivateVPN doesn’t offer any other ways of contacting support if your questions are urgent or if you prefer talking on the phone. I reached out to PrivateVPN support just once — I ended up getting a response about 24 hours later.
At the end of the day, PrivateVPN is a glorified Netflix unblocker that masquerades itself as a fully functional VPN service. PrivateVPN offers a below-average selection of servers and functional but featureless desktop and mobile applications. Due to these factors, this service is difficult to recommend, even for a VPN novice who just needs something to watch Netflix or Hulu.
On top of this, PrivateVPN is considerably overpriced. There are, quite simply, better options out there that cost less per month and offer more features. If you still want to give PrivateVPN a shot, head over to PrivateVPN and check it out for yourself. Otherwise, check out our VPN comparison chart for other ideas.
Have you had any experiences with PrivateVPN? Please let us know in the comments below. Thank you for reading.