SaferVPN is a fairly standard, but cheap, VPN service with decent features but slow download speeds and some other restrictions.
By Fedor Karmanov – Last Updated: 08 Oct'17
Accessible and easy to use, SaferVPN is an uncomplicated take on a modern VPN package that is undermined by several core issues with the service’s speed, server selection and privacy when placed alongside other services in our VPN comparison.
SaferVPN is owned by Safer Social LTD, which was founded in 2013. The company is proud to call its staff “Internet freedom fighters” and they are passionate about providing security to those living in countries with censorship. This particular claim is, however, cynically contradicted by the fact that SaferVPN does, in fact, keep logs, but more on that below.
SaferVPN is one of the few providers that offers a 24-hour trial for free, no credit card required, and we would recommend people new to VPNs to give SaferVPN a spin. Advanced users may want to look elsewhere, however, due to a lack of customization options.
- Easy-to-use applications
- Decent encryption and security
- Does not keep logs of usage
- Decent amount of servers
- Lackluster download speeds
- Apps limit IP selection
- Does not own hardware
- No access to Netflix U.S.
- Special streaming servers… that don’t work
The SaferVPN desktop application is well-designed, simple, and largely non-intrusive. Once you create an account on the website (which requires only an email and a password), the service creates a login for you which will let you access the application.
After a quick download (the client is 11MB in size), the service asks you to login with your credentials. Once you log in, you will see a location pane that will offer either an “automatic” server selection or a list of countries to choose from.
The biggest downside to this setup is the lack of information that you receive regarding the server that you connect to. SaferVPN only provides the IP of the server after you’re connected. To add to this, there is simply no mention of cities or other geographic markers: Russia is a big country, it would be nice to know which part of it your connection runs through.
This also makes it difficult to cycle through IPs if the current connection you’re on is blocked or flagged. There is no mention of workload or any comparable speed-related statistics, which makes it difficult to choose a server if you’re in the market for more nuanced parameters. You could access individual servers through a manual setup, but it would have been nice to have these features built into the application.
Poor server selection leads to another problem: no accommodation for streaming. Services like Netflix and Hulu are becoming increasingly aware of VPN use to circumvent their licensing restrictions. SaferVPN seems to offer a special U.S. and UK streaming server option: at the time of this review, however, neither Netflix nor Hulu were fooled by the attempt (streaming fans may want to check out our best VPN for Netflix article).
Privacy seems to be SaferVPN’s chief concern: the app offers a killswitch and seems largely uninterested in your personal information. This, as well as the unlimited bandwidth on offer, should make SaferVPN a decent candidate for torrenting — though not in the same league as our best VPNs for torrenting.
SaferVPN’s price is average — one month costs 8.99$ — so it’s really nothing to write home about. In addition to the 24-hour free trial, SaferVPN also offers a 14-day money back guarantee. You can sign up per month, per year or per two years: the two-year plan comes with a discount of 80 percent, which makes the service come out to about 3.49$ per month.
|Plan||1 Month Plan||1 Year Plan||2 Year Plan|
$ 8 99monthly
$ 71 90yearly
$ 83 772 years
|Bandwidth||Unlimited GB||Unlimited GB||Unlimited GB|
Overall, the payment breakdown seems to encourage users to purchase the two-year subscription, as it is currently worth almost as much as the one-year tier. While the two-year plan is decently priced, it falls short of competitors such as AirVPN and Private Internet Access, which both offer more modestly priced packages for shorter periods of time (for more details, check out our PIA review as well as our AirVPN review).
SaferVPN also seems to accept any payment method imaginable, ranging from credit cards and PayPal all the way to Bitcoin and other crypto-currencies, which is nice if anonymity is your primary goal.
SaferVPN’s best feature is probably how easy it is to sign up and get onto their servers. Signing up was a breeze and installing and logging into the client was as painless as could be. The client itself has a very low profile on your desktop, which I really appreciate. The iOS and Android apps were fine as well — they are largely recreations of the existing desktop applications, just for the touchscreen environment.
SaferVPN also offers an extension for Chrome if you are inclined to only route your browser through the service. The extension actually offers 500MB of free bandwidth every month if you are not a subscriber, so it’s even a good option if you’re not planning on using SaferVPN all the time.
Turning on the killswitch was also a breeze: the settings pane is nicely laid out, so it was just a matter of ticking a checkbox. The more advanced functions are intuitive and accessible — the only issue is that there aren’t very many options in the first place, such as anti-malware or ad-blocking options. On the other hand, for the user who prefers a minimal set up, SaferVPN is perfect.
SaferVPN covers most major platforms and is a safe bet for people who want a simple solution that covers all of the bases. The service lacks support for all web browsers excluding Chrome, but apart from that you shouldn’t have a problem connecting. You can have up to five simultaneous connections, which is pretty normal for most VPNs.
The service also supports several routers that can route your whole connection through the VPN. This is often a good option for more advanced users — the prices, however, are pretty steep so it would really depend on how essential it is for you to have all of your devices hooked up to the VPN.
Server selection is by far SaferVPN’s weakest link. With just over 400 servers in 30 locations, the amount of servers offered is below average compared to other services. As you can read in our ExpressVPN review or our TorGuard review, both of these services offer over 1,500 servers, which is more than triple the amount that SaferVPN provides.
In addition to the low quantity, it is almost impossible to properly cycle through different IP addresses using the application: you have to connect and reconnect using the application simply hoping that it automatically switches your IP.
Because of the low amount of servers as well as the difficulty in switching between these servers, you’re really left with only 30 location-based connections to choose from. This selection is acceptable for the newcomer to VPNs, but for anyone looking for a service that will allow them to cycle through IP addresses had better look elsewhere.
My usual connections vary from 50-60Mbit, so that will be the baseline for these comparisons.
Overall, my speeds took a big hit during the test, especially when I was using the “automatic connection” setting. For some reason, my speeds were slower with the US East servers (the automatic selection, and I’m based on the East Coast) than with the US West servers. Here’s a quick table comparison of the speeds I was getting when using the VPN:
|Home:||50.43 Mbps||57.05 Mbps|
|U.S. East:||18.74 Mbps||36.49 Mbps
|U.S. West:||20.44 Mbps||39.39 Mbps|
|France:||15.32 Mbps||38.16 Mbps|
Overall, it seems like the connection would take a 20-30 Mbps hit no matter what. This is somewhat frustrating, as most VPN connections that remain reasonably close do not have these problems. For that reason, torrenting might not be a reasonable option for heavy downloaders: the speed bump doesn’t make the expense seem worth it.
While SaferVPN says that anonymity and privacy are their chief concern and that they “never log or monitor your internet traffic,” that claim is simply not true. According to the SaferVPN logging policy, the company stores “VPN Data” which it defines as follows:
- A time stamp of the time you connect and disconnect to our VPN service
- The amount of data transmitted (upload/download) during sessions
- The IP address used by you to connect to the VPN
- The IP address of the individual VPN server used by you
In the policy document, the company says that “we DO NOT store details of, or monitor, the websites you connect to or any of the data sent over our network when using our VPN service” and yet they openly admit that they use above “VPN Data” (read: logs) in order to:
- Monitor the use of the network for technical purposes and to manage service
- Prevent and detect fraud against the service (e.g. credit card fraud)
- Prevent and detect abuse of the network, such spamming, file sharing or other illicit activity
This is openly misleading — the company claims to “never log” and then contradicts that claim in the documentation. For that reason, it would be hard to recommend SaferVPN to the security-conscious.
Customer service was pretty fast: live chat is 24×7 and reply quick. Email was equally speedy, but the lack of a phone number can make it more difficult for customers with no access to the internet to reach support. In my conversations with support, I was getting responses over chat and email in less than five minutes.
Documentation is also nicely done and easily searchable in their website. Finding different set up instructions and additional information about things like logging was a breeze.
The service makes promises and then doesn’t deliver: streaming servers don’t unblock Netflix or Hulu, and the subscription costs are too high to justify using the VPN as simply a way to circumvent geoblocks.
While the interface is convenient and easy to use, SaferVPN has little going for it in terms of offering security or peace of mind. While a killswitch is a nice addition that doesn’t always come included in competing packages, it is simply not enough to garner confidence in the service. For that reason, we would suggest avoiding SaferVPN in favor of any of our best VPN providers.
Thanks for reading, please leave a comment below if you have any thoughts about or experiences with SaferVPN.