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TotalVPN is the new VPN service provider on the block, and they are growing at a fast rate.
They actually have a more than adequate service in many regards – and they need to, because they are competing with industry giants.
But don’t let their young age fool you. I was skeptical at first, but pleasantly surprised when I tested out their service.
Like other services, they help users mask their IP address and encrypt data transmissions so governmental agencies and hackers can’t steal your data. They can help unblock geo-restricted content, but they may not be a good fit for international users, citizens of small countries, and travelers because their network is relatively small compared to other mature services.
With that said, for how new they are it is surprising how polished their service is. The interface is clean, as is the website, and they have put together a solid service that will satisfy most users’ needs.
To get a better understanding of this new service, let’s take a closer look at their features.
Everything about TotalVPN seems to be made elegantly simple. Instead of a complex pricing and packaging system, users only have to choose from one of two options: free or paid. The free version is really only a way to test out their service though, because it has some harsh restrictions. Limitations include the ability to only connect to 3 locations, bandwidth and data transfer limits, and only 1 active device connection.
That said, there are many providers that won’t even offer a free trial. Users who want to purchase their service only need to pay $4.99 per month. The paid plan allows users to connect to all locations (30+ global locations at the moment), no bandwidth or data restrictions, 3 simultaneous connections, and a proxy service.
And that’s it. There are no long term subscriptions with extra bells and whistles – only the free plan or the monthly plan. And even though they’re a young business, they do have servers in all of the most popular geographic regions including:
- The US
- Southeast Asia
- Hong Kong
- Buenos Aires
They also do a good job of including all the features users have come to expect as standard from a competent VPN service provider.
They are available on all the major operating systems including Windwos, Mac OS X, iPhone, iPad, Android Tablet, Android, and they are even working on an app for Chromebook. In addition, they do have 24/7 customer support (which we’ll discuss later). And, like other providers, they have a 99.99% uptime guarantee – meaning that their servers will be up all of the time save for a technical difficulty here and there.
And if they do have a technical difficulty, it will be isolated to a location or small group of servers. It simply isn’t plausible that all of the servers they maintain would go down. This guarantee is pretty standard, but you’d be surprised at how many services don’t properly plan for capacity. Furthermore, they use all of the latest and greatest encryption algorithms to ensure that users’ data is untouchable as it is in transit from the user’s computer to the VPN server.
Connection options include PPTP, OpenVPN, L2TP/IPSec and IkeV2. Though this may sound fantastic, it’s really becoming the norm, and every competent provider will offer these connection options. However, even though they offer PPTP as a connection option, we recommend that users avoid using this protocol. It only offers weak encryption, and believe it or not, it can be cracked.
Is TotalVPN Safe?
The following is their policy on law enforcement:
“Total VPN may disclose User information to law enforcement agencies without further consent or notification to the User upon lawful request from such agencies. We cooperate fully with law enforcement agencies.”
In addition, they do log some specific types of information that is pretty typical among VPN service providers.
They track small amounts of personal information (such as account details and email), login cookies so you can save your user credentials, and the following types of log files:
- When you login to their service
- The IP address used to login to their service
“We use IP addresses to analyze trends, administer our website and servers, track access, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use.”
However, they certainly don’t keep any usage logs of user activity or personal data. Once your Internet traffic is encapsulated inside the VPN tunnel, there’s nothing to worry about – no one can see your information. Also, they take great care to protect users’ information. It would be pretty embarrassing for a security firm to lose information to hackers or employees.
“Total VPN uses technical security measures to prevent the loss, misuse, altering or unauthorized disclosure of information under our control. Such security measures include but are not limited to: physical, electronic and managerial procedures to safeguard and secure the information we collect online.”
Last but not least, users should be aware of their acceptable use policy. This is pretty common and straightforward, but it’s worth mentioning that the following are not tolerated:
- Infringement of Intellectual Property Rights
- Illegal Activities
- Non-Personal Use
- Sexual Exploitation of Minors
Still, it makes it seem like they would rather forfeit information instead of standing up for their users. But as we all know from the NSA PRISM wiretapping scandal, when it comes to the government and law enforcement, tech companies’ hands are tied.
Though not a perfect service, they are certainly a viable option for people who want to secure their Internet connection. Here’s what I liked and what I didn’t like:
- Decent speeds
- Strong encryption algorithms
- Free trial
- Good 24/7 support
- The knowledge-base is a little thin
- Users might want discounted saving for longer term subscriptions
All in all, I was moderately pleased with their service. However, they lack some of the advanced features that other providers include such as a NAT firewall, VPN kill-switch, DNS leak protection, and other special features. Right now their service is streamlined, lightweight, clean, and simple. I would expect them to bolster their features and their global network as they grow as a company, and perhaps even change their pricing model as they mature – but that’s just speculation.
It’s true that they aren’t the cheapest service on the market, but they aren’t based in the United States, which is a huge plus. I see them as a great provider for users around the world, but I think European users would like them best because that’s where the highest concentration of their servers are located. If your curious, I would recommend that you at least try out their free trial.
But what does it all boil down to? Should you buy their service? That’s a decision I’ll leave up to you, but I think that they are reasonably priced for the quality of service they provide. They’re certainly a far cry from being a terrible, frustrating service. And I’m curious to see how things pan out in the future. If this is how good their service is now as a young company, I’d imagine their service is only going to improve in the coming months.
Overall, I was fairly pleased with the speed test. Before we dig into the results, I want to define a few parameters. First off, understand that I ran the speed test on an ADSL Internet connection with 5Mbps download speed and theoretically 1Mbps upload.
Furthermore, I connected to the Hong Kong server, and I ran a standard speed test as well as a ping to Google’s DNS servers to track latency. The results are as follows:
- Download: 4.64Mbps
- Upload: 0.93
- Speed Test Server Ping: 62ms
- Google DNS Ping: approximately 88ms
So far, so good. They certainly aren’t the fastest VPN I’ve tested, but they’re far from the worst, too. To further test the connection, I tried to stream some YouTube content, and it worked just fine.
I didn’t even have any time spent waiting for the video to buffer. But what do these speed statistics mean for different types of traffic and overall performance? Well, for starters, I did lose a small portion of my total upload and download bandwidth.
However, this is to be expected. The fact of the matter is that any VPN service is going to introduce overhead to your Internet connection. However, this small amount of overhead is not unreasonable.
In fact, I was pleasantly surprised that the ping times were so low. A connection this fast will easily accommodate the vast majority of users’ needs. Online storage, streaming audio and video, and common web browsing aren’t an issue. Furthermore, even VoIP calls would be high quality on this connection, which is interesting because audio is highly sensitive to latency.
The average VoIP call needs less than 300ms of latency, and this connection easily meets that requirement. However, I’m not sure that this is the best option for users who have extremely demanding needs. One application type that comes to mind is real-time gaming, which is extremely sensitive to latency. In the end, it all depends where the game server is located and where your VPN connection terminates.
For gamers, I would say that there are certainly faster connections with other providers that are a better fit for gaming.
Customer support is a big deal for users who are non-technical. Though TotalVPN worked fine when I tested them, consider that every startup or burgeoning service is going to experience some growing pains. As such, customer support is likely more of an important factor with TotalVPN than it is with other providers. Surprisingly, they actually have great customer support.
Like most of the other providers, they have a live chat feature on their website, which is essentially a way to ping the support staff with an instant message. I actually prefer these options to awful telephony support queues where you have to spend hours listening to elevator music before being transferred to an agent. In addition, users can initiate a service request with via email.
Not only do they have customer support representatives standing by, but they also have a handy knowledgebase on their website. For those of you who don’t feel comfortable setting up VPN software, the knowledgebase has setup guides for Windows, Mac OS X, iPhone, iPad, and Android. The general help section is a little thin, but it does cover all the basics.
Last but not least, the help center page even has troubleshooting guides. Again, I think they do a good job of covering their bases, I simply can’t say that it is comprehensive. But then again, that’s what the customer support agents are for.
And as for the website – it is very clean, attractive, and easy to navigate. There was one thing I didn’t like about it though. Users first have to sign in and create an account before they can access the customer support page. This is a bit of a hassle, and it feels like there’s just one more hoop to jump through to get access to support.