VPNArea is a Bulgarian service that seems to be getting better by the day. While in earlier versions of this review we had a few complaints here and there, as it stands now the service gets you into Netflix U.S., no longer leaks your DNS, has recently gotten a face lift and is pretty affordable, to boot.
VPNArea is an inexpensive virtual private network service that stands out with its robust feature set. For how feature-rich it is, though, it still falls short of our best VPN providers because of lackluster speeds.
In this VPNArea review, we’ll go over the highs and lows we experienced after spending time with it. We’re going to talk features, pricing, ease of use, supported devices, server locations, speed, security and customer service before giving our verdict.
VPNArea looks enticing, especially considering its low point of entry, but you’ll need a lot of headroom in your internet speed to make use of it. Even so, it’s a good option that offers dedicated peer-to-peer servers, access to Netflix and some of the best security in the industry; we recommend you check it out using its week-long refund period.
- Easy to use
- Split tunneling
- Accesses all streaming platforms
- No ad or malware blocker
- Large server network
- Inexpensive multi-year plans
- Included malware blocker
- Specialty servers
- Inconsistent speed across network
- Broken server recommendation
- No split tunneling
- Gets into Netflix
- Updated interface
- Automatic killswitch
- Lackluster split tunneling
- No killswitch controls
- Spotty ad blocker performance
- Easy to use
- Gets into Netflix
- Dedicated P2P servers
- Six simultaneous connections
- No-logs policy
- No split tunneling
- Limited protocol options
- Mediocre ad blocker
- No knowledgebase
VPNArea has many features that make its price tag look all the more impressive. Though it lacks the configurability of TorGuard (read our TorGuard review), it’s an impressive application with a slew of options.
There’s an ad blocker that, based on our testing, mostly works. While you’re better off using one of the ad blockers in our 99 free tools to protect your privacy guide, VPNArea’s tool works most of the time, which is something not all VPN ad blockers can attest to. Read our PureVPN review to see what we mean.
A killswitch is included, as well, which isn’t surprising considering that any VPN worth a dime has one. Even so, VPNArea has more than a simple toggle switch. There are two modes for the killswitch that can be set depending on how paranoid you are. We’ll talk more about those in the “ease of use” section below.
The most interesting feature is VPNArea’s range of specialty servers, though. It includes servers dedicated to torrenting and streaming, as well as options for ultra-secure connections.
The Stunnel servers, which are available in 10 countries, will help bypass, say, strict censorship in China. Stunnel is a TLS encryption wrapper that helps disguise traffic as it’s passing through. It’s an excellent choice for bypassing deep packet inspection because it makes your traffic appear as if it’s normal.
If getting past censorship is less of a concern and you’re more focused on anonymity, you can use one of VPNArea’s two double-hop servers. This method of connection, which was created by Windscribe but popularized by NordVPN, uses two servers for your connection, essentially doubling your level of protection (read our Windscribe review).
VPNArea Streaming Performance
Given the dedicated streaming servers, we had high hopes. Thankfully, VPNArea delivered, though it won’t be making our best VPN for Netflix or best VPN for BBC iPlayer guides, despite getting in to those platforms.
It’s a good solution to beat the Netflix VPN ban, but the spotty speed results mean you’ll have a subpar streaming experience. We’ll talk more about the speeds in the “speed” section below, but suffice it say, if you want to stream, you’ll need a lot of speed to work with out of the gate.
VPNArea Features Overview
VPNArea has excellent pricing, especially for the quality of service it offers. Cheap doesn’t always mean good — just read our e-VPN review — so we don’t mind the premium VPNArea is charging over bottom-of-the-barrel services. Still, it doesn’t jump to the top of VPN pricing, making it a cost effective solution against the top providers in the space.
6-months plan $ 8.33 / month
$50.00 billed every 6 month
1-year plan $ 4.92 / month
$59.00 billed every year
The monthly rate is the worst option, though not as egregious as some providers’ prices (read our Astrill review to see what a truly expensive monthly rate looks like).
We wouldn’t recommend the semi-annual plan, either. It offers a discount of less than $2 on the monthly rate, bringing the total down a whopping $10. The best value, by a long shot, is the annual plan, which cuts the monthly rate by almost half.
$59 for a year of service isn’t bad, but we’ve seen better. Private Internet Access, for example, offers a year for $20 less, but, as you can read in our PIA review, it supports one fewer simultaneous connection. VPNArea’s annual rate is the same price as VyprVPN’s, though, and supports three more connections with about the same service (read our VyprVPN review).
There are other problems, too. VPNArea only offers a 7-day money-back window, which, though always honored, is shorter than those of other providers.
Subscriptions are also limited to a year at a time, which doesn’t always make for the best value. Read our NordVPN review if you want to purchase multiple years upfront.
Unlike most VPN providers, VPNArea doesn’t charge automatically. You buy credit and that’s all you have until you renew. That’s a big upside because you can essentially pause your subscription whenever you want or add a couple of extra months to another plan.
The payment options are solid, but not as robust as, say, Mullvad (read our Mullvad review). Still, you should be fine with the standard array of credit cards, PayPal, bitcoin and regional payment methods.
Signing up with VPNArea is simple. You’ll choose a plan, enter your email address, create a password and select a payment method. After processing the payment, VPNArea will automatically redirect you to the members area to get the applicable download. There’s no messing about and we like that.
The members area is excellent. The main dashboard shows information about which servers work for which streaming platforms, what server to use in China and configuring protocols.
You can view server status, complete with protocol support and the number of users online, and access the support area, too. No matter where you are in the members area, you’ll also be able to see the number of days credited to your account.
In the dashboard, you’ll find a few sections for downloads. We recommend sticking to the “recommend setup” section because it’s the most intuitive for getting started. If you want something more advanced, VPNArea has links to guides next to every installer.
Setup only takes a couple of minutes, and VPNArea will launch after it’s done. To get ready to connect, just log in and click “server list.”
VPNArea Server Selection
As with the checkout process, there’s not a lot of messing around. While VPNArea lacks the grace of ExpressVPN (read our ExpressVPN review to learn about its excellent interface), it doesn’t meddle in areas it doesn’t need to. The server list shows right away, with connection options at the bottom of the window.
Though the list of servers is overwhelming at first, the window is resizable, so you can expand it for a less claustrophobic feel — VPN providers take note. Servers show load, distance and ping, and you can use any of those metrics to sort the results. After finding the server you want, click the large, blue “connect” button at the bottom.
We also want to highlight VPNArea’s naming scheme. Servers are clearly named with their location and purpose. For example, you’d use “USA-IL-Chicago2-P2P” for torrenting and “USA-0-NFLX” for watching Netflix.
If you’re looking for one of those specialty servers, you can find them by using the tabs at the top of the window. VPNArea has dedicated sections for recommended servers, favorites, P2P servers, special servers — which include double-hop, Stunnel and streaming servers — and dedicated IP addresses. You can also use search if you’re trying to find a particular server.
Favorites are handled differently than other VPN providers, though. We scoured the interface for a way to add a server to our favorites list and had to resort to support to figure it out. Favorites are added as you use different servers, so keep that in mind if you’re curious about that section.
The interface is server navigation, which is a straightforward approach we’ve seldom seen from VPNs.
VPNArea looks like it has many more settings than it does at first. As on the server screen, there are tabs at the top for accessing settings. That said, unlike server navigation, the tabs just snap you to a different section of the settings window.
You should ignore all but one of the tabs in the top window. “Connection log” will send you to a different area, which makes the choice to add tabs to the top a curious one. We wouldn’t be surprised if many skipped past the connection logs because the other settings tabs simply snap you to a different area of the main settings window. Some clean-up would work well here.
The connection log is useful, though, and you should pay attention to it. You can use the “copy to clipboard” button to copy the log and send it to support agents, but the more interesting aspect of it is that it peels back the curtain on your service.
It shows everything that happens from opening the application to closing it, which is a slight reassurance on the privacy front.
The settings are mostly standard, including options for custom DNS, leak protection and the ad blocker. You can change your transport protocol in the settings, but not your VPN protocol. While VPNArea supports OpenVPN and IKEv2, each of the protocols has a seperate application.
Two settings stand out. The killswitch can be set in two modes: via Windows Firewall, if you’re using Windows, and “nuclear.” The first will use Windows Firewall to block access to the internet if your connection is lost or you close the application, while the second will disable your network if connection is lost.
At the bottom, you’ll find a section to add custom settings to servers. It is an advanced area, but one that’s useful for techies to have in-application. It allows you to add your own scripts to the connection to tweak aspects of the VPN service.
There’s a problem in the settings, though. Once you’re there, it isn’t clear how to get back to the main screen. Instead of having a home button or back arrow, you’ll have to click “servers list.” It’s a small issue, but one that only requires a small fix. We’d like to see that from VPNArea in the future.
All VPNArea plans come with six simultaneous connections, which is solid. ExpressVPN only offers three, while CyberGhost (read our CyberGhost review) offers seven, so VPNArea offers a good middle ground.
Its platform support is excellent. VPNArea has the standard options, including Windows 8-10, macOS, Android, iOS and Linux. The Linux installer can be used with Ubuntu, CentOS, Debian, Fedora and Mint, but you can manually set it up on Linux, too. It fell just short of our best VPN services for Linux guide, but you shouldn’t discount it for that platform.
Though dedicated installers aren’t available, you can use VPNArea’s setup guides to configure protection on routers, Kodi, Amazon Fire Stick and more. It can be configured on nearly any platform, even those not covered in setup guides, because it makes the configuration files available to download.
VPNArea has presence in 70 countries, which is a decent spread. The U.S., UK and Australia have the largest number of servers, but there are options in more remote locations, such as Latvia and Estonia.
The specialty servers don’t follow the same rules, though. As we’ll get into in the next section, some countries only have P2P servers and double-hop connections are only available in two locations. Likewise, there are only streaming servers for the U.S. and UK.
Even so, it’s not the worst. Though your options seem limited, you can use a P2P server for streaming or vice versa. The list isn’t massive, but it’s enough to get you where you want to go.
Our testing, which was done in St. Louis, shows that VPNArea’s speeds were all over the place, but we had a fast unprotected speed to work with.
|Location:||Ping (ms):||Download (Mbps):||Upload (Mbps):|
|Unprotected (St. Louis)||10||168.26||11.45|
|Los Angeles (Netflix)||62||39.38||3.63|
|The Netherlands (DoubleVPN)||115||21.65||5.48|
As you can see in the chart above, VPNArea is a data-hungry service. Chicago, which is just a couple of hundred miles from our testing center, only produced a third of our unprotected download rate, while all other locations were barely able to manage a quarter.
The Chicago server is a P2P server, meaning it’s optimized for torrenting and the like. While we wanted to test a non-P2P in the same country, it wasn’t possible. VPNArea has no non-P2P servers in the U.S., which is a common theme in its locations.
It’s not an issue, though. It’s just that our speed baseline has to start with a server optimized for P2P connections. One of the few non-P2P servers we could test was in Singapore and, based on those results, we’d expect roughly the same score from Chicago, P2P or not.
VPNArea is not among the fastest VPN providers. There is too high of a tax on download and upload speeds to make it useful unless you have an ultra-fast connection to start.
This section isn’t all bad, though. VPNArea was resilient in the latency department, keeping our ping under 100 milliseconds in the same country, and never going above 250 ms abroad. If it had features such as split tunneling, it would be a serious contender for a slot in our best VPN for gaming guide.
We were also surprised by the double-hop connection. The UK and the Netherlands are close to each other, relative to our testing location, so seeing an improvement in download and upload speeds is nice.
VPNArea exclusively used OpenVPN for a long time, but it recently released an application that supports IKEv2. While that may give you better speeds, OpenVPN still has superior security. That said, IKEv2 isn’t considered “unsecure,” either.
Still, VPNArea recommends OpenVPN. If you don’t know what’s what on that front, simply following the provider’s installation instructions will do you well. If you want a closer look, read our guide to VPN security.
Your connection is secured with AES 256-bit, which is one of the strongest forms of encryption. Even with a super computer, it would take multiple billions of years to crack a single key.
If you’re even more concerned about your connection, VPNArea’s double-hop servers will suit you. Based on our testing, they don’t have a significant speed disadvantage, which is surprising given that you’re essentially doubling the level of encryption.
We ran a series of DNS leak tests to ensure that your identity isn’t slipping through the cracks. Though there were no leaks, VPNArea redirected our requests to Cloudflare’s network, which may be of concern given the scare Cloudbleed caused. You can learn more about that in our what is Cloudflare guide.
VPNArea never logs or tracks your information while you’re using the VPN tunnel. This is verifiable with the connection log in the application. All it knows is your username is tied to your account and you provided the correct authentication method.
Support is one of VPNArea’s strong points. You’ll find the support options in the members area. They are divided into two sections: “help/support” and “community forums.” The first will connect you with the contact options, which include email addresses for support, refunds and management, as well as a Skype address. There’s also a link to track your support tickets.
We noticed a strange bug when testing the support system, though. If you click through to the support tickets area, you’ll be met with a 500 error and the page won’t load. That said, if you reload the page, it’ll show up. That’s not the biggest deal, but it is something VPNArea should fix.
Even if you don’t submit a ticket through the ticket area, you can track it there. We sent a test email to VPNArea to see how well its machine was oiled. An agent got back to us within the same hour, late in the day before a weekend, which is impressive.
If you’re looking for answers to simple questions, such as how to add favorites in the application, you can use the 24/7 live chat. We used it a few times during the review for clarifications and VPNArea gave us clear answers within a few minutes.
Live chat is probably your best resource because, outside of the setup guides, VPNArea doesn’t have support documentation. Instead of a traditional knowledgebase, there’s a forum that covers the same ground but not with the same grace. It’s much more difficult to get the answers you need by browsing through forum threads.
The support system isn’t bad, but an organized knowledgebase would go a long way. VPNArea already has a solid start on it, too, with its well-crafted setup guides. The support system isn’t bad, but it could use improvement on the self-help front.
VPNArea has a clear dedication to security and privacy, with a long list of features, to boot. Its price is decent, though there are similar if not cheaper options, and its server optimization could use work. Still, you could do a lot worse.
Do you plan to try VPNArea? Let us know what you think of the service in the comments below and, as always, thanks for reading.