PrivateVPN Review 2020 – A Strong & Capable VPN Solution (Despite a Few Flaws)!

PrivateVPN Logo


By taking a look at PrivateVPN’s website, we can see that this VPN promotes a very enticing offer. It claims to bring strong (“military-grade”) encryption without collecting your private data – while letting you enjoy the internet at “lightning speeds.” Besides, you get to rely on breaking the geo-restrictions while using “1-click” applications. All of those claims make PrivateVPN sounds like the perfect VPN, right? But can you know if that’s really the case? Well, we are going to put PrivateVPN through a series of tests and see if all those claims are true. With this said, we wish you a warm welcome to our PrivateVPN review!

First, we are going to introduce you to this VPN service. Take a look at the table below, and you’ll get to know some basic (but pretty important) facts. Let’s begin.

Quick Facts
Jurisdiction Sweden (the EU).
Logs No logs, whatsoever.
Number of Servers 60 countries, 150+ servers.
Parallel Connections 6
Encryption Standards AES-256; OpenVPN (TCP/UDP), L2TP, IPSec, IKEv2.
Speed Reduction 67.5% on average.
P2P Support YES
Live Chat Support YES (but not 24/7)
Supported Platforms Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Linux, and routers
Price Starts at $3.82/month

Get PrivateVPN

The following information will let you know if PrivateVPN can unblock popular media streaming websites. So, let’s take a look.

Media Streaming Support
American Netflix YES
Hulu YES
BBC iPlayer YES
Amazon Prime Video YES
Kodi YES

And before we jump to our hands-on review, we have a bottom line for you. The table below presents our findings after having tested this VPN provider. Therefore, you’ll surely find it helpful if you don’t have the time to read this entire article.

The Bottom Line
Pros Broad platform compatibility; Strong encryption; No data collection; Numerous VPN protocols; Unblocks popular websites.
Cons Old-fashioned UI; A small number of servers.
The Final Verdict Despite a few flaws, PrivateVPN provides plenty of interesting and highly capable features, and it comes with solid performance.
Our Score 8.4/10

We’re now ready to proceed with our full review. We are going to present our findings after having spent some time testing PrivateVPN. So, keep on reading to learn everything that you need to know.

PrivateVPN – Husham.com’s Hands-On Review

Just like we do with every VPN review, we’ll take an in-depth look at PrivateVPN. It begins with inspecting its background and reputation. Then, we’ll show you how to install this VPN, how to use it, and what to expect. You can learn more about these individual aspects of this article in our central explanation of how we review VPNs.

Also, you should know that we’ve tested PrivateVPN on a macOS computer. However, the information contained in this review applies to other versions of PrivateVPN as well.

Background, Jurisdiction & Reputation

Sweden Map

Even though PrivateVPN comes from Sweden, it doesn’t collect any personal data. It also doesn’t have any data leaks in its past. Our Score: 10/10.

To be comfortable using a VPN, you must be satisfied with the way it treats your private data. The best case possible is to use a VPN that doesn’t collect your data – and it should also come free of any data leaks in the past.

Jurisdiction & Applicable Laws

The most important thing to know is the fact that PrivateVPN is based in Sweden and run by a company called ‘Privat Kommunikation Sverige AB.’ This county, even though it’s a member of the European Union, has its own data retention laws. So, we wanted to find out how is it possible for this VPN not to collect any data (as it says on the website)?

We’ve talked to the company’s representatives about this issue. They’ve confirmed that they’re located in Sweden, which provides a safe haven for their operations. It appears as they’ve found a legal loophole, which made it possible not to collect personal data to protect their customers. You see, Sweden has somewhat polarizing laws when it comes to this. On the one hand, it forces online entities to collect and store personal information. On the other hand, this is a highly proactive country when it comes to personal data. Its citizens enjoy an added layer of privacy protection, unlike in the rest of the European Union countries.

As it was proven before (we’ll talk about this in the next segment), PrivateVPN doesn’t store any logs indeed. Even if someone comes for your data, they won’t be able to provide anything of importance.

Previous Data Leaks

You will be happy to know that PrivateVPN stays true to its ‘no-logs’ policy. There aren’t any data leaks in the past that would prove this VPN provider stores data that could identify its users. With this said, it’s important to note that PrivateVPN is one of the few VPNs with no privacy-related scandals in the past.

All in all, it seems like PrivateVPN is one of the trustworthy VPNs, which has become a rare thing in today’s market – at least until proven otherwise.

Supported Platforms & Devices

PrivateVPN Supported Platforms

When it comes to PrivateVPN’s platform and device support, you’ll find that Web browsers are missing. Other than that, you should be covered well. Our Score: 9/10.

First, we are going to show you a handy table with all the supported devices listed. So, here’s how PrivateVPN ranks in terms of desktop and mobile platforms, as well as other VPN-compatible devices.

Platform Compatibility
Desktop Platforms Windows, macOS, Linux, Chromebooks.
Mobile Platforms Android, iOS.
Web Browsers None.
Routers DD-WRT, Tomato and other VPN-compatible routers.
Other Devices Raspberry Pi, Amazon Fire OS.

By taking a look at the above, it’s clear that PrivateVPN’s coverage of devices is good. Almost every popular desktop and mobile platform is on the list, and routers are included as well. However, you won’t find one thing here – internet browser extensions. Still, we can’t think of this as a major drawback, since browser extensions usually serve as proxies. To use a VPN up to its full advantage, you need a native app, and this is where PrivateVPN truly shines.

You should also know that PrivateVPN lets you connect up to six devices at the same time, which is plenty. Of course, installing it on a router counts as a single device no matter how many devices you connect to that router.

Installation & Initial Configuration

PrivateVPN Installation Process macOS

To get started with PrivateVPN, all you need is to download its installer, run it – and you’ll have the VPN fully prepared under a minute. It’s that simple. Our Score: 10/10.

Of course, everything starts by signing up for PrivateVPN. Once you pick a plan and finalize the purchase, you’ll have your username and password. These are used for logging in to your account on the VPN’s official website.

Once you download PrivateVPN on your computer, you’ll need to go through a fairly typical installation procedure. On macOS, you simply need to drag-and-drop the VPN’s icon onto your Applications folder. And on Windows, double-click to run the installer, choose where to save the application’s files, and that’s about it. Once you restart your computer, PrivateVPN will be ready for use.

Prominent Features

PrivateVPN List of Prominent Features

PrivateVPN has done a nice job of offering total security to its customers. The only thing that’s missing is an ad-blocker, which isn’t a major drawback. Our Score: 9.5/10.

In every VPN review found on our website, we present a series of features that every highly capable VPN needs to have. This gives us a nice overview that’s helpful when comparing different options. So, here’s what to know about PrivateVPN.

VPN Features Checklist
DNS Leak Protection YES
IPv6 Leak Protection YES
Kill-Switch YES
Ad-Blocker, Anti-Malware NO
Unlimited Server Switches YES
Unlimited Bandwidth YES
Unlimited Data YES

We can see that PrivateVPN has covered the basics quite well. When you connect to one of its VPN servers, you immediately get DNS and IPv4/IPv6 leak protection. Of course, your data will be encrypted with AES-256 in addition to numerous VPN protocols. It’s also worth mentioning that PrivateVPN doesn’t come with any limitations. No matter which subscription plan you pick, you can use it with no data limitations or restrictions.

The only thing that’s missing here is an ad-blocker. More advanced VPNs offer this functionality to eliminate online tracking, as digital ads are known to contain different kinds of trackers. Still, this doesn’t mean that PrivateVPN doesn’t provide total protection for your data.

Server Count

Server Locations PrivateVPN

PrivateVPN brings only 150+ servers, which is actually one of the smallest VPN server networks out there. Our Score: 2.5/10.

We check each VPN’s server network to see how many secure servers they offer, as well as where they’re located. Here’s what you need to know about PrivateVPN’s network.

Server Count Info
Number of Servers 150+
Number of Locations 75+
Number of Countries 60
Specific Cities Selection YES
Unlimited Switching YES

At the moment, PrivateVPN offers a bit over 150 VPN servers spread around the world. We have to say that this isn’t much, considering that the most potent VPNs bring from 5,000 to 7,000+ servers. Having many servers ensures smooth performance and gives the ability to use all kinds of specialized servers. With this said, it’s clear that PrivateVPN is on the lower end of the spectrum.

However, we still think that average home users should be perfectly happy with what PrivateVPN offers. We can only hope that this company will manage to follow its growing user base by adding plenty more servers to accommodate all of its users.

Ease of Use

PrivateVPN Home Screen UI macOS

Even though it’s far from being the most polished VPN, PrivateVPN comes with a simple (albeit old-fashioned) interface. Our Score: 8/10.

Once you launch PrivateVPN for the first time, you’ll actually see its ‘Simple’ interface. It consists of a drop-down menu where all the VPN’s servers can be found. You select a server, click on ‘Connect’ and you’re ready to browse the Web. However, PrivateVPN knows that numerous advanced users want to use this software, and they’ve built an ‘Advanced’ version as well. When you click on the ‘Advanced’ button, you’ll see the application’s expanded interface.

Once we enter the ‘Advanced’ view, PrivateVPN starts to look like a fully-featured VPN application. On the left side of the screen, you will see four tabs used to control the application. So, we will take a closer look at each of those.

  • Dashboard: This is where you’ll spend the majority of your time. You can select a server, for starters. Based on the selected server, you can choose two additional options. First, you pick the desired VPN protocol (with OpenVPN being the most commonly used one). You can also select a level of encryption from AES-128 up to AES-256 (GCM or CBC). When you click on ‘Connect,’ you’ll see your external IP address, port forwarding setup, as well as how long you’ve been connected and how much data you’ve transferred during the currently active session.

PrivateVPN Settings Panel
  • Settings: PrivateVPN keeps its settings at a minimum. You can decide if you’d like to have the app running on system startup. And if you choose to do so, you can instruct PrivateVPN to connect to a secure server automatically. Then, you can also change the UI language and check out log files. Remember that log files are useful when contacting customer support, so this is where you’ll find them.

PrivateVPN Advanced Options Panel
  • Connection Guard: Now, here’s a fascinating set of options. We highly recommend you to enable IPv6 protection in case your ISP supports IPv6. Also, you should enable the application’s kill-switch, which prevents your data from leaking if a secure connection drops.

PrivateVPN StealthVPN Preferences
  • Stealth VPN: In countries where VPN restrictions are in place, you can allow PrivateVPN to use advanced techniques to break through those barriers. This is useful in countries like China, for example. You can use L2TP as your VPN protocol of choice and then enable the ‘Stealth VPN’ mode. With this done, PrivateVPN will able to go over the Great Firewall of China.

All in all, PrivateVPN comes with a simple UI. However, having a simple UI isn’t enough in today’s overcrowded market. Some VPNs are not only simple, but they also look amazing on various devices, including large-screen monitors. With this said, we hope to see PrivateVPN more polished and much more attractive in the future.

Media Streaming & Torrenting Support

PrivateVPN Unblocks Netflix USA

If you care about unblocking websites and streaming online media, PrivateVPN is the answer to your prayers. Our Score: 10/10.

We test each VPN to see if it can unblock popular streaming websites outside the USA. We think of this as a highly important aspect of VPNs, as many individuals primarily use them for unblocking media streaming services.

Media Streaming & Torrenting Support
Netflix US YES
Hulu YES
BBC iPlayer YES
Amazon Prime Video YES
Torrenting (P2P) YES

Unblocking popular media streaming websites is easy with PrivateVPN. In the USA, you can unblock Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video (you need to use a VPN to set up a US account first). Using servers in the UK, you can unblock Netflix and Sky. And some servers in India can unblock services like Hotstar.

It’s also interesting to note that BBC iPlayer now works with PrivateVPN. A couple of months backs, while doing our initial PrivateVPN review, we weren’t able to unblock BBC’s iPlayer despite trying all seven servers located in the UK. Well, now you have only two servers in this country, but they work with iPlayer.

Let’s not forget to say that PrivateVPN supports torrenting. Even though we were able to download P2P files using a wide range of the VPN’s servers, PrivateVPN recommends using servers in the UK for this purpose. That’s because they are bought directly from “top IP transit providers” and, therefore, should provide reliable performance. If you’re located in Europe, a P2P server from the UK might work. However, torrenting can be done in all parts of the world.

Security & Privacy

PrivateVPN Privacy Policy

It’s safe to say that you can trust PrivateVPN to keep your personal data strongly encrypted and hidden from anyone else on the Web. Our Score: 10/10.

To investigate what kind of security and data protection you can expect, we’ll look at three areas of PrivateVPN. First, we’ll talk about the application’s encryption and protocols. Then, we’ll check out its logging policy and do a DNS leak test.

Supported Encryption Protocols

Just like any capable VPN, PrivateVPN is doing its best to hide your real identity. This VPN takes all your data and encrypts it, which keeps your PII information private from third-parties. It happens via AES-256 encryption, which is the industry standard.

Then, you should know that PrivateVPN uses a wide range of VPN protocols. It includes OpenVPN (with TCP/UDP), L2TP, IPsec, PPTP, and IKEv2. All of these come with their strengths and weaknesses, with OpenVPN being the most commonly used one.

Logging Policy

PrivateVPN is taking your privacy very seriously, and it comes with a ‘no-logs’ policy. It means that none of your personal data is recorded on the servers, and the company doesn’t know what you really do online.

What’s important to note is that PrivateVPN has never been linked to a privacy-related scandal or data leak. Since they don’t collect any data, they can’t reply to inquiries made by third-parties. Even if they receive a request to investigate a user, all they can see are encrypted numerical values.

DNS Leak Test

Finally, it’s also essential to know if this VPN leaks your sensitive data. This can be seen by running a DNS leak test, which inspects VPNs for their capability to keep your “real” data deeply hidden. So, let’s take a look at how PrivateVPN scores.

PrivateVPN Passes DNS Leak Test

After connecting to a server in the USA, we’ve decided to run a DNS leak test. And according to the results we’ve received, websites can only see PrivateVPN’s information. It means that third-parties will see a remote DNS server and our virtual IP address, which means your personal data is kept safe.

Speed & Performance

Netflix USA Unblocking via PrivateVPN

With a speed reduction of 67.5%, PrivateVPN has failed to impress us – considering that it promotes its “fast” performance quite aggressively. Our Score: 4.5/10.

Now, we are going to check the performance of PrivateVPN. This means connecting to several servers based on their geographical location and testing their speeds. We’ll start by checking the speed of our ‘naked’ Web connection so that we get our baseline data.

Baseline Data Prior to Testing PrivateVPN
Our baseline stats.

First, we’ve checked the speed of our Web connection without using a VPN. We got 460.60 Mbps for downloads and 48.65 Mbps for uploads. We are going to use these numbers to calculate any speed reduction caused by PrivateVPN.

PrivateVPN Serbia Server Performance
PrivateVPN’s Europe-based server performance.

As always, we start with a nearby server. We’re located in Europe, and PrivateVPN has offered us a server found in our very own country. After connecting to that server, we ran a speed test. Finally, we got 199.82 Mbps for downloads and 46.44 Mbps for uploads. We have to say that we didn’t expect our internet connection to be throttled by more than 50%.

PrivateVPN USA Server Performance
PrivateVPN’s USA-based server performance.

Finally, we wanted to connect to a remote server, which, in our case, would be located in the United States. We’ve picked a server capable of unblocking media streaming websites, as these are hugely popular across any VPN provider. We got 102.01 Mbps for downloads and 35.51 for uploads.

Download Speed Upload Speed Speed Reduction
Baseline Speed 460.60 Mbps 48.65 Mbps 0%
Nearby Server 199.82 Mbps 46.44 Mbps 57%
Remote Server 102.01 Mbps 35.51 Mbps 78%

After checking both nearby and remote servers, we can say that PrivateVPN has throttled our connection by around 67.5% on average. We do have to admit that we expected a much better result, and we hope to see PrivateVPN’s performance improved in the future.

Customer Support

Customer Support Portal PrivateVPN

PrivateVPN offers various ways to get help and have your questions answered. However, even though it provides live chat support, it isn’t available 24/7. Our Score: 9/10.

In case of any questions or doubts regarding PrivateVPN, you can turn to its official website. That’s where you’ll find a dedicated support section, with numerous resources available. So, here’s what you can expect:

  • Live Chat Support: The company offers live-chat support, located in the bottom-right corner of the website. However, we’ve noticed that this option is not enabled 24/7. More often, you’ll be able to send a message and have the company respond to you via email.
  • Installation Guides: PrivateVPN also offers a series of nicely written installation guides for pretty much every supported platform. There are also videos that make this process as simple as it could be.
  • Frequently Asked Questions: PrivateVPN has done a good job of coming up with commonly asked questions and providing additional support. Instead of listing hundreds of questions as is usually the case, they’ve kept this FAQ section on-point and concise.
  • Support Tickets: And finally, there’s the traditional method of customer support. You can send an email to this VPN’s tech support team. On average, you can expect them to reply within one day.

All in all, it’s good to know that PrivateVPN has your back in case of any questions. It would be nice to see a 24/7 live chat support, which is perhaps the only drawback to this entire customer support system.

Pricing

Link to PrivateVPN Pricing Page

PrivateVPN often comes up with special promotions that bring its price down in a dramatic way, making this VPN one of the most affordable options. Our Score: 9.5/10.

Just like the majority of VPN providers, PrivateVPN offers three subscription plans. All of those bring the same set of features. The only difference is in their duration and the total price. And also, it’s worth noting that these are often discounted.

Subscription Plan Total Price Per Month Savings
1-Month Plan $7.67 $7.67 30%
3-Months Plan $14.63 $4.88 55%
13-Months Plan $49.68 $3.82 65%

If we take a look at its most comprehensive plan, PrivateVPN comes down to $3.82 per month. You should know that the majority of top-rated VPNs are priced between $6.00 and $7.00 if you go for their annual plans. Therefore, we conclude that PrivateVPN comes with an attractive price.

It’s also worth noting that this provider offers frequent discounts, especially during holidays. At times, the price of its annual subscription can go as low as $2.00 per month – which then makes PrivateVPN one of the best deals around. So, make sure to check the latest PrivateVPN’s promotions.

Finally, let’s not forget to mention that you can pay via credit cards, PayPal, and even Bitcoin. Also, all of the tool’s subscription plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Do We Recommend PrivateVPN?

Link to PrivateVPN Homepage Website

PrivateVPN shows a lot of promise. This isn’t a perfect VPN service, but it also exceeds our expectations regarding some aspects. An ideal customer of this VPN would be someone who wants to browse the Web safely or unblock specific websites. More advanced users will be left wanting for more comprehensive options and more servers, things that PrivateVPN doesn’t offer at the moment.

  • PROS: Flawless reputation; Easy installation; No data logging; 100% secure and safe to use; Unblocks popular websites; Great for media streaming.
  • CONS: A somewhat outdated UI design; Relatively small server network.
  • OUR SCORE: 8.4 out of 10!

We can conclude that average home users are going to love everything that PrivateVPN offers. It’s easy to use, unblocks websites, and comes with amazing customer support. If you see yourself using this VPN, make sure to check it out and subscribe to PrivateVPN.

Written by David Minister

Written by ODD Balls

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