PrivateVPN Review 2021: Great for Streaming, Bad for Privacy

by
Frederik Lipfert
Dr. Frederik Lipfert Founder, vpncheck
Updated on 13 Oct 2021
Frederik is a serial entrepreneur that jumped into entrepreneurship after earning his doctorate in physics. Founding and running an analytics company got him into the online privacy and security space he's now contributing to with vpncheck. Read full bio

Expert Contributions

Abhishek Sharma Network Engineer
Oksana Ivanova
Oksana Ivanova User Interface Designer
John Mulligan
John Mulligan Cybersecurity Researcher
Gillian Carrington Lawyer
Gillian Carrington Privacy & Data Protection Lawyer
Brendan Filipovski
Brendan Filipovski Business Consultant
This review is based on the exclusive research, analyses, and tests our experts have conducted of PrivateVPN.

In this PrivateVPN review, our VPNcheck team of experts tested and rated essential aspects of this VPN service to find why it didn’t have the same boost as other top VPNs and whether there were any potential flaws. 

You might think PrivateVPN should be a worthy competitor for the ubiquitous ExpressVPN – and you’re not alone. We started our research from the same thought due to the surprisingly good scores PrivateVPN got on many expert tests conducted for our review. 

Unlike many of its competitors, PrivateVPN makes a few sweeping statements. It’s a simple VPN that performs well, according to its slogan and promotional materials. It has a no-logs policy, supports torrenting, no history of breaches (but some vulnerabilities), and fast connections. Streamers will love the speed and downloaders will enjoy torrenting.

There is a certain feeling, when you look deeper into what PrivateVPN offers, that it has the potential to be a great VPN for streaming, torrenting, gaming, and other general use cases. And yet, why isn’t it as popular as ExpressVPN?

Let’s dive in.

A Quick Overview of PrivateVPN Features

  • Streaming Access: unlocks all the top streaming services in the world, including Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, Disney+, and more.
  • Speed: The network speeds are high, delivering an average of 72.5 Mbps in our tests, which is great for browsing, streaming, and file sharing.
  • Servers: PrivateVPN is one of the few VPNs that work in China and Russia, allowing users in those countries to access information freely.
  • Security: In terms of how safe it is to use PrivateVPN to stay secure and anonymous, compared to other VPNs, it offers adequate protection. HOWEVER, they have not had third-party audits to confirm and it still seems to be using an old version of its VPNs backend.
  • Price: PrivateVPN offers some of the best features of any VPN, keeps the price low (around $2.50 per month on a 2-year plan), and offers various plans for different customer types.
  • Free Trial: There’s a 7-day trial offered for new customers to check out all the features in full before choosing to sign up.
  • Compatibility: Users get PrivateVPN apps for all clients/platforms, including Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and other devices like routers.

PrivateVPN Network Performance: Streaming and Torrenting on Good Speeds

In essence, PrivateVPN performs as well as you would expect a VPN service with just over 200 servers worldwide to perform. Its speeds, while high, are nothing to write home about but not something to be scoffed at either.

We found that Europe and the US supported download speeds above 100Mbps even when latency to regions like New York is 107ms.

speed test result for PrivateVPN’s New York server showing a download speed of 108.03 and an upload speed of 52.89

New York speed test

On average, PrivateVPN speeds were satisfactory for all kinds of streaming, browsing, and file sharing.

speed test result for PrivateVPN’s London server showing a download speed of 97.38 and an upload speed 65.18

London speed test

To get a genuinely informed perspective on the performance metrics of PrivateVPN, we tasked an expert with running a slew of in-depth tests. Here’s what Abhishek Sharma had to say about PrivateVPN:

Our Expert Review and Rating of PrivateVPN’s Network Performance

Abhishek Sharma
Network Engineer

PrivateVPN encapsulates all browser-generated traffic, although packet capture shows DNS traffic sent to manually configured servers. This issue can be fixed by using PrivateVPN’s DNS server in TCP/IP/Adapter settings. No DNS or SSL interception was detected by PrivateVPN, showing actual privacy being maintained for the duration of web browsing.

Global average speed (based on 20 different locations) was found to be 72.5 Mbps, which is quite good for all sorts of browsing, streaming, file sharing purposes. The US, Europe endpoints support download speeds of 100+ Mbps, even when latency to remote locations such as New York is 107ms. The average latency of 25ms for VPN endpoints in the EU region shows that VPN endpoints are not overloaded or dropping traffic. There is a possible indication of a reliable underlying hardware. The operating system in use on PrivateVPN servers seems to be some flavor of Linux.

PrivateVPN provides its own client for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS. By default OpenVPN(TUN+UDP+1194) protocol is used by clients, and there are options to choose from 4 other protocols. Download speed while connecting via PrivateVPN client was lower compared to Wireguard VPN client connecting to the same endpoint. It is possible to generate a Wireguard config from the My Account page of PrivateVPN’s site.

Based on IP location checks, the company seems to be using co-location/self-hosting for VPN servers, and they are not hosted in known public clouds. Also, servers in a region or country are not clustered in one place but are spread around different locations.

Satisfactory performance with streaming services, 4K, 8K videos were easily streamed while connecting to remote VPN endpoints. Netflix 4K videos were checked as well and performed smoothly as well. It is possible to watch content that is blocked by geography, country – both YouTube and Netflix reflect this. Besides streaming, PrivateVPN also provides dedicated IP addresses for torrent and file share purposes; these IPs are located globally. When paused videos continue to buffer 15-30 seconds in advance, six simultaneous connections are allowed.

There is active protection against DNS leaks, IPv6, and WebRTC leaks, plus the website mentions no logs of users are kept, assuring complete privacy. Overall, above-standard performance, security, the ability to unblock & stream content, dedicated IPs for downloading, and user-friendliness make PrivateVPN a service of choice.

Based on my opinion as a network engineer and architect, I rate PrivateVPN  8/10.

    8
    8

    PrivateVPN Streaming Competency

    Streaming services tend to restrict their content to one geographical location or specific places. For those living outside of those areas, that premium content is out of bounds.

    VPNs solve the problem by making it look like you live in approved areas. The trick is to do it convincingly, without skimping on security or allowing detection.

    Does PrivateVPN unlock the best streaming services? Yes, it does. Let’s examine the ones we all care about.

    PrivateVPN’s Netflix page

    PrivateVPN for Netflix

    Netflix content is optimized for streaming and as such, does not require very high speeds to enjoy quality resolutions. Of course, the faster, the better. Given the high average speed PrivateVPN delivers, Netflix content streams lag-free and with high resolution from just about any server.

    Once you have a paid Netflix account, all you need to do is switch on PrivateVPN, and it will connect you to the appropriate server so you can begin streaming every library. Sometimes, Netflix UK, Netflix Canada, and Netflix US all have different things in their libraries, which you can now access in full by switching locations at will.

    Hulu: Unblocked

    Hulu’s catalog has improved in recent years to include acclaimed titles like The Handmaid’s Tale, High Fidelity, Modern Family, and Homeland, which has helped its popularity climb. Watching these shows outside the US, however, is not allowed.

    That is where PrivateVPN comes in. With a simple tap on the appropriate server, you can access the entire Hulu catalog and be up to date on what is new and awesome.

    If you try signing up for a Hulu account from an unauthorized location, it will return with a vague message saying that your email address cannot be verified.

    A screenshot of Hulu’s Sign Up page for a geoblocked user indicating the site can’t verify the email address

    The ‘Continue’ button won’t even be clickable. Say goodbye to all that, because PrivateVPN has your Hulu.

    Disney+: Unblocked

    People who have heard good things about the Disney+ platform know that it hosts a show called The Mandalorian, which has been a triumph. As the Mouse’s empire plans to expand its catalog with new MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) and Star Wars releases, the nostalgic generation of old and GenZers alike cannot wait to tune in for some of that new content.

    A screenshot of the message on DisneyPlus website for geoblocked users

    However, Disney’s fans outside a few select countries cannot access the platform. With PrivateVPN and a Disney+ account, you too can get access to exclusive content!

    Prime Video: Unblocked

    Amazon’s Prime Video is by no means limited in its presence. Across 200+ countries and territories on the globe, people can access the platform easily and stream great content like The Boys, Invincible, The Expanse, Bosch, and more.

    However, there are caveats in place:

    • Some of the content is not available in all 200+ countries and territories.
    • German, UK, and US households can’t get a standalone Prime Video subscription and are forced to subscribe to an Amazon Prime membership, which comes bundled with the streaming service. As such, they end up paying for services they neither need nor use.
    • People in Italy, India, Canada, Turkey, France, and Australia can only access the service through a dedicated site (primevideo.com) instead of the main Amazon site for their respective countries.

    Instead of going through all the hoops to watch content, you can get your subscription from any country and watch it all. Even then, Prime Video subscriptions tied to the UK or US will only stream content geo-blocked to those countries.

    BBC iPlayer: Unblocked

    The UK’s BBC has produced great content for decades, most of which can be found on the BBC iPlayer streaming service. They include popular titles like I May Destroy You, Life on Mars, McMafia. Sherlock and more.

    We are not going to get into how good British shows tend to be. Suffice it to say; you want access to this catalog. With PrivateVPN, you can access every title on the BBC iPlayer catalog.

    It is worth noting that BBC iPlayer’s content is geo-blocked to the UK. Trying to access it from a non-UK location will show you a notification saying iPlayer only works in the UK due to rights issues. Go figure!

    A screenshot of the message on BBC iPlayer's website for geoblocked users saying the service only works for UK users due to rights issues

    When it comes to streaming, PrivateVPN is no slouch on the variety or speed fronts. You can unlock other geo-blocked services like DAZN, Hoststar, RTE, and more.

    Torrents/torrenting with PrivateVPN

    PrivateVPN allows torrenting and works best when connected to servers closest to you, given that torrenting as a form of downloading content consumes more bandwidth. Torrenting allows users to anonymously move large files like movies, music, or software while adding an extra layer of protection with the VPN. 

    VPNs tend to restrict P2P services, which is why torrenting on PrivateVPN is a point in its favor. The VPN doesn’t just support P2P file sharing but allows you to connect with any server for this, with just a single click.

    There is no restriction on bandwidth to download at the highest possible speeds. Couple that with Swedish security laws, 256-bit AES, and 2048-bit military-grade encryption.

    Compatibility and servers

    PrivateVPN supports every major client/platform. This includes Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, and routers. The VPN can protect up to 6 devices simultaneously.

    If you have a router, the protections can be extended to more devices in your household. However, the network speeds may slow down, depending on how many devices you connect to the router.

    When it comes to installation on any of the supported devices and platforms, one does not need to be a tech whiz. For the PC installations, all you need is the .exe file from the official website. For phone users, download the app from the App Store or Google Play Store, depending on your device.

    For desktops and laptops, you will need to be running Windows 7 and newer. macOS users need to be running 10.11 and up, or you could go for Chrome OS.

    Phones and tablets are supported, starting with Android version 4.0 and up and iOS 9.0 and up. The service is compatible with video players, too, supporting Chromecast, Kodi, and Amazon Fire TV Stick.

    PrivateVPN is available in many countries around the world, including Canada, the UK, and the US. It boasts over 200 server locations in more than 60 countries. Users can connect and disconnect from servers at will.

    It is worth noting that there are restrictions in some countries like China, where you can connect only through L2TP VPN, since “The Great Firewall” blocks other methods that are detectable by the government.

    PrivateVPN Server Locations

    PrivateVPN has more than 200 servers located in 63 countries across the globe. Users can pick the server they prefer and make their connection appear to be from whichever country they choose.

    With a PrivateVPN subscription, you can get to access all the available locations and unlock content while keeping your online activity away from prying eyes.

    A screenshot of PrivateVPN’s page showing their claim of 63 server locations

    Even with all the servers it has, which form a relatively small network compared to the top-level providers, it is not easy to find the fastest server. Unlike other VPNs with a list of recommended servers for various tasks like streaming, gaming, and torrenting, PrivateVPN offers no assistance in letting you know the fastest apps to use.

    Granted, if you open up the server locations list, you will see ping numbers in (ms), which could help you pick a suitable fast server, but it would be better if they were grouped.

    It is worth noting that PrivateVPN and ExpressVPN were founded in the same year, but the former’s server network is significantly smaller. A bigger network promotes faster speeds, helps with masking, and reduces overcrowding.

    PrivateVPN Design: Better on Desktop Than Mobile

    In designing apps, developers aim to make their creations interesting to look at, easy to use, and intuitive. Since the technical nature of design requires an expert, we enlisted the help of UX designer, Oksana Ivanova, to test PrivateVPN.

    Her insights into its color scheme, design style, what it evokes and more, give us an in-depth look into what this VPN delivers on all platforms. Read on to find out more.

    Our Expert Review and Rating of PrivateVPN’s UI/UX Design

    Oksana Ivanova
    Oksana Ivanova
    User Interface Designer

    PrivateVPN is an example of a simple and easy-to-use solution regardless of your level of VPN expertise. The application features advanced settings and options for those who are familiar with what they want to do.

    But for the ordinary user, PrivateVPN is simple and very user-friendly. It is consistent in the design across all devices and does not distract from the main action of connecting to a server right away. The white space around the main elements makes them stand out. There’s just one primary button that one person can use to feel safe and protected.

    The main disadvantage of this solution is that it’s not clear whether it fits the accessibility standards. The purple color is not friendly for color-blindness, and the power button is just a visual representation of a physical button. It’s not clear whether it will work via voice control, Siri, or other voice-operated devices.

    Based on the overall review, here are the pros and cons of the PrivateVPN design:

    PROS Points           CONS Points
    • Beginner-friendly, clear call to action
    +3
    • Questionable in terms of accessibility
    -2
    • Just one click to connect, no extra tuning is needed
    +2
    • Lack of guidance and resources of the current design on the developer’s website
    -0.5
    • Clean and simple interface, lots of white space, not cluttered
    +3
    • Lack of excessive or unnecessary notifications
    +2

    Based on my opinion as a UX Designer, I rate PrivateVPN’s user interference and user experience 8/10.

      8
      8

      Device Compatibilities

      Now that we have examined how PrivateVPN performs, it’s time we look at the devices it is compatible with.

      According to the website, you can install PrivateVPN on:

      • Windows
      • Linux
      • Mac
      • iOS
      • Android
      • Router

      Across almost all the platforms, PrivateVPN’s functions look identical, which ensures that whatever devices you’re on, everything feels familiar and easy to navigate.

      To get started, head over to the official website and find the download button at the bottom of the page.

      A screenshot of PrivateVPN’s home page with the Download clickable link highlighted

      The .exe installation file will be downloaded into your respective downloads folder. Once downloaded, you can run it as an administrator and get started once it opens up. If you have paid for your subscription or signed up for the free trial, log in, and this is what you’ll see.

      PrivateVPN’s home screen on mobile showing VPN as turned OFF

      Connecting is as easy as clicking on the big white button.

      PrivateVPN’s home screen on mobile showing VPN as turned ON with the active IP address

      To see more details, click on ‘Advanced View’. This is what you’ll see:

      PrivateVPN’s ‘Advanced View’ screen showing various editable settings

      From here, you can tweak additional settings like leak protection, connecting automatically on startup, and more.

      Across platforms, the apps have (more or less) the same design and features.

      There is a notable difference in the iOS app, though. It does not have a kill switch. That means your true IP address is at risk of exposure if your VPN connection drops.

      However, this is a common problem across many VPNs, which struggle to include a kill switch for iOS devices and therefore should not be a reason to ignore this VPN.

      PrivateVPN Apps and Extensions

      PrivateVPN provides apps and extensions for all the platforms it supports. Let’s examine the supported ones and discuss how you can cover the rest, should this be the VPN you choose.

      PrivateVPN on PC Windows

      The Windows app is simple to use. After installation, it can give you notifications for any pertinent changes, allow you to connect to a preferred server in one click, and pick a suitable server from a list of locations.

      The main screen Windows allows you to toggle between an advanced view with more settings and a simple view that shows you just the basics for a quick connection.

      PrivateVPN’s ‘Advanced View’ screen showing various editable settings

      In advanced view, you can customize the connection type, encryption, and specify settings for things like the kill switch, leak protection, stealth, and access to support.

      When we clicked on the ‘Streamed Services’ tab, which we thought would have recommended servers for streaming, nothing came up. In addition to that minor issue, there is port forwarding every time you connect.

      The problem is that you cannot disable this and would have to reconfigure routers and other potentially affected software to use a different port each time.

      PrivateVPN on Mac

      The macOS app is almost the same as the Windows one, but with the signature rounded Apple buttons to fit the general design. However, there are some things present in Windows that are missing here.

      Some of the missing things are nothing to worry about (PPTP isn’t present, which is not a problem), but others are useful and include the ability to kill some apps when disconnecting from a VPN server as well as DNS leak protection.

      PrivateVPN on Android

      This app has the same settings and looks the desktop versions have. The difference is that the desktops are more intuitive (given the larger screen), while navigation isn’t as streamlined on mobile. That means the user experience is not so enjoyable. However, there is no real excuse for the app to be this clunky.

      The design is plain, offering the bare minimum of what you expect from a VPN service, which gives one the feeling that the team behind the VPN spends more time catering to desktop clients than mobile users.

      PrivateVPN on iOS

      Just like the Android app, the mobile app for iOS is not any better.

      It is the same minimal design, with the same scanty features. There is a switch to turn Stealth VPN on and off, as well as one to switch ports. Aside from changing the tunneling protocols and encryptions, there is not much else you can change.

      The app shows you the whole server list, where you can pick a location of your choice, opting to skip the often glitchy recommended servers (Streaming Services) list. As we mentioned, there is no kill switch on iOS. 

      NOTE: Linux users can follow this procedure, provided by PrivateVPN, to set up their connections: PrivateVPN’s Guide to Network Manager Setup

      Home Routers

      PrivateVPN can be installed on the following types of routers:

      • ASUS RT Models
      •  Synology
      • Tomato
      • QNAP
      •  pfSense
      • Linksys
      • DD-WRT

      For all these routers, you will get detailed guides showing you how to install them.

      Consoles and Streaming Devices

      PrivateVPN’s speed is designed to cater to heavy streamers (both games and media content), which is why it covers several other platforms. We were not happy about the missing Smart DNS feature, which makes the VPN unable to unblock streaming sites on consoles (PS4 or PS5) and Apple TV.

      Since these devices do not allow the installation of VPN apps, most of the VPN providers include Smart DNS to trick websites and apps into registering that you are connecting from a country different from your own without needing a full VPN.

      Because PrivateVPN doesn’t have it, you have to install it at the router level to unlock devices connected to it. PrivateVPN doesn’t offer pre-installed routers for sale, which is why you have to do it manually. They do offer a helpful guide with pros and cons here: How to Install a VPN on a Router

      Extensions

      PrivateVPN does not have extensions for Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge, or other browsers. You will get the most use out of it if you have it as a blanket, installed in your router, covering every device connected to your network.

      PrivateVPN Security: Still Has Much to Improve

      VPNs by themselves are designed to provide an extra layer of security since they are tunneling protocols. As the name implies, they keep your traffic away from prying eyes. However, they can be bad at securing your presence, which is why we have to make sure that the vulnerabilities are detailed so you know what you are getting.

      For this portion, we enlisted the help of cybersecurity expert, John Mulligan, who compiled a full report.

      Our Expert Review and Rating of PrivateVPN’s Security

      John Mulligan
      John Mulligan
      Cybersecurity Researcher

      Private VPN seems to be a solid VPN provider for the standard user.  They use a rebranded OpenVPN client that is reliable and easy to use. The OpenVPN backbone supports a wide range of protocols and configurations for those with specific needs, but the default configuration is simple and secure for the day-to-day user wanting to add privacy. The VPN dashboard makes it very easy to choose different servers/regions for you to route your traffic through, along with other security features. They offer a connection guard and stealth VPN, allowing you to customize your security profile slightly. With their default configuration, I confirmed they have no DNS leaks, IP address leaks, or WebRTC leaks with their service. DNS lookups are kept private and I was easily able to mask my location to the streaming services and websites visited. Functionally, it performed as described without the clunky client several other VPN providers offer.

      The primary concern about their product is the age of their backend OpenVPN. It is running version 2.4.9 from April 2020, and the current version is 2.5.3 dated June 2021. I am not sure about the reasoning for not keeping this up to date, and this brings up a concern about what else they are letting fall behind. Everything else seems very promising with the solution, but I would not feel comfortable using it until they update to the latest version. A secondary issue is the lack of any audit by a 3rd party that they actually do not track or log users in any way. They have a very detailed privacy policy on their website, but without having an audit by an engineer, you are taking the word of the content of the website without any objective confirmation.  

      Overall, they have a very promising platform, good support, well-established back end, all the security basics, and a good interface. I would like to take their word that they do not log any traffic, but it would be a huge plus if they allowed a reputable 3rd party to confirm this information. This alone, I may be able to look past if their backend was up to date. Running outdated software is a huge detractor in any production environment, but this is a failure when dealing with the security world.

      I really like the interface and product, but considering all factors listed above,  I would give them a 5/10, closer to a 4 than a 6 :/  Could easily be an 8+ if they resolved issues that I think can be easily resolved.

        5
        5

        Security Protocols

        To keep its users safe, PrivateVPN employs a slew of security measures that perform in some areas but are lacking in others. Let’s check them out.

        Encryption

        PrivateVPN uses military-grade AES-256 encryption, 2,048-bit RSA and SHA256 keys for authentication, and 2.048-DHE keys for perfect forward secrecy. That makes it impossible to hack. The VPN also uses the TLSv1.2 protocol, which is highly secure, as blanket encryption for the connection.

        Tunneling

        The range of tunneling protocols are also impressive, including OpenVPN with UDP/TCP, PPTP, IKEv2, IPsec, and L2TP. Users can toggle these settings on and off with ease, making it easy to choose your protocol of choice.
        A screenshot of PrivateVPN’s page listing their available VPN protocols

        IPv6 Leak Protection

        PrivateVPN masks your IP address, identity, and traffic to keep you safe from prying government eyes. The tests conducted by the security expert showed this VPN’s effectiveness, as it displayed no leaks.

        Kill Switch

        PrivateVPN has a kill-switch for the Windows, Android, and Mac PrivateVPN apps. Kill switches are a big deal in modern VPNs since they ensure that even if your connection drops, you won’t be exposed. Combine that with DNS leak protection and IPv6, and your protection is complete.

        PrivateVPN’s security measures perform well on many fronts; however, the cybersecurity expert who tested it had some issues with the service’s lack of third-party audits and a standard update he expects every VPN provider to have. Sadly, however, PrivateVPN is also one of the few top VPNs under the 14 Eyes Surveillance Alliance jurisdiction. Yikes!

        PrivateVPN Reliability: Not All That Bad

        PrivateVPN makes some bold claims about its security. The VPN claims to ‘Protect Everything.’ However, from what we have seen so far, it fails on some basic things you would expect a good VPN to have or implement. This might make you wonder what kind of data they collect from their users. 

        VPNs are supposed to, above all things, be secure and reliable. After all, we aren’t paying them (or hackers) to steal and share our data. To ensure that we didn’t miss anything, we asked our in-house Privacy & Data Protection Legal Expert, Gillian Carrington, who had the following to say.

        Our Expert Review and Rating of PrivateVPN’s Data Privacy Protection

        Gillian Carrington Lawyer
        Gillian Carrington
        Privacy & Data Protection Lawyer

        PrivateVPN offers a well-drafted privacy policy that mainly follows GDPR norms.

        The GDPR is widely regarded as setting the global “gold standard” for data privacy, although EU Member States can – and do – derogate from it, that is to say, they can enhance but not detract from the basic requirements in the EU legislation. Sweden has adopted national laws in a number of sectors in addition to the base GDPR requirements in the Data Protection Act (2018:218) and the Data Protection Ordinance (2018:19) (the “DPA”). The DPA regulates general aspects of data protection where the GDPR allows, e.g., processing of social security numbers and processing of data pertaining to criminal offenses. The DPA entered into force on 25 May 2018.

        The positive aspects of the privacy policy include (i) complying with the data minimization and purpose limitation principles to the maximum extent possible by holding minimal personal data, (ii) communicating in a clear, intelligible, and transparent manner, (iii) providing detailed information about the types and purposes of personal data collected, (iv) ensuring organizational and technical security measures, and (v) providing users with an opportunity to access and manage their personal data. PrivateVPN also commits to safeguarding users’ privacy by not logging and storing users’ connection or behavioral data. It is a short Privacy Policy that aims to do just what it says on the tin, in line with PrivateVPN’s no-nonsense offering.

        Nevertheless, the policy feels flimsy for a post-Schrems era and we wonder whether it would stand up to challenge. First and foremost, we would doubt whether it is possible to simply “outsource” data processing obligations as the policy seeks to do. Our review has discovered some other shortcomings that need to be addressed, the main ones being (i) absence of details regarding international transfers of personal data and safeguards taken to secure such transfers, (ii) no description of the data retention periods (iii) a cookies banner that disappears after the first visit (to the extent that we had to log in from another device to re-access it), (iv) a non-E-privacy compliant cookies policy that is only linked in the banner and is not replicated in a link on the homepage and lacks detail and (v) no attempt to explain, let alone balance, legitimate interests where this is relied on as a ground for challenge. The site also, rather confusingly, invites you to complain directly to the data protection regulator rather than offering a first point of contact with PrivateVPN.

        We rate PrivateVPN's privacy 7.5 / 10.

          7.5
          7.5

          Support

          PrivateVPN offers effective and useful support, with quick replies via live chat and email options. One of the things you may notice when trying to call in is that the live chat hours may not be very consistent.

          The reason for this is that PrivateVPN agents are available 24/7, but with a little caveat. They are not available ‘late at night Swedish time.’

          Even though the service has an online presence, they mainly use the Twitter and Facebook platforms to promote how-to blog posts, but not necessarily to provide support.

          To get in touch, just go to the official website, click on the text bubble on the bottom right corner of the app, and ‘Live Support’ will be up and running.

          A screenshot of PrivateVPN’s web page with the chat icon highlighted at the bottom right corner

          If you do not find anyone online, enter your name, email, and message to submit a ticket.

          Company Overview, History, and Reliability

          PrivateVPN was founded in 2009 in Stockholm, Sweden. The full name of the company is Privat Kommunikation Sverige AB, which it has failed to trademark. It claims that it has never suffered an attack or breach, which a cursory check will confirm.

          However, the company has had exploits in the past targeting various flaws in some of its systems.

          We must also mention that the company has a clause that allows it to share data with the authorities if a court order is obtained. That could present problems, especially in cases of accidental downloads of potentially copyrighted data, if the law were to get its hand on ‘proof’ from PrivateVPN servers.

          Even though the company said that it does not keep logs of your data, it collects your cookies and IP address. The claim is that sites may not load correctly on servers if cookies are disabled.

          Worse, there is a possibility that third parties may get access to your data – since the PrivateVPN website says that third parties ‘might analyze our site data.’ The VPN service says that it only gives non-identifiable information and is done to improve the site or marketing and ‘only for internal use,’ which doesn’t make us feel very safe.

          To be fair, PrivateVPN is a reliable VPN that should be at the forefront of the industry. However, some things, including that it has never had a third-party audit and has questionable logging policies, keep it from truly achieving greatness.

          PrivateVPN’s Business Structure and Operation

          In dealing with a company that you entrust your security on the internet to and that claims to keep everything safe, it is usually good to know everything about them, including how business is done over there.

          One thing that this company has going for it is the fact that it is headquartered in Sweden, a country with strict financial regulations and stringent data protection laws.

          For that, we enlisted the help of yet another industry expert, Brendan Filipovski, who researched what else there is to know, or that can be known, about the company. Read on to find out more about how the company operates, who it partners with, and other pertinent business details.

          Our Expert Review and Rating of PrivateVPN’s Business Structure

          Brendan Filipovski
          Brendan Filipovski
          Business Consultant

          I like established VPN companies; companies with a track record that have evolved with the industry and have overcome obstacles. Companies with sustained success. PrivateVPN (PrivateVPN Global AB) is such a company. It has been around since 2009 and has overcome operational difficulties.

          It is based in Stockholm, Sweden. This provides me with confidence in its financial reporting and administration as Sweden has a strong financial regulatory environment. Past financial reports are available for the holding company and showed a profit in 2018-19 and 2019-20. 

          Up until recently, ownership has been stable. It was reportedly owned by Privat Kommunikation Sverige AB, which is the company visible in the iPhone app. But Privat Kommunikation is currently unregistered according to the Swedish company register, so it is unclear who owns the company at present or if this is a problem or not for PrivateVPN.

          Apart from its name and location, there is little publicly known about the company. The individual founders are unknown, and there is no founder’s story. This is sparse even for a VPN company.

          The company is at a disadvantage with regard to trademarks. In 2019, Privat Kommunikation Sverige AB applied for a Swedish and EU trademark for “PrivateVPN” but was rejected because it was too general: any VPN service could describe itself as a “private VPN”. This means competitors could use the term “PrivateVPN” when marketing their own VPNs. This may confuse potential customers of PrivateVPN. At some point, the company could consider a name change but so long as it owns the domain name, it has an advantage.

          Compared to other VPN companies, there is even less transparency than normal. Little is known about the founders or the details of the operating and holding company. Ownership has been stable over time but there is a question mark over its current ownership. PrivateVPN has a focused business model and target market: VPNs for private users. This should give users confidence in the level of support they receive. And while Sweden may not be the best jurisdiction in terms of privacy, it inspires confidence regarding financial reporting and basic administration.

          Based on my opinion as a business consultant, I rate PrivateVPN 5/10 in terms of its business structure.

            5
            5

            PrivateVPN Pricing: Good Deal on Both 3- and 24-months Plans

            Having seen what this VPN can do, we get to the part where we ask if it is worth it. What does that mean to you? For some, worth it means the VPN keeps you safe, with zero caveats, zero compromises, and zero mistakes. For others, it means having the ability to stream content, with little regard for the intense security needs more technical individuals may require.

            We think that no matter who you are, PrivateVPN pricing is generally considered to be affordable.

            There are three subscription plans, a 7-day free trial, and a 30-day money-back guarantee on paid subscriptions. You can test it fully before you commit to using it as your default VPN without it costing you money.

            A screenshot of PrivateVPN’s pricing page with the 24-month plan highlighted as the most popular

            The plans offered at the time of writing are:

            • Monthly plan- $9 per month
            • The 3-month plan- $6 per month 
            • The 24-month plan- $2.50 per month 

            To learn more about PrivateVPN’s pricing strategies, plans, and how these compare to other VPNs, have a look at what our pricing found:

            Our Expert Review and Rating of PrivateVPN’s Pricing

            Brendan Filipovski
            Brendan Filipovski
            Business Consultant

            If you’re looking for a simple, affordable VPN service, then PrivateVPN is a good option. 

            Prices are slightly below the market average with PrivateVPN, as it only charges 1.96 EUR per month for clients willing to sign up for a two-year contract. For this price, the VPN offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, over 200 different servers scattered around the world, full support on all OS platforms, and unlimited bandwidth and server switches.

            The VPN emphasizes this special 24-month subscription for the price of twelve and the huge 77% cost savings that come along with it. This heavy promotion is a reason why it is now the most popular subscription plan currently available on the site.

            Despite a history dating back to 2009, the Sweden-based VPN provider remains adamant about offering new customers a 100% money-back guarantee on all its subscription plans. The free trial offered is for 30 days and includes all of the features of a regular subscription, such as six simultaneous connections and more.

            PrivateVPN also delivers on the anonymity front, as it is committed to not sharing any of your personal data with third parties. Add this to the fact that you can pay for your subscription via Bitcoin, and we’re happy to report that PrivateVPN ensures a great level of privacy for its users.

            In other words, whether you’re using PrivateVPN for business purposes or personal use, you will get everything you need and more with any of the subscription plans.

            Based on all available information, I would rate PrivateVPN as a solid 8. Their prices are lower than the market average for what they offer, and they care about client’s privacy.

            However, there is still some room for improvement, especially by providing dedicated servers or expanding their offering on the subscription plans to include more advanced enterprise plans.

            Based on all available information, I would rate PrivateVPN as a solid 8.

              8
              8

              Pros and Cons

              Pros Cons
              The VPN displays no IP address leaks. The logging policy is inadequate
              The apps are easy to use and install, especially on desktops. There have been no third-party audits in the history of PrivateVPN.
              The customer support is convenient, allowing you to get replies via email if Live Chat is not on. Server speeds are not very consistent across locations.
              The long-term pricing plans are cheap when calculated per month, which saves you money. There is no Smart DNS
              PrivateVPN works very well with streaming services like Netflix and video games.
              There are features to support torrenting for frequent downloaders.

              Conclusion

              PrivateVPN doesn’t boast any extra private features. The company’s ‘claim to fame,’ as it were, is that it has not been breached since it was founded and that it is based in a country with serious data privacy protection laws.

              Aside from that, it struggles to compete on the features, server density, and security fronts.

              If you are looking for a cheap VPN with effective – though flawed – protections, leak protection, and a kill-switch (for Windows, Android, and Mac), PrivateVPN is your best bet. You can connect up to six devices simultaneously without having to pay more.

              There is a money-back guarantee, allowing you ample time to test it. Streamers will love the speeds delivered, while technical users will be wary of some of the security failings displayed by the provider.

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