LiquidVPN Review 2015: Is it really a fluid experience?

LiquidVPN Review 2015
  • Price
  • Reliability
  • Speed
  • Policy
  • Support

Summary

LiquidVPN are one of the better VPN providers out there. Reliability and speed are two key benefits of their service

Pros

  •  Fast servers.
  • Low price point.
  •  Sweet PC & Mac client.

Cons

  •  No Android or iOS client.
  •  Fewer servers than some.
4.3

I first did a LiquidVPN Review back in January 2014 and have continued to make use of their service over the time that has elapsed since. In my original review I found the service to be extremely favourable and throughout recent speed tests they generally feature high in the standings in comparison to other providers.

LiquidVPN although growing are lesser known than some of the industry leading names but does this mean a better or worse service for you the user? and what features and benefits does it provide?

No doubt you’ll want to know if they are keeping pace with the big boys so take a look at my latest LiquidVPN review for 2015 and find out.

The Packages:

Since my last review of LiquidVPN they have completely overhauled the package system and website making it easier to navigate and find the package that suits your needs.

Like previously, differences in packages are limited only in the amount of concurrent connections you require, essentially the number of devices you can connect at one time.

This set-up is slightly different to most providers who offer just one package that varies by price depending on the length of service you take. LiquidVPN let you pay for the connections you’re going to use and then the service length.

  • Sidekick$7 per month allows TWO concurrently connected devices
  • Road Warrior @ $10 per month allows FOUR concurrently connected devices
  • Ultimate @ $18 per month allows EIGHT concurrently connected devices.

The single month Sidekick package is slightly cheaper than most providers with Road Warrior comparative in both price and devices allowed with some other providers out there.

Like most providers, LiquidVPN offers substantial savings when taking a 12 month subscription across all three packages and is gradually cheaper the bigger package you choose.

Taking up a 12-month subscription works out at $4.75, $5.75 and $8.83 per month respectively across the three packages.

Unlike other providers, LiquidVPN offers a subscription-free pass available in 5, 30, 180 and 365 day variations plus additional accounts for businesses.

The Service:

A lot has changed in the near 2 years since I last did a LiquidVPN review and not only visually. The website has been completely overhauled to make navigation a more simple affair and aside from aesthetics a lot has changed behind the scenes too.

LiquidVPN targets themselves to all experience levels, but I consider them ideal for those who associate themselves as an intermediate to expert level, however, this isn’t to say they aren’t suitable for the beginner because the recent addition of custom software has completely opened up the service.

LiquidVPN offers PPTP, L2TP and OpenVPN protocols and since my last review has also added SSTP to the service.

Custom Software & Apps

Previously LiquidVPN offered a semi-custom software solution in the form of the Viscosity client and although many advanced users love this software I wasn’t personally a fan and it seems neither were LiquidVPN.

No longer an industry newcomer LiquidVPN launched their PC and Mac custom client in September and with it they’ve covered many of the basics that some other providers don’t offer in their time worn-clients.

LiquidVPN Windows

Connection is extremely simple for the beginner. All that is required is to select a server and connect. Your username and password can be set in the Settings area, but you will be prompted for them on first connection if you haven’t already entered them.

The settings area allows you to select the following options:

  • VPN Protocol: PPTP, L2TP, SSTP & OpenVPN.
  • Topology (IP): Shared, Public, Modulating & Dedicated.
  • OpenVPN Protocol: UDP & TCP.
  • OpenVPN Port: Automatic, 53, 118, 123, 443, 1194 & 9201.

As well as being able to customise connection options the client comes with built in features to cover most VPN security holes including:

  • VPN Kill Switch
  • DNS Leak Protection
  • WebRTC Protection
  • Disable IPv6
  • Automatic reconnect when connection drops
  • Auto connect when LiquidVPN is started
  • Launch LiquidVPN on system startup
  • Minimize to tray after connecting
  • Check for program updates on startup

It’s great to see protection for the most recent VPN security holes included in the software and isn’t something that is always available from other VPN provider’s software.

Server Locations

Another area LiquidVPN have continued to improve on is their server reach.

No longer is the United States covered by just 2 locations, but now a pleasing 5 spreading from West to East coast.

LiquidVPN hasn’t rested on their US expansion and while they did remove Russia for policy reasons they have expanded to include Canada, Switzerland, Sweden and Singapore.

Add these to the already covered United Kingdom, Netherlands, Germany and Romania brings the LiquidVPN country count up to nine which makes them a small to medium provider and means North America and Europe are well serviced with an option for Asia and Australia.

General Observations

LiquidVPN doesn’t currently have an Android client although one is in production and should be released in the coming months. iOS isn’t officially supported with an app yet so you’ll require manual set-up should you wish to use the service on your iPhone or iPad.

The new Windows and Mac apps have certainly opened up the service to the newcomer and make it suitable for a range of abilities. I enjoyed testing LiquidVPN and due to the reliability of their service and speeds achievable they’re one of my regular go to providers to ensure my privacy is secure while online.

A cool feature of LiquidVPN that existed last time but is still worth mentioning is their Modulating IP type which as far as I’m aware is unique to their service. As well as offering Shared, Public (previously name Dynamic) and Dedicated IP options, Modulating IPs allow for a continual rotation of IPs being used to select each element of a service you request.

As an example when you visit a website made up of text, images, audio and more each element will be received via a different IP within a select range making a somewhat spaghetti-like trail of who requested what and when. Up to 32 IP addresses can be thrown into the mix on certain server locations giving that added bit of privacy and a certainly unique feature I’ve yet to see elsewhere.

IP Modulation

An example from a log file of differing IPs requesting parts of a webpage.

Another nice features introduced since my last test was the LiquidVPN DNS system meaning any requests go via their own private DNS service meaning the URLs of the sites you visit can’t be recorded by your ISP or other third parties.

The Speeds:

LiquidVPN is a provider that can be considered on the value side price wise especially when taking a yearly service. Surprisingly, although they offer a relatively low price their actual service is anything but.

In my regular monthly round up testing VPN servers in the UK across a range of providers I find often that LiquidVPN is one of the fastest, if not the fastest available. Over the past 12 months they have consistently featured extremely highly in these tests showing that they certainly don’t oversell their service.

In fact across the board of their available servers I saw most hovering around 50% load or less which is great from a privacy aspect and explains why the speeds of the service are top notch.

As part of our standard testing procedure to test the service I downloaded a 10GB test file from my location in the UK using a random selection of LiquidVPN servers within close range physically. The downloads were carried out using a download manager to open concurrent connections on a Windows 10 system. Each connection was made using the custom LiquidVPN Windows client using OpenVPN, 256 Bit Encryption and the UDP protocol.

My connection speed without VPN at the time of testing was 188.82 Mbps.

LiquidVPN Speed Oct 2015

The servers tested in order were as follows.

  • Netherlands – 63.16 Mbps
  • Germany – 82.01 Mbps
  • United Kingdom – 122.87 Mbps
  • Romania – 73.08 Mbps
  • Sweden – 82.44 Mbps
  • Switzerland – 41.45 Mbps
  • New Jersey, USA – 64.66 Mbps

The Encryption & Policies:

LiquidVPN has made some changes in regard to encryption since my last look at their service. Gone is the use of the non-NIST standard encryption which featured on their previous Russian server and has been replaced with the standard AES across the board.

LiquidVPN uses AES 256 bit encryption for their OpenVPN connections and authentication is handled on the majority of servers with a 4096 bit RSA key although a single legacy server with a 2048 bit key remains.

In the period of time between now and my last review the RSA key size is an increase over the previously offered 1024 bit.

For those of you interested in the nitty-gritty from the server logs, the following information is available.

Data Channel Encrypt: Cipher ‘AES-256-CBC’ initialized with 256 bit key
Data Channel Encrypt: Using 512 bit message hash ‘SHA512’ for HMAC authentication
Control Channel: TLSv1, cipher TLSv1/SSLv3 DHE-RSA-AES256-SHA, 4096 bit RSA

LiquidVPN Policies

LiquidVPN has three areas in the policy stakes which includes their Code of Ethics, Terms of Service and their Warrant Canary.

Their Code of Ethics is a basic outline of what you would expect a VPN company to stand for. They claim if they received a requirement to violate your privacy then they would close and move part or all of their business to another jurisdiction. As with all VPN companies you have to take their word that they will carry out the promise but very few have been put to the test. However, it’s nice to see the sentiment there at least.

Like most providers LiquidVPN outline their logging policy in the Terms of Service. I am always pleased to see when a provider is clear about what they do log and while LiquidVPN doesn’t log session logs, which is your actual usage and what you get up to they do state they have general system logs that are required for the service to function.

On top of this they store the total amount of times you log in and the amount of data that is transferred. This is pretty standard across the industry and it’s nice to see this clearly laid out rather than a blanket “No Logs” statement.

LiquidVPN don’t store the IP you connect from or the IP you’re assigned as a rule but on occasion if network performance is suffering this may be enabled on rare occasions to allow them to rectify issues and they state they will make this clear on their service status page before it occurs.

While this data won’t allow anyone to understand what you did when using the connection, it would be nice for the policy to make it clear how long this information would be stored on those rare occasions.

A Warrant Canary is available making them one of the few services that offer this. For those interested in learning more about how these work see this Wikipedia page.

The Support:

LiquidVPN like most providers have an extensive support guide but failing that when you want assistance their method of contact is via Support Ticket.

This isn’t uncommon across the VPN industry and when I asked a simple question it took roughly two hours to get a response which isn’t bad considering it was rather early in the morning in the US when I opened the ticket.

It would be nice to have a few other contact methods such as live help but with pretty fast response speeds already via the Support Ticket system then it is ample for the job.

The Verdict:

LiquidVPN is an excellent VPN provider. Their service and speeds are some of the best and more importantly most consistent I’ve seen in the industry and from a pricing point you certainly get good value for money.

Price

Their monthly pricing is comparable with many providers available but when taken over a 12 month package it puts them in the lower bracket meaning you get exceptional value for money.

Protocols & Software

Offering a fuller range of VPN protocols will appeal to many and the inclusion of the SSTP protocol that isn’t always available across all providers is a good addition.

I am especially pleased to see the release of their own custom software which replaces the rather ugly Viscosity system that was in place last time I tested their service and the ease of use of the Windows and Mac client will certainly open up the service to those more novice users.

Although an Android client is planned in the near future sadly it wasn’t available at the time of this review and with an iOS app not forthcoming either it makes the service out of the reach of the absolute mobile novice. While the service can certainly be used with both mobile device types it requires a slightly more manual set-up meaning it could put off some users who just want quick plug in and play privacy for their mobile devices.

As more of us move to using mobile systems safeguarding the privacy of those devices will become ever more paramount and it will be imperative for LiquidVPN to provide ease of use in that market in the near future.

Servers & Speeds

A good selection of servers is available covering a wide range of North America and Europe and are often in strategic locations for both privacy reasons and for entertainment access. The addition of their first Asian server in Singapore opens up the service to those in that region and is likely to be suitable for Australians wishing to avoid the recent metadata retention laws.

LiquidVPN certainly isn’t one of the big boys when it comes to server locations so if you’re looking for a mass of worldwide locations then you’ll be sorely disappointed and areas such as Central and South America, Africa and much of Asia are completely off-limits as far as local servers go. However, for the servers that LiquidVPN do provide they’re some of the fastest and most reliable I’ve seen so if the locations are suitable for your needs then you certainly won’t be disappointed with the service.

Overall there is very little to fault with LiquidVPN and if their slimmer selection of server locations ticks the boxes that you require, you can live without mobile apps for the time being and you’re happy to use a VPN provider based in the US then I have no hesitation in recommending them. Check them out.

  • I would like to clarify that there is currently only 1 LiquidVPN server still using 2048 bit RSA. Everything else is 4096 bit RSA.

    • Does this encryption effect the speed and performance?

      • No but on a server that uses 4096 bit RSA it will take slightly longer to login to the server initially.

      • Nah it just means the connection takes longer to be established