With online privacy being a significant issue these days, several top browsers are doing their best to introduce privacy features that would attract users.
With VPN being the best online privacy and security technology, you would think that browser-makers would integrate a VPN into their products, but so far, Opera is the only one that has done this.
This is what they call ‘Opera VPN', but in truth, even this is not a real VPN, based on some common aspects that we use to identify a VPN.
For example, it doesn't have an app, and instead, it comes as more of a proxy that is integrated into the Opera browser itself.
However, it does have one thing going for it, and that's the fact that it is free.
But is it any good? We're about to find out in this review, so keep scrolling down.
The first thing to look into when it comes to any VPN is whether or not it serves the purpose it is intended to.
But, what does that mean?
Well, considering that the whole point of using a VPN is to achieve online privacy, then checking out its privacy features is what we should focus on.
This is a document that explains its jurisdiction, what data it collects, if any, who owns it, and ideally much more detail about how it stores and utilises your data.
When it comes to Opera VPN, it claims that all of its users are anonymous to the company, although it admits that certain categories of data are being collected.
It also admits that some of this data may be considered ‘personal' by law.
However, it also says that, when collecting this data, Opera acts as a ‘data controller.' In essence, it keeps usage logs necessary for the firm to know how its VPN operates.
Website claims state “No logs. No tracking. What you do online is your own business.”
As for what data is actually collected, that includes any data submitted by the user who creates an Opera account, such as username and email address.
Then, there are anonymous usage data, data used for personalised ads, crash reports, feature-specific data – which includes browser VPN information.
However, it does note that it doesn't log any info related to your browsing activity and originating network address when you use a VPN.
3. Technical details
Lastly, let's talk about the technical details of the offering.
This would include things such as security protocols and encryption that the service uses. When it comes to encryption, Opera VPN is actually rather good, as it uses 256-bit AES encryption.
This is the strongest encryption in the industry and you'll find it offered by premium VPN services and we are pleased to see it in use.
As for security protocols, Opera VPN does not use any security protocol used by other VPNs. Instead, it uses a proxy to protect traffic, which is significantly less secure.
It's also worth noting that none of your traffic outside of the Opera browser will move via the VPN service, because again this is essentially a proxy, rather than a traditional VPN.
What is Opera VPN?
VPNs are online privacy, security, and anonymity apps. They use a mix of features to hide their user's identity, location, traffic, and more.
They are easy to use, they hide your traffic from view, and if there is ever any exposure of your data, a kill switch will instantly sever your internet connection to prevent data leaks.
Unlike most VPNs, the Opera browser VPN is actually a free VPN. It is also extremely easy to use, and a lot of it revolves around simply flipping an on/off switch.
The provider doesn't feature as many servers as most other VPN services, nor does it offer precision in choosing the location where you connect to.
It still hides your IP address, but it is worth noting that it is not a good choice for bypassing geo-restrictions due to multiple users making heavy use of the service.
Every restricted website, streaming service, and alike have blocked it almost as soon as it came out, so the best use for this would be to ensure privacy while still using a free service and not really paying for anything. At least, not with money.
Is Opera Browser VPN a real VPN?
Opera Browser VPN can be considered a real service, although it is not a VPN app.
A VPN app would protect all of your traffic, in and out of your browser. Opera, as mentioned, only hides your in-browser activities. As such, it acts more like a browser extension of a VPN service, rather than the real app.
It does have its positives, such as:
- It is free.
- Easy to use.
- It lets you browse privately.
- Reduces tracking.
- Works out of the box.
- Encrypts your traffic and routes it through its remote servers to protect you from websites you visit.
However, it also has its downsides, including:
- It is only available within the browser.
- Speed tests have shown that its speed is unstable.
- It doesn't offer servers based on country locations.
- It is bad for streaming.
- File downloads can get interrupted.
- It logs some data.
- No torrenting support.
- No customer support.
- Lacks encryption.
In the end, Opera VPN acts more like a proxy than a real VPN, and if you require services of an actual VPN, you should definitely look elsewhere. But, if you just want a bit of extra privacy for free, OperaVPN is just as good as any proxy.
How to use Opera VPN?
Next, let's talk about using Opera VPN.
As mentioned, the service is integrated into the Opera browser, which means that you can only use it while you have your browser running.
It also means that it doesn't protect or encrypt any data that comes from other apps, including torrenting. Your traffic within the Opera browser itself is somewhat protected, though.
- Check out our Best VPN for Torrenting guide if you need a VPN for torrents.
Since it comes integrated, there is no need for any specific installations or searching for add-ons. As soon as you install the Opera browser, the VPN will be there, already integrated and ready for use.
All you need to do is click on a small VPN icon located on the left side of your address bar.
If you click it, a drop-down menu will appear, allowing you to turn VPN on and off, and select a general region.
The drop-down window will show you what IP you are displaying, as well as the amount of transferred data for this month, and the amount of usage in the past seven days, but that's really it when it comes to visible information.
Turn it on when you want your browsing to be private, and off when you are done with your browsing session, and that's it.
If this were any other provider, we would now be discussing apps for Android, iOS, Windows, and other systems and/or devices.
However, when it comes to Opera VPN, there are no apps for specific devices or systems. There is only the Opera browser, with a VPN built into it.
In other words, the free VPN is only available on devices that can run the entire Opera browser. Although there used to be a standalone Opera VPN app, this was discontinued a few years ago.
If you're looking for a VPN that does offer apps for all major devices then it's worth taking a look at ExpressVPN, CyberGhost or NordVPN, all of which are highly-rated not only by ourselves but by other leading privacy publications across the ‘net.
In terms of server locations, Opera VPN is not the best and it's one of the biggest complaints we found in this review.
It only allows you to switch between three different regions, and even these locations are labelled extremely vaguely as the Americas, Asia, and Europe.
In other words, you have no idea which country you are connecting to when choosing any of these locations, only the general location that includes the entire continent.
Opera VPN used to have real servers several years ago, which were country-specific, and they included Canada, Germany, Singapore, the US, and the Netherlands.
It also had much better speeds back then than it does now.
However, that is no longer the case, and this is all the information it gives us now. However, you can't do much with it, as everyone who wanted to enforce geo-restrictions – such as Netflix – blocked Opera VPN a long time ago.
- Check out our list of VPN services that work with Netflix.
To put it quite simply, Opera VPN doesn't have customer support.
There is a Help & FAQ section on Opera's website, but dedicated customer support that you can contact via live chat and have them fix your VPN issue when you get stuck is not included.
Opera will collect reports of its VPN's performance and work on fixing issues that it may detect from such reports, but that is pretty much it.
To give them some credit, it is a free product so additional services like dedicated help can not really be expected but with a lack of support it means lower marks in this review.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Opera VPN hide my IP address?
Much like any other service, Opera browser VPN is, in fact, capable of hiding your IP address.
Its built-in VPN does this by offering a handful of server locations around the world, and as soon as you connect to any of them, your real details get hidden.
Instead, you get an address that is tied to the server you are connected to. However, keep in mind that this will only hide your activity within the browser.
If you start using an app or a program outside of your Opera web browser, that traffic will not be protected, and all of those activities will still be recorded in regard to your real IP address.
In other words, the built-in VPN only covers your activity within Opera itself.
Is Opera VPN legal?
Yes, using Opera with VPN is completely legal pretty much everywhere.
There might be some regions of the world where the VPN is not allowed, such as China or Russia, but in the large majority of countries, it is, in fact, legal technology.
VPNs are considered privacy technology, and since everyone has the right to privacy, you can legally use it to protect yourself.
VPN in Opera also has another confirmation that it is legal, which comes from the fact that it is integrated into one of the biggest browsers out there.
Opera itself is a Norway-based company, and both the web browser and its VPN are completely free to download and use.
Does Opera VPN sell your data?
One of the biggest reasons why people tend to use a free VPN service – other than to bypass censorship and geo-restrictions is to secure their data.
Most good-quality VPNs respect this, and will, therefore, not collect users' data. The data still gets stored on their servers in real-time, since this is how this technology operates.
However, as soon as you end your VPN session, this data gets deleted. This is not the case with a VPN for Opera.
Opera browser VPN will keep a lot of different data of its users, a lot of which will even go to third parties.
Opera claims to use such data to improve its service, and its partners likely say the same. However, this is not what most people expect from their VPN service, which is why you might feel uneasy about the situation.
From what we have seen, we can say with certainty that virtual private network from Opera is not a good option if you are looking for genuine online privacy and security.
In fact, it only vaguely resembles a real free VPN as it is right now, and it is not recommended that you rely on it too much.
There are plenty of better options out there that will not log your data, that offer more robust security features and massive networks of services in multiple locations.
They will also protect the entire connection of your device, sadly something that Opera VPN doesn't or isn't intended to do.
We're not really sure when you would find a reason to use Opera VPN and if you read the review of most other providers, you'll find them much more likeable.
Aside from hiding your location in a very simple manner, it doesn't protect your device's privacy on a whole, it can't unblock streaming services and it doesn't work in heavily censored countries like China (Psst, here's a list of VPNs that work in China).
Opera VPN is free, though, which is a major plus, as all good VPNs are premium services that can cost you anywhere between $10-$13 per month.
Sadly, that's not even the strongest option as there are better free VPNs out there. We don't recommend Opera VPN and neither do most other reviews across the web.
What did you think of this Opera VPN review? Have you used it and do you agree? I would to hear your thoughts so drop a comment below.