PrivadoVPN Review

PrivadoVPN Review
PrivadoVPN

Overall
4.2









  • Price









  • Service









  • Apps









  • Speed









  • Policy









Summary

For a relatively small provider, PrivadoVPN offers fast, reliable zero-log VPN service. It also works well for unblocking popular streaming services.

Pros

  • Zero-logs policy.
  • Fast VPN connection speeds.
  • Reliable network.
  • Unblocks most streaming services
  • High level of encryption.
  • Free service plan.

Cons

  • Limited protocols.
  • All apps don't work on all plans.


PrivadoVPN is a relatively new VPN service, especially when compared to long-established services like IPVanish or ExpressVPN. They seem to be doing a lot right from the get-go, which could see them challenging the major players in the future.

We wanted to review PrivadoVPN as they stand now to see how well they perform and whether they can make the next developments needed to stand out in a field that is becoming increasingly more crowded.

Service

Speeds

Download speed

As usual, we wanted to begin with some simple speed tests to ensure that PrivadoVPN won't significantly impact downloads for most users.

Pleasantly, we found their speeds to be very good.

After several weeks of testing, we couldn't find any major issues while browsing the web or streaming high-quality video. We also tested the service while playing online games and had no problems with lag.

We tested their service by downloading a large file and monitoring the average overall speed. This was done on a UK residential connection, so pretty much the same type as you will be using.

Our speed without VPN was: 203 Mbps.

These were the speed averages that we experienced attached to the following countries, in no particular order:

  • UK – 165.3 Mbps
  • France – 153.7 Mbps
  • Netherlands – 160.9 Mbps
  • Switzerland – 152.5 Mbps
  • Sweden – 149.6 Mbps
  • New York, US – 141.6 Mbps
  • Australia – 46.5 Mbps

While not the fastest, these are genuinely impressive speeds, even stacked up against larger, more established VPNs. On a relatively fast residential connection, our achieved speed was quick.

If you have a slower internet connection, you'll likely notice less speed loss.

Upload speeds were also remarkably consistent, and I concluded testing quite impressed with PrivadoVPN's speeds.

Logging

One of the prominent features of PrivadoVPN is that they claim to be a zero log provider. It is mentioned several times on their website, fine print, emails, and social media channels.

They also have a privacy policy that goes into more detail about what information they keep. According to that, they only keep information required to maintain accounts or troubleshoot specific issues.

It's not perfect, but it's mostly the same as what every other provider retains.

Details include your email address used when creating your account, payment information (they state they do not collect or store your credit card number), occasional bug reports, anonymous aggregated usage over their network, and bandwidth usage for free plans, which are limited in the amount of allotted monthly bandwidth.

On the other hand, PrivadoVPN's privacy policy also states that they do not keep any user activity logs, browsing history, IP address origin or assignment, data type, or data content.

A number of other major VPN providers have made the effort to have their privacy claims verified by a third party audit, but PrivadoVPN hasn't yet done so. This would certainly increase our confidence in their claims.

Simultaneous Connections

As of right now, PrivadoVPN has two access tiers. Their free plan allows users to connect a single device to the service at once. Paid plans will enable you to connect up to ten devices simultaneously.

Most other VPN services only offer between 5 – 7 simultaneous connections, so a PrivadoVPN paid plan will allow you to secure around double the amount of devices.

Although you're unlikely ever to need to connect 10 devices concurrently, some other providers such as Surfshark allow unlimited connections.

Overall, this is one of the standout features of PrivadoVPN's premium service, and is excellent for large families or groups.

They also have detailed instructions on their website for how to set up a home router with one of those ten connections, meaning that all IoT devices can be protected from one sign in.

Jurisdiction

PrivadoVPN is based in Switzerland and is under their jurisdiction, which has some of the world's strongest consumer privacy laws. This puts them outside of the control of ‘5-eyes,' ‘9-eyes,' '14-eyes,' and similar intelligence sharing agreements.

Combined with the complete lack of Swiss logging requirements and PrivadoVPN's zero logging policy, this is probably as safe as you can expect your personal data to be.

If Privado couple this with a full audit then they could have some of the strongest privacy provisions in the industry.

Customer Support

As of right now, PrivadoVPN only offers email support to customers, both free and paid.

We will say that customer service is 24/7 and, in our experience, they responded quickly to questions that we sent. The answers were clearly informed and we didn't feel like details were ignored in favour of sending stock responses.

Even highly technical questions were answered in less than 24 hours with sufficient detail.

If they weren't immediately aware of the answer, they took the time to reach out and let us know they were investigating to provide a useful solution.

While live customer service is preferred to email, we will say that the quality of support was superb. Live chat from some providers is often pre-prepared statements, so decent email help is better than poor live help.

Which is better, PrivadoVPN or ExpressVPN?

ExpressVPN currently remains our best overall provider with a score of 4.8 out of 5.

PrivadoVPN has a long way to go to reach parity, but that doesn't mean it isn't a good service. In fact, the score we gave it is as good as some services which have been around much longer.

As PrivadoVPN builds its infrastructure, customer support, and features, there is scope for them to improve. The features that exist are good, but still limited compared to a service like ExpressVPN.

One way that PrivadoVPN is superior to many services, however, is that they own the data centres and fibre in Amsterdam, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Washington DC, and Frankfurt. Ownership of these locations should make it easier to respond to issues and allows them more operational oversight.

For the moment, they are high in the mid-tier of VPN providers, which is a solid place to be.

The inclusion of a free plan makes it ideal for people who don't use a lot of monthly data and simply want to protect their connections, as well as unblock streaming services on occasion.

Their paid plans also have quality offerings and service levels that make PrivadoVPN suitable for heavy VPN users.

Server Locations

Server locations

PrivadoVPN, as of the time of this publication, has 200+ servers located in 45 countries and 58 cities around the world. They also purchase IP addresses directly from ISPs which some other services don't.

Compared to the competition, the server location offerings are pretty good. It's nice to see none of the locations being virtual locations which are often used by other providers to boost numbers.

Considering that most VPN users will never make use of that many servers, it is far more important that they be available for those who want them and that they have enough IP addresses to serve all of their customers.

This appears to be the case with PrivadoVPN.

PrivadoVPN server list

Does PrivadoVPN use Virtual Servers?

No, they do not. We have checked several times and the answer remains the same.

If anything, they are very firm about their commitment to using physical servers exclusively, to the point of purchasing data centres and fibre lines.

While this is slowing down their expansion, as we mentioned earlier, it is better that they build and maintain a reliable network than provide more locations that most customers will never need.

Virtual servers can be both beneficial and problematic, but on balance, we would prefer services not to use them.

Fortunately for users, PrivadoVPN doesn't use virtual servers, so they are unlikely to experience any problems.

Can you use PrivadoVPN in China?

Tests in China proved inconclusive.

While on one Chinese network we experienced fantastic download and upload speeds, another using the same network we struggled to connect and when we did, speeds were unusable.

It's positive to see on certain networks speeds outperformed every other provider. Still, we're unsure if this is intentional or just beginner's good luck and the fact that PrivadoVPN is lesser known than the competition.

PrivadoVPN China speeds

Speeds surpassed many competitors when working.

The best results were seen using the default IKEv2, with less favourable results when using OpenVPN. Using an Android device performed better, while our Windows 10 tests resulted in difficulties connecting.

We'll continue to monitor this in the coming months to see how they perform long term.

Security and Safety

Protocols & Encryption

Protocols and encryption

Currently, PrivadoVPN offers OpenVPN and IKEv2 protocols with all plans, both free and premium. The apps default to IKEv2 and manual setup for devices that don't have a dedicated app describes how to use OpenVPN.

Their OpenVPN and IKEv2 protocols both make use of the AES-256-CBC cipher, which is reliable and safe for most users. They also use SHA-256 authentication, which is the industry standard and has no known vulnerabilities or breaches.

As of right now, Wireguard is not available on PrivadoVPN, which is disappointing since this protocol has transitioned out of the experimental phase.

This is an area that we feel that PrivadoVPN needs to catch up on if they want to genuinely compete with providers who have already integrated this technology.

Has PrivadoVPN suffered any security incidents?

No, they have not as far as we can tell. They are still relatively small, so there have been very few opportunities for any major incidents.

We will continue to monitor for new information, but as of right now, we haven't heard anything.

Is PrivadoVPN safe for Torrenting?

Yes, they are. In fact, they have made it easier for their paid users to secure P2P transfers by offering free access to a SOCKS5 proxy.

This is different from the normal virtual private network service in a few key ways.

First of all, this proxy is set up at the application level rather than the system level, meaning that only data coming to and from a specific application, like a P2P client, utilises the service. Secondly, it does not encrypt data nor transfer it through an encrypted tunnel.

However, what it does do is mask the user's IP.

The lack of encryption and decryption means that connections are noticeably faster while using the SOCKS5 proxy. This is recommended by PrivadoVPN to P2P users who want to get the fastest possible speeds but still maintain a level of anonymity.

Ultimately, this is excellent for PrivadoVPN users. It's not a big feature, but if P2P speed is a concern, it does strike a reasonable balance between that and security.

Apps

Apps

Mobile Apps

Currently, PrivadoVPN offers mobile apps for both the Android and iOS operating systems that are available on their respective app stores. However, the iOS app is only available on paid plans.

The app looks largely the same across both platforms and has the same features, so that made it a lot easier to evaluate when we tested both.

First, we appreciated the optional tutorial that appeared when we first opened both apps which clearly explained what could be done and how.

While the design is highly intuitive, we are glad that the opportunity is there for those who might miss something.

It is also good to see that those who are already familiar with virtual private networks in general can opt-out with the press of a button.

The main app screen includes a one-click connection/disconnection button, a dropdown menu that tells you what server you're connected to and allows you to choose from the available ones, a button to turn the Kill Switch off and on, access to the message centre and settings menu, and what your current IP address is.

PrivadoVPN Android app

The PrivadoVPN app sports a clean interface.

This covers most of what we would want to do while using with a VPN.

Inside the settings screen, you can choose their VPN protocol between IKEv2 and OpenVPN. The OpenVPN option also gives you your choice of ports and either TCP or UDP.

You can also set the app to automatically start when your device does, automatically connect when active, and automatically choose either the best server or the last one you were on.

Another place where we feel that the PrivadoVPN app could improve is the addition of ‘Split Tunneling,' which selectively sends data from some apps through the VPN while excluding others.

While most other services now offer this feature, it's sadly lacking from PrivadoVPN and we would hope to see it added in the near future.

These apps were clearly designed and built with a lot of care. They are simple to install and have a UI that guides users to the features they might find helpful while not condescending or annoying them.

Desktop Apps

The desktop versions of the PrivadoVPN apps, available for Windows and Mac OS, are almost identical to the mobile versions. They have the same features and provide the same information in the same places.

Not all providers offer such a seamless transition from one device to another, although it's more common from the higher-rated providers.

It's nice to have access to usage maps and tables, data breakdowns, or other features sometimes offered on a desktop application. However, the first test of any application should be whether it works and the second test should be whether it works for the user.

Privado Windows app

With the apps being consistent across different operating systems, less technically inclined users only need to learn a single device to be able to use it across them all. This adds a lot of value to the service.

I didn't particularly like that the Windows app is pinned to the notification area and can't be moved anywhere else on the desktop. While this may suit some users, it isn't common and I would much prefer if I could move it to a location of my liking.

Like with the mobile apps, the Windows version is available with the free account, but the Mac OS version requires one of the paid subscriptions in order to function. As far as we can tell, manual setup through their instructions will work on either system.

Other Apps

Right now, PrivadoVPN doesn't offer any other apps. Various FAQs on their website and support page say that they are working on a Linux app, which should hopefully be coming soon.

For devices without an app, PrivadoVPN offers detailed instructions on how to go about manual installation of their service using OpenVPN. These are well written and easy to follow.

We would love to see an Amazon Fire TV app in the future which is always great for streamers, sadly it's lacking right now but let's see how things pan out.

Does PrivadoVPN offer browser extensions?

No, they do not. PrivadoVPN is following a trend of trying to make browser extensions superfluous by having well-designed, resource-lite apps. So far, they have succeeded in doing so.

If a browser extension is essential to you, consider services like ExpressVPN or NordVPN, both of which have them available.

However, we're not a huge fan of them, but if you need one, the above two providers have you covered.

Does PrivadoVPN offer an ad-blocker?

No. PrivadoVPN does not come with built-in ad-blocker.

We expect that they will eventually, since it has become something of an industry standard for VPN service, but at the moment that doesn't seem to be what they are focused on.

Both NordVPN and Surfshark are well-reviewed VPNs with built-in ad blockers if that is something you are concerned about.

Otherwise, there are no conflicts between PrivadoVPN and any third-party ad blockers we could find.

Again, a built-in ad-blocker isn't a big draw for us. There are plenty of good ones available out there, most of which are free.

Why you should enable the Kill Switch

It is impossible to have a VPN that you will never experience connection interruption, and PrivadoVPN is no different in that regard.

A Kill Switch is there to prevent you from sending unsecured data in the case of a server connection cut by shutting down all communication while you are not connected to the network.

This way you don't have to worry about IP and DNS leaks, nor that your real IP address will become compromised.

Kill Switches are a must for users that value security and want to continue to maintain their privacy. We recommend that the following users especially engage their VPN Kill Switch at all times:

  • People using a VPN to protect themselves from online censorship
  • People using a VPN to protect themselves from online surveillance
  • Anyone else who needs to increase their anonymity online
  • Torrent users
  • Kodi users
  • Anyone using sensitive documents or materials

There were absolutely no IP or DNS leaks that we found during our tests of PrivadoVPN.

The IP resolved to the one that was presented on the app and our ISP wasn't detected.

How to enable the Kill Switch Feature in PrivadoVPN

The Kill Switch feature is not enabled by default in any of the PrivadoVPN apps, though their tutorial does draw attention to it and why it's helpful.

If you want to enjoy the extra security benefits of a Kill Switch, simply activate the toggle on the main page marked “Kill Switch,” That's it. This applies to all of their apps.

Streaming

Streaming

Does PrivadoVPN work with Netflix?

Yes, PrivadoVPN works with Netflix.

We tested this, not only confirming that we could connect, but also that we were able to access geo-restricted content in a given region. We could on every server we tried.

While PrivadoVPN doesn't unblock every region of Netflix, it worked well with the main one, the United States and connecting to most locations default to the US service.

Does PrivadoVPN work with BBC iPlayer?

Yes. We were able to access BBC iPlayer while using PrivadoVPN in a number of different locations, even outside of the UK.

Does it work with Amazon Prime?

Yes. We had no issues connecting to Amazon Prime Video on every server that we tried and could stream easily.

PrivadoVPN also was able to unblock different Prime regions, just like with Netflix.

Prime can be hit and miss with all providers and your mileage may vary depending on the device you're using. We found it works best with desktop and laptop computers.

Other services

Another service that PrivadoVPN advertises as streaming through their network is Hotstar, a provider which focuses on film, TV, and sport in India. Our tests showed no issues using this service with PrivadoVPN.

They also work with the other major streaming services, including HBO Max and Disney Plus.

Prices and Plans

Prices and Plans

Lastly, our VPN review took a look at the price.

PrivadoVPN has two tiers of service and three plans. The first tier is entirely free, but restricts the number of available servers, only has the Windows and Android apps, and allots users 10GB of data every month.

The second, paid tier, comes in two versions: 1 month and 12 months.

The only difference between them is price.

  • 1 Month: $7.99 per month (~£5.75)
  • 12 Months: $4.99 per month (~£3.59) at $59.88 /yr (~£43.09)

These premium plans both come with unlimited data, access on up to 10 devices, access to their full server list, apps for all supported platforms, and the ability to use their SOCKS5 proxy.

All plans, including free, include unlimited speed, and the same 24/7 support.

Accepted payment methods include credit card and Paypal. You will only be asked for payment information if you sign up for a paid subscription. Free subscriptions require only a verified email address to sign up.

There is no listed money-back guarantee in any of their materials, though the addition of the free plan does make this somewhat moot.

How does PrivadoVPN's price compare?

PrivadoVPN's 1 Month subscription is cheaper than leading VPN provider ExpressVPN ($7.99 vs ExpressVPN's $12.95) by a significant margin.

Their yearly package is cheaper than many but by no means the cheapest. However, many providers require you to sign up for 2+ years to get anything lower.

Does PrivadoVPN offer a free trial?

There is not a free trial of PrivadoVPN, but by signing up for their free plan you can get an accurate idea of how well the service works for you and can upgrade to either the 1 Month or 12 Months plans later.

Verdict

Verdict

PrivadoVPN is relatively new to the market and you wouldn't be alone if you had never heard of them.

The most significant issues that we found were with a lack of certain features. As a newer provider, this is to be expected and we would hope we will see those missing finishing touches in the coming months.

They aren't quite ready to stand with the industry leaders, but they seem to have a careful service and network development plan that may put them there soon.

The service is reliable and their network is robust. They own and operate a Tier-1 VPN network with only physical servers that unblocks streaming services, has great speeds, and claims to maintain zero-logs.

Their privacy protections are excellent and their paid plans are a good value. We feel confident using this service with private information and secure documents, wherever we're sending them.

They are a bit too cautious when it comes to implementing VPN protocols as we would have liked to have seen Wireguard from the get-go, but their encryption is top of the line and their speeds very impressive.

It's good to see that so many streaming services work while on the PrivadoVPN network. We feel comfortable recommending this to somebody who streams frequently.

Otherwise, the apps that they do have support most major devices and the ability to set up OpenVPN through their network manually makes it easier to get the most out of the service.

Overall we like PrivadoVPN quite a bit, both in terms of speed and privacy. If they continue on this track, there is definitely scope for them to be competing with the top of the pack.

Ready to give Privado a try?

Free trial available

Hans Wagner

Author: Hans Wagner

Hans has a keen passion for online privacy and security. Putting his Computer Science degree to good use he likes to share his technical knowledge with a wide range of readers of varying skill levels.

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