PrivadoVPN Review: Disrupting the Market?

Evaluation:

5/10

?
  • 1 – Absolute hot waste
  • 2 – A kind of lukewarm waste
  • 3 – Severely flawed design
  • 4 – Some advantages, many disadvantages
  • 5 – Acceptably imperfect
  • 6 – Good enough to buy on sale
  • 7 – Great, but not best in class
  • 8 – Fantastic, with some footnotes
  • 9 – Shut up and take my money
  • 10 – Absolute Design Nirvana

Price:
$4.99+/month

PrivateVPN

PrivateVPN is a relatively new player in the VPN market. It presents itself as a complete solution, offering security, privacy and the ability to stream anything from anywhere. In this PrivadoVPN review, we will put these claims to the test.

Here’s what we like

  • Generous free plan
  • Best for Netflix
  • Easy to use

And what we don’t do

  • Unreliable speeds
  • Not many features
  • Small interface

The short version is that PrivadoVPN can do a lot of what it claims, but never quite as well as you’d like, with the exception of switching to Netflix, which it does pretty well. While there’s a lot to like here, most of the providers in our roundup of the best VPNs do a better job, and I have a feeling PrivadoVPN’s main draw will be its generous free plan, which gives you 10 GB of bandwidth per month.

To note: We tested PrivadoVPN on a virtual machine running the Windows. It also offers facilities for Mac and linuxas good as android, iPhone, iPad, routersand smart tvs.

PrivadoVPN Free and Paid Plans

When compared to other reputable free VPNs – not that there are many, mind you – 10GB of data is generous. Only Wind Scribe offers as much. All you have to do to access the free plan is sign up with your email address and you can choose from 12 servers around the world, which is pretty good.

If I had to choose, I would probably go with Windscribe because it has a longer and better track record. But there are no rules that say you can’t use both. Having two VPNs on the same system is usually not a problem.

Pricing plans for PrivadoVPN

When it comes to its paid plans, PrivadoVPN sits right in the middle of the pack at just under $60 per year. For that money, it gives you 10 above-average simultaneous connections and servers in 58 cities around the world. This number of servers is a little low, but it’s well spread across the world, so you should be fine.

It’s hard to say if PrivadoVPN is worth $60 a year; for one, it’s much cheaper than ExpressVPN, which costs $100 per year. On the other hand, you can sign up with Surfshark or NordVPN for their promotional prices and pay less than half for equivalent utility. Maybe if PrivadoVPN added a few more features or beefed up the ones it has, it could be a strong contender. As it stands, the free plan is the best.

What can PrivadoVPN do?

For $60 a year, you get a VPN that’s got the basics down, but has a few issues. Chief among these are its speeds, which I discuss in detail below, as well as its less-than-great interface. However, it has an ace up its sleeve, namely Netflix.

PrivadoVPN and Netflix

PrivadoVPN’s greatest strength is by far its quality for accessing Netflix, with the US servers doing a particularly excellent job. I tried three and all worked. As in my Surfshark review, this is surprising as smaller services usually had a really hard time getting through, but apparently that’s no longer the case, at least for now.

The UK servers also did a good job, although I had a bit more trouble there with one in three not working. However, the BBC iPlayer was accessible, which makes up for that very well.

Overall, if you like your streaming, PrivadoVPN seems like a good choice, as long as you can handle some speed issues.

Other PrivadoVPN Features

Before I get to that, though, I should probably point out that Netflix connectivity is pretty much everything when it comes to PrivadoVPN’s premium features. Unlike many competitors, who offer you features or even unnecessary features (like double VPN). PrivadoVPN just has…nothing. No split tunneling, no special servers. What you see is what you get.

While I have nothing against this kind of simple approach, it works best if a service handles the basics well. PrivadoVPN achieves this in most cases, but there’s one glaring problem I need to address: its speeds.

Internet speeds: they are everywhere

Testing the speeds of any VPN is an inexact science at best: time of day, distance, type of server, many different factors can affect the type of readings you get. However, it’s extremely rare to find a service like PrivadoVPN where speeds fluctuate so much.

Generally speaking, I like to connect to four places in the world from my location in Cyprus. I try to keep them more or less the same for each VPN I test: Israel, UK, New York, and Japan. I then ran each test three times, taking the best of those three. If I feel there is something strange in the reading, I repeat the process an hour later. I’ll usually also switch the VPN to the OpenVPN-TCP protocol, if it’s not already using that.

In the case of PrivadoVPN, the test results fluctuated so much that I had to run them three times and I don’t know how to put them in a table. For example, I tested the connection speed from Cyprus to New York and got readings ranging from incredibly good to really bad.

My base download speed over an unprotected connection was around 50 Mbps. The first time I tested the NYC server, I got an incredibly good playback of 42 Mbps. The second time, 25Mbps. The third was again around 40 Mbps. Other American servers have done much worse which is weird so I tried an hour later. Then I had much worse speeds, all around the 20 Mbps mark.

This process repeated itself with every other server I tried, all over the world. The only server that was still more or less the same was the one in Japan, which was uniformly horrible at around 5 Mbps.

It is extremely rare for a VPN to be this erratic and therefore I cannot recommend PrivadoVPN for its speeds as it fluctuates too much. Subscribers are entitled to some stability, especially if they are going to download torrent files or use their VPN for streaming.

UI: Copy ExpressVPN Homework

When it comes to usability, PrivadoVPN is very good. It’s clearly taken a leaf out of ExpressVPN’s book with a recent update, offering a simple interface that’s, essentially, just two buttons: a main button to turn it on and one to select a location. It’s quite nice.

PrivadoVPN main screen

There’s very little that can go wrong here, which makes it perfect for people who don’t need all the bells and whistles offered by some VPNs (looking at you, NordVPN.

Overall, PrivadoVPN gets the job done. Like Surfshark and NordVPN, the killswitch is disabled by default (seriously, why do so many VPNs do this?), but unlike them, the button to enable it is right there on the main screen. It’s a clever solution.

Speaking of settings, PrivadoVPN is quite simple here, offering extremely simple options. While I like the simplicity, if you like tinkering with your VPNs, you won’t get too much fun with PrivadoVPN.

PrivadoVPN settings screen

That said, the fact that there’s so little that can go wrong with PrivadoVPN’s interface might recommend it to users who want something they can turn on and not think about. The result is that the user interface is nothing revolutionary. Again, this is not necessary.

Security and privacy: the basics are covered

When it comes to security and privacy, PrivadoVPN seems to be doing well. No serious breaches have been reported and the company seems to take privacy very seriously. However, I wouldn’t bet too much on the company’s claims about how being located in Switzerland protects you. The Swiss authorities are more than happy to cooperate with law enforcement around the world.

Regarding security, I did not detect any problems. I ran security tests on several connections and nothing out of the ordinary came up except that some UK servers showed up as being in France. It happens sometimes, it’s usually not a big deal, but it can mean that PrivadoVPN uses virtual servers for certain locations.

However, there is a strike against the service: like Surfshark, PrivadoVPN by default uses IKEv2 as its VPN protocol, which I’m not a big fan of. Although extremely fast, it has security issues. As such, I recommend manually switching to OpenVPN in the settings menu.

PrivadoVPN Protocols

Should you use PrivadoVPN?

It is very difficult to sum up PrivadoVPN in a word or even a sentence. Some things it handles very well, some not so much, and yet other things are downright wonky. While it’s far from a bad VPN, it’s not exactly a good one either. While I’m not saying you should walk away from it, I wouldn’t recommend it either.

The thing is, there are just too many competitors who can do what he does, but have an edge over him. Surfshark is less expensive, NordVPN has more servers, ExpressVPN is faster, Mullvad is more private…the list goes on. By all means, give PrivadoVPN a try, but don’t be surprised if you end up using the 30-day money-back guarantee.

Evaluation:
5/10

Price:
$4.99+/month

Here’s what we like

  • Generous free plan
  • Best for Netflix
  • Easy to use

And what we don’t do

  • Unreliable speeds
  • Not many features
  • Small interface

About Jon Moses

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