Tech

PrivadoVPN Review: Disrupting the Market?

Rating:

5/10

?

  • 1 – Absolute Hot Garbage
  • 2 – Sorta Lukewarm Garbage
  • 3 – Strongly Flawed Design
  • 4 – Some Pros, Lots Of Cons
  • 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

PrivadoVPN

PrivadoVPN is a relatively new player in the VPN market. It touts itself as being an all-around solution, offering security, privacy, and the ability to stream anything from anywhere. In this PrivadoVPN review, we’ll put these claims to the test.

Here’s What We Like

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

And What We Don’t

  • Unreliable speeds
  • Not a lot of features
  • Tiny interface

The short version is that PrivadoVPN can do a lot of what it claims, but never quite as well as you’d wish—with the exception of getting through to Netflix, which it does pretty well. While there is 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 10GB of bandwidth per month.

Note: We tested PrivadoVPN on a virtual machine running Windows. It also offers installs for Mac and Linux, as well as Android, iPhone, iPad, routers, and smart TVs.

PrivadoVPN Free and Paid Plans

When compared to other trustworthy free VPNs—not that there are many of those, mind—10GB of data is generous. Only Windscribe offers as much. All you need to do to get access to the free plan is to sign up with your email address and you’ll get to pick from 12 servers across the world, which is pretty good.

If forced to choose, I’d probably go with Windscribe, though, since it has a longer and better track record. But there are no rules stating that you can’t use both. Having two VPNs on the same system usually isn’t a problem.

Pricing plans for PrivadoVPN

As for its paid plans, PrivadoVPN is right in the middle of the pack at just under $60 per year. For this money, it gives you an above-average 10 simultaneous connections and servers in 58 cities around the world. That server count is a little on the low side, but it’s spread out well across the globe, so you should be alright.

It’s hard to say whether PrivadoVPN is worth $60 per year; on the one hand, it’s a good whack cheaper than ExpressVPN, which costs $100 per year. On the other, you could sign up to Surfshark or NordVPN for their promo prices and pay less than half for equivalent usefulness. Maybe if PrivadoVPN added some more features or beefed up the ones it has it could be a solid contender. As it stands, the free plan is the best one.

What Can PrivadoVPN Do?

For $60 a year, you get a VPN that gets the basics mostly right but has a few issues. The biggest of these are its speeds, which I discuss in detail below, as well as its less-than-great interface. However, it has one ace up its sleeve, namely Netflix.

PrivadoVPN and Netflix

PrivadoVPN’s biggest strength by far is how good it is for accessing Netflix, with the U.S. servers doing an especially great job. I tried three and all of them worked. Like in my Surfshark review, this is surprising as smaller services usually had a lot of trouble with getting through, but apparently, that’s no longer the case, at least for now.

U.K. servers also did a good job, though I had slightly more issues there, with one out of three not working. However, the BBC iPlayer was accessible so that makes up for that just fine.

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

PrivadoVPN’s Other Features

Before I get to that, though, I should probably point out that Netflix connectivity is pretty much it when it comes to PrivadoVPN’s premium features. Unlike many competitors, which throw functionality at you, or even overhype pointless 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 bare-bones approach, it works best if a service handles the basics well. PrivadoVPN pulls this off in most cases, but there’s one glaring issue that I need to tackle: its speeds.

Internet Speeds: They’re All Over the Place

Testing the speeds of any VPN is an inexact science at best: time of day, distance, type of server, there are a lot of different factors at play that can affect the kind of readings you get. However, it’s extremely rare to find a service like PrivadoVPN where the speeds fluctuate this badly.

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

In the case of PrivadoVPN, the test results fluctuated so much that I had to run them three times and I have no idea how to put them into a table. For example, I tested the speed of the connection from Cyprus to New York City and I got readings ranging from the insanely good to the really poor.

My base download speed on an unprotected connection was roughly 50Mbps. The first time I tested the NYC server, I got an insanely good reading of 42Mbps. The second time, 25Mbps. The third was around 40Mbps again. Other U.S. servers did a lot worse, which is weird, so I tried an hour later. Then, I got much worse speeds, all around the 20Mbps mark.

This process repeated itself with all the other servers I tried, all over the world. The only server that was always more or less the same was the one in Japan, which was uniformly awful at about 5Mbps.

It’s extremely rare for a VPN to be this erratic and, as a result, I can’t recommend PrivadoVPN for its speeds as it just fluctuates too much. Subscribers are owed some kind of stability, especially if they’re going to torrent files or use their VPN for streaming.

User Interface: Copying ExpressVPN’s Homework

When it comes to user-friendliness, PrivadoVPN is fine. It’s clearly taken a leaf out of ExpressVPN’s book with a recent update, offering a simple interface that is, in essence, only two buttons: a main button to switch it on and one to select a location. It’s pretty nice.

PrivadoVPN main screen

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

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

Speaking of settings, PrivadoVPN is pretty straightforward here, offering some extremely bare-bones options. Though I like the simplicity, if you like to tinker with your VPNs, you won’t get too much of a kick out of 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 that want something they can switch on and then not think about. The upshot is that the UI isn’t anything revolutionary. Then again, it doesn’t need to be.

Security and Privacy: The Bases Are Covered

When it comes to security and privacy, PrivadoVPN seems to be okay. There are no reports of serious breaches and the company seems to take privacy pretty seriously. However, I wouldn’t bank too hard 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 globe.

As for security, I didn’t detect any problems. I ran security tests on several connections and nothing out of the ordinary showed up, except that some U.K. servers showed up as being in France. This happens sometimes, it’s generally not a big deal, but it could mean that PrivadoVPN is using virtual servers for some locations.

However, there is one strike against the service: like Surfshark, PrivadoVPN defaults to IKEv2 as its VPN protocol, which I’m not a huge fan of. While it’s extremely fast, there are some security issues with it. As such, I recommend that you manually switch to OpenVPN in the settings menu.

PrivadoVPN protocols

Should You Use PrivadoVPN?

It’s very difficult to sum up PrivadoVPN in one word, or even one sentence. Certain things it handles very well, others not so much, and yet other things are just downright wonky. While it’s far from being a bad VPN, it’s not really a good one, either. While I won’t say you should stay away from it, I won’t recommend it, either.

Thing is, there are just too many competitors out there that can do what it does, but have an edge over it. Surfshark is cheaper, NordVPN has more servers, ExpressVPN is faster, Mullvad is more private…the list goes on. By all means, give PrivadoVPN a shot, but don’t be surprised if you end up making use of the 30-day money-back guarantee.

Rating:
5/10

Price:
$4.99+/month

Here’s What We Like

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

And What We Don’t

  • Unreliable speeds
  • Not a lot of features
  • Tiny interface




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