PrivateVPN is a smaller Swedish-based VPN provider with some really cool and respectable ideas on how to run a reputable VPN service. They are unique because they own all their servers, and essentially have found a smart way to become their own ISP by creating a separate company.
The service all around is very solid but has some room for growth in several areas. Let’s discuss everything in this unbiased honest PrivateVPN Review for 2021.
PrivateVPN is not the cheapest VPN around, but it comes VERY close! It also includes full streaming compatibility with the main pricing plan which is nice. The cost is $8.10 for 1 month, $50 for 12 months, and $15 for 3 months. The only other VPN that is cheaper is WeVPN, but it’s also tier 1. PrivateVPN comes with 6 simultaneous connections which aren’t bad for the price and it has a 30-day refund policy.
I don’t have any problems with PrivateVPN’s policy, but I do wish that the website didn’t make it seem like it was having a sale all the time by putting “save 26%” off and whatnot. The good news is that I have an exclusive discount for you guys of around 10% on all plans. So click the buttons/links here to get that deal!
PrivateVPN’s app is very unique, and I like that about it. It has both a simple mode and an advanced mode. The simple mode is similar to most VPN startups with a server selection mode and connect button.
I like PrivateVPN’s server selection and overall server interface a lot. It feels very thought out giving you the option to view stats on each server, favorite them, and search them. The only thing is it still has a “streaming section” which is a legacy tab and isn’t used anymore. All of the servers should work with streaming services now (which is an improvement actually).
Once you go to the advanced mode the application provides you with a lot of settings like the ability to customize cipher, as well as go into the settings for stuff like kill switches. The main thing PrivateVPN is missing as of right now is WireGuard, ad blocking, and split tunneling.
I would say PrivateVPN’s application is the weakest part of the review just because they need to add more stuff and stay up to date with the newest features. Perhaps 2 years ago they would have got 5/5, but it seems like the small team’s development is very slow.
The application works well, looks good, but it just needs more updates!
PrivateVPN’s speeds are sort of like the application. The servers certainly can deliver, but due to the nature of the company’s history and smaller nature, sometimes speeds can vary depending on your location.
The company owns all the servers which some might consider a privacy benefit (owning the server ensures the server is based in that location, and not a virtual one who could be subject do different laws).
Here’s what the CEO says about it in an email he sent me.
“Since one year back we’ve stopped using hosting providers in larger locations/countries which is popular among our customers. Sometimes, I’m having a hard time trusting a hosting provider. One common reason is that they oversell the capacity, we’ve seen that many times with slower speeds specific times when it peaks. For example, our location in Canada – Toronto had a lot of speed issues just all of a sudden. We couldn’t reach more than 500 Mbps which is crazy if you look at the number of customers we’re having using the Toronto location. A couple of weeks ago we moved to our own solution and we did hit several Gbps. So this is impacting us as a business but especially our customers who are paying for a service and expect some sort of quality.”
He also went on to explain how they are their own ISP, and how their legal frameworks protect them from having to give up logs:
“So one year ago we decided to act as our own hosting provider and since January this year, as our own ISP. In that way, we have full control of everything, from who owns the hosting provider/ISP(In this case it’s me) and the capacity.
1. We own our own servers 100%.
2. We own the network equipment such as routers and switches
3. We can make sure there is the bandwidth for our customers to use.
4. We can make sure no other VPN company controls our hosting solutions. Honestly, it’s hard to know if a VPN provider owns a hosting provider without anyone knowing about it or any government.
As an ISP needs to collect information about who owns a specific IP at a specific time, we couldn’t run PrivateVPN as an ISP as it would force us to log information about our customers. So instead, we did separate PrivateVPN service from Privat Kommunikation Sverige AB to PrivateVPN Global AB. Privat Kommunikation Sverige AB will become PVDataNet AB shortly.
It means that when law enforcement asks who used an IP at a specific time we will provide them the owner, which is PrivateVPN Global AB. As PrivateVPN Global AB does not act as an ISP there are laws that can force us to keep logs which means we have nothing to hand over. In the end, it means more control and more trust throughout the whole line.”
Initially, it is more expensive for us to do this as it requires us to buy servers instead of renting them and we need to hire a full rack which can be expensive if we just use a few units, but it’s worth it! We also buy our transit from Tier-1 providers only which will guarantee the best route between two ISPs.”
It seems like PrivateVPN has been making strides in improving server speeds and performance. I would certainly say they are the most transparent with how the servers are owned and operated, and some may consider that a huge benefit. The main issue right now seems that they just need MORE servers to give a wider and more consistent speed quality around the world, as well as the newest protocols to deliver speeds.
I think it’s something that can be achieved, and once Wireguard is released, I expect seems to pick up considerably as well. That said, I can still get decent speeds with PrivateVPN but if you take a look at the global speed test results of 2020, it didn’t place well so improvement is still needed.
PrivateVPN is a member of the RVP, which means they get a 5/5 for reputation. They collect 0 logs and have no history of doing so. They also don’t have any history of major security vulnerabilities that have been hidden from customers, or anything else that could compromise their reputation. Martin, the CEO, is a really cool guy who seems very invested in making not only a good company but a truly good privacy product.
PrivateVPN has great customer support, and perhaps some of the best ticket responses around. Even in most of the other fake VPN reviews out there, most of them agree that PrivateVPN does seem to care a lot about making their customers happy.
I asked Martin for detailed information about the support and here is what he had to say:
“Today, we’re able to offer 24/7 support as we have staff covering every hour. I want to be clear that we’re not always able to do 24/7 live support due to the high load, but we will always answer the tickets quickly. To ensure our customer service staff’s quality, we have both Iuri and Richard to ensure we serve the highest quality as possible. We have seven people working on the customer service team.”
In my tests, PrivateVPN works perfectly with every streaming service without any additional configuration or add-ons necessary. Just pick a server you want, and connect from there and you should be good to go! The company also supports applications on android boxes like the Amazon Fire Stick so it provides a decent option there as well to unblock streaming restrictions for your TV.
Conclusion: 4.5/5 Tier 1 VPN
PrivateVPN is a very solid product all around with great support, a solid reputation, and extremely affordable pricing plans. The company seems intent on improving and should release WireGuard sometime this year, which will both improve the application and speed scores.
With a bit more features added, and more servers added as well (I have been told more and more are coming), the service is shaping out to be a strong contender for the top of the tier 1 VPNs (which in and of itself, is no very impressive thing).