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AirVPN review: Is all the trouble worth it?

Verified by Nick Jones

A virtual private network (VPN) protects your privacy on the internet by hiding your IP address. Your IP address is one of the most personal pieces of information you possess, yet some people are lax when it comes to protecting this piece of data. Your internet service provider has access to your IP address, meaning it can pinpoint your location at all times just as easily as any website.

A VPN helps disguise your IP address by encrypting traffic between you and a server, which acts as a relay between you and your internet activity. Your location will then appear to be wherever your VPN server is located. This is especially useful when accessing location-restricted content, such as a Netflix library in another country. 

VPNs can be plotted on a continuum from the easiest to the most complex to set up and use. AirVPN is located right on the complex end of the scale. 

AirVPN isn’t massively complex if you just want to use it on a desktop computer thanks to its VPN client called Eddie, which is preloaded with all AirVPN’s servers. However, things become much more complex when you want to use it on a mobile device.

AirVPN doesn’t have a first-party VPN app for mobile devices, so you’re forced to use one provided by OpenVPN or WireGuard. The lack of an app support opens the door to multiple clients called AirVPN that are not affiliated with the service. It is unclear whether these are reputable, but only OpenVPN and WireGuard are officially recommended by AirVPN.

Another annoyance when it comes to using third-party VPN clients is that the servers are not preloaded. Instead, there is a complicated process of adding them, which will be covered later in this review.

30-second review

Rating: ★★½

If you don’t mind installing your own VPN client in order to utilise mobile capabilities, you might be okay with the extra steps involved in using AirVPN. However, the reliance on third-party mobile apps vastly reduces the value of the service.

How we research and rate VPNs

150+
HOURS PERFORMANCE TESTING
500+
CUSTOMER REVIEWS READ
200+
HOURS OF RESEARCH
40
25 COMPETITORS COMPARED
4
VPN EXPERTS CONSULTED

Our reviewers are dedicated to bringing you the most accurate and up-to-date information so you can make an informed decision when it comes to buying a VPN. We will only recommend a VPN after hours of testing, extensive head-to-head feature comparisons, and after taking into account verified customer feedback and reviews, and the opinions of industry experts.

Our review scores are determined by the following categories:

  • Privacy and performance (30 per cent)
  • Features and functionality (30 per cent)
  • Reputation and credibility (25 per cent)
  • Plans and pricing/value (10 per cent)
  • Customer experience (5 per cent)

We research and test a total of 25 elements within these categories, including:

  • Number and location of servers
  • Streaming service accessibility
  • Security features such as AES-256
  • Performance (upload and download speeds, latency)
  • Value for money, guarantees and customer service
  • Independent server-site security audits

All of our VPN articles are fact-checked and verified by our in-house team of fact-checkers, so you can be assured that our content is as accurate and up to date as possible.

AirVPN overview

Lowest price: £2.36 (€2.75) per month 

Free version: No

Maximum connected devices: 5

Number of servers: 250

Encryption: 4096-bit DH and RSA keys size, AES-256-GCM or CHACHA20-POLY1305 encryption cypher

VPN protocols: OpenVPN, WireGuard

No-logs policy: Yes

Audited: No

Headquarters: Italy

How does AirVPN compare?

AirVPN is one of the cheapest providers, as long as you opt for one of the plans that last for a  month or longer. Basically, avoid the plan that lasts three days at a time. AirVPN costs less than a third of the providers below. It has a high number of servers, but not as many countries as some other providers. The number of devices is similar to many other services, unless you install it on a router and share it between all users on your network.

Product AirVPN ExpressVPN NordVPN SurfShark VPNSecure CyberGhost
Price £2.35 per month (3 years) £6.89 per month (one year) £2.69 per month (one year, standard plan) £2 per month (£47.93 for the first 24 months, thereafter annually) £2.38 (three years) £1.85 per month (28 months)
Free version N N N N N N
No. of servers 23 countries, 250 servers 94 countries, approximately 270 servers 60 countries, 5,709 servers 100 countries, 3,200+ servers 34 countries shown (40+ and 45+ claimed), 75 servers 91 countries, 9,500+ servers
Max. devices supported 5 5 6 Unlimited Unknown 7
Netflix N Y Y Y Y Y
BBC iPlayer N Y Y Y Y Y
Disney Plus N Y Y Y Y Y
Prime Video N Y Y Y Y Y
HBO Max N Y Y Y Y Y
Audit (Y/N) N Y Y Y N Y
Best alternative to
NordVPN is one of the most trusted VPN providers in the world, offering top-notch encryption, incredible speeds, and extra features to make all your online activities more secure.
4.5
Excellent Trustpilot rating
24/7 customer support
AES-256 encryption
VIEW PLANS At NordVPN

How much does AirVPN cost?

There is only one subscription tier available with AirVPN, and the only difference between plans is the length of contract.

Subscription term Price Equivalent monthly cost
Three days £1.71 (€2) £25.61 (€30)
Monthly £5.99 (€7) £5.99 (€7)
Three months £12.85 (€15) £4.27 (€5)
Six months £24.84 (€29) £4.12 (€4.83)
12 months £41.96 (€49) £3.48 (€4.08)
24 months £67.66 (€79) £2.81 (€3.29)
36 months £84.78 (€99) £2.35 (€2.75)

Prices may exclude VAT or local taxes. Prices correct as of 5/7/2023.

Payment options

AirVPN’s website does not accept debit or credit card payments directly. It supports Amazon Pay, PayPal and Stripe, including support Visa, MasterCard, Maestro and American Express. Stripe additionally supports Apple Pay, Google Pay, Giropay, iDEAL, EPS, Sofort, Bancontact and Przelewy24.

You can also pay for AirVPN with cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash, Dogecoin and Monero. The payment page assures users that payments are direct with no intermediaries, meaning you only have to trust AirVPN and not a third-party provider. 

Compare our top recommended providers
Best Overall
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Best Value
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Best All-rounder
3 months free on the 12 month plan
Best for Gaming
Get 82% off + 2 months extra

AirVPN features

These recommended mobile clients don’t have many features, but there may be third-party clients with better features. AirVPN cannot be credited with any features, as it does not provide a mobile app.

Eddie

AirVPN developed the Eddie client for desktops, but it doesn’t have many features; it has tabs for servers, countries, speed, statistics and logs. Eddie has a settings menu that allows you to choose from over 60 protocol configurations. Almost all of these configurations use OpenVPN with either User Datagram Protocol (UDP) or Transmission Control Protocol (TCP). According to Spiceworks “TCP is more reliable, while UDP prioritizes speed and efficiency.”  The only other difference between the OpenVPN configurations is in what port and IP address they use.

Only two of the provided configurations use WireGuard, and both of these rely on the UDP protocol. 

The ability to use the Tor network is an unusual feature that should not be overlooked, as this is the most private way to use the internet. This is set up as

Server count and countries

There are approximately 250 servers listed on the website’s server page, and 23 countries were counted in the Eddie desktop client.

No-log policy and headquarters

AirVPN operates a no-logs policy but this is not yet independently audited. This means that customers have to take AirVPN at its word when it says that it doesn’t store logs. A lot of information about how the system works is made publicly available, but customers need a lot of technical knowledge and ability to test that these claims are accurate.

They do, however, use automatic systems in RAM, which cannot persistently store data. If it did, it would quickly run out of space and not be fit for purpose. When a device is restarted the data in RAM is reset to zero, so nothing can be stored here. 

Many versions of the Linux operating system such as Tails that have an emphasis on privacy are designed to boot from a USB stick and run in RAM because there will be no trace of them once the computer starts up again. This is proof that RAM can be trusted for the purpose of privacy, but what about other forms of memory like hard drives? AirVPN’s policy states that: “traffic and/or traffic content and/or IP addresses of the customers or users are not inspected, logged or stored into any mass storage device.”

According to AirVPN’s About us page the project started at a hacker festival in Rome in 2010, at which point it was a free service run by a collective with no corporation behind it. They give very little detail about the company they formed in 2012 in order to commercialise the service. The AirVPN Terms of Service gives an address for the company in Perugia, Italy. 

There are many legal consequences to having the headquarters in this location.

The Terms of Service document describes itself as “governed by and construed… under the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice and the courts in Italy.” Italy is part of the Fourteen Eyes along with the US, the UK and many Western European nations. 

With the exception of Australia and New Zealand, all members of the alliance are also members of NATO.

The existence of this alliance was made public by documents leaked by Edward Snowden which describe it as SIGINT Seniors Europe or SSEUR. Its existence seemingly hasn’t been officially acknowledged, but a 2018 parliamentary question by a UKIP MEP that mentioned it was given an answer by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker that did not deny that the alliance existed. 

Perhaps importantly it did state that Brexit would have no effect on whether these nations would continue to corporate on security matters.

What does this mean for AirVPN customers? The problem with many of Edward Snowden’s revelations is that the security community routinely gathers data on a wide scale, making use of unpatched security vulnerabilities that they do not disclose to the companies that make the software that we use. 

As a member of the Fourteen Eyes, Italy has signed up to secretly spy on companies within its borders, which includes AirVPN, and share this data with the other members if they want to. Although providing information about how their services operate is good for transparency, AirVPN may be making it easier for spies to exploit their systems without ever needing to publicly disclose the vulnerabilities they discover.  

The AirVPN Terms of Service adds that “You hereby consent and submit to the personal and exclusive jurisdiction of such courts for the purposes of litigating any action”. No matter what country you’re located in, the Terms of Service asserts that you will be required to abide by the terms of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

The first part of Article 8 of the ECHR specifies that everyone has “the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence,” which sounds very similar to the privacy purpose of VPNs. However it is somewhat contradicted by the second part, which says that no public authority can interfere with numerous exceptions for “national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.”

This is a pretty broad list of exceptional circumstances under which AirVPN users actually have no right to privacy, but this is why a no-logging policy should be audited. Customers have to make a choice about whether to trust that their internet traffic isn’t logged by AirVPN, and therefore cannot be used to prosecute them under the ECHR, or that AirVPN truly abides by the ECHR by checking for criminal activity and storing the evidence for later prosecution.

Kill switch

A kill switch is a feature that allows the internet connection to be disabled when the VPN connection is lost. This is useful when your device is not properly connected to a VPN server, as it stops your privacy from being compromised. Although your real location is never leaked, it does mean that problems with your VPN will make it impossible to use the internet. If you can switch to another server you might be fine, but otherwise you would have to disable the VPN or the kill switch feature in order to resume using the internet without the VPN.

On the desktop Eddie client, the kill switch functionality is called Network Lock. This feature is claimed to be more effective than most kill switches, because it is based on strict firewall rules, meaning that even if the VPN is technically connected it cannot leak private data.

OpenVPN’s mobile client is compatible with AirVPN and has a tick box to enable a kill switch function. As this is a third-party app, the existence of the feature cannot really be attributed to the value of the AirVPN service.

Split tunnelling

Split tunnelling is a feature that allows you to divert traffic from specific apps to a VPN connection while letting other apps access the internet as normal. This is useful when you don’t want some apps to be slowed down by a VPN, or if you need some apps to have access to your real location while others are using another location for purposes such as internet banking and circumventing geo-blocking.

Split tunnelling is not supported by AirVPN on any platform.

Encryption and privacy

AirVPN uses:

  • 4096-bit DH and RSA keys size
  • AES-256-GCM or 
  • CHACHA20-POLY1305

In countries where OpenVPN is blocked, AirVPN supports using OpenVPN over Secure Shell (SSH), Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) or even Tor. 

SSH is a protocol that makes it possible to have a secure connection even if the user is connecting over an insecure network. Although network traffic to and from a VPN server are encrypted, networks and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) can block it. This is because methods like deep packet inspection (DPI) and stateful packet inspection (SPI) can detect the way that the packet was encrypted, even if its contents remain encrypted.

Using SSH with a VPN encrypts network traffic twice, so it is slower than using a VPN alone, but it is also harder to detect.

Even if a network or ISP detects that SSH is being used, there is no way to prove that it is actually VPN traffic, and SSH is used for many legitimate purposes that aren’t related to VPNs

Transport Layer Security (TLS) is a newer protocol that is based on SSL, but it is often still referred to as SSL/TLS. AirVPN’s SSL Tunnel page states that the OpenVPN protocol already uses SSL/TLS, but this still makes it vulnerable to the DPI and SPI methods mentioned above. This is another way of encrypting your traffic twice in order to hide that it is VPN traffic, but this way is using the same encryption as the VPN protocol itself.

Like using a VPN over SSH, using a VPN over an SSL/TLS connection is slower as a result of extra encryption states. 

The Tor network began with the Onion Router, as it was initially necessary to have a router to connect to it. Now, it can be used from many mainstream browsers and the officially-supported Tor browser. This network is similar to a VPN, as it involves rerouting traffic through multiple nodes worldwide. While VPN connections are usually only to one server in a known location, Tor requires that traffic is rerouted through multiple nodes and that the nodes are always unknown to one another.

Some VPNs allow a multi-hop feature where traffic is passed between VPN servers, but AirVPN does not offer this functionality.

AirVPN performance test results

A VPN is a great tool for hiding IP addresses and keeping internet users’ data secure and protected. However, as a result of using a VPN, users’ internet speed can be affected. Although not all services will be entirely detrimental, some will produce adverse affects more than others. The best way to get a better understanding is to perform a speed test. 

There are three main components to consider when testing internet speed, with or without a VPN; these include download speed, upload speed and latency (ping).

  • Download speed: Refers to the rate at which digital data is transferred from the internet to your device.
  • Upload speed: The rate that data is transferred from your device to the internet. 
  • Latency (ping): The time it takes for a set of data to be transmitted to a server on the internet and back to your device again. 

The speed of the VPN was tested using an Ethernet connection to eliminate the variable of wifi interference or signal from the test. The Speedtest by Ookla is one of the most used tests and was used to obtain these measurements.

airvpn test
Speed test result without AirVPN activated. This is our base line. The numbers along the bottom of the image are the ping (latency) in milliseconds and the amount of data downloaded (green) and uploaded (purple) during the test, measured in megabytes.
VPN configuration Download speed Upload speed Latency ping in ms Percentage of base download speed Percentage of base upload speed
No VPN (Mbps) 64.39 21.63 13 100% 100%
UK to UK (Mbps) 59.83 17.68 28 93% 82%
UK to US (Mbps) 42.09 17.73 280 65% 82%
UK to Aus (Mbps) N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A

No Australian servers were available in the Eddie app on macOS. There was a noticeable decrease in download speed when connecting to a US server. This seemed like a mistake, but there was a similar result when the test was run again. The upload speeds were reduced just as much when connecting to a server in the UK as they were when connecting to a server in the US, which makes the reduced US download speed even more strange.

airvpn speed test
Speed test result when connected to an AirVPN US server from the UK.

WebRTC leak test

Web Real-Time Communication (WebRTC) is a tool developed by Google to make it easier to do audio and video calling using a browser. It improves the performance of calls over the internet, but it can also expose the real IP address of a user even if they’re using a VPN. 

There is a test for this provided by BrowserLeaks, and it was used to see whether there was a leak on common browsers. Most browsers are now based on Chromium, the open source equivalent of Google Chrome. As the developer of WebRTC, Google has inevitably included the leak in all of these browsers, including Edge, Epic, Brave, Opera and Vivaldi.

When testing the Chromium-based Brave browser on Windows, the real IP address appeared to be leaked.

Breaches and audits

As previously noted, AirVPN’s privacy policies have not been independently audited, which means features like the no-logs policy have not been verified. While for many users this would cause concern, AirVPN’s Eddie client is open-source, so anyone can independently corroborate the policy. Some users on the AirVPN forum also note that there is an in-depth guide to the infrastructure for greater transparency. 

Open-source software does reduce the need for auditing, although it requires an active community of white-hat hackers to test the client for bugs. AirVPN has a bug bounty program and lists “€300 at least” as the largest reward.

AirVPN compatibility

Desktop app

The Eddie app is unavailable through the Apple App Store, so you must trust AirVPN to produce a secure and performant app. Luckily the app is open source, so if there were problems, someone would hopefully notice. 

After installing the app, you must log in, having already created an account on the AirVPN website. Successfully logging in causes an error sound, but you will know that it was successful because the button’s text changes to “Log Out” and the username and password text fields are disabled.

You can double-click on any server in the list to connect immediately.

eddie app desktop

Mobile app

Instead of AirVPN providing the mobile client and the service, you must choose a third-party app to trust instead. If you have a problem with your chosen mobile app, AirVPN can’t help you or release an update.

If the VPN service has an issue, it may be unclear whether the app or the service is causing it, making it difficult to get the support you need.

On Android there is a mobile version of Eddie which is available from major app stores as well as directly from the AirVPN website.

AirVPN requires you to use a client made by another company on iOS: It suggests OpenVPN and WireGuard. Once you have downloaded the client, you must generate a VPN profile using AirVPN’s config generator, which requires selecting the operating system and a protocol. You can then choose any number of individual servers or continents. Finally, you can click the Generate button to create your profiles.

airvpn website

There is no way to generate a profile that covers a variety of servers in a single file, which is why most VPN service providers create a client that includes the configuration details for each server. Most VPN services install a single VPN profile and change the configuration to different servers when the user requests a change in their app.

Using a third-party client requires the user to install a separate profile for every server, which is why AirVPN recommends using continental groups of servers.

The next challenge is getting each configuration file onto your device. You can download it directly if you create it in a browser on your phone. If you create it on a computer, AirVPN recommends emailing the files. AirDrop does not appear to work, but the files can be uploaded to a cloud service like iCloud Drive, Google Drive, Box, or Dropbox. 

You can find the VPN configuration files in your cloud storage app and tap the share button. This will allow you to share them with the OpenVPN Connect client. The next step on iOS is to open the Settings app, tap “VPN” and enable the VPN profile. For some reason, VPN profiles added this way don’t have the “Connect on Demand” option that enables the VPN automatically, so you must enable it manually

On Android it doesn’t seem to be necessary to manually enable the VPN connection in the Settings app.

AirVPN router compatibility

AirVPN’s website has instructions for setting up DD-WRT, Tomato, AsusWRT and pfSense routers. 

These are some of the most popular VPN routers, but not all routers support VPNs. This is because you need software from the VPN service to run on the router itself if you want your entire network to share the same connection. When a VPN is set up on a single device like a laptop or mobile device, no router will block that traffic on its way to the VPN server.Only routers that support installing the OpenVPN client are explicitly supported by AirVPN. OpenVPN’s website itself links to FlashRouters where you can find 22 routers, presumably all of which will work with AirVPN.   

Customer support

AirVPN only offers customer support through a contact form or by emailing them at support@airvpn.org. No live chat or phone support is available. 

There are also forums that allow users to ask each other questions about setting up their specific configuration, and there is also a Staff profile that regularly posts there. The Staff account has written nearly 10,000 posts on the forum, in over a decade of activity, so many important technical questions have official answers on the forums.

It is possible to message the Staff account directly on the forum, and this might work as a way to draw their attention to a question that has not yet been definitively answered by other users.

What do customers say?

Critical reviews on Trustpilot focus on slow speeds, poor customer service and the complexity of setting up the service. One user writes that the service has “very unstable behaviour” and that “the software is complicated and behaves unexpectedly”. Another complained that they were charged 3 times for a one month subscription, but the company were still “telling me that they didn’t have the payment.”

Favourable reviews praised the speeds, so clearly not everyone has problems with it. One user in Italy claimed to have “350-370 Mbps every day including weekends” over a gigabit Ethernet connection. Judging by the high level of technical terminology in these reviews, the most pleased customers are those that already have a high level of understanding of VPNs and computing in general.

One review gave the service 5 stars, but the title still advised that it was ‘Best suited for technical people’.

Android users gave Eddie an average rating of 3.2 out of 5 on Google Play. One user praised the “powerful and easy to navigate” client, while another was happy to report that the support team were “clear and quick to respond”. They are probably not as fast as other services that have live chat support, but it’s still reassuring that they respond fast to their contact form.

One critical review from a user said that the VPN connection worked on WiFi but didn’t work on their mobile network. 

AirVPN responds to some negative reviews, but not all of them. Their responses mostly advise the users to contact support, which makes a lot of sense when dealing with a specific software issue. However the tone is often more confrontational than many developers, not always apologising but usually boasting the quality of the service.

As there are no iOS apps, it’s difficult to gauge what customers think of the experience of using third-party VPN clients.

Independent Advisor’s verdict

The AirVPN desktop app has some features such as using a VPN over the Tor network which aren’t offered by many VPN services. The problem arises when using an iOS device, as there are no apps provided for that platform. If you primarily use a VPN on a computer or don’t need many features on mobile, you’ll probably be fine with AirVPN.

★★½

Round up of today’s best VPN deals
NordVPN 2 year £2.49 /Month
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Surfshark 24 month £1.79 /Month
£1.79 /Month
ExpressVPN 12 month £6.92 /Month
£6.92 /Month
CyberGhost 2 year £1.78 /Month
£1.78 /Month
Proton 2 year £3.88 /Month
£3.88 /Month
PIA 2 year £1.57 /Month
£1.57 /Month
Atlas 2 year £1.34 /Month
£1.34 /Month
PrivadoVPN 2 year £1.48 /Month
£1.48 /Month
Windscribe 12 month £1.96 /Month
£1.96 /Month
IPVanish 2 year £3.33 /Month
£3.33 /Month

The data in this review is reported from a neutral stance and should be used for informational purposes only. We review VPN services from the perspective of:

  • The quality of the product based on the security it affords the user
  • User experience of the application(s)
  • Level and quality of customer service

Independent Advisor does not endorse the streaming of content from regions other than where the subscription is held, nor does it endorse the downloading or consumption of illegally pirated content.

Millie is an expert in computer technology and is a Bachelor of Computer Science, graduating from Sheffield Hallam University in 2021. She writes tech reviews and coding tutorials for publications such as Storius and Better Programming

For the Independent Advisor, Millie writes VPN reviews and features.

Nick Jones

Editor in Chief

Nick Jones is a highly experienced consumer journalist and editor, who has been writing and producing content for print and online media for over 25 years.

He has worked at some of the UK’s leading publishers including Future Publishing, Highbury Entertainment, and Imagine Publishing, with publications as diverse as Homebuilding & Renovating, TechRadar, and Creative Bloq, writing and editing content for audiences whose interests include history, computing, gaming, films, and science. He’s also produced a number of podcasts in the technology, science, gaming, and true crime genres.

Nick has also enjoyed a highly successful career in content marketing, working in a variety of topics such as health, technology, and finance, with market-leading global companies including Cisco, Pfizer, Santander, and Virgin Media.

Now the Editor-in-Chief of the Independent Advisor, Nick is involved in all aspects of the site’s content, where his expertise in finance, technology, and home products informs every article that’s published on-site. He takes a hands-on approach with our VPN content, penning a number of the articles himself, and verifying that everything we publish in this topic is accurate.

Whatever the area of interest he’s worked in, Nick has always been a consumer champion, helping people find the best deals and give them the information they need to make an informed buying decision.