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PrivateVPN review: An affordable VPN with certain limitations

Verified by Nick Jones

In today’s connected world, most of people’s time is spent online reading social media feeds or simply browsing the internet. We spend hours on their laptops and phones each day using apps and websites that collect valuable data about us. A Virtual Private Network (VPN) can help protect your personal data by encrypting your connection to the internet, making it virtually impossible for your online activities to be seen by unwanted parties. 

A great VPN provides complete anonymity and security to its users, ensuring that online activities are kept private.  Everyone should use a credible and reliable VPN, but that doesn’t mean spending hundreds on subscriptions annually. 

PrivateVPN is one option on the market, offering a decent set of privacy features at a low price. Owned by Privat Kommunikation Sverige AB, it is a Sweden-based VPN service.

60-second review

Rating: ★★★½

When it comes to speed, PrivateVPN performs well. With a small yet effective network of more than 200 high-performance servers strategically located across 63 countries, PrivateVPN offers considerable internet speed while browsing, streaming and downloading. 

Geo-restricted content can be accessed from most of its servers, making it a viable option for streaming. Additionally, PrivateVPN performs well in bandwidth-intensive activities. 

PrivateVPN employs AES-256, a top-tier encryption, and supports various protocols, including OpenVPN with UDP/TCP, L2TP, IPsec, WireGuard and IKEv2.

PrivateVPN’s app boasts a user-friendly interface; the intuitive design allows for easy setup on your Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android-based devices. 

With its robust privacy features and a strict no-logs policy, one additional benefit of PrivateVPN is that it offers a seven-day VPN free trial, which lets you get acquainted with its advantages and features before committing financially.

How we research and rate VPNs

200+
HOURS PERFORMANCE TESTING
700+
CUSTOMER REVIEWS READ
450+
HOURS OF RESEARCH
35
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. To find out more, read our article on how we review VPNs.

PrivateVPN overview

Lowest price: £1.86 per month for 36 months

Free version:  No

Maximum number of connected devices: 10

Number of servers: 200+

Encryption: AES-256

VPN protocols: OpenVPN with UDP, TCP, L2TP, IPsec, WireGuard and IKEv2

No-log policy: Yes 

Audited: No

Headquarters: Sweden

Pros Cons
Seven-day free trial A small set of servers
Up to 10 simultaneous connections No security audits
No-log policy No split tunnelling

How does PrivateVPN compare?

The VPN market is very competitive as various VPN services have emerged in the last decade. Amid the competition, PrivateVPN offers a slightly more affordable pricing packages in comparison to ExpressVPN, NordVPN, and CyberGhost but is limited in its features and privacy. ExpressVPN and NordVPN do not offer a free trial, whereas PrivateVPN offers a 7-day free trial.

PrivateVPN only offers around 200 servers, in comparison to CyberGhost and NordVPN that offer 9,773 and and more than 5,400, respectively. However, it does offer up to 10 simultaneous connections, where ExpressVPN only offers five.

VPN provider Private VPN NordVPN SurfShark Express VPN CyberGhost
Monthly price £9.29/m From £10.28 /m £1.97/m £10.41 £10.28
Lowest price £1.86 £2.60 /m £1.97/m £5.36 £1.67
Free version (Y/N) Yes (7-day free trial) No No No No
No. of servers 200+ 5,400+ 3200+ 3,000+ 9,773
Max. devices supported 10 6 Unlimited 5 7
Netflix
BBC iPlayer
Disney+
Amazon
HBO Max
Audit No Yes Yes Yes Yes
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 PrivateVPN cost?

PrivateVPN has three different subscription plans: one month, three months, and three years (which is the cheapest when broken down into monthly cost). The jump from a three-month plan to a three-year commitment might put some users off going for the cheapest option, with other providers offering one- and two-year plans.

All of the above plans are similar in features and differ only in their prices and billing, with the long-term subscriptions being better value for money than the others. PrivateVPN also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee to its new customers.

Subscription packages Price
1- Month 3-Months 3-Year (36 months) £9.29 per month £4.63 per month £1.86 per month

Payment options

PrivateVPN offers numerous payment options, including:

  • Credit card: UnionPay, VISA, MasterCard, American Express, JCB, Discover, and Diners Club International are all accepted
  • PayPal
  • Cryptocurrency: Bitcoin is also accepted

All three of the above are useful options, but there is a slight difference. If you choose to pay with PayPal, there is a 5 per cent handling fee, which may seem insignificant but slightly raises the price.

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PrivateVPN features

PrivateVNP has a number of built-in features such as a kill switch, various security protocols, a no-log policy (though this hasn’t been audited), and a small group of reliable and fast servers.

Server count and countries

PrivateVPN has more than 200 servers in 63 different countries. For such a highly rated VPN service, it has a small number of servers to choose from, and many users have suggested increasing the server count. PrivateVPN has taken the feedback into account and says it’s planning to expand its server network in the near future.

No-log policy and headquarters

A no-log policy is an indicator of a reliable and trustworthy VPN, as it ensures users’ personal data is not stored. PrivateVPN advertises a no-log policy, but this has yet to be independently audited. 

As mentioned earlier, PrivateVPN is based in Sweden, where there are no rules and regulations that can demand a VPN service to share its users’ personal data. Sweden is also considered to be a data-secure country, as it was one of the first countries to pass data protection laws.

Still, an independent audit of its privacy policy and server structure could provide some reassurance to existing and potential customers. 

Kill switch

A VPN kill switch adds an additional layer of security to your VPN. It activates when there is a drop in your connection to the VPN, restricting internet traffic on your device to ensure no data can slip through unprotected while the connection is re-established. PrivateVPN is equipped with an instant kill switch, which is known for being reliable and accurate. 

When a connection drop is noticed, PrivateVPN’s kill switch activates automatically, successfully cloaking your IP address.

Split tunnelling

Split tunnelling is a feature offered by certain VPN services that lets you choose which parts of your internet activity go through the VPN and which parts don’t. It’s like having two separate lanes for your online traffic: one lane goes through the VPN for privacy and security, while the other lane directly connects to the internet without going through the VPN, which can help maintain speeds where it’s important.  

PrivateVPN does not offer a split tunnelling feature, and this is one of a few areas where our researchers feel it could improve.

Encryption and privacy

PrivateVPN features AES-256 encryption, the highest level available. This encryption works because user traffic is mixed with that of other users while PrivateVPN hides IP addresses. The user’s device and the secure VPN servers both use encryption to keep the user’s data secure and hidden from prying eyes. This is nothing unique, as AES-256 encryption has become the industry standard. 

Additionally, five protocols are accessible, including OpenVPN (UDP and TCP), L2TP, IPsec, WireGuard, and IKEv2.  

PrivateVPN test results

One of the most effective methods for securing user privacy online is a VPN; however, the amount of bandwidth a VPN consumes might severely slow down the internet. So conducting a thorough test is necessary to establish the effect of a VPN on internet speed accurately. Three critical aspects should be considered when assessing internet speed: download speed, upload speed, and latency (ping).

  • The speed at which data is delivered from the internet to your device is called download speed. 
  • The rate at which data is sent from your device to the internet is called upload speed.
  • Ping, or latency, is the time it takes for data to move from your device to an internet server and back.
privatevpn test
Test before connecting to VPN (Ookla)
privatevpn test
PrivateVPN UK server test (Ookla)
 PrivateVPN UK server test
PrivateVPN US server test (Ookla)
PrivateVPN Australian server test
PrivateVPN Australian server test (Ookla)
No VPN UK to UK UK to US UK to AUS
Download Speed 14.13 Mbs 15.26 Mbs 13.07 Mbs 12.36 Mbs
Upload Speed 1.97 Mbs 0.90 Mbs 1 Mbs 1.04 Mbs
Latency/Ping 5 ms 9 ms 95 ms 260 ms
Percentage of base download speed 83 % 71.20% 67.30%
Percentage of base upload speed 105% 117% 122%

Before connecting to a VPN, the baseline download speed was 14.13Mbps, upload speed was 1.97Mbps, and ping was 5ms. When connected to the UK server, the download speed was 15.26Mbps (it is not unusual for this to increase with some VPNs), upload speed was 0.90Mbps, and the ping was 9ms.

Switching to the US server, the download speed was 13.07Mbps, upload speed was 1Mbps, and the ping increased to 97ms. Finally, on the Australian server, the download speed became 12.36Mbps, upload speed was 1.04Mbps, and the ping became 260 ms.

WebRTC leak test

The WebRTC (Web Real-Time Communication) leak test is a method for determining how vulnerable a user’s internet connection is to possible data leaks when connected to a VPN. 

This test looks at whether the user’s real IP address is revealed while using a VPN. In short, it determines if the service is properly cloaking the IP address of the user or not. Users can conduct this test to make sure their VPN service effectively masks their real IP address and protects their privacy online. 

Our leak tests for PrivateVPN revealed that when we were connected to the service, our IP address was visible but not our actual IP address, which indicated that a third party may compromise our data. It is fine to publish these IP addresses because they don’t indicate real location. We are sure that Private VPN passed the WebRTC leak test.

Breaches and audits

Audits are essential to determine the security, confidentiality, transparency, and overall reliability of a VPN service. They reassure users that their data is secure, as the VPN appears to be dependable and reliable. 

PrivateVPN has yet to conduct a third-party audit of its VPN services, or else has not publicly shared any evidence of such an audit. 

On the plus side, there has been no report of any potential data breaches from PrivateVPN to date.

Apps and compatibility

PrivateVPN is available on various computer and mobile operating systems. There’s support for:

Computers

Windows, Mac, and Linux.

Mobile phones

Android and iOS.

Routers

TP-Link, Tomato, Synology DSM, PFSense, OpenWRT, Asus, DD-WRT, and Linksys.

Desktop app

privatevpn desktop app
The PrivateVPN desktop app (PrivateVPN)

The PrivateVPN app establishes an encrypted channel with the push of a button. It’s a very easy-to-understand application with a basic home menu. Users can open a more detailed interface by selecting the “Advanced View” option.

This allows users to customise the service according to their preference, as they you can choose the protocols (OpenVPN TUN, TAP, TCP and UDP, L2TP, and WireGuard), and encryption methods AES-128/256-CBC/GCM. The current server status and details are also visible from here.

Mobile app

privatevpn mobile app
The PrivateVPN mobile app (PrivateVPN)

PrivateVPN’s mobile apps have a streamlined interface combining simple and advanced views. This new interface is user-friendly and consistent with the application’s overall design. However, there are some differences in features compared to the desktop version.

The Android app has a kill switch, OpenVPN support, IPv6 leak protection, and Stealth VPN features. However, it is worth noting it does not support any other protocols.

On PrivateVPN’s iOS app, you can choose from protocols such as OpenVPN, IKEv2, and IPSec. It also supports Stealth VPN. However, it does not offer a kill switch or IPv6 leak protection.

Router compatibility

To ensure 24/7 privacy and protection, most premium VPNs offer router compatibility, which means you can install the VPN on your wifi router to protect any device connected to your network. You can link to it through wifi or Ethernet, depending on the device and how you want to use it. 

PrivateVPN also offers this functionality, which means once you have connected your PrivateVPN with the router of specific models, your internet will always be safeguarded. 

The application is compatible with many routers, such as TP-Link, Tomato, Synology DSM, PFSense, OpenWRT, Asus, DD-WRT, and Linksys. The setup procedure differs from router to router; therefore, it is better to visit the website, where the guidelines for each compatible router are explained thoroughly.

Customer support

Users can contact the PrivateVPNs team through two channels:

  • 24/7 live chat: The PrivateVPN website has a responsive live chat feature through which the customer support team answers all questions, such as its features on various devices, pricing changes, or any other issue related to its services
  • Email: PrivateVPN’s customer support team will email users if there is something they cannot answer right away and if they do not have access to relevant information

What do customers say?

  • Trustpilot: 4.9/5
  • Apple Store: 4.6/5
  • Google Play: 3.9/5

PrivateVPN has a remarkable track record, as it has mostly received positive reviews on all major app stores. 

“I had problems in configuring PrivateVPN on a Linux system and therefore I contacted the support team. Although it was the weekend, I got the first response within less than an hour. I received helpful hints and a pointer to updated configuration instructions, so that I had a working VPN the same day.”

  • Ulrich Telle, via Trustpilot

“I wasn’t able to log in… my old card expired and I no longer used that card. Carlos got me back into my account, then the chat window auto cleared. I contacted support again. Dale reviewed the notes on my account then provided me with relief with getting the new payment method situated. I could not be more grateful for the outstanding service experience from both of these gentlemen. PrivateVPN has me for life based on everything they did for me tonight at 9pm on a Saturday night! Highly recommend it!”

  • Xo, via Trustpilot

“[It] works exceptionally well. [It] doesn’t slow down the connection speed, and on some sites it seems to increase my connection. So far [I’m] very happy. There is one thing I would like to see maybe in the next update. When you stop the VPN, [the application] closes completely. Would be nice to have the option of staying in the background. For [this] reason some forums ban VPNs, so [I] have to disconnect. Then [I] have to go and restart it. Not a big deal [and I’m] very pleased with the performance. [It’s] far better than the more expensive ones.”

  • Raymond Stirling, via Google Play

“The servers do not have any indicators of how busy they are. You could be connecting to the busiest server and it’s laggy. I emailed customer service yesterday, [but] still no answer. Very basic interface. You don’t know if the app is working or not. I guess as long as it’s connected, it should be working. I don’t know if I’m going to like it yet.”

  • Ix8vii, via Apple App Store

Independent Advisor’s verdict

PrivateVPN’s lack of a security policy audit raises reliability concerns, as there is no concrete evidence supporting the claims of a no-logs policy. It performed well in certain areas, such as encryption, multiple privacy protocols, and their easy-to-use applications, but offers significantly fewer servers which could be a draw-back for some VPN users.

Rating: ★★★½

Reputation ★★
Privacy ★★★★
Performance and features ★★★½
Plans and pricing value ★½
Customer experience
Round up of today’s best VPN deals
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CyberGhost 2 year £1.78 /Month
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Proton 2 year £4.26 /Month
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IPVanish 2 year £2.92 /Month
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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.