Minimal Data Collection & Based in a Privacy Haven
Logging & Jurisdiction
- Account information (username and email address)
- Payment information
- Support messages
- Anonymous, aggregate statistics (number of active users over a period of time)
- Mobile identifiers (these can switched off)
- Total amount of bandwidth used
PrivadoVPN only collects a small amount of information, and all of it is unidentifiable. It collects nothing sensitive like your IP address or the websites you visit. The only information the Swiss authorities can get is your email and username.
We think PrivadoVPN should commission a third-party audit into its data collection practices. This is becoming increasingly standard in the VPN industry and provides an added layer of trust.
Swiss base of operations
PrivadoVPN is based in Zug, Switzerland, registered as Privado Networks AG. This is an excellent country to establish a VPN company because of its robust privacy laws that respect consumer privacy.
Being based in Switzerland means PrivadoVPN is under no legal obligation to store the data of its subscribers. It is not a member of the European Union, so it doesn’t abide by the Data Retention Directive.
Switzerland also has no role in the intrusive 14 Eyes alliance, or any other anti-privacy intelligence sharing agreements. While Switzerland has local surveillance laws in place, this only applies to ISPs (Internet Service Providers) and not VPN companies.
Who is behind PrivadoVPN?
PrivadoVPN offers little to no public information about its corporate structure or ownership. While some users may respect a privacy company wanting some privacy of its own, you may want more transparency before trusting the company with your data.
For this reason, we’d like to see greater transparency and disclosure from the company behind PrivadoVPN.
Very Fast Local & International Download Speeds
Speed & Reliability
PrivadoVPN is very fast. We recorded excellent local and long-distance download speeds. We experienced a speed loss of only 8% on same-country connections and 15% connecting to the US from the UK. It doesn’t quite match the very fastest VPNs, and sometimes connections were slow to establish, but there’s no denying the results.
Using PrivadoVPN’s automatic protocol selection, uur speeds dropped just 8% when connected to nearby VPN servers. This is a minimal speed loss, but it’s not as fast as competitors like NordVPN, which only records a 1% speed loss.
On local connections, PrivadoVPN is more than fast enough for you to stream in 4K and download files quickly.
Local Speed Test results before using PrivadoVPN:
- Download Speed: 91Mbps
- Upload Speed: 99Mbps
- Ping: 6ms
Local Speed Test results with PrivadoVPN:
Download speed loss when PrivadoVPN is running: 8%
We tested some more PrivadoVPN servers, including long-distance ones. Here are the speed results:
International Speed Test Results
This VPN’s worldwide speeds are just as impressive as its local ones. There will always be a greater loss of speed when connecting to countries further away, but in PrivadoVPN’s case that speed loss is kept to a minimum.
Connecting to the US from the UK we only experienced a speed loss of 15%. That’s one of the smallest speed drops we’ve seen for London to New York connections.
Likewise, connecting to a server in Australia only reduced our normal internet speed by 37%. Considering the huge distance, this is quite a feat.
PrivadoVPN Free Speed Test Results
We tested PrivadoVPN’s free local and international servers.
Here’s how PrivadoVPN Free performed in our speed tests:
- Download: 91Mbps
- Upload: 61Mbps
- Ping: 14Mms
- Download: 91Mbps
- Upload: 73.25Mbps
- Ping: 19ms
- Download: 68Mbps
- Upload: 15.26Mbps
- Ping: 130ms
PrivadoVPN Free scores just as highly in our speed tests as the paid version. This means PrivadoVPN isn’t speed throttling its free servers and there’s no major server congestion.
Some of our results were even slightly stronger – the UK and Germany speeds increased when testing the free version. The long-distance US speeds remain impressive, too.
Small Server Network: Only 322 Global Servers
PrivadoVPN’s server network is spread across 46 countries – a very strong number, and it has a number of city-level server options. We’d like to see more servers in Africa and the Middle East, but all of its server locations are physical, and the small number of actual servers hasn’t had an impact on its impressive speeds.
PrivadoVPN has 322 servers in 46 countries.
There are fewer countries available to connect to than the very best VPNs, which can offer over 60 countries. ExpressVPN and NordVPN both allow users to connect to over 90 countries. However, it’s still more countries than the majority of VPNs are able to offer.
322 is a small number of physical servers for hundreds or thousands of VPN users to share. Overloaded or congested servers can create performance problems.
Secure, physical servers only
However, PrivadoVPN claims to run physical servers only. This is more costly to set up and run, but they’re usually safer. PrivadoVPN is emphasizing quality over quantity.
That’s fantastic. One drawback, though, is that it’s not a hugely diverse network. Because of its commitment to physical servers there are no options for countries in the Middle East and only one in Africa (South Africa).
Accesses US Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu & more
PrivadoVPN is a good VPN for streaming. It unblocks most popular streaming sites, including US and UK Netflix, HBO Max, Hulu, and British TV channels like BBC iPlayer and All 4. It doesn't unblock DAZN, though.
We tested PrivadoVPN on the major streaming platforms to see if it works to access geo-restricted content. Here are our results:
PrivadoVPN unblocks US & UK Netflix libraries
PrivadoVPN is a good solution to Netflix geo-blocks. It gets around tough Netflix geoblocks to access the US and UK library.
However, it fails to unblock other major Netflix libraries, including Germany, Japan, and Canada.
The best Netflix VPNs can unblock over 30 international libraries. PrivadoVPN is a long way from this.
BBC iPlayer access is inconsistent
PrivadoVPN didn’t unblock BBC iPlayer on its Manchester server, but it did work on its London server – for a while. Coming back to test it again shortly afterward, our real location was detected by the BBC’s blocking technology.
PrivadoVPN is inconsistent when it comes to BBC iPlayer. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. If this is important to you, we recommend choosing a VPN from our list of the best VPNs for BBC iPlayer.
We also unblocked All 4 using PrivadoVPN, but ITV Player remains blocked. If you’re a fan of British TV, you should check out the best VPNs for getting a UK IP address.
Works with HBO Max, Disney+, and Hulu
PrivadoVPN is effective at unblocking some of the less popular streaming services, like HBO Max, Disney+, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video US. You won’t be able to watch sports on DAZN, though.
Our main concern is the lack of identifiable streaming servers. You’re left to guess which servers work with each streaming platform through time-consuming trial and error.
If you do find a server that works with your chosen streaming site, the PrivadoVPN app doesn’t have a tool to mark that server for future use. Overall, PrivadoVPN accesses most major streaming sites, but there are much better VPNs for streaming.
If you want to use PrivadoVPN to stream georestricted content, it’s essential that you select ‘Stream Content’ when signing up and asked to choose your configuration.
When you install PrivadoVPN you will be presented with options to ‘Find The Best Server Configuration’. If you do not select ‘Stream Content,’ you will not be connected to server-optimized servers and will struggle to access streaming sites.
If you’ve already signed up to PrivadoVPN and are experiencing streaming issues, get in touch with the PrivadoVPN support and ask to have a streaming-optimized account activated.
PrivadoVPN Free unblocks most streaming sites
PrivadoVPN’s free version is one of the best free VPNs for streaming. Using 10GB of free data, we were able to access HBO Max and Hulu from the UK and stream BBC iPlayer from the US.
Like with the premium version, PrivadoVPN Free couldn’t get around DAZN blocks, access ITV Player, or stream from multiple major Netflix libraries. And with only 10GB of data per month, you won’t be able to stream for long before requiring more data.
Full Torrenting Support & SOCKS5 Availability
PrivadoVPN is quite open and supportive of its users engaging in P2P (peer-to-peer) file sharing. It has built a network that supports P2P and SOCKS5 proxy on every server.
The SOCKS5 proxy is a favorite of torrenters as it can allow for faster speeds and greater anonymity. This feature is limited to paying subscribers only, though. You can access your SOCKS5 proxy credentials via your PrivadoVPN account page.
PrivadoVPN has a working kill switch and a private logging policy – if you’re a torrenter you can rest assured that your file sharing is anonymous.
Secure Encryption but No Advanced Protection
Security & Features
PrivadoVPN does the basics of VPN security well. It uses industry-standard encryption AES-256 and offers all the recommended protocols including WireGuard (unless you’re using it on macOS). We recorded no IP leaks, either. Compared to leading VPNs that are offering double VPN, onion over VPN, diskless RAM servers, and more, PrivadoVPN is lagging behind.
PrivadoVPN offers a good package of VPN security. It uses the industry-standard AES-256 encryption, and we expect nothing less from a quality VPN.
You can choose between OpenVPN, WireGuard, and IKEv2 on the Windows, Android, and iOS apps but not macOS – which we would like to see in the future.
Using our leak test tool, we recorded no accidental exposure of any kind, including webRTC, IP, or DNS leaks. This means that PrivadoVPN is doing a good job encrypting and protecting your connection.
PrivadoVPN’s kill switch works
PrivadoVPN has a very good kill switch. Just turning it on without connecting to a VPN server will stop your entire internet connection. This is very useful should your VPN connection drop, ensuring no sensitive data is ever exposed.
However, as long as the PrivadoVPN kill switch is on you cannot use your internet at all, whether you’re connected to a PrivadoVPN server or not.
Most other VPN kill switches kill your internet only if it detects a VPN connection drop. This makes PrivadoVPN extra safe, and encourages you to always be connected to a secure server. Windscribe also has this type of kill switch.
EXPERT TIP: PrivadoVPN’s kill switch toggle disappears when you select the OpenVPN protocol. To use the kill switch with the OpenVPN protocol running, go to Preferences > General and tap the Kill Switch option.
Lacking advanced security tools
PrivadoVPN is safe, but it doesn’t have many extra security features. This is good if you’re looking for a ‘click and protect’ service, but some of the most popular VPNs, like NordVPN and Surfshark, come with ad blockers, split tunneling, diskless RAM servers, and much more.
Works in China with Taiwan & Japan Servers
Tests from our server in Shanghai show that PrivadoVPN currently works to bypass the Great Firewall of China. Without obfuscation technology though, it’s unclear how long this access will last.
We didn’t expect PrivadoVPN to work as an anti-censorship VPN. There are no extra tools or options within the app that are usually required to beat Chinese censorship, like traffic obfuscation or a stealth VPN protocol.
To our surprise, PrivadoVPN worked to get around the Great Firewall of China when connected to its Taiwan and Japan server. We tested this from our very own server in Shanghai, so we can confirm that PrivadoVPN currently works in China.
However, connections took a long time to establish. As you can see in the video below, while we managed to unblock YouTube on the Taiwan server, it took over four minutes to get around the Firewall (we have shortened the video). We experienced identical connection waits with the Tokyo server too.
It’s not clear how long PrivadoVPN’s success in China will last. It doesn’t have any special obfuscation technology like Astrill VPN – which has bypassed China’s website blocks 100% of the time for more than a year now.
As PrivadoVPN gets more popular, it’s more likely the Chinese authorities will identify and block it.
Not Enough Bang for Your Buck
Price & Free VPN
PrivadoVPN is a serviceable VPN but you don’t get much for your money and there’s no free trial. At $4.99 per month on its best deal, it’s quite an expensive VPN. For this price we’d like to see investment in streaming-optimized servers and other privacy tools.
PrivadoVPN has a free version and a premium version available in two payment plans. Here they are:
PrivadoVPN is available in two pricing plans: a one-month subscription and a one-year subscription. You save 38% on the monthly plan if you sign up for the whole year, which amounts to $4.99 per month.
Payment & Refund Options
You can only pay for PrivadoVPN through credit card or PayPal. These are the compatible payment methods:
This is not a lot. We’d like to see some privacy-friendly options made available, like bitcoin or cash.
After you buy PrivadoVPN, you are entitled to a 30-day money-back guarantee with no questions asked. This essentially means that you can get a month free if you decide to get your money back, but there is no genuine free trial available.
This is standard practice with most VPN providers, although CyberGhost has a 45-day refund guarantee.
PrivadoVPN Free: One of the best free VPNs
PrivadoVPN’s free service is one of the best free VPNs you can get. Unlike so many other free VPNs, it’s safe and comes from a reputable company.
It’s also more generous than most complimentary services from established VPN brands. PrivadoVPN Free allows you to use 10GB of data per month, equal to the #1 free VPN, Windscribe.
PrivadoVPN Free offers a relatively large server network, too. It’s restricted when compared to the premium version, but 13 global servers in nine countries is substantial when compared to many other free services that only offer one or a few.
PrivadoVPN Free offers VPN servers in:
- Argentina – Buenos Aires
- Brazil – Sao Paulo
- Canada – Montreal
- France – Paris
- Mexico – Mexico City
- Netherlands – Amsterdam
- Switzerland – Zurich
- United Kingdom – London
- United States – Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Washington DC
This is a diverse server network for a free VPN, with multiple city options in the US. However, this only applies to macOS users. On Windows, PrivadoVPN Free servers are limited to the closest available connection only. All other servers are reserved for paying users.
PrivadoVPN Free is one of the only free VPN services that work with Disney+ and HBO Max.
The free service is mostly identical to the paid version. It includes many of the additional features, including leak protection. The only thing missing is SOCKS5 proxy, which is reserved for paying customers, and simultaneous connections are limited to one device only.
PrivadoVPN Free is also really simple to get: you just need to provide an email address. No payment details or extensive sign up is required at all.
PrivadoVPN Free Summary: 10GB of free data, 12 servers, and 10 devices – all for free – makes PrivadoVPN Free one of the better options if you don’t want to pay for privacy.
Apps for All Popular Platforms, but No Browser Extensions
Platforms & Devices
PrivadoVPN is compatible with a wide range of devices and platforms, including the most popular desktop and mobile operating systems like macOS, Windows, Android, and iOS. It also has custom apps for Fire TV Stick and Android TV. Router support is available, but browser extensions are not.
PrivadoVPN has applications available for macOS, Windows, Android, and iOS. There are apps for Fire TV Stick and Android TV, too.
There are manual setup guides on PrivadoVPN’s website if you want to set up the VPN on your home router or Linux.
PrivadoVPN has no browser extensions for Firefox or Chrome, but you can use the VPN on up to 10 devices at one time. This is a very generous amount. The industry standard is usually five devices.
PrivadoVPN’s Fire TV Stick doesn’t work
You can install PrivadoVPN onto your Fire TV Stick, but it’s pointless as the app is buggy and cannot establish a VPN connection.
As you can see in the video below, we tried two different US servers, but each time the PrivadoVPN firestick app automatically closes with no explanation given.
Simple Apps Identical Across All Devices
Ease of Use
PrivadoVPN offers a basic, streamlined service which makes it friendly for beginners but too simple for advanced VPN users. There is nothing complex about the app or its features, either on macOS, Windows, iOS, or Android.
The PrivadoVPN apps are identical across all devices in both appearance and features – a home screen with a large connect button, a server list in a separate window, and a burger menu for preferences. We would like to see more VPNs imitate this consistency across apps.
PrivadoVPN desktop apps
It’s not uncommon for a VPN’s macOS client to have completely different features to its Windows equivalent. The only difference with PrivadoVPN is that the macOS version doesn’t include support for WireGuard.
We like that PrivadoVPN’s kill switch is prominently placed on the main home screen. This highlights the importance of this feature and makes it extremely easy to toggle on and off. However, it should be switched on by default.
Despite its user-friendliness, we have some design concerns. Firstly, some of the windows in the interface are pixelated, even on macOS, which doesn’t inspire confidence. More annoying, you cannot connect to a server by double clicking. Instead, you have to select the server and then the connect button.
PrivadoVPN mobile apps
PridavoVPN’s mobile apps are identical to the desktop version. They have the same central connect button and server list, as well as the same features.
PrivadoVPN’s Android app does not have a kill switch option. Instead, you have to activate it from your Android device settings via Connections > More Connection Settings > VPN > PrivadoVPN > Block connections without VPN. We’d like to see the kill switch embedded in the PrivadoVPN Android app.
Overall, both PrivadoVPN’s desktop and mobile apps couldn’t be simpler to use. But this comes at the cost of customization and advanced features.
How to Use PrivadoVPN
You can see how simple PrivadoVPN is to use in the video below. We show you how to change servers, switch on the kill switch, and use the preferences menu:
Random Live Chat Availability
PrivadoVPN is lacking top-tier customer support. It claims live chat is available 24/7, but our testing proves that’s not actually the case. The website’s resources are limited, too. The best way to get help is to generate a ticket, but expect a couple of hours of waiting before you get a response.
|Live chat Support||Yes|
|Email support via an online form||Yes|
PrivadoVPN has a live chat feature that it says is available 24/7. However, it’s actually available at completely random and unpredictable times. Sometimes we’ve sought help and been answered instantly, and other times it has taken hours.
We asked PrivadoVPN why live chat isn’t always available and it told us:
“All of our support runs 24/7 unless our agents are currently unavailable.”
This was frustrating, so we used a ticket system on its website instead. We sent the ticket at 14:27 and got a response at 16:07 – nearly a two hour waiting window. The response was polite and helpful enough, though.
The website has some basic FAQs (mainly used to promote the service) and a few helpful setup guides, as well as some articles on general privacy, but it’s far removed from the sort of comprehensive online help you get from a website like Hide.me.
PrivadoVPN Is One of the Best Free VPNs
The Bottom Line
PrivadoVPN is a small and relatively new VPN service that gets the basics of VPN security right, but isn’t pushing any boundaries.
PrivadoVPN, both free and premium, is particularly good when it comes to streaming. It unblocks the major streaming sites like US Netflix, HBO Max, and Hulu. But there’s no smart DNS for easy bypassing of georestrictions from TV devices, and it’s Fire TV Stick app doesn’t work.
Alternatives to PrivadoVPN
For a small amount more than PrivadoVPN costs, you can get the very best VPN on the market – ExpressVPN. This is the best in class: great for streaming, torrenting, and speed. Read ExpressVPN review
If you're looking for the best free VPN service, look no further than Windscribe. It has 10GB of free data, too, but it's better than PrivadoVPN at unblocking streaming services. Read Windscribe review