X-VPN keeps some logs and has ties to China
Logging & Jurisdiction
Our main concern with X-VPN is its boardroom has ties to mainland China, a country extremely hostile to both VPNs and digital rights in general. In addition to that, X-VPN's logging policy collects connection timestamps, which we aren't comfortable with.
X-VPN is owned by Free Connected Limited, which was incorporated in July 2017 and is based in Hong Kong.
The Free Connected Limited website states that Free Connected Limited believes in “equal and fair access” to an internet “built on privacy, security, and transparency.”
From a data retention point of view, Hong Kong is a privacy-friendly VPN jurisdiction. It’s not part of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance either.
However, our free VPN ownership investigation revealed that X-VPN does have links to mainland China, which is a privacy concern.
Jin Li, the company’s director, and Chengdu Zhuozhuo Technology Co, the sole shareholder, are based in the Sichuan province of China.
X-VPN also says it will not disclose your information “unless in response to law enforcement requests when the Service is being used contrary to these Terms and applicable laws.”
We’ll now review X-VPN’s logging policy to see how much of a privacy concern this is.
X-VPN’s logging policy is clear and transparent but it does collect a considerable amount of user data, including:
- Chosen VPN server
- VPN connection timestamp (date and time)
- Choice of VPN protocol
- Network type
- Server CPU load and bandwidth
These logs are stored for 96 hours before being erased and are collected for troubleshooting and VPN service optimization.
While X-VPN doesn’t store user IP addresses, the fact it logs connection timestamps for four days is very concerning.
When you open the app, X-VPN also logs:
- Device information
- App version
- Data usage
- City-level location
This information is used to help X-VPN with product development, and can be deleted upon request.
X-VPN also collects anonymous aggregated data of the sites visited via its servers, however none of these can be attributed to a specific user.
In summary, X-VPN’s logging policy doesn’t do enough to protect its user’s privacy. Read our Private Internet Access review for a highly-rated no-logs VPN.
Fast on same-country connections, but disappointing over long distances
Speed & Reliability
A confusing, secretive selection of protocols doesn't make optimizing X-VPN's speeds easy. We tried our best and managed some surprisingly fast local speeds. However could only get mediocre speeds on long-distance connections no matter which mystery protocol we selected.
Before reading the results below, be aware that X-VPN doesn’t use standard VPN protocols like OpenVPN, which we usually use for our tests.
Because of that it’s not fair to compare speeds like-for-like with other VPNs we’ve reviewed.
X-VPN employs a proprietary protocol named ‘Protocol-X’, but confusingly this isn’t the terminology used within the VPN apps, where you’ll find protocols labeled ‘Protocol A’ through to ‘Protocol I’.
For these speed tests we used protocol H, which supposedly provides the highest level of security and the fastest speeds of all the protocols on offer.
Despite selecting the fastest protocol available X-VPN’s speeds were mediocre.
Local Speed Test results before using X-VPN:
- Download Speed: 93Mbps
- Upload Speed: 99Mbps
- Ping: 6ms
Local Speed Test results with X-VPN:
Download speed loss when X-VPN is running: 15%
The VPN registered quick downloads and low ping times when we connected to nearby servers, losing roughly 15% of our normal internet download speeds.
If you don’t need to connect to servers abroad, then using X-VPN won’t affect your internet speeds too much. The VPN is fast enough for web browsing and downloading files.
International Speed Test Results
However, X-VPN is very slow on longer distance connections. In our tests, the internet speed drop was alarming, as you can see below:
- USA: 22Mbps (download) & 5Mbps (upload)
- Netherlands: 81Mbps (download) & 44Mbps (upload)
- Singapore: 29Mbps (download) & 4Mbps (upload)
- Australia: 12Mbps (download) & 2Mbps (upload)
While connecting to nearby countries will deliver acceptable speeds, connecting further away won’t.
We advise against using X-VPN to connect to far away countries. Speeds will be slow, impacting streaming quality significantly.
Large network of 8,000+ VPN servers in 60 countries
X-VPN's server network is very large and it's one of the biggest we've seen. The 60 countries on its network are well spread out, and eight of them have individual city-level choice. 8,000+ servers puts X-VPN right up there with the best VPNs in terms of server network size.
X-VPN’s server network is one of the largest in the market with 8,000+ individual servers – these are a mixture of bare metal servers and rented virtual servers.
The server network covers 60 countries, which is a good number. The network covers popular locations like Australia, Canada, the UK, and the US. Also, X-VPN covers 11 countries in Asia.
What’s impressive is X-VPNs coverage in regions typically less served by VPN services.
There are servers at both ends of Africa (Egypt and South Africa), and five servers locations categorized as the Middle East (Bahrain, Cyprus, Israel, Turkey, UAE). There are also South American servers in Argentina, Brazil, and Colombia.
There’s also a number of specialized servers for streaming and gaming, including services like Netflix and Hotstar and games like League of Legends and Roblox.
X-VPN unblocks US Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Disney+ and more
X-VPN is a good VPN for unlocking streaming services. In our tests it consistently unblocked Netflix in four different regions, including the US, as well as BBC iPlayer. In a time when even the biggest and best VPNs are struggling to provide access to streaming sites, X-VPN is performing very well.
X-VPN comes with servers optimized for popular streaming services like Netflix and BBC iPlayer.
To stream with X-VPN, select one of the servers from the ‘Streaming’ tab within the app and you’ll be able to unblock content platforms in those countries.
It’s very surprising X-VPN is still able to stream US Netflix and BBC iPlayer, especially the latter. Many VPN services struggle to access the BBC’s video platform.
In addition to the US library, we were also able to unlock Netflix in the UK, Spain, and Brazil through their respective dedicated servers.
X-VPN also worked with other services like Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and HBO Max.
The main issue with streaming with X-VPN is its slow international speeds. While the VPN unblocks many content platforms, the streaming quality isn’t what you get with the best streaming VPNs.
While reviewing ProtonVPN, we verified it unblocks 10 Netflix libraries in HD quality.
Slow P2P speeds and an untrustworthy logging policy
X-VPN is a poor torrenting VPN for a number of reasons. The main issue is the company's mysterious ownership and its logging policy, neither of which we trust entirely. Beyond that, though, it simply doesn't download or upload fast enough.
X-VPN has added a kill switch to its apps, which is incredibly important for private torrenting, but it’s still a poor torrenting VPN.
The VPN’s torrenting speeds are just too slow, and its logging policy is not good enough to safeguard its customers’ privacy. For us, using a no-logs VPN for torrenting is critical.
In the past, live chat support agents told us torrenting is only allowed on some servers, but didn’t tell us which. When we asked most recently, we didn’t get a response at all.
Confusing protocols and no extra settings
Security & Features
X-VPN is confusing. We're unable to say for sure just how secure it is as its many, many protocols are all kept anonymous. While we didn't spot any leaks in our testing, we did have issues with X-VPN connecting to IP addresses in the wrong country (on more than one occasion). There has, at least, been a kill switch recently added.
X-VPN uses proprietary protocols rather than the standard ones – these are labeled from A to I and, according to X-VPN’s website, vary in speed and security levels.
While X-VPN claims its proprietary technology is better than the standard protocols, there’s no way to know this for sure because the company doesn’t publish any technical details about it.
Until we know more details about the technology, we’d rather stick with VPN services that use standard protocols like OpenVPN, which is open-source and has been through thorough testing.
For all we know one of these protocols might even be OpenVPN, but there’s no way to find out.
Here’s what X-VPN has to say about its proprietary protocol, named ‘X’:
“Our self-developed protocol X is proven to be highly effective in unblocking heavily restricted/censored networks thanks to its camouflage mechanics which disguises [sic] the data communication patterns.
“While we primarily focusing on circumvent performances of the protocol X [sic], we also implemented multiple unparalleled encryptions & authentication algorithms to ensure its security.”
According to X-VPN’s website, the service uses AES-256 cipher to encrypt traffic at least, which is considered very secure.
It has also recently introduced a kill switch on Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android, which is extremely important and long-overdue.
On Android there’s a split tunneling feature called Application Control, which allows you to choose which apps go through the VPN tunnel, but that’s it for configurable options.
Even then, there’s a pop-up warning Windows users that the application control may lead to connection issues.
On the plus side, the main VPN apps didn’t leak during our IP, DNS, and WebRTC leak tests:
However, we found something stranger than a normal data leak. When connecting to the US, X-VPN gave us a French IP address multiple times. And when connecting to Germany it gave us a US IP address.
This happened repeatedly until we dived deeper into the server menu and chose a specific city-level server to connect to.
And as mentioned earlier, the Chrome extension doesn’t protect against WebRTC leaks.
Works in China on multiple protocols
X-VPN might just be the ultimate dark horse of China VPNs. In our testing it worked on multiple protocols with incredible consistency. It was even much quicker and more responsive than some of our favorites for China, like Astrill.
Getting a VPN to work consistently in China is perhaps the greatest challenge any service faces.
Even being able to bypass the Great Firewall just once is impressive, but doing it with consistency over long periods of time is the true test.
While using protocols B, D, E, and F on a Windows PC we were able to access blocked sites like YouTube and Wikipedia from our Chinese test server with no issues.
Time will tell if X-VPN can keep up this level of reliability in China.
Simple custom VPN apps for wide range of devices
Platforms & Devices
X-VPN is capable of protecting every device in your home. There’s dedicated native apps for Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android, a Terminal command for Linux, and router coverage for everything else. X-VPN also has a browser extension for Google Chrome.
You can install X-VPN on the following platforms:
X-VPN has custom apps for:
- Microsoft Windows
- Apple macOS
You can use X-VPN on up to five devices at any time using just one account.
Games Consoles & Streaming Devices
X-VPN doesn’t have Smart DNS for streaming on consoles, but it can be installed on your home router.
If you do this then any device connected to it (including your PlayStation, Xbox, or Nintendo) will benefit from full encryption and IP spoofing.
This is only an option for specific types of routers, though, so be sure to check if yours is compatible before you take out a subscription.
The X-VPN website has setup guides for the following brands of router:
It also has flashed firmware for any routers that run OpenWrt, DD-Wrt, and Tomato.
However, you can only access five VPN server locations on router:
- Hong Kong
- United Kingdom
- New Zealand
There’s a simpler solution for Amazon Fire TV Stick users, though. X-VPN has a custom app that you can download directly from the Amazon app store.
There’s an X-VPN browser extension for Google Chrome, but we don’t recommend using it.
The Chrome extension connected us to the wrong country – we selected the US and it assigned us a Canadian IP address – but it also leaked our IP address through WebRTC.
Simple set up but lacks customization
Ease of Use
X-VPN is extremely easy to use, mostly because of its complete lack of extra features. This naturally lends it more to beginners looking for a simple app. If you have experience with VPNs then you'll likely find X-VPN extremely stripped-back.
How to Install & Set Up X-VPN
X-VPN is really easy to use, at the expense of configurability.
There aren’t many settings to play around with, particularly on desktop which doesn’t even have a VPN kill switch.
All you need to do is download the custom app for your device from X-VPN’s website, run through some installation prompts, select a server location, and connect.
You can choose to route certain app traffic outside the VPN tunnel using the Application control but that’s about it.
The main screen is very sparse – it displays the server you’re connected to but no other information like your new IP address is supplied.
The most complicated part of the apps is the protocol options. X-VPN doesn’t use standard VPN protocols and labels them from Protocol A to Protocol I.
While the desktop apps give some context about the security and performance of the various protocols, the mobile apps don’t, leaving users in the dark.
It takes no time to set up X-VPN’s browser extension for Google Chrome.
All you need to do is add it to your browser from the Chrome Web Store and log in. There aren’t any settings, so just choose and server and click the connect button.
We experienced WebRTC leaks while using the extension, though, so we advise against installing it.
Decent resources, unreliable live chat
X-VPN live chat support is clearly not manned 24 hours-a-day, but it doesn't tell you that. Multiple times we spent hours sat waiting for a response, even when the chat window said that agents were online. The written resources are useful, with some popular topics covered, but are nowhere near as comprehensive as some rivals.
|Live chat Support||Yes|
X-VPN live chat support is not at all reliable.
We were told that live chat is available Monday to Saturday but even within those days we were left waiting hours for a response.
When an agent did eventually answer they lacked technical knowledge and asked us to send an email with our questions for the manager.
It took a couple of days for the manager to reply, and they still didn’t answer all of our questions.
X-VPN’s online resources are nothing special, either.
There are a few basic setup articles and some general FAQs, but it lacks troubleshooting and technical resources.
There seems to be quite a lot of information on the website that conflicts with what customer support told us, too. While it has clearly been updated recently (and is a big improvement on what it used to be) it still has a long way to go.
X-VPN is not worth the price
Price & Value
X-VPN is overpriced. While it may offer some solid features and benefits, even at its cheapest monthly rate you could get almost any other VPN on the market - many of them much better than X-VPN.
X-VPN is rather expensive, particularly because it doesn’t provide any long-term plans to bring the monthly price down.
There’s a one-month plan for $11.99, or a yearly plan for $5.99 a month.
In short, there are far better and cheaper VPNs available.
Payment & Refund Options
X-VPN offers a seven-day money-back guarantee in case you change your mind.
Just get in touch with live chat support to request a refund. The agent may ask you the reason for canceling the service but they will issue a refund, whatever the reason.
X-VPN accepts the standard payment methods like credit card and debit card, as well as PayPal.
You can also pay with cryptocurrencies through CoinPayments for more privacy, as well as via gift card.
X-VPN has potential, but it's not secure enough
The Bottom Line
X-VPN is not terrible, and gets some things right: it’s easy to use, it unblocks streaming services, and has a huge server network. It also works in China, which is rare.
However, it’s unclear what protocols the software uses to (often incorrectly) encrypt traffic, it logs too much data, and its owners have ties to China.
Moreover, it’s not a VPN we can recommend for safe torrenting.
All in all, X-VPN is a mixed bag and even on a one-year deal, it’s rather expensive. In our opinion, it’s not worth your money.
Alternatives to X-VPN
CyberGhost is one of the cheapest VPNs on the market and it’s great for streaming and torrenting. CyberGhost also maintains a no-logs policy and comes with all the security essentials you need. Read CyberGhost review
A little more expensive than X-VPN, ExpressVPN offers a much better package. It’s compatible with loads of devices, uses the most secure encryption and technology, and it works in China. Read ExpressVPN review