VyprVPN

VyprVPN is a popular VPN which is based in privacy-friendly Switzerland, and comes from the same stable of companies as US ISP Texas.net, Data Foundry, and top Usenet provider Giganews.

The service has a large network with 700+ servers in more than 70 locations. Even better, these are all owned and managed by the company, allowing VyprVPN to claim it 'operates 100% without third parties.'

Welcome features include unlimited data usage, a zero-knowledge DNS service, a customized protocol to help bypass VPN blocking, and 24/7/365 support to keep the service running smoothly.

Wide platform support includes apps for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, along with routers, QNAP, Anonabox, Smart TVs and Blackphone.

If that's not enough, the website has more than 50 tutorials to help you manually set up the service on Chromebooks, Linux, Blackberry, Synology NAS, OpenELEC, Android TV, Apple TV, and via DD-WRT, AsusWRT, OpenWRT and more.

VyprVPN

Plans and pricing

VyprVPN has only two plans, but unusually, they vary by features rather than just subscription length.

The baseline VyprVPN plan offers all the core functionality, the apps and all the locations, and supports up to three simultaneous connections. It's yours for £6.90 ($8.97) per month billed monthly, or £3.63 ($4.72) billed annually (payments must be made via card or PayPal only).

VyprVPN Premium’s most important extra is that it allows up to five simultaneous connections. Its support for Chameleon technology makes it more likely that you'll bypass VPN detection and get connected, even in countries which actively try to block VPNs. Experts also get support for VyprVPN Cloud, a VPN server deployment solution. It's priced at £9.25 ($12) a month, billed monthly, or £4.79 ($6.23) billed annually.

These prices aren't bad. As we write, ExpressVPN is offering a 15-for-12-month deal, and even that is more expensive at $6.67 (£5.08). But there are also much cheaper products around, so for example a two-year Private Internet Access subscription can be yours for $2.91 (£2.22) a month.

Sign up for either VyprVPN plan and although you'll be asked for your payment details, the company won't bill you for three days. Cancel before the time is up and you won't be charged anything, so this is effectively a short free trial. (When we cancelled, we were offered '50% off a monthly plan'. We don't know how common that offer is, but if you're planning to sign up anyway, try cancelling before you do so, and see what happens).

If you accidentally carry on after the trial is up, though, don't expect to get any refund at a later date. The VyprVPN website has talked about a 30-day money-back guarantee before, but there's no longer any mention of that or anything similar in the terms and conditions. If you run into trouble and it's genuinely VyprVPN's fault, maybe contacting support will get you a result, but there's no official protection detailed in the small print.

VyprVPN

Privacy

VyprVPN protects your privacy with strong support for the best VPN protocols and encryption.

256-bit and 160-bit OpenVPN support is directly available for Windows, Mac and Android, and can be manually set up on other platforms.

The capable L2TP/IPSec protocol is available with the Windows and Mac apps (iOS gets solid IKEv2 support), and again there are plenty of manual setup options.

VyprVPN's high-end plan has an unusual bonus with its own Chameleon protocol. This scrambles the metadata of OpenVPN traffic, essentially making it more difficult for packet inspection techniques to identify that you're using a VPN. There's no extra encryption functionality – and, unfortunately, Chameleon isn't available on iOS – but it may allow you to get online in countries which actively try to prevent VPN use, such as China, and it's a major privacy boost.

Many VPNs redirect your DNS traffic to third-party services, leaving you potentially vulnerable to 'man-in-the-middle' attacks, DNS filtering and other snooping strategies. VyprVPN, like ExpressVPN and a few others, protects your privacy by using its own encrypted zero-knowledge DNS service. Works for us, although if you're less happy with the idea, the apps also allow you to switch to a third-party service.

Individual clients have their own privacy-protecting technologies, too, including options to defend against DNS leaks and bundled kill switches to reduce the chance of data leaks if the VPN connection drops. Check out the evaluations of the individual apps later in this review for more details.

VyprVPN

Logging

Figuring out a VPN's real logging procedures can be a challenge, but VyprVPN spells out many of the key details in its privacy policy.

VyprVPN is a zero log VPN Service. They do not record or retain any data when you use the VyprVPN Service. They worked with a respected security firm to audit their zero-log policy so users have third party validation of their logging policies. 

This means that they do not log a user's source IP address (typically assigned to the user by their ISP), they do not log the IP address assigned to the user when using VyprVPN, they do not log connection start or stop time and obviously, do not log a user's traffic or the content of any communications.

On top of that they are they are network neutral and won't discriminate against devices, protocols, or application.  As expected, they do not throttle or rate limit your Internet connection.

Some of this is encouraging. The company doesn't log your traffic or any details of what you're doing online. It doesn't use packet inspection to figure out the type of protocol you might be using, and so doesn't discriminate against particular applications or protocols, such as throttling P2P traffic.

The company also says its VyprDNS service doesn't log any details, which should ensure your internet history stays private.

There is some session logging, though, as the policy explains:

"Each time a user connects to VyprVPN, we retain the following data for 30 days: the user's source IP address, the VyprVPN IP address used by the user, connection start and stop time and total number of bytes used."

That may not sound a lot, but it's enough for anyone who logs the VyprVPN IP address to get back to the company, and for them to link the action back to your account.

VyprVPN says this data is kept "to use with billing issues, troubleshooting, service offering evaluation, TOS issues, AUP issues, and for handling crimes performed over the service."

Despite the 'handling crimes' clause, VyprVPN says it won't release your data to attorneys, agencies, investigators or even law enforcement agencies unless it is ordered to do so by 'a court of competent jurisdiction.'

Even if your door isn't kicked down by the police, though, any complaints about you could cause other problems. If you've done anything prohibited by the company’s terms and conditions, you could find your account is terminated immediately.

VyprVPN

Performance

To understand the real-world performance of a VPN, we put every service we review through a series of lengthy tests.

Our VyprVPN checks began by running a custom script which connected to all 71 VyprVPN servers via OpenVPN, measured connection times and recorded any connection failures, used geolocation to verify the server location, and ran ping tests to look for any latency issues.

The test immediately picked up repeated failures in connecting to four servers: Algeria, Egypt, Israel and Pakistan. Switching to the official VyprVPN client confirmed that none of these servers would connect via OpenVPN, and as the situation hadn't changed 24 hours later, this didn't seem to be a short-term network issue. All servers were still accessible via L2TP/IPSec, so this wasn't a critical problem, but this lack of availability isn't something we see often, and it has to be a small concern.

The connect time and ping test checks generally showed the expected results, with near servers delivering speedy pings, and latency increasing with distance.

We noticed some mismatches with the server locations. Our geolocation checks suggested that the Columbia server was in Florida; the Liechtenstein, Luxembourg and Macao servers were in Pittsburgh, and the Marshall Islands servers were in Texas. We manually checked each of these locations by logging in with the official client and visiting the geolocation site www.iplocation.net, and confirmed our results.

Geolocation is not an exact science, and we're not claiming that our results are definitely correct, or that VyprVPN is somehow trying to cheat its users. It's entirely possible that the geolocation libraries are just out of date, and in a week, maybe a month, they'll return results to match what VyprVPN claims. But the issue here is they don't do that right now, and so websites using those geolocation libraries will get the same results as us.

In other words, you'll think you're presenting the world with a Luxembourg IP address, for instance, but the internet will think you're in the US, and if you're trying to bypass any geolocation checks, that could cause a problem.

Next, we used speed testing websites including Netflix' fast.com, openspeedtest.com, testmy.net and speedtest.net to assess three groups of servers: nine in the UK and US, 10 in Europe and 31 in Asia, South America, Australia, New Zealand and more.

Our closest UK server averaged around 60-65Mbps on our 75Mbps fiber broadband line. Some VPNs do a little better, but that's still a very creditable performance.

Some US servers also achieved more than 60Mbps download speeds, again a very solid performance. Results were notably more inconsistent than usual across US locations, but it's not clear why that was. Even if there are variations in the performance of some US servers, we think you'll have no problem finding one which works for you.

European locations generally returned solid results which closely matched the UK at around 50-65Mbps, with download speeds mostly relating to their distance, as we would expect.

The results from the Asia and more distant servers were more mixed, unsurprisingly. Some of the more unusual locations returned below average speeds – Taiwan, Macao and the Maldives barely reached 10Mbps, Vietnam, Panama and the Philippines were closer to 20Mbps – but they're still very usable, and performance will be much better if you're in or close to those countries.

Meanwhile Australia, India, Qatar and many South American locations delivered solid performance, with speeds of around 40 to 50Mbps. We've seen better, with for example Hotspot Shield's Catapult Hydra protocol typically giving us 60Mbps and more for even the most distant of servers, but overall VyprVPN provides a decent level of performance for the price you're paying.

Netflix

Netflix

VPNs often sell themselves on their ability to access geoblocked sites, giving you access to content you wouldn't normally be able to view.

To test VyprVPN's unblocking technologies, we connected to the single UK and nine US locations, then tried to access BBC iPlayer, US-only YouTube content and US Netflix.

The BBC’s iPlayer blocks several VPNs, and with only one location in the UK, we weren't sure whether VyprVPN would be able to give us access to the site. But it did, and we were able to stream content without any issues at all.

US YouTube is unblocked by just about every VPN in existence, and sure enough, VyprVPN also bypassed its protection without difficulty.

Netflix is far more challenging to unblock, but VyprVPN got us in with every US server, a real triumph. This can change at any time and there's absolutely no guarantee your experience will match ours, but VyprVPN gives us other reasons to be optimistic.

While some VPNs shrug their corporate shoulders if you can't access a geoblocked website, VyprVPN gives you detailed advice on accessing specific services (Sky Go, iPlayer, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Netflix), includes a troubleshooting guide, and even recommends you contact the support team with more connection details if you still can't get in.

None of this means you'll necessarily succeed, but that's the same with any VPN. It's just encouraging to see a VPN that is at least offering to look into any geoblocking failures, rather than denying all responsibility and leaving you on your own.

Torrents

Torrents

VyprVPN may not mention 'torrent', 'P2P' or anything else file sharing-related on its website, but dig into the support site and you'll find what sounds like a promising statement:

"At Golden Frog, we have the utmost respect for your privacy. We do not monitor the content of your internet traffic through our servers or block the use of any ports. Because our service treats all traffic equally, peer-to-peer and torrent traffic is allowed."

But it's not quite that straightforward. VyprVPN doesn't just point you to the usual 'please don't download copyrighted stuff' warning, it will take action and lock your account if your IP address is reported for the download (there's a Support page on the procedure here).

This doesn't mean the DMCA agent knows anything about you. They're just complaining to VyprVPN, who are then forwarding the warning to you. But if you're caught more than once, it could mean your account will be terminated, without any refund.

VyprVPN

Client setup

Signing up to VyprVPN is easy, and once you've handed over your details, a 'welcome' email points you to the company's Windows, Mac, Android and iOS apps, plus other devices besides.

These aren't just links to files or app store pages. The VyprVPN website also gives you useful details on each app, including supported protocols, the minimum operating system, and even a full changelog. That's more interesting and useful than it might sound, as even if you've no development knowledge at all, you can look at something like the Android changelog and get a feel for how often the app has been improved, and when major new features have been added.

Client setup is straightforward, and follows more or less the same process for every other VPN app you've ever installed. Download and run the file, or find and install the app, follow the instructions, enter your username and password when you're prompted, and essentially you're ready to go.

Experienced users should find it easy to set up other devices manually. The Android app is available as a plain APK file, for instance. The OpenVPN configuration files are available if you need them, and they don't try to confuse you with lengthy and cryptic file names. (VyprVPN's Singapore.ovpn will look far more straightforward on a server list than NordVPN's sg26.nordvpn.com.udp.ovpn).

If you need some assistance, the website has more than 50 tutorials to help you manually set up the service on Chromebooks, Linux, Blackberry, Synology NAS, OpenELEC, Android TV, Apple TV, and via DD-WRT, AsusWRT, OpenWRT and more.

These setup guides are, for the most part, relatively basic. Many are short, with only the bare minimum of text, and no screenshots. They appear to cover the basics, though, and should get you connected with minimal hassle.

VyprVPN

Windows client

If you like your VPN apps to be compact, simple, and with a touch of visual style, then VyprVPN's chunky, text-heavy and dated-looking Windows client will seem disappointing, at least initially.

The interface does at least give you plenty of status information. There's your chosen location, current IP address, preferred VPN protocol and encryption level, NAT firewall status, and even a scrolling bandwidth chart to display your current upload and download speeds in real-time.

The app is smart enough to detect your nearest server by default, and tapping the Connect button gets you hooked up to that straightaway. To change servers, you must disconnect from the current location, and browse VyprVPN's other offerings via its very comprehensive location picker.

This starts by browsing an alphabetical list of all servers. Each of these has an associated ping time to give you an idea of distance, and you're able to sort the list by location name or ping time.

A Region tab sorts locations by your chosen continents. If you're only interested in servers in North America and Asia, for instance, you can have the client display just those locations.

Any server can be set as a favorite with a click. It then appears in the Favorites tab, as well as being directly accessible from the main interface and the system tray icon's right-click menu.

A comprehensive Settings dialog starts with all the core features you'd expect. You can have the client connect when Windows starts or the application launches. You're able to switch between four protocols (Chameleon, OpenVPN, L2TP, PPTP), DNS leak protection reduces the chance of others snooping on your web traffic, and an auto-reconnect system alongside a kill switch aim to protect you if the VPN drops.

That's just the start. VyprVPN doesn't just provide its own zero-knowledge VyprDNS service, for instance – you can switch it to any other DNS service you like. The client can automatically connect VyprVPN when you're using untrusted Wi-Fi networks.

There's unusual control over notifications, even down to choosing the sound played on connect and disconnect events (though only WAV files are supported, unfortunately – it's like Windows 3.1 all over again). And you get extensive low-level control of OpenVPN settings, with the ability to define details including the TAP adapter to use, local and remote ports, the MTU size, and more.

There's an unusual highlight in a Contact Support option, where you can post a support question direct from the client. That means there's no need to head off to the website, maybe log in, browse your web console or anything else. You don't even have to give your email address, as the client will send your user ID along with the question, and support can use that to find your account details. Live chat will always be faster, but if you prefer to send an email, this is the way to do it.

The Windows client does have one small issue. If you can't connect via the default OpenVPN protocol, the client will ask if you want to troubleshoot the connection, and if you agree, it tries again using Chameleon, then downgrading to OpenVPN 160-bit and L2TP/IPSec. That's convenient, but if the client successfully connects using one of these protocols, it doesn't just remember that for the current location. It becomes the default protocol for all future connections.

You might connect to New York 100% of the time using the highly secure OpenVPN-256, for instance. If you try and fail to connect to Algeria, maybe the client will have to downgrade to OpenVPN-160 or L2TP to make it work. And after that, when you switch back to New York, or Washington, or London, or your other locations, VyprVPN will still be using the less secure protocol to get you connected.

This isn't a major issue for experienced users, as the client displays its protocol very clearly. You can see at a glance whether it's what you need, and restore regular OpenVPN in a click or two, if necessary.

VPN newbies might not recognize that their encryption has just been downgraded, though, and overall this is a poor design decision by the developer. If the client must downgrade your encryption to connect to a server, it should do so with as limited a scope as possible – perhaps just for this particular session, and at most, only for connections to this individual server. It certainly shouldn't change your default protocol for all future sessions.

VyprVPN

Android app

VyprVPN's Windows client may have a clumsy and dated-looking design, but the Android app does a much better job of distilling very similar functionality into a simple and good-looking interface.

Both clients clearly belong to the same family, with a similar layout and blue-grey color scheme, and core operations are much the same. Tap Connect to access the nearest server, or choose another location from the list, while a status window displays your public IP address, and you can disconnect with a tap.

The app doesn't include any form of scrolling graph showing your bandwidth use, but that's probably a good thing. It's largely pointless even on the desktop, and it certainly didn't deserve to take up the valuable screen space and CPU resources of a mobile device.

What you do get is a neat visual touch where the interface uses a white background by default, but switches to a dark background when you're connected. That's a very good idea, as it allows you to see whether you're connected at a glance, without even having to read any text on the screen.

Choosing a new location is easier than we've seen with some apps. Servers are displayed in a sorted list, each one with a ping time as a measure of speed and distance, and you can add preferred locations to a Favorites list with a tap. Switching locations isn't as straightforward – you must disconnect from the current server before you can choose something else – but generally, the app works very well.

Settings include a similar 'Connect on Untrusted Wi-Fi' option to the Windows client. This enables specifying networks where you know you're safe – home, maybe work – and then having the app automatically connect to VyprVPN when you access anything else. It's a simple but smart way to protect yourself when you're out and about.

VyprVPN

The app also includes a kill switch, DNS options (use VyprVPN's own DNS or your preferred option), protocol switching (only Chameleon and OpenVPN are supported, and there's no L2TP, which could be a problem if nothing else will connect) and a couple of surprise bonus features.

URL filtering aims to protect you from malicious websites, and although we didn't test its effectiveness, it gives you more control than most competing services. If you hit a site on the blacklist, for instance, the system doesn't just block it. Instead, it displays a warning, and you can ignore this and proceed to the site if you're sure it's safe.

A Connection Per App feature enables customizing VPN usage by individual app. Choose any installed app and you can set it to always use the VPN, or bypass it and use your regular connection.

Put it all together and VyprVPN's Android offering is a good-looking and easy way to protect your internet activities, with some neat touches you won't always see elsewhere. Well worth a try.

VyprVPN

iOS app

The VyprVPN iOS app has a similar look and feel to its Android cousin, with a clear status display of your current country and IP address, and simple buttons to connect to the active location or choose another from the list.

Most operations work just as they do with the other apps. A simple location picker makes it easy to find locations by name or speed, and commonly-used servers can be saved as favorites for speedy reconnection later. You're still not able to switch directly from one server to another, though, as the client forces you to close the current connection before you can choose anything else.

The iOS app doesn't include all the Android features. In particular, there's no URL blocking, and no kill switch. There are relatively few settings, too, although you can set up the app to connect to the VPN whenever you access an untrusted wireless network, and automatically reconnect if the VPN drops unexpectedly.

The app supports IKEv2, but can't handle OpenVPN, much like most of the iOS competition. If that's a problem, the VyprVPN support site has instructions on manually setting up OpenVPN, L2TP/IPSec, IKEv2 and even PPTP connections on iOS 7 and later.

There's an unexpected troubleshooting plus in an easily accessible connection log. The Android log is hidden away, and even if you find it, has minimal useful information. The iOS version is very readable and includes the details you need, including connection time, protocol, server host name and IP, disconnection times and reasons, and more. If you don't want a local record of your VPN usage, no problem – you can turn this off in Settings.

VyprVPN's iOS app isn't exactly packing any killer features, then, but it's easy to use, and a simple way to access VyprVPN from your iDevice.

VyprVPN

Support

VPN support should start within the apps, but most providers make no real effort to do this. The best you'll typically get is a single link which opens a general support page on the website, and you're then left to find the information you need.

VyprVPN does much better than that, particularly with its Windows client. Clicking Help > FAQ opens a troubleshooting page specific to the Windows build, so you can immediately figure out what individual errors might mean. Even better, if that doesn't help, you're able to submit a support question from within the client, without having to visit the website and waste time logging into your account or finding the right web form.

If you're not using Windows, or you're looking for more general advice, VyprVPN's full support website has you covered, with links to downloads, setup instructions, troubleshooting guidance, and specific advice for various device types.

These articles aren't as detailed or as well-organized as usual, and they're not really targeted at novice users. Choose the 'VyprVPN for Desktop' section, for instance, and these are the top five articles: 'How do I enable port selection on Windows?'; 'Which VPN protocol am I using on Windows?'; 'Error 6021'; 'Error 6022'; 'What is Error 6026?' We would hazard a guess that these don't begin to represent what the average user wants to know.

Still, there is a lot of useful information here, and a Search box enables finding it quickly, without having to navigate VyprVPN's various article lists.

VyprVPN

If the website can't help, live chat is available to give you a near-instant response. We only raised one test question, but the support agent was talking to us within 90 seconds, and gave a helpful and informative response. The transcript is emailed to the user afterwards, too, which is a neat touch for those who want to refer back to the advice.

Your final option is to send an email. We raised a question about the four locations we couldn't access via OpenVPN during our connection tests (Algeria, Egypt, Israel and Pakistan), and asked if there was an issue with these servers.

The first response arrived in a speedy three hours, but was relatively unhelpful, with the agent giving us general advice on diagnosing connection errors. Repeated failures on connecting to a fixed set of servers, combined with success on connecting to everything else, suggests the problem was with the servers, not us.

To its credit and our surprise, some 18 hours later VyprVPN sent a follow-up email explaining that its engineers had found and fixed a problem which prevented OpenVPN logins to the Pakistan server (we checked, and they had). It's good that the company did this and took the time to let us know. But it's not so good that it paid no apparent attention to the connection issues with the other three servers, which remained inaccessible during our final checks.

VyprVPN support clearly has some issues, and it's not as polished or professional as top competitors like ExpressVPN. The company has some good ideas, though, and is clearly trying to improve, and overall it gets a thumbs up from us.

Final verdict

VyprVPN's session logging is an issue, and the occasional connection problems were also a concern. There's also plenty to like, though, from Netflix unblocking to live chat support, and overall VyprVPN is well worth taking for a trial run.



from TechRadar - Technology Reviews http://www.techradar.com/reviews/vyprvpn