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In a capitalistic society, everything that’s promoted as free is meant to either shock us or fill us with doubt and suspicion. Usually, it’s the latter. And it makes perfect sense because nothing’s free. Nothing worth anything, at least.
When we’re talking about free VPNs, the implications are much harsher and dangerous. Your privacy, confidential data, and online security could be at stake.
However, I’m here to tell you that VPNBook is one of the free VPNs that actually keeps its words and delivers good services pro bono. It packs quite a lot of surprises, and you might regain your faith in free services yet.
- Completely free, though it features advertisements
- Enhanced privacy
- OpenVPN app clients for Windows, OS X, iOS, Android, and Linux
- You can choose between UDP and TCP
- Above-average speeds for a free VPN
- Dedicated IP VPN
- Few servers
- Connection logs are kept for one week
- Insufficient customer support
- No dedicated VPN client
Moving on, we’ll take a look at the major features that an online security provider should excel in, and we’ll see how VPNBook fares.
For a VPN, the speed of the servers is pretty much essential since it directly determines what you can do in the online environment. It reflects the quality of the services, and it also defines your limitations.
For example, if you’re planning to watch an SD video, you would need a minimum of 2 Mbps; make that 3 Mbps if you want to enjoy it in HD quality. Especially when the video service is overseas, the server speeds are integral to a fluid experience.
VPNBook knows this too well, and this is reflected in some of the speed tests that were made by professionals. In a particular case, the connection speed prior to VPN usage was like this:
- Download speed – 28 Mbps
- Upload speed – 28 Mbps
- Ping – 28
After connecting to one of the servers, the results showed quite a bit of a decline:
- Download speed – 18.43 Mbps
- Upload speed – 16.57 Mbps
- Ping – 105
These results are by far among the best when it comes to free VPN providers. Sure, there are no comparisons between these ones and those of a premium online security provider like NordVPN but the situation is different as well.
What servers does VPNBook have? They are clearly not focused on speed, with the streaming capabilities being clearly limited as well. It’s very expensive to go down that path, something that most free VPNs can’t afford.
In other tests made on the US servers, however, the servers speeds slowed down so much that even streaming basic videos became a near-impossible task. You could watch them, but you’d have to take a nap until the buffering bar fully loaded.
If you were in a good location, then the local internet speed would make it easier to stream US videos, in spite of the bad speed results.
The Canadian server was miles ahead of all the others, at least in that you could clearly watch SD videos without any interruptions or mid-movie freezes. At the same time, however, the upload speeds were horrendous, slowed to a crawl.
It wasn’t because of the underlying internet service but rather because of VPNBook’s server itself.
On the US2 server, (the US1 servers was inaccessible for some reason), checks were made to ensure that no DNS or WebRTC leaks were released. The results were more than encouraging and refreshing.
The revealed IP was that of the server itself and not the real one. Thus, we can safely assume that VPNBook’s security and encryption are good enough to keep your identity anonymous.
The number of servers and their overall spread in the world is another extremely important factor for an online security provider. It directly impacts how it deals with geo-blocked content, and it’s a reflection on how many users can use their services before the servers melt down.
Moreover, with many diverse locations, users from all over the world can connect and use their services seamlessly.
However, VPNBook certainly doesn’t have that many servers, nor are they spread in as many locations as you’d expect. These are all the countries supported:
- The US
- The UK
However, you also have to keep in mind that, being a free online security provider that only makes revenue from ads, it couldn’t afford a large network even if it wanted. These servers are already a very good step ahead.
Now, for the single most important aspect that I think marks the dividing line between VPNBook and other free VPNs, is the fact that it unlocks the US Netflix.
That’s right, you can stream Netflix in the US through the server there. When was the last time you heard of a free VPN doing this? Hell, the vast majority of premium online security providers find it impossible to give you access to Netflix in the first place.
Furthermore, they are honest enough to tell you which of the servers support P2P torrenting (Canada and Switzerland, you’re welcome).
While they lack the huge infrastructure of the other giants on the market, VPNBook seems to be the dark horse in this race, showing that you can provide a degree of excellence with fewer resources.
You have the possibility to manually set up a PPTP connection but also an OpenVPN networking through the OpenVPN GUI interface. The latter choice features an AES encryption fitted with a 128-bit key.
Keep in mind that most other VPNs will now use a 256-bit key for the AES encryption. However, supporters of the ever-so-efficient 128-bit key argue that this encryption was never cracked before.
One thing is clear – that it offers more than enough protection so that 99% of invasive attempts or viruses will bounce off of this security shield.
The AES-encryption system functions based on asymmetry – both sides of a connection have to have the same key. This is because both the encryption and decryption of messages use the same key as well.
As such, when OpenVPN is used, most online security providers with an RSA encryption to better protect those keys.
Most VPNs use a 2048-bit key for the RSA encryption but the very best companies in the world are already implementing a 4096-bit key. VPNBook uses 1024-bit certificates for the RSA encryption so you can argue that it’s a bit late to the party.
Furthermore, the fact that there’s no dedicated client application means that you will also have no kill-switch. This is the main extra security feature, and the most important, that comes with a client. There are a handful of others that would make your life much easier.
For example, you also don’t have automatic Wi-Fi protection that other VPNs provide through their dedicated apps.
In terms of privacy, another question pops into mind when talking about VPNs – does it keep logs of any kind?
This is a make it or break it type of question that deserves a definitive answer because your online identity and even life may be in danger if your online security provider keeps logs. They can be stolen or given to third-parties which are only concerned with their own profits.
Now that I’ve instilled a sense of realism and panic in you, it’s time to lay the cards on the table. VPNBook does not keep activity logs. They don’t record what you’re doing, what websites you’re visiting or what kind of sick, freaky porn you’re watching late at night, when the guys in black suits, watching you through the webcam, are sleeping.
However, they do keep connection logs for one week only. This includes an IP address and timestamps, for maintenance purposes. But copyright lawyers don’t need anything else to trace your online activities and the next time you wake up, you might hear knocks on the door.
But this is only if VPNBook is presented with a court order by the specific authorities. For all their honesty and apparent integrity, they would have to give in and hand over those records.
VPNBook has also been accused multiple times of being a honeypot because their records appeared as evidence of illegal online conduct in some trials. However, as I said before, they are legally obliged to hand over user records if they’re faced with a court order.
As such, it could just be a coincidence that the authorities managed to get a court order for the records during the week that VPNBook keeps those connection logs. After all that we’ve seen, I think it definitely deserves the benefit of the doubt.
Ease of Use
VPNBook is a very intuitive and minimalistic website that provides you with all the information you need. Technical details, encryption capabilities, guides on you how to set up your connection through OpenVPN, they are all specially tailored for many platforms.
The website is also multilingual, so this is another white marble for them.
For the sake of explaining the ease of using VPNBook, let’s see how you can set up an OpenVPN connection with their secure network.
1. Download the OpenVPN Windows client. Running it requires administrator privileges. Installing it is simpler that debunking the Flat Earth theory, so I don’t dawdle around explaining each step.
2. When you’ve finished installing the app, click on the Open VPN tab on the main page of the official VPNBook website. Then choose one of the following options.
3. After downloading one of the bundles, copy them to C:\Program Files | OpenVPN\Config. Then, right-click on the OpenVPN icon, and choose any of the following profiles.
4. On the official VPNBook website, open up the Free VPN section, and look for the information regarding the username and password necessary to connect to their network.
Enter them into OpenVPN – User Authentication section, and you’ll be the proud user of VPNBook.
Installing OpenVPN and setting it up to use the VPNBook secure connection is a piece of cake, and if you have at least two working neurons doing their job, it’s going to be a walk in the park.
If you have any experience with the online security provider market, you know for a fact that free VPNs do not have any customer support at all. It would be a waste of time either way since their services are absolute horse-crap.
However, VPNBook surprises us yet again because it does have a form of customer support in place. You can get assistance through an email-ticketing system available on the official website.
Moreover, you can get your fair share of information and help from the official How-to section on the site. Alternatively, you can also ask your questions on Twitter or Facebook where you’ll receive prompt and detailed answers.
It’s clear that they actually care about their user database, and that they might actually be honest and frank with the services they provide. It is unbelievable, I know. Then again, the Ghost Busters remake exists, so…
You’re using a free service and you still haven’t been scammed, stabbed in the back or otherwise fucked around with.
It’s certainly refreshing to see things getting better in this sense.
As I said at the beginning of the article, VPNBook is completely free but even in this case, you are presented with three options to choose from.
Free PPTP VPN – this option brings you free point-to-point tunneling supported by multiple platforms. You can access 8 servers with this choice but keep in mind that the PPTP protocol doesn’t work on all sites because of the ISP or other government blocks.
In which case you use….
The Free Open VPN option – I wholeheartedly recommend using this software above all others because it bypasses pretty much any online restriction. You have 8 servers to choose from but you need to manually set up the connection by buying certification bundles.
With $2 per month, you can enjoy complete freedom on the internet, enhanced protection, amplified bypassing techniques, and better speeds.
Free Web Proxy – you should only use a proxy server to unblock local websites. It will hide your IP address, give you great encryption, and you also have access to many more server locations. All of this comes for free.
These are the free packages. But VPNBook also provides you with a premium plan which is the Dedicated Server feature.
With this plan, they will keep no logs, not even connection ones. You’ll have access to 5 simultaneous connections, 500GB+ bandwidth per month, and P2P is allowed.
All of this for the accessible price of $7.95. To top things off, they also offer a 30-day money-back guarantee, no questions asked.
There is also a donation section in which you can show your love and support for the service, and maybe help it develop further. It works on Bitcoin so everything’s anonymous.
Book yourself a spot on the VPNBook train now!
There are plenty of things that they could work on to provide even better services, like developing a client fitted with a kill-switch, Wi-Fi protection, better RSA and AES encryption.
However, VPNBook is a remarkable free VPN from any point of view. Just think about it. You can access the US Netflix with it.
Moreover, they are very open and honest with the fact that they keep connection logs for one week. Sure, it would be ideal if they found a way to monitor their overall system without keeping those logs but it’s the idea that matters.
If I were to make a ranking of the best free VPNs out there, I would put VPNBook in the first place, second place, and third place because 99% of all other free online security providers can’t even be placed in the same category with it.
However, you should also know that premium VPNs have much more extensive features, better services, and a much more complex infrastructure than VPNBook.
Especially if we talk about the legends, the VPNs that all others are compared to:
If you want ultimate cyber-security, a permanent digital shield protecting your privacy at all times, superluminal server speeds, and prompt customer support, choose one of these three VPNs.
You can’t go wrong with them!
VPNBookis extremely fast, simple and private: a truly standout VPNGo to NordVPN Instead