Tom's Guide Verdict
PrivadoVPN is a powerful player in the world of unblocking and comes packing pretty decent speeds to back that up. The free version is a useful option as it may highlight some of the gripes we had with the apps, helping you decide if this is the VPN for you.
10GB free plan
Unblocks US Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+
Decent WireGuard speeds
Below average OpenVPN speeds
Takes a long time to connect
No WireGuard for Mac
A number of app issues
Why you can trust Tom's Guide
PrivadoVPN comes in both paid and free versions which makes it a good option for anyone new to VPNs that would like to try before they buy. It's especially well suited to unblocking streaming services, so if US Netflix or UK BBC iPlayer access are your reasons for interest, you've landed in the right place.
While this is a standout VPN service, the free version claims to limit you to 10GB per month – although in our testing we found we were able to use the VPN even after we had reached this cap, albeit at lower connection speeds.
As a Swiss-based service you can rely on excellent security and privacy – although an audit would be nice – and you can also enjoy P2P support so torrenting is a viable option.
This complete PrivadoVPN review will get into all the areas of interest, which can be quickly jumped to using the nav bar at the top. From speed and security to apps and pricing, it's all covered in detail right here.
Privado VPN 1-minute review
PrivadoVPN isn't one to shy away from tooting its own horn, proclaiming itself as "the Fastest and Most Private VPN Service on the Planet." Predictably, this is not the case, but in our testing it still did pretty well.
Based in Switzerland, PrivadoVPN has consumer laws on its side, as some of the best in terms of privacy. That said, PrivadoVPN has yet to carry out any kind of external audit to back its claims of its no-logging policy. It also lacks some of the interesting features others offer like DNS leak protection or any kind of added reassurance beyond the baseline protocols (OpenVPN, IKEv2, and WireGuard) and AES-256 encryption.
Its performance will be more than enough for browsing and streaming, though it registered well below the top dogs on both OpenVPN (160-170Mbps) and WireGuard (450-490Mbps). If you're using a superfast base connection, you may notice a little slow-down, but for the average domestic user, this won't be apparent. PrivadoVPN also manages to bypass geo-restrictions and unblock US Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+.
It's fair to say PrivadoVPN largely hides behind its decent free VPN offering, which is great news for those who don't want to fork out for a subscription, but less so for those who want a feature packed, powerful VPN that meets all their requirements.
Free plan users can benefit from 10GB of data a month to blitz through, and connect to 12 out of its 44 server locations. You will have to navigate its cramped interface on Windows, though, and there's little to play around with and customize.
The most private? The jury's still out. Fastest? Not quite.
PrivadoVPN has added the WireGuard protocol to its Windows, iOS and Android clients, which has given more speed, but it's still behind some rivals.
An effective kill switch has now been implemented across the apps, which also features an auto-connect functionality to have it up and running when the app opens.
Country selection in the apps now works as expected, with gripes in the past. Tap to select and you can instantly connect now, without also needing to select a city, making the app section a far more useful feature.
PrivadoVPN on paper
Number of servers: 200+
Number of countries: 44
Platforms supported: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Fire TV, Android TV
Simultaneous connections: 10
Split tunneling: No
Kill switch: Yes
Supported protocols: OpenVPN, IKEv2, WireGuard
Country of registration: Switzerland
Support: 24/7 support with online ticket
PrivadoVPN price: how much is it, and is there a PrivadoVPN free trial?
When it comes to PrivadoVPN, you have the option of its premium, paid-for plan or its free VPN offering. Loaded with 10GB of full-speed data on its free plan and able to benefit from 12 out of 44 of its locations, it's a remarkably well-featured and effective option compared to the other free services out there.
In terms of data, while some free plans will limit you to just 500MB a month (Tunnelbear), it's not quite as impressive as those that give unlimited data on their free plans (ProtonVPN). In this sense, then, PrivadoVPN finds itself somewhere in the middle, but it's well worth checking out.
It's worth noting that while we couldn't find confirmation on-site, once we burned through our 10GB we were still able to use the VPN, albeit at lower speeds. We have a feeling this is a feature that PrivadoVPN hasn't made clear on-site, and effectively makes it on-par with ProtonVPN as a truly unlimited free provider. Very appealing indeed.
Of course, you can also reap the benefits of its full service by subscribing to one of its premium plans. You can get a monthly rolling subscription for $7.99 a month, admittedly not bad when you consider many providers are $10+ on their monthly plans.
As ever, when committing to a longer-term subscription, it'll work out as a lower monthly rate. The same is applied here, with its annual plan setting you back the equivalent of $4.99 a month, but paying $59.88 upfront each year. Both plans also allow you up to 10 simultaneous connections, whereas with its free plan you're limited to just one.
It's worth noting, though, that if you sign up through Tom's Guide, you'll get an even better deal – 12 months of cover for just $2.50 a month.
All paid-for plans come with a 30-day money back guarantee, giving you the chance to see if the service is the one for you. If not, you can cancel before the period is up and will be completely refunded.
How private is Privado VPN?
Based in Switzerland, PrivadoVPN is protected by some of the best consumer privacy laws around. Considering it claims to be a no-logging VPN, too, that should mean there would be no information to hand over in the first place, should they be served a court order. While this sounds promising, having gone under no rigorous third-party audits, users will have to take Privado's word for it.
As an overarching view we can take a useful line from the company which says: "We are not able to connect activity originating from an IP address from our VPN servers to activity conducted by an individual user." So, while there may be logging on some kind, it's not anything that would allow the company – or anyone pressurizing the company – to get your personal identifying information.
How fast is Privado VPN?
We looked at the performance of PrivadoVPN's WireGuard and OpenVPN protocols, utilising a number of benchmarking services and running the test five times on our 1Gbps baseline connection, and then five times through each protocol. This was then repeated again later in the day to get a better idea of its overall consistency.
When testing PrivadoVPN on OpenVPN, speeds were fairly underwhelming, delivering between 160-170Mbps. While you'll be able to easily stream and browse with little issue, that falls pretty far short of the competition with most others hitting 300Mbps and CyberGhost, Hide.me, Mullvad and ProtonVPN all topping 400Mbps.
Once we fired up WireGuard, which most of the best fast VPN services provide, the numbers were looking up. Our tests were getting speeds of 450-490Mbps, which is a lot more impressive. However, compare that to other WireGuard performances and it looks pretty weak. Many can hit around the 800Mbps mark, while standout TorGuard hits a whopping 950Mbps. So, while this service is fast enough for most activities, it's certainly not the fastest by quite a way.
How good is Privado VPN for streaming and torrenting?
PrivadoVPN could be a great choice for those looking for a secure torrenting VPN. The VPN provider offers P2P support, but goes that little bit further with its SOCKS5 proxy, which works to maximise torrenting speeds, so you get access to your large files that much quicker.
In terms of streaming, PrivadoVPN does a great job as a streaming VPN. We were able to unblock US Netflix, as well as BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+. That's full marks across the board, and an impressive showing for a near-brand new service just beginning to get a foothold in the industry.
How good are the Privado VPN desktop apps?
PrivadoVPN has a number of apps for different devices. Usually, however, you'd expect its desktop app – particularly its Windows app – to be its strongest client. This is often where providers build out their VPN with other apps proving less feature-packed. However, we found the PrivadoVPN Windows app to be its weakest link.
The interface is tiny, with all your buttons and triggers crammed into a 300x400 window that really reduces the quality of user experience. You'll have to scroll a lot to wade through its 44 locations to find the one you want to connect to. That's on top of squeezing in a Connect / Disconnect button, as well as seeing your current IP address and location, and diving any further into its features, like its kill switch, and so on.
It doesn't feel particularly intuitive, having to click around a lot to actually connect to a server. What's more, we experienced some troubling connection issues – in that we weren't always sure we were connected.
While the app would display a 'Connected' message, it was unable to retrieve our new IP address. Incidentally, we were unable to actually get online. The app rectified itself within a couple of minutes, disconnecting and trying to then reconnect.
This was an issue that arose a number of times and proved abnormal compared to any one-off connection issues we've experienced with other VPN on occasion.
In terms of settings, PrivadoVPN is also lagging behind. While there is a kill switch, and you can chop and change between OpenVPN, IKEv2, and now WireGuard, as well as offering the standard AES-256-CBC encryption, there isn't much more on offer here. That's unlike other leading VPNs that boast split tunnelling, DNS protection, and so on.
The lack of favorites or recents lists is also a gripe, as this can speed up reconnecting to a previous server. Instead you have to manually select what you want each time you fire up this section of the app.
The Mac app is better looking in terms of layout with smarter use of space, but it still had connection inconsistencies, and in this case didn't even have WireGuard protocol. There is a kill switch and auto-connect, but this lacks options like split-tunneling, multi-hop and auto-connect for secure Wi-Fi connections.
How good are the Privado VPN mobile apps?
Privado's small interface works a lot better on Android by making use of the whole screen, and connecting to a specific city is a lot more intuitive.
It's good news for iOS users, too. We found connection time to be a lot shorter, happening within two to three seconds, which is a considerably quicker rate than on Windows or Android. It's definitely worth trying out PrivadoVPN on all the devices you would wish to have it on to see how it runs. Luckily its free counterpart will allow you to try it out before you fully commit.
Sadly, there is no kill switch on either the Android or iOS app, though you can manually set one up.
Both options now offer a better country selection feature where tapping one will immediately connect you. As opposed to having to also select a specific city as was the case in the past.
Privado VPN: Final verdict
PrivadoVPN is a compelling option if you're after a free service, with its generous 10GB a month allowance (at least) and access to 12 of its 44 server locations. Not to mention it's very reliable at unblocking many of the top streaming services.
However, its speeds are a little underwhelming and there are one too many issues with the usability of its apps that desperately need sorting out. There also aren't a huge amount of features to get excited about, currently leaving the PrivadoVPN as a fairly middling provider overall – but we hope to see this fresh-faced contender put in the hard yards to capitalize on what is certainly a promising start.
Luke is a freelance writer and editor with over two decades of experience covering tech, science and health. Among many others he writes across Future titles covering health tech, software and apps, VPNs, TV, audio, smart home, antivirus, broadband, smartphones, cars and plenty more. He also likes to climb mountains, swim outside and contort his body into silly positions while breathing as calmly as possible.