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Privado VPN review

A decent VPN with a free option – but there's room for improvement

Privado VPN on a range of devices
(Image: © Privado VPN)

Our Verdict

PrivadoVPN starts off strong with its free service alongside streaming unblocking prowess, but lets itself down with big claims that prove impossible to meet. Its speed results were below average and its interface proved lacking in term of usability. However, it does offer P2P support, clients across a variety of devices, and a generous free plan.

For

  • 10GB free plan
  • Unblocks US Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+
  • P2P support

Against

  • Below average speeds
  • Takes a long time to connect
  • A number of app issues

Tom's Guide Verdict

PrivadoVPN starts off strong with its free service alongside streaming unblocking prowess, but lets itself down with big claims that prove impossible to meet. Its speed results were below average and its interface proved lacking in term of usability. However, it does offer P2P support, clients across a variety of devices, and a generous free plan.

Pros

  • + 10GB free plan
  • + Unblocks US Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+
  • + P2P support

Cons

  • - Below average speeds
  • - Takes a long time to connect
  • - A number of app issues

All about offering accessibility to more secure internet browsing, PrivadoVPN has both a free and paid-for option with its VPN service. It gives users the option to install it on up to 10 devices, with clients for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android, as well as Android TV, Fire TV, and a dedicated router VPN.

Registered in Switzerland, this is one tick for privacy for the provider, and it offers a fairly small network of 200+ servers. However, these are based across 44 locations, which is no small feat.

While it's a strong option for those looking for streaming service unblocking and P2P support, PrivadoVPN still needs plenty of improvement to see it come anywhere close to those leading the charge in the VPN market.

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." 

Based in Switzerland, PrivadoVPN does have 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 and auto-connect, as well as an automatic kill switch on its smartphone apps, to give any kind of added reassurance beyond the baseline protocols (OpenVPN, IKEv2, and WireGuard) and AES-256 encryption.

Its performance will be enough for browsing and streaming, though it registered well below the average on both OpenVPN (160-180Mbps) and IKEv2 (210-240Mbps). So, you might be left buffering, and your torrents may well be held back a little if you're using a superfast base connection. Still, it does manage 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 is still out. Fastest? Not even close.

PrivadoVPN homepage

(Image credit: PrivadoVPN)

Latest updates

Since our initial round of testing, PrivadoVPN has added the WireGuard protocol to its Windows and Android clients, the performance of which we'll look to put through the wringer the next time we check speed performance.

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 data on its free plan and able to benefit from 12 out of 44 of its locations, it's certainly not a bad option compared to the free options out there. 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.

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.

Both 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.

Illustration of a man on a computer with a strike through an eye to symbolise privacy of online documents

(Image credit: PrivadoVPN)

How private is Privado VPN?

Based in Switzerland, PrivadoVPN is protected by some of the best consumer privacy laws. 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.

You can check out Privado's privacy policy for a deep dive into the information the VPN retains, which includes crash report data across mobile and desktop clients. Still, this kind of information is never enough to tie online activity to your identity.

How fast is Privado VPN?

At the time of testing, PrivadoVPN had yet to introduce the WireGuard protocol. This time around, then, we looked at the performance of its OpenVPN and IKEv2 protocols, utilising a number of benchmarking services and running the test five times on our baseline connection, and then five times through each protocol. This was then repeated at a later time of day to get a better idea of its overall consistency.

When testing PrivadoVPN on OpenVPN, speeds were fairly underwhelming, scoring between 160-180Mbps. While you'll be able to easily stream and browse with little issue, this massively underdelivers compared to even the average results of Hotspot Shield (400-410Mbps) and Private Internet Access (430Mbps).

Things looked a bit more positive when we switched to IKEv2, making a small leap to 210-240Mbps. Still underperforming compared to competition, with the likes of NordVPN and its NordLynx lightyears ahead at 760-880Mbps. If you're after a fast VPN, then, PrivadoVPN isn't it.

As mentioned, PrivadoVPN has since introduced WireGuard to its Windows and Androids clients. Considering other VPN saw their best speeds on WireGuard, there is the potential for the picture to be a lot prettier when we next put Privado to the test.

PrivadoVPN interface on Android, iOS, macOS, Windows

(Image credit: PrivadoVPN)

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 doesn't do a bad job as a streaming VPN either. We were able to unblock US Netflix, as well as BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+. That's almost full marks across the board, with anyone looking to unblock Netflix libraries elsewhere needing to place their bets elsewhere - ExpressVPN and ProtonVPN seem to be the only providers that can completely circumvent Netflix's anti-VPN stronghold.

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 having 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 VPN that boast split tunnelling, DNS protection, auto-connect, and so on.

How good are the Privado VPN mobile apps?

Privado's small interface works a lot better on Android, 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 the connection speed to be a lot faster, happening within 2-3 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.

Graphic illustrating man using laptop with leak protection

(Image credit: PrivadoVPN)

Privado VPN: Final verdict

PrivadoVPN is a decent option if you're after a free VPN, with its generous 10GB a month allowance and access to 12 of its 44 server locations. Not to mention it seems pretty reliable at unblocking many of the top streaming services. However, its speeds are fairly underwhelming and there are one too many issues with the usability of its apps that desperately need sorting out. There also aren't a whole bunch of features to get excited about, leaving the PrivadoVPN as a fairly mediocre provider overall.

Alice Marshall

Alice is the resident eCommerce Staff Writer at Future with a focus on VPN and streaming services. She predominantly writes buying and streaming service guides, how to watch articles, with the odd phone deal thrown in there for good measure. Previously a Commercial Content Writer at Trusted Reviews.

  • scarlettm59
    Seems nice according to the verdict but I will try Free plan first then will go with the paid version for windows 11 later.
    Reply