The market for virtual private networks (VPNs) is huge, and it can be difficult to figure out which services are reliable and which are better off avoided. Some VPNs are mediocre, most do the job without having any stand-out features, and a handful really knock it out of the park.
With this in mind, I'll be digging into OysterVPN (and whether it's worth your money.) I've been researching and reviewing VPNs for years, now, so you can rest assured you'll be getting first-hand info from a hands-on testing process (and not just the usual marketing blurb you can find on OysterVPN's website yourself.)
For a VPN that's only been on the block for a few months, OysterVPN is massively impressive—and definitely one to keep an eye on. With some adjustments to its toolset, the inclusion of WireGuard, and better performance, OysterVPN could be well on its way to giving the best VPNs a run for their money. For now, however, there are still plenty of snags to iron out.
OysterVPN is situated in Ireland and owned by Oyster Digital Solutions Ltd. It's a new-ish provider that kicked off its VPN services in early 2023 and, hopefully, this means that it's on the cutting edge of cybersecurity technology.
OysterVPN currently hosts 150+ servers in 17 countries, most notably:
- Hong Kong
This is a decent spread of locations, especially across Europe and Asia, but it’s nowhere near the extensive list of locations you would get from a top-tier VPN. Functional, but not amazing.
It's great to see OysterVPN offering split tunneling, which gives you full control over which apps are covered by the VPN connection. The downside is that it's only available on the Windows and Android apps, which is disappointing, considering that top-tier providers now offering split tunneling for MacOS.
Split tunneling is handy if you want to stream content from one location and browse in another, but it's better to switch it off if you put your privacy first.
Fortunately, OysterVPN's split tunneling works well. It's easy to specify which apps and sites use the VPN connection and whether you'd rather have the VPN cover your entire connection.
Torrenting with OysterVPN is seamless, too. I didn't encounter any issues while hopping from server to server, which suggests there’s a full P2P service enabled across all of them. The same goes for P2P gaming across Hamachi—it was a breeze.
OysterVPN pricing plans
OysterVPN has a single payment tier that allows you to choose how long you want to subscribe for. The monthly plan costs $9.99 and includes 3 free months upfront, which is pretty awesome.
The monthly plan is on the pricey side, given the lack of server locations, but OysterVPN's yearly plan is more modest at $2.50 per month. Alternatively, if you feel like making a bigger commitment, OysterVPN lets users make a one-off payment of $49.99 for lifetime access to the service. This works out at $0.42 a month—that's not bad at all, but it is a limited time offer.
No matter which subscription you pick, you'll be covered by a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can put the provider to the test without risking a penny.
Unfortunately, there’s no free trial or free VPN tier, so you’ll have to purchase OysterVPN if you want to give it a shot. The provider only accepts major credit cards and PayPal, too, meaning there's no option to pay via Bitcoin. This is going to disappoint folks who want to really shore up their privacy.
All OysterVPN plans offer five simultaneous connections—which isn't massively generous. However, it will allow you to protect all of your favorite devices. A family household can easily have upwards of ten gadgets (including mobiles, PCs, consoles, and more), so if you're looking for unlimited connections, you're better off with Surfshark.
Privacy and security
OysterVPN comes with most of the features you need to maintain your digital privacy. There are four VPN protocols to choose from: IKEv2/IPSec, L2TP/IPSec, PPTP, and OpenVPN. I recommend steering clear of L2TP and PPTP, seeing as they're not secure, and sticking with IKEv2 or OpenVPN. Both of these picks offer industry-standard security and reliable speeds.
I was disappointed to see that OysterVPN doesn't offer WireGuard, though. It's a relatively new VPN that combines the tight security of OpenVPN with the speed of IKEv2, all while maintaining a much smaller resource footprint. Given that OysterVPN touts itself as a modern VPN, there's no excuse not to offer WireGuard. Ideally, I'd like to see the service ditch its outdated protocols and welcome WireGuard to the fold.
OysterVPN passed all of the IPv4, DNS, and WebRTC leak tests I put it through. It’s reassuring to see that OysterVPN really will preserve your privacy while you’re browsing online, given that there are so many leaky VPNs out there. The only real issue I found was that IPv6 wasn’t supported, but as long as you disable this service, you'll be alright.
Furthermore, thanks to AES-265 encryption, you can be sure your traffic is encrypted in a way that won’t expose your data. It’s the same technology baked into SSL, which is trusted by every major institution on the internet.
Similarly, OysterVPN’s kill switch worked well. A kill switch makes sure that if your connection to the VPN drops, you won’t immediately default back to your ISP’s internet connection and accidentally leak your original IP. While it might be a little inconvenient, it’s an essential part of preserving your privacy with any VPN. I put OysterVPN's kill switch through a series of disconnection scenarios and it didn't disappoint.
I was pleasantly surprised to see that OysterVPN also offers DNS-level ad-blocking. Most of us use an ad-blocker these days, to banish those annoying pop-ups and invasive ads, but OysterVPN augments this functionality by putting a stop to malware and preventing it from being downloaded to your computer by blocking the connection on the network. In practice, this worked pretty well, but I still noticed a few ads here and there. This isn’t a dealbreaker by any means, as the feature is still extremely useful.
OysterVPN claims that it's a no-logs service—most VPNs do. It's difficult to verify this without a third-party audit, however.
In theory, OysterVPN could have a server architecture set up using disk-less servers that operate entirely in RAM. Actual details about its implementation, and how it achieves zero-logging, are scant at best, and Ireland has mandatory logging requirements.
Netflix and global stream unblocking
Streaming with OysterVPN was painless. It takes a whole lot of dedicated manpower (and server capacity) to keep up with Netflix’s policy of banning VPNs, but I was able to check out US and UK content without a hitch.
Accessing Hulu, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max, and DAZN was just as straightforward—and that's an impressive spread of services. I was even able to access the WWE network, and OysterVPN claims it’s also able to unblock a wide range of additional sports platforms including UEFA, the Premier League, and the NBA. I haven’t tested this for myself, but given how well OysterVPN unblocked everything I did try out, I have no reason to doubt this is the case.
I didn't experience any major issues with lag or buffering, which is awesome news if you're in need of a tip-top streaming VPN, but streaming in 4K during busy periods did push OysterVPN to its limit. I'll dig into the details when we delve into the provider's performance, but overall, streaming with OysterVPN was adequate.
OysterVPN has held its own so far but, unfortunately, it slips up where speed is concerned. Don't get me wrong, it's more than capable of handling day-to-day browsing—it's HD streaming that causes strain.
Using a 100 Mbps connection at 10 am, I connected to a UK server and captured 43.98 Mbps download speeds and 12.11 Mbps upload. That's respectable, but these numbers dropped dramatically when I ran my tests again at 6 pm.
The biggest dip in performance came when I switched to a US server. Download speeds clocked in at 11.59 Mbps and upload speeds at 3.79 Mbps. This wasn't enough to stream 4K content from Netflix US without significant buffering. I found similar speeds connecting to Hong Kong, at 8.91 Mbps down and 3.65 Mbps up.
So, while OysterVPN offers decent speeds if you’re connecting to a nearby server, long-distance connections tank its performance. That means that OysterVPN might not be your perfect pick if you're in the market for a reliable Netflix VPN that'll unblock geo-restricted content.
Things improved when I switched my attention to OysterVPN's apps, however. There’s an install app for Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android, and the Windows and MacOS versions also have their very own installation wizards that make set up a breeze. If you're a mobile user, just head on over to your app store to find OysterVPN.
The service can also be set up on a range of routers, and there's browser support for Chrome and Firefox via add-ons.
Sadly, you won't find any native Linux support. Relying on OpenVPN configuration files and a third-party client makes OysterVPN look a little outdated, but there are, at least, a handful of articles that'll guide you through the process.
OysterVPN customer support
OysterVPN's customer support is pretty solid. I got in touch to clarify some of their marketing information and got a response almost instantly, which is surprising. I couldn’t find a phone number for their support staff and couldn’t get their live chat to work, but if they respond to emails this quickly, it's not going to be a huge issue.
The FAQ follows suit. It's not particularly expansive, but the available guidance is straightforward, easy to follow, and covers a range of topics. Its installation guides are clear, too, but there's not a lot of information about what to do if something goes wrong.
With so many VPNs to choose from, you're not tethered to OysterVPN—especially if you don't want to compromise on speed and security. Below, I've outlined some of my top picks.
ExpressVPN is my #1 VPN overall, and boasts a stacked roster of features. Plus, you'll be able to take your pick of more than 3,000 servers in 94 countries. ExpressVPN unblocks just about every streaming service you can imagine and can keep up with other resource-intensive tasks, like gaming, torrenting, and video calls. Its reputation for ironclad security is well-deserved, too, thanks to robust encryption protocols, a strict no-logs policy, and advanced features like a kill switch and DNS leak protection.
NordVPN is another favorite of mine, and a powerhouse in the VPN sphere, that's committed to safeguarding your security. It packs military-grade encryption and a strict no-logs policy, as well as a handy Double VPN feature for folks who really want to fly under the radar. NordVPN is also the fastest VPN I've ever tested, ensuring smooth browsing, streaming, and downloading experiences that won't be interrupted by any buffering hiccups.
Surfshark is an awesome pick for folks on a budget—it's the best cheap VPN available. That doesn't mean it's lacking in features, however. With Surfshark, you'll get awesome speeds ideal for HD streaming, a CleanWeb tool that'll banish ads, malware, and trackers, and an audited no-logs policy. Surfshark is also one of a handful of providers to offer unlimited simultaneous connections, so you can secure a whole household of gadgets with one subscription.
Wrapping up my recommendations is Proton VPN. Developed by the team behind Proton Mail, a renowned encrypted email service, ProtonVPN follows a similar philosophy of protecting user data. The service utilizes robust encryption protocols and offers a range of advanced security features, like Secure Core, which routes user traffic through multiple secure servers to prevent interception. ProtonVPN has a standout free VPN, too, although it's more limited than its paid alternative. Still, it's a great way to try the service before committing to a long-term plan.
OysterVPN review: Final verdict
OysterVPN isn't a bad VPN by any stretch of the imagination. It does what it needs to do, and fairly cheaply at that. Its biggest problem is that there's nothing that makes it stand out in a highly competitive market, and it’s somewhat lacking in server location and speeds.
These are totally fixable issues, however, and I have a feeling that OysterVPN is going to get better and better over time. In fact, for a VPN that's only been operating for a few months, it's already impressive.
Still, there are better-established VPNs with more servers, better speeds, and a wider feature set than OysterVPN. ExpressVPN and NordVPN are the cream of the crop (that tick all of the right boxes), and I'd recommend checking them out if you want a premium and polished service.
TechRadar rating: ⭐⭐⭐
✔️ You want to unblock a ton of content: OysterVPN had no trouble bypassing geo-blocks to access the likes of Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and Hulu.
✔️ You're a mobile user: whether you're an Android or iPhone loyalist, OysterVPN has easy-to-use apps for your device.
✔️ You want a broad spread of servers: OysterVPN might not have a ton of servers, but the ones it does have are scattered across key locations.
Don't subscribe if:
❌ Speed is your priority: unfortunately, OysterVPN can't compete with the industry's top names when it comes to performance, especially when connecting to distant servers.
❌ You're on Linux: with no native Linux support, you'll need to jump through some complex hoops to get OysterVPN up and running.
❌ You need live chat support: I couldn't find OysterVPN's live chat, which might be a problem if you need quick answers to pressing problems.
How we test VPNs
Beside using the top recommended VPNs for our daily activities, we also conduct a thorough analysis of the top 30 VPN services every 6 months to keep track on how the software compares with other providers as new developments come in.
We start by reviewing each provider's website to double check if its claims and offering changed. We also look for any tracking cookies on the site and if/when they activate to see if the service tracks people using the site.
We then install and use each VPN service across a wide range of location servers and devices to see how they perform across the board. We go through all the settings to make sure all the features work as promised, while playing around with encryption protocols.
Our reviewers actively challenge the software, too, in the lookout for any flaws. For example, we purposely make the VPN connection drop so that we can test if the kill switch does its job of preventing data leaks correctly.
From speed connections and streaming unlocking results, to customer support and app usability, we regularly make sure to test every aspect of the software that could affect the experience of our readers.
As issues arise during our testing, we make sure to investigate these even by digging into the source code or the contents of its RAM if necessary. Head to our dedicated VPN testing methodology page if you want to know more.