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N-Able Passportal Review: Pros & Cons, Features, Ratings, Pricing and more
2:49 pm | October 31, 2022

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Comments: Off

N-Able Passportal, previously known as SolarWinds Passportal, is rated among the best password managers across the web.  

No matter what brand you know it as, though, there’s lots to like about Passportal. It’s a powerful yet intuitive program aimed at high-end business users, and it comes with a selection of impressive features to make business password management fast and straightforward.

We’ve dug deep to see if Passportal should be added to your organization’s IT portfolio – and we’ve explored our other favorite business password managers here.

N-Able Passportal: Plans and pricing

Unfortunately, N-Able doesn’t openly advertise the prices of its Passportal password management software. It’s available as a stand-alone product or as part of a larger N-Able and SolarWinds software package, but you will have to contact the sales team to get a custom quote.

However, a free trial is available on request, so you can test the program before committing to a purchase. What’s more, online reports suggest that prices start from a relatively affordable $18 / £18 / AUD$25 per user, per month.

While we can’t confirm this, and the company’s media contact did not respond to our request for more information, if the reports are at least vaguely true, they make N-Able Passportal one of the most expensive password managers around, so it has high expectations to meet up to.

Despite the lack of surface-level transparency, N-Able Passportal has amassed around 165,000 SMB clients and retains 3 million assets. The company, which devolved from SolarWinds in July 2021, now offers a broad range of managed services like remote monitoring and management tools, a cloud backup tool, and endpoint protection including AI ransomware detection, so it’s clear that you’re in safe hands with a company that’s exceptionally experienced in cybersecurity. 

N-Able Passportal: Interface and performance

N-Able Passportal is backed by an impressive range of features that put it up there with the best business password management software on the market.

For one, all users will have access to highly functional browser extensions. These are available for Chrome, Firefox, and various other popular browsers, and they provide impressive password management tools at the click of a button.

Passportal also comes with a highly secure password generator. It enables you to create custom passwords when required and can even be set to change multiple passwords at once.

As the system administrator, you can create clear user permissions that specify who within your organization is allowed to access what passwords. This is done through a folder system, where different passwords are stored in different folders. Then, you can simply set access permissions to these folders. What’s more, if someone feels like they need to use a password that they don’t have permission for, they can simply request access via their dashboard.

If you take care of password management for clients, you can rebrand the Passportal interface with your own logo and branding. This allows you to provide high-quality, secure password management services under your own business name.

The Passportal user interface is neat and intuitive, but at the same time, superbly detailed. Menu buttons across the top of the screen allow you to view notifications, access your saved passwords, and review management history. You can also search for various passwords or access credentials, add new login details, or edit existing entries.

As the system administrator, you will also be able to manage access permissions and users via the menu on the left of the screen. Ordinary users will only have access to the My Vault and Company Vault portals, which are used to store and manage personal and company credentials respectively.

There is actually a mobile app, but it’s clearly a work in progress and lacks the polish of the online service. It’s unclear whether N-Able will continue to work on the app, or whether it has decided that its target customers are enterprises that don’t really deal with apps, anyway. Regardless, security updates are frequent enough, which is what you would expect and hope of a cybersecurity-first company. 

There’s no mention of passkeys on the N-Able site, which would be a minor cause for concern if it were a regular, consumer-facing password manager. With passkeys becoming more common and wider iOS and Android support coming later in 2023, websites are beginning to allow consumers to use passkeys.

However, businesses are still likely to use a combination of regular login methods with two-factor authentication (2FA) and single sign-on which allows them to log in with one master account, thus reducing or completely eliminating the need for a password manager. Ultimately, passkeys are in their infancy and it’s likely to take a long time for them to gain any form of momentum in business circles.

N-Able Passportal: Security

Like all the best password managers, N-Able Passportal is backed by a selection of powerful security features. For one, it uses secure, cloud-based hosting through the Amazon Web Services platform. This highly redundant and scalable system ensures you always have access to your passwords and other credentials.

All data is backed up with a point-in-time recovery system to secure servers. With this system, your information can be restored to any point in the past three months. The entire Passportal system is proactively monitored for vulnerabilities and security breaches, and any threats deemed serious are dealt with on a priority basis.

What’s more, because N-Able Passportal is designed specifically with reasonably large businesses in mind, it has exceptional user management options to help mitigate turnover-related threats.

N-Able Passportal: Support

Various support services are on offer to help you familiarize yourself with Passportal. All subscribers will be able to contact the customer support team via live chat, ticket submission, and phone. Before you subscribe, you will only have access to phone support, which is still reasonable.

What’s more, various self-help resources help you get started with the program. The N-Able Customer Success Center contains tutorials, how-to guides, and comprehensive documentation. In addition, the company’s YouTube channel has some great videos outlining the functionality and setup procedures for Passportal.

Still, there’s a lot more information about the device management and endpoint protection services than there is about the password manager, which seems to take a back seat. We would like to see some more proactive support, and particularly some more transparency around pricing.

N-Able Passportal: The competition

Dashlane is an incredibly popular password manager among consumers and businesses alike. With extremely secure password management solutions, AES 256-bit encryption, and a powerful central management console, it’s a great choice for those looking for a highly functional and reliable program. And it comes in at a competitively price per user.

Another great option is LastPass, which is backed by advanced administrative controls and multi-factor authentication. 

If you’re after self-hosting options, you should consider Bitwarden which has proven itself a very secure password manager regardless of hosting choice. Opting for self-hosting, though, allows companies to store passwords behind firewalls and proxies in a location they know and trust.

N-Able Passportal: Final verdict

N-ABle Passportal is one of the most powerful password management programs we’ve used. It has a number of advanced features, supports administrative control of large teams, and boasts powerful security integrations.

On top of this, Passportal comes with great customer support, an intuitive user interface, and the power of the rest of the N-Able and SolarWinds ecosystem (if required).

The bottom line: If you’re looking for a high-quality, reliable password management solution for your business, we’d highly recommend looking closer at N-Able Passportal.

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Keeper Review: Pros & Cons, Features, Ratings, Pricing and more
2:18 pm |

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Comments: Off

Keeper Password Manager is considered one of the best password managers out there, and for good reason. Keeper is one of the most respected names in the security business, and this app places a big emphasis on helping companies keep sensitive data on lockdown – so you’d hope their security situation is up to snuff.

Happily, Keeper’s website boasts of some pretty impressive security credentials, with zero-knowledge design, high-end security auditing, market-leading encryption and impressive features elsewhere.

Beyond that, Keeper deploys powerful admin tools, great sharing options and remote access, so it could be a top-notch option for any business that wants a fully-featured password management system. There’s more information about business password protection, too, from our-round up of the best business password managers.

Keeper: Plans and pricing

On the business front, SMBs should be catered for by the Keeper Business Plan at $3.75 / £4 / AUD$7 per user/month. The basic plan includes user password management, while administrators can manage user groups, enforce policies, and perform security audits. Enterprise plans, which need a custom quote, add support for single-sign-on authentication, automated team management, and advanced provisioning methods.

Additionally, you can add custom modules with additional features. These include the advanced reporting module for $10 / £10 / AUD$15 user/year, compliance reporting for the same price, file storage and sharing starting at $125 / £110 / AUD$190 year, dedicated onboarding and training for $750 / £650 / AUD$1,250 per year, dark web breach scanning for $20/user/year, and ultra-secure messaging for $20 / £20 / AUD$30 per user a year.

The company also recently released a Business Starter Plan for teams of between five and 10, as it hopes to break into a market of smaller startups. This costs $2 / £2 / AUD$3 per user/month.

For individuals, meanwhile, the Keeper Personal plan is available for just $2.92 / £3 / AUD$5 a month which supports unlimited passwords on an unlimited number of devices for an individual user. As with the business plan, you can pay extra for different modules – in this case secure file storage and the BreachWatch alerting system. There’s also the five-user Family Plan available for $6.25 / £6 / AUD$9 a month and has five private vaults.

Unfortunately, there’s no free plan for individuals or businesses, however if you're keen to keep costs down (and who isn't?), take a look at the Keeper Security promo codes currently available. 

Besides seasonal promo codes, students are eligible for 50% off Keeper, while the military, first responders, nurses, doctors, and hospital employees can all unlock 30% off the regular price.

Keeper: Setup

It’s clear that Keeper’s developers put a lot of thought into its business products. Mass distribution is made easier thanks to command-line installation on Windows, while desktop and mobile apps and browser extensions are very easy to install. Most users will have themselves up and running in a matter of minutes.

Initial administrative setup will obviously take longer, but much thought has gone into streamlining this process, with multiple methods for bulk-importing users, like email auto-provisioning based on domain name, SSO, or API/SDK. After spending some time setting up various teams and roles, you need only add users as appropriate.

If you’re moving from another password manager, you can also import your existing credentials. This includes from browser-based systems like Google Password Manager and Edge Password Manager, as well as popular rival companies like LastPass and 1Password. Being a password manager aimed at businesses, it also supports importing from other business-focused alternatives like Zoho Vault and RoboForm.

Keeper Password Manager in use

(Image credit: Keeper)

Keeper: Interface and performance

Each user has their own encrypted vault for storing passwords, credential, and information, accessible through any number of desktop, mobile, and online apps. All the password management basics are here: a password generator or strong and unique passwords, identity management and payment information, and access to shared passwords. However, identity information for form filling is a bit limited, as you can’t create your own fields or add multiple addresses.

Administrators can easily manage multiple users, who can be assigned roles and divided into teams. Passwords, folders, and subfolders can be shared with individual users, teams, or roles, with the ability to disable password re-sharing, editing, or even viewing, while enforcement policies ensure everybody in your company is using or generating strong passwords. There is also an Admin Console for monitoring and managing Keeper across the organization. This can also help to enforce the use of best security practices like 2FA, and password security.

The app interface is intuitive and easy to use, with tabs for passwords, identities, security audit, and BreachWatch. In-browser password autofill and form-filling are well executed, with tabs for entering a password, address, or card information. It’s also great to see a separate area dedicated to IDs like driver’s licenses and passports, in an era when identities are both in regular use and targeted by criminals. Being able to call on passport information to book a flight can be much easier digitally than having to retrieve the physical passport, especially when you’re away from home.

The admin interface is equally agreeable to use, with a Dashboard that gives you a quick overview of user activity and any security issues, and an Admin tab for managing users, roles, teams, two-factor authentication, and provisioning. If you’ve paid for additional modules, you’ll have access to the Security Audit, BreachWatch, and Reporting & Alerts to manage these features. Everything is also clean and well laid out.

Platform support is good, too. Keeper works on Windows 7 and above, some of the most recent macOS versions, and popular Linux distros like Fedora, Red Hat, CentOS, Debian, Ubuntu, and Mint. There’s also iOS and Android support, and a password-filling extension that works in Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge, Brave, and Opera. The main app can also run directly in your browser. That command-line installation is a boon, and the only thing missing here is functionality on only the most obscure browsers.

Some mobile users will be pleased to see that Keeper also has an Apple Watch app for on-the-go monitoring and quick access to things like notes of combination lock codes. In fact, if you’re really bored, you can use Keeper’s lock-shaped emoji stickers in iMessage chat. While this is totally pointless and nothing more than a gimmick, it’s really enlightening to see a company that’s dedicated to as many platforms and services as Keeper - very few come anywhere near.

Keeper: Passkeys

While Keeper may not have the heavy-hitting name and advertising budget that more well-known alternatives have, it’s not short of investment in the latest technologies. Already, Keeper has become an early adopted of passkeys and is actually one of the best sources of information on them, with an entire page dedicated to the websites that currently support the passwordless login method.

While Keeper supports passkeys in some instances, including the browser extension, it’s currently waiting for Android 14 and iOS 17 to enable third-party access later this year. In other words, Keeper is doing everything technically possible to let you store your passkeys in its vault.

A specific page has been set up for FAQs and more information on the timeline of passkeys.

Keeper: Security

Security is first and foremost at Keeper. First of all, it’s a zero-knowledge company that undergoes regular SOC 2 and ISO 27001 auditing. It also meets US and EU directives on data protection. Encryption is done on the fly and at device level, with AES 256-bit and PBKDF2 encryption, so no readable information is ever kept on Keeper’s servers.

Admins have full control over which users can access what information and for how long, so there’s no risk of an employee keeping any information after leaving your company, while BreachWatch continuously watches for leaked passwords, and a secure file storage system helps keep your most sensitive documents safe.

Keeper: Support

Keeper comes with great support for businesses. Not only can you benefit from onboarding and training for the whole team, but the support center features a very rich knowledge base with plenty of videos and articles that balance depth and accessibility.

Chat support is available 24/7, which is great for businesses, while phone support is available 10AM–5PM CST. We were a little confused by the online chat, which didn’t tell us if we’d been connected to somebody or how long we might have to wait, although somebody did get back to us within two minutes.

Personal users don’t get the same support as the business clientele. There is no direct phone number, nor an email, but rather they need to go through the support portal. They still have access to all the articles and videos on the self-support side, such as step-by-step guides for installing Keeper on each web browser and supported platform.

Keeper: The competition

There are a number of good password managers out there for businesses. Dashlane has a similar business offering, but includes dark web monitoring at a cheaper price than Keeper Business and its BreachWatch. This is a good solution if you don’t need Keeper’s advanced user management. Alternatively, LastPass includes support for Opera and doesn’t make you pay extra for secure file storage. 

Then, there are the do-it-alls. If you’re already using Zoho for its other online collaboration tools, then you may want to stick to having everything under the same roof and opt for Zoho Vault.

Keeper: Final verdict

Keeper offers industry-leading security with a simple interface that both end-users and IT managers will find easy and enjoyable to use. Pricing is broadly in line with industry standards, although additional features like BreachWatch and onboarding can significantly increase the yearly invoice. Nonetheless, for managing passwords and sensitive information across various teams and roles, Keeper is hard to beat. That, coupled with its clear ambition to stay with the trends (as is the case with passkeys) makes it a solid choice for any type of consumer. 

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LogMeOnce Review: Pros & Cons, Features, Ratings, Pricing and more
2:18 pm |

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Comments: Off

LogMeOnce is, without a doubt, one of the best password managers we’ve seen. Most password managers offer the same core features, from autofill to secure password generation, but LogMeOnce goes beyond other apps thanks to its impressive range of advanced abilities.

Sign up to LogMeOnce and you’ll be able to use QR code logins, facial recognition, and cloud storage encryption, and security comes from military-standard encryption and security options along a wide range of multi-factor options.

With a free version and a range of plans at decent prices, LogMeOnce might seem too good to be true – so we’ve tested this software to deliver the real verdict.

LogMeOnce: Plans and pricing

There are three LogMeOnce business plans on offer, with prices ranging from $3 / £3 / AUD$5 user/month to $7 / £7 / AUD$10 user/month. All plans come with a 14-day free trial and you don’t need to use a credit or debit card to give it a go.

The cheapest Team & Business plan includes a range of advanced features such as a dedicated vault for each user, a centralized admin panel, unlimited device access, and secure sharing tools. Even on this lower end of the scale, there’s support for single sign-on (SSO) which is typically reserved for the most expensive plan, so businesses looking for a well-rounded password manager would do well to shortlist LogMeOnce. There’s even support for custom branding, alongside priority technical support.

The Enterprise plan includes everything in the Team & Business plan, 1GB of encrypted storage, and a real-time administrative dashboard. User provisioning is made easier than there’s Active Directory integration.

Finally, the Identity and Password Manager plan adds a selection of tools, including MFA authentication, IP address restriction, device whitelisting, dark web monitoring, and leaked password monitoring.

There are also four personal/family plans that start at the free tier, which is confusingly named Premium. It promises to be free forever, and supports unlimited passwords and two-factor authentication (2FA).

The Professional plan adds 1GB of encrypted storage, secure notes, and credit cards, while the Ultimate plan upgrades storage to 10GB and rounds it up with anti-theft protection.

At the top of the personal plans is the Family tier, which is $4.99/ £5 / AUD$8 per month for a family of up to six. It offers everything that Ultimate does, but for more users.

There are various paid add-ons, including dark web monitoring (individually and for families) and cyber threat monitoring. While they’re by no means services to replace the best identity theft protection tools, they certainly go some way to protecting your online presence for a very reasonable cost.

LogMeOnce apps

(Image credit: LogMeOnce)

LogMeOnce: Setup

Setting up your LogMeOnce account is extremely straightforward and shouldn’t take more than a minute or two. Simply select the plan you want and follow the prompts to install the relevant browser extension. Browser support is good, with extensions available for Chrome, Firefox, and Edge. Still, you’ll find better support for more niche browsers elsewhere.

Install the extension and download another small app and you’ll be ready to go – and then you’re able to access LogMeOnce’s main web interface.

Login details and other information can be manually added or imported from an existing password manager. A detailed quick-start guide is available to guide you through the entire process.

LogMeOnce: Interface and performance

It’s a well-designed bit of software. The main dashboard offers quick access to your passwords, secure notes and wallet, secure file storage, and dark web monitoring. You’ll also find quick links for your security evaluation and two-factor authentication settings.

The right-hand side has your Daily Journal, which summarizes your current password situation – a smooth feature that allows you to instantly see which areas need attention. There’s also the Identity Scorecard, which presents a quick security evaluation.

Head into different sections and at the bottom of the screen you’ll get a dock that opens more configuration options. Anyone who’s used a PC or Mac will be familiar with the setup – it works like a taskbar.

On top of this, the browser extension is very impressive. It includes quick links to all your saved websites, and logging in is as simple as clicking on the icon for the site you want to access. The mobile apps are equally powerful, and they performed very well on every device we tested them on.

One thing worth noting is that, although LogMeOnce is just as capable as other password managers, the user interface suggests otherwise. The mobile apps are particularly troubling, and have collected a handful of negative reviews accordingly. This, along with the limited browser extension support, put it one or two paces behind most other options.

LogMeOnce is also yet to announce any plans to adopt passkeys, which promise to revolutionize the way we log into websites. Promising the ultimate, passwordless security, passkeys have so far been slow to take off, and for all we know, LogMeOnce could just be waiting to see how it pans out, and whether it represents a worthwhile investment. Nevertheless, there’s no mention of passkeys anywhere on the company’s site.

LogMeOnce security

(Image credit: LogMeOnce)

LogMeOnce: Security

Like all good password managers, LogMeOnce is backed by powerful security features. This includes AES 256-bit encryption compliant with NIST guidelines and communication to the LogMeOnce server via SSL/TSL encrypted tunnel communication. In fact, it goes one step further than most of its competitors, with a range of patented and copyrighted tools to further protect your sensitive information.

Along with encryption and master password access, LogMeOnce also comes with PasswordLess login, powerful two-factor authentication (2FA), and anti-theft tools. Custom security solutions are also available for business users with highly sensitive data.

There are loads of multi-factor authentication options available here. You’ve got biometrics, PIN codes, secure devices, and even the option to login with a selfie. Beyond that, you can also turn a USB drive into an authentication token.

Elsewhere, LogMeOnce has options to wipe devices in emergencies, remind you to reset passwords after specified amounts of time, secure browsing and document storage and secure backup modules. Users also benefit from secure sharing options and auto-login single sign-on settings.

LogMeOnce: Support

LogMeOnce has a range of customer support and self-help options to draw on if you run into trouble. The main website features a chatbot that will guide you to articles or help you submit a support ticket. Tickets can also be logged directly from your management dashboard or the online portal. We feel that real-time support could be improved - there are no phone lines and emails aren’t always the quickest way to get to the bottom of something.

LogMeOnce: The competition

LogMeOnce is a genuinely good password manager, but there are a couple of powerful alternatives worth considering, especially if you can’t look the increasingly dated UI.

For example, LastPass has long been a leading password management program backed by very advanced features. It includes secure multi-factor authentication, has over 1,200 pre-integrated apps, and comes with a selection of advanced administration controls for IT managers and other tech professionals. Additionally, pricing is quite comparable. 

If you’re really going down the business security route, Bitwarden offers self-hosting so that businesses can keep passwords stored in a secure and trusted location, even behind their own firewalls and proxies.

LogMeOnce: Final verdict

LogMeOnce is up there with the absolute best password management programs we’ve used in terms of functionality. It’s extremely affordable, comes with advanced tools designed for business users, and is backed by a range of powerful features.

On top of this, it’s easy to set up and is compatible with most common web browsers, devices, and operating systems. Also, security tools and customer support resources are comprehensive with an extensive library of articles and even videos. 

That said, the product’s design could do with quite a significant overhaul, which is most notable on the apps. In theory, this shouldn’t take away from the abilities of the password manager, but failure to keep up-to-date with design could suggest diminishing developer resources. Furthermore, when we attempted to contact LogMeOnce’s press department, we were met with radio silence.

Ultimately, we’d recommend LogMeOnce for anyone who’s looking for a powerful, versatile password management solution backed by advanced features.

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Bitwarden Review: Pros & Cons, Features, Ratings, Pricing and more
1:37 pm | October 27, 2022

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Comments: Off

Bitwarden takes a different approach to most password manager tools – because it’s released under the open source license.

Its open-source status doesn’t just mean that, either. That designation means that people can view, access, and contribute to the app’s development. When you want an app to be secure and transparent about the way it works, that can only bode well for Bitwarden’s effectiveness.

There’s more to like about this app beyond it being open source. Bitwarden promises easy, powerful security within minutes, unlimited password and device support, and secure, encrypted sharing.

Need more advice on passwords? Then look no further than our reviews of the best password managers. And if you need some help with images, take a look at our coverage of best password recovery software.

Bitwarden features

Bitwarden’s business plans are packed with useful features for larger companies. (Image credit: Bitwarden )

Bitwarden: Plans and pricing

There’s plenty of variety when it comes to Bitwarden’s products. On the personal side of things, the firm offers a free version, a premium individual plan that costs just $10 / £10 / AUD$15 per year, and a family package for six users with a $40 / £40 / AUD$60 annual price.

For many, the free version will be more than sufficient, because it supports an unlimited number of passwords and device syncing. Typically, rival companies’ free plans limit users to just one active device, so this is a real selling point for Bitwarden. Sharing passwords is also included in the free plan, as is a password generator and support for email aliases.

Upgrading to the $10 / £10 / AUD$15 per year Premium plan adds emergency access, advanced 2FA, an authentication module and security reporting alongside priority customer support. Paying customers can also send encrypted files, which is good for sharing sensitive information like bank statements and bills.

The family plan includes up to six separate users, unlimited sharing and collections, and improved storage organization, which makes it easier to manage all of the passwords associated with business households. It also includes all of the features you’ll get with the individual Premium account. Whether you need a more advanced plan for yourself or the whole family, these two paid plans are packed with features at a really attractive price point.

For companies, the Team Organization plan costs $3 / £3 / AUD$5 per user per month. It includes a wealth of added features such as user groups and API access – and you get better logging and unlimited sharing, too. You’ll get all of this with the Enterprise plan, which costs $5 / £5 / AUD$8 per user per month, alongside custom roles, SSO integration, in-depth admin options, and self-host settings. 

Bitwarden installation

Bitwarden’s installation process is one of the simplest you’ll find. (Image credit: Bitwarden )

Bitwarden: Setup

Don’t worry when confronted with Bitwarden’s open-source status – installation couldn’t be easier. Download the app, create an account with your master password, and you’ll be ready to go.

Bitwarden has superb platform support, too. There are Windows, macOS, and Linux desktop clients, and the extensions are built for every major browser like Chrome, Safari, Firefox and Edge – alongside more obscure options like Vivaldi, Brave, Tor and Opera. Bitwarden is also currently testing a DuckDuckGo for Mac extension as if support wasn’t good enough already. For mobile users, the iOS app is accompanied by a watchOS app for Apple Watch users, and Android users are also catered for. Bitwarden supports command line usage and can also be accessed directly on the web.

Bitwarden web application

All of Bitwarden’s features can be administered in the web application (Image credit: Bitwarden )

Bitwarden: Interface and performance

Bitwarden’s basic plans focus on the meat of password management, but even the free plans include multi-device sync, optional self-hosting, and unlimited cloud storage.

Premium plans include reports on your passwords that highlight weak passwords and unsecured websites. Also, advanced features are added, such as two-factor authentication (2FA) and emergency access. A Data Breach Report can tell you whether an email address has been compromised in a known data breach.

Bitwarden has a sleek, straightforward interface that allows users to easily search and access their passwords and secure data. And while it’s not as slick-looking as some other tools, that doesn’t really matter when the app’s functionality is more important.

While there are desktop clients for viewing and editing credentials and checking other account information, most will rarely use them in favor of the extensions that serve the password manager’s primary function: to automatically fill out login details and capture new ones.

Adding a new item is as easy as filling in a simple form, and you can attach notes and custom fields to each entry for total personalization.

We prefer using the web app, as it still includes complex authentication options and access to reports. The browser extension resembles the web app and includes a password generator, which makes using the password manager on the fly even easier.

Bitwarden includes plenty of features to make life easier. It automatically fills forms, quickly syncs passwords and data across devices, and tests your passwords for strength levels. Like many other apps, it monitors your password vault and lets you know if your information has been exposed in a security breach.

The web portal and apps come into their own when it’s time to access the other types of information stored in the vault. Saved payment details work with autofill, but you’ll need to log in to find identity information like driver’s licenses and passports. This can be really handy when you’re booking travels, so long as you know where your passport is when the time comes to board the plane!

Bitwarden source code available on GitHub

Bitwarden’s entire source code is available on GitHub and the developers invite security researchers to test for security breaches. (Image credit: Bitwarden )

Bitwarden: Passkeys

Bitwarden has announced that passkey support is coming in the summer of 2023, so it should be just around the corner. It works both ways, which means users will soon be able to set up a passkey for their Bitwarden account to skip the master password stage.

Most importantly, third-party sites that support passkeys can be added to the extension or app. Upon creation, Bitwarden recognizes the passkey and offers to save it. We asked Bitwarden when passkey support would arrive, but the company declined to comment.

Bitwarden: Security

It’s got a robust slate of security features, too. Your Bitwarden vault is secured with AES-256 encryption and your master password is never sent to Bitwarden – so there’s no chance of a breach from Bitwarden’s side of things.

Besides using Bitwarden’s own servers to keep your passwords online, so that you can access them from anywhere, you can also opt for self-hosting. This is designed primarily with businesses in mind, who can apply their own firewalls, proxies, and other services to maintain optimal security and compliance, keeping passwords inside their trusted infrastructure.

Bitwarden’s security measures go beyond zero-knowledge encryption, too. The app’s open source status means its source code is available online, resulting in more scrutiny from security experts – so problems get sorted in a timely fashion.

Bitwarden: Customer support

Bitwarden help center

Bitwarden has a useful help center and you can email the developers for support (Image credit: Bitwarden )

Bitwarden is an active open-source project, so there’s plenty of support in the form of an online community, tutorials, a knowledge base, and forums. Every common feature has a well-written tutorial and the user forums, while basic, are active and helpful.

You can even email the developers for support via an online support portal, with Premium subscribers getting priority. It’s impressive for an open-source project like Bitwarden to have the level of customer support that rivals commercial products. The only thing missing is phone support – that would have been a welcome addition, especially for business customers.

Unlike most other companies, because Bitwarden’s individual developers all have their own preferences, many of them are happy to interact with customers on other platforms, like Reddit and Twitter. These aren’t considered official help channels as such, but sometimes they’re a way to get a more authentic, personalized response.

Besides troubleshooting, the company’s blog is generally a good place to visit now and again to check for content relating to up-and-coming features, or just to alert you of something you might not have known such as how to create secure passwords.

Bitwarden: The competition

If you’re willing to spend a little more, Dashlane adds identity theft protection to the mix. This adds credit monitoring, identity restoration support, and identity theft insurance that covers you up to $1 million should the occasion occur. Another paid password manager with more features than Bitwarden is LastPass

If you have a specific feature or trait in mind, you may want to consider alternative avenues. For example, KeePass is another open-source password manager, while the likes of iCloud Keychain and Google Password Manager are among a growing number of services with support for passkeys.

Bitwarden: Final verdict

There’s lots to like about Bitwarden. It’s got rock-solid security options bolstered by the app’s open-source status. It works with virtually every device and browser you could think of – so it’s impressively versatile too.

When it comes to features this app ticks every mainstream box and it’s easy to use, even if it’s missing out on some of the slick design and high-end ability you’ll find elsewhere. But that's not a big issue when it’s got a tempting free product, good pricing on all of its paid options, and solid open-source security. 

We've also featured the best business password managers.

LastPass Review: Pros & Cons, Features, Ratings, Pricing and more
1:36 pm |

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Comments: Off

There aren’t many bigger names in password management than LastPass. This hugely popular app is powered by LogMeIn, which is one of the world’s largest SaaS companies, and it’s been around since 2008. Yet, despite its serious business-focused background and impressive credentials, it still serves as a legitimately good proposition for individuals, too.

There are some compelling reasons for LastPass’s enviable success. It’s got good security policies and best-in-class features, including easy sharing and impressive password-generation modules, and it also includes dark web monitoring and biometric login. It’s also among a growing number of password managers to be adding support for passkeys.

It’s certainly not the only app to offer these abilities, though, so LastPass will have to impress if it wants to maintain its place in our round-up of the best password managers as well as best business password managers.

LastPass pricing August 2023

(Image credit: LastPass)

LastPass: Plans and pricing

Unlike most password managers, LastPass offers two distinct products for those looking to secure and automate password and credential management for their businesses. The first is the Teams plan, which costs $4 / £4 / AUD$6 per user/month. It offers a vault for every user, 2FA, a security dashboard, and Dark Web monitoring, but is restricted to 50 users or less.

The upgrade plan is the Enterprise plan that costs $6 / $6 / AUD$9 per user/month which can support an unlimited number of users, and includes all the Teams plan features. This plan also adds over 100 customizable policies, 3 SSO apps with MFA, and 1,200+ pre-integrated SSO apps.

The multi-factor authentication or MFA plan, however, is less a password management service and more a multi-factor, biometric credential solution for businesses. This plan is an add-on that costs an additional $3 / £3 / AUD$5 user/month.

There are also individual plans that start with a free tier that’s limited to one device per month. It has dark web monitoring, sharing, and all the other features you would expect, but that device limit will see many people needing to upgrade.

Pay $3 / £3 / AUD$5 for the Premium option and you can add access across all of your devices, emergency access, and 1GB of encrypted file storage. There’s also a $4 / £4 / AUD$6 family package that allows users to deploy six encrypted vaults, a family manager, beefed-up sharing options, and personal dashboards. 

Take a look at the LastPass promo codes currently available for further discounts.

LastPass Business Features

(Image credit: LastPass)

LastPass: Setup

Although LastPass has great apps for macOS, Windows, Linux, iOS, and Android, it is most powerful when integrated into your browsing experience with a web browser extension. These extensions are available for all common browsers including Google Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge (including a pre-Chromium legacy version), and Opera. That comfortably covers four in five desktop browsing sessions according to Statcounter figures,  but there are some password managers like Bitwarden, that have even more browser support.

Browser extensions for all major platforms enable users to enjoy a seamless password management experience. Single sign-on technology means that once the user has entered their master password, the extension will autofill passwords and other credentials when visiting known sites.

However, downloading the LastPass application is still important, as this will be the users’ hub for managing their data and account settings. The app is easy to download on all platforms, and login only requires your master password or biometric information.

If you’re already using a password manager and you’re simply looking for something that it can’t offer, you can import from all of the main browsers, plus a handful of rival companies like Dashlane, 1Password, and Keeper.

LastPass interface

(Image credit: LastPass)

LastPass: Interface and performance

Businesses will be glad to know that LastPass comes with password sharing, password generation, emergency access, one-touch login, and automatic syncing of all data.

Combining password management and MFA enables LastPass to secure every access point used by your business devices with single sign-on for over 1,200 integrated applications.

Advanced administrator controls also enable IT administrators to leverage over 100 policies for user management and data control. This makes it one of the most customizable password management platforms available.

The LastPass applications perform admirably, and in our test, we had no negatives to report. Syncing was efficient and with little lag, and working across multiple devices and browsers was as seamless as the company advertises.

It’s also one of the better-looking apps out there, with clear, easy-to-use menus and distinct sections for passwords, payment details, and the security dashboard. There’s no isolated area for IDs like drivers’ licenses and passports, but you can keep this information in the area designed for notes.

The applications themselves are well-designed, and the user interface is easy to navigate. We’ve tested the application on Windows 10 and 11, macOS, iOS, and Android, and were impressed with all of them.

LastPass: Passkeys

In June 2023, LastPass announced that passkeys are finally coming to its platform by the end of the year, specifically across web, extension, and app experiences, where LastPass will create and save passkeys for eligible websites.

The company hopes that this could even attract a new group of users to the password manager because the passkeys will work on any device that LastPass works on. This means iPhone users who run Windows on their desktop will just be able to use LastPass, instead of having to scan their desktop with their smartphone.

Keeping up-to-date with trends has clearly been a priority for LastPass, which also announced late in 2022 that it would be bringing password management to the metaverse with its Meta Quest app. With the launch of the Apple Vision Pro around the corner, it’s possible that the company already has an app in development for that, too.

LastPass security

User interface of the LastPass desktop app for Windows 10. (Image credit: LastPass)

LastPass: Security

Security policy can make or break a password management provider. Fortunately, LastPass is recognized as one of the most highly secure password managers available. The LastPass platform end-to-end encrypts all data using 256-bit AES encryption and uses advanced Transport Layer Security to prevent in-transit attacks.

Also, as is industry standard, LastPass does not store users’ master passwords or authentication keys locally or on its servers. So no one, including LastPass, can access a user’s encrypted data remotely.

We were also particularly impressed by LastPass’s frequent external auditing and transparent incident response protocol. This means that if there are any weaknesses in the LastPass system, they are quickly identified and addressed.

Finally, the LastPass bug bounty program adds a community-level pillar to the platform’s security framework and further protects LastPass from bugs and software weaknesses, which demonstrates that the company holds a high level of accountability.

LastPass support center

LastPass employs strong encryption algorithms and multi-factor authentication to secure your passwords and data. (Image credit: LastPass)

LastPass: Customer support

Both businesses and individuals can avail themselves of the LastPass forums. The forums page contains threads on numerous business-related topics, and we were able to find advice for many niche problems. There are loads of help articles, too.

For issues that can’t be solved by exploring the forum and articles, free online training and how-to guides are also available. Email support is readily available, too, but only certain plans get phone support.

LastPass: The competition

Although LastPass is feature-rich and highly affordable, there are cheaper options that might appeal to businesses on a tight budget. 

For example, Sticky Password is cheaper than LastPass, with similar feature sets and security protocols. Another strong competitor is N-Able Passportal business password manager as well as Norton's password manager. You should also consider our comparison of 1Password and LastPass.

LastPass: Final verdict

LastPass is one of the best password managers available, and business leaders or IT administrators would do well to consider it for their organization. Advanced features, top-notch security, and centralized administrator controls and analytics all play their role in this superb password management solution.

Despite its advanced features, LastPass is still highly affordable in most cases, and this contributes significantly to our favorable opinion of the platform. However, if you’re looking for a free account only and you’re not willing to fork out a monthly fee, chances are you’d be better off with something that can support multiple signed in sessions simultaneously like Bitwarden or one of the software giants’ own solutions, like iCloud Keychain or Google Password Manager.

We've also featured the best password recovery software.

Dashlane Review: Pros & Cons, Features, Ratings, Pricing and more
1:34 pm |

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Comments: Off

Dashlane is one of the oldest and most popular password manager apps on the market, and it’s got the headline figures to back that up. More than 2.5 billion credentials have been saved on it, and it supports more than 20,000 companies making it a great option for businesses. Companies like Wayfair and PepsiCo trust it – so you know they must be on to something.

A glance at its feature list will explain why it's remained popular for a decade. Its core features include 2FA encryption, customizable settings, secure autofill settings, and support for an unlimited number of passwords. Because it’s one of the largest options in its industry, it also has the backing to be able to adapt most quickly, so you can expect some of the latest and greatest features like passkey support.

We've explored the features that make Dashlane stand out in our review – and found out if this older app can keep up with its newer and possibly more agile rivals.

Our password manager advice doesn't stop there, either. Head here for our verdict on the best password managers, and take a look at our choice of the best password managers

Dashlane pricing August 2023

(Image credit: Dashlane)

Dashlane: Plans and pricing

There are loads of options available when it comes to Dashlane products. Individuals can opt for the free product tier, which includes support for an unlimited number of passwords and passkeys on one device alongside a password generator and some of the app's core features, like 2FA and personalized alerts.

The Advanced plan costs $3.49 / £3.49 / AUD$3.49 per month and it allows individuals to use Dashlane on an unlimited number of devices. It also includes dark web monitoring to make sure that your credentials are even safer. The Premium plan at $6.49 / £3.99 / AUD$3.99 adds a VPN as well, which is recommended when connecting to unsecured networks. In this instance, Dashlane gives users access to Hotspot Shield Premium, which itself is a service worth $12.99 / £10.99 / AUD$19.99 monthly, so Dashlane Premium represents really good value for money if you’re able to benefit from the VPN.

Families can pay $8.99 / £5.99 / AUD$5.99 per month for a package that supports up to ten family members. With that product, you get all the features available elsewhere – plus a dashboard for easy management.

All of the personal plans can be paid for annually, which means users willing to fork out more money in one go but less often can save themselves around 20% each year compared with paying monthly.

Three different business plans are available. Unlimited passwords, secure sharing, business and personal spaces, and dark web insights form the basis of the Starter plan which headlines at $2 / £2 / AUD$3 per month, but because it’s only available with 10 seats, it will cost $20 / £20 / AUD$30 per month regardless. The Team plan adds unlimited seats and VPN to the base product and is paid on a per-person basis and sits in the middle of the business-oriented lineup.

The priciest Business product costs $8 / £8 / AUD$12 per user per month, but it adds SSO integration, SCIM provisioning, a free friends and family plan for all users, and on-demand phone support – which is something you don't get with lots of cheaper products.

Check out the latest Dashlane promo codes to see how you can save further on certain plains.

Dashlane features

(Image credit: Dashlane)

Dashlane: Setup

The setup process is simple and straightforward and took us under five minutes to complete. The interface is so well-designed it led us seamlessly through the handful of steps required to register a new account and save our first set of credentials.

To begin, we were encouraged to add the Chrome extension. From here, we were directed to the sign-up page.

We were presented with a list of popular websites with links and logos and asked to select our first site. The software then guided us through the process of choosing and storing passwords using the Chrome extension.

Beyond the Chrome extension, there’s support for other popular browsers like Edge, Firefox, Brave, and Opera, including desktop clients for the major operating systems and mobile apps.

If the reason for your setup is that you’re moving from another password manager, you can import credentials straight into Dashlane by exporting from 1Password, Bitwarden, LastPass, KeePass, Keeper, or RoboForm as a .csv file. You can also do the same from Google Password Manager, Microsoft Edge Password Manager, iCloud Keychain, and the Firefox browser.

Dashlane interface

(Image credit: Dashlane)

Dashlane: Interface and performance

Dashlane automatically fills login details for websites, credit and debit card numbers, and online forms. This feature can make the average working day far more efficient. A bulk password-changing function also makes it easy to change multiple passwords at once in the event of a significant data breach, or if you’re new to password management and up until now you’ve been using the same password for all accounts.

The software is packed with features, including a VPN for safe browsing on public Wi-Fi connections (for Premium plans), which makes Dashlane much more than just a password manager. Even the free version includes personalized security alerts and a password generator.

Dashlane's business suite handles every aspect of a company's password security, from password storage and bespoke security ratings for individual team members to security policy management via the in-built Admin Console. From this console, you can "Pinpoint password hygiene problems" from the Password health score that gets generated, along with details of compromised passwords.

Dashlane works with most operating systems, and there is a plugin for all the main browsers. There is also a desktop app available, but combined, the browser plugin and web app are more than adequate. There’s even an extension for Safari, which many companies fail to deliver on, but you’ll need the full desktop client to benefit from this.

It's a very easy app to use. Dashlane's interface is clean, logical and straightforward to navigate, and you don't have to download a separate app – it's all handled using browser extensions or the web.

Here, you can manage and add passwords, view your account information and access the other features that come with your plan. Any changes we made were instantaneous, and Android and iOS apps are also available – with instant syncing deployed across platforms.

The password generator is accessed through the browser plugin, a nice touch that enables you to create strong passwords while browsing.

Dashlane help center

Dashlane has a well-organized, dedicated support page. (Image credit: Dashlane)

Dashlane: Passkeys

Dashlane is slowly adding support for passkeys and was one of the first major password managers to do so. With the web app, users can save passkeys and use them to log into their accounts. Viewing, editing, and deleting passkeys are “coming soon,” according to the company, which failed to provide a timeline.

The same will be true for iOS 17 users when the mobile operating system becomes generally available, likely in September 2023, while Android users have been testing out passkey support in Android 14 beta already.

Dashlane has a dedicated page for keeping up to date with its passkey support rollout.

Dashlane: Security

Dashlane is the only US-patented password manager and uses military-grade AES 256-bit encryption alongside its patented technology.

Further security is enabled by two-factor authentication (2FA) compatible with common authenticator apps and U2F security keys. Like some other password managers, there is a master password that the user needs to enter to access the service, but only the user has it, and Dashlane has zero knowledge of it, and does not store it. What this means, though, is that if you forget your master password, you could be locked out for good.

There's plenty of support for different SSO apps here, too – Dashlane integrates with Microsoft 365, Google Workspace, Azure, Duo, Okta, and more. Businesses can also use customizable policies to create a tailored, secure environment, and automated employee management allows security to start immediately.

Dashlane even has a bug bounty program that offers rewards of up to $5,000 in return for the notification of vulnerabilities by eager security workers.

Dashlane security

(Image credit: Dashlane)

Dashlane: Customer support

Dashlane has a well-organized and easy-to-navigate support page that we could access through the web app and browser extension. It has a prominent search bar top and center to look for content and plenty of articles that guide users through key app features.

FAQs are comprehensive and arranged into categories such as Account & Security, Passwords & Data, and Platforms & Browsers.

Live chat support is available in English during working hours on weekdays, while out of hours, it's possible to consult the chatbot and contact the support team via email. We tested all options and were impressed with each of them, as there was no queue on the live chat and our request was dealt with quickly and professionally. Our email was answered quickly with information on contracting the live support staff, but the chatbot was a little underwhelming compared with other similar experiences across the web, especially during an era of generative AI. The responses and pre-determined inputs were somewhat limiting.

Remember, too, that certain product tiers also included phone support – ideal if you need help in a hurry.

Dashlane: The competition

Dashlane's biggest competitor is LastPass, which is consistently voted among the best password managers on the market.

Dashlane has a cleaner, more user-friendly interface, but LastPass wins on value for money. Its free version is only slightly different from its paid one, while Dashlane's free product misses out on features like dark web monitoring and VPN support.

KeePass is Dashlane's closest competitor in regard to security. The company sells its service on its security merits, but, unlike Dashlane, this advanced security comes at the expense of convenience. Another strong competitor is N-Able Passportal, which is well-suited to demanding businesses.

Dashlane: Final verdict

The simplicity of Dashlane's interface means even first-time users can benefit from the advanced password management services and security on offer, and its free product is a decent option for basic password protection.

There's plenty of functionality on offer from all of Dashlane's products, especially if you upgrade to the paid versions – but we will say that some of Dashlane's business products are quite expensive when compared to other password manager tools.

We've also featured the best password recovery software.

Hotspot Shield VPN review
12:56 pm | October 24, 2022

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Comments: Off

Hotspot Shield is a popular VPN with just enough interesting and unusual features to help it stand out from the crowd.

The core service has a sizable network of over 1,800 servers across 90 countries and 130+ locations. Malware blocking and anti-phishing are included for free, P2P is supported everywhere, and there are servers optimized for streaming, gaming, and more.

There are apps for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS, a command line app for Linux, and a TV app for Amazon Fire TV or any smart TV with access to Google Play. If all that still isn't enough, the support site has guides on manually setting up the service on these and other platforms (routers, too).

WireGuard support has made a big difference to performance (more on that below), with Hotspot Shield's Hydra protocol, OpenVPN, or IKEv2 available as a backup in some situations.

The service supports from one to twenty-five simultaneous connections, depending on your plan.

▶ Want to try Hotspot Shield Premium? Check out the Hotspot Shield website.

Hotspot Shield Payment Methods

You can either pay by card or PayPal (Image credit: Hotspot Shield)

Hotspot Shield pricing

Hotspot Shield's free VPN plan offers just one US location, almost no features, support for one device only, no email or live chat support, and a host of annoying ads on the mobile apps. There is one big plus to the free plan: there are no annoying "per month" bandwidth limits. You can use it as much as you like, but unless you really have no VPN budget at all, it's hard to recommend.

The paid VPN starts at $12.99 billed monthly and supports up to ten devices, dropping to $7.99 on the annual plan.

That's at the high end of the normal VPN price range. Most providers charge around $3 to $5 per month for annual products and even less for longer-term contracts (Private Internet Access offers a three-year plan covering up to 10 devices for an initial $2.03 a month).

Hotspot Shield does have a handy option in the Family plan, which gets you coverage for five people, with five devices each, for only $19.99 billed monthly, or $11.99 on the annual plan.

If you'll use all those licenses, that translates to $2.40 per user per month.

There's no Bitcoin payment option, unfortunately, but you can use a card or PayPal, and if anything goes wrong later you're protected by an unusually generous 45-day money-back guarantee.

Hotspot Shield Protocols

Hotspot Shield allows you to choose your preferred VPN protocol from its Settings menu (Image credit: Hotspot Shield)


Hotspot Shield's Privacy Policy begins with some reassuring details on the company's logging practices. There's no record of your browsing history, and although it logs your IP address when you connect, this is deleted at the end of the session.

There is still some logging, the policy explains, including:

"The duration of VPN sessions and the bandwidth consumed.

"The domains that have been accessed by our users, but on an anonymized basis such that we do not know which user accessed which domain (we also aggregate this information on an approximately monthly basis).

"device hashes, which are used to identify devices and associate them with other data we collect... Device hashes are not linked to VPN browsing activity."

There's some scope for problems here. Anonymising URLs is more difficult than it sounds, and we just have to hope that Hotspot Shield is doing it properly. And even if it doesn't log your browsing, there's still scope for building fairly detailed profiles on how you use the service. For example, the company could keep a record of the time and date of every session, the device used, your approximate location, and how much data you transferred.

That's just speculation, but there's also real-world evidence of Hotspot Shield taking some tracking-related liberties. We expected the web dashboard's Download button to point us to an installer file hosted on the Hotspot Shield website, for instance, but in reality, it links directly to web analytics company Kochava. That doesn't feel like the action of a company putting your privacy first.

Our real concern here is that although Hotspot Shield promises there's nothing to link your account to any VPN browsing activity, it's not yet confirmed with an independent audit. We're left to take Hotspot Shield's words on trust. 

Hotspot Shield Privacy

According to its privacy policy, Hotspot Shield does not keep any logs on its users (Image credit: Hotspot Shield)

Kill switch

Hotspot Shield's apps include a kill switch to block your internet connection if the VPN drops, preventing IP leaks. It's a very useful feature, but not all kill switches deliver on their promises, so we were keen to run some tests.

One immediate problem we noticed is the Windows kill switch only works Hotspot Shield's own Hydra protocol. It's automatically disabled if you use WireGuard or IKEv2. That's unusually feeble; we can't think of any other VPN who offers a kill switch that doesn't support the most standard protocols.

There's another issue. The kill switch is turned off by default, so we expect one of the first things any experienced user will do is jump into Settings and turn it on. Great! Very sensible. Except if you switch to the Protocols tab and choose WireGuard for speed, the app will disable the kill switch without warning. You'll assume you're protected, but you're not, and you'll never realize unless you check Settings again (and why would you?)

It may be even worse than that. The default protocol setting is Automatic, which means even if the app mostly chooses Hydra, which supports the kill switch, there's always the chance it'll choose WireGuard or IKEv2, which do not. That means, with the default settings,  the kill switch sometimes works, sometimes doesn't, depending on the app's preferred protocol.

You can avoid this by activating the kill switch, and changing the Protocols setting from Automatic to Hydra. But that's far from obvious, and even experienced technical users might not realize that's necessary.

When we figured out how to reliably activate the kill switch, the results were initially very good. We tried forcibly closing the connection, and simulated a crash by terminating the Hotspot Shield process, but the results were the same: the kill switch activated, the app recovered and reconnected, and our traffic was never unprotected.

We did find problems with some more extreme situations. If we stopped Hotspot Shield's Windows service, for instance, the VPN dropped, but this time the kill switch didn't activate, and the device automatically switched to its regular unprotected connection.

Overall, the app offers a decent kill switch for Hydra connections but the lack of support for WireGuard and IKEv2 is a major weakness. The app desperately needs an update to ensure the kill switch protects everyone, no matter which protocol they're using.

Hotspot Shield Kill Switch

You can also enable Hotspot Shield's kill switch from the Settings menu (Image credit: Hotspot Shield)

nPerf performance benchmark

We used various speed tests to measure the performance of Hotspot Shield (Image credit: nPerf)


Hotspot Shield makes big claims about the performance of its Catapult Hydra protocol, but does it live up to the hype? We tested the service with SpeedTest's website and command line app, along with a number of other benchmarking sites to find out.

Our tests revealed Hydra download speeds of 210 Mbps in the UK and 190 Mbps to 195 Mbps in the US. That's a poor result and below the OpenVPN speeds of some providers.

Switching to WireGuard saw speeds close to triple that in the US, at a very acceptable 570 Mbps. While other providers are better—NordVPN, IPVanish, Surfshark, and others all beat 900Mbps in recent tests—it's more than fast enough for most devices and situations. 

Netflix menu showing popular shows

Hotspot Shield was able to unblock Netflix and much more (Image credit: Netflix)

Virtual locations

Many VPNs make use of virtual locations. For example, they might offer a location in Malta, which returns a Maltese IP address, but actually use a server that is physically based somewhere else. This can be useful if, say, the location doesn't have great connectivity, or it has a repressive regime that might be monitoring your traffic. But if you're in that country and think you're connecting to a local server, but it's actually 10,000 miles away, you’re not going to get the performance you might expect.

Hotspot Shield hosts its India servers in Singapore to avoid the upcoming data logging laws, and that looks like a smart move to us. But the company doesn't say if it uses other virtual locations, so we ran some tests to find out more.

The service appears to use several virtual locations. Some of these are similar to other providers: Cambodia, India, and Pakistan all appear to be hosted in Singapore. But others are more of an issue. Algeria, Azerbaijan, Israel, and Malta all seem to use servers in Amsterdam, for instance. Every other VPN we've checked hosts its Israel location in or close to Tel Aviv, and when it does use virtual locations, they're usually much closer.

This won't matter to everyone. Yes, if you're in Israel, then routing your traffic through Amsterdam won't help speeds. But if you're actually in or near the Netherlands, having local servers for several countries could be a performance plus. 

What's important is that a provider is clear and up-front about its use of virtual locations, so potential customers can decide for themselves. 

ExpressVPN says exactly which of its locations are virtual, for example, and also tells you where they're really hosted. We'd like to see Hotspot Shield (and the rest of the industry) do the same.

Netflix and streaming

Hotspot Shield claims to be the best Netflix VPN, avoiding detection and getting you "unrestricted access to the content you love." Sounds promising, but we decided to check this by trying to access Netflix and a bunch of other top streaming services from Hotspot Shield locations around the world.

Our US tests got off to a great start, as Hotspot Shield's specialist streaming location unblocked US Netflix, Disney Plus, and Amazon Prime Video.

Need access to other Netflix libraries? The service also got us into Netflix UK, Australia, Canada, and Japan.

The perfect record came to an end in Australia, where Hotspot Shield couldn't get us access to 9Now (normally relatively easy) or 10 Play.

The service recovered for our final tests in the UK, though, unblocking BBC iPlayer, ITV, and Channel 4.

10 successes out of 12 is still a great result, and if you're looking to unblock Netflix (or most other platforms), Hotspot Shield is a must for your shortlist.

Other providers worth considering include ExpressVPN, NordVPN, Private Internet Access, ProtonVPN, PureVPN, and Surfshark. These great VPNs all scored 100% in their last unblocking tests.


Like most VPNs, Hotspot Shield doesn't like to boast about its P2P support, but pay close attention to the website and you'll discover some good news.

The service fully supports P2P on all servers, so once you've connected with any of the clients (Windows, Mac, Android or iOS), you're ready to start downloading.

We don't like to take website claims for granted, so we verified Hotspot Shield's torrent-friendliness by successfully downloading torrents while connected to the US, UK and Japan.

Search the support site for the keywords P2P or torrent and you won't find anything at all, but there are a few simple guides for beginners in the Resources and Blog sections (try searching here), including advice on why you might want to use a VPN for torrenting, and pointers on how to download torrents anonymously

Whatever method you're using, Hotspot Shield doesn't have any bandwidth limits or restrictions, so you should be able to use the service as much as you like.

Hotspot Shield Main Menu

This is what you'll see when you first open the Hotspot Shield app (Image credit: Hotspot Shield)

Windows app

Hotspot Shield's Windows app opens with a dark panel displaying the current default location, a large On/Off button, and a tiny sidebar with more options. There are more buttons and settings than most apps but it's not difficult to use. Even total VPN newbies are likely to be able to explore the app's features right away.

Tapping the On button got us connected in a reasonably speedy 4 to 5 seconds. Some VPNs are faster—IVPN's WireGuard connections can be up and running in around a second—but others can take 10 to 20 seconds, occasionally even longer.

Hotspot Shield Connected

Hotspot Shield displays a lot more data about your connection once you turn on its VPN. (Image credit: Hotspot Shield)

Once connected, a map appears showing your new virtual location, while other panels display a host of connection details: your server IP address, load and latency, the amount of data used on the current day, your current transfer speeds, and the name of your local network (handy as a reminder when you're connecting to wireless hotspots, say). It's a little cluttered and could intimidate not-so-technical users, but if you're not interested in the stats, they can all be safely ignored. 

Hotspot Shield Server Locations

Hotspot Shield has VPN servers in 80+ countries all over the world (Image credit: Hotspot Shield)

Clicking the current location displays a list of other countries and cities you can choose from. The top of the list has shortcuts to the best streaming and gaming servers, a handy touch which should save you some scrolling.

There are no server load figures or ping times to help with your decision, though, and no Favorites system to group commonly-used locations, a surprise considering the rest of the app looks so feature-packed.

Hotspot Shield's settings dialog box is more accessible, with a choice of protocols (WireGuard, IKEv2 or Hydra), and switches to run the client when Windows starts, prevent IP leaks, and enable the kill switch.

Hotspot Shield Locations

Hotspot Shield suggests different locations based on whether you plan on streaming or even gaming (Image credit: Hotspot Shield)

There's a handy bonus feature in the client's ability to automatically connect to Hotspot Shield when you access unsafe Wi-Fi hotspots, safe hotspots, or all networks. That option isn't available nearly as often as we'd like, especially on Windows, and it's good to see it here.

Split Tunneling is a handy feature that enables choosing both websites and apps that won't have their traffic routed through the VPN. If a website doesn't work as usual when the VPN is on, or perhaps gaming performance is affected, add them to the Bypass list and they'll use your regular connection instead of the VPN tunnel.

Support for keyboard shortcuts is a small usability plus. Ctrl+Shift+C connects and then disconnects, for instance, while Ctrl+Shift+V displays and enables choosing a virtual location.

This all worked well for us, but if you run into difficulties, a Support page includes links to open the FAQ, Live Chat, and "Leave a message" pages on the Hotspot Shield website.

Hotspot Shield's Mac App

Hotspot Shield's Mac app is disappointingly pared-down compared to the Windows edition (Image credit: Hotspot Shield)

Mac app

Hotspot Shield's Mac app is a stripped-back version of the Windows edition, with many features dropped and some unexpected and (we suspect) unnecessary differences.

The opening panel has the same color scheme and visual style, for instance, but there's no auto-connect option to automatically choose a location. The Mac location picker uses a conventional list, rather than the tiles used on the Windows app, and there are no Streaming or Gaming icons to access specific server types more quickly.

The Settings box is distinctly short on options. You can choose Hydra, WireGuard, or IKEv2 protocols, and there's the same split tunneling system. But the app doesn't include the kill switch, configurable IP leak protection, keyboard shortcuts, or the ability to automatically connect on launch or when you access insecure Wi-Fi.

If you only need the VPN basics, and you never use the Windows app, this may not matter very much. But for everyone else, the interface inconsistencies and shortage of features make this a below-par Mac choice.

Hotspot Shield Android App Settings

Hotspot Shield's Android app provides some useful options in its Settings menu (Image credit: Hotspot Shield)

Android and iOS apps

Mobile apps typically lag far behind their desktop cousins on the features front, but Hotspot Shield's Android and iOS releases are a surprising exception to that extremely common rule.

The Android app has the same sleek black interface that we saw on Windows and Mac. Getting protected is as easy as tapping the Connect button, and the app displays a whole host of stats on the current connection if you're interested. 

Although it's missing one or two small features (no IKEv2 support, for instance), the app is just as powerful as the desktop builds. There's WireGuard and Hydra support, split tunneling, and integration with Android's system-wide kill switch. You can use Connection Center to set the app to automatically connect when Android starts, when the app is launched, when you access unsecured (or all) networks, or even when you access cellular networks.

Hotspot Shield's iOS app can't quite match this level of power. In particular, it's missing the auto-connect options and split tunneling apps. But there are still some real surprises here.

The app has WireGuard, Hydra, and even IKEv2 support, for instance. Split tunneling for websites allows you to choose whether you access a site via the VPN or your regular connection. The kill switch disables internet access if the VPN drops, while the Always-on VPN feature gets you reconnected as soon as possible.

There are some small annoyances, too. We tapped Privacy Settings and the app asked us to consent to using our personal data, "in order to keep this app free." This doesn't affect anyone on the paid plan, so we're really not clear why the app displays this at all.

There's room for improvement, but overall, these are decent apps, easy to use, fast enough for most purposes, and they unblock almost everything.

Hotspot Shield Browser Extension

The Chrome extension is a simple way to protect browser traffic only (Image credit: Hotspot Shield)

Browser extensions

Hotspot Shield's Chrome and Firefox extensions are lightweight tools that allow you to connect to new VPN locations from inside your browser. This only protects your browser traffic, but if you're trying a little website unblocking, it's often the most convenient solution. Even better, it's also available for free.

Hotspot Shield's split tunneling for websites comes included, too. Add websites to your Auto Protect list and the extension automatically turns on the VPN whenever you access them. Add websites that don't work with the VPN to your Bypass list, and they're directed through your regular location.

Just in case that's not enough, Hotspot Shield has also crammed in ad, cookie, tracker, malware, and WebRTC blockers, along with a handy option to ignore any resources you're accessing which are hosted within your local network. 

This has all worked very well for us in the past, but not so much this time around. The extension regularly told us it was connected, when we were still using our normal connection.

We don't know if it was related, but later the extension disappeared from the Chrome store. Hotspot Shield told us that it was 'temporarily unavailable' and the developer was "looking into it," but that was it.

Our own connection problems were bad enough, but having your Chrome extension pulled from the store makes this sound like a major issue. We can't give any definitive verdict without more details, though. Whatever the cause, chances are it'll be fixed by the time you read this.

Hotspot Shield Support Within the App

You can reach Hotspot Shield's support team from within its apps (Image credit: Hotspot Shield)



If Hotspot Shield isn't working for you, the various apps give you instant access to advice on common issues by embedding documents from the website. As usual, if your issue is more complex, you can head off to the support website for more in-depth guidance.

A web-based Support Center organizes its articles by platform, as well as categories like Payments and Subscriptions, Manage Account, and Common Issues. There is some useful information on the website that you won't always get elsewhere (release notes, for instance), but most articles can't match the depth or reliability you'll get with providers like ExpressVPN.

The 'Why is my speed slow when I'm connected?' Android article, for instance, includes the dubious claim that it's normal to experience speed reduction from 30-50% when using any VPN service, and the only fix it can suggest is to switch the connection off and on a few times. If you've any VPN experience then we'll bet you could write a far more helpful article in about five minutes.

We weren't impressed by an assortment of technical issues, either, including repeated warnings that "you're not authorized to access this page" when we clicked links to some documents.

Hotspot Shield Support

Hotspot Shield offers live chat to solve any issues you can't figure out after searching its knowledgebase (Image credit: Hotspot Shield)

Fortunately, if you can't find an answer in the knowledgebase, you're able to get in touch with the support team via live chat or email.

We tried live chat, and were a little disappointed when a basic chatbot arrived first. It did a reasonable job of answering our simple product question, though, and asked if we were satisfied. We tapped the thumbs-down icon, and the bot passed us to a friendly and knowledgeable agent in under a minute.

There's room for improvement on the support site, but many users should quickly find the core details they need, and a quality support team is always on hand to help with anything else.

Hotspot Shield review: Final verdict

Hotspot Shield is a decent VPN with plenty of apps, which unblocks almost everything, and has good live chat support for help if you need it. 

But it's also slow, with a flawed Windows kill switch and a bunch of usability and other annoyances. A lack of significant updates recently suggests we won't see major improvements any time soon.

PureVPN review
12:51 pm |

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Comments: Off

PureVPN has been in the VPN business since 2007, so it's no surprise that the company has built up a lengthy list of features.

The service covers most of the technical basics including strong encryption via WireGuard, OpenVPN, and IKEv2, DNS and IPv6 leak protection, torrent support, split tunneling to control which apps use the VPN, and a smart kill switch to protect you if the VPN drops.

Platform support is a highlight, with dedicated apps for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android and Linux, extensions for Chrome and Firefox, and more downloads and tutorials to help you set up the service on routers, Kodi, Android TV, Amazon's Fire TV Stick and more.

You can use PureVPN on up to 10 devices simultaneously, and in an unusual bonus, this provider allows you to share these 10 slots with your family. This is great if you want to share your VPN with others and not have to worry about sharing credentials. Other users can each install and use PureVPN with their own login, so you can keep your username and password to yourself. 

PureVPN Locations

PureVPN has thousands of servers across the world (Image credit: PureVPN)

PureVPN's network has a sizable 6,500 servers across 88 locations and 69 countries. That can’t quite match the likes of CyberGhost that has 9,100+ servers spread over 116 locations and 91 countries but it’s a far larger network than most and it’s fast, too. While other providers boast about 10Gbps server connections, PureVPN began upgrading its servers to 20Gbps in late 2021. 

What’s new?

PureVPN has gone through a major rebrand since our last review. There’s a new logo, new color scheme, and redesigned interfaces everywhere.

There are a host of technical improvements across PureVPN's app range too. WireGuard is now supported by the Linux CLI app and on all versions of Android. A smarter location screen has many ways to filter the server list making it easier to find what you need. There's also better in-app troubleshooting, the Linux app now has a kill switch, and there are all kinds of other usability tweaks and improvements.

The company has extended its privacy range, too, with major new products and services. This includes PureDome, a teams-oriented business VPN; PureKeep, a capable password manager; PurePrivacy, which helps control your social media privacy settings and data; and PureEncrypt, which is a Windows and Mac data encryption tool. Android and iOS apps will be 'live soon'. 

PureVPN Payments

PureVPN accepts payments from PayPal, credit cards and Bitcoin (via CoinGate) (Image credit: PureVPN)

PureVPN pricing

Pricing starts at a fairly average $10.95 billed monthly. In comparison, many top providers charge between $10 and $13 for the same monthly subscription.The annual plan is good value at $3.74 a month, especially as that's covering up to 10 family members; however, the low price is partly due to a one-off discount. The annual plan renews at $4.58 after the first year. There is a special two-year plan that’s priced at $2.29 a month, but it also renews at $4.58 after it ends.

The Plus plan includes PureVPN, PureEncrypt's file encryption, and PureKeep's password manager. It's priced at $15.95 billed monthly but only $5.82 on the annual plan, or $3.33 for the first two years renewing at the same $5.83 annual rate.

The Max plan includes PureVPN, PureEncrypt, PureKeep, and the personal encryption manager PurePrivacy. It's available for $19.95 billed monthly, $7.49 on the annual plan, or $4.99 for the first two years renewing $7.49, the same as the annual plan.

Be aware that PureVPN often offers incredible Black Friday VPN deals, so it's worth heading through to the company's website to check them out.

Optional extras include dedicated IPs at a cheap $1.99 a month for addresses in the US, UK, Singapore, Canada, Germany, Malta, and Australia. Private Internet Access, NordVPN, and Astrill charge $4 to $5, and others more. Port forwarding is an optional extra at $0.99 a month if you want it. Previously, PureVPN offered DDoS protection for an extra $3.99 a month, but it looks like that's been dropped.

There's support for paying via cryptocurrency if you're looking for anonymity, and cards and PayPal are accepted too.If you sign up for a full plan and you're unhappy, there's a 31-day money-back guarantee, with no dubious clauses in the small print to catch you out. If you're unhappy, just send an email and ask for a refund.

There is also a 7 day free trial to test the service for only $0.99. Sounds good in theory, but beware, as we write it has some different prices to the main purchase page. Add a dedicated IP from the Trial page, for instance, and it's $2.99 a month. Add it from the regular Order page and it's $1.99. Check the figures carefully before you part with any cash. 

PureVPN 7-day Trial

You can test PureVPN out for 7 days for just $1 (Image credit: PureVPN)

If you're intrigued, there's a sort-of 7-day trial. You have to pay upfront, but only $1, and if you cancel the account before the week is up, you get that dollar back.

There's support for paying via cryptocurrency if you're looking for maximum anonymity (although cards and PayPal are accepted, too).

If you sign up for a full plan and you're unhappy, there's a 31-day money-back guarantee, with no dubious clauses in the small print to catch you out. If you're unhappy, just send an email and ask for a refund.

PureVPN Privacy

PureVPN looks good on the privacy front on the whole, but there are caveats (Image credit: PureVPN)

Privacy and logging

PureVPN's privacy policy gets off to a good start, with a lengthy list of all the data the service doesn't log: 'We DO NOT keep any record of your browsing activities, connection logs, records of the VPN IPs assigned to you, your original IPs, your connection time, the history of your browsing, the sites you visited, your outgoing traffic, the content or data you accessed, or the DNS queries generated by you.'

The policy also explains that there is some session logging: the day you connected to a specific location, your ISP, the connection length, how many connections you made, and the overall total bandwidth used. But this can't tie your account to a specific internet action, and it's unlikely to compromise your privacy.

The policy goes on to explain that PureVPN employs 'a few tools' in its apps to 'conduct VPN diagnostics and monitor crash reports.' 

This kind of crash reporting isn't uncommon, but we expect it to be optional, and that's not the case here. There's no 'Send crash data?' option in Settings – PureVPN sends it regardless (and if you don't read the privacy policy, you'd never even know this was happening).

PureVPN No Logging VPN

PureVPN has passed a no logging audit conducted by KPMG (Image credit: PureVPN)

No logging audit

In 2020 PureVPN announced it had passed a no logging audit by KPMG, which concluded that the service doesn't log a user's origin IP address, a user's assigned VPN IP, the specific time when a user connects to a VPN server, or log a user's activities through its VPN connection.

PureVPN also says it opted for an 'always-on' audit policy, which means KPMG can 'initiate a non-scheduled privacy audit at any time of the year, without any prior notice.' Sure enough, in August 2021, the company reported it had passed a second no logging audit.

These checks appear to be thorough, with PureVPN saying they involve 'the inspection of our complex infrastructure, server configurations, codebase, technical data logs, and global servers', along with 'interviews of our personnel who are involved in server maintenance and database handling.'

The reports haven't been made public, so you can't check out the details for yourself. And they're only attempting to verify the main no logging policy – they don't look for privacy issues in general.

Still, we're not complaining: even with these limitations, there's vastly more reassurance here than you'll get with most VPNs. Hopefully PureVPN will continue with regular audits, and make the full reports available, not just a sentence or two.

PureVPN Windows Interface

The Windows client features a plain and simple interface (Image credit: PureVPN)

Privacy tests

While PureVPN is mostly saying right things about privacy, it’s unwise to take anyone completely on trust, and we were keen to run some relevant tests of our own.

Some VPNs make big claims about protecting your privacy, but then cram their websites with Google, Facebook, Bing, and other trackers. We pointed the Blacklight Privacy Inspector at, and it reported two trackers, both for Google, and no third-party cookies. While that's not quite leading the way, it's better than most, and there's no sign here that PureVPN is doing anything dubious with your data.

We also used Exodus Privacy to check PureVPN's Android app for trackers. The site found seven, mostly from Google’s Google Analytics and Firebase and a scattering of others  from Insider and MixPanel. That’s above average but there's nothing to indicate PureVPN is doing anything beyond the basic app analytics and crash reporting discussed in its privacy policy. It’s not such a big deal, but we’d still rather find less.  Some providers, including Astrill,, Mullvad, Private Internet Access, Proton VPN, TunnelBear, and Windscribe had no trackers at all. So we know it’s possible.

The company claims its apps use DNS leak protection to prevent others snooping on your browsing activity, but is this really true? Not necessarily. showed that the Windows app correctly shielded our DNS queries when using WireGuard and IKEv2, but not with OpenVPN UDP or TCP. If you connect to public Wi-Fi then that could allow the network to see the domains you're visiting. That is bad news but it seems to be limited to Windows. We couldn’t reproduce the problem on iOS, Android or Mac.

Windows app

PureVPN's Windows app interface is stripped back and simple. The main screen displays the current location, a Connect button and some tiny sidebar icons for other functions (Settings, Help, Account). One welcome new addition is a button for connecting to the app's recommended location (probably your nearest server), making it easier to switch.

In another smart move, PureVPN has placed a kill switch setting on the main app screen, directly under the connect button. That not only makes it easier to access, but if you (or another device user) turn the switch off for some reason, it'll make it very obvious that you're unprotected.

Tapping the globe icon to the left displays a feature-packed location picker, with a Recent Locations list, a Favorites system, and a searchable list of countries with ping times to help you spot the fastest.

PureVPN has a new Shortcuts feature which is essentially a smarter favorites. It not only can connect you to a specific server, but open a particular website as well. PureVPN includes some built-in shortcuts to get you started, including an Amazon Prime US shortcut that connects you to a US server and opens, and one for the BBC that connects you to the UK and launches iPlayer. It's a cool feature and easy to add more of your shortcuts.

Connection times were a little slower than usual at four to five seconds for WireGuard, and more than ten seconds for OpenVPN. That’s not long to wait, but if you’re used to a snappier service (and the best connect in half the time or less), it could become annoying.

PureVPN Windows Settings

The Windows app has few settings (Image credit: PureVPN)

Looking at the app's OpenVPN setup, we noticed it enabled compression on the client side. OpenVPN compression can leave traffic vulnerable to the VORACLE attack, and the official recommendation is to avoid it wherever possible. This setting alone doesn't pose a risk as compression needs to be enabled on the server side too before it can become an issue. While it’s not severe enough to put a black mark against the service, it’s still an unnecessary risk.

While testing, we noticed a small technical issue.  If PureVPN's Windows app is left open on the desktop (not minimized), it constantly uses 2-3% of the CPU, even when you're not connected. That may not sound like a lot, but it will both slow you down a little and fractionally reduce battery life. You can avoid either outcome by remembering to minimize the app, but that really shouldn't be necessary.

The app has a decent number of settings. It can launch at Windows start up, then automatically connect to your preferred server; a kill switch blocks your internet connection if the VPN drops; there's a choice of WireGuard, IKEv2, and OpenVPN TCP/UDP protocols, and split tunneling allows you to choose which apps use the VPN, and which don't.

The app's split tunneling feature worked for us, too, but with one catch: it doesn't support WireGuard, which could be an issue if performance matters. We've had problems with PureVPN's kill switch before but this time it worked just fine. It immediately blocked our internet access whenever we forcibly closed the VPN.

A Support page includes links to FAQs and simple troubleshooting advice. If they don't work, there's a button to open live chat on the website, or you can submit a ticket from within the app. 

PureVPN Mac App

PureVPN's Mac app has light and dark themes (Image credit: PureVPN)

Mac app

PureVPN's Mac app is a close visual match to the Windows version, with a clean, simple dashboard. One click, you're connected. Then, if the nearest server isn't what you want, the location picker gives you speedy access to the others, with the same 'Recent', 'Shortcut' and 'Favorites' lists to help you find the most commonly-used servers.

The app settings are what you expect, and include a kill switch along with WireGuard, IKEv2, IPSec and OpenVPN UDP support (there's no OpenVPN TCP option, oddly.) There's no split tunneling, but that's not unusual as it's much more difficult to implement on Macs.

There are some differences between the Mac and Windows apps, and these could be annoying if you use both. The Mac app doesn't have a kill switch on the dashboard, for instance. Plus, if you look in the General settings menu (where it's located on Windows), you won't find anything relevant, because it's actually in a Mac-only Advanced Settings menu. Life would be easier for everyone if app interfaces are more consistent across platforms.

Still, overall this is a decent Mac app, generally easy to use and can handle all the VPN basics  and quite a bit more.

PureVPN Android App

PureVPN's Android app looks very much the same as the Windows client (Image credit: PureVPN)

Mobile apps

PureVPN’s Android app opens with little more than a Connect button, the current location, and a menu icon. If that’s all you need, then simply tap to launch the VPN and get protected, tap again when you’re done, and there’s little else to master.

If you’re more demanding, the app location list gives you access to PureVPN’s other servers, and Recent, Favorites and Shortcuts lists make it easy to find and reconnect to your most common choices.

Worthwhile settings include protocol support for WireGuard, OpenVPN, and IKEv2, split tunneling, and integration with Android’s ‘always on’ kill switch.

PureVPN iOS App

The iOS app looks a bit different to Android, and borrows some inspiration from the Mac software (Image credit: PureVPN)

The iOS app has some design differences, most obviously an always-visible left-hand sidebar rather than Android’s single menu icon. The location list and basic app operations are much the same, though, and protocol support is similar with WireGuard, OpenVPN both UDP and TCP, IKEv2, and IPSec.

In the previous review both Android and iOS apps had options to display help information, raise tickets or directly open live chat, but these seem to have been dropped. Seems a shame, although it's not difficult to find the same areas on PureVPN's site.

The apps also have some advantages over their counterparts. For example, Android users get a 'Proxy' protocol option. This doesn't use any encryption, which makes it poor for privacy, but it also connects instantly and offers the best speeds. Could be worth a try if you're only looking for unblocking. Also, on iOS, ‘VPN on Demand’ can automatically connect when you enter specific domains in your browser, a convenient time saver.

There's nothing market-leading here but these are very useable apps, easy to operate, and more than cover the VPN basics. They have decent ratings on their respective app stores (4.0 for Android, 4.3 for iOS). Well worth a try, especially if you'll make use of Shortcuts and the other handy location-picking extras. performance benchmark

We used several speed testing sites to determine PureVPN's performance (Image credit:


We measured PureVPN speeds from US and UK locations, using several performance testing sites and services including SpeedTest's website and command line app, Measurement Lab, and Cloudflare. We checked the download speeds at least five times from each site, then checked again using another protocol before repeating this all over again in an evening session.

OpenVPN speeds were below-par at 140Mbps. Windscribe and OpenVPN connections reached more than 250Mbps, and Mullvad broke all our OpenVPN records by peaking at over 500Mbps. PureVPN still had more to give, and when we switched to WireGuard, the service delivered a capable 620-650 Mbps.

That isn't enough to get PureVPN into our top 10 fastest VPNs but it’s speedy enough for most uses, and outperformed the likes of CyberGhost, Hotspot Shield, and Proton VPN. NordVPN, Surfshark, and all made it into the top 10 and beat 950Mbps in their most recent tests.

Keep in mind that although we take more than 100 speed measurements of each VPN, you may see very different results depending on your location and setup. So, it's worth taking the 7-day trial and running a few speed tests of your own.

Netflix menu showing popular shows

PureVPN unblocked Netflix in our tests, and everything else for that matter (Image credit: Netflix)

Virtual locations

Although PureVPN offers locations in 69 countries, the company explains that some of these are 'virtual.' When you connect to India or Afghanistan, for instance, you're allocated an Indian or Afghan IP address but the servers are hosted in other countries.

This isn't necessarily a problem. Many providers moved their servers out of India to avoid its data logging laws, for instance. However, if you're in Vietnam and think you're connecting to a Vietnamese VPN server but it's actually in New York, that's going to give you a very big performance hit.

We don't object to providers offering virtual locations, as long as they make it clear what you're actually getting. PureVPN is more transparent than most, highlighting its virtual locations in the app and on the website. Yet, the company doesn't say where the servers are really based so that’s not entirely helpful.

We ran some tests, and it looks like some of the virtual locations are a long way from the named location. Connect to PureVPN's Bolivia location, for instance, and although you'll get a Bolivian IP, your traffic seems to be routed through New Jersey. Similarly, connecting to the British Virgin Islands, Nigeria, or Vietnam locations gets you the correct IP each time, but you're actually using a server hosted in Amsterdam.

This won't be an issue for everyone. For example, if you're near Amsterdam, you might appreciate having local servers for many locations. But, we don’t all live close to Amsterdam and sometimes we need a location close to the IP address. We recommend going to PureVPN's support site for a current list of virtual locations and checking IPs you might want to use after signing up. 

Netflix and streaming

Most VPNs claim they let you access geoblocked content from anywhere in the world, and PureVPN is no exception. 'Movies, TV shows or sporting events; PureVPN allows you instant and unrestricted access to your favorite content', the website claims.

The apps don't have specialist streaming locations, so you're left to choose a server in the country you need, connect, and see if your streaming service is accessible.

This worked just fine with Netflix, where PureVPN didn’t just allow us to stream US Netflix content – it worked in Australia, Canada, Japan and the UK, too.

Accessing other US platforms was easy, and PureVPN unblocked both Amazon Prime Video and Disney Plus.

The success continued in Australia, as we freely browsed 9Now and 10 play. And the perfect run continued with our final UK tests, with PureVPN unblocking BBC iPlayer, ITV and Channel 4.

That’s a great result, and puts PureVPN right up there with ExpressVPN, NordVPN, Private Internet Access, ProtonVPN, and Surfshark as one of the best VPNs for unblocking. 

PureVPN Platforms

PureVPN has setup guides for lots of different platforms (Image credit: PureVPN)


If PureVPN isn't quite working as you expect, point your browser at its support site and you'll find all kinds of tutorials and troubleshooting guides. The Setup Guide has subsections for 16 platforms! Some of those even have individual sections that have more content than the entire support site of other VPNs.

There's a lot of information here and some unusual and welcome touches. Like, you don't have to bookmark a particular tutorial to view it later in your browser. In many cases, you can download a PDF for more convenient offline reading later.

There's a Search box to help you find the articles you need. We had initial hassles, as the site displayed 'Page Not Found’ errors for our first few searches. Then, we realized typing a keyword and pressing Enter didn't work; we had to type, wait a few seconds, and choose from a drop-down list of matches. Easy when you know, but still a clumsy issue we don’t recall seeing anywhere else.

If the website can't help, you can raise a support ticket from the desktop apps or the website. Our test question got a basic but accurate reply in around 30 minutes.

Alternatively, you can use live chat on the website. PureVPN never kept us waiting for long, and although the agents didn't appear to have the expertise we see with top competitors like ExpressVPN, they were genuinely helpful, and most replies were enough to solve our immediate issues.

PureVPN Support

The search function was sometimes less than useful (Image credit: PureVPN)

PureVPN review: Final verdict

PureVPN excels at unblocking, has lots of features, and has some great value starter deals. The Windows OpenVPN DNS leak and other issues mean PureVPN can't quite compete with the best VPNs, but it's still a decent service, and could make a great budget choice for unblocking Netflix and other streaming sites. PureVPN is also working on adding new features, so now could be a good time to lock in those great value prices on the two year plan. 

Atlas VPN review
12:46 pm |

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Comments: Off

Atlas VPN may only have been around since 2020 but its high speeds, lengthy feature list, low starter prices, and capable free plan have already earned it six million users. That’s a spectacular start, and Nord Security, the company behind NordVPN, was so impressed that it acquired Atlas VPN in 2021.

The service is strong on the VPN fundamentals. There are apps for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and now Linux in a command line form. Strong encryption keeps your data safe, while the speedy WireGuard protocol maximizes performance and a kill switch protects you if the VPN drops.

So, the service has a great foundation but also goes well beyond the basics in many areas too. There are no annoying connection limits, for example, allowing you to use the service on as many of your own devices as you need. There are also smart technical touches that include a SafeSwap feature which regularly changes your IP address, even when you’re connected to the same server. Great if you want to focus on anonymity. 

The welcome bonus features also include ad, tracker, and malware blocking, and data breach monitoring alerts you if any of your personal details are found on the dark web.

Atlas VPN’s network looks smaller than some, with ‘only’ 1000+ servers, but the server coverage is decent with Atlas VPN now offering 49 locations in 42 countries, including several that we don’t often see elsewhere including UAE, Mexico, and Chile.

Some providers claim to have servers all around the world, but many of them are virtual. Atlas doesn't seem to do this. We ran tests on its Chile, Hong Kong, Israel, Latvia, Mexico, South Africa, and UAE servers, and they all appeared to be in or very close to their named countries. This means you won’t be getting any unexpected slow speeds because the IP address and actual location are not on different continents.

Atlas VPN Platforms

Atlas VPN gives you apps for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android, Linux and more (Image credit: Atlas VPN)

What's new?

Atlas VPN has recently begun upgrading its network with speedy new 10Gbps servers, the company told us. Right now these are only available in London and the Netherlands, but other locations will be upgraded 'in the near future.' 

Atlas VPN's apps are now more consistent across platforms, with key features available everywhere. For example, the Quick Connect feature, which is a handy tool to allow you to choose the precise location when you hit Connect, is now supported on Mac along with Android, iOS, and Windows.

It's good to see Atlas extend its app range with a new Linux offering, but this is a relatively basic command-line tool, and currently Ubuntu-only. There's mixed news on the features front, too. The app supports Atlas VPN's SafeSwap and MultiHop+ servers, for instance, but it doesn't have a kill switch yet. Still, we're glad to see the app arrive, and hopefully it'll gain more features soon.

Elsewhere, free Atlas VPN users now get access to two US streaming locations: Los Angeles and New York. The 5GB a month data allowance places a strict limit on your viewing but if nothing else it allows you to test the VPN's unblocking abilities before you buy.

The company has been working hard on translations, too, with all apps now supporting Chinese (Traditional and Simplified), French, German, Japanese, Spanish and more.

Atlas VPN pricing

Atlas VPN's free no-registration-required plan supports three locations: Amsterdam, New York, and Los Angeles. There's a 5GB data allowance, and the free plan doesn’t include email or live chat support, or some of the more advanced features and extras such as tracker blocking and data breach monitor.

If you're thinking that sounds restrictive, well, maybe, but it still outperforms some of the freebie competition. Avira's Phantom VPN Free limits you to a tiny 500MB a month, for instance, and while Avast One's VPN has a more generous 5GB a week data allowance, it doesn't support changing locations. 

Opting for a paid plan gets you unlimited data and access to all locations. Prices start at an average $10.99 for monthly billing, and you can pay by card, PayPal, Google Pay, and Bitcoin plus other cryptocurrencies via CoinPayments. Upgrade to an annual account and the price drops to $4.08 a month, while the three-year plan is just $1.83 a month. Okay, it switches to the annual plan and $4.08 a month on renewal, but that still looks like a good deal to us.

You’re protected by a 30-day money-back guarantee. That’s similar to most providers, but there is one small potential catch: you can only claim a refund twice. We understand why – every VPN needs to protect itself from users who keep signing up and demanding a refund on day 29 – but some providers are a little more generous. Private Internet Access won’t issue a refund if you’ve had one in the last 90 days, for instance, but otherwise has no fixed limits.

We also noticed that plans are set to automatically renew when you sign up, and there's no way to change this or cancel your account from the control panel. You must contact support via live chat or email and ask for help.

Atlas VPN Security Audit

Atlas VPN underwent an independent security audit, but a very limited one (Image credit: Atlas VPN)


Atlas VPN has the privacy basics covered with its WireGuard support, AES-256 encryption, kill switch, and private DNS system. Plus, ad, tracker, and malware blocking comes built into every app. Sounds great, but how effective are these tools? We ran some checks to find out.

Atlas VPN's SafeBrowse blocked a reasonable 107 of our test 156 common trackers, not the best, but broadly in the range we'd expect. Surfshark’s CleanWeb blocked 101, for instance, and Mullvad blocked 115, while Private Internet Access topped the list with 149.

SafeBrowse didn't score as well with malicious URLs, blocking only 21% of our test sites. Still, as long as you run Atlas VPN alongside a specialist antivirus or similar security app, that's enough to provide a useful second layer of protection. On a positive note, SafeBrowse's ad blocking proved a highlight, with one test showing it even outperformed the excellent uBlock Origin as an effective web shield.


Atlas VPN claims to have a solid no-logs policy, saying “We do not log your browsing activity, browsing history, records of IPs assigned, original IP, sites visited, outgoing traffic, content, or data accessed.”

The privacy policy says Atlas VPN's apps collect some device and other data, though. The policy says this might include your device ID, model, OS version, network type, and public internet service provider’s information, and other things. Checking our Windows app, we found it sent our country, timezone, and screen size. That's a little intrusive but many VPN apps do something similar and you can turn off this telemetry in Settings if you're uncomfortable.

There's plenty of data collection taking place on the Atlas website, too. Blacklight  reported an above average 7 trackers on the AtlasVPN website and 15 third-party cookies. Most VPNs have no more than two or three third-party cookies, and Mullvad, IVPN, and a few others have none at all.

On the plus side, Atlas VPN has put itself through a couple of independent security audits but these are just about the least thorough we've seen. The first audit only covered the iOS app, for instance. It was a black box review, which means the auditors tested the functionality of the app, but didn't see the source code. Although Atlas VPN quoted some of the results in a blog post, it hasn't published the full report, so there's no way to judge it for ourselves.

The second audit only covered the Windows app. This time, Atlas published even less detail about the results, saying only that “thorough research did not detect any high or critical category issues within the app,” and “it had 'since implemented all the recommendations provided by the auditor, as confirmed in a retest by MDSec.” What recommendations were they, exactly? Atlas isn't saying.

Okay, this is better than nothing, but only just, and it can't match the best of the competition. TunnelBear has annual audits of its apps, servers, and backend infrastructure and they publish the results for everyone to see. Now that's what we call transparency. 

Atlas VPN Windows App

Atlas VPN's Windows app is pretty basic (Image credit: Atlas VPN)

Password-free logins

Atlas VPN’s apps have an unusual password-free login process. There’s no need to create and remember some cryptic passphrase – just enter your email address, the service sends you a link, click it, and you’re in.

That should make for an easier life in many situations but there are potential issues. What if your device isn't set up for email, or your email is down? On several occasions we collected the email on another device, then clicked the link but weren't able to log in.

More generally, as we mentioned above, Atlas includes third-party trackers on its website (Google, Bing and others), and these could be generating records every time you log into the app. That may have little or no practical impact on your privacy, but it's still a third-party record of activity that wouldn't exist if the app logged into Atlas VPN's servers directly.

Windows app

Atlas VPN's Windows app is simple, and covers the VPN basics. Getting started is as easy as choosing a city or country, and hitting the Connect button. There are a handful of settings including a 'Start on launch' option, an On/Off toggle for the kill switch, and a choice of WireGuard and IKEv2 protocols.

The location list is basic, with no ping times to help choose the best servers, and no way to mark your most common selections as Favorites. There is a Recents list that makes it easier to access whatever you were using last time, and there's an unusually clever touch in its Quick Connect feature that somewhat makes up for that.

Hit the big Connect button on most VPN apps and you'll connect to the nearest server. Normally that's a good idea, but what if you want something else? With Atlas VPN, you can have the app connect to the fastest server, a specific location, a particular Streaming server, or maybe a MultiHop or SafeSwap server for extra security. Perfect if you mostly use the same location, as all you have to do is hit Connect.

Connection times were good at two to three seconds for WireGuard. There’s none of the ‘stare at the Connect animation for 20 seconds’ business that we've seen with some OpenVPN apps.

Atlas VPN Protocols

You can run either WireGuard or IKEv2 protocols (Image credit: Atlas VPN)

We spotted one potentially serious Windows connection issue. On several occasions when we activated the VPN, the app appeared to work as usual, then displayed a green tick and its 'Connected' status, but this wasn't true. Checking our IP address showed it hadn't changed, and we weren't protected at all. After 30 to 40 seconds, the app realized this, warned us, and changed its status to Disconnected. So, this didn't last long, but it's still long enough to log in somewhere via an unsecured public Wi-Fi and perhaps have your communications intercepted by snoopers.

Atlas VPN Kill Switch

The kill switch works, but it has some issues nonetheless (Image credit: Atlas VPN)

The kill switch proved more reliable, instantly blocking our internet and displaying a warning notification whenever the VPN connection dropped. There’s no ‘auto-reconnect’ option, unfortunately, so you’re left to do that yourself. That’s a very minor issue, but it just seems a little odd that having completed the really difficult part of this task (creating a kill switch that works), Atlas VPN seems to have forgotten the relatively easy bit at the end.

A bonus Data Breach Monitor raises an alert if your email address appears in a data breach. This works as advertised, but you can do much the same for free by entering your email addresses at If you're looking for real dark web monitoring, you're still better off with a security suite such as Norton 360.

AtlasVPN SafeSwap

(Image credit: Future)

SafeSwap and MultiHop VPN

When you connect to one of Atlas VPN’s three SafeSwap locations, the app regularly changes your IP address while also keeping the connection active. Atlas VPN says SafeSwap automatically rotates your IP as you move between online sessions. We're not exactly clear what that means but our tests found SafeSwap IP addresses changed every minute or two, even if you're doing nothing at all. 

Offering this feature on only three locations (Singapore, Netherlands, and the United States) is a little restrictive but the system worked as advertised for us, and it does give you a little extra protection against tracking. If IP address changing is a feature you’re counting on, Surfshark’s ‘Rotating IP’ works on all its regular servers. 

Atlas VPN also supports a very basic form of MultiHop VPN. This routes your traffic through more than one server before passing traffic on to its destination. This makes it even more difficult for anyone to connect you to your internet actions.

The app gives you very little control over how this works. Other providers supporting this feature (NordVPN, Surfshark,, Windscribe, ProtonVPN) allow you to choose both the entrance and exit servers, but Atlas VPN only gives you a choice of two locations (Europe and North America), and decides everything else itself.

This is more limited than we'd like, but still, it could be handy if anonymity is top of your priority list.

Atlas VPN Mac App

The Mac App is pretty decent and proved nicely reliable (Image credit: Atlas VPN)

Mac app

Mac VPN apps are sometimes short on the features front, but Atlas VPN's Mac offering looks and feels much like the Windows edition.

There's the same WireGuard and IKEv2 support, the kill switch, Safebrowse Plus ad and malware blocker, MultiHop+, and the IP address-rotating SafeSwap. We noticed one or two odd variations - the Windows app has a Feedback option to tell the company what you think, while the Mac doesn't - but nothing that matters very much. In general, once you've mastered one app, you'll know exactly how to use the other.

While this level of consistency is a usability plus, it also means both the Mac and Windows apps are missing features we commonly see elsewhere including sortable location lists, Favorites, ‘auto-connect when accessing untrusted networks’, and split tunneling. Still, although this isn't the best Mac offering we've seen, it's above-average and proved speedy and reliable in our tests. Plus, there’s a free version so you can check it out if you’re interested with nothing to lose.

Atlas VPN Mobile Apps

Atlas VPN's Android app is actually better than the Windows software in some respects (Image credit: Atlas VPN)

Mobile apps

Desktop VPN apps normally beat their Android VPN cousins for features, but not here. Atlas VPN's Android offering doesn’t just have WireGuard, SafeSwap, MultiHop+, the tracker blocker and, data breach monitor, it also outperforms the Windows product in one or two areas.

The most significant of these is probably support for split tunneling. If you have apps that don’t work properly with the VPN, you can have Atlas VPN route their traffic through your regular connection instead, making your life very much easier.

There's a mobile-focused bonus in optional haptic feedback, where your device vibrates when the VPN connects and disconnects. It’s really important to know when you’re protected and when you’re not, and the more ways a VPN can alert you to this, the better.

VPN apps for iOS are often underpowered, but it looks like no-one remembered to tell Atlas VPN. Its iOS offering doesn’t support split tunneling, but otherwise has the same feature set as the Android app.

It’s not all good news, as with the Mac. The apps are more powerful than we expected but they're also missing the Favorites system and auto-connect on Wi-Fi access features we often see elsewhere. 

Still, these are likable mobile apps with a lot of functionality, and the generous free data allowance gives you a risk-free way to try them out.

Atlas VPN Support

Atlas VPN isn't the best for customer support, but does well enough with the basics (Image credit: Atlas VPN)


Atlas VPN's support website has simple tutorials covering various setup, usage, and troubleshooting topics.

These do a good job of covering the core details you need to know. There’s also a text description and a screenshot for every step, followed by more guidance on launching the app, connecting, changing location, and browsing settings.

Articles don't have a lot of technical detail. That makes them easy to follow for beginners, but also means there’s little expert-level help for solving really tricky problems. Searching for DNS at Atlas VPN’s knowledgebase returned just one article, for instance. Searching the same thing at ExpressVPN got us 60.

If you can't find what you need, though, Atlas has email and 24/7 live chat support. We found our requests for help received a speedy and generic response; uninstall the app, download and install the latest version, and see if the problem goes away. Usually, that’s enough to solve most issues, but we questioned further and found speedy response times via email, too.

Netflix menu showing popular shows

Atlas VPN managed to unblock Netflix US, and almost everything else for that matter (Image credit: Netflix)

Netflix and streaming

Atlas VPN claims its streaming-optimized servers allow you to bypass geo-blocks and ‘access anything you want regardless of your location.’ We ran tests on top streaming platforms around the world to see just how effective it really was.

Netflix results were mixed, with Atlas allowing us to stream exclusive content in the US and UK, but failing in Australia, Canada, and Japan.

The inconsistencies continued with other US platforms, as we accessed Disney Plus with ease, but failed entirely with Amazon Prime Video.

UK results were a highlight, as Atlas VPN allowed us to stream BBC iPlayer, ITV, and Channel 4 without difficulty, but then we switched to Australia and the mixed picture returned. The service succeeded with 9Now but couldn't unblock 10 Play.

Although Atlas VPN still failed on some important platforms, keep in mind that this can change at any time as the company updates its service to beat the blocks. To get a feel for how Atlas VPN works with your preferred US streaming sites, install the free version and try it for yourself.

If Atlas can't handle your unblocking needs, there are plenty of capable alternatives. ExpressVPN, NordVPN, Private Internet Access, ProtonVPN, PureVPN, and Surfshark all unblocked everything we threw at them in recent tests. performance benchmark

Atlas VPN did pretty well in our speed testing (Image credit:


We measure VPN performance by running several benchmarking services – SpeedTest's website and command line app, Measurement Lab, Cloudflare – from both a UK data center and a US residential location. We run each benchmark five times using WireGuard and OpenVPN (where available), run them a second time several hours later (that's a minimum of 120 tests), then analyze the data to see what's going on.

Atlas VPN doesn't support OpenVPN, but its IKEv2 speeds were reasonable at a mid-range 250Mbps in the UK and 220-230 Mbps in the US.

When we switched to WireGuard, though, the service shifted into a whole new gear. US speeds jumped to 350-360 Mbps, and UK downloads reached a blistering 860Mbps, more than enough for just about any web task.

Atlas VPN review: Final verdict

 Atlas VPN may not have the largest network, the best apps, or the most helpful support site, but high speeds, low prices, and decent unblocking results mean it's already better than many VPNs, and we suspect there's a lot more to come. 

Mullvad VPN review
12:34 pm |

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Comments: Off

Mullvad is a Swedish-based VPN that doesn't just talk about protecting your privacy – the provider actually does something about it.

The company doesn't ask for your email address, name, or any personal details to sign up. Just click a button to generate a unique account number, and you’re done.

You can pay via cash, Bitcoin, or Bitcoin cash, ensuring the company knows almost nothing about you. If you don’t need that level of anonymity, you can also pay via conventional methods including card, PayPal, bank transfer, Monero, Swish, Giropay, Eps transfer, Bancontact, iDEAL, and Przelewy24.

Mullvad's core service is absolutely stuffed with privacy-friendly technology. It only uses OpenVPN and WireGuard protocols, for instance, and high levels of encryption are available through AES-256 GCM or 4096-bit RSA certificates with SHA512. In addition, there are also multiple layers of DNS and IPv6 leak protection, you get a variety of stealth options to bypass VPN blocking, port forwarding support is built in, and the list goes on.

The network is a reasonable size. Mullvad may 'only' have 650+ servers (NordVPN has a massive 5,000+), but they're P2P-friendly and well spread across 70 locations and 52 countries.

The company has its own apps for Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, and Linux, as well as a Firefox extension, and you can connect up to five devices simultaneously.

It's generally smart to be skeptical about what apps are doing in the background but you can relax a little with Mullvad as they’re more transparent than most. Not only are its apps open source, so anyone can check the code, but they've also been externally audited in 2020 and late 2022. 

What's new?

Mullvad's quantum-resistant tunnels have left the experimental stage and are now ready for full use on its desktop apps. These aim to shield your traffic from decryption, even by ultra-powerful quantum computers. Sure, these super-powerful computers don't exist yet, but the concern is governments may record traffic now in the hope of deciphering it in ten or twenty years.

There are also plenty of smaller app tweaks and optimizations which you can see right now. The mobile apps have new content blockers for gambling and adult content. The iOS app remembers the last account from which you log out and there's now a Search box on the desktop location list. There’s more too, including app notifications that have extra troubleshooting advice. 

The company has dropped support for port forwarding. A blog post explained that the feature had been frequently abused to host undesirable content and malicious services, resulting in IP blacklists and other issues.

Mullvad reports that the Swedish police served it with a search warrant in April 2023. They intended to seize computers, but Mullvad argued this would be illegal under Swedish law, which says there must be a reasonable expectation that relevant information will be found. 

The company explained, ''After demonstrating that this is indeed how our service works and the police consulting the prosecutor they left without taking anything and without any customer information.''

Even police armed with a search warrant don't think it's reasonable to think that Mullvad's VPN servers have any helpful user information. That's an impressive endorsement of Mullvad's no-logging credentials.


Mullvad Payment Options

Mullvad offers a whole host of different ways to pay (Image credit: Mullvad)

Pricing is extremely simple at €5 ($5) a month, and, well, that’s it. No discounts for long-term contracts, no doubling of the price at the end of the first term; it’s just €5 a month. That's half the price you'll pay for monthly billing with some providers, and cheaper than many annual plans. Even better, Mullvad offers a 10% discount if you pay by cryptocurrency.

If you're happy to sign up for longer, though, there's a lot of money to be saved elsewhere. Private Internet Access is only $2.03 a month for the first term of its three-year plan, for instance, a fraction of the price.

Mullvad scores a plus for its refund procedure, though. Not only is there a 30-day money-back guarantee, but it can also refund Bitcoin payment in some situations. There are potential complications (the refund help page has more), but it's still better than the blanket 'no Bitcoin refunds' we see with most providers.

Mullvad No Logging Policy

Mullvad does very well on the privacy front compared to rival VPNs (Image credit: Mullvad)


Figuring out a VPN's logging policy is often a real challenge, but again, Mullvad is different, spelling out the fine detail in an excellent policy page.

There's no logging of connection times, IP addresses, DNS requests, traffic, or anything else that can be used to link an action back to a specific account, the company explains.

Mullvad backs up its privacy claims with a 2021 infrastructure audit, and a 2022 VPN server audit, neither of which found any sign of logging or leaks.

The company provides its own authoritative DNS servers for an extra privacy guarantee, and – you’ve guessed it – that recently passed an independent audit, too. 

We could mention the comprehensive 2020 Cure53 audit of its (already open source) desktop and mobile apps, but, well, you get the picture. Mullvad isn’t asking you to take what it says entirely on trust; there’s detailed and independently gathered evidence freely available for anyone to check out. 

Mullvad Setup

Installation is a breeze, which is always good to see (Image credit: Mullvad)


Getting started with Mullvad is as easy as generating an account number and buying some time (cards, PayPal, Bitcoin and other payment methods are supported, as mentioned).

A comprehensive Download page pointed us to the Windows client, but also included links to the Mac, Linux, iOS and Android apps, the latest beta release, the Firefox extension and Mullvad's WireGuard and OpenVPN configuration files.

We grabbed and installed the Windows client in a few seconds. We activated it by entering our account number (Mullvad doesn't require usernames or passwords) and it was ready to go.

Mullvad App Interface

Mullvad's interface looks smart, but makes some odd design choices (Image credit: Mullvad)


While some VPN apps look and feel very different across all platforms, Mullvad takes a more unified approach. Whether you're using Windows, Android, Apple devices, or Linux, each app is almost identical, with little more than a few settings varying between versions.

The apps look clean, with a colorful panel, a map highlighting your current location, and a Secure My Connection button.

Tapping the location name lets you choose a location from a list of countries and cities. Although Mullvad has recently added a search box on some platforms, this is surprisingly basic, with no ping times, server load indicators, sort options, or Favorites to simplify accessing commonly-used locations.

The apps don’t have a 'Fastest' option to automatically select your nearest server, either. You must select it yourself.

What you do get is an unusual option to filter the list to show only Mullvad-owned servers. This reduces your choice to Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK. Although there are only nine countries available, it may improve your security as only Mullvad has full access to those servers.

Whatever location you choose, Mullvad doesn't waste time getting you connected. WireGuard took maybe a couple of seconds to connect. Even OpenVPN was ready to go in around six to eight seconds. That’s less than half the time we see with some apps.

Mullvad Settings

Mullvad offers a good range of settings and configuration choices (Image credit: Mullvad)

Features and settings

Mullvad’s apps may look small and simple, but there’s a surprising amount of functionality lurking underneath.

Mullvad doesn't just have a single ad-blocking feature, for instance. The desktop and iOS apps allow you to separately block ads, trackers or malware, and (new to the desktop since our last review) can filter out adult or gambling-related content, too.

Other VPNs claim similar technology, but rarely tell you anything about what it is, or how it works. As usual, Mullvad is way more transparent. The company’s Github site lists all the blocklists it uses, and you can even view them, see which sites it blocks, and which it doesn’t.

Desktop and Android support for Split Tunneling enables specifying apps which won't use the VPN. That’s good news for not-so-sensitive apps which don't work properly when the VPN is active (streaming services for your own country, for instance).

Multi-hop VPN is another desktop and Android feature which sees your connections routed to one Mullvad server first, exiting the VPN from another server. This function works well, but it's difficult to find. You won't even know it exists unless you browse the OpenVPN Settings and enable Bridge Mode (and, no, we wouldn't think to do that, either).

Most app settings are more straightforward, though. You can opt to launch the app and/or connect when your device starts; enable or disable notifications; turn on a kill switch to block internet traffic if the VPN drops; and use a custom DNS server.

It's a more configurable setup than many apps, although there are a few features missing. In particular, we'd like the ability to automatically connect when accessing particular networks or network types. But even here, Mullvad has a decent argument why you're better off without this – the company suggests the feature is a security risk because hackers could set up a network with the same name and your device might connect automatically.

Mullvad Command Line Interface

Experts can use the Command Line Interface to great effect, no doubt (Image credit: Mullvad)

The desktop apps have one other unusual expert-level extra in a very flexible command line interface, which enables building scripts to tweak settings, connect to your chosen locations, view status or disconnect automatically. That'll be way too much hassle for most people, but if you want to do something advanced – perhaps create a script which automatically connects to Mullvad before launching a specific app – it could be very helpful.

Mullvad Support

Mullvad does an okay job on the support front, but top providers do better (Image credit: Mullvad)


If you're finding gremlins in the Mullvad apps or can’t figure something out, you can check out Mullvad's Help Center. There's a decent amount of content, most of it providing genuinely useful information, but it doesn't begin to match the likes of ExpressVPN or NordVPN.

Unfortunately, the articles aren't well organized. The Help Center doesn't display the articles you're most likely to need first. Common articles that you might need to read are not on the opening screen and can't be found when you run a search. You might have to hunt for the information you need, and even if you find it, articles often assume a high level of technical knowledge.

There's no live chat support, either, but Mullvad does allow users to contact support from within its apps or via email. We asked a question and got a friendly and helpful reply (far better than the website) within 90 minutes. That can't compete with the two or three-minute wait we typically see with live chat from the top providers, but it's also far better than the 12+ hours we'll often be left waiting elsewhere. So, in our opinion, Mullvad offers an acceptable level of support.

Netflix menu showing popular shows

Mullvad did poorly when it came to unblocking content, failing most of our streaming tests (Image credit: Netflix)


Our performance testing began with a close look at Mullvad's kill switch. We forcibly closed both OpenVPN and WireGuard connections in various ways, but the app handled each situation perfectly. It immediately displayed a 'Reconnecting' message alerting us to the problem, blocked our internet connection to prevent any IP leaks, and followed up with a 'Secured' notification when the connection was re-established seconds later.

In most cases, the kill switch only protects you if the connection drops during a session, but there's an even more secure option available. Turn on 'Lockdown mode' and you can't access the internet at all until you've connected to Mullvad VPN. That's not always convenient, but it does ensure you're always protected. It could be worth enabling when you're on holiday, say, and only ever connecting via unknown and untrusted Wi-Fi.

Mullvad only supports two protocols, but when they're the versatile OpenVPN and super-speedy WireGuard, that's probably enough. We took a look at Mullvad's OpenVPN implementation to confirm its security capabilities, and the news was good. It uses the latest TLS 1.3 on the control channel (many providers still use 1.2), and rock-solid AES-256-GCM for the data channel.

Mullvad gets bonus points for using a recent version of OpenVPN that’s just four months old at review time. We've seen many apps using versions that are more than a year old, which means they're missing out on a lot of patches and updates.

Mullvad’s website doesn't make any big claims about unblocking streaming services, and our tests showed why. Not only did Mullvad fail to get us into, UK, Australia, Canada, and Japan Netflix, it couldn't unblock BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, or Disney Plus, either. 

We had better luck with some regional services. Mullvad unblocked the UK's ITV and Channel 4, along with Australia's 9Now, though it did fail with 10 play. So, there’s a chance it’ll have some value for you but most providers deliver far better unblocking results. ExpressVPN, NordVPN, Private Internet Access, ProtonVPN, PureVPN, and Surfshark each scored full unblocking marks in their last reviews.

It’s a very different story with privacy. We checked Mullvad's desktop and mobile apps for DNS leaks using,, and other testing sites. They proved leak-free in every situation.

There was more good news in our server location tests. Some providers make heavy use of virtual locations. These servers return IPs for one country but could be hosted in a different place much further away. This can give you speeds much slower than you would expect. We checked a sample of eight Mullvad locations and they were all in or very close to their claimed countries.

Mullvad claims built-in ad, tracker, and malware blocking but how effective is it? We found the service blocked a reasonable 74% of 156 common trackers (most VPNs manage 70-90%.) It also kept us away from 99% of 379 malicious URLs in our tests, an excellent result. It managed to score 90% for ad blocking while others average 40-90%. You should still run a decent antivirus for real safety, but Mullvad's threat-blocking is a handy second layer of protection.

We used the Blacklight privacy inspector to scan websites for integrated trackers from Google, social media, and other sites. Most VPN provider sites have one to five of these but Mullvad has none, zero, nothing at all.

Android app scanning site εxodus delivered an even more impressive verdict. It also found that Mullvad had no trackers and only required four permissions. Competitors often require one to five tracking libraries and require ten to twenty permissions.

The news only got better in our speed tests, with Mullvad UK connections hitting an amazing 300-530Mbps for OpenVPN. That’s two to three times faster than what we see with some competitors.

Switching to WireGuard saw Mullvad accelerate further to 660-900Mbps. That can't quite match IPVanish, NordVPN, or Windscribe, who all beat 950Mbps in recent testing, but it's blisteringly fast and should be enough for even the most demanding of users.

Mullvad review: Final verdict

Even though Mullvad's app does not have many features, unblocked barely anything for us, and has only basic support, there's a lot to like here. You can open an account without handing over any personal data, speeds are excellent, monthly plans are half the price of some competitors, and a top-quality VPN engine protects your privacy at all times. If you're more interested in anonymity than unblocking, Mullvad could be a very smart choice.

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