VyprVPN Review

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VyprVPN

It's really fast, it's got a big network and is great for busting through restrictive firewalls and accessing overseas web services but the pricing is higher than most. Not good for BitTorrent and deep anonymity.

Price: $9. 99 month billed monthly, $120.00/year
Reviewed by: Gizmo Richards
Review & Alternatives: Best VPN Services

Summary

A well-established, full-featured VPN service incorporated in Swizerland that offers secure connections over multiple protocols to more than 700 servers in 50+ locations worldwide. Subscription includes the use of the company’s non-logging DNS servers as well as the optional use of their proprietary “Chameleon” technology claimed to defeat national firewalls such as the great Firewall of China. It provides excellent network speed and security though privacy issues relating to IP logging are currently not sufficiently clarified so we've deducted a half star from our rating because of that. It's still a great choice for users who want to be able to use a VPN for everyday private browsing, connecting to web services in other countries and bypassing national firewalls. It's less suited to BitTorrent users or individuals who require maximum anonymity.

Review

Our Rating

Network size
Network speed
Anonymity (Windows version)
Security (Windows version, Pro and Premier plans)
Suitability for accessing Netflix, HBO and other geo-restricted services
Suitability for BitTorrent (but copyright violation may result in banning)
Ease of use (Windows version)
Support
Value for money
Overall Rating

The Company behind VyprVPN

VyprVPN is one of a number of security and privacy products and services from the Golden Frog company. The name might make you think they are based in China, but according to Wikipedia it appears they have an address in Switzerland as well as offices in Texas. It is a bit of a mystery primarily because very little company information is actually provided on their website.

This secrecy may be a legitimate attempt to put an impediment in the path of government authorities requesting user information or it may be something more worrying. There is no way to tell. This is a common problem with VPN companies and Golden Frog is no different.

According to Golden Frog’s website they are a self-funded company with over 20 years in the business though apparently the company itself was only incorporated in 2010.

They have certainly been active as advocates for internet privacy.  There may be several reasons for this including commercial motives but whatever, it is to be applauded.

What is their offering?

VyprVPN offers three different plans at different price levels:

Vypr Plans

 

Their $6.67 Basic plan (billed annually) allows for only one concurrent VPN user and only supports the PPTP protocol. It bundles in 10GB of online cloud “Dump Truck” storage which you can use for photos, videos, documents or whatever.

The $8.33 Pro plan allows 2 simultaneous connections, support for PPTP, OpenVPN, L2TP/IPSec and a proprietary protocol they call “Chameleon.” The free cloud Dump Truch storage is upped to 25 Gigabytes.

The $10.00 Premium plan is similar to the Pro but allows 3 connections and increases the free cloud storage to 50GB.

All plans provide, unlimited data, usage, no bandwidth throttling, unlimited switching between servers and 24/7 support. Clients are available for Windows Vista and later, OS X 10.7 and later, iOS 7 and later and Android 4 and later. An older client is available for Windows XP users.

There is also a free plan for iOS and Android users which features similar features to the Pro plan but has a monthly limit of 500MB and online store is limited to 5GB.

All plans are offered on a 3-day “Cancel Anytime. Risk Free” trial though you need to provide your credit card or Paypal details to start the trial. Three days is an unusually short trial period with many other VPN vendors offering a full 30 days.

Other features are a free inbuilt NAT firewall to improve VPN and device security and an access to the company’s dedicated DNS servers to reduce DNS related risks.

The company’s proprietary “Chameleon” protocol is only available for Windows, Mac and Android clients and the Pro and Premium plans. It is designed to bypass restrictive firewalls such as that used by mainland China, Russia and other regimes. Users outside these countries can also derive a benefit in that Chameleon may also defeat bandwidth throttling in certain circumstances. Chameleon is a variant of the OpenVPN protocol and works by mixing up the packet metadata to defeat deep packet inspection. We were not able to test the effectiveness of this feature.

VyprVPN allows the use of BitTorrent and P2P but be aware there have been numerous reports on the web of VyprVPN banning particular users because of copyright violation. Consequentally we do not recommend this service for BitTorrent use.

The company has a substantial network of more than 700 servers in more than 47 countries throughout the world with access points in seven US cities and three in Australia. VyprVPN has available over 200,00 IP addresses to provide users IP anonymity.

VyprVPN Server Locations

VrprVPN Countries

How well does this VPN protect your privacy and security?

According to the website, VyprVPN is hosted on the company's own servers and uses in-house software. In principle this provides more control and security through less reliance on third parties, provided appropriate management practices are in place.

More significantly, all subscriptions to VyprVPN include use of the company’s own DNS servers, a feature built into the clients which by default, is turned on at installation. They claim that no logs are kept for these servers. If so, this is a most useful addition to privacy and security as DNS has proved to be an area of vulnerability for VPN services. Of course other secure DNS solutions such as DNSCrypt are readily available but VyprVPN’s inbuilt zero logging DNS that is turned on at installation is a far easier solution for most users.

And there are other advantages. Use of private DNS servers can also bypass DNS based website blocking and censoring techniques and additionally, provide a small performance advantage due to better geolocation of the DNS server relative to the VPN server.

That is all fine but I can’t find any information on their website about what logs are kept for the VPN servers as opposed to the DNS servers or indeed what records are kept on the servers that house user account records so I asked for more information from VyprVPN support. Here is the response:

We log the time connected and amount of data transferred, this is maintained for use with billing, troubleshooting, service offering evaluation, TOS issues, AUP issues, and for handling crimes performed over the service. We maintain this level of information on a per-session basis for a period of 30 days. We may keep upload & download bytes at an aggregate level for longer periods of time.

What we Do Not Collect From VyprVPN Sessions:

Beyond counting the number of bytes uploaded and downloaded, we

*Do not perform deep packet inspection of your traffic, except where requested by the customer for firewall purposes.

*Do not perform shallow packet inspection of your traffic, except where requested by the customer for firewall purposes.”

This is just a direct lift from the company’s privacy policy which I had already read and which left too many questions unanswered so I asked their support section a direct question: “Do you log IPs during VPN sessions or during account creation.” The answer was totally evasive and in the end they would say no more other than “consult our privacy policy at goldenfrog.com/privacy”.

Well I had already read the privacy policy and found no clear-cut answers. That is why I was asking Golden Frog for clarification. Not good.

The anonymity concerns are heightened further by the restricted payment options. To use VyprVPN you must subscribe to a plan and the only options for paying for a plan are credit card or PayPal, both of which pose significant risk to the users should the Golden Frog corporation be forced by court order to reveal subscriber details.

All this is quite worrying so until we get more direct answers from Golden Frog I would have to say that VyprVPN cannot be accurately rated for privacy and confidentiality. In such a sensitive area, “no rating” should be treated as a “low rating” until proven otherwise.

Is the product easy to install and use?

We installed VyprVPN on Windows 7, OS X Yosemite and iOS 8 systems. In all cases installation was simple and straightforward. In the Windows install, Microsoft Visual C++ was installed automatically as well as a TAP driver.

The procedure was essentially the same regardless of operating system: create an account by purchasing your plan from the Golden Frog website then download and install the appropriate client to your computer from either the Golden Frog website or Apple/Google App Store. In the case of iOS you can create an account from within the app.

Installation was straightforward though with iOS there was the need to download the VPN profile as part of the installation process. This too was straightforward. The iOS profile was for an IPSec connection.

To use the VPN you must first enter into the client the username and password you created during signup on the website. That done the features that are available depend to on the plan you signed up to. So for example Pro and Premium plan users will have (with the desktop clients) a choice of VPN protocol from a pull-down menu while the Basic plan users will not. Here’s a screen shot of the Mac client:

VyprVPN Mac Client

Selecting the server you want is straightforward. You can either select a particular server in a particular country from a pull-down list, or if you just want to use the VPN for browsing with anonymity and privacy you can select the “Fastest Server” option. If you select a server from a particular country the drop-down list provides ping times to help you select the best server in that country. If all this sounds too hard, VyprVPN can be set up to connect to a server automatically.

VyprVPN server selection

Whatever server you select you get a nice graph showing upload and download speeds over time. This graph feature is available on all clients including iOS and Android.

A wide range of options is available from Apple top menu bar Preferences in the Mac version and from the gear icon in the top right of the Windows version. The options appear to be very much the same in both clients so we are only showing the Mac version here:

VyprVPN settings connection Macintosh Desktop:vypr-settings-protocol

VyprVPN settings general VyprVPN settings dns

The iOS client has far fewer options than the desktop clients so it is simple to use. Just select a server from the drop down list and connect. Unlike some iOS VPN clients, you can connect and disconnect directly from the app rather than having to go to the iOS Settings. There are separate clients available for both iPhone and iPad, which will be much appreciated by iPad users with a keyboard case who can avoid the need to turn their head sideways to read a portrait mode screen designed for an iPhone.

Note that by default the iOS client connects on demand, which means that the VPN is always on whenever you use the internet. The connect on demand feature can be turned off from the iOS Settings page.

VyprVPN ios client

Unlike the desktop clients, the iOS clients do not allow for selection of protocols—it is fixed to IPSec. Golden Frog’s proprietary Chameleon protocol is not available on iOS devices.

How well does the VPN perform?

When configured to work locally using the “Fastest Server” option, VyprVPN reduced our download speed by an average of 10.4% measured using speedtest.net. This is excellent for a VPN and places the product in the top three products we tested.

This relatively small performance hit means users can carry out their normal internet activities without noticing much difference in speed or response.

For those considering using VyprVPN for accessing services that may not be available in their own country we tested the bandwidth between Sydney Australia and the best server location in the USA. Long international connections have slower connection speeds and much higher ping times than connections to local servers but even so, we were still able to watch SD movies from Home Box Office and without flicker or noticeable loss of quality. There was also no problem registering for these services even though the user was in a country where the US service is not available.

This result was encouraging but users wanting to access streaming services in other countries should trial VyprVPN from their own location before committing to a contract.

In view of recent concerns about DNS and IPV6 vulnerabilities in VPN networks, we ran a series of test:

When tested for DNS cache poisoning at https://www.dns-oarc.net/oarc/services/dnsentropy where the VyprVPN DNS servers received a rating of “Great” for Source Port and Transaction ID randomness, an excellent result. This was true for the Windows, OS X and iOS clients.

The three clients also passed the extended DNS leak tests at https://www.dnsleaktest.com

At http://ipv6leak.com/ all three clients passed the IPV6 leak test.

We also tested how much information is revealed by the user’s browser by testing at http://mybrowserinfo.com. Using Google Chrome as our browser the results for all three clients were however disappointing with almost all available information logged. This information could be used to fingerprint the browser and potentially identify the user.

What other features are offered?

VyprVPN supports the use of BitTorrent and works with the Tor network. We did not test these features but based on comments in forums it is possible you may get banned from the service if somebody complains you are downloading copyright content.

The free cloud “Dump Truck” storage that is bundled in with all plans will be a plus to some users but with free cloud storage being so widely available these days from Microsoft, Google and others, the value is not that high.

The Chameleon protocol that works by disguising VPN traffic so that it looks like normal internet traffic, will be a useful feature for those users who cannot currently use a VPN because they are blocked by firewalls such as the Great Firewall of China.

Users of the most recent desktop clients can select the ports used by the VPN. This is useful where normal VPN ports are blocked or throttled.

The bundled secure DNS server is definitely a plus though similar services are available elsewhere for free.

How good is the support?

VyprVPN provides 24/7 support via email, online chat and the provision of extensive online resources.

To test the system we used their online chat facility to ask a variety of questions. We were surprised at the speed of the response, which was usually less than 2 minutes. Generally the tone was helpful though it became defensive and dismissive when we asked some probing questions about the extent of data logging.

That problem aside we’d rate the support as excellent.

Features Summary

Price $9.99 Basic, 14.99 Pro billed monthly, $120.00/year Premier
Refund period 3 days
Free version Yes but iOS and Android only
Max concurrent connections 1 basic, 2 Pro, 3 Premier annual
Pay anonymously? Yes
Network size 47 countries 55 locations
BitTorrent allowed Yes but copyright violation may result in banning
Own DNS server No 
Default Win protocol Basic PPPT only, Pro and Premier OpenVPN 256 bit
Keep logs? No

 

 

VyprVPN Website: https://www.goldenfrog.com/vyprvpn

 

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