It seems almost impossible to mention the term “VPN” without talking about one of the first, and still one of the best, providers to hit the market: VyprVPN.
Developed by the team over at GoldenFrog, VyprVPN joins the ranks of services like HideMyAss! as one of the oldest in the business, and the company has taken that time ahead of other upstarts to improve and iterate upon their app dozens of times over to make it one of the smoothest running yet.
Read on in our VyprVPN review to find out why VyprVPN!
Checkout and Install Process
In comparison to the rest of the VPN providers we’ve reviewed so far, VyprVpn (and its parent company, AnchorFree) offers the fewest different payment options we’ve seen thus far. On their checkout page, you’ll see the choices for:
- Credit Cards: Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover, JCB, Diner’s Club
- Other: Alipay
And that’s about it. Usually we like to see at least the option for Bitcoin here, and it’s worrying that one of the biggest forward facing members of the VPN community isn’t willing to take that step and legitimize the currency the way it should be.
VyprVPN rebounds from its lack of payments options with the help of its huge supported platform list,
- Windows Vista and above
- OSX 10.9 and above
- iOS 8.0 and above
- Android 4.0 and above
When installed on Windows 10, VyprVPN used up very little of our desktop to launch a simple install window for the software, and a single prompt to get the TAP adapter installed.
As we mentioned in the intro, Golden Frog is a company that been around longer than most, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the prim and polish we see from the VyprVPN app on Windows. From the moment you turn it on, everything about our time with VyprVPN was a more refined experience than what you’d see with most other providers at this price point.
VyprVPN is a straightforward app that gets to the point pretty quickly. In the main window you’ll find a large Connect/Disconnect button at the top, followed by a realtime graph which shows your traffic and your speeds.
Below that is the current IP address you’re using to connect with VyprVPN, as well as the Time Connect box underneath. Continuing down the list you’ll find the level of encryption you’re currently using, as well as the status of the NAT firewall on your connection.
The main window itself uses a blue-on-gray color scheme, accented by red, yellow, and green lines which all scatter themselves about in the stats window depending on their current level of functionality.
To get to the server list, you only need to click on the Location icon, nestled conveniently next to the Connect button at the top. From here a drop-down menu will appear which contains all your favorited servers, as well as the option to open up the full list in another window.
This window lists out all of VyprVPN’s available servers, either by city or country depending on how many they have in a specific region. To get to the options, you can click the small gear icon in the top-right corner, where you’ll be taken to an older looking window with quite a few more settings that what we’ve come to generally expect out of a VPN provider.
Here you can change everything from your encryption protocol to the layout of your VPN, right down to how it behaves on the taskbar. A note to users; if you want to prevent VyprVPN from collecting (anonymized) data on your usage statistics, the “General” tab is where you can toggle that option off.
Lastly, on the taskbar front VyprVPN is leading the way, providing a shining example for how you do taskbar control right. When right-clicking on the icon while the app is minimized, you can see everything from the list of your favorite servers to the exact details of the connection, including the IP address, encryption level, and location.
This helps if you’re quickly trying to reference the information on your connection, but don’t want to have to bring up the whole app to get it done.
Performance and Speed
In our speed testing on a simultaneous 1GB up/down fiber optic line from Portland, Oregon, we connected to two different servers offered by Hotspot Shield from different corners of the globe, and specifically in the cities of: New York, Singapore, LA, and London. Each server test was run five times at specific intervals to see how the bandwidth was affected during off-peak hours (6AM local), peak (9PM local), and once more on a Monday at 9PM PST, which is the busiest day for VPN providers collectively.
Being the professional outfit they are, we had absolutely no problems getting connected to any one of VyprVPN’s 700+ servers, located in 70+ countries across six continents that were needed to run these tests. Each time we booted up the app for another run it connected us to the corresponding server we needed to use in about 25 seconds or less, depending on the distance.
In New York City during off-peak hours at 6AM EST, we found that off a base speed of 302.64Mbps download and 921.88Mbps upload, the VyprVPN link brought our average speeds down to 127.90Mbps down, and 16.20Mbps up.
During our time connected over the network we never experienced a slowdown when loading webpages, and we still able to easily and quickly stream US-based video content on YouTube at 1080p when connected to the closest server in Seattle.
Finally, we give every VPN we review a shot to take our “best of the worst” challenge, which is a single speed test run on the closest possible server to our home base in Portland. While normally this would net the fastest time, the trick is we run it on Monday at 9PM PST, otherwise known as the worst possible commute hour (and day) for VPN networks on the West Coast.
In this test, CyberGhost passed with flying colors, connecting to a server in San Jose CA, (even though we asked for San Francisco) and rocking a 200.0Mbps download alongside a 105.17Mbps upload score off a base speed of 734.10Mbps down and 722.81Mbps up.
As flawless as our experience with the desktop app was, things got a little shakier once we jumped over to the mobile side of things. On an iPhone 7 running iOS 10, the mobile app for VyprVPN bears an almost identical resemblance to the Windows 10 version.
In big LED-esque letters the current location of your IP is spelled out at the top of the app, while all the same information found in the desktop version (IP number, time connected etc) rest just below that.
I was actually surprised by the number of settings that VyprVPN imported from the desktop version, running just about every conceivable configuration option that we’ve seen on mobile VPNs before. A lot of the standards we like to see were here, like changing your encryption method and contacting support directly from the app.
However, there were also a few invasive things that didn’t gel as well with us that were enabled by default. The first was the connection logs feature which, while useful, was also collecting data that we didn’t think needed to be logged in the first place.
After a little more digging, we found out that both error reporting and usage data statistics were also being sent back to Golden Frog by default. (For users who want to turn this off themselves, open the Settings menu on your mobile app and tap “Reporting”).
Security and Encryption
Like pretty much every VPN provider worth their salt, VyprVPN offers up all the same encryption protocols we’ve come to expect by this point: OpenVPN, L2TP, and PPTP...but they also have one extra trick up their sleeve that no other VPN provider does.
Chameleon is VyprVPN’s very own proprietary encryption protocol, and works in much the same way as OpenVPn with a few subtle differences. The first is an extra layer of obfuscation, which prevents DPI (Deep Packet Inspection) tools from being able to sniff out a user’s IP whenever they’re trying to connect from information-suppressed countries like China or Iran.
The protocol is available to all Premium and Pro members of the VyprVPN network, though there are currently no methods to connect over Chameleon if you’re current restricted to only using the Basic free plan.
Although it may not sound like an “extra” feature, I thought this section would be the best time to mention the fact that VyprVPN runs all their own servers, from scratch. This is a huge bonus for anyone who’s ever been concerned about data leaks from third-party server providers.
VyprDNS is another nice feature that Golden Frog has added to the lineup, which is a service that helps you beat internet censorship by ISPs or various governments from around the world.
Other less-noticeable features include the NAT Firewall, which provides yet another layer of protection on top of your connection that can work in tandem with your current firewall to prevent hackers from being able to sniff your data out.
My time with VyprVPN, while pleasant for the most part, wasn’t without its hiccups. However when those problems did pop up, Golden Frog’s 24/7 support was there to help coach me through my problems on live chat.
When both a sign-in issue and a mobile bug began plaguing me for two successive days in a row, I took my grievances to the live chat around 8PM on a Friday night. Expecting a non-English speaker who would have to forward my issues to a ticket (they were fairly technical in nature), you can imagine my surprise when a fluent speaker responded with thoughtful care throughout the entire process.
After running through some basic troubleshooting questions on both my mobile app subscription activation problems, both support reps then started digging into techniques that we could try to get things working that went well beyond the scope of your standard responses.
They showed extreme technical acumen across the board, and never had to escalate the problem past their own desk to get the problem solved. While some companies may have a lot of options for contact and others might follow up with you in a day or less, VyprVPN really goes above and beyond the normal call of duty with their 24/7 support.
As far as the rest of the community goes, because VyprVPN maintains such strong status as one of the most consistently popular VPNs out there, its userbase is also highly active in Golden Frog’s community. Whether it’s posting to the forum or reading the blog (which is updated at an almost daily rate), it’s clear that the company is trying to build a hub for privacy enthusiasts here, a place where people can congregate and work for the cause of internet privacy rights together.
Right off the bat, VyprVPN doesn’t mince any words when it comes to telling you exactly what data they collect and how long they keep it for. Unfortunately, the news isn’t all that good:
“What Data Golden Frog Retains From VyprVPN Sessions:
Each time a user connects to VyprVPN, we retain the following data for 30 days: the user's source IP address, the VyprVPN IP address used by the user, connection start and stop time and total number of bytes used.”'
This metadata may not sound like much, but the “user’s source IP address” is the real sore spot here. This is information which can directly link you and your account back to any information on your account, meaning that if for any reason law enforcement came knocking, it would only be two skips and a jump before they had your real identity locked in.
On the subject of why this data is being logged, the vague nature of VyprVPN’s data use policy only continues to grow murkier by the minute:
“Why Golden Frog Retains VyprVPN Session Data:
We retain VyprVPN session data for 30 days to use with billing issues, troubleshooting, service offering evaluation, TOS issues, AUP issues, and for handling crimes performed over the service.”
The company’s own definition of “crimes” is laid out in the Terms of Service, and although we won’t list them here there are a few on there that could be easily misconstrued by a clever enough lawyer with a thesaurus on hand, if need be.
The company proudly boasts their Swiss heritage and says that because the company is in Swiss borders, they don’t need to comply with any legal requests for user data initiated by outside countries. That said, Golden Frog also maintains an office within the United States, which means that at least a portion of it is incorporated here, and therefore is subject to U.S jurisdiction and the full might of the global Five Eyes surveillance collective.
“Golden Frog complies with the U.S.-EU Safe Harbor Framework as set forth by the U.S. Department of Commerce regarding the collection, use, and retention of personal information from European Union member countries. Golden Frog has certified that it adheres to the Safe Harbor Privacy Principles of notice, choice, onward transfer, security, data integrity, access, and enforcement.”
To add even more fuel to the fire, the company plainly states that it will cooperate with any subpoenas or investigations that land on their doorstep:
“Golden Frog cooperates fully with law enforcement agencies, yet there must still be a subpoena before Golden Frog provides a member's identifying information - minimal information reasonably calculated to identify and no more. In a criminal investigation Golden Frog is required by the Law to not divulge the fact of the investigation to the member.”
If all that weren’t bad enough, Golden Frog is also staunch in their stance on P2P or torrenting traffic; which is to say they don’t allow it in any way shape or form.
Overall then, our takeaway from our deep dive into VyprVPN’s policies.
Cancel and Uninstall Process
The uninstall process for VyprVPN was about as standard as they come, with just a right-click of the icon on our Start menu and a few quick prompts between us and the program being completely removed off the testing system.
To cancel our monthly account with VyprVPN, we first had to access our account page, which you can either log into via the Settings menu in the app, or from your web browser directly.
VyprVPN was far and away the most attentive of our needs after we tried to cancel. We chose the example reason of “not enough servers” when cancelling, so the next page asked if it was okay to email when they added new servers, asked which city we’d like to see added, and even connected us to a Live Chat agent to explain more on the limited server issue.
This shows that VyprVPN really cares about keeping your business, and the company even goes as far to give you 50% off your next subscription package if you choose to come back another time.
On TrustPilot, oddly enough there are hardly any VyprVPN reviews to speak of. Despite the service being one of the most popular on the net, its presences on TrustPilot were almost non-existent, boiling down to just 3 reviews, none of which were all that positive. Because the sample size is so small, we’ve opted not to include the company’s score in this review, as it doesn’t compare fairly to other VPN providers on this list.
Both BestVPN and TechRadar had plenty of good things to say about VyprVPN, making special note of the company’s fast speeds on local servers, praising them for the introduction of their own proprietary encryption protocol, and solid customer service (a high point for us as well).
PCMag was slightly more skeptical of the company’s logging processes however, which admittedly is a little more loose around the lips than we would like to see.
With multiple-tiered plans to choose from, VyprVPN has a number of different ways you can use and subscribe to their service depending on your specific needs.
First up is the free VyprVPN plan, which gives you a one-time allotment of 1GB of data to go through, along with the option to connect on two devices simultaneously. Once the 1GB is gone you don’t have any option to “re-up”, and will have to either sign up on a new email or subscribe to one of the plans mentioned below.
Next is the standard VyprVPN, which includes unlimited data usage as well as the option to connect three separate devices at the same time. The price breakdown for that plan is as follows:
- 3-day free trial
- 1 month for $9.95
- 1 year for $5.00 a month ($60.00 upfront)
Next up is the VyprVPN Premium plan, which upgrades you to 5 simultaneous connections and gives you access to both the VyprVPN Cloud (enterprise apps), and the Chameleon encryption protocol. These plans are priced at:
- 3-day free trial
- 1 month for $12.95 month
- 1 year for $6.67 a month ($80.00 upfront)
This is a pretty steep price for most users, but if you’re someone who has to have access to the extra features like Chameleon in order to communicate out of your home country safely, that extra $3 a month may be worth it in the long run.
Lastly, VyprVPN also offers a business plan for enterprise users, however the only way to find out exactly what it would cost for your office is to go on the website and request a personal quote depending on your own needs.
VyprVPN does what it can to keep up with the times, and that need to stay in trend is evident in the design of both its mobile and desktop apps. This app is run by one of the biggest companies in the VPN world, and that polish definitely shows, but unfortunately without the speed to back themselves up the premium price for a monthly subscription and the company’s hazy logging policies might be enough to scare all but the most brand-loyal off.
If you’re someone who is concerned about your privacy above all else, or at the very least just want a VPN they can torrent on without getting hassled, you’re probably better going with a provider like PIA or NordVPN instead.
- Cut-and-dry design
- Fast servers where tested
- Free version available
- Windows 10 and mobile app were fast/reliable
- No manual configuration
- No way to connect to specific servers in countries
- Few extra features
- Vague logging policy
- Based in US