PrivateVPN Review: The Best Choice for Netflix?
PrivateVPN is a small Swedish VPN provider, that’s not too popular among the VPN community.
However, it’s worth checking out, because PrivateVPN performs similarly to the most popular services out there - NordVPN and ExpressVPN - at half the price.
In this PrivateVPN review, we tested their speeds, reliability, compatibility with Netflix, torrents, and other features. And what strikes us the most is how fast they were. PrivateVPN is easily one of the fastest VPNs out there.
They’re great for those who are looking for a cheap option for Netflix, torrenting or bypassing censorship.
PrivateVPN offers a 30-day money back guarantee. Essentially, you can test out how their services work for a few weeks, and if you’re not satisfied with the results, get a full refund.
Just note, that we found some hidden rules in their TOS - You can’t use over 100GB, and you need to provide a reason why you want the refund.
We tested the refund system and were able to get a full refund the next day without too many questions asked.
PrivateVPN is one of the cheapest options out there. Especially, if you’re paying monthly or every three months.
If you pay monthly, you’ll get it for $7.67. To compare, ExpressVPN costs $12.95 monthly, and NordVPN $11.95.
If you’re looking for an option for Netflix and torrenting, PrivateVPN will be one of the cheapest options that you’ll find.
Netflix is actively restricting their services for VPN users, and only a select few are still working with Netflix.
PrivateVPN has stated that they’re Netflix-compatible, and our tests approved that. The streaming quality was also pretty decent because their servers are one of the fastest ones that we’ve seen.
We liked that PrivateVPN has ‘Netflix optimized servers,’ which are guaranteed to work with Netflix. With NordVPN or ExpressVPN, you’ll have to go to their websites and find out which servers are currently working. By having a dedicated server, the process is made much more efficient.
Out of all providers that we’ve tested, PrivateVPN is one of the fastest, just behind IPVanish.
We made our tests from Europe, and on nearby and U.S. connections we didn’t experience any speed losses. On Asia - Europe connections, we got only 20-40% losses, which is well below the 30-70% industry standard.
We repeated our tests several times, and the results didn’t change. Overall, we had the impression that they have a very solid server network with fast and stable speeds.
Although some providers, like IPVanish and Private Internet Access, allow ten simultaneous connections, the PrivateVPNs limit of six connections is good enough. For comparison, ExpressVPN allows only three.
This will be beneficial if you’re planning on sharing your login credentials with close friends or family.
When compared to others, PrivateVPN may seem like a small toy car next to a large, hardcore Dodge pickup.
That’s because they have only around 150 servers, which is nothing compared to NordVPNs 5000+ fleet or ExpressVPNs 3000+ servers.
To offset the minimal amount of servers, they offer free Dynamic IP’s on some of their servers, which means that every time you connect, you’ll be assigned with a different IP. That’s especially good for Netflix and avoiding captcha tests.
If you’re looking for a service that will protect your identity at all costs, PrivateVPN shouldn’t be your first choice.
Unfortunately, they don't offer a 24/7 live chat option. So if you’re stuck with a problem, you’ll have to wait for email replies.
Though, our conversations with their support were answered in just a few minutes.
Speed and reliability
It is not that popular, but those that have used it said that their servers are pretty fast. We decided to test that out for ourselves, so we performed several speed tests.
Speed results without a VPN
For this speed test, we used a 4G connection from Europe, which ranged between 15 - 25 Mbps.
Next, we had to test the connection speeds with the VPN turned on from various locations, to see what speed losses we would get.
You can see our average speed readings without a VPN over here:
Speed results with PrivateVPN from Europe
From Germany, our download speed was 17.43 Mbps.
From Sweden, our download speed was 23.21 Mbps.
From the United Kingdom, our download speed was 22.90 Mbps.
As a baseline result, you would expect to see 10 - 30% speed losses from nearby locations.
However, we actually didn’t see any speed losses when connected to Europe. Of course, there might be some, because the results vary, but it shouldn’t be more than 10 - 20%.
Overall, a really impressive result, which not many can achieve.
Speed results with PrivateVPN from the U.S.
From Chicago, our download speed was 14.53 Mbps.
From Miami, our download speed was 18.68 Mbps.
From New York, our download speed was 29.48 Mbps.
For Europe - U.S. long-distance connections you would expect to see at least 20 - 40% losses, which is considered normal across most providers.
Again, we got pretty amazing results, because we didn’t see any speed losses. From New York, we even got a higher speed result than without a VPN, which leads us to believe that the speed losses are minimal, no more than 10 - 20%.
Speed results with PrivateVPN from Asia
From Hong Kong, our download speed was 17.12 Mbps.
From South Korea, our download speed was 14.36 Mbps.
From Thailand, our download speed was 11.69 Mbps.
It’s not uncommon for Europe - Asia connections to see a speed loss of 30 - 70%, which is seen on even the most popular services.
Again, we got impressive results, which were nowhere near the industry standards. On average, we recorded 20 - 40% speed losses for Europe - Asia connections.
How fast is PrivateVPN?
For nearby and Europe - USA connections we didn’t record any speed losses, and for Europe - Asia servers we recorded only 20 - 40% losses, which is really fast compared to most others.
In a few words, PrivateVPN is one of the fastest providers we’ve seen. We’ve seen better readings only by IPVanish and, by the way, PrivateVPN is way cheaper.
Is PrivateVPN reliable?
To test the reliability, we repeated our tests at different times of the day, across various servers. We didn’t notice any speed drops during peak times and no connection issues.
The connection to the servers usually took only a few seconds, which contributed to the overall experience.
One thing that we did notice is that some servers in Asian countries were slower than others. For instance, we weren’t able to get more than 5 Mbps from Vietnam.
But overall, their system is very stable and reliable.
How often is PrivateVPN down?
Although rarely, we were able to find downtime issues for their servers. For instance, back in 2017 Nov. - Dec., their servers were experiencing massive downtime issues due to a bug in the iOS app.
Also, every few months they’ll update their servers, and you might experience some downtime for a few hours.
But small repairs and downtime issues are entirely normal for smaller VPNs who don’t have a massive team of developers - just be aware of that.
Is PrivateVPN secure?
As the company's name suggests, they are pretty secure. They’re using the best industry standards, so you shouldn’t worry about getting hacked.
It offers various tunneling protocols to choose from - OpenVPN TCP, OpenVPN UDP, L2TP / IPSec, PPTP, and IKEv2.
This is good for some people who are tech-savvy and need to use specific protocols. Often VPN providers don’t offer you the option to switch between many protocols, but this provider does, which is nice.
If you don’t know anything about tunneling protocols, select any of the OpenVPN protocols, as they’re considered the safest ones.
By default, it uses AES 256-bit encryption with 2048-bit DH key, which is considered one of the strongest encryption methods. In fact, this encryption method was developed by the U.S. military and is still in use today for the most private connections.
But where PrivateVPN shines, is the fact that they offer the ability to switch between various security protocols. This is good because some believe that 256-bit encryption is overkill for VPNs and that 128-bit is more than enough.
Personally, we always use the 128-bit encryption over 256-bit, just because it’s faster.
It’s said that a supercomputer could potentially crack the 128-bit in 500 years, which is more than enough for uTorrent and Netflix...
No IPV4, IPV6, WebRTC, and DNS leaks
Sometimes the VPN will still leak browsing history to your Internet Service Provider (ISP), which makes your connection insecure. It’s often a good idea to test for any leaks before you start using it for private connections.
We tested PrivateVPN for any potential leaks, and we couldn’t find any. You can see the results down below (In the second result, all IP addresses were different from our network.)
Unfortunately, PrivateVPN doesn’t have a live chat option, as opposed to the most popular providers. Whenever you’ll need to contact them, you’ll have to wait for an email response.
We decided to test how well their support responds by requesting a refund.
After filling the contact form about requesting the refund, they responded to us within minutes with the following e-mail.
After we responded, we received the refund the next day.
Although PrivateVPN doesn’t offer any live chat, the responses through the support system were pretty quick. In total, we give their support four out of five stars.
Device compatibility and apps
Although PrivateVPN is fairly small, they’ve developed apps for the most common devices and operating systems:
And they’ve made dedicated setup guides for these devices and operating systems:
More popular services usually provide browser extensions, more apps, and more tutorials. So you’ll have to hack your way through with the help of their support team if you have something specific in mind.
For the most regular users though, the app coverage is enough.
When using their services, you can definitely tell that they’re not a popular VPN. The app installation process was somewhat weird, and at times their apps can be a bit limited.
But once you get the hang of it, it is reasonably easy to use, and you start to appreciate the simplicity.
The signup process
When you first start, the registration process is fairly straightforward.
After entering email, password, payment details, and selecting the plan, you’ll be redirected to the download page below. You’ll find the app installers there, and their most used setup tutorials.
However, the app installation process felt kind of awkward.
First of all, their installer is 48 MB large. To compare, most others keep their installers at less than 10 MB. We don’t understand why it’s bloated so large - probably just bad programming.
After you’ve installed the app, you’ll be asked to restart your PC for it to work. To be frank, I had forgotten that this was still a thing. But after that, the app started up just fine, and everything worked flawlessly.
App user experience
We like how minimalistic and straightforward its apps are. When you first connect to them, you’re basically presented with a few servers to choose from and a large connect button, which is essentially all you need.
Here you can see how both the Windows (left) and Android (right) apps look.
If you’re tech-savvier and know what you’re doing, click the ‘Advanced’ tab, and you’ll be presented with advanced options.
In the first tab, you’ll be able to select the tunneling protocol and the encryption type. We recommend that you leave connection type on the default OpenVPN option, but set the encryption to 128-bit, instead of 256-bit.
Next, you can set up how the automatic connection works.
And lastly, you can also set up additional security measures, like the Stealth VPN option, or add specific apps to be closed once the connection interrupts.
The IPV6 and DNS leak protection and the kill switch should always be turned on, to make your connection private and avoid any leaks. But it’s nice that they give you the option to turn them off if you don’t care too much about your privacy and need faster speeds (For instance, when watching Netflix.)
Locations and servers
Although the server count is well below their more-popular competitors, it’s enough for the average user.
In total, PrivateVPN offers 150+ servers in 60 countries. Most countries host only one server; however, more are available for the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia, and some other countries.
To compare, NordVPN offers 5000+ servers in 60 countries, and ExpressVPN 3000+ servers in 69 countries.
PrivateVPN also hosts a few specialty servers.
If you’re looking to use it for bypassing Netflix's location block, you’ll be glad to find the optimized Netflix servers for U.S., Germany, Canada, and the U.K.
We tested these servers and they always worked with Netflix and the streaming quality was pretty good.
Furthermore, some servers are optimized not only Netflix but also:
Dynamic IP servers
A neat feature that they offer is free access to dynamic IP’s. This means that every time you connect to a specific server, you’ll be assigned with a different IP.
To use dynamic IP’s, you’ll have to select the ‘OpenVPN TUN + UDP + 1194’ tunneling protocol, and connect to one of the following servers - Sweden, Norway, Germany - Frankfurt 1, Netherlands 1, Ukraine, Switzerland, United Kingdom - London 2, France - Paris, USA - Buffalo or USA - Los Angeles
Is PrivateVPN good for torrenting?
In their FAQ section, they state that they openly allow P2P technology (torrents) and they recommend to use their Swedish servers for this purpose.
Also, it’s worth noting that they don’t throttle the connection speeds for any P2P connections. Some VPNs do that, which makes them pretty bad for torrenting.
We actually tested their download speeds, and they were pretty close to our normal download speeds without a VPN. So we can approve that they are pretty good for torrenting.
Is PrivateVPN good for Netflix?
Recently Netflix started cracking down on VPN providers, by banning more and more servers and upping their game in VPN detection. Only a select few are still working with Netflix, and some have dropped the support altogether.
So naturally, this was one of the first things that we tested on this provider. On their website, they state that they’re compatible with Netflix, but we had to verify that.
Our goal was to watch Departures - A travel show, that’s available only in the U.S. - from Europe.
When we selected a random U.S. server from the list, we were greeted with this message.
Later, we found out that they have specific servers made exactly for watching Netflix. So when we connected to them, we were able to watch the show freely.
The connection was fast, which made the streaming quality pretty clear. So yeah, if you’re looking for a fast and cheap VPN that works with Netflix, PrivateVPN is an excellent option.
Does PrivateVPN work in China and other censored countries?
It works in censored countries and is great for bypassing censorship.
Lately, censored countries have been improving their detection standards, which makes it increasingly difficult to use a VPN from those countries. China has been the most successful one, and now only a few VPNs are still working there.
PrivateVPN is so good at not being detected by the ISP’s because of its stealth feature. If you turn on the “Stealth VPN” setting, your connection will become slightly slower, but you’ll bypass the firewalls and will be able to access all the websites and apps that you would from other countries.
Privat Kommunikation Sverige AB - often known as PrivateVPN - is a Swedish based company. Being located in Sweden isn’t that good, because Sweden is a member of the fourteen eyes alliance. This alliance consists of 14 countries, who openly share intelligence information.
Ideally, you’d want to use a VPN that’s located in a third world country that doesn’t cooperate with European or U.S. authorities, because then your connection would be more secure.
‘No logs’ policy
A ‘no logs’ policy usually means that a provider isn’t collecting any information about how you’ve used the VPN - No IP’s, timestamps, requests, e.t.c.
PrivateVPN is pretty clear about how they’re not keeping any logs on their site.
So if you’re looking to stay in the shadows, you should choose another provider, that’s located in a private jurisdiction and is proven to not collect any logs, like ExpressVPN.
However, if you’re using PrivateVPN just for torrents or Netflix, and staying anonymous over public Wi-Fi, the lack of real privacy shouldn’t really be an issue.
By activating the kill switch, your internet connection will be automatically blocked once you’re disconnected from the VPN. This makes sure that your real IP is protected and not revealed to anyone in case of a disconnect.
Essentially, what this does is makes your connection more secure and harder to detect for DPI firewalls and VPN blocks. Though, it does make your connection a bit slower.
It is especially handy in censored countries and over public Wi-Fi’s which block VPNs.
The application guard works as an additional Kill Switch feature. You can specify which apps need to be closed if the connection disconnects. For instance, you could set it up to close uTorrent, but no other apps once the connection disconnects.
Pricing and discounts
It is considered one of the most affordable VPNs on the market. It’s hard to find anything cheaper than that - at least not if you’re looking to pay monthly or every three months.
By purchasing PrivateVPN for a whole year, you’ll pay just $3.82 for every month, which isn’t too much. To compare, the yearly costs of ExpressVPN are $6.67/month, and $6.49 for IPVanish.
You can see the full pricing details below.
You’ll be able to use the most common payment methods:
The bitcoin option is especially handy if you want to register anonymously.
Our final verdict: Is PrivateVPN worth it?
PrivateVPN has some nice advantages over other VPNs.
For one, they’re really fast. We’ve recorded faster results only from IPVanish, and most other popular VPN providers don’t even come close. And based on our repeated tests in this PrivateVPN review, they’re also stable and reliable.
Furthermore, our tests showed that they’re also pretty good for torrenting, Netflix and bypassing censorship. Combine all these features with the affordable pricing, and you end up with a VPN that’s similar to ExpressVPN and NordVPN, but costs half the price.
But it does come with some limitations. Due to the jurisdiction and questionable ‘no logging’ policy, we wouldn’t recommend it for someone who wants to stay truly private. Also, we didn’t like that they offer only about 150 servers and that they don’t have a live chat option.
So in a few words, PrivateVPN is worth it for those, who are looking for a cheap, fast, and stable VPN that works with Netflix, torrents, and for bypassing censorship.