SwitchVPN is a good, solid service that has very high hopes, but how does it compare to the likes of NordVPN or even CyberGhost? We not only break down the pros and cons of the service below, we take a deep dive into their performance and overall, how secure they are when handling your privacy. Stay tuned for the article to see our bottom line!
- Unblocks Netflix, iPlayer
- P2P support
- Easy to use
- Bitcoin accepted
- Windows setup hassles
- OpenVPN encoding is AES-128, not 256
- Windows kill switch solely works with OpenVPN
- Windows app measurement enabled by default
The company claims to be a ‘world leader in VPN Services’, for example, with ‘proprietary designs and progressive data centers’, ‘the best value’ and ‘the widest range of options. Sounds good, however drill right down to the small print and there is not a great deal to back this up.
The company features a modest 250+ servers in forty three locations worldwide, for example. that is great, however NordVPN’s 5094 servers in sixty countries looks loads higher, to us.
Other SwitchVPN options look much like we’d expect from any good VPN. 256-bit encoding, apps for desktop and mobile, a kill switch, zero logging, and therefore the choice to connect up to 5 devices at the same time.
Want to undertake SwitchVPN?
Still, the service will even have and points you will not get everywhere, together with P2P and port forwarding support everyplace, its own DNS servers, wide protocol support (OpenVPN, L2TP/IPsec, IKEv2, SSTP and Socks5), 24/7 support via live chat, and payment accepted via card, PayPal and Bitcoin.
A basic set up supporting up to 2 devices is priced at $5.95 a one-off month, or $3.33 over a year. The and set up prices $9.95 a month, or $5.82 billed annually. you’ll be able to pick up deals elsewhere, particularly if you subscribe for 2 or 3 years, however this can be decent value for an annual product.
There’s a free trial to sample the service, however SwitchVPN will provide you with a no-strings unconditional 30-day guarantee, with no sneaky ‘can’t use over 100MB’ clauses within the tiny print. If you are unhappy, they say, send an email and you will get your reimbursement.
The SwitchVPN web site makes familiar guarantees concerning keeping “zero logs” and that “we don’t log any activity or information of our users”,however we’ve learned that these claims do not perpetually mean very much.
SwitchVPN did not improve our confidence by tell us we could ascertain a lot of in a “privacy guarantee”, however after we clicked the link, it simply pointed us back to an equivalent page.
“Company might collect potentially personally-identifying data, like IP addresses, media access control addresses, network routes, technical data, usage statistics, traffic patterns and social sharing patterns to better understand how the Service is getting used.”
Installing SwitchVPN on Windows wasn’t as straightforward of a method as we’d have liked.
The SwitchVPN signup method uses a well-known wizard-type approach. opt for a plan, click Next; enter an email address and password, click Next; select a payment method (card, PayPal, Bitcoin) and fork over your details. there have been no surprises of any kind, and our subscription was active in less than a second.
The account page has visibly clear buttons to disable auto-renewal or cancel your subscription.
We found, downloaded and launched the Windows installer, however noticed many problems over time.
Surprisingly SwitchVPN’s installer did not embody the name of the product
The installer had an awfully generic name (installer_offline.exe), and therefore the file properties did not embody a product name. There was a reference to ‘CS Systems’, however unless you knew it had been the company behind SwitchVPN, that would not mean pretty much.
The initial setup gave the impression to be incomplete. when it finished, we launched the consumer and tapped Connect, and were straightaway given with a Windows dialog asking if we wished to put in SwitchVPN’s network device. we’d have expected the installer to handle that, however puzzlingly, it did not even appear to be necessary, because the client connected whereas we were still inquisitive whether or not we must always install the adapter (eventually, we did).
Later, after we tried to uninstall SwitchVPN via control panel, a Windows dialog told us there had been an error and it might have been uninstalled. we reinstalled the program over itself, hoping this might fix the matter, however this simply left us with 2 SwitchVPN entries on the Programs list, each of that displayed errors after we tried to uninstall them.
This may sound like technical nit-picking, however keep in mind that a VPN will play around with your network settings, and perhaps cause all kinds of problems. If there isn’t any straightforward thanks to uninstall it, and attempting solely makes the situation worse, that would become a true downside.
The SwitchVPN client started well, a stripped-back interface displaying our current ip, a checked choice to ‘automatically choose server’ and one ‘Connect’ button.
Despite these basic appearance, there is a ton of functionality tucked away here. a tap on this location provides you an inventory of obtainable servers, for example, with an indicator of load, and a straightforward Favorites system to stay your ordinarily used locations grouped together.
You can simply change your preferred VPN protocol in SwitchVPN’s settings. The Settings panel offers you lots of protocol choices, together with OpenVPN protocol and UDP, IKEv2, SSTP, L2TP and PPTP. specialists will tweak MTU size and set up HTTPS or SOCKS5 proxies.
An integrated kill switch permits blocking your internet access if the VPN connection drops. while that sounds nice, there is a huge problem: the client says the kill switch solely works for OpenVPN connections. that is a significant weakness, and not a problem we recall seeing elsewhere.
There is a section which includes a switch to ‘Send anonymous diagnostic data’ which apparently shares ‘anonymous speed-test data and information concerning whether’ VPN connections succeeded. whereas this may well be harmless, we weren’t affected to see that this feature was enabled by default, and is tucked away in Settings so most users might never even know it exists.
We appreciate VPN providers may have the benefit of telemetry, however they ought to be clear regarding it, ask if you want to modify it within the installer, and have it turned off unless you choose otherwise.
More problems appeared as we tested the client’s options. The kill switch seems to be entirely hooked in to the open source OpenVPN executable, thus if one thing happens to it method – it crashes, say – your net access will not be blocked.
And if you are not connecting OpenVPN, the connection will fail while not raising any alert. The consumer interface updates to indicate you have disconnected, however if it’s decreased or behind a window, there isn’t any manner you may grasp you have simply lost your protection.
SwitchVPN was able to unblock Netflix within the U.S.A. in our tests
SwitchVPN does not push its web site unblocking abilities as a significant point, however, do not be fooled, it’s higher than you think that. we found the service got us into US-only YouTube, BBC iPlayer via one of the 2 Great Britain servers, and even U.S.A. Netflix.
We take a look at the performance of each VPN we have a tendency to review security
Performance was reasonable in our tests. native Great Britain connections managed wonderful transfer speeds of 65Mbps and better, and therefore the nearest European cities delivered an equivalent. The United States was usable however typically unsatisfying, though, with speeds right down to 25-30Mbps, and Asia was fractionally lower at a mean 20Mbps.
We rounded off our review with some privacy tests, and that they raised a lot of issues. though DNS leaks were prevented once using the OpenVPN protocol (probably as a result of the OpenVPN method was handling the low-level technicalities), our original DNS servers were used after we switched to alternative protocols, like IKEv2.
The issue here is not only the technical failure, it is the lack of transparency to the user. SwitchVPN’s web site claims the service protects you with a kill switch and by blocking DNS leaks, however it does not tell you that these options solely work on some protocols. opt for the ‘wrong’ protocol and you will scale back your level of protection, in all probability while not even realizing.
SwitchVPN – Bottom Line
SwitchVPN looks sensible and is simple to use. however digging deeper discovered multiple privacy and technical problems, leaving us with very little confidence that it will deliver the extent of protection we’d expect. The service may still work as a simple web site unblocker, however we would not use it for anything privacy-critical.
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