PrivateVPN Review 2024: Small But Mighty, Is It Worth It?

PrivateVPN offers a robust blend of speed, security, and ease of use, providing a compelling VPN option that excels in streaming and online privacy.
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3.8
Editorial Rating
Learn More
On PrivateVPN's website

VPN
PrivateVPN
  • Unlocks Netflix and BBC iPlayer
  • Budget-friendly and accepts bitcoin payments
  • Limited number of servers

PrivateVPN is a reliable virtual private network that balances cost, performance, and usability. True to its name, PrivateVPN offers a wide array of security features, including OpenVPN and WireGuard protocols, a strict no-logs policy, and military-grade encryption. 

In our PrivateVPN review, we break down everything from pricing and security features to whether it unblocks Netflix based on our extensive testing and analysis. We also cover PrivateVPN's pros and cons to help you decide if it's the best VPN provider for you

Pros
  • Unlocks streaming platforms like Netflix and BBC iPlayer
  • User-friendly interface
  • Can purchase with cryptocurrency like Bitcoin payments
Cons
  • Has a very small server network
  • No free version or viable free trial
  • No-logs policy is not third-party audited 
In this article
PrivateVPN review at a glance
Our experience
Who is PrivateVPN best for?
Prices and subscriptions
Features
Test results
Compatibility
Customer support
Top alternatives
FAQs
Bottom line: Is PrivateVPN good?

PrivateVPN review at a glance

Price $2.00–$9.90/mo
Free version No
# of simultaneous connections Up to 10 devices
Number of servers 200+ servers in 63 countries
VPN protocol OpenVPN UDP, OpenVPN TCP, L2TP VPN and IPsec VPN, WireGuard
Encryption AES-256-bit encryption
No-logs policy No logs
Headquarters Sweden
Netflix access Yes
Learn more Get PrivateVPN

How we test and rate VPNs

We complete standardized hands-on tests for each VPN we review so we can put their claims to the test. This includes vigorous third-party testing by comparing our internet speed while connected to different servers, checking for DNS leaks, making sure the kill switch actually works, and more. We also make sure we can comfortably access popular streaming sites, like Netflix, and still do our day-to-day work without interruption.

Once we’ve completed the testing, our editorial rating is calculated by taking into account key features you’d expect from a good product. We score each VPN in the following categories and use a weighted average to calculate the final rating out of 5 stars: price, server count, speed, security, and features.


Our experience

The experience of downloading and installing PrivateVPN was straightforward and user-friendly — the process was a breeze. Clear instructions are provided every step of the way, making it easy even for those new to VPNs.

PrivateVPN offers to walk you through a quick tutorial when you first install it.
PrivateVPN tutorial

We also like that you can choose between a simple view and an advanced view in the PrivateVPN desktop app. The advanced view reveals more advanced settings, such as the kill switch and encryption, but you don’t need to dig through these if you’re a VPN newbie and prefer the simple view.

Thanks to the clearly laid-out server list, choosing and connecting to a server was simple. You can also easily star your favorite server and compare server latency. The VPN connected swiftly without any hitches. 

PrivateVPN servers list
PrivateVPN servers list

Special features, such as the kill switch, were easily accessible in the Connection Guard section of the app and were simple to configure.

For the most part, we didn't have any dramatic issues testing PrivateVPN. We did notice an overall slowdown of our PC performance when connected to PrivateVPN, but there wasn't a terrible lag, and we were still able to complete our daily actions. 

Who is PrivateVPN best for?

  • Recommended for individuals who want strong privacy features without sacrificing ease of use

PrivateVPN is perfect for anyone who values the ability to unblock geo-restricted content, including popular streaming platforms such as Netflix, Disney+, and BBC iPlayer. The company is based in Sweden and has a strict no-logs policy, which is particularly attractive to those concerned about privacy, as Sweden has stringent privacy laws.

PrivateVPN supports multiple VPN protocols, including OpenVPN UDP, OpenVPN TCP, L2TP, IPsec, and WireGuard. It’s a great choice for both newcomers and tech-savvy users. It also allows you to connect up to 10 devices simultaneously, which makes it a great choice for people who have a lot of devices or for large households.

The ability to pay with Bitcoin also adds an extra layer of privacy, especially for those who want to keep their purchases anonymous.

PrivateVPN prices and subscriptions

PrivateVPN offers several subscription plans catering to different needs and budgets. For the monthly plan, the price stands at $9.90/mo, which is slightly below average compared to other VPN services.

However, long-term PrivateVPN plans offer considerable discounts. The three-month plan costs $6.00/mo, which is billed at $17.99 every three months. Finally, the 36-month plan comes in at an absolute steal at $2.00/mo.

The 36-month plan is highly competitive with other VPN providers. The monthly cost is justified by the range of features and performance on offer.

PrivateVPN cost

Plan 1-month plan 3-month plan 36-month plan
Price per month $9.90/mo $6.00/mo $2.00/mo
Price per year $118.80/yr $71.96/yr ($17.99 every 3 mos) $72.00/yr (billed every 12 mos after 36 mos)

Considering the value it provides for the cost, especially with its longer-term plans, PrivateVPN stands out as a good option for those seeking to save money on a VPN and enhance their online privacy, access geo-restricted content, or secure their data. 

PrivateVPN offers a 7-day free trial for new users, although it's a bit of a runaround to get it to work. You must provide your credit card information to unlock it, but this isn't made explicitly clear. Instead, when we clicked to try the VPN risk-free, we were directed to the subscription page. Even when we got the free download to install (eventually), we were prompted to sign up — via the subscription page, again. But PrivateVPN does offer the standard 30-day money-back guarantee.

PrivateVPN features

PrivateVPN can unblock geo-restricted streaming services while providing a good range of VPN protocols and safety features. As you'll find with any good VPN provider, PrivateVPN covers the basics of security features, including a kill switch, military-grade encryption, and multiple VPN protocols. However, a split tunneling option is not included, which most secure providers offer.

But, PrivateVPN does offer "extras" like a Stealth VPN feature, port forwarding, and P2P/torrenting support. We also like that PrivateVPN offers a number of dedicated IP servers. Many VPN providers charge extra for a dedicated IP, so it’s nice to see this built-in at no additional cost. 

PrivateVPN also offers several dedicated IP servers, which you don't need to pay extra for.

Some features that PrivateVPN is missing include:

  • Ad blocker and anti-malware tools
  • Specialty servers for torrenting and streaming
  • Double VPN (also called multi-hop)

If you’re looking for any of these features, check out our guide to the best VPN apps for alternatives.

Another aspect where PrivateVPN falls short compared to some of its competitors is its server count.

Server count and countries

  • 200+ servers in 63 countries

PrivateVPN offers a small network of over 200 servers spread across 63 countries, including Germany, France, the U.K., Mexico, Australia, the U.S., Canada, Japan, Brazil, and South Africa. Even though this is definitely a subpar server network compared to top-tier VPN providers (who typically boast thousands of available servers in 100+ countries), PrivateVPN servers still offer a good degree of versatility and global coverage.

The importance of server count and the spread of locations can't be overstated. A large server count generally means less server load, which can translate into faster speeds. This is especially key if you plan on using your VPN for streaming or torrenting.

Having server locations in multiple countries allows you to bypass any geo-restrictions more effectively. It’s absolutely necessary to have access to a server in the country or region you’re trying to access content from. Let’s say you want to watch a specific TV show that’s only available on the U.K. version of Netflix. To do so, you need to have access to VPN servers within the UK.

Although the PrivateVPN server network is smaller than other VPNs like NordVPN and Surfshark, it does well in providing access to a suitably diverse range of countries. This diversity offers flexibility when it comes to bypassing geo-restrictions and accessing content from around the globe.

However, if you require connections to more specific or less popular locations, the limited number of servers might be a bit restrictive.

No-logs policy and headquarters

  • PrivateVPN logs policy: No logs
  • PrivateVPN headquarters: Sweden

A no-logs policy is a promise from the VPN provider not to record or store any of your online browsing activities. This means the VPN has no information to provide to a government agency or a third party if it’s requested.

Of course, you’ll need to provide some information to PrivateVPN in order to create an account and pay for your subscription. This may include your email address and credit card number, depending on how you set up your account and choose to pay. However, we’re happy to see that PrivateVPN only shares this information as necessary to provide you with its service. This data is also only stored as long as necessary.

Knowing that no information is stored adds trust in the VPN you’ve decided to use. The no-logs policy ensures that your online data cannot be misused. PrivateVPN's commitment to not keeping logs is a major plus for privacy-conscious users. In fact, PrivateVPN markets itself as a no-logs VPN, meaning it doesn't log any data. However, there is no evidence of a third-party audit of PrivateVPN's no-logs policy. So we just have to take the company's word for it. 

The location of a VPN's headquarters is also crucial, as it determines which country's laws the VPN provider is subject to. Sweden, where PrivateVPN is headquartered, is known for its strong privacy protections and is not part of any major international surveillance alliances like the 14 Eyes alliance. This means the government is less likely to request user data — but even if it did, PrivateVPN's no-logs policy means there’s no data to hand over.

Split tunneling

Unfortunately, PrivateVPN doesn't include a split tunneling feature. Split tunneling allows you to choose which part of your internet traffic goes through the VPN and which part accesses the internet directly. This means you can protect your sensitive data by routing it through the VPN while accessing local websites as usual. 

Kill switch

A kill switch is a safeguard designed to automatically disconnect your device from the internet if your VPN connection drops unexpectedly. This can help prevent your real IP address and other sensitive information from being exposed when the VPN connection drops. The PrivateVPN kill switch can be activated in the app’s Connection Guard settings.

PrivateVPN kill switch feature located under Connection Guard
PrivateVPN kill switch feature

VPN protocols

PrivateVPN also offers a variety of VPN protocols, including OpenVPN UDP, OpenVPN TCP, L2TP, IPsec, and WireGuard. The choice of protocol depends on whether you prioritize speed or security. For a balance of both, OpenVPN is usually the recommended choice. However, the VPN app can auto-select a protocol if you're unsure which to use.

PrivateVPN dashboard displays the protocols and encryption
PrivateVPN dashboard displays the protocols and encryption

Stealth VPN

Lastly, you can choose to turn on Stealth VPN, a feature that essentially hides the fact that you’re using a VPN and helps you get around censorship in countries like China and Russia.

PrivateVPN Stealth VPN mode can bypass censorship
PrivateVPN Stealth VPN mode can bypass censorship

PrivateVPN test results

When testing VPNs, it's crucial to evaluate their impact on internet speed. A great VPN should provide security and privacy features without significantly compromising your connection speed. To assess this, we carried out speed tests with PrivateVPN, both with the VPN turned on and off.

Speed tests

Our testing showed that using PrivateVPN affected our internet speed, but the reduction was within acceptable ranges considering the encryption and routing processes involved. The tests were performed on a Windows device.

To set a baseline, we conducted an initial speed test without the VPN turned on, which showed a download speed of 374.90 Mbps, upload speed of 370.52 Mbps, and latency of 9 ms.

With PrivateVPN turned on and connected to a U.S. server, the download speed dropped to 342.23 Mbps which is a decrease of approximately 8.7%. The upload speed dropped 36% to 237.05 Mbps, and latency increased to 24 ms, an increase of 166.7%.

When connected to the U.K. (EU) server, the download speed decreased by 35.2% and the upload speed by 57.1%. Latency increased significantly to 144 ms.

Using an Australian server, the download speed reduced further to 149.68 Mbps (a 60.1% decrease), and upload speed dropped to 48.77 Mbps (an 86.8% decrease). Latency here was highest at 241 ms (a 2,577.8% increase).

Despite these reductions, it's worth noting that even with the decreases, the speeds were still sufficient for most online activities, including streaming and video calls. However, you should expect some lag or buffering when connected to servers that are far from your physical location.

Our speed tests while connected to PrivateVPN's Australia server showed a slight slowdown.

PrivateVPN speed test results

Test type No VPN US to US US to EU US to AU
Download speed 374.90 Mbps 342.23 Mbps 243.01 Mbps 149.68 Mbps
Upload speed 370.52 Mbps 237.05 Mbps 158.78 Mbps 48.77 Mbps
Latency (ping) 9 ms 24 ms 144 ms 241 ms
Download speed % difference -8.7% -35.2% -60.1%
Upload speed % difference -36% -57.1% -86.8%
Latency % difference 166.7% 1500% 2577.8%
Test results as of 06/14/2024.

PrivateVPN Netflix tests

  • PrivateVPN Netflix test results: PrivateVPN unblocked Netflix libraries in the USA, U.K., and Canada but not in Australia. 

Our tests showed that PrivateVPN allowed us to access Netflix libraries across different regions. People often turn to VPNs to bypass geo-restrictions imposed by streaming platforms like Netflix and Hulu. This enables them to enjoy content that isn’t available in their region.

Although it took a while to connect to a U.K. server, PrivateVPN was eventually able to access and stream the U.K. regional Netflix library from the USA
Although it took a while to connect to a U.K. server, PrivateVPN was eventually able to access and stream the U.K. regional Netflix library from the USA

In our tests, PrivateVPN proved reliable in unblocking Netflix in the U.S., U.K., and Canada. It did so without any real issues, including lag or buffering. (The U.K. connection took a while, but it still worked.) This means that no matter where you are in the world, you can use PrivateVPN to access a vast array of Netflix content as well as other streaming services like Disney+ and BBC iPlayer.

PrivateVPN quickly unblocked Canadian Netflix when connected to a server in Toronto from the USA.
PrivateVPN quickly unblocked Canadian Netflix when connected to a server in Toronto from the USA.

It’s important to note that VPN performance varies quite significantly. Therefore, its ability to access Netflix content from different regions will change as Netflix continues its attempts to detect and block VPNs. For example, PrivateVPN was able to access the Australian Netflix library during our 2023 test. But now, in 2024, we received an error when trying to connect to Netflix using the PrivateVPN Brisbane, AU server. 

PrivateVPN failed to unblock the Australian Netflix library from the USA during our 2024 testing
PrivateVPN failed to unblock the Australian Netflix library from the USA during our 2024 testing

PrivateVPN Netflix test results

US to US US to UK US to Canada US to AU
Did it work with Netflix?
Test results as of 06/14/2024.

DNS and WebRTC leak tests

  • PrivateVPN DNS leak test results: No leaks
  • PrivateVPN WebRTC leak test results: No leaks

DNS, or Domain Name System, is the protocol that translates website names into IP addresses. A DNS leak occurs when your VPN fails to secure your DNS queries, revealing your internet service provider’s (ISP’s) DNS servers and, consequently, your online activities to your ISP or other third parties. PrivateVPN passed our DNS leak test, which means it has adequate DNS leak protection and maintains your privacy.

Why should I worry about my ISP seeing my online activity?

Your internet provider may use your internet activity to decide whether to throttle your bandwidth, which slows down your internet speeds. Your ISP may also share your data with government agencies. Lastly, ISPs are also known to sell your online activity data to advertising agencies, allowing the advertisers to then bombard you with targeted ads.

WebRTC is a feature that enables video and voice calls, as well as P2P sharing within a browser. It stands for Web Real-Time Communication. However, WebRTC is prone to IP leaks, even if you’re using a VPN.

A WebRTC leak test checks if your real IP address is exposed while using a VPN. PrivateVPN passed the WebRTC leak test, meaning it successfully masked our IP address, reinforcing its promise of anonymity.

Passing both these tests is essential for a VPN to ensure it maintains your online privacy and security. With these results, PrivateVPN has demonstrated its commitment to providing users with a reliable and secure VPN experience.

Kill switch test

  • Kill switch test results: Failed

A kill switch protects your real IP in the event your VPN connection is disrupted or your internet drops. A VPN kill switch worth its salt won't reveal your IP, but PrivateVPN didn't hold up to its security promise. 

One way to test whether the enabled kill switch works is to switch servers during a leak test. However, during testing, our IP in Pennsylvania was exposed. But PrivateVPN did provide a pop-up warning when we went to switch servers. 

Our real IP was exposed during the kill switch test
Our real IP was exposed during the kill switch test 

According to the info bubble, the kill switch feature is designed to cut your internet in the event of a server failure, not conceal your real IP if you lose your internet or VPN connections. 

PrivateVPN's kill switch will cut off your internet in the event of a server error
PrivateVPN's kill switch will cut off your internet in the event of a server error

PrivateVPN compatibility

PrivateVPN works with several devices and platforms and offers dedicated apps for a handful of operating systems and device types. We’d love to see PrivateVPN offer more apps for different devices, like smart TVs and routers.

Here's a quick list of device and mobile apps that PrivateVPN provides:

  • Windows 7, 8, 8.1, and 10
  • macOS X
  • iOS (iPhone and iPad)
  • Android 4.0 and later
  • Linux
  • Routers
  • Kodi
  • Amazon Fire OS
  • Google Chrome (browser extension)

PrivateVPN customer support

PrivateVPN offers several customer support avenues to help you with any issues or questions you may have, including 24/7 live chat, email (support@privatevpn.com), and a self-guided support center. 

Self-service center

PrivateVPN boasts a wealth of online resources, including FAQs, setup guides, and a troubleshooting section on its website. These resources are comprehensive and easy to follow, even for VPN newcomers.

PrivateVPN offers numerous customer support avenues to help you with any issues or questions you may have.

24/7 live chat

All plans include a 24/7 live chat option, so you can get real-time assistance whenever you need it.

PrivateVPN support options
PrivateVPN support options

During our interaction, we found the customer service representatives to be prompt, friendly, and helpful. They were ready to clarify doubts and resolve issues effectively. Overall, PrivateVPN's customer support measures up well, so you’ll likely have access to the help you need when you need it.

Top alternatives

While PrivateVPN offers a solid VPN service, it's always good to have alternatives in mind. Each VPN service has its own set of strengths and potential drawbacks. Here are three tested alternatives to PrivateVPN, each with its unique features and capabilities.

Price $3.99–$15.99/mo $2.19–$17.95/mo $2.03–$12.99/mo
Free version
Max # of connected devices 10 Unlimited 7
# of servers 6,300+ servers in 111 countries 3,200 in 100 countries Servers in 100 countries
VPN protocol NordLynx (WireGuard), OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPsec WireGuard, OpenVPN, IKEv2 Lightway, OpenVPN, IKEv2
Encryption AES 256-bit AES 256-bit AES 256-bit
No-logs policy No logs No logs No logs
Headquarters Panama The Netherlands Romania
Netflix access
Learn more Get NordVPN Get Surfshark Get CyberGhost

NordVPN features all the bells and whistles, including a double VPN, Onion over VPN, obfuscated servers, P2P, Meshnet (which securely connects up to 60 devices), dedicated IP, specialty servers, Threat Protection (an ad-blocking and antimalware feature), and more. Plus, it's backed by its proprietary NordLynx protocol, making it a super secure, super fast VPN provider. 

Surfshark is another popular VPN that stands out for its unlimited simultaneous connections and competitive pricing. It offers excellent security features such as CleanWeb, an anti-malware and tracker blocker. Coupled with strong performance and easy-to-use apps, this makes Surfshark a great alternative to PrivateVPN.

CyberGhost is a user-friendly VPN service known for its high speeds and excellent security. It also has a vast network of NoSpy servers spread across the globe, making it a reliable choice for accessing geo-blocked content and maintaining your online privacy. It supports up to seven simultaneous connections and offers a generous 45-day money-back guarantee.

PrivateVPN FAQs


+

Is PrivateVPN safe to use?

Yes, PrivateVPN is safe to use. It uses strong encryption, has a no-logs policy, and includes features like a kill switch for added security.


+

Is PrivateVPN good for Netflix?

Yes, PrivateVPN can bypass Netflix's geo-restrictions, enabling you to watch Netflix content from different regions without issues.


+

Does PrivateVPN have a free trial?

Yes, PrivateVPN offers a 7-day free trial as well as a 30-day money-back guarantee, giving you a risk-free opportunity to test the service.


+

Does PrivateVPN sell data?

No, PrivateVPN adheres to a strict no-logs policy, which means it doesn't store or sell your data. It’s also headquartered in Sweden, which has strong data protection laws.

Bottom line: Is PrivateVPN good?

PrivateVPN offers a sufficient balance between speed, privacy, and versatility. It performs well with stable connections and successfully unblocks streaming platforms like Netflix and BBC iPlayer. This, plus its low price for the 36-month plan, makes it a great solution for casual browsers and heavy streamers alike. 

We especially liked its user-friendly interface, which makes it a great choice for newcomers to the VPN world. Finally, let’s not forget its strict no-logs policy and the fact that it's based in a country known for respecting privacy (Sweden).

However, PrivateVPN has fewer servers than most of its competitors. This could limit its functionality in certain situations. The good thing is that PrivateVPN manages these servers well by providing reliable and speedy connections. Even so, if you’re looking for a larger server count or specific VPN features, check out our list of the best VPN services for more recommendations.

3.8
Editorial Rating
Learn More
On PrivateVPN's website
VPN
PrivateVPN
  • Unlocks Netflix and BBC iPlayer
  • Budget-friendly and accepts bitcoin payments
  • Limited number of servers
Author Details
Ryan Clancy is a freelance writer and blogger. With 5+ years of mechanical engineering experience, he's passionate about all things engineering and tech. He loves bringing engineering (especially mechanical) down to a level that everyone can understand.
Kate is an Editor at All About Cookies. She has 8+ years of digital publishing experience as a content manager, developmental editor, and curriculum writer. She leverages specializations in EdTech and educational publishing to create impactful, well-researched content that aids learners of all ages.