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The internet is no longer as anonymous as it was. Today, most websites store and share your preferences, searches and pages you’ve visited. The most famous case is known as Cambridge Analytica. Yes, trading and profiting from so-called cookies is a huge business today. Today, I visit a car sales site, and later, I’m seeing ads for cars pop up on most of the sites I visit. Someone else may be worried about their own government or even employer tracking activity on the Internet. Or maybe a neighbor with the necessary skills? Or just someone wanting to hide his activity when being online. For those who value their anonymity, privacy, and security, our site offers a series of VPN service providers. Today I’m going to review and add a provider from Switzerland, the land of ski resorts, chocolates and banks. Will it be as good as the local chocolate, and is it worth the fee?
PrivadoVPN launched in 2019 from its office in Switzerland and initially provided services for Windows and Android devices. Later it expanded its support to iOS, Mac, FireTV stick and Android TV. What’s interesting, is the support for home routers, which can protect your entire household with a single setup.
A necessary part of user protection must be a no log storage policy (Zero log policy). Of course, this cannot be tested, and we have to rely on the provider.
Looking at the price list of services, it is astonishing that anyone is willing to provide services for free. Exactly, the price list starts at 0 euros per month. Of course, the offer is limited by the number of data transferred, and does not include Parental control, threat Prevention, or ad-blocking. However, the device support does not change, and you can use the service for free on your mobile phone, computer or directly on your home router. For €5 per month on a 12-month subscription, you can enjoy the full-service package, which is enhanced with ad-blocking, peer-to-peer network support, threat prevention and social network blocking.
Sounds like a complicated decision, a truncated package of services for free or a full package of security for the price of five milks a month? Is my privacy worth the loss of speed, and in fact, how much bandwidth I’m going to lose when I use PrivadoVPN’s services? Is VPN going to really protect me and my family as presented? We also took a closer look at added features from a family perspective and whether it might be better to search for different providers (e.g. ExpressVPN, Cyberghost VPN etc.).
People choose a home connection mainly in terms of the speed at which they can upload and download data. Comparing speeds while the VPN is on and off is a basic indicator that reveals whether a VPN connection from a given provider has a sufficient network of servers with fast enough connection. According to marketing reports, the company offers 318 servers in 45 countries around the world. There are 44 countries available in the app, but it is normal with similar services, the number changes frequently. More importantly, all continents are represented, so you won’t be surprised while on holiday or business trip. It should be noted that all measurements were made under the same conditions, and I did not interfere in any way with the measurement itself.
The app can choose the most suitable server to connect to by itself. In my case, it gave me the choice of Vienna. Changing the server is easy and the app recommends you a server based on the latency.
At this point, it should be said that during all measurements, I had Parental Lock, Threat prevention and AdBlock enabled. From the results, you can see that PrivadoVPN doesn’t have a big impact on connection speeds, which is a big advantage.
PrivadoVPN – connection speed test
|Location||Download [Mbps]||Upload [Mbps]||Ping [ms]|
|United States (New York)||30,12||21,56||103|
|Australia (Sydney, Melbourne)||20,19||9,77||285|
|New Zealand (Auckland, Wellington)||23,57||1,29||314|
|Brazil (Sao Paulo)||20||16,32||224|
The Windows app is very simple and intuitive. When you start it, it evaluates your location and chooses the best server to connect to. If the selected server is not suitable for you, one can select a more suitable one. You can add that server to your favorites to make it easier to connect to in the future. When making your choice, the application will help you with server selection by measuring latency and thus recommending a suitable server. The app for Android phone is exactly same. By making the apps on different platforms same, it only supports easy transition from computers to mobile devices and back.
The app supports different protocols for VPNs. The developers have made it easy for users with the automatic protocol selection feature. In the app, you can set which apps and programs should use VPN and which should not, called split-tunneling feature. A Kill switch function is also available in all versions. This feature checks your connection and if the VPN connection accidentally drops during a download, the app will prevent further data downloads until the VPN tunnel reconnects.
The connection itself took roughly 8 seconds. The disconnection was completed in half of the time.
The Android app is indistinguishable from the Windows version. It is nice to see the quality of the connection to the selected server as well.
Home and small office use
I have a different devices at home, ranging from TV, computers, mobile phones and smart devices. If I want to secure all devices at once, ideally, I should set up the router to use PrivadoVPN. Basically, you hide your entire network in the VPN you’ve configured on your device, whether it’s a router or a firewall. Unfortunately, the provider has limited service up to 10 connections even in the paid version and you may run into technical limits. Setup is easy, and even the vendor itself provides clear tutorials for setting up a VPN, in my scenario, Asus router. After a short search on the Internet, the user will also find tutorials for other types of routers or operating systems of these devices such as OpenWRT. PrivadoVPN is highly recommended for configuration support. Of course, the final design and where you set up PrivadoVPN depends entirely on your network design and devices. Setup took no more than 10 minutes and really can be done by anyone with basic IT skills.
Advanced features and support for PrivadoVPN
PrivadoVPN also supports downloading and uploading torrents. The setup is again very well documented, and the user can feel safe even on popular sites to download various files. In the web interface for PrivadoVPN setup, in the Control tower section, you can enable parental control and threat control.
It must be said that these features should protect your loved ones. But only in a very limited form. Yes, the controls for social networks like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and TikTok are fine and so is the ability to disable them individually. With a proper and more sophisticated home firewall or router setup, I would be able to differentiate access to websites based on the user. Also, the parental lock feature is inherently important in any home, but it always depends on the indexing of individual sites, which is pain point here.
Therefore, it might be nice if PrivadoVPN also blocked non-indexed sites, so that kids don’t access sites they shouldn’t be able to access. And at the same time, there could be a way for parents to bypass this setting, for example by using a password. The problem is that even with parental protection turned on, I can get to sites where user can buy alcohol, sites with violent content and gun manufacturers. Also, the parental lock has no control over downloaded content even from popular peer-to-peer sites. This allows the app to allow anyone to download anything. It is also worth mentioning the threat control that checks the content and blocks Malware, Ransomware, Phishing etc. Interestingly, with a big exclamation mark, with threat protection turned on, I downloaded a file which is used for testing Malware protection from eicar.org website, with flying colors. Clearly these services are only added features, but personally I wouldn’t rely on them and would reach for other security solutions.
The PrivadoVPN package also includes a secure DNS service. The DNS service translates domain names into IP addresses so you can connect to your favorite website using easy to read URL. If a user want to safely navigate on the internet, they must use secure DNS. PrivadoVPN also provides such a service. It’s great that web interface tells you if you are using secure DNS services and if should use the Privado application.
Pros and cons
|Pros (+)||Cons (+)|
|+ Connection speed||- Family control and Threat prevention do not provide enough protection|
|+ Peer-to-peer networking support||- Average number of servers worldwide|
|+ Router support|
|+ Easy to read documentation|
|+ Kill switch|
|+ Free service|
|+ Same looking app across OS|
|+ Split tunneling|
PrivadoVPN is a service worth looking at and excels at what it’s really supposed to do. To provide a VPN service that is available in several countries of the world, with a fast connection, low latency and an intuitive application. Support for multiple devices and support for peer-to-peer services should be highlighted. On the other hand, I would not rely 100% on additional services such as ad blocking, social networks and threat prevention, and I would prefer to deal with these services in a different way, which is obviously more difficult to set up. Tests have shown that site blocking has its flaws and the developers still have a lot to work on, but they have an excellent foundation and I would definitely recommend PravidoVPN.
Also read our regularly updated comparison of fast VPNs.