While the Five Eyes may sound like a criminal organization straight out of a James Bond film, this is no fiction. The secretive sharing of data and technology between the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom has created what is undoubtedly the most sophisticated online public surveillance operation in history. In other words, if you’ve been on the internet, there’s a good chance the Five Eyes know about it.
Most regular internet users know that VPN stands for the virtual private networks that permit anonymous browsing. That, however, tends to be about as far as the knowledge goes. The Five Eyes are VERY interested in VPNs because the anonymity the technology provides makes it harder for them to do their “job” of spying.
VPNs vs the Five Eyes
Concerns about privacy laws, confidentiality, and even the legality of accessing some content gave rise to VPNs originally. This is because installing a VPN permits you to get past the geographical blocks and use websites that are supposed to be blocked in your country.
For instance, Netflix blocks most of its U.S. content to other foreign countries. Similarly, people in the United States may not be able to access TV shows and movies shown in South America. VPNs create a loophole around this sort of restriction and allow users to reach blocked websites.
It should be obvious why the Five Eyes surveillance alliance is not a big fan of VPNs. They want to know that online activity is being monitored. VPNs make it more difficult to do that.
If it seems that this organization is nothing more than a band of spies in search of questionable activity without much probable cause to rely on, you would be right. Since all five of are English-speaking countries, sharing the information they find is ever-so-easy.
The concept behind the Five Eyes has been around for awhile. In fact, the surveillance agreement and data sharing that form the basis of this modern arrangement were established many years ago as the UK-USA agreement that was created in 1943 during the throes of World War II.
After the Cold War ended, other countries were offered membership in the alliance, mainly as a result of efforts to deal with the growing threat of international terrorism.
As the list of participants in the Five Eyes has grown, the extent of online global monitoring has increased as well. For a taste of the extremes to which these countries go to monitor users, check out this recounting of the expose’ of Edward Snowden in 2013.
As the work of the five countries has become more sophisticated, funding has continued to rise and the demand has been ever greater to include more security and intelligence agencies. Some of the most powerful acronyms in the world are involved, such as the FBI, CIA, NSA, MI6, ASIS, NZSIS, AGO, GCSB, and many more.
While the activities of the organization are offered up as necessary for law enforcement, it’s not hard to imagine more sinister purposes for the Five Eyes, especially as they go about the business of circumventing privacy protection laws. In case readers have forgotten, it’s against the law for the United States government to spy on its own citizens.
Thanks to the Five Eyes, it’s an easy matter to ask one of the other four countries to do it for them.
The Five Eyes is Just the Beginning
Although the agreement between the five countries may be enough to put fear into those who want to protect their privacy, this is not where the monitoring ends. In fact, there are two more alliances that increase the number of eyes as the number of countries involves is greater. But first, is Japan set to become the sixth member of the Five Eyes?
The Five Eyes Plus One: Japan in the House
The Five Eyes are presently considering the official admission of a sixth member to the world’s most exclusive spy club — Japan. It’s not such a radical step when you consider that the alliance has been able to count on Japanese cooperation dating all the way back to the Cold War. Thanks to its geographical proximity, Japan has contributed much to intelligence-gathering in mainland China, the South China Sea, and North Korea. Formal membership in the Five Eyes would simply put names on the dotted line to back up what is already a boots-on-the-ground reality.
How does the Five Eyes go about the process of adding members? It’s been awhile since they’ve done it but one head of state member simply has to make the nomination. Acceptance or rejection relies on a simple vote. With all Five Eyes countries having been on the receiving end of Japanese intelligence cooperation in recent years, most experts figure the decision is a fait accompli. Let us be the first to say “Welcome!” to the Sixth Eye.
With Denmark, France, Netherlands, and Norway, the original union between the aforementioned five countries expands to the so-called “Nine Eyes” surveillance alliance. Unlike the uninspired creativity of its name, this organization possesses mind-boggling abilities that have only increased with the addition of the new countries.
Ultimately, adding Germany, Belgium, Italy, Sweden, and Spain helped create the final form (for now) of this alliance. With a total of 14 countries, the name of this iteration of the alliance is called “Fourteen Eyes.”
Why Should Users Care?
Although the unsupervised monitoring that occurs by these five countries is difficult to fully comprehend, why should an average user worry? When you consider that a great number of all VPNs in the world are located in one of the aforementioned five countries, and subject to those jurisdictional laws, it would be no surprise to see the practice of using a VPN come under attack.
The bottom line is that if you’re using a VPN in order to remain anonymous, that could become problematical in a Five-Eye country. At that point, privacy will be out the window and the main reason for having a VPN rendered pointless.
Protection from the Alliance
In reality, the easiest way to prevent governments from around the world from spying on your data is to use a VPN located in a different country. For instance, China is not on the list of any alliances where data monitoring is considered normal.
Thus, having a China-based VPN will make it impossible for these groups to reach one’s browsing history. That is, of course, if China does not join the group or happen to be working with them secretly.
The other alternative, which is even easier and cheaper, is to simply rely on website encryption. This can be achieved by allowing the website to engage in secure browsing. In order to confirm that it is indeed secure, one should just look for a green “https://” located on the right side of the actual URL of the website. If it is there, the content and any interaction between the user and the website are encrypted.
It is crucial to understand that there is absolutely no way to completely prevent people from accessing one’s data or browsing history. This is because it is quite literally impossible to create a system that works correctly 100 percent of the time without fail. Sorry, that’s just the reality of life.
In fact, a hacker with enough time, money, and knowledge could theoretically break into even the Pentagon’s vaunted data center. The problem, however, is that most hackers do not possess the proper combination of these three inputs. When a user encrypts his or her data, it dis-incentivizes hackers or governments that monitor online activity from trying to get in because the length of time required creates a rapidly approaching point of diminished returns.
Lastly, users could also micro-manage all of their online activity and files by looking for apps and providers that guarantee privacy. These include organizations like SpiderOak, Truecrypt, DuckDuckGo, OTR chat, and any one of a list of open-source tools which put privacy first.
When compared with some of the best VPNs in the business, Zenmate has made some curious decisions. They offer free and paid plans. With the free plan, you get decent encryption with protocols like L2TP, IKEv2 and IPSec. If you want to have OpenVPN tunneling protocol, which is widely considered the best, then you have to pay for it. However, that’s not the strange thing. The strange thing is that they only offer 128-bit encryption while most of the large competitors offer AES 256-bit encryption.
Another factor that is a detriment for Zenmate is that they are headquartered in Germany. For those of you in the know, Germany is a member of the 14 Eyes network, an agreement through which the government and spy agencies of the various member nations are permitted to snoop on the citizens of the other nations and then freely share whatever data they gather.
Generally, it’s preferable to go with some of the best VPN providers that are headquartered outside of the Five Eyes and 14 Eyes networks. This puts you beyond the reach of the most insidious spy networks and means that record-retention laws are either lax or non-existent. Once again, that’s the kind of protection you want from a VPN.
Security and Encryption
A tunneling protocol is what provides safe, encrypted passage between your computer and all of the Internet. There are many ways to create such a tunnel, with some methods being better and more secure than others. Protocols like PPTP and SSTP have had their day. Although some VPN providers still make these available to users, they generally are nowhere near as secure as the best tunneling protocols.
By far the most highly recommended and widely used tunneling protocol is OpenVPN. It’s an open source software, which means that cybersecurity professionals the world over have examined it for problems and vulnerabilities. Usually, it relies on AES 256-bit encryption, which is the same encryption that many military and government agencies use for their top-secret data. The upshot is that if you’re using OpenVPN protocol, you’ll probably be safe and anonymous regardless of what you do online.
Most of the top-rated VPNs make OpenVPN their default protocol, and for good reason. That choice isn’t so clear cut with Zenmate. Those who opt for their free service and have a Mac will have to use IPSec or IKEv2. These are perfectly acceptable protocols, but with Zenmate there are concerns over firewall vulnerability and limited support on the platform.
People using Windows systems may choose from the same protocols with the addition of L2TP.
It’s only with a paid subscription that customers gain access to OpenVPN protocol, which is the preferred tunneling software by techno-geeks the world over. In other words, Zenmate really wants you to pay for their service.
Even if you pay, you won’t get the same 256-bit encryption that is common with most other reputable VPN providers. Zenmate argues on their website that 256-bit encryption is overkill for the average user. It slows down connection speeds and contributes to higher costs.
However, if you’re really concerned about security and privacy, then you want the strongest encryption you can get. Why take chances?
On a positive note, Zenmate does have a built-in kill switch. This is the mechanism that ends your browsing session if something goes wrong with your VPN. It’s an important measure of protection that no respectable VPN should be without.
How Many Servers Does Zenmate Have?
Zenmate is a relatively new and consequently growing VPN service. It wasn’t long ago that they boasted a network of just 40 servers. Today, that number is close to 300, and these servers are found in more than 30 countries.
Most of Zenmate’s servers are located in Europe. Countries such as the Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Spain, the U.K., the Netherlands, Belgium, and others are represented.
Coverage gets sparse in other regions. North America has 18 servers in the western U.S. and 56 servers in the eastern U.S. Canada has just five. No servers are found in Central America, and there are just two servers available in Brazil. Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Australia all have servers, and the African continent boasts two servers in South Africa.
This network is a bit more expansive than some of the really small ones out there, but it cannot compete with larger players that have thousands of servers located in every corner of the globe.
Can You Use BitTorrent or P2P with Zenmate?
Not so long ago, Zenmate expressly forbids users from any kind of torrenting or P2P activity on their servers. They recently changed their tune so that paying customers may enjoy unlimited torrents. However, it is best to proceed with caution. Hidden within Zenmate’s terms of service is a warning against participating in any activities that sound quite similar to torrenting.
If you decide to torrent or file share on Zenmate, consider yourself warned.
In Zenmate’s favor, you should be able to view Netflix without difficulty while still being connected to the Internet via a VPN. Netflix has become incredibly good at detecting users who have an active VPN. They don’t like this practice because it may enable people to view content that should be blocked in their region. At this time, it seems that Netflix hasn’t caught on to Zenmate, so you can stream to your heart’s content.
How Fast Is Zenmate?
While certainly not the fastest when it comes to VPN speed test results, Zenmate made a fairly respectable showing. Perhaps this is an endorsement of their plan to stick with 128-bit encryption. Most security experts would still prefer the stronger encryption and faster speeds that an even more capable VPN can provide.
The first test was run using one of the Zenmate’s servers in Europe. With a download speed of 63.44 Mbps, it was a pretty good result. The upload rate was more disappointing at 12.81 Mbps.
Testing on a server in the U.S. yielded similar results for downloads, which clocked in at 57.03 Mbps. Uploads dipped well past acceptable limits, dropping to just 2.98 Mbps. That was a full 94 percent slower than the benchmark speed of 53 Mbps.
As far as speed is concerned, Zenmate is sort of middle of the pack. There are far slower providers out there, but there are far faster ones as well, and many of these offer better functionality and privacy.
What Is Zenmate’s Logging Policy?
On the surface, Zenmate’s logging policy seems acceptable. They freely share that they have a “no logging” policy and that Germany has strict privacy laws to which their company practices adhere.
However, when it comes to logging policy, it nearly always pays to read the fine print. Zenmate admits to collecting data concerning what browser and operating system their customers use. This isn’t a direct privacy violation.
Essentially, this says that they are logging your original IP address, the one that your ISP assigns to you. That is a glaring red flag since one of the primary reasons for using a VPN is to hide your IP address. Ideally, you should be able to have all of your interactions with your VPN be absolutely anonymous. With a VPN that makes a record of your IP address, this is impossible.
This is why VPNs that are based outside of the Five Eyes and the 14 Eyes networks will always be superior. It’s possible for them to guarantee a truly anonymous experience.
How Much Does Zenmate Cost?
Zenmate has a limited free option that provides access to only a handful of servers in Romania, Germany, Hong Kong and the U.S. The free package comes with firewall services, TLS encryption, and browser extensions. This means that the free version is much more like a proxy than a VPN.
If you want true VPN protection, then you have three pricing plans from which to choose. The month-by-month plan will cost $11.99 each month. That’s pretty expensive, especially when compared with cheaper VPNs that offer better service.
The one-year plan gives you a break on the price for $3.99 per month, billed one time for $47.88. A more affordable alternative is the two-year plan, which costs just $2.99 per month and is billed one time as $49.20.
These prices are on par with superior VPNs that provide much more bang for your buck.
Is Zenmate Recommended as a VPN?
With their headquarters in Germany and a logging policy that is questionable at best, it is not possible to recommend Zenmate. Far better options with better protection are readily available.
The Hide.me VPN has several things working for it. Chief among these is the company headquarters in Malaysia. Them being located there means that Hide.me is not subject to the jurisdiction of the Five Eyes or even the 14 Eyes agreements. For anyone who is concerned about maintaining privacy online, this is a tremendous perk.
With a home base in Malaysia, the company is not subject to many of the stringent recordkeeping laws that exist in countries like Canada and the U.S. They receive absolution from having to keep extensive archives of data regarding what their customers do online. Consequently, if law enforcement starts demanding information, Hide.me will have little or nothing to give.
Hide.me is a relatively new competitor. It was established in 2012 by a couple of professionals who have backgrounds in IT. Having worked for businesses and governments in various countries, the founders have a solid experience for an understanding of security, privacy and how to maintain both.
Knowing this makes Hide.me’s overall performance more disappointing. It should have been better. Security and encryption practices with this VPN are good, and while Hide.me’s server network is nowhere near the best around, it’s not too shabby either. However, there’s no way to overcome the too-slow data transfer rates with this service.
Security and Encryption
As any respectable VPN should, Hide.me makes the OpenVPN tunneling protocol available. There are many ways to create a tunnel between a user’s computer and the Internet. Some of these methods are better and more reliable than others. Currently, OpenVPN is considered the best available protocol.
One of the reasons for this distinction is that it uses AES 256-bit encryption that has never been compromised and which experts believe will not be hacked for a few billion years. Moreover, OpenVPN is open source software. It means that developers around the world have a hand in testing it for vulnerabilities and making it un-hackable.
In addition, Hide.me’s users may use the IKEv2 or SoftEther protocols. IKEv2 is nearly as indestructible as OpenVPN, making it a reliable choice. SoftEther isn’t available on many VPNs, so it’s a nice touch to see it here, especially since it may make it more difficult for outsiders to track a user’s web traffic.
Hide.me also allows users to select the older SSTP and PPTP tunneling protocols. In general, these are no longer considered secure, and they should be avoided.
Like many of the most highly recommended VPNs, Hide.me is equipped with a kill switch. As soon as the VPN unexpectedly becomes unavailable, it ends your browsing session. This protects you from exposure when you are online.
How Many Servers Does Hide.me Have?
Comparing Hide.me to other, higher profile VPN providers shows that their server network is lacking. They have a presence in more than 30 countries, and excess of 150 servers. That makes their system bigger than some competitors, but it’s nowhere near being able to compete with the big players that have multiple thousands of servers located in nearly every country.
Is this a problem?
If you’re located close to one of Hide.me’s servers, then it may not be. However, it’s vital to be aware that when a VPN has a limited number of servers, then an excessive number of users is being crowded into the same space. This means that bandwidth is limited, and that means slower data transfer rates.
Additionally, because Hide.me only has servers in about 30 countries, the chances are that you won’t find a server that’s close to home. The farther away your computer is from the VPN’s server, the slower your data transfer rates will be. If you travel frequently, then the problems will only multiply. Does Hide.me have server coverage in the places which you typically visit? If not, then this can mean that you either won’t be able to connect to your VPN or that the transfer rates will be so incredibly slow that it’s not worth trying.
The people behind Hide.me have made an effort to ensure geographic diversity with their servers. In North America, you’ll find six servers divided between Canada and the U.S. Mexico and Brazil get one server each. Europe and the U.K. are well covered, and there are even servers in Iceland and Morocco. In the Asian region, servers are found in Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, and India. Sydney, Australia has a server as well.
Can You Use BitTorrent or P2P with Hide.me?
Hide.me offers dedicated servers for using BitTorrent or for P2P activities. That means that to take advantage of torrenting, you have to be able to establish a quick connection with one of these servers.
This VPN does have a specialized proxy that is set up for P2P connections. An unencrypted SOCKS5 proxy, you need to use this with the VPN so that no one can look over your shoulder while you’re sharing files.
If you’re looking for a VPN that makes it possible to stream Netflix, then you should look elsewhere. Hide.me doesn’t offer any specialized servers for streaming Netflix, and attempting to do so while this VPN is operational doesn’t work. Netflix has made no secret of their dislike of people using VPNs to watch geo-restricted programming. They’ve gotten good at detecting who’s using a VPN, and Hide.me isn’t able to fool them.
How Fast Is Hide.me?
Most people have gotten comfortable with incredibly fast Internet load times in recent years. Having to wait even a few additional seconds for a website to load is frustrating.
Most experts agree that using a VPN is going to slow down your data transfer rate. However, VPNs that have a sterling reputation will mean a far less noticeable slowdown. Even though your web traffic is still having to be routed farther away and jump through additional hoops, these VPNs have powerful server networks that can make this happen with barely a hiccup.
Unfortunately, Hide.me does not have one of those networks. They did not perform particularly well in speed tests. Even the relatively close server in New York clocked in at a download speed of just 17.17 Mbps with the upload speed being 10.10 Mbps.
Surprisingly, the speed improved when connecting to a server in Amsterdam. The download rate of 27.60 Mbps was better, as was the upload rate of 19.92 Mbps. Nonetheless, compared to the bigger competitors in the field, Hide.me comes up short.
The results using a server in London were similar to those with the server in Amsterdam. A download rate of 28.69 Mbps and an upload rate of 20.41 Mbps aren’t likely to convince a skeptic to make the switch to Hide.me.
Connecting to a server in Hong Kong predictably slowed down the data transfer rate even more. Downloads at 11.71 Mbps and uploads at 3.19 Mbps aren’t going to win any awards for this VPN.
What Is Hide.Me’s Logging Policy?
Hide.Me is headquartered in Malaysia. As a result, they are not required by local law to keep copious records. This means that when Hide.Me claims that they do not keep logs, you can trust them. With people around the world spending their online time in a variety of ways, this level of protection is more crucial than ever before.
Most people say that what they are doing online is of no interest to anyone else. Moreover, because they are not doing anything wrong, they don’t see any particular problem with an ISP or a VPN tracking their online activity.
If those people gave it some thought, they would probably agree that it is better if no one else is looking over their shoulder when they check their bank account statement or do a little online shopping. They’d also prefer it if no one were snooping on their private social media activity. That’s why a VPN is indispensable these days.
Hide.me goes the extra mile when it comes to reassuring customers that they don’t keep logs. They have been certified by an independent security firm, which can attest that this VPN genuinely does not keep records.
How Much Does Hide.me Cost?
Customers who choose the free option are limited to three servers, connecting one device at a time and a two-gigabyte data cap.
Opting for the Plus plan costs $4.99 per month, but a data cap restriction of 75 GB and single device connectivity still are in place. For $9.99 per month, you can get the Premium plan. This plan has no data cap, and users can connect five devices at once.
Is Hide.me Recommended as a VPN?
There are worse VPN providers out there, but there are far better ones too. Slow transfer rates on Hide.me make other VPNs far more attractive.
China-based Turbo is a VPN service plagued by issues. It’s limited in its scope and application since it is only available for mobile devices. These leave all of your other devices unprotected. You’ll have to pay for a second VPN if you want to protect your desktop computer.
Proponents of Turbo may point out that the company has its headquarters in China, a nation that’s not even a member of the extensive 14 Eyes Network. However, keep in mind that China’s government doesn’t value privacy. Many VPNs are illegal there, and the state approves the ones that are legal. These restrictions mean that your data is filtering through to the Chinese government.
That’s not necessarily a comforting thought.
Additionally, it’s wise to be aware that Turbo is keeping and tracking much of your personal information. The company will blatantly sell some of that data to third parties. If your goal in using a VPN is a private and anonymous online experience without log-keeping, look elsewhere.
Turbo does all right as far as offering encryption and reliable VPN tunneling protocols, but these are about the only areas in which this company performs well. With so many detriments to their name, it’s safe to say that you would be far better off going with one of the best VPN providers that offer far more regarding functionality, security, and anonymity.
Security and Encryption
Turbo’s default setting is to OpenVPN protocol. These protocols are the methods which are used to form a “tunnel” between your computer and the Internet. It’s encrypted so that no one can see your true IP address or even know where you are located.
OpenVPN is currently considered the best available tunneling protocol. Largely, this is because OpenVPN is open source software, which means that many developers have reviewed it for vulnerabilities.
Also in Turbo’s favor, IKEv2 is offered as an alternative tunneling protocol. This is a newer technology that is gaining a foothold in the VPN world.
OpenVPN and IKEv2 come with AES 256-bit encryption. This is the same encryption that is used by government agencies and militaries the world over. Considered uncrackable, you can rest assured that this encryption method is going to keep your data safe.
Turbo VPN’s Server Network
This is one of the most important metrics when it comes to choosing a VPN provider. The larger the provider’s server network is, the faster your connection is likely to be. When a VPN has a robust collection of servers, it means that every customer gets more bandwidth. That translates to faster download rates.
Moreover, a server network that is geographically diverse may ensure faster connections as well. If you can use a server that is relatively close to your actual location, then data transfer rates will improve. On the other hand, if it’s your intention to spoof your location to access geo-restricted sites, then it helps to have a good selection of servers located around the world.
It’s for reasons like these that the most popular VPNs have extensive server networks that include thousands of servers in hundreds of locations. In fact, they boast about how many servers they have and how diverse their locations are.
That’s not the case with Turbo. The company is mum when it comes to their precise number of servers, but they do disclose that those servers are located in 26 places. Likewise, they do not provide information concerning how many of their servers are virtual servers as opposed to hardware servers.
With scant information, it’s safe to assume that when it comes to server networks, Turbo is not prepared to compete with the mainstay VPN companies.
Is Turbo VPN Compatible with BitTorrent or P2P?
Turbo’s FAQ page says that you may get blocked if you use torrents with their service. However, there’s nothing specifically that says you can’t do some file sharing. The data transfer rates are so slow, that you can bet that any torrenting you do will be painful.
Additionally, testing revealed that watching Netflix with Turbo is virtually impossible. The streaming giant does not like to allow people to view their services via a VPN, and they actively block people who try to access them with one. That is the case with Turbo, so you won’t be able to watch Netflix with this VPN.
Speed Test Results with Turbo VPN
On a variety of speed tests, Turbo’s performance was unimpressive. It was incredibly slow. The system used for the tests gave benchmark results of 98.71 Mbps for downloads and 53.00 Mbps for uploads.
With any VPN, you’re going to experience a bit of speed loss. A free VPN means more severe speed loss, and the best VPNs will have little effect at all. Both the free and paid versions of Turbo offered consistently sluggish performance that is unlikely to impress anyone.
In one test, Turbo VPN delivered download speeds of just 1.85 Mbps and similarly dismal upload speeds of 1.87 Mbps. In the early days of the dial-up modem, you may have experienced similar data transfer rates.
Another test yielded similar results of 1.89 Mbps for downloads and 4.99 Mbps for uploads. Subsequent analyses weren’t much better.
With the EU server, download rates were 6.31 Mbps, and uploads were a mere 0.18 Mbps.
When connected to a server in the U.S., the results were slightly improved. These showed 11.7 Mbps for downloads and 17.7 Mbps for uploads.
Turbo widely uses the image of a hare to describe how fast its service is. As these test results demonstrate, that image is hardly fitting. Turbo provided some of the slowest speed test results among all tested VPNs. With results like these, you’d be better off with almost any other VPN.
Does Turbo VPN Keep Logs?
As the above screen capture demonstrates, Turbo collects a great deal of information on its customers. They keep tabs on your ISP, your IP address when you log on and a wealth of other data.
Turbo loves to find ways to use your data. They disclose that the third-party advertisers that place commercials in the free version of the software also may collect data from users’ devices. Who knows in whose hands your private information could end up?
It’s worth noting that Turbo says that any data that they collect in the course of business is kept in Singapore, with the caveat that this information may end up in China. Beyond that, they do not give a great number of details. This rather shady and evasive logging policy makes Turbo a questionable bet at best if you are really interested in protecting your privacy and anonymity online.
How Much Does Turbo VPN Cost?
While it is possible to download and use a free version of Turbo, doing so is not recommended. Just remember the proverb that says when a product or service is free, then you are the product.
That is certainly the case with the free Turbo VPN. You’ll see ad after ad, making for an incredibly frustrating experience. Moreover, the company makes no secret of its habit of keeping all of your data and passing it along to third parties. This VPN may be free, but it will cost you plenty in annoyance and inconvenience.
If you pay to become a Turbo VIP, then be prepared to do so through the nose. On a month-by-month basis, the cost is $11.99 per month. Paying on an annual basis reduces the price to approximately $2.99 per month, but you can easily find far more reliable VPN services that offer you much more bang for your buck.
Is Turbo a Recommended VPN?
Turbo is an incredibly limited offering since it is only available for mobile devices. This leaves all of your other devices unprotected, so you have to find another VPN provider that you’ll probably have to pay for. Choose one of the most highly rated VPNs, and you’ll have protection for your mobile devices and every other device you own.
If you do go with one of the more robust and reliable VPNs, you’ll quickly discover that you’re getting a lot more for your money, including actual privacy and anonymity. That is something that Turbo just doesn’t provide.
For a relatively new player in the VPN game, Total VPN presents a polished and professional interface. It may be one of the easiest to use out there today.
Despite these appearances, this VPN service comes up short.
Nonetheless, Total VPN may appeal to some people, especially those who are new to VPNs and feel intimidated. Total VPN’s interface is user-friendly, so novices will feel right at home. The service even provides OpenVPN protocol, which is widely considered the best available.
TotalVPN has several drawbacks.
Chief among these is the logging policy, which is a concern for many. The other major problem is their data transfer rates. You should look at some of the best VPN providers out there if you’re looking for a fast connection.
Though most people won’t recognize the name of Total VPN’s parent company Endurance International Group, they will almost undoubtedly recognize some of its other brands. These include Constant Contact, Bluehost and HostGator. With headquarters in Burlington, Massachusetts, USA, privacy advocates who are concerned about logging policies will immediately see a red flag.
This is because the U.S. is a member nation of the Five Eyes network. This surveillance agreement allows the member countries to keep tabs on the online activities of their citizens, and this information is freely exchanged.
If you are really serious about online privacy and anonymity, then you are better off with a VPN that’s not headquartered in a Five Eyes nation.
Security and Encryption with Total VPN
Sophisticated users will appreciate that they have a choice of VPN protocols with Total VPN. Among these choices is OpenVPN, which generally is regarded as the protocol of choice among techno-geeks around the world. One of the characteristics that make OpenVPN so attractive is that it is open-source software. This means that it benefits from the dedicated work of developers around the world.
If you prefer not to use OpenVPN, then Total VPN offers you PPTP, though this protocol typically is no longer recommended because of security concerns. The bad news for novice users is that Total VPN’s default settings strangely are set to PPTP. Less sophisticated users not in-the-know may use PPTP, leaving themselves vulnerable, because they don’t know that they should switch their settings to OpenVPN.
Other protocol options with Total VPN include L2TP/IPSec and IkeV2, both of which are better options than PPTP.
Total VPN’s Server Network
Total VPN is not one of the larger and better-known VPN providers. This is because, compared to these more established competitors, Total VPN has a small server network.
The company’s website boasts servers on all seven continents, then backtracks, saying that Antarctica is too cold for servers. Interestingly, the website also says that there are no servers in South America.
Users are left with good coverage in Europe with 20 servers. These are found in locations such as London, Vienna, Moscow, Zurich, Stockholm, Bucharest and others. An additional 17 servers are in North America. These locations are mostly in the U.S., with servers in places like Chicago, New York, Seattle, and Los Angeles. Canada has a single server in Toronto.
Sparse server coverage is found in Asia with five countries being represented. These are in Mumbai, Tokyo, Tel Aviv, Hong Kong, and Singapore. Africa is represented by just one server, and an additional server is located in Sydney.
That means that Total VPN’s server network stretches to just 30 countries. That’s not particularly impressive when compared with some of the major players in the industry, which may have upwards of two or three thousand servers found in more than 100 countries.
This lack of geographic diversity and number of servers means that performance suffers. Anyone who’s hoping to choose from a large number of servers or who needs to rely on VPN service being available worldwide for travel would be better off looking elsewhere.
Can You Use BitTorrent or P2P with Total VPN?
Unlike some VPN providers, Total VPN does not forbid customers from file sharing or indulging in other P2P activities. In fact, they have a server in the Netherlands that is expressly set aside for these purposes.
Reports from users suggest that the performance on this server leaves much to be desired. This and the overall slow data transfer rates mean that it is generally is a good idea to look elsewhere if you plan to do a lot of torrenting with your VPN.
Speed Test Results with Total VPN
The computer used for the speed test has some truly solid data transfer rates when it was put through its paces for benchmarking purposes. Downloads yielded results of 98.71 Mbps and upload rates were 53.00 Mbps.
Things changed when Total VPN was activated. Although its speed test results were not among the most abysmal, they still were far short of impressive. That is especially true when their results are compared to the results of the strongest VPNs.
Total VPN showed that it was not capable of providing a seamless experience regardless of which server is being used. This is somewhat true for all VPN providers since the farther your actual location is from the physical location of the server you choose, the slower your data transfer rates are likely to be. However, the speed test results with Total VPN were notable for how wildly inconsistent they were.
Speed problems are going to be a primary concern for people who sign up for Total VPN’s free service. Only three servers are allocated for “free” customers. These are located in Amsterdam, Iceland, and Singapore. Unless you are very close to one of these locations, you are in for a frustrating experience. Paying customers have more choices, but performance remains dubious at best.
Connecting to the San Jose, California server from a computer in New York provided a download rate of 31.52 Mbps and an upload rate of 7.88 Mbps.
Connecting to a server that was closer to home provided better results. The New York server clocked in at download rates of 59.61, though upload rates were a disappointing 10.81 Mbps.
The server in London offered similar results. Downloads were transferred at a rate of 35.64 Mbps with upload speeds being 8.85 Mbps.
Testing was conducted using the server in Tokyo. These rates were really frustrating. Downloads came in at 11.88 Mbps and uploads were 4.03 Mbps. Considering the many miles between the computer in New York and the server in Tokyo, these results aren’t exactly shocking.
Overall, using Total VPN resulted in download times being increased a full 76 percent. Almost as bad, upload times were increased by 59 percent. If you value speed in your online experience, then you would be better off with a different VPN.
Total VPN’s Logging Policy
If you want anonymity online, Total VPN does not do much to help. Customers must submit to a detailed registration process that has them disclosing all of their personal information. Additionally, any time that you contact Total VPN for assistance, notes are kept of the interaction.
Total VPN says that all of this tracking is used to improve the customer experience and to head off problems. Alarmingly, they go on to say that the data they keep also is used to sell you third-party products.
If you really want an anonymous online experience, go with a different VPN provider.
How Much Does Total VPN Cost?
The free version of Total VPN is limited to three servers and a restrictive data cap, making it difficult to work with. A month-to-month subscription can be purchased for $14.97 per month, which is not a bargain.
Package deals that are paid in advance may bring the price down to as little as $4.99 per month. This is introductory pricing, so you may pay significantly more when this period expires.
Should You Get Total VPN?
As if the slow data transfer rates and lack of servers weren’t enough, the company’s questionable logging policies seal the deal. Look elsewhere for a reliable VPN.
With so many issues, Total VPN is not recommended.