Based out of Romania, VPN.ac offers a truly private, no log VPN service with good security.
As VPN.ac is still in the early-ish stages of growth, they only have around 80 servers in 20 countries, which is a tad on the low side in the global scheme of things, but not bad.
But for users like me – who want to connect to places outside of the UK and the States – this is is bit limiting. There are no servers based in South America, Africa or Oceania. They’re mostly bunched in the States and in Western Europe.
VPN.ac customer service has a variety of options: LiveChat, email support, Skype chat and a ticket response system. They also offer many tutorials for troubleshooting and a knowledge-base. They recommend the ticket method for maximum priority. When I reached out, I received a response in about 15 minutes, which is fantastic response time.
VPN.ac’s trial period is sort of odd. There’s no free version you can use for 24 hours or a week or something. Instead, you pay $2 for a week-long trial before you decide to buy.
This seems weird to me. I don’t want to pay $2 to try something out. I want to try it out for free. After purchasing a plan, you are eligible for 7 days money back refund if you need it, which is decent.
VPN.ac offers 4 different plans for users:
- 1-month plan – $9 per month.
- 3-month plan – $24 ($8/month).
- 6-month plan – $36 ($6/month).
- Yearly plan – $58 ($4.80/month)
And of course the free, I mean, $2 trial.
Yes, we provide a 1-week trial account for only $2. Note that a trial account allows up to 3 simultaneous connections, compared to 6 with a regular account.
Every plan includes all of VPN.ac’s features:
- Multiple VPN protocol types
- No log promise
- No speed limit promise
- SecureProxy browser add-on
- 6 simultaneous connections
- Double-hop connections for improved privacy and connection speed overseas
- Multiple VPN protocol types
- Software for Windows, Mac and Android
I love that VPN.ac allows use on 6 simultaneous devices. This is pretty rare and I think warrants the slightly higher than average monthly price.
I don’t really need 6 device connections, but I appreciate that some people might and that it could be a bargain for households or small companies.
The double-hop connection is a cool feature because it provides an extra security layer. I’m not convinced that no lag occurs though, even though they suggest improved overseas connections with this feature.
It’s good that VPN.ac has Private DNS Resolvers. As we know, using a 3rd party DNS server can potentially lead to compromises or leaks. Using self owned DNS resolvers is a game-changer for security purposes. It truly promises anonymity.
VPN.ac uses open source technologies for their client builds, which I like for transparency’s sake, but I also know that “open” means it’s open for others too. Sure, they can vet and tailor the open source code they use, but open source code must be continually monitored for security vulnerabilities, because overlooking a security risk could lead to exposure.
So I’m not so keen on this, though I’d like to know more about their process before damning it too much. All said and done, I am a fan of Vypr’s approach, which is to have complete in-house control over all aspects of the service and not to use any outside tech.
They do provide software specifically for popular operating systems (Windows, Mac, Android, iOS) is also available.
I found setting up the software a little more involved than most- it may be a tad complex and/or puzzling for tech newbies. However, once it was downloaded and setup, the client was very usable.
One downside is the lack of a Kill Switch. I’ve come to rely on the Kill Switch to protect me on public networks, so I’d have to think long and hard about whether or not this would be a dealbreaker. It’s a let down from what otherwise is a badass service.
Security & Privacy
Since VPN.ac is a no log company based out of Romania, I feel pretty secure that there is not going to be any privacy breach. It is worthwhile to note, however, that VPN.ac does keep connection logs that include information like real your real IP address, connection time and traffic metrics, which they then delete at the end of each day.
VPN.ac offer an impressive security package, with cutting edge encryption: up to AES-GCM 256-bit encryption with Elliptic Curve and/or 4096-bit RSA authentication, SHA512 HMAC and PFS. They also offer 256-bit L2TP/IPsec encryption.
I noticed that VPN.ac also offers hourly PFS (perfect forward secrecy), which negates use of past communications to compromise future sessions. Definitely a plus in my book.
For those who don’t know:
Elliptic curve cryptography (ECC) is an approach to public-key cryptography based on the algebraic structure of elliptic curves over finite fields. ECC requires smaller keys compared to non-ECC cryptography (based on plain Galois fields) to provide equivalent security.
Let’s talk location
VPN.ac is based out of Romania. EU Data Retention Directives ruled that data retention laws do not apply to VPN services, so VPN.ac is legally exempt from logging consumer data. However, it is important to note that VPN.ac will keep connection logs (on an encrypted and separate server) that they erase on the daily.
In addition to details about connection initiation and termination, VPN.ac will also record the total traffic of each session and your original IP address. While this doesn’t make me the happiest, the fact that they erase this information daily is somewhat comforting.
Another great feature of VPN.ac is the SecureProxy extension, which can be installed on many browsers, including Opera, Firefox and Google Chrome.
If you’re living or traveling in a place where censorship is the word of the day, the SecureProxy extension will be a godsend. It allows users to bypass powerful firewalls without using traditional VPN connections. Facebook banned in China, or explicit media content blocked in your country? Not anymore.
As previously mentioned, I also dig that VPN.ac has Private DNS Resolvers that negate any difficulties that could stem from using a 3rd party DNS server.
Lastly, get this: they don’t even use 3rd party tracking services on their web-site (Google Analytics, tracking beacons, “Like” buttons etc.). That’s flipping cool. The entire view-buy-use process is fully private.
Speed & Performance
Let’s talk speed. VPN.ac’s is pretty decent when connecting to and from servers in Canada and Western Europe, as well as US.
I noticed a bit of variability with UK based servers, which seemed significantly slower than their Eastern and Western counterparts. I thought this was interesting, and it may be something to consider if you’re looking to use almost exclusively UK based servers.
Don’t trip too much on this. No VPN is perfect on every server, and there are numerous conditions that can affect VPN server usage. Check out my tech articles for more info on that.
As previously stated, VPN.ac’s customer service is pretty speedy. They offer a variety of different ways to reach their customer service team (which they service themselves). These include: Skype calls, ticket system, email and LiveChat.
The Skype addition is a nice touch. Big up for that, as the Brits say!
Queries sent to their ticketing system (which they recommend) were generally answered in 15 minutes or less, which is sweet. I liked that they offered a variety of options to get in touch and liked even more that they were so quick to respond (helpfully, too, I might add).
VPN.ac offers a 7 day money back guarantee, which is pretty middle of the road.
One thing that bugs me is that they do not offer a free trial, but allow you to download a trial version for a week for $2 a pop. I don’t get this. Free trials are supposed to be free. That said, most free trials nowadays ask for your card details upfront and bill you automatically after the trial has ended, so you are kinda roped in anyway.
Signing Up & Getting Started
With VPN.ac, signing up is very easy and privacy oriented. You just enter an email address and your name and some payment details.
You can use everything from major credit cards to payment services like PayPal and Alipay to Bitcoin to over 100 US based gift cards.
I love that their sign up process caters to a variety of user privacy concerns. I see a trend emerging here, and one that separates the truly privacy-friendly VPN companies from the not so.
VPN.ac Review Conclusion
I think that VPN.ac is a great service. They offer solid security, good coverage and generally good speeds. They really do care about privacy, and don’t even track visitors to their website!
I especially liked the SecureProxy, in-house DNS resolvers, and Perfect Forward Secrecy and Elliptic curve cryptography (ECC)
However, I would’ve liked to see the Kill Switch. I don’t think it will be long before we do though.
I think that their six device connection policy generous. Being a more “boutique” company with less strain on servers they can get away with this comfortably.
VPN.ac definitely needs more server locations to boost it into the top echelon of VPN providers, but it’s not under serviced by any means.
I love VPN.ac’s customer support- they are extremely helpful and speedy, which is what really counts.
VPN.ac’s speed on their North American and Western European servers is great, but I noticed small lags when connected to UK servers.
- Security oriented with features like SecureProxy, Perfect Forward Secrecy and Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC)
- Zero logs, including website visitors
- In-house DNS servers (good for gamers as lag is reduced)
- Romania based & logless (good for privacy)
- Great customer service
- An average amount of servers and locations
- Occasional lag on UK servers
- Desktop client set-up is a little unfriendly for non-tech savvy peeps.
- On the high side pricing for single month subscription (still under $10)
- No Kill Switch
- Open source software raises a little concern with me but depends largely on their scrutinization and in house protocols, which seem solid.