Celo VPN Review (2019): Is it Good Enough?

Celo VPN makes some bold claims about its service, such as ‘high speed’ and ‘unbeatable support’. It’s certainly got a lot of wealth of protocols and proxies on offer, including the cutting-edge Wireguard. Is this interesting little VPN worth trying? Let’s take a look.

PROS

  • Above-average speeds
  • Excellent Netflix access
  • Good technical security
  • Up to 10 connections
  • 30 countries
  • Easy to use

CONS

  • No kill switch
  • Very basic
  • No torrenting
  • US location
  • Won’t disclose server numbers
  • Poor support

Speed & Expectations

VPN speeds differ a lot. This is due to a variety of factors such as encryption and server load. It’s important to know how much of a speed drop you’ll see compared to a default connection.

To measure this, we tested the 3 main speed indicators:

  1. Download speed: The rate at which data is transferred from the server to your device. This is measured in megabytes per second (mbps) and a higher number is better.
  2. Upload speed: The rate at which data is transferred to the server from your device. This is also measured in megabytes per second (mbps) and a higher number is better.
  3. Ping (or latency): Tested by “pinging” the server, it’s the amount of time it takes for it to receive and process your request. This is measured in milliseconds (ms) and a lower number is better.

First we ran a baseline test using a default 100mbps internet connection in Chicago, IL.

Then we tested various Celo VPN servers across the globe.

We ran each test 5 times to increase reliability.

Speed results

These are the results of our baseline test:

So the average baseline score was:

  • Download: 89.5mbps
  • Upload: 13.8mbps
  • Ping: 9.2ms

Next we ran our tests on a Celo VPN United States server:

US averages of the 5 different speed tests were:

  • Download: 22.3mbps (75% slower)
  • Upload: 9mbps (35.3% slower)
  • Ping: 93.4ms (915.2% longer)

(You would expect these to give the fastest results since we’re performing the tests in the US).

Next we tested Europe:

Europe’s averages were:

  • Download: 6.5mbps (92.7% slower)
  • Upload: 9.6mbps (30.4% slower)
  • Ping: 116ms (1660.9% longer)

Here’s Asia:

Asia’s averages were:

  • Download: 5.9mbps (93.4% slower)
  • Upload: 8.3mbps (40.2% slower)
  • Ping: 161.4ms (1654.3% longer)

Unfortunately Celo VPN doesn’t have any servers in South America or Africa to test.

Next, let’s compare these results against its competitors for some extra clarity.

First up, let’s take a look at download speeds:

VPNUSEuropeAsiaS.AmericaAfrica
Celo VPN-75%-93%-93%n/an/a
proXPN-52%-73%-74%n/an/a
X-VPN-71%-75%-99%-62%n/a
SpyOFF-66%-57%-76%-65%-63%
VPN.ht-48%-78%-68%-67%-67%
vpn.ac-52%-51%-67%-47%n/a
Tiger VPN-48%-68%-68%-55%-72%
VPN Unlimited-27%-77%-79%-64%-61%
Cyberghost-35%-59%-71%-56%-68%
Torguard-37%-58%-81%-60%-67%
ProtonVPN-35%-50%-56%-77%-54%
PureVPN-26%-68%-94%-32%-89%
Trust.Zone-14%-99%-80%-66%-82%
AVG Secure VPN-56%-87%-69%-75%-68%
Hoxx VPN-12%-96%-93%n/a-68%
VPNSecure-68%-93%-98%-61%-77%
IPVanish-36%-54%-72%-76%n/a
NordVPN-40%-99%-69%-58%-75%
ExpressVPN-71%-58%-64%-95%-67%
Avast-45%-63%-72%-66%-77%
Windscribe-44%-57%-80%-98%-73%
Average-45.6%-72.1%-77.3%-65.6%-70.5%

Download speeds are well below average in all regions.

Next, how did upload speeds compare?

VPNUSEuropeAsiaS.AmericaAfrica
Celo VPN-35%-30%-40%n/an/a
proXPN-7%-15%-52%n/an/a
X-VPN-33%-61%-98%-77%n/a
SpyOFF-9%-18%-88%-52%-50%
VPN.ht-10%-17%-25%-23%-63%
vpn.ac-6%-18%-44%-16%n/a
Tiger VPN-3%-14%-20%-17%-42%
VPN Unlimited-13%-39%-85%-19%-56%
Cyberghost-8%-16%-92%-37%-48%
Torguard-9%-20%-35%-22%-41%
ProtonVPN-2%-15%-20%-41%-29%
PureVPN13%2.5%-54%-11%-72%
Trust.Zone-13%-45%-67%-28%-84%
AVG Secure VPN-19%-58%-75%-80%-77%
Hoxx VPN-5%-90%-24%n/a-51%
VPNSecure-9%-19%-92%-26%-56%
IPVanish-5%-19%-84%-22%n/a
NordVPN-13%-46%-26%-16%-70%
ExpressVPN-9%-24%-34%-72%-42%
Avast-13%-42%-78%-70%-77%
Windscribe-6%-17%-52%-97%-53%
Average-10.2%-29.6%-56.4%-40.3%-56.9%

Upload speeds are above average in Asia, average in Europe,and well below average in the US.

And finally latency:

VPNUSEuropeAsiaS.AmericaAfrica
Celo VPN915%1161%1654%n/an/a
proXPN194%996%2194%n/an/a
X-VPN-28%397%837%560%n/a
SpyOFF213%944%4278%2533%2598%
VPN.ht273%785%1667%1282%2109%
vpn.ac60%388%968%487%n/a
Tiger VPN9%895%1786%1105%2309%
VPN Unlimited33%935%3946%1411%2535%
Cyberghost27%1085%2344%1352%2415%
Torguard7%1036%2023%1384%2502%
ProtonVPN17%810%1840%1185%2017%
PureVPN-23%708%489%1018%1823%
Trust.Zone104%1206%2438%1396%2750%
AVG Secure VPN1021%1111%2419%3560%3336%
Hoxx VPN566%1098%2470%n/a2794%
VPNSecure281%1051%2519%1530%2917%
IPVanish240%1038%4144%1424%n/a
NordVPN34%1278%2328%1560%2696%
ExpressVPN98%965%2122%1545%2461%
Avast33%1133%2465%1556%2815%
Windscribe310%1018%1904%2042%2782%
Average208.8%954.2%2230.2%1496.1%2553.7%

Latency speeds are well above average in Asia, below average in Europe and well below average in the US.

Speed (Summary)

Celo VPN has below average speeds overall, with atrocious download speeds in all regions in particular.

Performance & Features

Now speed is out of the way, let’s examine the basic features of this VPN.

Number of servers: 18

How many active servers are available to connect to across all countries, regardless of their physical location.

A paltry 18 servers can’t compare to the VPN giants who have thousands of servers, such as NordVPN. Respectable VPNs generally have at least 300, so it’s safe to say this is extremely low.

Number of countries: 13

How many countries the total number of servers cover, regardless of how many are located in a single country.

Again this is incredibly low, with a respectable number generally being around 30+. Celo includes the following countries: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Sweden, Singapore, Switzerland, UK and the US.

Number of connections allowed: 6

How many devices can be connected to a server (or number of servers) based on a single VPN account or subscription.

This seems extremely generous, as the average offered by VPNs is just 3. Unfortunately though, it’s kind of moot as Celo currently only has desktop apps available, Windows and Mac. There’s no mobile apps, except for manual workarounds. This is a huge downside that will put off a lot of people.

Torrenting allowed: Yes

Whether you can download and share files on a peer-to-peer or P2P network as opposed to a single server.

Torrenting is allowed on all servers except for the US and Australia.

Kill switch available: Yes.

Whether the VPN software can disable your connection to the network in the event you disconnect from the VPN server. This prevents your IP address from being exposed.

Great news, Celo VPN has a kill switch on its Windows platform.

Performance and Features (Summary)

Celo VPN has a just 18 servers in 13 countries, which is extremely low. There’s a generous 6 connections, but only Windows and Mac apps are currently available. The rest are manual workarounds. However, torrenting is allowed on most servers, and a kill switch is available.

Privacy & Security

Not all VPNs are created equal in terms of security, and some are just plain unsafe, so here we test out all the privacy and security aspects.

First let’s look at the technical aspects:

Protocols/Encryption: RSA 2048-bit encryption with WireGuard, OpenVPN (TCP/UDP), IKEv2, SSTP and L2TP/IPSec

On its website Celo states it offers a plethora of protocols: OpenVPN, IKEv2, LT2P/IPSec, SSTP, and Shadowsocks & SOCKS5 proxies.

It’s even staying ahead of the curve and starting to introduce the latest hyped-up protocol, Wireguard. Not many VPNs offer this yet.

Wow, right?

Unfortunately there’s a major catch. OpenVPN’s the only protocol available on the app.

The rest have to be set up manually, which is extremely misleading marketing in our opinion.

To be fair, OpenVPN is generally regarded as the best protocol, so you’re perfectly safe with it.

The other minor issue is that they claim to use AES-256 encryption for OpenVPN, which is highly secure and industry-standard.

However, on the Windows app, it clearly states it uses RSA 2048-bit instead, and there’s no AES-256 option.

RSA 2048-bit isn’t the industry-standard AES-256, and generally considered slower and slightly less secure, but still pretty secure.

DNS leaks: None found.

IP leaks: None found.

WebRTC leaks: None.

Viruses/Malware: None found.

We found no leaks in our testing. 3 anti-virus engines did pick up potential issues, oddly all different.

Celo responded with: “We can assure you that our client does not contain any virus or malware etc, it is built from open source code. The 3 “bad” results from VirusTotal are most likely false positives.”

This is accurate. If there was something serious going on, there would be a lot more red in the screenshot.

Legal issues

Jurisdiction: Sydney, Australia. Australia may have a laid-back reputation, but not in terms of their privacy laws. They’ve recently introduced an ‘Assistance and Access bill’, which could force companies to give authorities access to encrypted messages. This is a VPN’s worst nightmare. They’re also a 5-eyes alliance member, which makes things even worse as they could share this data with other countries including the US.

Logging policy: No logs.

The silver lining is that Celo seems to have a no logs policy.

However, their actual privacy policy is rather oblique.

It states that it collects standard data like payment information, and uses cookies, which again is pretty standard.

It states that they don’t use third-party behavioural tracking, which is good.

But that’s it. At no point does it state that they don’t collect things like your browsing history, IP address, etc. All the things users really want to know.

It turns out they do state all this, but in their general terms and conditions.

Again this is still a bit vague as it just says ‘we do not log any user activity’ or ‘server logs’. I guess this covers browsing history and IP addresses though.

Privacy and Security Summary

Celo VPN offers OpenVPN protocols with RSA 2048-bit encryption. Other protocols have to be setup manually. We found no leaks in our testing. 3 engines showed potential viruses, but these are most likely false positives.

Unfortunately Celo’s located in Australia, a 5-eyes member with new anti-privacy laws. It does have a strict no-logs policy, though this is a bit vague.

Usability

This section looks at the following aspects:

  • Streaming/Geo-spoofing
  • Compatibility
  • Overall UI/UX

Streaming/Geo-spoofing

A lot of people get VPNs purely to watch their favorite shows on Netflix, but Netflix has been aggressively battling VPNs on this front. So how does Celo fare?

We tested Celo against all major streaming services.

  • Netflix: Partially Detected. US Netflix worked on it’s special US streaming server. Unfortunately it didn’t work on the UK streaming server, or elsewhere.
  • Hulu: Undetected. Again, Hulu worked on the US streaming server.
  • YouTube: Undetected. YouTube worked fine on all servers.
  • Kodi: Undetected. Kodi worked fine with Celo VPN.

Compatibility

Is Celo VPN compatible with many devices?

We tested everything from Tor, iOS devices, Android devices, Smart TV’s, Amazon Firestick, Mac, Windows, to routers:

  • Tor browser: Supported. Tor works fine in conjunction with Celo VPN.
  • iOS (iPad, iPhone): Partially Supported. Shockingly Celo doesn’t have an iOS app, but it does offer manual setup.
  • Android: Partially Supported. Again for Android, it’s manual setup only I’m afraid.
  • Smart TV’s: Not Supported. Celo has no Smart TV support.
  • Amazon Firestick: Not Supported. However, they do have a manual workaround available for Firesticks involving an Android device.
  • Windows: Supported. Celo has a Windows app.
  • Mac: Supported. Celo has a Mac app.
  • Routers: Partially Supported. Celo works for OpenVPN routers and they have detailed setup guides for Tomato, DD-WRT, Asus and PFSense models.

Overall UX/UI

Celo VPN has a very small Windows interface.

The server list is on a separate screen.

Servers are listed in alphabetical order by country, e.g. Australia-1. There’s also 2 streaming servers, US-Stream and UK-Stream.

Speeds are also shown on the right of the server name, which is very useful.

You can also pick your OpenVPN port, between TCP 443, UDP 53 or UDP 1194. All are encrypted by RSA 2048-bit.

There’s also a map, but it only pinpoints the current selected server location.

Once you click the Connect button, you’re taken back to the main interface.

Text changes from yellow to green once connected.

The only stats shown are the location, protocol and IP address.

You can also select ‘Jump’ to jump from one location to another automatically. I’m not sure how useful this is.

There’s no favorites system, which is a shame.

Connection times are average when servers work, with a big emphasis on when.

We had a ton of connection issues, including about 7 different error messages.

The app is just full of bugs unfortunately. Everytime we managed to sort one error out with the help of the support team, we instantly got another error.

Sometimes the server also just didn’t connect, without any error message.

Sometimes we got this upon launching the app.

We tried the app on multiple computers with no difference. It was such a pain to keep contacting support and a struggle to connect. I can’t imagine using this app long term for daily use.

Settings are fairly advanced and a bit more comprehensive than you’d expect. There’s a few auto-launch and auto-connect settings, although you can’t choose a specific server to connect to.

There’s also a kill switch, a big bonus, and port and DNS settings for advanced users. There’s also a full log to access for troubleshooting.

It’s worth noting Celo doesn’t hangs out in the System Tray instead of the taskbar. From here you can bring up a quick-access menu to easily change servers. Very nice.

This aspect of the UX is well thought-out, but the rest of it isn’t.

For example, there’s no back buttons anywhere, so you constantly have to close the whole thing down and reopen it. I can’t believe they left the UI with such an obvious fault.

Another glitch is that it lets you log in with an incorrect username and password, then gives you an unclear error message when you try to connect to the servers.

Usability (Summary)

Celo VPN has US Netflix and Hulu access, which is pretty great for streamers. However, it has generally poor compatibility with only Windows and Mac apps available. iOS and Android have to be setup manually. The one exception is the excellent router support. Finally, the interface has some advanced settings, but is so full of bugs it’s rather unusable.

Pricing & Refunds

They have a range of pricing options from 1 month to 1 year. Their 1 month plan is cheap, but they don’t offer the same deep discounts for longer commitment time as most VPNs do, so their 1 year plan comes out about average.

They also have a 10-day money-back guarantee. This is quite short, as some VPNs offer 30 days, but at least it’s something.

The ts and cs are a bit vague about this, saying that ‘certain payment methods may not allow for refunds’ without stating what these are. So beware.

They also don’t give a timeframe for refunds, saying some ‘refunds may happen slowly’.

In terms of payment methods, they offer card, Paypal, and an incredible number of cryptocurrencies if you want to remain anonymous. No Alipay though.

However, bear in mind the money-back guarantee states that refunds are issued against the day’s exchange rate to US dollars, which may have changed a lot for crypto.

The payment process itself is a bit awkward as you confusingly get emailed an ‘unpaid invoice’, only to get a second email confirming your payment later.

Pricing (Summary)

Celo has 1 month to 1 year payment options. The 1 month price is cheap, but the 1 year price is average. There’s a rather stingy 10-day money-back guarantee, with vague ts and cs. You can pay via card, Paypal, or a ton of cryptocurrencies.

Support

Celo VPN has support via live chat, a ticketing system and email.

The live chat claims to be available during Australian office hours, but we always got an ‘offline’ status even during these times.

It turns out if you message them, they respond by email a few minutes later. It seems they avoid using the chat interface.

They responded extremely quickly to emails, from 2 minutes to half an hour.

The quality was also high, with no copy and paste answers. Their English, although not perfect, was pretty excellent. And they were very helpful with all queries, including technical ones.

Their knowledgebase is also quite extensive.

There’s a range of ‘Getting Started’ guides.

These include manual protocol setups, and there’s separate guides for each platform.

There’s also a separate ‘Guides’ section with other setup guides, including routers and torrent clients.

The routers include detailed guides for various models. The torrent clients are a definite bonus, as some VPNs avoid mention torrenting at all on their website.

There’s also a nice troubleshooting section for both the app and torrent clients.

Although the torrent client article is fairly trite, the Celo client articles are very useful, offering easy fixes for the most common errors found.

Although the knowledgebase is well-organised, there’s also a high-quality search bar for quick access.

There’s also an FAQ section.

This is OK and answers a lot of general questions. However it states that Celo supports Apple TV, but only if you set up Celo through your router, which to me really what ‘supports’ mean.

It also mentions Apple TV and streaming, but doesn’t mention torrenting.

They also have a Network Status page, which is very useful.

Celo’s knowledgebase can’t be compared to the size of the VPN giants’, but it covers a lot of ground.

Support (Summary)

Celo has email and ticketing support. In theory have a live chat option but they tend to respond by email. Email support was fast and helpful, often responding in minutes. The knowledgebase is also high quality, of a decent size and covers a lot of bases.

What Do Other Reviewers Say?

Before we deliver our final verdict, let’s see what other reviewers thought of Celo VPN.

As you might guess, most were unimpressed with the server numbers, calling them extremely limited, and probably to blame for the slow speeds.

They also complained about the lack of servers in South America, Africa and the Middle East, and said non-US or European users should look for another VPN. However, one went against the grain calling the servers well-distributed.

Most praised the diverse protocols, including of course the robust OpenVPN. Some failed to mention that most of them have to be set up manually. Oddly, no one mentioned Wireguard; perhaps this is a recent venture. Also, all stated Celo use AES-256 encryption and didn’t mention the RSA-2048 bit on the app.

Most also loved the torrent-friendliness of Celo, with many reporting full access torrenting on all servers, which is no longer the case. They also liked the tutorials for torrent clients on the knowledgebase, which they said worked well.

One said there were no lags or connection issues whilst torrenting, whilst another said the full access torrenting was pointless as the speeds are too slow to use it.

A major difference was almost all reviewers commended Celo’s device compatibility, saying it’s compatible with most platforms with detailed setup guides. They also said it goes beyond the standard amount, supporting devices like Smart TVs, Apple TVs and routers.

One acknowledged most of these were manual setups or via a router which was a downside, but said you shouldn’t go wrong with the step-by-step instructions.

They also thought the generous number of connections allowed was a big plus.

None found any IP or DNS leaks. Like us one stated a couple of anti-virus engines found potential issues, but they weren’t concerned and said it was a false positive.

User interface opinions were completely mixed. Some found it painless to use with an attractive interface. Others said it was mostly easy to use, but with a few issues.

However, like us one said it had some decent features but a dreadful user experience, with no back button and connection issues They also didn’t like the fact that they had to select a protocol every time they picked a server, calling it intimidating.

One thought it was suspicious that server names didn’t include the city, saying that perhaps they’re not where they say they are.

Most approved of the no logs policy, although one was a bit concerned with the section that said they’ll share information when ordered to by ‘a court of competent jurisdiction’, saying it would put off some people.

Most cited Australia being a 5-eyes member as concern, although none mentioned the new Australian data laws.

Speed results ranged from average to very slow.

In terms of streaming, unlike us most reported no streaming access. However, one reported both US Netflix and BBC iPlayer access, although they said the Netfli had poor screen quality and buffering due to the long distance server.

Another difference was no one had a great customer service experience. They reported slow response times, and below average quality. Some said there was no live chat function, whilst others said there was but each response took about 10 minutes.

Most liked the knowledgebase though, calling it extensive and detailed with lots of setup guides and general articles.

In terms of pricing, some called it expensive and some called it affordable. One agreed the price didn’t decrease enough as commitment went up. They liked the option to pay via cryptocurrency for maximum privacy, but one noted potential issues in the small print regarding the 10 day money-back guarantee. One reported a 2 day trial, which must have been discontinued.

Overall, some rated it as average but a lot rated it as poor. They liked the device compatibility, security, number of connections, and torrenting, but they didn’t like the slow speeds, slow support, and lack of streaming access.

What Do Other Reviewers Say (Summary)

Like us most liked the torrenting and lack of leaks, and didn’t like the poor server selection and slow speeds. However, some differences were they found no streaming access, had slow customer support experiences, and loved the device compatibility and range of protocols. Overall some rated it average but a lot rated it poor.

Our Verdict

With a tiny server selection, no mobile apps and below average speeds, most people won’t be enticed to look further. And who could blame them.

On top of this, the app isn’t well put together, with only one protocol actually available, no back button, and so many bugs it’s practically unusable.

It’s also located in Australia, which has recently passed some pretty nasty anti-privacy laws that could spell disaster.

Celo does have some plus points. It’s very torrent-friendly, and has US Netflix and Hulu streaming access.

It’s pretty robust technically, with no leaks, a kill switch, the OpenVPN protocol, and RSA 2048-bit encryption.

It’s email support was high-quality in our experience, with quick responses, and a pretty good knowledgebase. However, there’s no real live chat.

And it has excellent router support, but that doesn’t really make up for not having any mobile apps.

Overall, there’s nothing stand-out here.

Which brings us to the average to cheap in price. So is it worth it for certain users?

But who exactly are its users? With such low server numbers, I would expect it to be aimed at beginners. But the interface was fairly advanced, as are all the manual setups required. Beginner users will be intimidated, whilst advanced users will be thoroughly unimpressed.

Casual streamers and torrentors may be tempted, but with slow speeds, an unusable app, and major privacy worries, you can find better elsewhere.

Overall, Celo VPN isn’t good value for money for anyone. We wouldn’t recommend it and give it a rating of 2 out of 5.


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