Opera VPN is one of the only VPNs that’s truly free with no limitations, which explains why it’s so popular. You don’t even have to sign up. Is it selling all your data behind your back though? Let’s take a look.
- Free with no limits
- Above average speeds
- 500+ servers
- Huge server network
- Great streaming
- Poor security/proxy
- Some logs
- No support
- Vague servers
- No torrenting
Speed & Expectations
VPNs tend to (with some exceptions) decrease your internet speed, due to the VPN tunnel.
To measure speed, we tested the 3 main speed indicators:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 Opera VPN servers across the globe.
We ran each test 5 times to increase reliability.
These are the results of our baseline test:
So the average baseline score was:
- Upload: 11.9mbps
- Ping: 53.2ms
Next we ran our tests on a Opera VPN United States server:
US averages of the 5 different speed tests were:
- Download: 42.9mbps (44.9% slower)
- Upload: 8.6mbps (28% slower)
- Ping: 63ms (18.4% 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: 38.8mbps (50.1% slower)
- Upload: 10.8mbps (9.6% slower)
- Ping: 124.4ms (133.8% longer)
Asia’s averages were:
- Download: 29mbps (62.8% slower)
- Upload: 3.5mbps (70.6% slower)
- Ping: 446.8ms (739.8% longer)
Unfortunately, Opera doesn’t have any servers in South America or Africa to test.
We also compared these results against the average of other VPN tests. How does Opera VPN measure up?
First up, let’s take a look at download speeds:
|AVG Secure VPN||-56%||-87%||-69%||-75%||-68%|
Download speeds were above average in Europe and Asia, but slightly below average in the US.
Next, how did upload speeds compare?
|AVG Secure VPN||-19%||-58%||-75%||-80%||-77%|
Upload speeds were above average in Europe, but well below average in the US and Asia.
And finally latency:
|AVG Secure VPN||1021%||1111%||2419%||3560%||3336%|
Latency was impressive, well above average in all regions, and just an 18% different in the US.
Opera has above average speeds overall, with super fast latency and above average downloads, but poor uploads.
Performance & Features
In this section we look at the key features all VPNs have and see how Opera fares.
Number of servers: 500+
How many active servers are available to connect to across all countries, regardless of their physical location.
Opera has over 500 servers, which is extremely large for a free service and better than some paid VPNs.
Number of countries: 3
How many countries the total number of servers cover, regardless of how many are located in a single country.
On the downside, Opera has just 3 locations: America, Europe and Asia. This might be a record for the lowest and the vaguest, but then again it is completely free.
Number of connections allowed: Unlimited.
How many devices can be connected to a server (or number of servers) based on a single VPN account or subscription.
The great thing about Opera is it requires no registration whatsoever, so you can install it on as many devices as you want.
Torrenting allowed: No.
Sadly, torrenting isn’t allowed. Torrentors should look elsewhere, such as IPVanish.
Kill switch available: No.
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.
Unfortunately, there’s no kill switch either, but that would be a lot to expect for a browser VPN.
Performance and Features (Summary)
Opera VPN is predictably low on features with just 3 locations with no torrenting or kill switch. However, it’s got over 500 servers and is a completely free browser plugin, so you can’t complain.
Privacy & Security
Is Opera VPN secure and trustworthy?
First let’s look at the technical aspects:
Protocols/Encryption: HTTPS/SSL encryption with TLS 1.3.
On desktops, Opera VPN uses HTTPS/SSL proxy, which isn’t great; it’s the equivalent of most secure websites and masks your IP.
However, there’s no advanced protocols or encryption that protect the whole connection tunnel, like most fully-fledged VPNs.
It also only works within the Opera browser, and isn’t system-wide like most VPNs. So it only encrypts what you do within Opera, nothing else. Again, this is equivalent to all other VPN browser plugins.
However, their Android and iOS apps now feature a connection-wide built-in VPN, that uses 256-bit encryption.
DNS leaks: None found.
IP leaks: None found.
WebRTC leaks: None.
Jurisdiction: Canada. Opera is now owned by SurfEasy, another VPN based in Toronto, Canada. This is far from ideal as Canada has close ties and data-sharing agreements with its neighbor, the US, as well as 13 other countries.
Logging policy: Some logs.
Opera does exactly what you’d expect a free VPN to do: sends you ads, collect your data for advertising, and give it to third-parties. They seem to use a lot of third parties, especially for Android.
However, they don’t collect as much data as most.
The say “we do not log any information related to your browsing activity and originating network address.” Which is reassuring.
However, they do collect device data like:
- device ID
- hardware specification
- operating system and environment configuration
- feature usage data.
The silver lining is this is tied to a randomly-generated ID, and you don’t have to register to use the VPN, so you’re not giving your name or email address.
Opera doesn’t have the best technical encryption/protocols anyway, plus with it’s Canada location, this definitely shouldn’t be used by the privacy-conscious.
Privacy and Security Summary
Opera isn’t very secure, and only a proxy on desktops. Surprisingly though, they seemed to be pretty good at preventing leaks. Unfortunately, they’re based in Canada, part of 5-eyes. The logs policy doesn’t record browsing history but does collect device data, which it shares with third-parties.
This section looks at the following aspects:
- Overall UI/UX
Geo-spoofing streaming services is a great benefit of using a VPN, but many struggle to trick Netflix and like nowadays. However, proxy services usually have a much better chance. Let’s see how Opera does.
- Netflix: UnDetected. Netflix worked in all 3 countries.
- Hulu: UnDetected. Hulu also worked on the US server.
- YouTube: Undetected. YouTube worked fine on all servers.
- Kodi: Undetected. Kodi worked fine with Opera VPN.
Is Opera VPN compatible with most devices?
We tested everything from Tor, iOS devices, Android devices, Smart TV’s, Amazon Firestick, Mac, Windows, to routers:
- Tor browser: Partially Supported. Tor works in conjunction with Opera on mobiles, but not desktops.
- iOS (iPad, iPhone): Supported. Opera has a system-wide VPN on iOS.
- Android: Supported. Same for Android.
- Smart TV’s: Not Supported.
- Amazon Firestick: Not Supported.
- Windows: Partially Supported. Opera has a browser proxy VPN for Windows, but it’s not system-wide. It only works in the browser.
- Mac: Supported. Same for Macs.
- Routers: Not Supported.
Opera VPN’s interface is accessed through the Opera browser, so you have to install this first if you haven’t already. This is kind of a pain if you don’t like using Opera, but oh well.
You then have to go to Advanced Settings within Opera, and turn on the VPN.
The VPN icon then appears in your address bar. It’s black-and-white when not connected, but turns blue when connected.
It has an attractive, clean-looking interface that’s dead-simple. It’s probably the simplest we’ve ever come across.
Data transferred is shown with a graph and takes up most of the screen. We’re not sure why, since data is unlimited.
There’s a simple radio button to turn the VPN on and off.
The server list is a small dropdown at the bottom. Oddly, you can’t access this unless you turn the VPN on.
The server list shows the 3 extremely vague locations, not even countries this time but just whole continents. This gives the user a distinct lack of control. There’s also an optimal location option for a quick connection.
Connection times were lightning fast, as was changing servers.
IP address is shown at the bottom, so you can try and work out your actual server location.
There’s only one setting available, accessed in the Opera browser settings or by clicking the cog in the top-right.
You can ‘bypass VPN for default search engines’, which means that when you search for something in Google, it will results will be based on your actual location rather than your server location.
This is extremely handy, though not very secure, and I’ve never seen this option before.
My only criticism is the complete lack of location information, even after you’ve connected to the server. This makes streaming frustrating, which is what a lot of people will use the service for.
Opera VPN has excellent streaming, and a dead easy-to-use interface accessed through the Opera browser. There’s only 1 setting though, and locations are extremely vague. Device compatibility is also terrible, with browser-protection only on desktops, and no router or Smart TV support.
Pricing & Refunds
This is going to be short and sweet: Opera VPN is completely free, across all devices, with no bandwidth limits.
This is amazing, since most VPNs have at least a freemium model and/or bandwidth limits. Not with Opera.
You don’t even have to register to access it. Just download Opera, go to Settings, and turn on the VPN. No wonder it’s so popular.
They used to have a premium ‘Gold’ service for mobiles with more locations and better support, but it was expensive compared to competitiors and obviously not popular as they discontinued it last year.
There’s a downside to a free VPN: the support.
It doesn’t help that the VPN just a small facet of Opera itself either.
There’s just one dedicated help article within Opera’s general knowledgebase, which just explains how to turn it on.
A second article also briefly mentions it.
There’s a few questions included in Opera’s general FAQ.
And there’s one feature page on its website.
Fortunately, there are forums.
These are much more useful, for everything from general questions to technical issues. You might not get a correct answer from other users, of course, but it’s better than nothing.
Again, it’s frustrating that the VPN isn’t given enough of a spotlight. There’s no specific category for it. The search bar works pretty well, though.
There is a general contact form for Opera, but good luck getting a response.
Support is predictably poor, since it’s a free service and only a minor part of the Opera browser. There’s only the most basic of help articles available. The forums are better, but there’s no specific VPN category. You can fill out a general contact form, but we never got a timely response.
What Do Other Reviewers Say?
What does the rest of the internet have to say about Opera VPN? Here’s a summary of other reviews.
Some said the 500+ servers were plenty, whilst others were extremely critical of the lack of and vague locations that don’t even state country.
Most reviewers found fast speeds, one saying it was better than many premium VPNs. However, surprisingly one found some of the slowest speeds they’ve ever tested, with just 8mbps download speeds on US to Europe servers.
Most weren’t too critical of the logging policy, especially considering it’s a free service. One said it wasn’t ideal but not expected, although they seemed to quote an out-of-date policy saying they collect web and IP addresses. Another said it was fairly transparent and mostly harmless.
Several were very concerned over the jurisdiction. They stated it was unclear where Opera VPN was located legally, since Opera is Norwegian but SurfEasy is Canadian. One said Norway conducts extensive surveillance, whilst Opera is mainly owned by a Chinese consortium.
They weren’t impressed that Opera was a proxy and browser-only, instead of a proper VPN. One found a possible DNS leak, whilst another found a Chrome extension leak.
They were disappointed by the lack of compatibility for other devices or routers, especially since Opera is not even a popular browser.
They weren’t too disappointed in the lack of torrenting, since it probably isn’t secure enough for torrenting anyway. Another said it would clear bandwidth up for other uses.
Some could get Netflix in all locations, whilst one couldn’t get Netflix but could get others, such as Comedy Central. They said iPlayer wasn’t possible due to the lack of a UK server.
All praised the usability of the software, saying it was extremely simple to setup and straightforward to use. One said there was a little bit of a lag when browsing.
They all criticised the lack of support, saying there basically was none, and the forum’s didn’t even have their own VPN-dedicated category. Ine called this totally unacceptable.
All raved over the totally free model though, with no registration or bandwidth limits. One stated they had a premium ‘Gold’ service which wasn’t worth the price, but this has now been discontinued.
What Do Other Reviewers Say (Summary)
Most rated it average to excellent. They generally liked the free model, speeds, streaming, and interface. They didn’t like the support, compatibility, and security.
Opera VPN is very good for a free proxy service. There’s no registration, no bandwidth limits, less logs than most, and good streaming and fast speeds.
It’s an even better deal on mobiles, which have better encryption and are system-wide.
However, this VPN has poor security, and will collect and share some data on you (though less than other free VPNs), and give it to third parties.
If you’ve got no privacy concerns, only want basic browsing and light streaming, and are willing to use the Opera browser, I say go for it.
However, if you’re actually concerned about privacy at all, or are looking for advanced features or torrenting, you need to look at a proper VPN.
We would rate this VPN 3 out of 5.
Read More VPN Reviews
- Opera VPN Review (2019): Is It Safe?
- Ivacy VPN Review (2019): Cheap For a Reason?
- Hide.me VPN Review (2019): Awesome But Expensive
- Perfect Privacy VPN Review (2019): Has It Got Complacent?
- Goose VPN Review (2019): Nice, But Is It Good Value?