VPN.ac Review (2019): Even Better Than the Big Boys?

Vpn.ac’s certainly not a VPN giant, but it’s owned by an IT security company who really seem to know their stuff. All their servers are dedicated, and they’re even implementing Wireguard, a new open-source protocol, ahead of almost everyone else. Is this small VPN vastly underrated? Let’s find out.

PROS

  • Record server numbers
  • 6 connections allowed
  • 2 kill switches
  • Specialist servers
  • Some very cheap prices

CONS

  • Slightly faster speeds
  • 94 countries
  • Record Netflix access
  • Full access torrenting
  • Easy-to-use app

Speed & Expectations

VPN’s usually slow your connection down, so we test the speed of all the VPNs we review using three 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.

We test various vpn.ac servers across the globe against a baseline, a default 100mbps internet connection in Chicago, IL.

We run each test 5 times to increase reliability.

VPN.AC speed test results

These are the results of our baseline test:

So the average baseline score was:

  • Download: 77.7mbps
  • Upload: 12.1mbps
  • Ping: 23.8ms

Next we ran our tests on a vpn.ac United States server:

US averages of the 5 different speed tests were:

  • Download: 37.5mbps (51.7% slower)
  • Upload: 11.5mbps (5.5% slower)
  • Ping: 38ms (59.7% 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: 37.9mbps (51.3% slower)
  • Upload: 10mbps (17.8% slower)
  • Ping: 116.2ms (388.2% longer)

Here’s Asia:

Asia’s averages were:

  • Download: 25.7mbps (66.9% slower)
  • Upload: 6.9mbps (43.5% slower)
  • Ping: 254.2ms (968.1% longer)

Next, South America:

South America’s averages were:

  • Download: 41.2mbps (47% slower)
  • Upload: 10.1mbps (16.4% slower)
  • Ping: 139.8ms (487.4% longer)

We couldn’t test Africa as vpn.ac doesn’t have any African servers.

Next up, we compared these results against other VPNs to see how fast vpn.ac is against the competition.

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

VPNUSEuropeAsiaS.AmericaAfrica
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-40.4%-71.1%-75.8%-65.7%-71.3%

Download speeds are above average in Europe, Asia and South America, but below average in the US.

Next, how did upload speeds compare?

VPNUSEuropeAsiaS.AmericaAfrica
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-7.5%-30%-55.1%-38.3%-57%

Upload speeds are above average in all locations.

And finally latency:

VPNUSEuropeAsiaS.AmericaAfrica
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%
Average176.1%984.7%2262.8%1503.7%2582.3%

Latency speeds are well above average in all locations, particularly Europe and South America where it scores the fastest result.

Speed (Summary)

vpn.ac has consistently fast speeds overall, particularly latency.

Performance & Features

In this section we compare the most common features amongst VPNs.

Number of servers: 150

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

This is fairly low, and very low compared to the VPN giants that offer 1,000s of servers, such a ExpressVPN.

However, vpn.ac explain they go for quality over quantity, since they use high-quality dedicated servers as opposed to virtual servers.

Number of countries: numbers: 24

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

Again this is low, and there’s no servers in Africa. It mainly focuses on the US, Canada and Western Europe, with a handful in Asia. Here’s the full list of countries. If this is all you need then that’s fine, but if not a lot of the top VPNs offer 55+ countries, such as ExpressVPN’s 94.

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.

The industry average is 5, so vpn.ac is generous here. This should be more than enough for most people.

Torrenting allowed: All servers.

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

Vpn.ac is very torrent-friendly. Torrenting is allowed on all servers, plus they have 8 special P2P-optimized locations.

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.

Not only do vpn.ac have a kill switch, they offer it on 5 platforms: Windows, macOS, Linux (beta client), iOS (on-demand feature), Android (9+).

This is simply incredible. Many VPNs that advertise kill switches only have them on desktops, or even just Windows.

Performance and Features (Summary)

Vpn.ac has a fairly low number of servers in a low number of countries, but these are all high-quality dedicated. There’s an above average 6 connections, full access torrenting plus special P2P servers, and kill switches on 5 platforms. So if a wide server selection isn’t your priority, this is a very good deal.

Privacy & Security

Vpn.ac markets itself on security, so let’s see how it measures up in this section.

First let’s look at the technical aspects:

Protocols/Encryption: OpenVPN, IPSec L2TP, PPTP protocols with AES-256 or AES-128 encryption

Vpn.ac offers a wide range of protocols and encryptions, giving users flexibility over speed and security. For those interested in the highest security, the top-level military-grade AES-256 encryption with OpenVPN.

It’s also working on implementing the Wireguard protocol. It’s in beta right now. This is generally regarded as a newer, stronger protocol, but hardly any VPNs use it yet, so vpn.ac is ahead of the curve.

They also offer further protection with ‘Double Hop’ servers, and obfuscation servers for countries like China.

DNS leaks: None found.

IP leaks: None found.

WebRTC leaks: None.

Viruses/Malware: None found.

We found no leaks, viruses or malware in our testing.

Legal issues

Jurisdiction: Romania. Romania is outside the 14-eyes alliance, countries which have data-sharing agreements. It’s an EU member, however they rejected the EU’s mandatory data retention laws in 2014, so I’d say it’s pretty safe.

Logging policy: Some logs.

Unlike most VPNs, vpn.ac openly admits it stores some connection logs.

It doesn’t log browsing history, which is obviously the worst thing, but it does log connection times, data transferred, and IP address.

However, this data is only stored for a day, and they also respond to the claim that other VPNs don’t log anything.

And to be honest, there’s probably a lot of truth to this.

It’s hard to argue with such honesty, and vpn.ac are obviously a company that know their stuff technically and prioritize security.

They don’t have any transparency reports or independent audits, although there’s no known cases of them supplying data to authorities.

However, it should be noted that their new Wireguard protocol, which is currently in beta, would mean that IP addresses would be stored for longer.

They do say ‘at a later date they will likely make some tweaks to the source code’ in order to deal with this.

Privacy and Security Summary

Vpn.ac has all the encryption and protocols you could ask for, plus it’s implementing the new Wireguard protocol ahead of most VPNs. Unsurprisingly there’s no leaks or viruses, and it’s based in Romania, a secure location.

The only issue is that it collects IP addresses and connection times, however they’re only stored for a day, it’s very transparent about it and makes a good argument about why it collects this.

Usability

This section looks at the following aspects:

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

Streaming/Geo-spoofing

Since 2016 Netflix and other streaming services have been out to get VPNs, and they’ve had a lot of success. Vpn.ac was vehemently against this, so let’s see how it fares against all major streaming services in the US, Europe, Asia, Africa and South America.

  • Netflix: Partially Undetected. Netflix works on every server, but only shows US content.
  • Hulu: Undetected. Hulu also worked on every US server.
  • YouTube: Undetected. YouTube worked fine on all servers.
  • Kodi: Undetected. Kodi worked fine with vpn.ac.

Compatibility

What devices does vpn.ac work with?

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 vpn.ac for added protection.
  • iOS (iPad, iPhone): Supported. vpn.ac has a fully-functional iOS app.
  • Android: Supported. vpn.ac also has an Android app.
  • Smart TV’s: Partially Supported. Vpn.ac has a beta app for Android TVs.
  • Amazon Firestick: Partially Supported. Vpn.ac has a beta app for Firesticks, but it has to be sideloaded.
  • Windows: Supported.
  • Mac: Supported.
  • Routers: Partially Supported. Vpn.ac has great router support: it works with both OpenVPN and PPTP routers and has setup guides for DD-WRT, Tomato, TomatoUSB, AsusWRT and pfSense models. This is great if you want network-level protection.

Overall UX/UI

Vpn.ac has a sleek-looking blue and orange interface.

The radio button and status text clearly let you know you’re connection status.

The dropdown shows your last connected location. Clicking this shows the server list.

There’s separate categories for continents, and countries are listed alphabetically within this. Names have a simple, easy to read format, which makes for easy navigation.

You can’t actually select a specific server, just all the servers within one city.

There’s a separate section of 13 ‘China optimized’ servers, which is great for users in China.

There’s also 22 Double Hop servers, which connect to an intermediary server, offering increased protection and anonymity.

The P2P-optimized servers oddly don’t have their own category, but they are labelled.

When you connect, there’s no sound effect or notifications outside the interface, which isn’t ideal. Connection times are extremely quick though.

Whilst connected you’re free to select a different server, however you have to click the radio button off, wait for to disconnect, and then flick it on again, which is slightly annoying.

There’s no search bar, favorites system, or filtering/sorting options, which is a shame.

Moving onto Settings, these are divided into ‘Preferences’ and ‘Advanced’.

Under Preferences you have a few auto-connect and startup settings. There’s not many, and you can’t choose to connect to a specific server like some VPNs, only your last location.

You can also change the theme to Light.

Advanced has a whole lot more goodies though. There’s a wide range of protocols to choose from wrapped up with different encryptions.

The default is OpenVPN ECC, which is only AES-128 encryption. Vpn.ac actually recommends this as the best mix for speed and security.

You can also choose your port if applicable, and again there’s a wide range of options here, far more than most VPNs.

You can also make protocol settings visible on the Connect tab.

Very handy for advanced users who are going to be changing things a lot.

There’s also a kill switch, however I noticed the interface sometimes got confused with this, acting as though it was still on after I disabled it.

You can also block IPv6, and change DNS settings. There’s also a few unusual ones such as use LibreSSL, an alternative graphics rendering engine and lower MTU, which is handy for beginners who don’t know how to do this manually.

Unusually, vpn.ac also has a News tab, which shows service updates.

Its help tab has links to its knowledgebase, as well as the ticketing system.

The mobile interface (we tested Android) is very similar.

The China category doesn’t appear by default; you have to select it in Settings.

There’s also a few less protocols on offer.

There’s also no kill switch, but this is because our phone runs Android 8. Kill switches are available for Android 9. There’s an ‘Always-on VPN’ option as an alternative.

There’s no DNS, IPv6 or LibreSSL settings, but there is a split tunneling option, which is ideal for mobile.

In conclusion, vpn.ac is fairly easy to use, but there’s no search, filtering or favorite options, which is a shame. The continent categories make it quick to navigate though, and the Double Hop and China-optimized servers are appreciated.

The on-off button can be a bit fiddly, and it seemed to get confused over the kill switch. There’s a fair few settings that are easy to understand, with huge protocol control, kill switches and split tunneling on mobile.

Usability (Summary)

Vpn.ac has US Netflix and Hulu access. It has all the basic compatibility plus great router support. It’s improving on others as well, with beta apps for Android TVs and Firesticks. It’s fairly easy to use, though with no favorites and a fiddly on-off button. But there’s a fair few settings, plus lots of specialised servers.

Pricing & Refunds

Vpn.ac has a wide variety of pricing plans, from 1 months to 2 years.

The 1 month price and 3 month plans are above average, however the yearly plan and 2 year plans are average.

Unfortunately, vpn.ac are pretty stingy with their trials and guarantees. You have to pay $2 for a 7 day trial. This gives you 2 connections instead of 6. Their money-back guarantee is just 7 days. Some VPNs offer 7 day trials for everyone and/or 30-day money-back guarantees, so vpn.ac doesn’t do great here.

However, their money-back guarantee is very fair. Unlike some, they don’t try to screw you over by making lots of exclusions in the fine print.

They also offer a ton of payment options, including card, Paypal, various cryptocurrencies, Alipay and gift cards.

Vpn.ac don’t offer extras such as dedicated IPs.

The payment process was quick and smooth. You have to wait for an email that your payment was authorised, but for us this was instant. They also send you a login information and password. However it’s an awkward long string of numbers and letters.

Pricing (Summary)

Vpn.ac offers 1 month to 2 year pricing plans, giving a lot of flexibility on commitment times. The 1 month price is above average but the 1 and 2 year options are average.

There’s a rather stingy $2 7-day trial and 7-day money-back guarantee. Payment options are incredibly varied, including Alipay and lots of cryptocurrencies.

Support

Disappointingly, vpn.ac doesn’t have live chat support. This is a shame as it’s the norm for the top VPNs nowadays.

Instead, they offer a ticketing system or email support. Even this isn’t 24 hours, but the hours are ‘European full-time’ according to them. Which I guess means Monday-Friday in Romanian time zone (GMT +2/3) 9-5. Not even weekends. This isn’t convenient for users based outside Europe, particularly the US and Asia.

You can open a ticket in the support area, including attaching files and selecting the priority of your query.

Once sent, you get an automatic email confirming your request, and then another email once they’ve responded. You have to log back into the client area to view the response, which is slightly long-winded.

Response times are fairly quick within the opening hours (about a one hour response time).

Responses were all on-point and most were good, but some were a bit brief.

For example, when I asked about support hours they said ‘European full-time’, instead of being more specific.

When I asked if torrenting was allowed they simply said ‘yes’, without elaborating about the specific P2P optimised servers.

They do also say you can contact them through Wire, which is similar to Skype.

In terms of the knowledgebase, they have a comprehensive set of setup guides. These include manual protocols for their existing apps, and manual setup guides for routers, Linux, Firesticks and Android TVs.

They also have a Getting Started section with useful tips.

And a nice FAQ section which answers a whole host of general, security and compatibility questions.

They also have a fair few troubleshooting guides. Although this definitely isn’t the most comprehensive we’ve seen, the troubleshooting guides do seem very specific to common user issues with this particular VPN service.

They also have a lot information for using their VPN in China, which users in China will much appreciate.

The language and instructions are written in fairly simple language and aren’t too technical.

For example, their articles on protocols clearly explains in which situations they recommend to use which protocol, which makes things really easy for beginners.

However, they do recommend AES-128 encryption over 256, which is unusual.

They also have an Announcements page and a Network Status page, which are very handy.

This page even shows the bandwidth being used per server.

Search bars are also available in the FAQ, tutorials and knowledgebase areas to find what you need quickly.

Support (Summary)

Vpn.ac doesn’t have live chat, only a ticketing system in European full-time hours. Response times are quick within these hours, and are good but not excellent. The knowledgebase is fairly comprehensive, with a great range of setup guides, FAQs and specific troubleshooting issues.

What Do Other Reviewers Say?

All reviewers agreed that vpn.ac’s security’s was top-notch, saying it had gone the extra mile with dedicated first-party DNS servers, strong encryption and protocols including the elliptic curve support, kill switch and ISO27001 and ISO9001 certifications. One mentioned their strong background in IT security.

However, one was dubious of their claim for using dedicated servers, since one of their tests showed an IP in a different country to the one they were supposedly connected to.

In terms of server numbers, most agreed it was small compared to their peers, particularly with country numbers. However, one said they were well-distributed except for South America and Africa.

Like us some rated speeds as excellent, whereas some found decent local speeds but slow long-distance speeds.

They generally found less streaming access than we did. Some were able to access Netflix, Hulu and BBC iPlayer, but only on specific servers. However, one said they couldn’t get any access.

Unlike our experience, one said that their IP address wasn’t hidden when using Tor. They also weren’t impressed with the limited P2P servers, however now you can actually torrent on all servers.

In terms of the interface, most found it extremely user-friendly and loved the design. Opinions varied on settings; some said it had a lot, whilst others called it no-frills and said it didn’t have the customization advanced users would look for. One found it full of flaws and bugs.

Most were impressed with its device support, covering the most popular platforms, and saying the great router support means it can be used to connect to Smart TVs and games consoles.

Unlike us, some really liked the customer support. One said they got responses within ten minutes to an hour, and were very impressed by this. However, a couple said responses were slow and they missed the live chat feature. All agreed that the staff were informative and helpful.

They also liked the knowledgebase, and its many detailed articles on a range of topics including protocols, router installation, proxy and troubleshooting. However, one said there was a lack of screenshots.

They all praised the logging policy for being transparent and honest. They weren’t really concerned with the data collected since it doesn’t log activity data, is kept on a different server, and is erased after a day. They also liked its location, calling Romania a safe jurisdiction.

In terms of price, most said the monthly option wasn’t cheap, but the 2 year option was very good value. They liked the many payment options, but thought the 7 day guarantee and no free trial weren’t very impressive.

In conclusion, most rated it excellent due to its high security, great performance, ease of use and great support. However one said it was solid but not exceptional, and one said it lacked advanced customization options.

What Do Other Reviewers Say (Summary)

Reviewers liked the high technical security of vpn.ac, easy to use interface, compatibility and customer support. None were concerned with its logging policy. They found less streaming access than us, some found slower long-distance speeds, and some thought it wasn’t suitable for advanced users. They said the 2 year plan was good value and rated it excellent or good.

Our Verdict: How Good is Vpn.ac?

Vpn.ac is almost unparalleled in its security, and seems like a VPN you can trust, with their honesty, high infrastructure expertise and all dedicated servers.

They certainly pack a punch with their security features, such as kill switches on 5 platforms, full encryption and protocol control, and specialized servers using double vpn and obfuscation technology. They’re even launching Wireguard in beta, one of the first VPNs to do so.

It’s suitable for both streamers and torrentors, with US Netflix across all servers, plus Hulu access. There’s full torrenting access, plus specific P2P-optimized servers.

It’s also great for users in China, with special China servers and a whole host of advice on their knowledgebase, which is rare.

It’s fairly easy to use with simple navigation, though no favorites and a fiddly on-off button. But there’s a fair few settings, plus lots of specialised servers.

Device compatibility is pretty good, with all the basics plus great router support, and beta apps for Android TVs and Firesticks. You also get 6 connections, which is above average.

However, there are a fairly low number of servers in a low number of countries. Though these are high-quality servers, you might have specific country requirements that vpn.ac can’t meet.

We also weren’t impressed with support, with no live chat system, and not even 24/7 email. They work under European hours, with no weekends, which sucks for US users. However, responses are fast within the times and there’s a good knowledge base.

There’s also the issue of them logging IP addresses and connection times. However, they’re only stored for a day and are very transparent about it, making a good argument about why they collect it. Fortunately its Romanian location also means this data likely won’t be shared with other countries.

The 1 month price is above average but the 1 and 2 year options are average. There’s a wide variety of payment options including crypto, and a rather stingy $2 7-day trial and 7-day money-back guarantee if you want to test it out first.
Overall, the positives far outweigh the negatives for vpn.ac. It has fast speeds, great security, and a lot of great features. We therefore give it a rating of 4.3 out of 5 and we would recommend it.


Read more VPN reviews

Learn more about VPNs

Leave a Comment

css.php