Blockless review

An easy-to-use VPN that's fast, too. Usually…

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Our Verdict

Blockless is easy-to-use and speeds are (mostly) high, but more tech savvy users might be frustrated by the lack of configuration options.

For

  • Desktop and mobile apps included
  • Free plan available
  • Dead simple to use
  • Can be very fast

Against

  • No advanced features or configuration options
  • Inconsistent performance
  • Thousands of words of small-print

Blockless is a straightforward VPN designed for regular computer users. You don't have to be a network expert to understand it, and there are no 30-step ‘download this, install that’ setup tutorials to follow: just grab the native Windows, OS X, iOS and Android apps, or the Chrome extension, and you're ready to go in moments.

This level of support usually means high prices, but the Blockless Premium plan is only a little above average at $7.50 (£6, AU$10) a month, and you're getting plenty for your money – the clients, P2P support on some servers, a basic ad-blocker, streaming Smart DNS, servers in a just-about-enough 14 countries and up to 5 simultaneous connections.

If you're unsure or only need the VPN basics, Blockless has a free plan. This doesn't allow changing regions so won't unblock all websites, but you still get secure, anonymous browsing, no bandwidth limits, and it's free for life.

Sounds appealing to us, but could there be a catch? Maybe the small-print would tell us more.

Privacy

Blockless has separate pages for its terms of service, service agreement and privacy policy, and together they're more than 10,000 words long. Yet as usual with small-print, the longer it is, the less useful information it contains.

In this case, Blockless offers some very standard reassurance on logging: "We do not and will not actively monitor user activity for inappropriate behaviour, nor do we maintain direct logs of any customer’s internet activities".

Another clause says: "We may... remove, block, filter or restrict... any materials or information... that we consider to be... violations of the restrictions... in these terms and conditions." Could this allow the company to censor or restrict particular websites or internet services, if they're seen as against the rules?

We also noticed that the list of ‘stuff you can't do’ goes a little further than most of the competition. Absolutely everyone bans anything to do with child pornography, for instance, but Blockless seems to forbid all porn, full-stop. You're not allowed to use the service in a way that “incites, encourages, solicits, collects, displays, and/or advocates... pornography” – a very far-reaching clause.

Performance

Getting started with Blockless was easy. We signed up with our email address and created a password, downloaded and installed the Windows client, signed in with the same credentials and were ready to go. The entire process took barely a minute, with no payment details required.

It won't take long to get connected, either, thanks to the app-like simplicity of the client. There's the name and flag of a ‘Selected Region’, which is also marked on the map; click that to choose from 14 countries (US, Europe, Singapore, New Zealand, Australia), hit ‘Secure Now’ and you're online within a few seconds.

While this is great for beginners or anyone in a hurry, it's not as impressive for experienced users who want to take full control over their setup. There are no significant low-level tweaks or settings at all.

Our tests* showed generally good performance, though the service was also hugely inconsistent. Our UK-UK download rates were evenly spread from 14Mbps to 39Mbps, and UK-US were 10-20Mbps, even when repeatedly tested over short periods of time – that's about three to five times more variable than with the VPN turned off.

Still, while this could be annoying, it's hardly a fatal issue. Even if Blockless could only deliver those minimum speeds it would still be very usable, and significantly faster than some of the competition.

Final verdict

Blockless is easy-to-use, reasonably priced, and performance was generally above average. It has no advanced features or low-level configuration options, but if you're happy with a point-and-click solution it's certainly well worth considering.

*Our testing included evaluating general performance (browsing, streaming video). We also used speedtest.net to measure latency, upload and download speeds, and then tested immediately again with the VPN turned off, to check for any difference (over several rounds of testing). We then compared these results to other VPN services we've reviewed. Of course, do note that VPN performance is difficult to measure as there are so many variables.

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