F-Secure Freedome VPN review

An easy-to-use VPN, fresh from Finland

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Our Verdict

Freedome is easy-to-use and supports up to 7 connections, but some servers are too slow for anything but the most basic browsing.

For

  • Easy-to-use client
  • Licences for up to 7 devices
  • Clear privacy policy

Against

  • Very variable performance
  • No single month payment option

Freedome is a flexible and easy-to-use VPN from the Helsinki-based security vendor F-Secure.

The service mostly focuses on the privacy fundamentals. It offers a decent set of 27 locations across 20+ countries, with native desktop and mobile apps, giving you access to (some) geo-blocked content and with no bandwidth limits to hold you back.

The only significant bonus feature is tracker-blocking, although F-Secure does its best to persuade you otherwise, highlighting extras like an "interactive visual map" to show you the trackers it's blocked. This looks pretty and can sometimes be useful, but realistically, you wouldn't miss it if it wasn't there.

The licensing system is more interesting. Instead of restricting you to a fixed number of connections, and sometimes not even making it clear what that number is, Freedome builds device support into the cost of its plans. A baseline 3-device, 1-year plan is a reasonable £3.33 ($4, AU$5.40) per month, 5-device coverage costs £4.17 ($5.10, AU$6.80), or a 7-device licence is £4.83 ($5.90, AU$7.90). (All prices are monthly equivalents and require paying a full year up-front).

The 5-day trial is another service highlight – just install and go, no registration or payment details required – and even once you've signed up, you're protected by a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Privacy

F-Secure's privacy policy is short, clear and direct, focused on what you need and want to know, and so readable that it tramples all over the pages of most of the competition.

This starts right at the top of the page, with simple statements of policy: "We do not share nor sell any of your traffic"; "We do not read your traffic"; "We do not know what traffic is yours."

The page details some logging, including records of "the device ID and the public IP address from where the VPN client connects to our service", the duration of a session and the amount of bandwidth used. But it also explains the purpose of this (to protect against fraudulent use), how long the logs are kept (90 days), and points out that there's no way to identify what you did once you'd connected to the server.

F-Secure even highlights potential issues with its own features. The Tracker Mapper needs to log tracking data to present you with its map, for instance, but the privacy policy explains that this is optional, and exactly when and how it'll be deleted.

Put it all together and F-Secure seems to be making a real effort to ensure its customers understand any privacy issues, and other companies could learn a lot from its approach.

Performance

Getting started with Freedome was supremely easy. Download, run the client, accept the terms of service, click the massive button, and we were connected in seconds. There's no need for registration or credit card details and no apparent bandwidth restrictions – the entire service is free to use for the five-day trial.

Freedome's Windows client is bulkier than most others thanks to a button-packed sidebar, but the core of the program is very familiar. A main console displays your connection status and a few stats (bandwidth used, sites and tracking attempts blocked), and you're able to choose your preferred location and connect with a click.

We had no issues with any of this, and in our tests*, the first connections we made to a local UK server were reassuringly speedy, consistently over 30Mbps and only 10-15% below our regular rates.

Switching to a California server saw everything change. 4Mbps – really? Trying out some east coast servers eventually got us speeds of 20-25Mbps, but even this peak performance was well below our 35Mbps no-VPN rate.

Our overall experience wasn't bad, and we were able to stream media, download files and browse in general at acceptable speeds – but expect to spend more time trying out different servers than you might do elsewhere.

Final verdict

Freedome is a hassle-free VPN which could be a good basic choice if you've 6 or 7 devices to protect. Just keep in mind that some servers are very slow, and you may have to experiment to find one that works for you.

*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.