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Founded in South Africa in 2011, SumRando CyberSecurity now offers a VPN, proxy and secure messaging service from the beautiful island of Mauritius.
The company website is surprisingly quiet about its VPN features. The main pages have a few words about encryption and bypassing geographic blocks, but that's about it.
Browsing the FAQ page gave us the list of locations: Sweden, the US, Hong Kong, Singapore, Spain, Brazil, Turkey, and Jordan. That's alarmingly short, but the company does state that it "owns its own hardware", and if it has more control over the servers that could result in better performance. Hopefully.
- Want to try SumRando? Check out the website here
There's some good news on the client front. SumRando has downloads for Windows and Android, and the latter's 4-star Google Play rating is encouraging.
The company even has an anonymous free plan which you can use without any registration at all, not even your email address. Bandwidth is very limited at 1GB per month, and you can't access all the servers (including the US), but that could still be enough for occasional or light use.
Signing up for the commercial plan gets you unlimited bandwidth along with more and faster servers, and can be yours for $10 (£8, AU$13.25) per single month, or an equivalent of $6 (£4.80, AU$7.95) if you subscribe for a year.
SumRando's logging policy looks at first much like many other VPNs. There's an emphatic statement that the company won't "monitor, analyse, process or store any information pertaining to your web-based activity whilst using the VPN..."
But there's also a slightly more vague statement about session logging, where the company records "your connect and disconnect times, the amount of data transferred for accounting purposes, and other account management information to make sure things work for you."
That's quite a list of items. On the plus side, it didn't correspond to our experiences later, as the company only required our email address. And if there are situations where SumRando needs more, the firm does at least say it will never sell or trade your details to anyone else.
Privacy checks complete, we drilled down into the contracts looking for other potential catches, but could only come up with one: the service must not be used for "any business, commercial or industrial purposes whatsoever". That's important to know, but as SumRando doesn't seem a business-oriented provider anyway, we doubt many people will care.
- We’ve rounded up the best free VPN services of 2018
SumRando's Windows client has just one good idea in the form of a ‘banner’, a thin line at the top of the screen which turns green when you're safely connected, and black and yellow as a warning when you're not. It's a simple way to keep your VPN status in mind, whatever else you're doing, and can optionally be turned off if it ever gets in your way or otherwise irritates.
The rest of the client is extremely basic – easy-to-use but with the bare minimum of options. And it seemed to cause some conflicts on our system, too, leaving Explorer hanging for extended periods of time. We couldn't pin down the cause precisely, but the problem was only around while the client was installed, so it certainly didn't help.
There was another puzzle, with the client displaying ‘40,000MB left’ when we first logged in. Left? In an unlimited account? We queried this point with an email to the company, and were told: "Your plan does provide unlimited data. The number is merely a reference point for our system."
A reference point? Why does the client need a reference point, if it's truly unlimited? What happens when this reference point is passed? SumRando didn't tell us, so we moved on.
Browsing performance was slow, with some sites taking so long to load we thought the browser might have locked up. Our actual speed tests* gave more mixed and inconsistent results, with downloads hitting 20Mbps at an absolute momentary best, but plummeting to 5Mbps immediately afterwards.
Regular connection errors didn't help, either. Some sites hung during access, others failed with assorted error messages, a few displayed incorrectly – it quickly became frustrating.
SumRando's client does get some credit for preventing any DNS leaks, but that's no compensation for what came earlier. It was time to uninstall.
Our Windows experience was dire, with a limited, clumsy client and possible system conflicts, compounded by poor download speeds that will affect every platform. The free plan will waste your time, the commercial plan your money – go elsewhere.
*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.