VPN4All review

High-tech features for a very high-end price

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Our Verdict

VPN4All has the power to bypass firewalls and make connections that other services can't, but only at a premium price.

For

  • Some powerful low-level tweaks and options
  • Fixed IP address included

Against

  • Expensive with a limited refund policy
  • No support for multiple connections

VPN4All is an interesting Netherlands-based company which has been in the VPN business since 2009.

The service isn't for users on a budget. We noticed a crossed-out $24.95 (around £20, AU$34) on the pricing page, and thought: was that a yearly cost? No, it wasn’t, that’s the single month price of the unlimited top account, which dropped to ‘only’ $11.83 (around £9.60, AU$16.20) a month if billed annually.

The VPN4ALL-50GB plan is a more reasonable $7 (around £5.70, AU$9.60) per month, billed annually. It's limited to 50GB traffic every month, as you might have guessed, but that could still get you 10 hours of video streaming a day, which is likely to be enough for most people.

There's no free service, and no trial. Even the refund policy has a sting – you only qualify if you've used less than 100MB bandwidth, so bear that in mind.

Despite all this pricing pain, there are reasons some people pay up regardless. And those reasons include the fixed IP address you get, and the fact that there are 500-10,000 servers in 80 locations (although only some of these support P2P). There’s also Enhanced OpenVPN and SSTP support, 2048-bit encryption, and extra client features, including a ‘deep packet inspection shield’ to reduce the chance of local admins realising you're using a VPN.

That's an intriguing feature list, but we wanted to find out more.

Privacy

VPN4All's terms of service and privacy policies are lengthy, but well-organised, and give you plenty of information about how you and your data are treated.

The service scores high marks for privacy. It records the bandwidth used per licence – that’s inevitable, for a metered product – but otherwise it doesn't log or monitor any of your online activities, or even the originating IP address used to connect to the service.

The company has an unusually honest and detailed fair use policy, too. This defines ‘unfair use’ (anyone utilising more than 1% of the company's entire bandwidth), says what will happen next (you're warned before they take more serious action), and reassures you about how likely this is (in the history of the company, no-one has ever been warned before).

VPN4All scores highly for its payment sections, too, providing a ‘How to Cancel your PayPal Subscription’ guide to ensure you don't keep paying for a product you no longer need.

Performance

VPN4All has clients for Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android and more, and has detailed instructions to help you get connected with just about anything else.

The Windows client installed easily on our test system, and strikes a good balance between ease of use and functionality. We could choose a server, connect or disconnect in a click or two from the main console, and more expert tweaks – protocol selections, auto IP changes (get a new IP address every x minutes) – are easily accessible if you need them.

For all this technology, VPN4All only managed a very average performance in our tests*. The highlight was a broadly unchanged latency over short distances, otherwise transfer speeds were 70-80% of normal at best, and 40%-60% of normal with our London-California tests.

There are some issues with P2P support, too. Torrents are allowed, but only on maybe one server in five (16 during our tests), and there are no P2P servers in the US or UK.

Final verdict

This is an impressive service in many respects, with plentiful options and powerful capabilities such as bypassing firewalls. The company’s privacy policy is also commendably well laid out – but you pay a premium price for these features, and performance levels are only average.

*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.