WiTopia VPN review

A fast, professional VPN from an experienced provider

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Our Verdict

WiTopia's two connection limit is annoying and we'd like some mobile apps, but otherwise it's a fast and professional VPN for a fair price.

For

  • Excellent speeds
  • Clear and honest logging policy
  • Secure DNS service
  • 24x7x365 chat support

Against

  • Maximum of two connections
  • No mobile clients
  • No monthly payments for the Pro plan

With more than 12 years' experience in the VPN market, you'd expect WiTopia to have put together an impressive list of features – and the company doesn't disappoint.

This provider is strong on the fundamentals, with 72 locations in 44 countries, unlimited bandwidth, and support for running the service on just about any VPN-compatible device.

WiTopia includes a free Secure DNS service, sometimes a premium feature elsewhere, and a bundled SMTP Mail Relay helps avoid the email problems you can get with other VPNs.

And if you've got a problem, there's none of the usual ‘send us an email and we'll get back to you when we feel like it’ attitude; WiTopia has live chat support available 24x7x365.

Possible issues include a lack of mobile clients. WiTopia has software for Windows and Mac, but iOS and Android users must set up their devices manually. If you're not sure how to do this, take a look at the Support pages to get a feel for how difficult (or easy) it could be.

There's another problem on the mobile front in WiTopia's limit of two simultaneous connections. That seems mean, especially when other providers typically allow you up to five.

The company's Personal VPN Pro plan offers all this for $6.67 (£5.35) a month over six months (there's no single month plan), $5.84 (£4.65) if you pay for a full year, dropping to $4.44 (£3.55) for a three-year subscription.

A Personal VPN Basic plan drops OpenVPN and 4D Stealth support, and is priced at $5.99 for a single month (£4.80), dropping to an equivalent $4.17 (£3.35) over one year, and $3.06 (£2.55) a month over three years. While that sounds cheap, we wouldn't recommend giving up OpenVPN's mix of speed and security unless you know exactly what you're doing.

There's no free trial and no refund available for the monthly plan, unfortunately. Still, everything else includes an unconditional 30-day money-back guarantee, giving you plenty of time to see how the service works for you.

Privacy

WiTopia's policy on logging is brief, yet still covers all the details you need. It's refreshingly honest, too, although you do have to read the entire service FAQ to get the full picture.

Here are two relevant sentences taken directly from WiTopia's website (we've not edited them):

"By design, we absolutely do not capture or store any logs of a user’s internet activities, DNS, or metadata. Furthermore, there are no logs that would allow any person or entity to match an IP address and a timestamp to a user of our VPN service."

WiTopia isn't just saying it can't see what you're doing online. It claims there is no DNS logging, no session metadata, no records of timestamps, no incoming or outgoing IP addresses or anything else. We've seen other VPN providers use thousands of words of small print to tell us much, much less.

That's not quite the full story, though, as this second clause spells out:

"We are not set up in any way to directly view an individual customer’s activity, nor do we monitor, capture, or store logs that are directly attributable to any individual customer. Some indirect data, and the other bits that are cached during the regular course of running an Internet business, are regularly destroyed, mostly during our weekly maintenance windows.

“In fact, we only keep this minimal and temporary ‘trailing log’ of indirect data in case we learn a user is violating the terms of use, e.g. spamming, committing crimes using the service, etc. In that specific case, we will report this to our abuse team, determine the guilty party through a laborious matching process, terminate their service, and take further action, if necessary.”

Here WiTopia is explaining something that other VPN providers almost never mention: even if they don't log you directly, it may still be possible to use general server logs to trace an internet action back to your account. It’s not likely – someone would have to notice what you're doing, and care enough to get court documents served before the 'weekly maintenance window' – but it is possible.

We have to credit WiTopia for its honesty. Instead of trying to fool you with a blanket 'we never log anything ever' statement, the company has made a real effort to clearly explain how the service works.

Still, if the logging policy is top of your priority list then you might prefer some of the competition. Private Internet Access, for example, doesn't just claim it keeps no logs, it points to court documents which show it was unable to hand over any identifying user information when requested.

Performance

WiTopia's clear privacy policy did a lot to win us over, but the company rather spoiled things when we signed up, demanding our full name, physical address and phone number.

We filled in the form anyway, verified our email address when asked, and were taken to WiTopia's web dashboard. A 'My Services' page summarized our plan, told us how many days service we had left, and provided convenient download links for the Windows and Mac clients.  Setup instructions and an archive of OpenVPN setup files are on hand to help you configure anything else.

The Windows client looks good, with gorgeous high-res icons and big buttons. It can be very simple, too: launch, click Quick Connect, and watch as the app connects to the nearest server and its location appears on a detailed map.

Try to choose a custom connection and issues begin to appear. The locations are displayed on a static list, with no information on server load and no sorting options. There's no favorites system to save frequently-used locations. Most bizarrely, the client doesn't give you a default protocol. You have to manually select your preferred option (OpenVPN, L2TP, PPTP, IPSec), which means a pointless extra two clicks every time you choose a location.

The process works better if you work from WiTopia's system tray icon. Right-click, select Gateways, and locations are organized into separate menus for each continent. You can also launch a handy desktop gadget for displaying connection status, IP address, network traffic history graphs and more.

The range of configuration options is another highlight. You can have the client automatically connect when your PC starts, or when you connect to an insecure wireless network. There's full control of DNS, including an option to use custom settings of your own. Experts can tweak MTU or disable IPv6 to avoid privacy leaks. There's even the ability to add ‘custom gateways’, a way to use other VPN connections from the WiTopia client.

Performance was impressive, too. In our tests*, UK-UK connections averaged around 70Mbps on a 75Mbps fibre broadband line. Switching to nearby European servers saw latency increase from 20ms to 40-70ms, but speeds remained high at 60-70Mbps. UK to US traffic managed a similar 60Mbps, and even long-distance trips like UK-Australia achieved a creditable 12-25Mbps.

We completed our testing with the usual privacy checks, and they also went well: the service gave us a new IP address in the promised location each time, and there were absolutely no DNS or WebRTC leaks.

Final verdict

WiTopia has room for improvement – in particular, offering Android and iOS apps and a five-device limit would make it much more mobile-friendly – but even now the VPN provides lots of features and great performance at a very reasonable price.

*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.