Goose VPN is a Netherlands-based privacy provider with some appealing features and products.
Goose has a compact network of 26 countries. Most are in Europe and North America, but there are also VPN servers in Australia, Hong Kong, India, Israel and Singapore.
There's support for P2P on 20 servers. The clients highlight P2P-friendly locations to help you choose.
- Want to try Goose VPN? Check out the website here
A wide range of custom clients includes apps for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android, and a Chrome extension, and there are bonus setup instructions for many other devices and platforms. (Goose offered a Kodi add-on a while ago, but that seems to have been dropped.)
Unusually, there's no arbitrary device limit - bear in mind that the likes of NordVPN limit you to just six. If you happen to have only a few devices, or 10, 15, or more, you can connect them all simultaneously with no limits. This doesn't mean you can have the entire family downloading at once – your account is for a single person only – but we're still happy to see this restriction ditched.
Support is available 24/7/365 via live chat and email. That's not provided by some minimum wage third-party based halfway around the world, either – Goose says it doesn't outsource support, which gets a thumbs-up from us.
Plans and pricing
Goose prices have fallen significantly since our last review, and there's now real value here.
Paying for a year upfront cuts the cost to a very reasonable $4.99 and the three-year plan is an effective $2.60 a month. Although there are some cheaper deals around – Surfshark’s two-year plan is priced at $1.99 a month, for instance – that beats most of the competition.
Goose does score in another area, though: the first month comes free, the best trial period we've found. You must hand over your payment details, but you're not billed until the first 30 days are up. If there are problems, just close your account from the website and there's nothing to pay.
Goose also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, but you only qualify for this if you've transferred less than a tiny 100MB of data. As Goose offers a month for free, anyway, we're not going to complain, but it's worth keeping in mind. Do all your testing in the free month, because unless you've not been able to connect at all, you're unlikely to qualify for the money-back guarantee.
Privacy and logging
Goose boasts of its 'no log policy' at the top of the website, but if you've ever gone VPN shopping you'll know every provider does the same, even when it's not entirely true. That's why it's always a good idea to drill down into the small print and discover what's really going on.
The policy explains that Goose doesn't log users' internet activities – "for example, websites visited, DNS-search results, emails sent and received, usernames or entered passwords, etc."
Even better, the policy goes on to cover session data, explaining that the service doesn't store your originating IP address, or any information about the VPN servers you use within a session.
The only data logged is the bandwidth use per account. That's not uncommon, though, and it can't on its own compromise your privacy.
There's more good news when the policy points out that Goose owns and manages its own network, giving it much greater control over how the servers are set up and operated.
While browsing the small print, we noticed an interesting fair use policy. Instead of vague warnings about ‘excessive usage’, Goose spells out the point where customers cross the line: when "a user utilizes more than 1% of the entire Goose network’s bandwidth".
If a single user hogs that much bandwidth then we'd expect there to be problems, but even then, the company is fair, saying only that the user "will be approached by Goose to reduce the use, or to make a higher payment."
Getting started with Goose VPN is simple. Hand over your email address, enter your payment details (don't worry, you're not billed until the trial month is up) and your account is immediately created.
The website redirects you to the download page, where you're able to choose apps for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android, as well as downloads and instructions for routers, Linux, NAS devices, and Chrome OS. Oh, and there's a Chrome extension, too.
We grabbed a copy of the Windows client. The setup program gave us a choice of languages (English, Netherlands or German), which is unusual, then installed without incident.
The client opens with a simple window which displays your connection status, default protocol, and the current location displayed in text and on a map.
The map isn't interactive – you can't zoom, click and drag to pan, or click locations to connect – which makes it a little pointless. It does update if you use the arrow keys to move up and down the location list, which might be handy if, say, you're unsure where the Isle of Man is, but otherwise the map is more about eye candy than offering any practical benefits.
If you're also unimpressed by the map, you can choose locations from a text list. This isn't quite as easy to use as it could be, thanks to the not-quite-alphabetical-ordering ('Bulgaria, Canada, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Germany, Denmark, Spain' and so on).
Choose a connection and you're able to connect and disconnect with a click. Connection times were reasonable during our tests, and native Windows desktop notifications make it completely clear when you're protected, and when you're not.
Switching servers is easy and natural; just choose a new location and the client closes any previous connection, and starts a new one.
The client window displays the current protocol, which by default is chosen automatically to be the best option for your location and server. This was generally IKEv2 during our review, but a Protocol tab in the Settings dialog allows you to set OpenVPN, IKEv2, L2TP or even the old and insecure PPTP as your preferred protocol for all situations.
The only significant additional feature is a built-in kill switch to automatically block internet access if the VPN drops, reducing the chance of an identity leak. At least, that's the theory. In practice, our tests showed this was an inconsistent mess.
Turn the kill switch on, for instance, and if an IKEv2 connection fails, the Goose client displays an immediate alert, blocks internet access and reconnects within seconds. But it doesn't hide your real IP if you change locations while connected, or manually close the connections.
We switched to OpenVPN, manually closed the connection, and found Goose continued to display a 'you are securely connected' message, even though our real IP was now visible. It does block internet access when you manually close the connection, but not immediately (our real IP was still visible, though maybe only for a fraction of a second). And again, it doesn't hide your real IP if you change locations while you're connected.
If you're an experienced user and know how to test your various options, there could be some value here. But if you're simply hoping the kill switch will be smart enough to protect you in all situations, without you having to worry about it, prepare for disappointment. It really, really won't.
Overall, the Windows client is easy to use in a very basic way, but it's short on control and power, and has some significant underlying technical issues.
The Android app has an almost identical interface to its desktop cousin, with the same static map, location list and Connect/Disconnect button. You can connect in two or three taps, and switching servers is just as easy – tap a new location in the list and the app automatically closes the current connection, before initiating a new one.
The only real disappointment here is the Settings dialog. This has no auto-connect options, no choice of protocols, no kill switch, DNS control or anything else you might want from a mobile VPN app. Instead, there's just a single option: to allow you to choose from the full list of servers, or to have the app select the best one automatically. There's nothing wrong with that, but we'd rather Goose VPN had given us some of the more standard options, first.
To measure the performance of Goose VPN, we used an automated process to connect to multiple US and UK locations, as well as a server in Europe and Hong Kong, then checked their speeds with Netflix's Fast and SpeedTest.
One US server was down, but all the others connected without issue. Connection times were consistent at around 6 to 7 seconds. We've seen better – the fastest providers might connect in 2 to 4 seconds – but we've seen a lot worse, and this wasn't an issue during our real-world experience of using the service.
Checks with a geolocation library suggested all servers appeared to be in their advertised locations. (Some companies will tell you a server is in one country when it seems to be in another, which could be a big deal if you're hoping to access geoblocked content.)
UK speeds averaged a disappointing 26Mbps on our 75Mbps fiber broadband line. That's probably enough for most tasks, but it's lagging behind the best of the competition, where we'll typically see 50-65Mbps.
European speeds were better at around 60Mbps, but our US tests were much more impressive. Connecting from the US to our nearest server, we managed an average 410-460Mbps on a 470Mbps connection, amongst the fastest results we've seen.
Goose VPN servers can clearly handle high speeds in some areas, but they were very poor in others. There's hope here, then, but it depends very much where you live. If you sign up for the free month, run regular speed tests to find out how the service performs in your area.
Goose VPN boasts that it can help you "access all websites... wherever you are", maybe allowing you to view content you wouldn't usually be able to see.
The US servers successfully bypassed YouTube's location checks and allowed us to stream US-only content.
US Netflix is much better protected, and it blocked our viewing attempts from the Windows client's default 'USA Streaming Server.' But when we experimented with five US servers, we found one got us in. That's not as convenient as the best providers – ExpressVPN and VyprVPN typically unblock Netflix with every server – but it's better than many others, who can't unblock Netflix at all.
Our BBC iPlayer tests weren't as successful. The default 'UK streaming' server didn't give us access, and the other locations didn't work, either.
Some VPN providers will recommend the best servers to use at any one time, which can save you a lot of time. We asked Goose VPN support for advice, but all they did was advise us to manually try each server, not the most helpful of responses.
Goose support starts on its website, where a sizeable FAQ section comes packed with articles aimed at helping you solve common issues.
There is some worthwhile content here, but a poor site structure makes it difficult to find. The FAQs are organized into eight categories, for instance, but none of them clearly covers installation or setup issues. And although there's a search box, it generally gives you very poor results. For example, searching for iOS displays the articles 'How do I find out which version of iOS I am using?', 'Does Goose VPN have a kill switch?' and 'Why do I only see a few servers?' Nothing to do with the iOS app, setup or troubleshooting information you'll really want to read.
If you're equally unimpressed by the website, Goose says you can contact support 24/7/365 via live chat, email or a web form.
We opened a live chat window and asked: 'Does Goose VPN allow access to BBC iPlayer?'
In less than a minute a reply arrived, and it wasn't exactly what we'd hoped: 'We recommend tvcatchup.com for this. Here you will find all English open net channels.' Sounds like Goose VPN won't be unblocking iPlayer any time soon.
An unusual VPN, which is below average in several key areas (speed, features, unblocking), but somehow has just enough plus points to make it interesting (free month, no device limits, can be cheap, uniquely flexible billing.) Could be worth a try for less demanding users.
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