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UltraVPN review

Unblock Netflix with this young VPN

UltraVPN
Image Credit: UltraVPN

Our Verdict

UltraVPN doesn't have the features to compete with the top VPNs, yet it's still charging more than most. Go spend your hard-earned cash elsewhere.

For

  • Easy to use
  • Decent speeds in most locations
  • Unblocks US Netflix
  • 24/7 phone and email support

Against

  • Very few features
  • Overpriced
  • Privacy policy is short on VPN details
  • A few servers are very slow

UltraVPN is a VPN brand run by Network Connect, the company behind other VPN brands such as PrivacyWeb and SafeVPN.

The service has a very conventional feature set: apps for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android (no manual setup), OpenVPN support with AES-256 encryption, a kill switch to block your internet connection if the VPN drops, and a claimed zero logging policy (more on that later).

The UltraVPN network is of a decent size with 100+ locations spread across more than 50 countries. Most servers support P2P, too, a welcome plus. UltraVPN doesn't say anything about who owns or manages the network, but we noticed it was using a few Windscribe servers.

Support options are more varied than usual, with contact methods including phone, email and live chat.

UltraVPN's pricing is a little complicated, and more expensive than many. Monthly plans are $6.99 for the first term, $8.99 on renewal. This drops to $4.99 a month if you pay six months upfront, but then rises to $9.98 on renewal, more expensive than the monthly plan – and you'll pay a low $2.99 a month for the first year on the annual plan, although this rises to $7.50 on renewal.

Worse, this only gets you support for connecting up to three devices. You can upgrade to support unlimited devices for a further $2.92 a month over the first year, rising to $5.83 afterwards. By year two that means you might be paying $13.33 a month on the annual plan to cover unlimited devices, compared to (for instance) Private Internet Access charging $2.91 a month, on its two-year plan, to cover a probably-adequate five devices.

Privacy and logging

The UltraVPN website claims the service has a zero logging policy, stating that: 'We don't keep tabs on your online activities so your browsing habits remain completely anonymous.' That's a good start, but it doesn't rule out all types of logging, and we were keen to investigate further.

Normally we would expect to find additional information in a provider's privacy policy, but UltraVPN's small print is mostly about website usage and account management, and makes no clear references to the VPN.

We did find fractionally more information on a support page. This explained that there's no monitoring of internet searches or websites, but the service will 'note the IP of your device and monitor the amount of traffic you put through the UltraVPN servers.'

There's much more we would like to know about this – for instance, does UltraVPN log total figures only, or record information per session, with times, dates, and incoming and outgoing IP addresses? The company needs to spell out its procedures in much more detail.

UltraVPN

The Windows app for UltraVPN (Image Credit: UltraVPN)

Apps

The UltraVPN Windows client is well-designed, with a clear and familiar interface which looks much like many other VPN apps. A main console displays your selected location, and you can choose other locations from a simple list. There's a big Connect/ Disconnect button which protects you on demand, and a Settings box has a couple of useful configuration options.

The client's location list doesn't have a 'Best' or 'Automatic' selection to access the nearest server, unfortunately, and there's no Favorites system to speed up re-connecting to your most commonly-used locations. The server list does enable choosing either countries or the locations within them, though (which is useful, as there are nine locations in the eastern US alone). It also highlights servers which specialize in video streaming or support P2P.

Choose a location, and desktop notifications make it clear what the client is doing, and when you do get connected, the client interface updates to indicate its status and display your new IP address.

The Settings dialog has a sprinkling of useful options, including the ability to load the client when Windows starts, to automatically connect to the best or last connection, and to enable a firewall (UltraVPN's name for its kill switch), which automatically blocks your internet connection if the VPN connection drops.

While these are useful features, UltraVPN's Windows offering can't match the configurability of the top VPN clients. You can't change or tweak your protocol, for instance (it's OpenVPN-only). There are no DNS options, either, and you can forget about advanced features like automatic protection whenever you access an insecure network; this is very much basics-only.

Checking out UltraVPN's Android app revealed a very similar product. The interface was good, and almost identical to its Windows cousin, so once you've mastered one, you'll immediately understand the other. But it's seriously underpowered, with even less functionality than we saw on Windows (in particular, there's no kill switch). That's disappointing.

The UltraVPN web console provides a way to generate OpenVPN and IKEv2 profiles which might enable setting up the service manually on other platforms, including routers. But this is far from straightforward, and the website has very little documentation to help you figure it out. (In fact, unless you go looking, you might never realize UltraVPN has this feature).

Netflix on a MacBook

UltraVPN allowed us to watch US Netflix (Image Credit: Apple)

Netflix

Unblocking US Netflix is a challenge for most VPN providers, but UltraVPN seems unconcerned, with its website committing to giving you access to US Netflix content, wherever you are.

The clients are designed for this, too. Instead of working your way through US locations, looking for one that works (the standard procedure with many competitors), UltraVPN has a specialist Netflix viewing location called 'UltraFlix US'.

Could it really be this easy? Yes, at least for us: we connected to the UltraFlix US location and were immediately able to browse US Netflix without any difficulty.

We switched to YouTube, and found we were able to view and stream US-only content there, too.

UltraVPN's only failure was BBC iPlayer. Whether we used the Manchester, London or 'UltraFlix UK' locations, the player detected our VPN and warned that 'this content is not available in your location'.

Performance

Performance testing with OpenSpeedTest (Image Credit: OpenSpeedTest)

Performance

Assessing VPN speed is often difficult, but UltraVPN has some extra challenges of its own. The service has two UK servers, for instance, but they delivered very different results, with Manchester averaging a below-par 25-30Mbps, while London hit an impressive 60-65Mbps on our 75Mbps test line.

European connections were more consistent within individual countries, although there was a wide variation across the continent, with Amsterdam reaching 65Mbps, most countries somewhere around 20-40Mbps, and Greece sometimes as low as 1Mbps.

Switching to the US again saw a wide range of results across individual locations, with east coast servers giving us anything from 30 to 60Mbps, while the west coast figures ranged from 15 to 40Mbps.

Most long-distance connections saw speeds fall significantly, although they remained just about usable. For example, Thailand averaged 5-8Mbps, Singapore reached 10Mbps, and Australia was 10-15Mbps.

We did have major issues with a few locations, at least some of the time. Malaysia performed poorly, if it managed to connect at all. Indonesia struggled to 1-2Mbps, and Japan was disappointing, often reaching no more than 1Mbps.

Putting this all together, it's plain that UltraVPN can deliver solid performance, but this depends very much on the servers you choose. If you sign up for the service, run speed tests across multiple servers to find out what works best for you.

Final verdict

UltraVPN's clients are easy to use, and the service can be fast, but it's distinctly short on functionality and there's just not enough power here to justify the price. You'll get more features for much less cash elsewhere.