Goose VPN is a Netherlands-based privacy provider with some appealing features and products.
Goose has an fair-sized network of locations spread across 28 countries. Most are in Europe and North America, but there are also servers in Hong Kong, India, Israel and Singapore. (The company used to have a server in Australia, but not any more, and there's no New Zealand alternative, either.)
There's support for P2P on some, but not all of these 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, a Chrome extension and KODI addon, and there are bonus setup instructions for many other devices and platforms.
Unusually, there's no arbitrary device limit. If you happen to have five, ten, fifteen or more devices you need to connect simultaneously, you can do that. 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 half way around the world, either - Goose says it doesn't outsource support, which gets a thumbs-up from us.
Plans and pricing
Paying for a year up-front cuts the cost to a very reasonable $6.49 (£4.99), though. And bargain hunters can get 50GB of data a month for only $3.89 (£2.99). That could be a good deal if you'll only use the service occasionally, although we'd prefer a purely pay-as-you-go system where your data never expires.
The first month comes free, too, the best trial period we've found. The company doesn't try to catch you out with some complicated cancellation procedure, either - you can close your account in a click or two from the website.
If we're being picky, we could complain about the stingy 30-day money-back guarantee, where you're only guaranteed to get your money back if you've used less than 100MB bandwidth. That is surprisingly low, although when Goose is already giving you a month of unlimited access to test the service, it hardly seems reasonable to expect much more.
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, e-mails sent and received, usernames or entered passwords, etc.")
Even better, it 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 which seems to be logged is the bandwidth use per account. That's no surprise for a company which offers a limited bandwidth product, and that detail on its own can't 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 created immediately.
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 ChromeOS. Oh, and there's a KODI add on and 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 client, 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.
Once you've chosen a location, the client will connect and disconnect you with a click. Connection times were speedy 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. We were a little surprised when we first saw our connection change from using IKEv2 in the UK to L2TP in the US, but if you're unhappy with this, it's easily fixed. A Protocol tab in the Settings dialog allows you to set OpenVPN, IKEv2, L2TP or even PPTP as your preferred protocol for all situations.
Other thoughtful settings include an option to automatically connect to the nearest, or a favorite server, whenever it launches. You can have the client display an occasional reminder if you're not connected, handy in case you think the VPN is active. There's an option to display the full list of servers in a location, or have the client choose the best. And a built-in Kill Switch can automatically block internet access if the VPN drops, reducing the chance of an identity leak.
The only small hassle was the occasional marketing window which would pop up after a connection, asking if we were enjoying the service and whether we would rate it online. These are common on mobile apps, not so much on desktops, and more something we'd associate with dodgy 'free' apps than a professional, commercial service.
Goose's Windows client has some issues, then, but overall, it's a likeable and easy-to-use VPN app. It doesn't give you quite the expert-level tweaks and control you'll get with some of the competition, but there are still some useful touches here that you won't see everywhere else.
The Android app has an almost identical interface to its desktop cousin, with the same static map, location list and Connect/ Disconnect button. It's easy to get started, although switching servers is a hassle, as you must manually close the current connection before you can even start to browse the location list.
The Settings dialog is disappointing, too, as it includes only one option: to allow you to choose from the full list of servers, or to select the best one automatically. There are no auto-connect options, no choice of protocols or anything else you might want from a mobile VPN app.
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.
All servers were up and running, allowing us to connect without difficulty, and connection times were quick.
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, maybe a big deal if you're hoping to access geoblocked content.)
UK speeds ranged from 22-65Mbps on our 75Mbps fiber broadband line. That's wider than we expected and could be a problem if you're using a custom Goose setup, perhaps on a router or an OpenVPN client. But it's less of a concern if you're using one of the official Goose clients, which should automatically choose the fastest server for you.
It's much the same story with US connections, where speeds ranged from a poor 10Mbps to an excellent 60Mbps. As long as the client consistently chooses the best servers, you'll be fine, but if it makes a mistake, or you're using a custom setup where you've manually chosen a specific server, there's clearly scope for problems.
Understandably, speeds tailed off over distance and the Hong Kong server averaged speeds from 8-20Mbps. Still, even that will be enough for browsing, simple streaming and many other applications.
Overall, then, Goose VPN seems capable of high speeds, but consistency could be an issue. If you sign up for the trial month, close and reconnect to the VPN regularly to see if you're always allocated a speedy server.
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, unfortunately, and it blocked our viewing attempts, displaying the standard "you're using a proxy, go away" error message.
There was more disappointment with BBC iPlayer, where we were told that "this content is not available in your location."
We asked Support and were told this was a 'temporary' problem and Goose was trying to get some new servers to solve the issue. There's nothing unusual about that - content providers are always updating their VPN detection and blocking systems, and VPN providers are always fighting back. But right now, at least, Goose VPN doesn't allow you to 'access all websites' and it's clearly not the best of unblocking solutions.
There is some worthwhile content here, but a poor site structure makes it difficult to find. The FAQs are organized into 8 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. There are no hits for 'setup', for instance. Searching for 'install' gives you only three articles, and top of the list is an article saying "yes, you can install Goose on the ASUS RT-N16' router - not the information most users will want or need.
If you're equally unimpressed by the website, you're able to contact support 34/7/365 via live chat, email or a web form. We opened a live chat window and asked a question about Netflix being blocked, and had a helpful response within a couple of minutes explaining that this was a known but (hopefully) temporary problem. We don't know how the live chat agents will cope with more complex technical issues, but it's a good start, and there's always standard email support for any particularly complicated problems.
A likeable service, with speedy live chat support and a clear ‘no logging’ policy. It's a little short on features, particularly with the mobile clients, but Goose VPN does a lot right. It could be worth a try for less demanding users.
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