Perfect Privacy VPN review

A premium VPN, but at a premium price

Main
Image credit: Perfect Privacy

Our Verdict

Perfect Privacy is fast, powerful, and a good choice for demanding and experienced users. But if you don't need its power, there are much cheaper VPNs around.

For

  • Great performance worldwide
  • Powerful and configurable Windows client
  • Many advanced technical features
  • Runs on almost anything

Against

  • Very high price
  • No trial
  • Small usability issues

Founded way back in 2008, Perfect Privacy is a Swiss VPN  with an interesting and unusual mix of features. 

The service seems very standard, in some areas. 36 locations in 26 countries isn't bad, for instance, but nothing special. You get VPN apps for Windows, Mac and Android, only (iOS users must set the service up manually.) There's no trial, and Perfect Privacy only offers a 7-day money-back guarantee.

Look a little deeper, though, and you'll begin to appreciate what's on offer here. Like no limit on the number of simultaneous connections, IPv6 addresses on most servers, torrent support, port forwarding, multi-hop VPN (passing your traffic through up to four servers to be even less traceable), tracker-blocking and anti-phishing, multiple layers of IP leak protection, and – well, you get the idea.

Catches? The price. Perfect Privacy's monthly plan isn't bad at $12.95, but there's little discount. The one-year plan still costs $9.99 a month, and even the two-year plan is a chunky $8.99. NordVPN's three-year plan is a third of the price.

This clearly isn't a VPN for bargain-hunting beginners, then, but if you need Perfect Privacy's advanced features, it might be worth a look.

Privacy

Perfect Privacy does not keep any logs on its users (Image credit: Perfect Privacy)

(Image credit: Image credit: Perfect Privacy)

Privacy

Perfect Privacy has a very short and clear logging policy: "we do not record or log any user traffic so potential sharing such data with third parties is technically impossible. We do not store IP addresses, access times or duration, nor bandwidth caused by individual users." There's no logging of your activities online, or of any session data (times you've connected, bandwidth used and so on).

The company records the total load on individual servers, but nothing that can relate to a specific account or how it's being used.

Unlike TunnelBear, VyprVPN and a few other top VPNs, Perfect Privacy hasn't had its systems publicly audited, which means there's no way for potential customers to confirm that it's living up to its privacy promises.

Perfect Privacy's long history in the industry and obvious technical expertise count in its favor, though, and overall, we see no reason to doubt what the company is saying.

Setup

Signing up for Perfect Privacy was easy. We chose a plan, handed over our cash (cards, PayPal, Bitcoin and many other methods are supported via BitPay and Paymentwell), and the website displayed our login credentials

The focus on privacy is obvious right away. Customers are assigned a random user name and password, rather than being invited to choose their own. These aren't sent to your email unless you request it, and they're only displayed once. If you lose them, you'll have to request another password from your web console.

An excellent Download section brings together everything you need to get started: app download links (Windows, Mac, Android), setup guides for many more (iOS, Chromebook, Linux, Raspberry Pi, BlackBerry, dd-wrt, AsusWRT Merlin, Tomato and more), and various files that experts can use to help configure the service (OpenVPN configuration generator, IPsec/ IKEv2 certificates, IPsec pre-shared keys, proxy details, IP addresses and more.) We're often forced to hunt through FAQ pages and tutorials to find this kind of information, so it makes a very refreshing change to find it all in one place.

Apps 1

Perfect Privacy may not have the prettiest VPN client but it is one of the most customizable (Image credit: Perfect Privacy)

(Image credit: Image credit: Perfect Privacy)

Apps

Perfect Privacy's Windows app doesn't have the graphical style of the typical VPN app. There are no sculpted panels here, no gorgeous hi-res icons; this is all tiny icons with too much text and a generally clumsy interface. It's like a regular desktop application which has been forced into the shape of a mobile app: it doesn't quite work.

Let's take just one example. The client opens with a list of locations. Just about everyone else allows you to choose a location, then click a single Connect button to get online. Here, you can't click on a city name or a flag to select it, rather every one has its own Connect button, so you must scroll down the list, find the location you need, then click the Connect button to its far right to get protected. It's not difficult, but it's far more awkward than it needs to be.

Look past the clumsy interface, though, and there are major pluses here. The developer may not be great at UI design, but he knows a huge amount about VPNs, and there are neat bonus features everywhere you look.

Every server has an indication of load, for instance, but this isn't just a meaningless percentage figure. There are 'used' and 'total' bandwidth figures ('790 / 1000 Mbit'), green bars as a visual indicator, and these update at regular intervals to give you the latest figures. 

A 'Ping Servers' button displays latencies, too, but not just with a one-off result. The client repeatedly pings each server, then displays the average, for greater accuracy, and keeps going until you stop.

Issues connecting? You can display a log screen with a click. This is a live view, not just a static text file, so you can watch connection status updates (and perhaps spot error messages) as they happen.

When you're connected, another click displays the details, and again, there's much more here than you'll see elsewhere: your chosen location, the IPv4 and IPv6 address of the server, and the addresses you've been allocated, and the locations of the two DNS servers you're using.

Settings

Perfect Privacy gives you a great deal more control over its client's settings than other VPNs normally do (Image credit: Perfect Privacy)

(Image credit: Image credit: Perfect Privacy)

A comprehensive Settings panel starts with familiar options that any VPN user might recognize. You're able to switch protocol, for instance (OpenVPN or IKEv2), decide if and how the client launches with Windows, and reconfigure the server list (sort by city, country or ping time, for instance.)

There's so much more, though, that we can't even begin to discuss it here. But just racing through a few, you can choose your preferred OpenVPN encryption method, opt to pick locations down to the server level, set up an entire table of port forwarding rules, opt to pass your traffic through multiple servers, configure proxies, choose from multiple stealth technologies to bypass VPN blocking (Stunnel, SSH, Obfxproxy3), and take vast control over the client's DNS leak protection and firewall (its souped-up kill switch, preventing IP leaks if the VPN connection drops.)

We took a closer look at what was happening under the hood, but even those low-level details were more impressive than usual. Many VPN clients use old OpenVPN configuration files with minimal commands, for instance. Perfect Privacy's files are smartly designed, up-to-date, and take full advantage of the available technologies. They're as good as we've ever seen.

We've covered a lot of extras, here, but if you're not so technical, don't be put off. Almost all these extras are tucked away in the Settings panel or behind various buttons and links. If all you want to do is click Connect to get online, Disconnect when you're finished, that's all you need to do: you won't run into any complexities unless you go looking for them.

We test the performance of every VPN we review using OpenSpeedTest (Image credit: OpenSpeedTest)

We test the performance of every VPN we review using OpenSpeedTest (Image credit: OpenSpeedTest)

Performance

Perfect Privacy claims its Windows client firewall is better than a regular kill switch, and the company just might have a point. We tried closing our VPN connection using ever more drastic techniques, but the client didn't blink. In every case, the firewall immediately blocked our internet access, without any hint of a leak, while the client automatically reconnected us within a few seconds. 

This protection does introduce a usability issue, as it appears to take a while to configure. Most VPN clients disconnect almost immediately, but Perfect Privacy seems to have around an extra 15 second delay while it undoes its firewall and restores normal operations. If you use the service for long sessions with a single location, you're unlikely to care, but if you keep switching servers or connecting and disconnecting, this could be annoying.

Perfect Privacy failed to unblock US Netflix in our tests (Image credit: Netflix)

Perfect Privacy failed to unblock US Netflix in our tests (Image credit: Netflix)

Perfect Privacy sells itself more on its advanced technical features than the ability to 'watch Hulu from anywhere', so we weren't expecting great website unblocking performance. And the results were no great surprise, with Perfect Privacy getting us into easy platforms like US YouTube, but failing with BBC iPlayer and US Netflix.

The service performed much, much better on our speed tests, with downloads averaging an excellent 65Mbps from local UK servers, near European and the best US servers. Even Singapore hit 30-35Mbs, while Hong Kong gave us 15-20Mbps.

There were some speed issues, but the client's clear display of server load helped us understand them. During our tests, for example, the Melbourne server regularly showed well under 50Mbps of its 100Mbps free. This seems to be a capacity issue (most European locations offer 1000Mbps), but we could at least get a feel for the sort of speeds we might get, and if capacity seemed better than usual, we could try to connect right away.

The good news continued right up to the end of the review, as the Windows client flew through our privacy tests, returning IP addresses from the countries we expected and effortlessly blocking any and all DNS leaks.

Final verdict

Perfect Privacy is one of the fastest VPNs we've seen recently, highly configurable and absolutely stuffed with expert-level features. If you need this level of power, it's a must-see, but the high price is an issue. If you're happy with the basics, there are very capable VPNs around for a lot less money.