PrivadoVPN delivers on speed, and we're always happy to see free VPN plans, but lengthy connection times and multiple app annoyances let the service down. Take a look, but use the free plan first and see how it works for you before signing up.
10 Gb a month free plan
Cheap annual and two-year plans
Unblocks US/ UK Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Prime Video
Excellent WireGuard speeds
Effective kill switch
Supports up to 10 simultaneous connections
Slow connection times on some platforms
Doesn’t unblock Netflix Australia/Canada/Japan, or Disney Plus
Below-average OpenVPN speeds
Apps could be improved
Support site has little content
Small server network
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Swiss-based PrivadoVPN is a young provider with a simple and appealing message. It's a 'fast and secure VPN you can trust', says the website. Sounds good, but do the facts back that up?
The network has 'hundreds of servers' with locations across 48 countries. That's smaller than many—the top providers have thousands of servers—but it's big enough that there's likely to be a server near you.
A strong range of apps covers Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Fire TV, and Android TV. Support for up to 10 simultaneous connections means you're less likely to run into device limits, too, although Atlas VPN, IPVanish, Surfshark, and Windscribe don't impose any limits at all.
Protocol support is good, with the speedy and secure WireGuard, OpenVPN, and IKEv2 available across the range.
Getting connected doesn't just shield your internet activities from snoopers. Privado VPN's Control Tower content filtering system also protects you from ads, trackers, and malicious websites, while a simple parental controls-type system can block adult content and even social media sites.
PrivadoVPN gets top marks for its P2P support, with torrent-friendly servers, a SOCKS5 proxy to maximize torrenting speeds, and a kill switch to protect you if the VPN drops.
If you run into trouble, 24/7 support is available to help troubleshoot. However, PrivadoVPN's support site is incredibly basic (ExpressVPN has 120+ troubleshooting articles; PrivadoVPN has five.) Fortunately, there's live chat and email support on hand if you need it, and my test email question got a helpful response in under 70 minutes.
PrivadoVPN pricing plans
Privado's plans start with a capable free option. This gives you a choice of 12 locations, and a maximum of 10 Gb data per month, but covers only one device and drops SOCKS5 (although it still supports P2P).
It's a decent free plan that outperforms many big names. Avira's Phantom VPN free plan limits you to 500 Mb a month, for instance (ouch), and Avast One's free app has a generous 10 Gb a week data allowance, but it doesn't allow you to choose a location. Proton VPN scores for its unlimited data, but only gives you a choice of three locations.
Paying $10.99 a month (card, PayPal, and even Bitcoin) for Privado's monthly subscription gets you unlimited data, the SOCKS5 proxy, and support for up to 10 simultaneous connections. Most providers ask around $10-$13 for monthly-billed accounts, so this is a pretty fair deal.
Buying an annual plan cuts the cost to a tiny $2.50 a month in the first term, rising to (a still reasonable) $4.99 a month on renewal.
The best deal, a two-year plan, costs $1.99 a month for the first term and $3.99 on renewal.
In my eyes, this is great value—although there are a handful of providers that are cheaper still. Private Internet Access' three-year plan is priced at only $3.33 a month, for instance, and that's the standard fee; there's no built-in doubling of the price on renewal.
Privacy and logging
PrivadoVPN claims to offer two major layers of privacy. It's based in Switzerland, meaning you benefit from 'the strongest consumer privacy laws in the world', and even if PrivadoVPN is served with a court order asking for information, it's a zero-log service with nothing to hand over.
Unfortunately, PrivadoVPN hasn't put itself through any logging audits, which means we have to take it at its word. Undertaking one of these third-party audits would do wonders for the service—it's a clear indicator of a service's commitment to transparency and privacy, after all.
My PrivadoVPN privacy tests came back with mixed results. The Blacklight privacy inspector found PrivadoVPN's website used 13 trackers and 19 third-party cookies, which is way above average.
Most providers use trackers, admittedly, and while they're not necessarily harmful, it's also not what we'd expect from a privacy firm—especially when other VPNs including Mullvad, Hide.me, Proton VPN, and PureVPN don't use trackers or third-party cookies at all. There's also an inherent risk of digital fingerprinting with these trackers, given how interconnected they tend to be, so it's something to be wary of if privacy is your main concern.
PrivadoVPN's apps collect anonymous app crash data and send it back to the company. I noticed that the Windows app does this by default, and although you can turn it off, you'll have to find the right setting, first. I prefer ExpressVPN's approach, where the app installer explicitly asks for permission to collect this data during setup. That ensures users are always clear about what's happening and have the option of turning off telemetry with a click.
Once the apps are installed, though, the picture improves. PrivadoVPN only uses the best and most secure protocols (WireGuard, OpenVPN, IKEv2), and they're all correctly set up for maximum privacy. DNS leak protection keeps your browsing private, and a capable kill switch prevents data leaks if the connection drops.
Control Tower (PrivadoVPN's content filter) also did a fair job of protecting me online, and its ad-blocker scored 75% in my tests (other VPNs average 50-90%.) Malware protection was below par at 42.7%, but the app shielded me from 90% of my test trackers, at the top end of the usual 70-95% range. I wouldn't rely on PrivadoVPN as my only source of web protection, but it's ideal for use as a second layer of protection alongside a specialist antivirus or internet security app.
Many VPNs make at least some use of virtual locations. You might see Cambodia on the location list, for instance, and if you choose it you'll get a Cambodian IP address, but the physical servers could actually be hosted in another country.
This has its advantages. If the country has relatively poor connectivity, for instance, then hosting the servers somewhere else might get you better and more reliable speeds. If you're in or close to that country, it's a different story. When you're in Cambodia and connect to the Cambodia location, but your server is actually in New York, then it's going to cause an unexpected drag on performance.
I like to see VPNs being clear and upfront about their use of virtual locations. PrivadoVPN, unfortunately, doesn't really live up to my expectations. The website says PrivadoVPN uses virtual India servers to avoid the country's upcoming logging laws, but I found no information on the rest of the network.
There was some good news, however, as I found that Brazil, Israel, the Philippines, and even Ukraine all have servers in or very close to their named countries. On the other hand, I noticed several countries appeared to use servers based in London. These include India and Russia, which I can accept for security reasons, but I was surprised to see the South Africa location also uses servers in or close to the UK.
This won't be an issue for everyone. If you're in London, and connecting to South Africa, it could be a plus to have a local server, but I'd like to see PrivadoVPN be more transparent about where its locations are really based so that potential customers can understand the issues for themselves.
PrivadoVPN's Windows app looks very similar to every other VPN app you've probably ever used. Big 'Connect' button here; current location displayed there; click the location to choose something else from a list, while that gear icon over there leads you to useful tweaks and settings. You'll feel at home right away.
The location list is more configurable than many, with options to sort PrivadoVPN's servers by name or latency, or to show the nearest servers at the top.
Connecting to a new country is a little awkward. In other apps, you can often double-click a country and immediately connect to its best server. Here, you'll have to click to expand its list of cities, even if there's only one, and then click again to connect. There's a workaround—add a city to your Favorites and you don't have to expand the list of cities, saving you a click each time—but this is still a small usability hassle I'd like to see fixed.
Connection speeds were slower than most, at 5-10 seconds for WireGuard and sometimes over 20 seconds for OpenVPN (the best apps are ready to go in 1-2 seconds for WireGuard, 6-8 seconds with OpenVPN.) That can become annoying if you're regularly connecting and disconnecting, but if your device connects automatically when it starts, you might not even notice.
I also noticed an odd technical issue: when I left the PrivadoVPN app window open on the desktop, even if I wasn't connected, it constantly used 4-5% of my CPU time. Although that may not sound like much, it was enough to raise Task Manager's 'Power Usage' rating for PrivadoVPN to 'moderate', and I'm certain it'd eat away at your laptop battery.
As with the location list issue, there's an easy fix: minimize the app to the system tray and CPU usage drops to zero (when you're not connected.) But, as with the location list issue, life would be easier if you didn't have to notice the problem and then discover (and remember) these odd workarounds in the first place.
PrivadoVPN's Windows app isn't as configurable as the top competition, but there's still plenty to explore.
You can opt to connect via WireGuard, OpenVPN, or IKEv2, for instance, or select Automatic to allow the app to choose the best option. You're able to use OpenVPN via UDP or TCP, select a port, or even choose a Scramble option to try and conceal your traffic from snoopers. This may not be enough to get you online in China, seeing as the country makes huge efforts to prevent VPN use, but it could bypass other VPN blocks. I'm glad to see it included in PrivadoVPN's package.
The app can automatically connect as soon as it launches. Plenty of VPNs do the same, but PrivadoVPN gives you far more control over its choice of server. You can have it connect to the recommended location, your last used server, a random server, or a random server from your Favorites list. It's a great idea I wish other providers would adopt.
A SmartRoute system is essentially PrivadoVPN's take on split tunneling. In a few clicks, you can build a list of apps that will always use the VPN, while others can be set to bypass it, perfect for apps that aren't VPN-compatible (and don't need PrivadoVPN's protection.)
I was happy to see the app included a kill switch, and even happier to find it worked precisely as advertised. Whatever I did to make the VPN drop, it blocked my internet connection and reconnected automatically. My traffic was never exposed.
The kill switch is one of the absolute variety, though: once you've turned it on, your internet is blocked, even after you manually close a connection or shut down the app. Other providers have at least the option to take a more lightweight approach, where you're protected if the VPN drops during a session, but it won't block your internet if you manually disconnect. I'd like to see PrivadoVPN add something more configurable, too.
Overall, this is a decent group of settings, but there's scope for adding more. PrivadoVPN has no customizable DNS settings, for instance, and no 'auto-connect when you access insecure networks' option. Still, the app has improved significantly since our last review, and I suspect even more features are coming soon.
MacOS and Mac apps
PrivadoVPN's Mac app has a nearly identical interface to the Windows version with a very similar design and location list. That's always a usability plus, as it means once you've learned one, you'll know exactly how to use the other.
There's another benefit in faster connections. The Mac app sometimes connected in as little as two seconds, a fraction of the times I saw on Windows.
PrivadoVPN doesn't support split tunneling on Mac, but that's not unusual (Apple's security model makes it far more challenging to implement.) The app does still include the most important features in WireGuard, OpenVPN and IKEv2 support, and a kill switch to prevent data leaks if the VPN connection drops.
I saw some odd behavior from the app in my previous review, but this time it behaved just as you'd expect: easy to use, with all servers connecting the first time, and no unexpected disconnects.
Put it all together and, although Privado's Mac offering doesn't excel in any area, it's simple to operate and should cater to most user's needs. Even if you're unsure, no problem: the free plan means it's easy to try out the app and see how it works for you.
PrivadoVPN's mobile apps tick all of the right boxes and allow you to take your protection on the go—and the iOS app adds some mobile-friendly touches, including the ability to swipe up to display the location list.
However, like the Mac app, it doesn't support Favorites. There's no kill switch, and the app's auto-connect option is relatively limited (you can set it up to connect when the app starts, but you're not able to choose the type of location.)
Still, the iOS app does support WireGuard, OpenVPN, and IKEv2 connections, and they all proved speedy and reliable for me.
As usual, Android users get the most mobile power (this time, even more than Mac.) Getting protected can be as easy as hitting 'Connect', but there's the full location list when you need to change servers, and a decent set of features underneath, like a kill switch, WireGuard, OpenVPN, and IKEv2 protocol support, split tunneling, and more.
As for our concerns, I saw a lot of reviews complaining about Android battery usage, and my Windows CPU hassles left me wondering if they might have some truth. I didn't test this, but keep it in mind, and perhaps try the free app before you buy.
Netflix and global stream unblocking
PrivadoVPN got off to a good start in my unblocking tests, instantly accessing US and UK Netflix, along with the UK's BBC iPlayer, ITV, and Channel 4.
Unfortunately, I didn't have the same success with other Netflix libraries, and PrivadoVPN failed in Australia, Canada, and Japan.
The service couldn't defeat Australia's 10 Play, either, though it did unblock the relatively straightforward 9Now.
The mixed picture continued right to the end, as PrivadoVPN unblocked US Amazon Prime Video, but missed with Disney Plus.
PrivadoVPN delivered the goods with some very big-name providers, then, and that's better than most. If unblocking results are a priority for you, however, there are other providers you can consider. ExpressVPN, NordVPN, Private Internet Access, ProtonVPN, PureVPN, and Surfshark all unblocked every one of our test sites in recent reviews.
We measure VPN performance with several benchmarking services—SpeedTest's website and command line app, Measurement Lab, Cloudflare, and more—from both a UK data center and a US residential location with a 1 Gbps connection.
Each benchmark is run five times with our normal connection (that's with the VPN off) to establish a baseline, then five times while connected to the VPN using WireGuard, and five more using OpenVPN (where available). All tests are repeated again later (that's a minimum of 120 speed checks), then we analyze the data to see what's going on.
PrivadoVPN's results kicked off with a relatively ordinary 120-130 Mbps for OpenVPN connections. You'll have no problems browsing or streaming with that, but Hide.me reached 260 Mbps in its last OpenVPN test, and Mullvad, our top performer, managed 500 Mbps and more.
PrivadoVPN also supports WireGuard, though, and switching protocols accelerated my downloads to 830-880 Mbps. This isn't quite the fastest I've seen, and NordVPN, IPVanish, and Windscribe all maxed out our test connection with speeds of 950 Mbps and more in their last tests. But unless you're downloading terabytes of data on a regular basis, you're unlikely to notice any difference, and PrivadoVPN's WireGuard performance is more than fast enough for most devices and internet connections.
PrivadoVPN review: Final verdict
PrivadoVPN stands out for its speed and generous free plan, but the various app usability and other annoyances mean it doesn't match the top providers. Try it, but take the free plan for a spin before you spend any cash.
TechRadar rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
✔️ You're looking for a bargain: whether you opt for one of Privado's annual plans or its free tier, you'll get a VPN that packs a lot of functionality into an inexpensive package.
✔️ You need a speedy service: PrivadoVPN's WireGuard speeds are seriously impressive, and more than enough to handle gaming, streaming, and torrenting.
✔️ You have lots of devices to cover: a subscription bags you up to ten simultaneous connections, meaning you can share the VPN's robust security with the family or simply ensure all of your gadgets are shielded.
Don't subscribe if:
❌ You need access to lots of content libraries: while PrivadoVPN managed to unblock some Netflix catalogs and regional services, it didn't achieve full marks in our streaming tests.
❌ You want comprehensive support: the PrivadoVPN support hub is pretty bare-bones, and other providers (like ExpressVPN) have more articles to pick through, covering everything from the basics to technical topics.
❌ The lack of an audit is a red flag: currently, PrivadoVPN hasn't undergone a third-party audit to verify its logging claims, which means you'll need to put a lot of trust in the provider without any verifiable claims that it's got your privacy in mind.
Meet the expert behind our PrivadoVPN review:
We test and review VPN services in the context of legal recreational uses. For example: 1. Accessing a service from another country (subject to the terms and conditions of that service). 2. Protecting your online security and strengthening your online privacy when abroad. We do not support or condone the illegal or malicious use of VPN services. Consuming pirated content that is paid-for is neither endorsed nor approved by Future Publishing.
Mike is a lead security reviewer at Future, where he stress-tests VPNs, antivirus and more to find out which services are sure to keep you safe, and which are best avoided. Mike began his career as a lead software developer in the engineering world, where his creations were used by big-name companies from Rolls Royce to British Nuclear Fuels and British Aerospace. The early PC viruses caught Mike's attention, and he developed an interest in analyzing malware, and learning the low-level technical details of how Windows and network security work under the hood.