Sign up with most VPN companies and you've no idea how busy their servers might be. Is there enough bandwidth for everyone to get decent speeds, or will performance drop to a crawl at peak times? There's no way to tell off the bat.
VPNBook's Dedicated VPN plan offers you a dedicated VPN server with CPU, memory and 500GB+ monthly bandwidth allocated for your use. This can't guarantee good performance, but it should ensure you avoid the bottlenecks of the low-end competition, and get you more consistent speeds whenever you're online.
- Want to try VPNBook? Check out the website here
Having your own dedicated bandwidth means less annoying restrictions designed to cut service usage. You won’t find a stupid ‘no simultaneous connections’ policy here, for instance – you can have up to five devices connected at any one time.
VPNBook only offers servers in four locations: Canada, US East, US West and the Netherlands. If you need P2P, the list gets shorter, as it's only supported on the Canadian servers. And bear in mind that once you've chosen a location, that's it – you can't switch later, which may be a problem if the VPN doesn't give you access to a blocked site.
While you might expect a dedicated VPN to be expensive, VPNBook's offering is actually cheaper than some standard plans at only $7.95 per month (around £6.50, AU$11). There are no setup fees or long-term commitments required, and the company offers a 30-day money-back guarantee if things don’t work out.
VPNBook's website is very basic, and doesn't have anything like the level of small-print and contract details you'll see elsewhere. That might sound appealing in some ways, but it also means you don't get much indication of how the service works or what you can expect if something goes wrong.
The only specific privacy reference we could see was a brief statement saying: "No logging – We do NOT log any user activities". VPNBook's free service does log IP addresses and connection times for up to a week, but presumably that’s not necessary when you have a dedicated server, although we can't say for sure.
Perhaps the best reassurance VPNBook can offer is its 30-day money-back guarantee. With no small-print to hide sneaky ‘unless...’ clauses, we have to take that at its word: if you ask the company for your money back, within 30 days of purchase, they will hand it over. As the service also costs less than many competitors, we'd say that's probably worth the gamble.
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VPNBook doesn't have any VPN clients, instead offering guides on how to set up your system manually. When we checked, these covered setting up OpenVPN on Windows XP, 7 or 10, OS X, iPad, Android and Ubuntu, and configuring PPTP connections on Windows 7, iPad and Android.
The service doesn't offer much in the way of hand holding – the acknowledgement email didn't even give us a link to the website guides – but if you're experienced with VPNs, or happy to explore, you'll be connected within a few minutes.
We had been allocated a server in Atlanta, Georgia, and this delivered above-average performance in our tests*. Latency was 2.4x normal, uploads about a third of the speed we’d get normally, but downloads averaged an excellent 27Mbps, 75-80% of our no-VPN rate.
That's good, and as this was a dedicated VPN we'd also expect more consistency, even at peak times. We didn't carry out the long-term testing to verify that, but it's probably worth signing up for a month to see for yourself when you consider that money-back guarantee.
Dedicated VPNs aren't for everyone. You can't change location, so if you're unable to access a locked site, tough – there's nothing you can do. But if you can live with that, VPNBook is a quality service, fast, and very reasonably priced with no long-term commitment required.
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*Our testing included evaluating general performance (browsing, streaming video). We also used speedtest.net to measure latency, upload and download speeds, and then tested immediately again with the VPN turned off, to check for any difference (over several rounds of testing). We then compared these results to other VPN services we've reviewed. Of course, do note that VPN performance is difficult to measure as there are so many variables.