Disclaimer: The below review is my opinion, which I will try to provide as many examples for and as much evidence as possible to support. Readers can learn more about how I conduct my reviews, my methodology, etc – here. More information on review badges here.
This review’s roll was #73 (currently Newshosting).
Written Jun 17, 2016
Newshosting is one of the oddballs on the comparison chart. The main product the company provides is Usenet service and its VPN feature is more of an optional add-on. For this reason, it’s still on the chart, but unless you have need of Usenet Newsgroups for downloading, you’d be paying for something you don’t need (which costs 3x of the VPN service you do need). So, unless I’m describing you, you’ll probably shy away as the cost to benefit ratio would not be in your favor.
Signing up for the service: As you aren’t just signing up for a VPN service when registering, there are some other things that one has to consider in the case of Newshosting, namely the features they want in the Usenet provider as well. To the potential buyer not interested in or knowledgeable about Usenet, the important features one might look for (connections, retention, etc) that are being marketed on their site may be a little confusing. The options for service periods are 1, 6, and 12 months, which is fairly standard. The only payment options were a credit card or Paypal, which are not ideal for the user concerned with privacy. However, signup was not difficult. The manual config files were easy enough to find after just a minute or so of clicking through the user section.
When clicking on the “downloads” link from the control panel, you’re taken to the main site, which continued to show “login” in the upper right corner (even after logging in), which was a strange site design choice. This just makes you have to use the browser’s back button instead of being able to navigate directly back to the user area. Just a minor complaint about site layout and flow.
Configuring the service: As above, the .ovpn file zip provided by Newshosting was easy to find and there are a lot of servers to choose from it – however, I had to reference a separate page on the site as they were not smartly named (over-abbreviated 3 character descriptions for locations). I was able to get the service configured, however when first connecting a received an authentication error. I checked my login credentials multiple times and attempted to connect to multiple servers, but the issue persisted. After contacting support (which I will detail more below), I was able to get up and running after adding @newshosting to the end of my user ID. This is kind of an odd policy that I haven’t seen anywhere else, but to be fair, it is outlined in their (slightly over-complicated, pictureless) manual configuration instructions. Just an uncommon, and probably unnecessary step.
Speed & Stability tests: All tests performed at non-peak times using speedtest.net, the speedtest.net app, test server was Phoenix NAP AZ Data Center for all trials. Connecting using UDP, AES-256 encryption (the default).
|Speed Tests – Newshosting – Desktop|
|No VPN||Trial 1||10||ms||96.40||mbps||12.84||mbps|
|Comp to Bench||+33||ms||93.12%||88.62%|
|Comp to Bench||+303||ms||1.65%||17.84%|
|Comp to Bench||+388||ms||3.45%||14.64%|
|Comp to Bench||+316||ms||16.92%||46.57%|
|Speed Tests – Newshosting – Mobile|
|No VPN||Trial 1||11||ms||74.66||mbps||14.15||mbps|
|Comp to Bench||+25||ms||56.59%||94.67%|
|Comp to Bench||+326||ms||7.36%||58.43%|
|Comp to Bench||+411||ms||4.89%||28.99%|
|Comp to Bench||+362||ms||8.12%||64.09%|
The US server I tested was surprisingly fast (moreso than most VPNs I’ve tested), but almost all of the international servers (except for maybe Australia on desktop) didn’t even approach broadband speeds. This seems to be a common occurrence with international servers on most VPNs – I mean, you expect some slowdown given proximity and so forth, but the fact that, for instance in this example, Australia, can have at least decent speeds tells me that Newshosting (and they’re not alone) is buying premium bandwidth in the US, but are skimping on it internationally. I don’t want to be redundant in my reviews, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that the strong AES-256 encryption (requiring more overhead) is certainly a contributing factor to some degree. The VPN tunnel quickly reconnected when forcing it from Wi-Fi to LTE and back and appeared to be generally stable.
Getting support: After experiencing the authentication error issue from above, I reached out to the Newshosting support team via their web form. The form required a name, (which can be faked obviously), but this isn’t ideal for privacy purposes obviously and it still bugs me when companies selling privacy centered services even ask. There didn’t appear to be any direct email options for support, however they returned my message by email, and after one or two clarifying emails they were able to provide me with the solution outlined above (adding @newshosting to the user name in the manual config mentioned above). Overall, relatively quick and professional, helpful support.
Getting a refund: After getting my support response back, I requested a refund and was given one right away (in a matter of a few hours) and without requiring a round of troubleshooting. This is always appreciated.
“I understand that NewsHosting may terminate my account for any reason at any time.”
I get that a lot of companies do this, but it always feels lazy to me. Just a catch all, “we’re not responsible for anything and you are our subject.”
“Customers agrees that Newshosting has the right to monitor the system electronically from time to time and to disclose any information as necessary to satisfy any law, regulation or other governmental request, to operate the system properly, or to protect itself or its users.”
No good for privacy.
“Newshosting requires certain information at the time of signup and in the course of providing customer support. This information is necessary for us to provide quality service and support. This information is never released to others, unless we are ordered by a court of competent jurisdiction to do so.”
So, when it would probably matter most then? A broad statement immediately negating itself.
Final thoughts: Newshosting is a different beast. It seems to fit one and only one niche for the potential buyer of a VPN service. This is because it caters to Usenet users mainly with VPN functionality as an added bonus. If the user in question relies on Usenet already, and wants to download while connected to a VPN located (only in the US), it might just be a good fit. Newshosting support was quick and helpful, which was certainly a point in its favor and welcome for any service. Other the specific use case mentioned above, I struggle to think of too many other types of VPN users I would recommend the service for (as privacy users would want more favorable terms) and almost any other use case could accomplish their goal without spending the very high price to acquire Usenet + VPN service (as VPN service can’t be purchased standalone through Newshosting). When all is said and done, If I was Usenet guy, I’d want a VPN that protects my privacy more and isn’t so brazen about how quickly it will sell you out and cancel your service. I’ll wrap it up using their term language. “You will NEVER go wrong using this VPN service, UNLESS you care about privacy, international download speeds, or spending a lot of money on core services you probably don’t use.”
|FROM THE VPN COMPARISON CHART|
|JURISDICTION||Based In (Country)||USA|
|Logs DNS Requests|
|Logs IP Address|
|ACTIVISM||Anonymous Payment Method||No|
|PGP Key Available||No|
|Meets PrivacyTools IO Criteria||No|
|LEAK PROTECTION||1st Party DNS Servers||No|
|IPv6 Supported / Blocked||No|
|Supports TCP Port 443|
|Supports SSL Tunnel|
|Supports SSH Tunnel|
|Other Proprietary Protocols|
|PORT BLOCKING||Auth SMTP|
|SECURITY||Weakest Data Encryption|
|Strongest Data Encryption||AES-256|
|Weakest Handshake Encryption|
|Strongest Handshake Encryption|
|AVAILABILITY||# of Connections||2|
|# of Countries|
|# of Servers|
|WEBSITE||# of Persistent Cookies||0|
|# of External Trackers||0|
|# of Proprietary APIs||21|
|Server SSL Rating||F|
|SSL Cert issued to||Self|
|PRICING||$ / Month (Annual Pricing)||8.25|
|$ / Connection / Month||4.13|
|Refund Period (Days)||7|
|ETHICS||Contradictory Logging Policies|
|Falsely Claims 100% Effective|
|Incentivizes Social Media Spam|
|Requires Ethical Copy||Yes|
|Requires Full Disclosure||No|
|AFFILIATES||Practice Ethical Copy|
|Give Full Disclosure|
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