ZoogVPN Review (Used to be ZoogTV)

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 #165 (at the time of the roll, ZoogVPN)

 

Updated Mar 29, 2017

Signing up for the service: Signing up for ZoogVPN was relatively easy.  Although you are asked for your name when signing up, this field is optional.  I never like it when I see a company asking for personal information – their terms, which you will see further down enforces these as a matter of continuation of using the service – unacceptable from a privacy standpoint.

 

Configuring the service: Although advanced options aren’t immediately advertised on the website, there were configurations and assistance provided after sign-up and logging into the customer portal.  Configuration files were relatively easy to find and download.  Something funny I saw while looking over this page, was a list of servers with the following column headers – server location, P2P, server address, and “permitted activities” (with names of TV networks that are presumably available on a given server).  For whatever reason, the P2P column showed no variation for any server – as if to say, “we don’t allow P2P on anything”.

 

Speed & Stability tests: ZoogVPN failed all speed tests, which could possibly be explained if it were configured only for specific TV channel streaming and therefore.  This also means that ZoogVPN is not suitable for a multipurpose VPN.  For this reason alone, I would have no reason to use ZoogVPN for standard purposes.  I attempted to resolve these issues as you will see below – with no success.

Their service may work for the very limited scope they’ve established, but from the perspective of a multipurpose VPN for privacy, and in my experience, it is certainly

 

 

Getting support: I contacted support using the provided “contact support” form in the customer area.  The form included a “your device” field, in which you could select your platform/OS, however Linux was not available, despite it being supported in the configuration instructions.  They still assisted me (kind of – see below), I just thought it odd that they didn’t have this option available as it was a platform they officially support.  After going back and forth a couple of times and having no luck getting the service to work after trying multiple servers, I got this gem in reply:

What if you try another speed test tool? Does browsing Internet works on Linux?

I would have been happy to try another speed test tool if I were able to get to any website whatsoever on one of the four servers I tried.  And yes, “browsing Internet works on Linux”…

 

Getting a refund: I responded to the exchange above with a request for a refund, which was granted with no further questioning – so, credit where credit is due.  I appreciate when VPN services don’t waste your time.

 

Concerns in Terms & Conditions / Privacy Policy: When looking at a VPN service in depth, one notices many patterns between a service and their terms.  Somewhere, there must be a canned set of terms and conditions people can buy or use the wording from, including section titles, sections in all caps, etc.  ZoogVPN fits this description.  The point is, whenever I see a service whose terms are set up like this, I tend to think they haven’t put much thought or effort into them, including reviewing what might or might not be good for the customer.  ZoogVPN’s terms, like the others that employ this canned page of terms, are…

 

Here are a few that stood out to me:

 

To use the Service, You must submit a complete registration form… The information requested on original signup shall be referred to as registration info (“Registration Info”). If ZoogVPN discovers that any of Your Registration Info is inaccurate, incomplete or not current, ZoogVPN may terminate Your right to access and receive the Service immediately upon notice.

You aren’t required to provide your personal information during registration, but you ARE required as a matter of termination of service, to make sure it’s accurate and up to date.

 

ZoogVPN reserves the right to periodically update or change the fees without any given notice.

Obviously, for any service that has a recurring subscription payment model, this is unacceptable.

 

ZoogVPN does, however, reserve the right to take any action with respect to the Service that ZoogVPN deems necessary or appropriate in ZoogVPN’s sole discretion if ZoogVPN believes You or Your online activity or use of the Service may create liability for ZoogVPN.

And how would ZoogVPN even be aware of any such activities if they don’t log?

 

ZoogVPN may amend these Terms at any time by posting a revised Terms of Service document… You are responsible for regularly reviewing the… site to obtain timely notice of such amendments.

You require an email address, Zoog, so why is it so hard to notify your users of term changes?  Of course it’s totally unreasonable to expect their users to regularly review their terms.

 

ZooVPN [sic] reserves the right to charge fees for any future versions of, or updates to, this Service.

It’s always a good idea to proofread your own terms page, so you don’t leave misspellings of your company name in them.  Also, they’re unclear what such fees might be.

 

What information does ZoogVPN track and how is it used?  Personal Information: Because of the nature of our product, we must collect minimal personal information from users during the registration process, including name, an email address to be used as a login and a password

You make it sound like a VPN service inherently must collect this information.  It does not.

 

Session Records: We have adopted ‘Zero Logs’ policy. This means we do not keep any logs of your online activity so you can browse with 100% privacy and confidence.

Except that they imply they have the ability to know when you’re doing something that could create a liability for them, which would be impossible if this were true.  Call me skeptical.

 

Final thoughts: ZoogVPN also appears to have an extensive affiliate program, in which they don’t require no spamming, ethical copy, or full and prominent disclosure.

shady

ZoogVPN, like so many other services, strikes me as a “dime-a-dozen”.  I don’t understand how such companies exist and survive if not for consumer ignorance – ie: the user simply doesn’t know that alternatives that do the same and more are freely available for the same price or less.  I wouldn’t suggest anyone concerned with privacy or using their VPN service for more than watching a handful of TV channels use ZoogVPN – it simply doesn’t make sense.  ZoogVPN may have it’s niche customer base, but even they would benefit from a cheaper VPN elsewhere that does what they’re looking for and much much more – including a service that doesn’t play games and has more favorable terms.

 

Update (3-20-2017): ZoogVPN reached out and provided several updates and clarifications:

  • The P2P column issue was a bug with the website and has since been fixed.  This section has been struck through above.
  • ZoogVPN’s OpenVPN configuration files have apparently been updated since my test in this review – and they claim that speed tests should now work fine with my configuration and tools used (beta.speedtest.net, etc).  Note that I have not confirmed this first hand – but I have decided to give them the benefit of the doubt and strike through the relevant section above as well and removed the “Broken” stamp.
  • ZoogVPN claims that their support representative meant something else entirely when they asked their question above about browsing Internet working on Linux.  Although I have my doubts based on the exchange at the time, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt, with a note that in a support environment, communication is the responsibility of the sender – and I did not feel that I had a clear, understandable exchange when writing this review.
  • Most of ZoogVPN’s terms and policies have been updated since my review.  I have stricken through sections that are no longer relevant (which is most of them).  The terms appear to be more friendly with a few concerns still regarding disclaiming all warranties of any kind and washing their hands of any and all claims against them.  You all know my thoughts on this kind of statement.  The terms are much improved overall, but they aren’t perfect.  At least I don’t know if I’d consider them “Obtuse” anymore – so I have removed this stamp.  One stand out is that while zero logs are claimed, they mention that they do keep bandwidth logs.
  • Affiliate terms – ZoogVPN’s affiliate terms now forbid spamming by email (though not social media, which appears to be encouraged on their Affiliate Program information page), and a loose definition of ethical copy.

 

Update (3-21-2017): ZoogVPN has again reached out with a few additional changes.

  • Affiliate terms – ZoogVPN’s affiliate terms have now been updated to align with that of the comparison chart.  I will be following up with them to see that these changes are enforced.
  • Website (Qualys SSL Test) – Is now A+
  • Price – Now updated to $2.99 per month (annual pricing)
  • It seems like almost everything about the company has changed since my initial review.  While I think ZoogVPN has a ways to go before I would recommend it, it appears they are at least trying to make positive changes, which I have to give them some credit for.

 

Update (3-22-2017): ZoogVPN has again reached out once more with more changes.

  • Affiliate ultimatum – Zoog will be giving their affiliates 30 days to comply with their new terms or they will follow through with discontinuation of their reseller relationship.  I will be following up in 30 days for details on how it went and what the results were.
  • TCP 443, dedicated servers, strongest encryption, countries, servers, etc – I have verified and updated these fields on the sheet.
  • Linux is now mentioned as supported on the contact form – this apparently was another website bug that has since been rectified.

 

Update (3-29-2017): ZoogVPN has again reached out to update the countries and servers fields to 20 and 13 respectively.

 

FROM THE VPN COMPARISON CHART
CATEGORY VPN SERVICE ZoogVPN
JURISDICTION Based In (Country) UK
Fourteen Eyes? Five
Enemy of the Internet Yes
LOGGING Logs Traffic No
Logs DNS Requests No
Logs Timestamps No
Logs Bandwidth Yes
Logs IP Address No
ACTIVISM Anonymous Payment Method Email
Accepts Bitcoin No
PGP Key Available No
Gives back to Privacy Causes Yes
Meets PrivacyTools IO Criteria No
LEAK PROTECTION 1st Party DNS Servers No
IPv6 Supported / Blocked No
  Offers OpenVPN Yes
OBFUSCATION Supports Multihop
Supports TCP Port 443 Yes
Supports Obfsproxy
Supports SOCKS
Supports SSL Tunnel
Supports SSH Tunnel
Other Proprietary Protocols
PORT BLOCKING Auth SMTP
P2P Some
SPEEDS US Server Average %
Int’l Server Average %
SERVERS Dedicated or Virtual Dedicated
SECURITY Default Data Encryption AES-128
Strongest Data Encryption AES-256
Weakest Handshake Encryption
Strongest Handshake Encryption
AVAILABILITY # of Connections 5
# of Countries 13
# of Servers 20
Linux Support (Manual) Yes
WEBSITE # of Persistent Cookies 3
# of External Trackers 2
# of Proprietary APIs 0
Server SSL Rating A+
SSL Cert issued to Self
PRICING $ / Month (Annual Pricing) $3.99
$ / Connection / Month $0.80
Free Trial Yes
Refund Period (Days) 7
ETHICS Contradictory Logging Policies Yes
Falsely Claims 100% Effective
Incentivizes Social Media Spam
POLICIES Forbids Spam Some
Requires Ethical Copy Yes
Requires Full Disclosure Yes
AFFILIATES Practice Ethical Copy
Give Full Disclosure No

 

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