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 #16 (at the time of the roll, VyprVPN)
Written Sep 7, 2017
Signing up for the service: When beginning to navigate the VyprVPN website, a couple of things stood out to me. The main method to sign up is a large, orange “Start a Free Trial” button (instead of “buy now” and the like). As you will read below in the terms section, VyprVPN’s “free trial” still requires your payment info, so in your attempt to sign up for one, you’ll basically just be signing up for service. Essentially you get a free 3 days with your purchase to test out the platform. I would prefer a dedicated free trial, but it could be worse. The price for a month of service is quite high if going month-to-month. Giving a volume discount is fine for more time, but I can never help but feel like making the starting price too high then offering an extreme discount (approx 50%) for a year is more of an attempt to dissuade short timers from bothering. Services that do this tend to discourage customers who may just need service for a business trip or vacation, for instance.
Personal information is required at sign-up, including your full name, email address, and zip code. No good for privacy-minded users.
My attempt to sign up for service was thwarted by an error message indicating that the site was experiencing an “Error communicating with Payment Processor”. I retried several times, from different browsers, even disabling plugins, thinking that one of the many proprietary apis used on their website might have been clashing. The issue persisted and prevented me from going any further.
I reached out to support to see if they were aware of issues with their site. Live chat on the site came up right away and I was greeted by “Justin” who explained that you are not able to sign up for service when using a VPN and that I would have to disable it, clear my cookies, restart my browser and try again. When I questioned him on the company’s decision to let people sign up who were using a VPN, he told me that it could have been my own VPN preventing me. I pointed out that this was unlikely, as I was getting a 302 redirect error in the website’s response headers during signup, indicating that it was likely being blocked on their end. (You’d expect to see a 403 forbidden or similar if the blocking were happening on my end.)
This struck me as odd, given that in their terms of service, VyprVPN claims to be network neutral (although they may just mean the service itself doesn’t block ports). Justin told me that it was likely their payment processor that had an issue with sign up using a VPN. They appeared to have gone to a lot of trouble to ensure they would get a real IP for the user when they sign up. Justin again mentioned that it must be my VPN’s fault, which again wouldn’t explain the site being the one throwing errors.
He finally offered the ability to sign up by email (which was a reasonable alternative) – however, I pushed my luck, claiming that they of all people should appreciate their customers wanting to maintain their privacy. He seemed to want to keep helping me troubleshoot the issue to find a way to signup that I would be satisfied with, but ultimately he insisted we move to email or end the conversation. I felt this was reasonable given the situation and the amount of his time I had already taken.
I still maintain that based on the evidence, there is something on their backend preventing known VPN IP ranges, possibly for legitimate reasons to prevent abuse, but this is annoying for subscribing to a service using a VPN of another, which I try to make a point of doing, and I know I’m not the only one. More on support below though.
The user portal on the site was weighed down. Almost 2/3 of its links were present to download a client for a number of platforms, but I think it could have been laid out more usefully. For example, tThere were 4 separate download links for the Windows desktop client sprinkled on the page. A possible fix would be a single drop-down list of options. This would remove 20 or so of the links and the portal would be a lot cleaner as a result. You’ll remember that I prefer to create manual connections with raw OpenVPN files, and surprisingly, this wasn’t one of the many top level links given in the user section. Just poorly thought out it felt like.
The knowledgebase was easy enough to navigate however, and I quickly found a download link for the manual installation files, etc.
Configuring the service: Once I found the files, getting them set up was a cake walk. It seems like VyprVPN has taken time to make solid config files, which, with minimal effort can be adapted for use back and forth between desktop and mobile. The file package is all in one piece with well-named configs that I didn’t have to guess at. Cert files were also well named and easy to find. Faults with these configs and the process to get or unpackage them are usually blatant to me, but I honestly couldn’t find anything I’d really improve about the basic method of downloading and setting VyprVPN’s configs up.
The core tech behind VyprVPN felt quite sound. Thier encryption is strong by default and things seem to be well configured and balanced between easy to set up and strong security. Servers all connected quickly and without issue, which is NOT common in the industry, sadly. Sometimes it takes other companies’ servers up to 10 seconds to even establish a connection. I had no such issues here – things were very snappy.
Speed & Stability tests: I’ll point out that my internet connection was not super stable at the time these tests were performed, so any irregularity is PROBABLY on my end and not the fault of VyprVPN. That said, speeds were still comparatively excellent and among the best I’ve seen on any service. This is on top of the default configs using strong encryption (AES-256) which you’d expect to slow things down.
|Speed Tests – VyprVPN – Desktop|
|No VPN||Trial 1||30||ms||164.13||mbps||10.82||mbps|
|Comp to Bench||+6||ms||83.94%||91.40%|
|Comp to Bench||+247||ms||43.96%||71.90%|
|Hong Kong||Trial 1||342||ms||7.47||mbps||2.26||mbps|
|Comp to Bench||+312||ms||5.70%||32.60%|
|Comp to Bench||+303||ms||15.31%||35.51%|
|Speed Tests – VyprVPN – Mobile|
|No VPN||Trial 1||32||ms||108.06||mbps||11.20||mbps|
|Comp to Bench||+5||ms||22.45%||92.34%|
|Comp to Bench||+334||ms||10.65%||97.99%|
|Hong Kong||Trial 1||339||ms||10.03||mbps||7.03||mbps|
|Comp to Bench||+310||ms||7.56%||60.77%|
|Comp to Bench||+347||ms||9.91%||72.28%|
I feel that buried inside the shell of VyprVPN is a technology team that really knows what they’re doing. It’s hard for me to even find things to nitpick and in fact it’s all around the best I’ve seen in any review to date. Configs are solid, servers connect quickly without issue, speeds seem well optimized, they are network neutral (P2P services are not blocked for instance). That is why VyprVPN earns the first “Tech” Badge to date!
Getting support: I initially reached out for support when I couldn’t complete my payment on the website as mentioned above. I appreciate services that provide a live chat tool on the site (especially when they actually work!). “Justin” took a while to reply in between my questions, but they were admittedly likely not typical. The support rep was quite helpful and patient given the amount of time I kept him busy. Most of the details can be found above, but support was very good. More on the exchange from my cancellation request below, but I felt like that experience tipped the balance, and as a result, have decided to award their support team with a “Support” Badge!
My complaints had more to do with the policies and systems preventing me from accomplishing what I was trying to do, and it was really out of the support rep’s hands. I would have appreciated maybe a slightly faster response between questions and messages, but it was good enough, and he was a good sport for sticking with me longer than a lot of others would have, as well as offering reasonable alternatives and not hassling me when expressing a desire for privacy.
Getting a refund: I should note that VyprVPN offers NO REFUNDS, but I was able to cancel my account since I fell in the 3 day “free trial” period. I did this on the website with only a couple of annoyances. Cancelling requires you to provide feedback, which is usually optional. Yeah, you can just write a couple of throwaway lines, but just the fact they include a bolded REQUIRED annoys me. If people want to cancel, they conceivably don’t want to provide more info. More of a nitpick than anything. I’ve also seen more recently, companies begging you to stay by offering a deep discount, which is also what VyprVPN did. (I was offered 50% off to not cancel).
Support forwarded me to the instructions page to finalize the process, but once again were quick and efficient and went the extra mile to make sure I could handle everything, even offering to do what they could on their end if I couldn’t figure it out. Again, a great support experience! This felt like another aspect of the company that was on the ball, and was a standout being held back by other parts of their operation.
Terms were a bit long, just over what I’d consider obtuse. Enough detail to be of interest, but still a bit too unfavorable for my taste.
Each time a user connects to VyprVPN, we retain the following data for 30 days: the user’s source IP address, the VyprVPN IP address used by the user, connection start and stop time and total number of bytes used.
Connection metadata, including your IP address is being logged for 30 days, beware.
What Golden Frog Does Not Collect From VyprVPN Sessions:..
There’s a list given after this, but the point is, credit where it’s due. I like the transparency here. They don’t have to provide this information, but they do.
Golden Frog is network neutral.
Again, cards on the table, I appreciate that.
Golden Frog will not sell or otherwise release a member’s identifying information… unless we are directed to do so by a court of competent jurisdiction in the matter. If there is a hearing in court, the member will be notified so they will have an opportunity to contest the surrender of personal information.
Thanks? I’d prefer no logs were kept and no personal information was logged that could even be used to tie anything back to me though…
If a member appears to be unable to maintain a reasonable use of the service, or engages in any Prohibited Activities provided for below, Golden Frog may cancel, suspend or decline to renew service for that member without notice. A termination fee may also be assessed. It is within Golden Frog’s sole discretion to determine what comprises unreasonable use.
I get that a company needs to protect their service from malicious activity if and when it occurs, but I don’t like the open-endedness of the last statement, especially when a termination fee might be attached.
the following uses are prohibited under this section… Use of more simultaneous connections than allowed under your subscribed VyprVPN account type.
This isn’t really a red flag so much as a question I have as to why simultaneous connections aren’t simply enforced on the backend without the user needing to even think about it.
Golden Frog takes copyright and other intellectual property rights very seriously
I’m glad this was brought up. One of VyprVPN’s affiliates has in the past stolen my work and published it as their own. I brought this up with VyprVPN a while back on Twitter, and got a response saying they’d look into it – but despite this, they still have that relationship as far as I’m aware. (Actions speak louder than words). This is as good a time as any to bring up VyprVPN’s heavy and questionable use of affiliate reselling but not having or enforcing policies to help keep them responsible – such as no spam, ethical copy, and full disclosure. Potential customers ARE affected by the natural flood of misinformation and confusing marketing tactics of native advertising.
From time to time, we may offer trials of Golden Frog services for a specified period of time without requiring a payment (a “Free Trial”). We reserve the right, in our absolute discretion, to determine your eligibility for a Free Trial, and to withdraw or to modify a Free Trial at any time without prior notice and with no liability.
VyprVPN’s competitors often will provide free trials without having to beg or hope it hasn’t been pulled without notice. It is also “strings attached” as you have to provide payment info regardless. Again, this alone might not be egregious, but I wouldn’t want to deal with the hassle and something as small as this might make me want to look elsewhere. I don’t know what situation would occur to make them really pull their trial, so this seems like a measure added just in case they are feeling whimsical.
VyprVPN subscribers with an active, paid account can participate in VyprVPN’s Refer-A-Friend program (“RAF Program”). To participate, refer friends who have never previously had a VyprVPN service (“New User”) by sending them your personal referral link (“Referral Link”)
There is no escape from affiliate promotion in this industry, which is a problem because…
Golden Frog will not be liable to you in the event of any modification, suspension or discontinuance of the RAF Program
You might not get what you bargained for.
No refunds will be given under any circumstances. No refunds will be considered for accounts deleted for violation of our Terms of Service.
No refunds, buyer beware!
Golden Frog reserves the right to suspend, terminate, or refuse service to anyone at any time for any reason.
Remember when you were a kid and you’d invent a game and teach your friends the rules, but then change everything at the last minute making that learning process moot? Kind of makes the last few pages of text pointless if you just draw a line under it all and say this.
All accounts are renewed automatically until a cancellation request is received.
I don’t like opt-out renewals.
Golden Frog reserves the right to revise, supplement or rescind any of our policies or terms of service at any time, without prior notice. It is the member’s sole responsibility to remain informed of our current Terms of Service including all other named policies included by reference therein.
Again, why go through the charade of listing terms and policies for anyone’s understanding or protection if you can just change them at any time without notice? That seems like it would only serve to benefit the compa- oh… nevermind…
Final thoughts: VyprVPN is a service I was looking forward to reviewing believe it or not. It was one of the first VPNs I ever tried out a couple of years ago when I started shopping around and researching for myself. This service seems to want to try, but many of its systems and policies don’t appear well thought out for a company that fundamentally should be trying to promote privacy. I find it ironic when a website will tout their history exposing surveillence, and their vision for a private and secure internet, but then through their site and signup process, apparently run counter to this sentiment in many key ways.
VyprVPN’s terms aren’t as bad as some others, but they still feel like they are not well thought out policies. With a little refining, (some might say, “soul searching”), I feel like VyprVPN would make some changes and be an outstanding service. It really feels like their heart is in the right place philosophically given the amount of effort and detail that goes into some of their site’s materials. All of this still feels contradictory given the hurdles I had to overcome when signing up for the service though. Their terms are also not the most favorable and are definitely written to protect themselves at your expense, and not much else.
However, I want to re-emphasize the technical aspects of and support experience of VyprVPN, which are by far the best aspects of the service. The technology team is on the ball and is doing the right stuff. Support was quick, efficient, and went the extra mile – these two things VyprVPN does better than most I’ve seen in this industry. They’re diamonds in the rough that feel like they’re being held back by a lot of the website design and business decisions of others in the company.
Overall, it’s a mixed bag. There are some great and not so great things to be had with VyprVPN. I want to recommend PARTS of the service, but since it’s all or nothing, I’m really split down the middle and can’t really give a recommendation due to the poor user experience on the website, unfavorable terms, and especially the breach of their user’s privacy during signup and payment.
Did I mention one of VyprVPN’s affiliates stole my work?
|FROM THE VPN COMPARISON CHART|
|JURISDICTION||Based In (Country)||Switzerland|
|Enemy of the Internet||No|
|Logs DNS Requests||No|
|Logs IP Address||Yes|
|ACTIVISM||Anonymous Payment Method||No|
|PGP Key Available||No|
|Gives back to Privacy Causes||No|
|Meets PrivacyTools IO Criteria||No|
|LEAK PROTECTION||1st Party DNS Servers||Yes|
|IPv6 Supported / Blocked||Yes|
|Supports TCP Port 443|
|Supports SSL Tunnel|
|Supports SSH Tunnel|
|Other Proprietary Protocols||Yes|
|PORT BLOCKING||Auth SMTP|
|SPEEDS||US Server Average %||83.94|
|Int’l Server Average %||21.66|
|SERVERS||Dedicated or Virtual|
|SECURITY||Default Data Encryption||AES-256|
|Strongest Data Encryption||AES-256|
|Weakest Handshake Encryption||RSA-2048|
|Strongest Handshake Encryption||RSA-2048|
|AVAILABILITY||# of Connections||5|
|# of Countries||63|
|# of Servers||700|
|Linux Support (Manual)|
|WEBSITE||# of Persistent Cookies||11|
|# of External Trackers||6|
|# of Proprietary APIs||33|
|Server SSL Rating||A|
|SSL Cert issued to||Self|
|PRICING||$ / Month (Annual Pricing)||$6.67|
|$ / Connection / Month||$1.33|
|Refund Period (Days)||0|
|ETHICS||Contradictory Logging Policies|
|Falsely Claims 100% Effective|
|Incentivizes Social Media Spam|
|Requires Ethical Copy||No|
|Requires Full Disclosure||No|
|AFFILIATES||Practice Ethical Copy||No|
|Give Full Disclosure||No|
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