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 #4 (at the time of the roll, SlickVPN)
Written Mar 10, 2017
Signing up for the service: SlickVPN’s website is a pretty typical example of the over-marketed, highly hyperbolic list of features we often see in this industry. At the top of the page is a claim, stating: “SlickVPN protects your PRIVACY and prevents ANYONE from monitoring, throttling, and buffering your online communications and internet activity.” Obviously, this is misleading and totally false. Statements like this are the reason I include a field on the comparison chart. Featured right next to the login button is a link to join their affiliate program. SlickVPN relies on the native advertising model quite heavily and has weak, unenforced terms. For the reasons above, I classify them as “shady”.
Signing up for service was relatively simple and they had typical options for service terms (1 month, 3 months, 1 year). Overall, the process went smoothly and I was able to sign up fairly quick and I only received 1 welcome email. A lot of services still haven’t mastered the ability to condense everything a new user needs to know in just 1, surprisingly, so this was good to see. The dashboard did not have an obvious link for downloading config files however, which was a little annoying. But, after scanning for a moment or two, I was able to get there through the user guide section.
Configuring the service: Setup for the service was very clunky. At first, it appeared that SlickVPN allows a manual OpenVPN configuration but doesn’t provide a download link for ovpn config files. You had to manually scan their server list, choose the gateway you wished to connect to, then manually create the connection by entering the info in Network Manager. This was apparently the only way to perform this configuration, UNTIL you navigate to the server list, where config files were finally available to download on a one-at-a-time basis. This is not ideal and wastes the users time if they have any inclination to connect to multiple exit nodes during the period of their subscription.
SlickVPN also required me to download their cert file, which didn’t have an extension. The file was called SlickVPNcrt – and the first step of the instructions was to rename it to put the “dot” in between VPN and crt. There is no reason for this, except as an apparent band-aid measure to overcome a file type restriction somewhere in their system (similar to how Gmail won’t allow the sending of certain types of files, so you change it to .zip and send it, then rename it on the other side). This poor website organization made it less than user friendly for someone who wants to find the proper assets to connect manually.
Speed & Stability tests: I typically conduct speed tests while connecting to the Phoenix NAP node on beta.speedtest.net as per my review methodology, however it appeared that the data center hosting that node was experiencing issues leading to intermittent tests. For the below tests, I instead connected using the apparently more stable “Sneaker Server” (Tempe, AZ).
|Speed Tests – SlickVPN – Desktop|
|No VPN||Trial 1||16||ms||93.17||mbps||12.23||mbps|
|Comp to Bench||+18||ms||94.51%||88.01%|
|Comp to Bench||+278||ms||6.66%||30.19%|
|Hong Kong||Trial 1||362||ms||1.78||mbps||2.32||mbps|
|Comp to Bench||+343||ms||2.15%||16.28%|
|Comp to Bench||-16||ms||0.00%||0.00%|
|Speed Tests – SlickVPN – Mobile|
|No VPN||Trial 1||17||ms||54.37||mbps||14.35||mbps|
|Comp to Bench||+17||ms||75.12%||91.75%|
|Comp to Bench||+281||ms||3.62%||21.87%|
|Hong Kong||Trial 1||373||ms||1.09||mbps||2.42||mbps|
|Comp to Bench||+375||ms||2.16%||18.46%|
|Comp to Bench||-18||ms||0.00%||0.00%|
Speeds were mixed – with the USA server showing formidably fast speeds and the international servers ranging from slow to outright broken – with both desktop and mobile returning a “connection refused” error for the Australia server.
Getting support: I submitted a message to support using SlickVPN’s contact form asking a few misc questions about the service. The form indicated with asterisks that First name and Email address were required fields, however, when I tried submitting, Last name was also required and wouldn’t let me submit the message without first filling that field. The form indicated that a support rep would reply within 24 hours. A support rep indeed replied within this time frame and was professional and helpful. Kudos to SlickVPN for the above average support. If they also had a live chat feature for instant support (assuming they were as helpful and responsive), I would be tempted to reward them with a Support Badge.
Getting a refund: I asked for a refund and was granted one very quickly without hassle or any lame attempts to get me to troubleshoot an issue, etc.
Services that are displayed and available on the SlickVPN.com website are provided ‘as is’ and do not have a warranty. Any warranties, whether express or implied, are disclaimed by SlickVPN.
No warranties. I always find this interesting. Typically a company is trying to include blanket terms that will cover themselves and reduce liability, but it always comes off as flaky and as though they are not quite sure their product can stand up to scrutiny. Sort of takes the air out of the site’s marketing, claiming, “Guaranteed Protection”…
Where appropriate, we use encryption, access controls, passwords, and/or physical security measures to protect the personal information we collect and maintain about you against unauthorized access and disclosure. Despite our efforts, no data security methods guarantee 100% protection. We do not, nor should any company promise or guarantee that your personal information can never be viewed and/or used by others.
Between this and, “SlickVPN protects your PRIVACY and prevents ANYONE from monitoring, throttling, and buffering your online communications and internet activity.” – which statement do you think they would fall back on if there was ever a problem?
Final thoughts: SlickVPN made a decent first impression with an easy signup process and competent signup notification email system, but quickly started showing signs of trouble with their website over-marketing and poor organization. Things also took a bad turn when config files couldn’t be easily found. Jumping through extra hoops to rename the ca cert file after downloading was silly as well. When I finally did find config files, only being able to download config files one at a time felt ill-thought out.
While speeds started out fast on the USA server tested, the international servers felt like an afterthought as only 2/3 worked, and when they did, they were quite slow. Support was the bright spot in SlickVPN’s operation – which was quick, professional, and helpful. SlickVPN’s terms of service weren’t hostile to the consumer necessarily, but they were a striking contrast to the website’s claims.
SlickVPN is about average, which in this industry is not a glowing compliment. As their USA server speeds were very quick and they claim they don’t block or throttle P2P, downloading might be one niche use case for the service, and really the only I can think of. I wouldn’t try to scare you off SlickVPN necessarily, however, in addition to the above, there is something not quite on the level going on between the heavy affiliate marketing model and outlandish claims on their website. Overall, this one goes in the “meh” category.
|FROM THE VPN COMPARISON CHART|
|JURISDICTION||Based In (Country)||USA|
|Enemy of the Internet||Yes|
|Logs DNS Requests|
|Logs IP Address||No|
|ACTIVISM||Anonymous Payment Method|
|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||Yes|
|SPEEDS||US Server Average %||94.51|
|Int’l Server Average %||2.94|
|SERVERS||Dedicated or Virtual|
|SECURITY||Default Data Encryption|
|Strongest Data Encryption||AES-256|
|Weakest Handshake Encryption|
|Strongest Handshake Encryption|
|AVAILABILITY||# of Connections||5|
|# of Countries||46|
|# of Servers||151|
|Linux Support (Manual)|
|WEBSITE||# of Persistent Cookies||4|
|# of External Trackers||0|
|# of Proprietary APIs||14|
|Server SSL Rating||A|
|SSL Cert issued to||CloudFlare|
|PRICING||$ / Month (Annual Pricing)||$4.00|
|$ / Connection / Month||$0.80|
|Refund Period (Days)||30|
|ETHICS||Contradictory Logging Policies|
|Falsely Claims 100% Effective||Yes|
|Incentivizes Social Media Spam|
|Requires Ethical Copy||No|
|Requires Full Disclosure||No|
|AFFILIATES||Practice Ethical Copy|
|Give Full Disclosure||No|
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