The following is my test report for Golden Frog VyprVPN, which is done independently. Tested on Windows, MacOS, Android, iOS and others. If you have any questions, you can contact me and I will answer your questions.
What Is a VPN?
A VPN is an excellent way to ensure that no one can spy on your internet traffic. Once your VPN is activated, all your network traffic travels through an encrypted tunnel between your computer and a server controlled by the VPN service. Nobody, not even someone on the same local network as you, will be able to see your online activities. Sites that try to identify you by your IP address see one of the VPN service’s IP addresses instead.
A VPN also hides your traffic from inspection by your Internet Service Provider. That’s a good thing, since Congress gave the green light for ISPs to sell anonymized user metadata to advertisers and third-parties.
VPNs also help circumvent online censorship, and are used by activists and journalists operating in countries with repressive internet controls. On the lighter side, a VPN can spoof your location and make region-locked streaming content available, but be aware that you may be violating terms of service by doing so. For all these reasons (and, frankly, many more) you probably need a VPN.
There’s a good chance that you have never laid hands on a VPN before, however. If that’s the case, don’t worry! We’ve got a whole feature on how to set up and use a VPN.
Pricing and Features
VyprVPN has collapsed its previous three-flavor pricing model to a simpler two: VyprVPN and VyprVPN Premium. Annual billing at a reduced rate is available for all account levels, though I list only the monthly rates here. VyprVPN costs $9.95 per month, and Premium goes for $12.95 per month. Both tiers offer a three-day free trial.
The lowest-tier VyprVPN plan allows up to three simultaneous connections and the upper tier up to five. That’s unusual, as most VPN services offer five connections at the entry level, and some (such as TorGuard) offer additional connections for a monthly fee, too. That’s a big blow against VyprVPN’s overall value. NordVPN offers six slots and costs only two dollars more per month. CyberGhost, for its part, offers 10 slots, while Avira Phantom VPN and Windscribe VPN don’t limit the number of simultaneous connections at all.
I keep a running average of the monthly cost for my top-rated VPN services, which currently stands at about $10.68. VyprVPN does come in below that threshold, but at the cost of simultaneous connections. TunnelBear, on the other hand, does allow five connections at a time and costs only 4 cents more per month. Meanwhile, Private Internet Access$2.91 at Private Internet Access is only $6.95 per month and also allows five simultaneous connections.
As mentioned, VyprVPN does offer a free VPN service, but it’s really more of a very limited trial. The free account allows just two simultaneous connections and access to all the protocols used by VyprVPN—including the proprietary Chameleon protocol—in addition to the secure DNS and the NAT firewall (which I’ll explain below). It’s basically a tour of all the service’s best features. The catch is that its free accounts are limited to just 1GB of data. After that, you have to choose one of the paid tiers to continue using VyprVPN. Our favorite free VPN is ProtonVPN, which places no restriction on how much data you use or how long you use the service.
Besides additional connections, the Premium tier also grants access to the custom Vypr Chameleon Protocol and VyprVPN Cloud. Vypr’s 256-bit Chameleon protocol is designed to circumvent sites and services that block VPNs. The company says it is particularly useful in countries, such as China and Russia, where the government has enacted strict controls over internet access. TunnelBear and other VPN services offer their own branded versions of censorship-circumventing technology.
VpyrVPN Cloud, formerly called VyprVPN Server, is a more rarified tool. It’s intended to supply an additional layer of security when accessing cloud server services, and it currently works with Amazon Web Services, DigitalOcean, and VirtualBox.
All tiers (including the free offering described below) include a Network Address Translation (NAT) Firewall, which blocks unrequested inbound traffic, such as bots scanning for open ports to exploit. Almost all routers use NAT to share the single internet connection across all connected devices. The devices themselves receive local-only IP addresses that aren’t visible from outside the network. It’s a nice feature, but probably not robust enough to replace a full-featured firewall.
Golden Frog VyprVPN also provides its own DNS servers to protect users, under the name VyprDNS. That’s great, as a secure DNS server prevents DNS poisoning attacks. This is a feature I’m seeing in more and more VPN services, and I’m grateful for that.
Golden Frog allows all VyprVPN users to share files via P2P or BitTorrent, regardless of the server they are on. Many VPN services limit your P2P usage to specific servers.
VPNs have been around for a long time, and as a result there’s more than one way to create an encrypted tunnel. I prefer OpenVPN, which has a reputation for being fast and very reliable. It’s also open-source technology, which means that it has been picked over for any potential security issues.
VyprVPN supports PPTP, L2TP/IPsec, and OpenVPN at both pricing tiers. Only the company’s custom Chameleon protocol is limited to the higher-priced plan. Both the Windows and macOS versions can use all four of the supported protocols. The Android app, meanwhile, uses OpenVPN or Chameleon, while the iOS app uses IPsec. Note that you can opt to install the third-party OpenVPN app, enter your VyprVPN credentials, and use it—instead of VyprVPN’s iOS app—to connect to the service via the OpenVPN protocol.
In the world of encryption, creating a new or proprietary protocol is a dangerous game. A small, unnoticed flaw could render it completely useless. But Golden Frog says it uses “the unmodified OpenVPN 256-bit protocol for the underlying data encryption.” Chameleon, the company explains, is intended to slip past deep-packet inspection because the OpenVPN metadata is scrambled. In short, it’s for getting around all kinds of censorship.
AnchorFree Hotspot Shield Elite also uses a custom VPN protocol, one that uses the OpenSSL library to encrypt data. However, Hotspot Shield uses this protocol by default wherever it can and does not provide alternatives on several platforms. Golden Frog, on the other hand, encourages the use of Chameleon in VyprVPN, but never requires it. I much prefer this approach.
Servers and Server Locations
VyprVPN has 70 server locations across Africa, Asia, Central America, Europe, the Middle East, North America, and South America. It’s an excellent selection of locations, with multiple locations in each region. This is important because more server locations means you have more opportunities to spoof your location. It also means you have better odds of finding a nearby server while traveling; a nearer server will tend to be faster and have lower latency than one farther away.
Many VPN services ignore the Middle East and Africa, and I’m especially glad to see these regions included here. CyberGhost$3.50 at CyberGhostis another service notable for having servers in these specific regions. Note that VyprVPN has servers in locations with notably repressive internet laws, including China, Russia, and Turkey.
In total, VyprVPN has about 700 individual servers, which is on the low end among services I’ve reviewed, but still an acceptable number. The number of individual servers matters because more available servers means you’ll have fewer people in each individual server, and each person will get a larger slice of the bandwidth pie. NordVPN currently boasts over 5,100 servers, Private Internet Access over 3,500, and TorGuard VPN$9.99 at TorGuard just over 3,000 servers. Together, they lead the pack in terms of robustness.
Some consumers are concerned about VPNs using virtual servers—that is, a physical server that runs several software-based servers. The issue is that a virtual server can be configured to behave like a server in one country when it’s actually, physically located in another. If you’re concerned about where your data is flowing, this could be an issue. VyprVPN stressed to me that user data is stored with the company in Switzerland. In a blog post, the company’s CTO wrote that virtual servers are located within the listed country, excepting situations where that’s not possible because of privacy or security concerns.
Your Privacy With Golden Frog VyprVPN
Notably, Golden Frog says that it requires a subpoena for identifying information in the event of a criminal case. The company also says that, in civil cases, it will neither sell nor provide information unless directed to do so by a court order. The company describes the information it would release in these circumstances as, “minimal information reasonably calculated to identify and no more.” This strikes me as a good policy, although services that accept anonymous payments would have even less information to provide.
Some VPN companies have tried to make money by injecting ads directly into users’ web traffic. A company representative confirmed that VyprVPN does not inject ads. Moreover, a company representative explained to me that Golden Frog does not sell “what minimal information is logged” to third parties. That’s excellent.
In addition to its privacy practices, it’s important to know where a company is headquartered or the legal jurisdiction under which it operates. (In some cases, the HQ and the legal jurisdiction can be different places.) The company is headquartered in Switzerland, which is reportedly not subject to mandatory data retention laws that affect VPNs. The company has written extensively about why it chose Switzerland as its base.
A company representative told me, “regardless of where our actual physical infrastructure is located, we only store our customers’ personal information physically in Zurich, Switzerland.”
Hands On With VyprVPN
VyprVPN is available for Windows, Android, macOS, and iOS. You can also install a special APK onto Android TV devices, further extending your protection. The company also provides an application for Tomato MIPS/ARM capable routers, so you can provide VPN protection to your router. This is a smart move, since the router, in turn, will protect every device that connects with it, yet uses only one license doing so. TorGuard also makes its software available for streaming devices and routers, but it sells the hardware with the VPN software preinstalled. That makes TorGuard’s router solution expensive; I prefer it to VyprVPN’s DIY approach.
In my testing, I installed VyprVPN on a Lenovo ThinkPad T460s laptop running Windows 10. The installation process is remarkably fast and easy, and I was up and running within minutes.
Once installed, VyprVPN presents a window showing your connection status, current IP address, and the time connected. It also displays the protocol being used to encrypt your connection (OpenVPN by default, except on iOS) and your firewall status. A handy graph shows network performance, and the large Connect button doubles as the button for selecting your server.
The design is slick without being overwrought. It’s a little more techie-looking than Hide My Ass, but still very friendly and easy to understand. I am a bit disappointed that in the year since I last reviewed VyprVPN, Golden Frog has not updated the look of the app at all.
I’m more annoyed that in order to select a VyprVPN server, I had to open a separate window. The same is true for changing settings in the app. Most other VPN services I have tested manage to fit their entire interface into a single, simple window.
In addition to the network security tools, VyprVPN also includes a Kill Switch feature that can be configured to halt all web traffic, should your VPN become disconnected. If you’re keen on this feature, it can also be found in NordVPN$2.99 at NordVPN – Limited Deal and TorGuard, among others.
You can activate the Kill Switch feature from the Settings menu. There’s also an option to have VyprVPN activate automatically when you connect to an untrusted Wi-Fi network. You can also keep a list of trusted networks on which you don’t feel VPN is necessary; VyprVPN won’t activate when it detects them. I like this feature because it takes the burden off the user of remembering to activate the VPN. The Settings panel also lets you adjust some of the deep functionality of VyprVPN, which will surely please security wonks.
Golden Frog VyprVPN and Netflix
Streaming video services, and Netflix in particular, have been very aggressive about blocking the uses of VPNs. That’s because a VPN allows someone to appear to be in a different country, and potentially access content that is not licensed for viewing in that person’s true location.
In mid-October, I had no trouble streaming content from Netflix while connected to a US-based VyperVPN server. In late November, I found I was unable to access Netflix while connected to servers in Australia, Canada, Japan, or the UK. Keep in mind that the situation might change by the time you read this. Blocking VPNs is a bit of a cat-and-mouse game, after all. The best VPNs for streaming Netflix could all end up blocked tomorrow.
Netflix doesn’t seem to ban the use of VPNs, although it certainly takes a dim view of their use. In section 4.3 of the company’s Terms of Service, Netflix doesn’t directly state that you can’t use a VPN, but it does say that you’re only entitled to content within your primary country of residence, as well as that the company will attempt to verify your location.
Though VyprVPN brings many security features to bear, other services go further. NordVPN has specialty servers that offer double encryption and even access to the Tor network. Still others include ad blocking at the network level, and some antivirus-lite features. Golden Frog has not opted to include such features, which is fine. I’d much rather a company field a functioning but limited product, than a sprawling but troublesome one.
Speed and Performance
Using a VPN usually degrades your web-browsing performance, simply because your internet connection takes a more circuitous path. To get a sense for what kind of impact a particular VPN has on web browsing, I perform two sets of tests using the Ookla speed test tool.
First, I compare the average test results without a VPN to the average results with a VPN connected to a nearby VPN server. This is how most people will probably use their VPN, as it puts an emphasis on speed and reliability. For the second test, I compare the average test results while connected to an Ookla test server in Alaska, but not using the VPN, to the same configuration while the VPN is active and connected to a VPN server in Australia. This extreme distance, from Alaska to Australia, puts strain on the connection and stress tests the service.
Networks are notoriously finicky, so the best measurements are taken over time, and even in different contexts. For my testing, I aim for more of a snapshot in time, controlling for as many variables as I can. Your mileage, of course, may vary.
In the domestic latency tests, Golden Frog VyprVPN performed quite well, increasing ping time by 190.91 percent. TorGuard VPN has the best score in this particular category, actually reducing latency by 6.7 percent. VyprVPN continued that performance into the international latency test, where it increased ping time by 314.4 percent. TunnelBear had the best score here, increasing latency by only 270.3 percent.
That strong start did not carry over into the all-important download test, however, where VyprVPN reduced download speeds by 17.8 percent. TorGuard again took top marks, reducing speeds by only 3.7 percent. VyprVPN was even less impressive in the international tests, taking the second-worst position and reducing speeds by 86.7 percent. AnchorFree Hotspot Shield Elite had the lightest touch on international downloads, reducing speeds by only 39.9 percent.
The upload test did little to redeem VyprVPN’s performance. It took the third-worst score, reducing speeds by 22.0 percent. IPVanish$3.74 at IPVanish VPN – 2 Yr Plan, by comparison, had the best score, reducing speeds by only 2.9 percent. VyprVPN did slightly better in the international upload test, where the results are all crowded within a narrow band. VyprVPN reduced upload speeds in these tests by 97.8 percent, compared to the top score from Private Internet Access, which reduced speeds by 97.3 percent.
The following chart shows results from the top-rated VPNs on 10Beasts as of May 2018.
On balance, VyprVPN did not display outstanding speed test results, but I caution strongly against using speed as the primary criteria for selecting a VPN. Speeds change quickly, but good privacy policies and value tend to stick around longer. But if you are in the market for the fastest VPN, TorGuard gets my endorsement. It didn’t win every category, but it had minimal impact on downloads and latency.
VyprVPN for Android
The VyprVPN Android VPN app smartly translates the VyprVPN experience to the world’s most popular mobile platform. Notably, the Android app lets you drill down to select individual servers, a feature we appreciate. The app also includes a split tunneling feature, which lets you decide which apps should send their traffic through the VPN and which should not. That’s useful for games and streaming services, which might not play nice with a VPN. The company supports both the OpenVPN and Chameleon protocols in its app.
While VyprVPN offers a good mobile experience, it inherits the limitations of the service as a whole. It’s a solid Android VPN app, but not our favorite overall.
VyprVPN For Macs
The VyprVPN Mac client has much in common with its Windows cousin. The app is built around a tall, slender window with a graph showing your connection speeds and status at the top, with a big blue Connect button at the bottom. But while the Windows client has its options entirely in a Settings menu, the Mac client puts some toggle switches out front in case you want to make fast changes.
I am pleased to see that VyprVPN includes all the VPN protocols in its macOS VPN app that it does for Windows.
Although VyprVPN doesn’t exactly blend in among other Mac apps, I found it to be very easy to use in my testing. A brief tutorial will assure new users, and experienced ones can happily dip into VyprVPN’s more advanced settings. One obstacle to adoption, however, is that the Mac client is not available from the official App Store. You have to download it from the service and install it yourself.
VyprVPN For iPhones
Converting a desktop app for use on mobile devices always requires some compromises. The VyprVPN iPhone app, for example, eschews the design aesthetic of its desktop brethren, opting for something much more akin to an old-style train departure board. Some of these changes are for the better; the server selection screen on iOS is far more compact and readable at a glance.
You won’t find the Kill Switch feature in its iOS VPN client. That’s not unusual for iPhone VPNs, and only NordVPN boasts this feature on Apple’s mobile platform. Thankfully, the mobile version does retain the option to engage automatically when you connect your phone to an untrusted network. That’s excellent, since people carry phones everywhere and therefore will be tempted by the siren song of free Wi-Fi when out and about.
Unfortunately, the iPhone client only offers the older, slower IPsec protocols. That’s a bit odd, considering how much stock the company has placed in its Chameleon Protocol, and that a previous version included the IKEv2 protocol, too. Apple has tight restrictions about VPN protocols, however, and makes developers run through additional hoops to use services like OpenVPN. Hopefully, future updates will bring more flexibility in this department.
One thing that didn’t change in the move to the iPhone is the excellent performance VyprVPN offers. In my testing, it delivered very strong speed test results.
A Strong VPN Option
Golden Frog VyprVPN is a worthy VPN choice. It brings a strong collection of security tools to the table, a simple (if a bit dated) interface, numerous and globally diverse servers. We also greatly appreciate the latitude it gives users with its P2P and BitTorrent policy. Its data-capped free version is more of a trial, but you’d want a trial before signing up, anyhow. That’s because VyprVPN is fairly expensive on a per-user basis, as it allows only three simultaneous connections at the entry-level tier. For excellent security at a better value, we recommend Editors’ Choice winners NordVPN, Private Internet Access, and TunnelBear.