12VPN (also known as 12VPX) is a bit of a mystery service. Its website promises secure connections and fast speeds, but doesn’t really provide much more information than that.
Intrigued, I signed up and took the VPN for a trial run to see whether it really is as fast and safe as it claims — and whether it ranks among the best VPNs currently on the market. To make my analysis, I tested 12VPN’s unblocking abilities, speeds, security and privacy measures, ease of use, and more.
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Short on Time? Here Are My Key Findings
12VPN Features — Updated in February 2023
Money Back Guarantee
Does VPN keep logs?
Number of servers
Number of devices per license
Based in country
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Streaming — Unblocks Some Platforms, but Not Netflix
12VPN has decent streaming capabilities. I could watch some of the most popular platforms with it, though others were blocked.
This seemed unusual, as VPN support agents usually give me useful information about streaming with their services. It’s especially odd since the server list in my app included a streaming-optimized server for US platforms (though it never connected during my tests).
Unblocks: Hulu, HBO Max, Disney+, and Peacock TV
I was able to access some major platforms, but only with some servers and connection types (which took a while to identify).
For example, Hulu worked with almost all US servers I tested — but only when using the VPN’s custom WEB protocol. When I tried using OpenVPN connections, I could access the site, but couldn’t stream anything because the speeds were slow.
12VPN’s WEB protocol worked with Hulu, though OpenVPN didn’t
Accessing HBO Max was a bit more of a struggle. It took a while to find a server that worked. Eventually, I was able to unblock the site with a server in Fremont while using the WEB connection.
After multiple failed attempts, I finally got the site to work with a server in Fremont
Disney+ opened only with the Chicago server while using the WEB connection. All other server and connection type combinations gave me a black screen.
Unblocking Disney+ was challenging, but 12VPN got there eventually
Blocked by: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and BBC iPlayer
No matter which 12VPN server and connection type I tried, region-specific Netflix content remained unavailable to me.
Netflix US only showed me its Top 10 list and wouldn’t let me stream anything
BBC iPlayer detected the VPN almost immediately too. Changing the server or the connection didn’t help.
The service knew I wasn’t in the UK, so it completely blocked my access
Even though 12VPN is not advertised as a streaming VPN, it performed better than I expected. Bypassing the strong encryption and VPN detection used by Hulu, HBO Max, and Disney+ is a big plus in my book.
But if you want a more reliable streaming VPN, try one of these services that unblocks Netflix instead.
Speeds — Very Slow Using OpenVPN
12VPN provided me with good speeds on most servers using its WEB connections, but OpenVPN slowed me down terribly.
The Windows app that I tested offers several connection types. The WEB connection type and its variants are actually custom protocols developed by 12VPN. WEB only uses AES-128 encryption (a weaker level), which is why it’s faster. The OpenVPN connections are significantly slower and in some cases, I couldn’t even load the speed testing website while using them. This is unfortunate as OpenVPN is much more secure (but more on that later).
I first tested my connection speeds without the VPN. My base speed at the time of testing was 472.39 Mbps download, 490.43 Mbps upload, and 4 ms ping.
Then, I tested numerous VPN servers across different locations including the UK, France, Germany, Netherlands, US, Canada, Japan, and China. I also tested the different connection types.
When testing 12VPN’s speeds, I took into consideration 3 metrics:
- Download speed – this represents the amount of data you can receive from the internet measured in Mbps (megabits per second). This is important if you want to stream.
- Upload speed — measures the amount of data you can send from your computer per second. It's measured in Mbps and useful for video calls, sending messages, etc.
- Ping — measured in ms, and represents server response time. This is important in gaming, as high ping leads to lag.
WEB Connection Speeds
In my first round of tests, I used the WEB connection. Nearby European servers gave me good download speeds, averaging 444.51 Mbps download, 59.04 Mbps upload, and a ping of 47.3 ms.
12VPN’s custom protocol gave me good download speeds
My download speeds were similar to those of my base connection, but upload speeds took a huge hit — up to 88%. I had a fast connection in the first place, so I wasn’t affected by this. However, such a drop would make activities like video calling impossible on a regular 20 Mbps network.
More distant servers, located in the US, Australia, and Japan dropped both my download and upload speeds. The US server gave me the biggest overall speed decrease at over 80%.
Here’s a breakdown of my test results using the WEB connection:
||444.95 Mbps (6% decrease)
||58.47 Mbps (88% decrease)
||487.65 Mbps (3% increase)
||58.90 Mbps (87% decrease)
||400.94 Mbps (15% decrease)
||59.90 Mbps (87% decrease)
||75.07 Mbps (84% decrease)
||16.29 Mbps (96% decrease)
||312.42 Mbps (34% decrease)
||7.82 Mbps (98% decrease)
||252.11 Mbps (46% decrease)
||4.55 Mbps (99% decrease)
OpenVPN Connection Speeds
Switching to the OpenVPN TCP connection type led to speed decreases of 85%, even on nearby servers. Most servers gave me speeds above 20 Mbps, but only because my base connection was very fast in the first place. The same 85% drop on a 20 Mbps connection would make streaming in HD impossible.
What was most alarming is that some servers wouldn’t connect at all when using the OpenVPN TCP connection. Locations including Sydney, Montreal, Stockholm, and New York never gave me a working connection.
Some locations never even let me connect
Here are my full test results using the OpenVPN protocol:
||10.41 Mbps (97% decrease)
||8.00 Mbps (98% decrease)
||29.03 Mbps (93% decrease)
||18.29 Mbps (96% decrease)
||44.42 Mbps (90% decrease)
||20.31 Mbps (95% decrease)
In general, 12VPN gave me good speed results when using the WEB connection. But as soon as I switched to OpenVPN TCP, I lost my speed. The biggest disappointment was discovering that at least 5 servers didn’t work.
If you want a fast VPN that offers a stable and reliable connection no matter which protocol you use, I recommend you take your pick from this list of super-fast VPNs.
Server Network — Small and Unreliable
12VPN has 70 servers in 39 countries. While the network is not huge, it is well distributed across the globe.
The VPN has servers in the following countries:
The server list gives you additional data about online status, availability in China, supported protocols, and the IP address you’d get when using each of the servers. There’s also a check box option to show or hide a server from the list.
Additionally, the VPN states that you can use servers marked with FLIX-USA to access US-specific steaming platforms. However, this server wouldn’t connect during my tests.
While 12VPN covers some locations that are rare for VPNs (like Russia), overall this isn’t a reliable or comprehensive server network. While most of the servers were OK and connected within 15 seconds, there were a handful of servers that wouldn’t connect at all.
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Security — Customizable Encryption and Decent Protocols
12VPN offers good protection overall, but it mostly depends on the settings you use. While it offers AES-256 encryption with OpenVPN, it only has AES-128 with its custom WEB protocols.
Protocols and Encryption
The VPN website claims that the service supports a range of protocols (including IKEv2, IPSec, SoftEther, and PPTP). However the native Windows app only gave me access to the following:
- OpenVPN — this is the industry-standard protocol, offering strong encryption and fast speeds. 12VPN offers the TCP protocol and an OpenVPN Stealth option to bypass firewalls.
- WireGuard — a relatively new protocol, designed to be faster and more lightweight than OpenVPN (though it isn’t quite as secure). WireGuard is only available with 12VPN via manual configuration.
- WEB — 12VPN’s custom protocol, designed to load-balance over multiple servers for better performance. This protocol gave me much faster speeds than OpenVPN.
For iOS, Android, Linux, and everything else, it only works through manual setup, with the following protocols:
- iOS — WireGuard and Shadowscale
- Android — v2rayNG and WireGuard
- Linux — WireGuard and OpenConnect
- Routers — WireGuard and v2Ray
- ChromeOS — WireGuard and v2rayNG
v2ray has built-in obfuscation which hides traffic in TLS — it runs parallel with web servers. OpenConnect is an open-source software that creates secure point-to-point connections. With Shadowscale, configuration can be imported by scanning QR codes or by manually entering URLs.
It’s worth noting that your level of encryption depends on the protocol you choose. OpenVPN and WireGuard are both paired with the ultra-secure 256-bit AES (the highest level of encryption you can get). But the VPN’s proprietary WEB protocol only uses 128-bit encryption, which is faster but less secure. The website says you can choose your level of encryption in the Windows app, but I never found that option.
I tested the VPN for IPv4, IPv6, DNS, and WebRTC data leaks. I am happy to report that 12VPN did not leak any of my data.
This means that all my information was completely protected online. If the VPN leaked my IP address, any website or app I used could see my real location and identity, which beats the purpose of having a VPN. DNS are similar, but it's the browsing history that gets exposed in case of a data breach. Overall, 12VPN did a good job keeping me safe.
That means your real location and online activity stay hidden while using the VPN
One of the most worrying things about this test is the fact that when I checked 12VPN’s apps using VirusCheck, a Trojan.Wacatac script was detected. This is a type of ransomware that can alert you to fake threats, using scaremongering to prompt you to add your details and payment to a bogus solution that then reads your information, leaving you at risk of targeted attack.
Aside from the fact that every user who installs the app could be exposed to this threat, it really doesn’t fill me with confidence when a VPN client itself is infected. If the VPN can’t keep itself protected, I don’t have much faith that it can really safeguard my data.
VPNs should protect you from these threats, not expose you to them
Additional Security Features
12VPN provides a kill switch, but it’s not turned on by default. Kill switches are important because they cut off your internet traffic if you lose connection to the VPN. This prevents your identity, location, and online activity being accidentally leaked to your ISP. I prefer kill switches to be automatically enabled (so I don’t have to remember to do it) but I’m glad 12VPN provides one.
Servers are automatically protected by a NAT firewall too. This kind of firewall prevents any traffic from passing through, unless a device on your network requested it. Any unsolicited requests are discarded, preventing communication with potentially dangerous devices on the internet.
There’s also a SmartDNS service but it’s not safe to use. SmartDNS allows you to access geoblocked sites and services. Similar to a proxy, it directs only a part of your traffic — your DNS requests — through its servers. However, that means you get no online protection (like encryption) while you browse. I also found out that 12VPN’s SmartDNS stores your IP address until you cancel your account. For these reasons, I didn’t feel safe testing the service, so I can’t say whether it does a better job of unblocking than the regular servers.
It was disappointing to find that there is no multiphop option available. Multiphop is a way of using two servers instead of just one, giving your connection an extra layer of protection and encryption. There is also no way to use the VPN with Tor, which protects your IP address and stops your true identity being seen by the Tor entry node.
All in all, the VPN offers some solid security features to keep your data safe and protect you from potential cyber attacks and hackers, but its apps may be dangerous.
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12VPN claims to have a no-logs policy, but the small print suggests otherwise.
After a bit of hunting around the app, I found the log in question. I was shocked to see that the VPN was logging all sorts of data, including my IP address and my device’s MAC address.
There is a checkbox next to the log, where you can opt in or out of sending all logged information to the VPN team. This was automatically enabled, meaning my information was already being forwarded to the team without my knowledge. You can opt out of sharing your app log but there’s no guarantee that opting out prevents the information from being logged in the first place.
The client is set to share logs with the VPN provider by default
This is all very worrying considering the VPN is located in the Netherlands, which is part of the 9/14 Eyes Alliance. Alliance countries are known for online surveillance, and sharing citizens’ data with other members. That means 12VPN could be forced to hand over any data it has on you if requested by Dutch authorities. Since it seems like the VPN does log some of your information, this puts your privacy at real risk.
I found 12VPN’s privacy measures really disappointing, especially as the VPN markets itself as safe and secure. If online privacy is your main goal, choose one of these no-log VPNs instead.
Torrenting — Not Allowed
12VPN does not allow torrenting on any of its servers. If you get caught using the service for torrenting, your account will be terminated.
You can check out these torrenting VPNs that are perfect for the job instead.
Does 12VPN Work in China? Yes
The customer support team says that it does. The rep I spoke to even provided me with an alternative URL for the VPN that works in China, since 12VPN’s usual site is blocked there.
12VPN’s website is blocked in China, but it offers an alternative
The server list also provides you with useful, up-to-date information about which servers are currently working in China.