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Disconnect VPN Review 2021 - Keep This in Mind Before Buying

Author Image Anirudh Sharma
Anirudh Sharma | Cybersecurity Researcher
Updated on 25th June 2021

Disconnect VPN has always projected itself as more than a VPN. Launched in 2011, its developers also gave us a solid open-source malvertising blocker cum anti-tracking tool that steers invasive ads away.

But why is it called Disconnect? The company’s mission is to ‘make the Internet better by giving people greater transparency and control over their personal information.’ And the word disconnect implies that they intend on preventing unsolicited connections.

Unfortunately, Disconnect VPN fails to walk the walk. In fact, it fails to get anywhere close to the top VPN service providers.

I tested the VPN’s speeds, security, privacy, streaming capabilities, and customer support. The good news is it managed to unblock a few Netflix libraries and HBO Now. So, binge-watchers can enjoy their favorite shows in high definition.

While there are only 3 countries to choose from, the VPN does work in China.

The lack of DNS leak protection and a missing P2P torrenting option makes it a risky choice for those who plan on using it for torrents. While there is a no-logging policy in place and the app has anonymous search features, its headquarters location – San Francisco – makes me slightly skeptical. After all, the US is a part of the Five Eyes Alliance. Despite these shortcomings, I was impressed by Disconnect VPN’s commitment towards privacy and its usage of industry-grade encryption protocols.

More importantly, Disconnect VPN is available only for macOS and iOS devices. And there’s also a 30-day hassle-free money-back guarantee in case users aren’t satisfied with the features.

Read on to find out whether Disconnect VPN is worth $4.17/month and the issues that users need to be wary of.

Short on Time? Here Are My Key Findings

Disconnect VPN Features — Updated in July 2021

Price $4.17/month
Money Back Guarantee 30
Does VPN keep logs? Partially
Number of servers 3
Number of devices per license 3
Kill switch No
Based in country United States
Support Via Email/FAQ page
Supports torrenting No

Streaming — Only for Netflix Fans

Out of the five platforms I tried, it only managed to unblock two of them. Disconnect VPN projects itself as a guardian of privacy and doesn’t claim that the VPN can be used for streaming. So expecting it to bypass geo-blocked content across the world might be asking for too much.

That said, Disconnect VPN can be used to stream Netflix and HBO Now, whereas other OTT subscribers can give it a pass.

Unblocked: Netflix and HBO Now

I was able to access Netflix libraries of all the 3 countries. With Netflix cracking down on many VPN and proxy users in recent times, I was a bit skeptical before running the tests. Much to my surprise, Disconnect VPN managed to bypass the Netflix proxy error. Moreover, I was able to switch between libraries and watch my favorite shows seamlessly.

In most cases, the video quality remained unaffected despite connecting using faraway servers. There were a few rare moments when the California servers subjected me to grainy quality videos.

A screenshot of Disconnect VPN unblocking Netflix

I was able to watch shows exclusively available on Netflix US using the New York servers

HBO Now threw some surprising results. When I tried to access geo-blocked content using the California servers, I was greeted with an error.

Just when I thought that it has covered its bases, something surprising happened. I was able to access HBO Now’s entire US library just by switching to the New York servers. Unfortunately, I didn’t get lucky when it came to the other platforms.

Blocked By: Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, and Disney+

I used the UK and the US servers to access geo-blocked content on Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and Disney+ but met with an error message each time.

If you want to stream Disney+ from anywhere in the world, use another VPN.

Speeds — Not the Best in Class

Disconnect VPN retains as much as 80% of the download speed on most servers. My base speed hovered around 120 Mbps, and unsurprisingly, the server regions closer to my place managed to do better.

Screenshot of my speed without Disconnect VPN connected.

My home connection clocked over 120 Mbps

I was happy to find stable and fast servers in Europe, Asia, and North America.

A screenshot of Disconnect VPN's speed test results

San Francisco returned poor results

It was surprising to see San Francisco, Disconnect VPN’s home turf, retain a mere 38% of my connection speed and 4% of upload speed. Suspecting an unusual amount of traffic and other uncertainties, I ran the test at different times. But the results were more or less the same. The story was completely different when I used the New York server to access the internet.

A screenshot of my speeds on Disconnect's US servers

New York servers performed way better than the CA ones

New York’s servers managed to retain 80% of the download speed and 15% of the upload speeds. Understandably, the ping increased by nearly 50 times since these servers are located over 8,000 miles away from me.

A screenshot of Disconnect VPN's speed test results

The Singaporean servers were the fastest

Singapore’s servers take the prize for giving me the fastest speed on Disconnect VPN. There was barely any drop in download speed, whereas the upload speed got reduced by half. It wasn’t exactly a surprise since it is the closest server available to me.

A screenshot of Disconnect VPN's speed test results

Frankfurt servers also did well

Finally, I tried a German server and got a sweet 86% of my connection’s download speed.

Despite being a relatively small VPN service provider, Disconnect VPN managed to do well in my speed tests. This makes it a great pick for gamers and Netflix lovers who are mainly concerned about having an uninterrupted experience.

In all these tests, the significant drop in upload speeds raises concerns. This reduction can be attributed to factors like encryption and server capabilities.

Are Disconnect VPN’s Speeds Fast Enough for Gaming? Yes

Disconnect VPN can be used for gaming. The minimal reduction in speeds during my tests makes it an ideal VPN candidate for gaming. Gamers can use it provided they have a fast network that can overcome factors like packet loss and latency.

Server Network — Many Talking Points

Disconnect VPN has servers in 3 countries but doesn’t mention the number of servers it has in these countries.

For a VPN service provider that makes tall promises of transparency, privacy, and giving more control to users, it sure falls flat when it comes to disclosing its servers’ details. There is no mention of the number of servers it owns or operates.

While I had to bear with a patchy San Francisco server, the rest of them worked like a charm. I was able to connect and browse the internet using their Frankfurt, London, New York, Singapore, and Toronto servers without drop-outs or other snags.

The customer reps confirmed that they have users in China. It means that they have obfuscated servers, but I wasn’t able to check its efficacy.

Security — Reliable But Not Foolproof

There’s military-grade encryption, but the lack of DNS-leak protection and a kill switch makes it moot. Disconnect VPN comes with AES 256-bit encryption and PFS (perfect forward secrecy) supported by the 2048-bit Diffie-Hellman key exchange method. There’s also a malvertising blocker that keeps malware and intrusive ads away from your devices.

It uses top-notch ciphers and data authentication mechanisms for OpenVPN by default on all devices. Besides, the iOS devices come with an added IKEv2/IPSec protocol, but there’s no mention of a PPTP or an L2TP protocol being used.

All this might become redundant due to the lack of a kill switch, for if your VPN gets shut down accidentally.

A screenshot of Disconnect VPN's leak test results

My DNS IP and location was detected in the leak test

The Disconnect VPN failed to get through a simple DNS leak test, making it a cause for concern. At a time when companies are moving to advanced security solutions like double VPN, a failed DNS test leaves it far behind contenders.

Either way, there’s hope that Disconnect VPN will get better in the security game. The source code for its browser extensions is already open source, and soon, its team will be releasing the code for the desktop and mobile apps. It means that Disconnect VPN can be scrutinized by the top cybersecurity experts on the internet.

Privacy — It Pushes the Right Buttons

While Disconnect VPN tries to maintain its users’ privacy, it can easily come under the NSA scanner by virtue of its San Francisco headquarters.

Disconnect VPN is a B Corporation, i.e., a for-profit company that cares about society and the environment. Besides, it’s reassuring to see the Mac App Store page mention that Disconnect VPN doesn’t collect any data.

A screenshot of Disconnect VPN's App Store page

The App Store page that tells us that Disconnect doesn’t collect data

I decided to scour their policy page to find out if Disconnect VPN uses workarounds to log user data. But it makes things explicitly clear in the first paragraph of the privacy policy.

A screenshot of Disconnect VPN's privacy policy

Users’ personal info might be shared in distress situations

While Disconnect VPN tries to safeguard user interests as far as possible, it might share your data if there’s a legal notice or a government order.

It comes down to the fact that it is located in a Five Eyes country, so we probably can’t expect more than this. Plus, they need Stripe/PayPal account details for processing payments, and that definitely qualifies as collecting personal information.

Disconnect VPN has shared its source code for the browser extension on GitHub. Soon, the company is planning to do the same for its macOS and iOS platforms. This is certainly a commendable move and a significant step towards ensuring mutual trust with its users.

Torrenting — A Risky Bet

There are no P2P torrenting options, so user details could be left exposed. This, coupled with the fact that there’s no kill switch, could leave users exposed.

Besides, with the kind of speeds offered by Disconnect VPN, it’s better to look for other reliable VPNs for torrenting.

Does Disconnect VPN Work in China? Yes

Disconnect VPN can be used to access geo-blocked content in China, and it even has users in the country. I got a confirmation of the same from the support team, but they could not pinpoint the websites that can be accessed there.

In all likelihood, Disconnect VPN doesn’t have obfuscated servers. So, it won’t be able to bypass the multiple restrictions imposed by China’s Great Firewall.

It’s worth noting that Disconnect VPN uses the OpenVPN protocol by default and the Chinese authorities have been successful in blocking this protocol in recent times.

Simultaneous Device Connections — Just 3

With just 3 simultaneous connections, Disconnect VPN probably offers the fewest devices in its price range.

Users can register their fourth device only by removing the app from one of their existing devices. I tried using the macOS and iOS apps at the same time, and the results were optimal. Heavy usage didn’t seem to affect the performance of either device.

Device Compatibility — Apple Users Can Rejoice

Disconnect VPN doesn’t offer its VPN services for non-Apple users. But it offers malvertising and tracking blockers as extensions on Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Safari, and Samsung Browser.

The rationale behind not having a Linux VPN, Windows VPN, or an Android VPN is unknown. In fact, Disconnect VPN did have an Android app at one point, but it was removed from the Play Store due to a violation of policy.

On the other hand, this benefits Apple users at some level, since Disconnect VPN uses a lot of native capabilities of the macOS and iOS. This makes their apps more robust and easily navigable on MacBooks or iPhones (more about it in the next section).

A screenshot of DisconnectVPN's app store page

The app seems to be maintained and updated regularly

More importantly, the frequent updates on Disconnect VPN’s macOS app show that the developers are actively trying to up their game.

Ease of Use

7.8

Set-Up & Installation — It Is Easy to Navigate

It has a simple and beginner-friendly installation process. I got a friend to install the Disconnect VPN on her iPhone, and despite her having little experience with VPNs, she got the hang of it within no time.

A screenshot of the Disconnect VPN app's starting page

The welcome message explicitly states that there won’t be logging of any kind

After installing the app, users are greeted with a message where Disconnect VPN’s anti-logging policy is stated. Subsequently, users are required to allow access to add VPN configuration on their devices. This step is common in both macOS and iOS devices.

A screenshot of Disconnect VPN's connection page

The Smart VPN is a handy feature

In the next step, users can either choose the Smart VPN that automatically connects them to the best server. Or they can choose from the list of available server countries. It’s worth noting that the Smart VPN encrypts only DNS and HTTP traffic.

A screenshot of Disconnect VPN's server selection area.

Options to choose from one of the server locations

Additionally, the app also provides details such as the number of analytics trackers and ad trackers blocked. The macOS and iOS apps have a similar interface, making it simpler for users with multiple registered devices.

While it is delightfully easy to use the app, I don’t think seasoned VPN users will appreciate the limited functionality.

Compare Disconnect Premium (formerly known as Privacy Pro by Disconnect) with the top alternative VPNs

Pricing

10.0
1-year plan
$4.17 /month
6-month plan
$6.67 /month
1-month plan
$12 /month

The limited functionalities and security flaws failed to convince me that Disconnect VPN is worth $4.17/month.

The Disconnect brand has a bunch of tools with different uses: the Privacy Pro for iPad users, Premium for macOS and iOS users, and Basic for browsers.

This got me slightly confused. The names ‘Basic,’ ‘Pro,’ and ‘Premium’ are different products altogether, but it sounds like they are different pricing plans for the VPN. Remember, Premium and Privacy Pro are the only products that offer VPN services.

Disconnect accepts PayPal and Stripe for purchases, or users can use a credit/debit card to pay via Apple’s App Store. VPNs accepting non-traditional modes of payment, including Bitcoins, Ether, and e-wallets, are almost a norm. So, it’s surprising that Disconnect hasn’t already started offering more payment options to its users.

A screenshot of Disconnect VPN

The new money-back guarantee was rolled out in September 2020

Disconnect has a 30-day money-back guarantee in place for its users. They don’t ask any questions and process refunds instantly if an unsatisfied user writes to them.

Reliability & Support

7.6

Since there was no live chat support or community forums, I had to reach out to the support team via email. Email support works only from 8 AM to 8 PM PDT during the weekdays. So, I didn’t receive a response to a query sent on Friday night for over 48 hours.

A screenshot of Disconnect VPN's customer support response.

I received an out of office email for my weekend query

On the bright side, they sent an automated response asking me to resend the email directly to their support reps if it’s an urgent matter.

A screenshot of Disconnect VPN's FAQ page

The FAQ section wasn’t easy on the eye

I did chance upon their extensive FAQ page, but it wasn’t easy to navigate across the sections and find answers. There were no search options, and the font colors certainly didn’t help my case.

The Bottom Line

Great for the Casual User, but Lacks Depth

Final Verdict

I don’t recommend Disconnect VPN for seasoned VPN users and torrent aficionados. The lack of many payment options, logging of connection data, and the non-disclosure of the number of servers are indeed a talking point.

On the other hand, it works well for people who aren’t excessively worried about security and want a no-frills VPN. So, iOS and macOS users who are just looking for good speeds can go for it.

FAQs on Disconnect VPN

Is Disconnect VPN safe?

Yes, Disconnect VPN is a safe option, but I don’t recommend it for those who want to stay truly anonymous. AES 256-bit encryption, perfect forward secrecy supported by 2048-bit DH for key exchange, anti-malvertising functions, and anonymous searching are a few aspects that make it a safe option.

That said, Disconnect VPN does log your connection information, credit card details and complies with government requests.

Can Disconnect VPN unblock Netflix?

Yes, it can unblock Netflix libraries of the UK, the US, and Germany. Yet, the fact that Disconnect VPN is present only in 3 countries doesn’t make it the best VPN for streaming Netflix.

Will Disconnect VPN slow my speeds down?

Yes, there will be a sizable reduction in your connection speed when using the Disconnect VPN. While it is not among the fastest VPNs out there, when using the anti-malvertising and anti-tracking tools, it does retain your connection speeds.

Money Back Guarantee (Days) : 30
Mobile app :
Number of devices per license : 3
VPN Plans: www.disconnect.me

Disconnect Premium (formerly known as Privacy Pro by Disconnect) User Reviews

8.0
Based on 1 reviews in 1 languages
Anonymous
Nice functions, but lack of own DNS is a no go. - 8
Anonymous

It's fast and I has some nice futures, like the ad- and trackersblocking (systemwide) But when you run a test, you will see that the solely depends on Google DNS. My IP was German based and my DNS request came from America. That's a weak point, in my opinion.

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