GnuVPN is a small service that advertises itself as a secure and fast VPN. The price is fair, and the free trial lets you try all it offers, but is it even worth your time?
I tested all its features, and GnuVPN's performance doesn't match the big players in the VPN game. For example, its servers are mainly in Europe and Asia, restricting access to content from several popular regions. Plus, it’s missing some important security features, and customer support takes too long to respond. If you’re looking for the best value, check out this list of the top-rated VPNs with reliable money-back guarantees instead.
Short on Time? Here Are My Key Findings
GNUVPN Features — 2023 Update
Money Back Guarantee
Does VPN keep logs?
Number of devices per license
Based in country
Streaming — Great at Unblocking Streaming Platforms7.0
GnuVPN is good at unblocking platforms, but you miss out on content due to its small network. However, the servers it does offer are great for unblocking. I managed to access several services with little effort, and the streaming quality was impressive. Every platform I tried loaded almost immediately, although there were a few instances of buffering.
Unblocked: Netflix, Disney+, Rai Play, Amazon Prime Video and BBC iPlayer
GnuVPN unblocked Netflix originals on several servers, including Italy, Sweden, and France, and I was able to watch titles like My Name and ATHENA. Originals is a version of the site that only lets you watch the content Netflix owns. However, I was able to unblock one full library with the UK server. This let me watch It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, a geo-restricted show.
The picture quality never dropped down, even when I skipped to different sections
I could also stream Auntie Edna on Disney+ in 4K. The video took a few seconds to load, and I didn’t experience any buffering. I used the UK server to unblock this platform.
Disney+ streamed just as well as Netflix, even when I jumped to different parts
I was also impressed with how well it worked with BBC iPlayer. It let me live-stream several Wimbledon matches, including Alcarez vs. Chardy, in HD. I also tried to watch a few movies, and the experience was just as good.
In my next test, it let me live-stream the Tour de France on Rai Play. I experienced a few instances of buffering, but I was able to enjoy the race in perfect HD.
RaiPlay is one of the toughest services to unblock, so I was impressed
Finally, I had a great experience while streaming on ITV. I live-streamed Good Morning Britain in crystal clear quality. Watching Empire State was just as good, but it buffered for a few seconds when I tried to jump to different parts of the video. I also had no issues streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
However, there was no way to access Netflix US, Max (formerly HBO), or Hulu since there are no US servers. If you watch a lot of US content, you’ll want to get one of the best VPNs for streaming that can unblock every major US platform.
Speed — Decent Overall With Some Inconsistencies3.0
GnuVPN’s speeds are pretty good nearby, but a little slow at long distances. All its servers were speed-tested using OpenVPN, as it’s the only protocol provided. Its apps also auto-select the protocol, so it was difficult for me to determine whether it was using OpenVPN UDP or TCP.
All speed tests were taken from the same location with the same connection to ensure fair comparisons. We have a dedicated speed expert in the UK that tests every VPN we review. A minimum of 10 tests were performed on each server.
My speeds dropped 20% on average with nearby servers and 60% on distant ones
Some servers were quite slow even if they weren’t the farthest away. For example, I was surprised the closest server wasn’t even one of the top 5 fastest. In addition, the server in Australia was faster than one in Israel, even though it’s almost twice as far away.
All the nearby servers (in Europe) are under 4,000 km from our tester's location in the UK. A speed drop of 20% at this range isn’t bad, but there are many VPNs that are a bit faster.
Servers in Asia and Australia were notably slower. I anticipated the server in Kazakhstan to be quicker too. It’s just under 5,000 km from the UK, but its results were also disappointing. Unfortunately, the VPN doesn’t display the server load, so it wasn’t possible to tell if these inconsistencies were a result of overcrowding. I hope GnuVPN will add that feature soon.
It slowed down my connection by only 4%, outperforming the local server in the UK
Overall, I recommend GnuVPN if your starting speed is high, as it can turn out sluggish even when you don’t expect it to be. You can avoid such inconsistencies across the network if you choose one of the fastest VPNs we’ve tested from this list.
Gaming — Excellent Performance for Gaming8.8
GnuVPN performed well during my gaming sessions. Initially, I connected to a server in France and only experienced a slight stutter at the onset. Afterward, I was able to control my tank without any issues and engage my opponents without any lag, even during firefights.
This seamless gaming experience was replicated when I switched to servers in Australia and Singapore
These tests were on distant servers (8000 km from my location), so I thought it would work even better with one closer. However, since GnuVPN doesn't have any servers in Africa, I wasn’t able to test a closer location.
Generally, servers at a distance can increase ping rates — for lag-free gameplay, a latency below 100 ms is recommended. That’s why I was very impressed with GnuVPN’s gaming performance, and you should be able to use it for gaming from nearly anywhere.
Server Network — Limited Coverage and Not Evenly Distributed4.0
GnuVPN has a small server network in just 15 countries. Most of them are in Europe. There are also a few in Asia, and just one in Oceania (Australia). With both the free trial and paid account, you get the same number of servers. I wasn’t happy about this limited network because it reduced the number of services I could unblock.
There are 11 locations in Europe, 4 in Asia, and 1 in Oceania
On top of that, there’s no option to select city-level servers. I like when VPNs offer these because it allows me to really pinpoint a server closer to me. Also, it's unclear whether GnuVPN owns or rents its servers. Despite asking, the support staff only told me that it has servers in different places and in different data centers.
The questions about whether the servers are virtual or RAM-based also went unanswered. However, the VPN mentioned it offers dedicated or static IPs upon request. I didn't proceed with this due to its support team’s slow response times.
Overall, this is one of GnuVPN’s weakest categories. You can try a VPN with a huge worldwide server network on this list.
Security — Robust Encryption, but Missing Useful Features6.4
GnuVPN offers solid encryption and a safe protocol, but the lack of a kill switch makes it unsafe. None of its servers revealed my DNS/IP requests, but I don’t feel completely comfortable using a VPN without a kill switch. Without one, GnuVPN can’t prevent your IP address from leaking while you’re switching servers or when your device enters sleep mode. To maintain your online privacy, you can find a VPN that offers a kill switch and many other vital security features in this list.
GnuVPN protects your online activities from prying eyes with military-grade (AES 256-bit) encryption. This is the same encryption used by NASA to secure its secrets. It scrambles your data, making it unreadable to third parties like hackers.
I was disappointed that the VPN won’t let you choose a protocol. You’ll only get to know the protocol it offers when you establish a connection. I found this really strange since the top VPNs all give me a choice of several protocols.
The SoftEther protocol is only available on Android. Strangely, the VPN has positioned it in the list of countries, which is quite unconventional. This peculiarity suggests that GnuVPN is in the midst of streamlining and organizing its features.
- OpenVPN. It’s the safest protocol since it’s open source, so it’s constantly being checked for vulnerabilities by professionals. Most VPNs use it for Firewall evasion.
- SoftEther. It supports robust encryption like OpenVPN and offers better performance on throughput, latency, and stability. It can also bypass restrictive networks, but it’s not widely supported across a range of devices and VPN services.
DNS, IP, and WebRTC
I didn’t detect any leaks — meaning my identity remained private while using the VPN.
I tested 6 servers, and they all successfully replaced my real IP with new ones
There is no split tunneling feature. This is helpful if you need to keep some traffic outside of the VPN tunnel. For example, you can use your local banking app while you stream geoblocked content. So, I hope the VPN adds this feature soon. GnuVPN also doesn't incorporate an ad blocker feature, but Private DNS servers are in development.
Privacy — Good Policy but Still Unproven6.0
This is all great, but I hope its policy is proven in the future. The top VPNs have their policies audited, so there’s no doubt they follow their claims.
Does GnuVPN Keep Logs? No
The data it does store is anonymized to prevent any association with your personal identity
The VPN retains your account-related information, such as your email address and payment details provided during sign-up. Fortunately, you can reduce the details you share by opting to pay with cryptocurrency. GnuVPN also collects app diagnostic data like crash reports and usability diagnostics.
Was GnuVPN Audited? No
There’s no evidence its apps and policy have undergone external audits. The best VPNs allow experts to scrutinize all aspects of their services to validate their promises. Additionally, there have been no practical scenarios, such as legal proceedings, to verify the company's claim of not maintaining logs.
Based in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
GnuVPN headquarters are located in a privacy-friendly country, a jurisdiction outside the scope of the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliances. This is an agreement between governments to share their citizens’ information. So, the VPN isn’t subject to any legal requirements to retain or share your data.
Does GnuVPN Work in China? Maybe
The VPN has garnered positive responses from Chinese users. This means there’s a possibility the VPN will also let you access services like Facebook, Google, and CNN when visiting the country.
The Great Firewall blocks access to many services and services, including many popular VPNs
However, given it doesn’t offer any obfuscation feature and lacks a kill switch, I doubt GnuVPN will effectively safeguard your privacy in the country. Obfuscation plays a crucial role in disguising your VPN traffic as regular HTTPS traffic. This prevents Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) systems in countries like China, UAE, and Iran from distinguishing between them. You can maintain your privacy in China and use the internet without limitations with a VPN from this list.
While the Chinese government has banned many VPNs, it normally doesn't target people for using them. Nonetheless, I strongly advise researching the country's regulations concerning VPN usage before deciding to use one while there. My team and I don’t don’t condone any illegal activities.
Torrenting — Moderate Performance6.6
GnuVPN supports P2P activities but also advises its users to exercise caution while torrenting. Torrenting is legal in most countries but becomes unlawful if you download copyrighted content. My team and I don’t condone illegal file-sharing, so make sure the files you download are in the public domain and adhere to your government’s rules to stay out of trouble.
The VPN let me download a 1.1 GB file in under 14 minutes on several servers. I noticed it took longer to download the file when connected to a distant server. So, if you don’t have any server preferences, always choose one closer to you to maintain short download times.
Without a VPN, I can download the same file in just 8 minutes, but your torrenting speed depends on many factors. However, it’s possible to achieve faster download speeds while simultaneously securing your privacy with a VPN from this list.
Installation & Apps
GnuVPN’s uncluttered and intuitive user interface makes navigating and configuring the VPN a breeze. Its main screen features a connect button and three horizontal lines that you can tap on to access the settings menu.
All apps have a few menu options, so you can quickly interact with their features
Upon establishing a connection, the main screen of its app displays some essential information. This includes the VPN IP address, the employed protocol, as well as the download and upload speeds. I really appreciate this feature and wish more VPNs offered this type of data.
Setup & Installation
I managed to install the VPN and connect to a server on every device I tried in just 5 minutes.
To initiate the download process, simply click on the purple button
You can directly download apps for Windows, Mac, Linux, and an Android APK file from its website. Additionally, the Android app can be found on the Play Store, and the iOS app is available on the App Store.
GnuVPN is only compatible with Windows, Android, Mac, iOS, and Linux (Ubuntu). It currently doesn’t support any browser extensions, and there’s no smart DNS feature. Additionally, it doesn’t provide support for routers. So, you can’t use it on devices that don’t natively support VPNs.
If you want to switch locations or increase your security on game consoles or smart TVs, check out this list of the best VPNs for routers so you can secure your entire home network.
Desktop — Apps for Windows, Mac, and Linux
GnuVPN’s desktop app offers a consistent experience across both Windows and Mac. From the main user interface to the setting menu, everything is the same. The VPN also confirmed that it has a GUI for Linux. Even though it’s only for the Ubuntu distro, this is still very impressive. It’s rare a VPN lets you use its apps on Linux without interacting with the command line.
Android and iPhone (iOS)
You can easily use the VPN on Android and iPhone because the VPN offers identical interfaces. The only distinction lies in the Android app, which provides two protocols, OpenVPN and SoftEther. I was able to choose SoftEther, but you can only access OpenVPN by choosing the automatic option, which is a little confusing. This automatic selection of OpenVPN extends to the Mac, Windows, and iOS apps as well.
Simultaneous Device Connections
You can connect up to 5 devices with GnuVPN simultaneously. I tested this capability by streaming videos on my computer, browsing on my phone, and having 2 other family members use the VPN at the same time. All devices were connected to the same Singapore server, and I was able to watch several videos on YouTube in 4K without buffering.
When we switched to servers in France and Moldova, the experience was pretty much the same. The only small difference was when I started streaming in UHD. Then, I noticed a few instances of buffering during the initial loading and when I jumped to different parts. For the best experience, I recommend only using the VPN on multiple devices at once if your original internet speed is high.
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