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Lantern tells you from the start that it isn’t a VPN. It's an open-source proxy that claims to gives access to geoblocked sites, while routing all your other activity through your local IP address.
Does this sound less than appealing? Well, Lantern actually claims it's better and faster than a VPN altogether. Can it be true?
I conducted a full review of Lantern to see what it really offers. After heaps of tests, I can confirm one thing: you should stay away.
Lantern isn't forthcoming with information, so it doesn’t tell you how many servers it has or where they are, what security protocols it uses, or even what features it actually has to offer.
But that’s not all. The worst of it is that Lantern keeps logs. This means your browsing history, your online activity, and even your identity is all recorded.
Read on to see the results of my tests and why I think you should steer clear of Lantern.
Streaming – Can Lantern Unblock Netflix?
That's a firm no. Lantern can’t get around Netflix’s geoblocks at all. I tried several Netflix libraries and ran into error messages every time. It didn’t help that I couldn’t actually choose a US server to get onto Netflix US (more on that later).
In fact, it can’t unblock any streaming sites other than YouTube and Kodi. That means no BBC iPlayer, Hulu, HBO GO, ITV Hub… the list goes on and on.
Speed is one of the only areas where Lantern really impressed me.
My base speed without a VPN started at 14.38 Mbps download speed and 12.69 Mbps upload speed.
When I connected to a Lantern server in the Netherlands, my download speed barely decreased at all and stayed steady at 14.19 Mbps, which was enough for me to browse the web without any lagging.
My upload speed actually increased by over 39%, so I was able to make fast, high-quality WhatsApp calls.
What Does Lantern’s Server List Look Like?
Who knows? Lantern has an automatic server selection feature, which is great for finding the best servers for performance. But—and it's a big one—it doesn’t let you pick your own server.
I’ve never seen this before in a VPN. However, Lantern isn’t actually a VPN—it’s a proxy. But if you can't choose a server yourself, how do you bypass a particular country’s geoblocks? It all comes down to chance.
I tried several connections and was assigned servers in the US and the Netherlands. Lantern might have servers in more than these two countries, but your guess is as good as mine.
Does Lantern Support Torrenting?
Although Lantern does work for P2P sharing, I wouldn’t recommend it, and here’s why.
It’s a proxy, not a full VPN, so you can’t be sure that you have maximum security while you're transferring and downloading files.
The logs policy is also another important consideration, since the details of your online activity are stored. Logs make it possible for others to see what you’ve been up to.
For these reasons, I'd avoid Lantern for any kind of P2P sharing. If you want to torrent, go with one of these top vendors; they guarantee your security and offer strict no-logs policies.
How Secure is Lantern?
There are no details whatsoever on Lantern’s site or app about what level of encryption it uses to secure your data and online traffic. It doesn't even disclose what security protocols it supports.
After contacting support, I still don't know, since no one even got back to me. All Lantern does say is that it’s “secure".
Although, Lantern is open-source software, meaning its source code can be viewed and scrutinized by anybody. This makes me think it's highly unlikely the company would place malicious code that could pose a threat to security. Also, you have the choice to opt-out of its analytical data gathering process, which it says it uses to help improve its service.
When you visit a geoblocked site, you're protected with HTTPs, but anything else you do is completely unencrypted. Because remember, it's not a full VPN service.
Does Lantern Keep Logs?
Yes, Lantern does keep logs. And it’s not just typical VPN information like your email address, duration of your session, or payment details for your subscription. It’s actually quite a bit more.
Lantern logs every page you visit, your traffic to these sites, your IP address, your device type, and your device's unique identifier. But that's not all. It also uses tracking and cookies to build a profile about you, so you’re anything but anonymous.
Lantern’s headquarters are in Los Angeles, USA, which means it sits comfortably within the reach of the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliance. If any of these governments ever request your data, Lantern has to hand it over, and it has a lot of it.
Does Lantern Have a Kill Switch?
Unsurprisingly, no. Kill switches are advanced features even for a full VPN service, so it’s no surprise that a proxy like Lantern doesn’t have one. It's slightly worrying, though, as it means you're not guaranteed security if anything interrupts your device or connection.
Does Lantern Have an Ad Blocker?
Yes, there’s an ad blocker in the app. Although it blocks intrusive ads, you’re still vulnerable to tracking and online profiling through Lantern’s logging policy.
Does Lantern Work in China?
Lantern does work in China. In fact, this is one of the very reasons the proxy exists.
Lantern uses a peer-to-peer tunneling network similar to Tor that sends your traffic through a number of different nodes before it reaches its destination. Lantern has exit points outside of China, making it reliable for unblocking WhatsApp, Google, Facebook, and other censored sites.
Is Lantern Compatible With My Device?
Lantern is compatible with some popular platforms, including Windows, Android, iOS, macOS, and Ubuntu. There are also mobile and desktop apps, but you still can't use it on some devices, such as Chromebooks or Linux-based computers.
You do have three simultaneous connections per subscription, though, which is a plus.
Is Lantern Easy to Use?
Lantern has a simple interface that shows your connection, the number of ads blocked, data used, and the number of HTTPs connections actioned.
The app isn’t really an app, as it opens in your default browser, which I’m not a fan of.
Navigating round the "app" is easy, though there’s not far to go. You can look at your settings, and that’s about it. Remember, you can’t change your location, so you’re stuck with your server choice unless you log off and hope it selects somewhere else for you.
Lantern automatically detects proxied sites while you’re connected, so it unblocks them automatically. However, this means it only activates when you access a proxied site, meaning everything else is unencrypted and unprotected.
It’s easy to use, but the functionality of the proxy isn’t all that great. It’s not a full service, so don’t expect one.
There’s no live chat available through Lantern, only a ticketing system and a direct email address.
The ticketing system sounds promising, as when you submit a question it says an advisor will be in touch within 24 hours. However, it's been days since I submitted a query, and I've still haven't received a response. If you need help, don’t expect a fast answer, if you get one at all.
Pricing and Plans
There are two plans: one-year and two-year options. I’d like to see a one-month or even a six-month subscription so you can try it out with less commitment, but that’s not an option.
Pricing is incredibly cheap, but remember that you’re not paying for a full VPN service, so while it’s tempting, I’d still avoid it at all costs.
There’s no money-back guarantee, either.
Does Lantern Have a Free Version?
Yes, there’s a free version that you can download straight from the site with no registration required. The free plan has limited bandwidth with only 500 MB of data every month. Once you reach your limit, Lantern throttles your speed so you’ll have a lot of lag and buffering.
Lantern is reliable for accessing some proxied sites, including social media, Google, and YouTube, and it’s fast at doing so, but that’s about all it has to offer.
There’s no transparency on the security measures it uses to encrypt your data, so you have no idea what level of encryption you’re getting.
Let’s not forget about the logging policy, either. Worried about leaving a data trail behind? That's exactly what will happen with Lantern since it logs everything from your device’s unique identifier to all your traffic.
It also can’t unblock any streaming sites other than YouTube or Kodi. So if you’re after Netflix, you have to look elsewhere. There are plenty of vendors that can fly past Netflix’s geo-restrictions, and we’ve rounded up the best ones for you.
Lantern is not an anonymity tool, nor does it claim to be. For maximum security online and access to all your favorite geoblocked sites, I’d always recommend sticking with a premium provider like ExpressVPN. That way, you know you’re getting the best level of encryption and anonymity while you’re bypassing geoblocks.