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OperaVPN comes free with the Opera browser, but it only protects traffic via the browser itself. Most VPNs protect all of your internet traffic, keeping your information safe from cyber attackers. Even more concerning, Opera has been known to sell its user data to advertisers for a profit. But, for those of you who are willing to give it a little leeway because it’s free, I took a deep dive into what it has to offer.
After extensive testing, I put it through its paces checking streaming capabilities, security and privacy features, and ease of use. If you’re looking for a VPN that can help you stream movies and shows on your devices, OperaVPN will not be the choice for you. And, even more worrying, its security and privacy left a lot to be desired.
OperaVPN only unblocked 1 of the streaming platforms I tested, but the slow speeds made it impossible to actually load the website.
The VPN offers 3 connection options in the Americas, Asia, and Europe, making it impossible to choose a specific server. This is inconvenient, as I couldn’t test any European platforms (like BBC iPlayer). No matter how many times I tried to connect and disconnect from the European server, I got the same server – in the Netherlands.
Unblocked: HBO Max
The only platform OperaVPN unblocked is HBO Max. While the website didn’t identify the VPN, the login screen never loaded.
OperaVPN’s speeds were very inconsistent. While I didn’t experience a big drop on local servers, the long-distance ones made my connection impossible to use.
In order to get a correct reading, I started by measuring my base speed. I had 449.59 Mbps download, 414.52 Mbps upload, and a ping of 4 ms. Then, I measured the VPN’s:
Download speed – it’s measured in Mbps and determines the amount of data you can get on your device in a determined time.
Upload speed – measures the amount of data you can send in a specific amount of time. This is useful for sending messages and initiating video calls.
Ping – also known as latency, measures the server response time. It’s important in gaming, as high ping often leads to lag.
The first location I tested was Europe, as it’s close to my base location. The results were good, and OperaVPN only slowed me down by 9%. This is a good result and it means that I wouldn’t have any problems watching my favorite titles if I had access to more than 1 server.
On long-distance servers, though, I could barely load a website. On the Americas connection, I had a download speed of 0.82 Mbps, which is a 99% decrease. While OperaVPN announced to me before activating the VPN that it may slow me down, I wasn’t expecting such a drastic drop.
The Asia connection performed a little better, with download standing at 4.24 Mbps. However, this is not enough for watching a movie or show in HD or even initiating a video call.
OperaVPN has 3 locations you can connect to, on 3 continents: North America, Europe, and Asia. During my tests, I got the same IP address every time I connected and disconnected from a location. This is bad, as limited servers can get overcrowded and deliver very slow speeds.
It also offers an Optimal Location, but I found that to be the same as the Europe connection since I’m based in Europe. Other than that, it doesn’t have any other features or servers.
Security — Minimal, but Decent Protection
OperaVPN has decent security features, but it fails in some basic areas.
It uses military-grade AES-256 encryption but doesn’t pair it with a protocol. This is an odd arrangement and doesn’t provide the best security. It is, however, a browser extension, so I wasn’t expecting much from it.
In the Opera browser, you’ll also find an ad and tracker blocker, which worked great in my tests. Even when accessing websites filled with popups, I didn’t have any issues and it successfully blocked every ad. However, since Opera has been known to sell user data to advertisers for a profit, this isn’t as impressive when you may find you’re later targeted by ads that have been directed to you thanks to Opera’s exploitation.
Since this is a browser extension VPN, it doesn’t come with a few of the standard security features I usually look for. Whenever I choose a VPN I like to be sure it has additional security such as a kill switch, which is pretty much standard now for all decent VPNs. A kill switch cuts your internet connection completely as soon as the VPN disconnects, meaning you never expose your IP address.
A major disappointment is that OperaVPN uses IPv6 traffic by default. While it didn’t leak my IPv6 address, I’m not confident that it won’t happen, especially since it doesn’t have a security protocol in place.
OperaVPN doesn’t store any data, but the Opera browser does. This feels a little conflicting for me. If the browser keeps user data, such as your IP address and DNS requests, the VPN can either block those logs, or work alongside the browser. This means it will simply hide your data from websites you access while also keeping a ton of logs, which can put your privacy at risk.
The VPN and browser information logs seem to contradict each other
Considering Opera makes a profit by providing international advertisers with this data, it’s no surprise to find there is some element of log-keeping going on. It is known to share data internationally, providing companies such as Facebook and Google with the means to bombard you with targeted ads.
The VPN is based in Norway, which is part of the 14 Eyes Alliance. This means that if the government asks Opera to share data about you, it will – and it might be shared with all the countries in the alliance.
Torrenting — Not Supported
OperaVPN is basically a browser extension, meaning that it only routes browser traffic. You won’t be able to use it for torrenting clients such as BitTorrent. However, it wouldn’t be safe for torrenting anyway, since its security and privacy are lacking.
OperaVPN can be used on an unlimited number of devices, but since it’s only compatible with Windows, macOS, Linux, and Windows, this feels a little redundant.
Installation & Apps
Device Compatibility — Limited to Desktop and Android Devices
OperaVPN works within the Opera browser, meaning that it’s only compatible with devices you can install it on, such as Windows, macOS, Linux, and Android. This is quite inconvenient, as I expect to be able to use my VPN on my iPhone, smart TVs, and even gaming consoles.
Set-Up & Installation — Quick, but Confusing
OperaVPN comes installed on Opera browsers, but getting it to work is a little confusing at first. To start using it, you need to activate it in the browser’s settings. There’s no installation required.
When you click on the “Enable” button, you’re prompted with a message informing you that the speeds may drop when you connect to the VPN.
Other than that, you just need to open the extension, choose a region, and you’ll be connected to it in a few seconds. Remember that the VPN only covers the traffic in your Opera browser and you have no additional protections for any other internet use.
OperaVPN is free to use for any Opera user. There’s no need to sign up or create an account, which is nice overall.
Reliability & Support
The only type of support you get from OperaVPN is a thin FAQ section. There’s no dedicated team you can reach out to, which is difficult if you run into issues or have any problems. This was very disappointing to me, as I would have liked to ask a few questions.
Final Verdict - Free, But You Get What You Pay For
Although you may not expect much from a free service, there are basic elements that just aren’t covered here, making the VPN all but redundant in some areas. Instead, I recommend you use a quality VPN. They have excellent deals so you can protect your entire device and not just your browser for the price of a cup of coffee a month. You’ll also get fantastic streaming performance and unblocking capabilities, a vast server network, and military-grade security.
Yes, you’ll find OperaVPN built into Android mobile apps. However, since I found its speeds to be seriously lacking, there are far better VPNs out there for mobile. If you’re an iOS user, you’re out of luck with this VPN.