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Orchid VPN Review 2021 — Keep This in Mind Before Buying

Author Image Andreea Juganaru
Andreea Juganaru | Cybersecurity Researcher
Published on 12th August 2021

Orchid VPN is a blockchain-based decentralized VPN, promising to offer enhanced privacy and security. It’s an interesting development in cybersecurity, and Orchid VPN uses an encrypted P2P network that operates via crypto nano-payments. Although technically it has offices in the US and Germany, it doesn’t have any real single location. I wouldn’t blame anyone for thinking this a confusing setup.

I explored the VPN’s features to see how it compares to more well-established, traditional VPNs. More specifically, I focused on streaming, speeds, security, privacy, torrenting, and more. Some areas like security (blockchain via WebRTC) are dependable, but for VPN fans the slower speeds and inability to bypass geoblocks might be disappointing.

The best way to view Orchid VPN is like a Tor-VPN hybrid, with some of the advantages of both anonymity and security. It may be off-putting to some, especially beginners, to have your internet traffic widely dispersed through nodes and using a confusing OXT payment “lottery” system. It could very well be the next big thing in VPNs, but you might want to compare it to other premium VPNs out there before making a decision.

Short on Time? Here Are My Key Findings

Orchid VPN Features — Updated in October 2021

📆 Money Back Guarantee 90
📝 Does VPN keep logs? No
💻 Number of devices per license Unlimited
🛡 Kill switch Yes
🛠 Support Via Email
📥 Supports torrenting Yes

Streaming — Can’t Bypass Most Geoblocks

Orchid VPN wasn’t able to unblock most streaming platforms I tried, and when it could I had some interesting side-effects. Bypassing regional blocks is one of the principal uses of a VPN for most people. If you’re not in the right location you won’t be able to access your favorite movies and shows online without a decent VPN. You can only hop to US locations with this VPN (unless you configure your own servers), which limits your options significantly.

As the VPN slashed my base speed so much, you’d likely need a very fast connection have any chance of smooth HD streaming.

Unblocked: Disney+

I could access Disney+ after activating Orchid VPN and connecting to the one and only location — the US. However, even though it located me there, everything defaulted to Spanish — the subtitles and the audio.

Image showing Disney+ working but with Spanish language, after connecting to Orchid VPN's US location

Orchid VPN seemed to bypass Disney+’s geoblocks, but changed the language to Spanish

Blocked By: Netflix US, Hulu, HBO Max

I didn’t have any luck accessing other US-based streaming platforms. My Netflix library didn’t change to the US, and Hulu and HBO Max both detected the VPN and blocked me.

Image showing HBO Max blocked after connecting to Orchid VPN's US location

I couldn’t access most US streaming platforms using Orchid VPN

With just the one location option that doesn’t work for most US platforms, I can’t recommend Orchid VPN for streaming purposes. Hopefully as this new type of VPN evolves, these issues will be ironed out. Obfuscation ability should increase, especially as network providers offer unique or rotating IP addresses concentrated on a specific area. Until then, here is a rundown of some VPNs ideally suited for streaming.

Speeds — Variable and Slow

Speeds were incredibly variable with Orchid VPN, and mostly on the slower side. As a decentralized network depends on other users’ node offerings, this is expected. Couple that with the usual slowdown as a result of encrypted traffic (in this case blockchain), and you may not get the speeds associated with more established VPNs.

If the decentralized network expands with a ton of high-speed internet users providing IPs, you might see this improve in the future. In addition, more available locations closer to your location would help to bolster speeds.

The measurements of speed are:

  • Download speed — determines the quality you can stream in and how quickly you can download data, measured in Mbps.
  • Upload speed — how fast you send data online, also recorded in Mbps.
  • Ping — measured in ms, represents the response time between your device and the server. This is especially important for gaming.

Local Speeds

I first recorded my base speed so I had something to compare against when connected to Orchid VPN. The only option for location is the US, since you can only hop around IPs there. My base speed in Bucharest was 28.70 Mbps, with a very low ping of 3, and decent upload speed of 7.85 Mbps.

Image showing speed comparison between base speed and Orchid VPN US hops

My base speed in Bucharest was much faster than Orchid VPN’s connections

The results were pretty disappointing, slashing my download speed by as much as 91%. 2.51 Mbps was the lowest speed, which would be OK for streaming in SD but certainly not for HD or quick downloads. Ping climbed to 148 ms even on the fastest connection, which wouldn’t be particularly appealing to hardcore gamers. Upload went as low as 2.27 Mbps — still usable but over 70% slower than what I had.

This is early technology, and I’d expect speeds to pick up over time when the network expands with more node-runners providing IPs. Have a look at these superfast VPNs for comparison.

Server Network — Decentralized but Limited to the US

Orchid VPN doesn’t have an established server network, with benefits and drawbacks. The network operates similarly to Tor’s P2P setup — only it’s 3rd parties (individuals with OXT stakes or shared VPN servers) providing the global pool of IPs.

The 3rd party VPN providers at this time are Tenta, Bloq, BolehVPN, and VPN Secure.

Users building the network will have staked OXT in Orchid VPN, which allows them to share their spare bandwidth for a return. It’s impossible to say how many servers there are, as this is dependent on how many people are staking and offering nodes.

Currently, you can only hop around the US with Orchid VPN. This still enables multiple hops for added security, but severely limits your options. You won’t get the worldwide coverage associated with other premium VPNs, or the ability to choose specific locations.

That said, you can configure your own server hops and add your own VPN provider’s servers too, by pasting the config file into the app. This would enable you to add other locations, but it’s a complex process and you’d want to ensure it supports encryption like OpenVPN or WireGuard.

The network is scalable, meaning that the Ethereum chain limit of a few million transactions a second could turn into billions with Ethereum 2.0. This would increase the overall performance of Orchid VPN.

If all of this (understandably) baffles you, then I’d recommend looking at old-school simplified VPNs with long lists of server locations.

Security — Promising but Early Days

Orchid VPN benefits from Tor-like node hopping, VPN encryption, and (in theory) extra privacy due to decentralization. This makes it a good contender for online security. The technology used here is new though and largely untested; you’re putting trust into the node/IP owners and 3rd party server operators. This could open up possible questions about how susceptible you are to MITM (man in the middle) attacks the moment you connect.

It has advantages over Tor, as the traffic isn’t detectable by your ISP, although possibly indirectly detectable by the IP owner’s ISP. It also has a debatable advantage over a regular VPN because of its decentralized network — it’s never going down unless people stop staking in it. A large-scale attack on Ethereum could potentially put Orchid VPN at risk, though this is unlikely.

Encryption and Protocols

The blockchain encryption protocol works similarly to OpenVPN, but works on the back of WebRTC. This peer-to-peer technology is used in real-time communication like online voice and video calls. In essence, any online activity will just appear as WebRTC traffic.

You can find out more about encryption and protocols here.

Multi-Hop

Orchid VPN lets you configure your own multi-hop, and add your own encrypted servers. Every time you hop to a new node/server, your online security is improved. If you have 3 hops set up, your web traffic will be shot around enough times that your entry and exit points are difficult to pinpoint. In theory, this gives you a more secure, low profile online experience.

In the FAQs however, the VPN describes this as “use at your own risk” several times. This casts some doubt on its effectiveness as a proven security measure.

Leak Test

Orchid VPN did a good job of preventing any data leaks. This is based on the US locations and may vary between manual server configurations and nodes.

The types of leak you want to avoid are:

  • IP address — this can expose your real location and make you vulnerable to cyberattacks.
  • DNS — your private internet traffic can be intercepted if the VPN leaks DNS requests.
  • WebRTC — the real-time peer-to-peer communication between your browser and the web pages you visit can reveal your IP.
  • IPv6 — this data sometimes isn’t sent through the VPN “tunnel”, allowing sensitive data to fall into the wrong hands. Most VPNs disable it entirely.
Image showing no IP, DNS, WebRTC, or WebRTC leaks with Orchid VPN

I was pleased with the results of the leak test, as Orchid VPN protected my data

The test showed that Orchid VPN can be trusted not to leak your information, but bear in mind this may be dependent on the server you’re connected to at the time.

If you trust the network providers, Orchid VPN offers some robust security measures. However, you might miss additional security features like a kill switch, and protocol options associated with regular VPNs. With Orchid VPN being open-source, there is hope that we’ll see 3rd party developments with improved features later.

Privacy — Some Logging, But Independently Audited

Decentralized VPNs like Orchid VPN offer privacy benefits, but as it’s new there are still some concerns. No single company will be keeping your logs, so the fact that it’s headquartered in San Francisco and Berlin shouldn’t have any bearing on this. There is no central entity for it to fall under the eyes agreements in those locations.

That said, your online activity will fall under the care of the provider you’re connected to. As you cannot specify an exact server like a traditional VPN, you’ll need to trust all the people/providers offering their connections. Should a user stake huge amounts in Orchid VPN, they may have an unbalanced influence over the network.

It may provide privacy from an ISP, webpage, or provider, but there is some minimal logging undertaken by Orchid VPN. You’ll find the privacy policy built into the apps, and available on the webpage. “Metadata and timestamps” are cited as examples of information recorded, but this isn’t too unusual for a VPN.

Orchid VPN uses whitelisting, like other decentralized VPNs, to protect the reputational trust for stakeholders. Any suspicious sites will be disallowed on ethical or security grounds, helping to prevent illegal activity and certain security threats like SSL downgrades.

Image of privacy policy within Orchid VPN app

The privacy policy outlines what is recorded, and is found in the app and on the webpage

If you find scattering your online traffic across multiple decentralized nodes troubling, you may wish to consider some premium VPNs with solid no-log policies and established server networks.

Torrenting — Use With Caution

There is nothing to suggest that torrenting isn’t allowed using Orchid VPN. After all, the setup is reminiscent of P2P transfers. Despite this, you could see the decentralized network in 2 ways here: either your privacy is safeguarded, or it’s at risk of 3rd party interception.

I don’t condone using torrenting for illegal downloads that infringe copyright, but you might nonetheless be uncomfortable with the idea of potential 3rd party traffic monitoring. You should also check that torrenting is allowed in your location.

In addition, the speeds were quite low in my tests, so you might not find it particularly useful for file sharing anyway. Take a look at these VPNs for safe torrenting.

Does Orchid VPN Work in China? — Not Guaranteed

In theory, you should be able to use a decentralized VPN anywhere so long as you preinstall the app. However, no VPN is infallible when up against restrictive networks and firewalls.

OrchidVPN uses a different technology, and it’s largely untested. You should exercise caution if you’re using it in China, especially if you’re manually configuring your own servers.

I would recommend looking at these tried-and-tested VPNs that work in China.

Simultaneous Device Connections — Unlimited

Once you have a pre-funded Orchid VPN account, you can share it with an unlimited number of people and devices. You might encounter difficulty if you try to access the decentralized network using the same IP, however.

Device Compatibility — Very Limited Support

At the time of writing, there is no Windows app. You can only install Orchid VPN on macOS, iOS, and Android. There’s an APK file for Android available from GitHub, and you can download the Linux client from the blog (which wasn’t very easy to find).

It appears that a Windows app is in development at this time. What’s more promising, is that Orchid VPN has open-source code. We’re likely to see increased multi-platform support, albeit possibly via another developer.

Ease of Use

5.3

Set-Up & Installation — Minimal Interface

Installation of Orchid VPN can be done via Google Play Store on Android, or App Store for macOS and iOS. It’s not too much trouble to set up, and you can get started with a very low fee on the mobile apps. For me this was RON 4.99 — or roughly $1. Getting to grips with the iOS app was pretty straightforward.

Image showing Orchid VPN subscription procedure within iOS app

Once you’ve installed the Orchid VPN app, it’s easy to get started

You can keep adding credit on a PAYG basis, and choose some more expensive packages for heavy data usage. On the desktop version you’ll be paying in cryptocurrency at variable marketplace rates.

Image showing Orchid VPN app and adding credit

The credit accounts work on a PAYG basis, so you only need to add funds according to your needs

From here, you just click on connect. There are no server options, it will automatically assign a connection for you. Unless you add your own, these are currently in the US.

Image showing Orchid VPN app and connect button

The interface is incredibly simplistic. All you can do is click and connect.

If you’ve tried other VPN apps you might be disappointed with the settings menu, as there’s virtually nothing there. You can enable the multi-hop, which will provide additional layers of security.

Image showing Orchid VPN app and connect button

The interface is incredibly simplistic. All you can do is click and connect.

If you want to manually add servers, you can paste them into the “advanced configuration” form. “Configuration management” lets you import and export hop setups, though this is recommended for advanced users only. Besides that, there isn’t much else to see in the app apart from your account details, balance, privacy policy, and a built in “traffic monitor” that shows all your online traffic running through the Orchid VPN connection.

Image showing Orchid VPN app server configuration screen

Orchid VPN lets you add your own encrypted servers

Compare Orchid VPN with the top alternative VPNs

9.9
9.5
9.3
9.3

Pricing

5.3

The pricing system may be too complicated if you’re uneasy about investing in cryptocurrency. Orchid VPN is a new style of decentralized, cryptocurrency-based VPN that functions as a peer-to-peer marketplace. This means you’re either paying for it as a network user on a PAYG basis, or you have a stake in it as a network provider, paying with OXT or ETH in both cases.

Network users are charged via “probabilistic nanopayment”, almost like a lottery — you are sending a digital “ticket” that may or may not be charged, but generally works out an equivalent of what you should pay over time.

The advantage of this is a more anonymous payment method (provided you’ve anonymized your cryptocurrency) that only charges for what you use. Pricing may work out to be reasonable (perhaps around $5 a month) and you’re not tied into a subscription. However, the disadvantage is that the cryptocurrency marketplace can change and charges may be unpredictable. Winning “tickets” may leave a permanent public record of basic client-server payment information.

In addition to the crypto payments, pre-funded credit accounts can be purchased in-app on mobile devices with a credit card. These connect exclusively to Orchid’s preferred 3rd party VPN providers, and might be a much simpler option for beginners.

If you’re looking for a more simplistic payment system and consistent low pricing, have a look at these affordable VPNs.

Reliability & Support

3.3

  • Web form
  • Email
  • FAQs
  • Whitepaper
  • Blog
  • Social media

Orchid VPN offers limited support channels at the moment, relying more on online resources and guides. You can contact them via the webform, which I did, but it took over a week to get a vague response that redirected me to its homepage. This is pretty disappointing, especially for a new type of VPN that is likely to attract lots of questions and require assistance to set up.

Image showing Orchid VPN support web form

I didn’t get a reply from the support team within a reasonable time

FAQs and the other resources were helpful and relatively comprehensive, although people will always have questions that aren’t necessarily covered here.

Its social media presence includes Twitter, Facebook, Discord, and Telegram, so you could always try reaching out on these platforms.

The Bottom Line

Final Verdict

Orchid VPN is new and it needs to grow before appealing to the masses. It seemed to offer strong encryption and prevented any security leaks, but didn’t hit the mark in other areas.

It couldn’t unblock most streaming platforms I tried, and you’re limited to the US unless you configure your own servers. Speeds were pretty slow and unpredictable, though still fast enough for basic online activity and should improve with more network providers. Being decentralized has its advantages for privacy, but you do need to trust each and every IP provider. The crypto marketplace structure may put people off, but you can currently pay the old-fashioned way in the mobile apps on a PAYG basis.

Once more users have staked an interest and there are more nodes, the network will grow and become faster and more versatile. Support needs to be expanded and there really should be a Windows app. The foundations are there for a great VPN, but as with most new and emerging technology, we’re not quite there yet.

  • Decentralized network that is unlikely to go down.
  • Reliable security that prevents IP, DNS, WebRTC, and IPv6 leaks.
  • Extra privacy as the decentralized network doesn’t have a single place to log information.
  • Torrenting is allowed.
  • Pay on a PAYG basis with no subscription.

FAQs on Orchid VPN

Is Orchid VPN safe?

Yes, but you’re putting trust in every network provider. It prevented leaks in my tests, but the level of privacy and security is dependent on the integrity of the users staking an interest as IP providers. There is potential for MITM (man in the middle) attacks if your online traffic falls into the wrong hands.

Does Orchid VPN keep logs?

As it’s a decentralized network, logs aren’t kept in any one place. However, you’d need to trust each and every provider on the network as ultimately the logging jurisdiction is governed by them. Orchid VPN itself keeps minimal logs, but nothing beyond the expected with most VPNs.

Can Orchid VPN unblock Netflix?

No. Orchid VPN didn’t unblock Netflix US in my tests, and mostly failed with other platforms too. As you can only locate yourself in the US (unless you manually add servers), the ability to bypass geoblocks is limited.

Will Orchid VPN slow my speeds down?

Yes. Orchid VPN is dependent on 3rd party providers (either VPNs or individuals) to build the network and offer bandwidth after staking an interest. Because of this, the speeds vary and I experienced a significant slowdown in my tests.

Hopefully this will improve as more users get on board in the future.

Can I download a modded APK for Orchid VPN?

You should only download the APK file available on the webpage. Downloading APKs from unverified sources is dangerous, as it exposes you to malware and viruses. There won’t be any benefit to installing a non-approved file. Here are some VPNs with Android apps that are perfect as they are.

Is Orchid VPN available for Windows or Linux?

Sadly the Windows app isn’t available yet. The device support is extremely limited at this time, and you only download the app for macOS, iOS, and Android. It does seem that a Windows version is in Beta development, and you can download a Linux client. Interestingly, the Linux client isn’t advertised on the download page — you have to find it in the blog.

Money Back Guarantee (Days) : 90
Mobile app :
Number of devices per license : Unlimited

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