PandaVPN is a small VPN with a surprisingly extensive server network, covering some 80 countries. Operating from Seychelles since 2018, the VPN provider is an excellent pick for both freelancers and large corporations alike.
However, I noticed that it had servers in China and Russia — and this was a red flag for me. VPN servers in Russia and China can come under the scrutiny of government and authorities, meaning user data is never really private nor protected. Knowing that PandaVPN operates in these countries led me to question if this VPN is really safe to use.
I knew I had to dig a little deeper to find out more about this little-known VPN. So I went through its background, features, and policies to uncover precisely how it worked and how safe it really is.
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Short on Time? Here Are My Key Findings
PandaVPN Features — Updated in January 2023
Money Back Guarantee
Does VPN keep logs?
Number of servers
Number of devices per license
Based in country
Streaming — Doesn’t Work With Most Major Platforms Like Netflix
PandaVPN claims to unblock all major streaming platforms. The list includes popular offerings such as Hulu, Disney+, and Netflix. Yet, actual user reviews online say otherwise. I personally couldn’t get the VPN to connect at all, so I cannot guarantee it will work for you. If you’re looking for a VPN for streaming purposes, you might want to try other providers that have been proven to work.
Using the mobile application, I couldn’t unblock a single streaming platform. I used the free servers and that may be the reason why it didn’t work. However, if this is their vertical slice offer, that is to say, a taste of what’s to come, I see no reason to spend your money on this particular VPN if streaming is all you want.
Blocked By: Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, HBO Max, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video
Even though the vendor claims it can unblock most streaming websites, I had no luck. This is quite bizarre considering that the VPN provider offers 38+ dedicated streaming servers for Amazon HD, Disney+, and Hulu. I tested all I could but none loaded.
Virtually every major streaming platform fails to load
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Speeds — Not Bad, But There’s a Caveat
Great results but at the same time, useless
The VPN speeds are incredible. So great that it was kind of baffling. I got a whopping 63,3Mbps download and 94,7Mbps upload speeds with an excellent 1ms jitter percentile on a multi-connection using German servers. The platform even has a Smart location system that picks the most optimal server for you, so you don’t lose bandwidth speed.
However, all these speeds are for naught as I couldn’t even load Google’s home page in reasonable timeframes. It isn’t some error on our end either, as I used the native app on an Android phone. I can only assume that this is a limitation of the free plan but then again, what’s the point of that free plan then If we can’t use it to see a real-world performance metric?
Are PandaVPN’s Speeds Fast Enough for Gaming? Yes, in Theory.
The VPN doesn’t load anything correctly and it can’t run on consoles. In theory, PandaVPN offers incredible speeds that should satisfy any gaming need but several games I’ve tested couldn’t boot into an online match. I can’t really say that it is a worthy option for gamers.
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Server Network — Surprisingly Large Network for a Small VPN
PandaVPN has server locations in 80 countries, including the US, UK, Russia, and China. It’s hard to find VPNs with servers in China and Russia, so this might be a bonus point if you’re looking to access content that’s geo-restricted to those countries.
That said, there’s a reason why many VPNs don’t have servers in China and Russia. Servers in those countries are subject to anti-privacy legislation, so they can’t guarantee your privacy and safety. It’s safer to use a server in a neighboring country if you want complete anonymity.
I chose Smart Connect to find the best server for my location but you can do all of this manually by picking the desired connection from the list of countries or streaming-optimized servers. PandaVPN also has one game proxy server in Japan that gives you access to Japanese gaming servers.
Security — There’s Room for Improvement.
PandaVPN uses 256-bit AES encryption – the highest level possible – to lock down your traffic against hackers or snoopers. It claims to use a kill switch too, which should cut off your internet if you lose connection to the VPN (to prevent any of your information from becoming exposed).
However, it’s unclear which of its apps have the kill switch feature. But I could not see any security settings on the macOS app that I tested. Finally, PandaVPN provides split tunneling but lacks Onion Over VPN and double VPN servers, although the latter is a costly feature not found in budget-friendly offerings.
Privacy — Not Trustworthy
PandaVPN’s privacy agreement states that the VPN has a strict no-logs policy and does not log or store any of your identifying information. I wasn’t even required to input my email address when signing up for the service. Instead, PandaVPN generates a random account number for you to use as your login.
This number generation system is great for maintaining your privacy and did go some way towards alleviating my concerns over the VPN’s Chinese and Russian servers. After all, if a VPN doesn’t store any information about you, it has nothing to hand over to a government agency or anyone else.
Sadly, you can’t pay for the VPN using cryptocurrency, which negates the random account number effort mentioned earlier. Having a crypto option would have added another level of security to the payment process, but alas. All traditional bank transactions typically come with account holder information.
PandaVPN’s website also says that the company is based in Seychelles – outside the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliance. However, during my research, I noticed some users expressing concern that the VPN originates from China or Hong Kong.
I did some digging and found that the company’s GitHub commits are logged in Chinese. On Twitter, on the other hand, the company claims to be American – with their HQ in the US. Both China and America are famously anti-privacy countries, so the confusion over the VPN’s origin raises some red flags. It calls into question the trustworthiness of PandaVPN’s logging policy.
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Torrenting — It Works But It’s Not Worth It
The speeds are too low for loading anything significant.
PandaVPN offers you a list of dedicated servers designed to maximize torrent speeds. There aren’t many of them but those that are on offer promise good connection speeds. However, this seems like a running theme of PandaVPN; I couldn’t open a torrent website regardless of the connection.
Yet, I could connect to peers using a torrent file. This is a workaround but it also means convenient magnet links are out of the question. But you’d be off without it as the speed is slow. I managed to maximize a 450+ kb/s download on a 150 seed file. That’s not optimal for large files.
Does PandaVPN Work in China? It Does.
PandaVPN claims to work in China. The company offers an intelligent proxy system that unblocks content in mainland China. This system was designed both for mobile and desktop users, with the latter being a bit less robust in terms of options.
The mobile client has a Smart Mode that can bypass LAN and China websites in mainland China. This mode also bypasses LAN filters in other countries. You also get options to not use a proxy and LAN on Chinese websites.
The desktop client, on the other hand, isn’t as rich in terms of connection modes but it does get the job done if you just want to use unrestricted Internet. The desktop version only gets you access to Smart Mode and to be frank, I would have preferred feature parity between the two clients. Still, you will be able to access international content inside of China.
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Simultaneous Device Connections — Limited
PandaVPN gives you 3 simultaneous device connections. I was disappointed with this as it’s not as generous as many other VPNs, which usually offer at least five or more.
Having just 3 simultaneous connections does limit how much you can use the VPN – especially if you live in a large household where several people might want to connect at the same time.
You can add additional device connections through licenses, but the thing is, you have to pay for additional licenses which can be costly if you are into technology.
Device Compatibility — Consoles are Missing
PandaVPN is compatible with Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, and Linux. It also has an app for Android TV.
Yet, I was disappointed to see no games console and router support – especially as the VPN has a gaming-optimized server. It is rendered useless now, but it might be a hint that the vendor could add consoles down the line, we’ll just have to wait and see.
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