Private Tunnel is not available to new customers anymore, but I could still sign up at the moment of writing. The service was OpenVPN’s proprietary VPN service based on the OpenVPN protocol.
Since it comes from a company that provides networking and cybersecurity services, I expected Private Tunnel to offer strong security and privacy features. I also expected a big server network and strong unblocking capabilities.
As it turns out, the demise of the service is no great loss. The VPN lags far behind the best VPNs today — especially in the areas where I expected it to be strongest. Read my full review to find out why I’m not disappointed that Private Tunnel no longer exists.
Short on Time? Here Are My Key Findings
Private Tunnel Features — Updated in February 2023
Does VPN keep logs?
Number of servers
Number of devices per license
Based in country
Streaming — Very Limited Unblocking Capabilities
Private Tunnel is not the best streaming VPN.
Unblocking streaming platforms is not one of the VPN’s main goals. It's a privacy-focused service designed to help you stay safe and anonymous online.
The VPN’s website doesn’t mention anything about the service unblocking any streaming platforms. To make sure I got the best streaming results, I reached out to support to ask which servers to use. Apparently, Private Tunnel won’t officially guarantee the availability of streaming services since the service is not to be used as a “location changer.”
Private Tunnel’s live chat informed me the VPN is not intended to be used for streaming
This wasn’t a very reassuring answer and I didn’t expect I could unblock anything. The results were somewhat surprising.
Unblocks: Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max, Disney+, and Peacock
I was able to unblock some big streaming sites, but only with a few servers that took a while to find.
For example, Amazon Prime Video only worked with the Atlanta and Los Angeles servers. When I tried other servers, APV detected the VPN and I couldn’t stream anything.
Other servers couldn’t bypass APV’s geoblocks
Disney+ also worked on the Atlanta server, but none of the others I tested.
I couldn’t get the service to work when I tested the VPN’s other locations
Accessing and streaming HBO Max was possible with the Los Angeles and Ashburn servers.
Though it took me a while to find these working servers
And Peacock TV was also available when I used the Atlanta server.
Blocked By: Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, ITV hub
No matter which Private Tunnel server I connected to, region-specific Netflix content remained unavailable to me. And I tested almost all servers.
No matter which US server I connected to, Hulu also detected the VPN right away.
Private Tunnel was no match for Hulu’s strong VPN detection
The UK server was also unsuccessful at unblocking BBC iPlayer or iTV Hub. Even though I could access both platforms, streaming was not possible.
BBC iPlayer has very strict geoblocking
Private Tunnel was not created to be used as a streaming VPN. If accessing Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max, Disney+, and Peacock TV with select servers is not enough for you, you might want to look for another VPN. For example, if you pick one of these VPNs you’ll be able to access Hulu no matter which US server you connect to.
Speeds — Good Speeds on Most Servers
Private Tunnel gave me decent speeds — though some servers were unreliable. Some locations that gave me 40+ Mbps, dropped to below 30 Mbps when tested later. As expected, nearby servers were faster than more distant ones.
Any VPN is expected to slow your normal connection by around 10-20%. The speed you get depends on your base connection, the closeness of the server you are connecting to, how much traffic the server is handling, the protocol you are using, and many more factors. However, the fastest VPNs should never reduce your base connection by more than 20%.
Before I began my tests I made a note of my base speeds for comparison. I then tested a range of the VPN’s servers. I performed my tests on a Windows 10 laptop, using OpenVPN UDP connection as that one is faster. Here are my speed test results:
|USA, New York
||45.69 Mbps (6% decrease)
||1.22 Mbps (63% decrease)
||29.98 Mbps (40% decrease)
||1.74 Mbps (43% decrease)
||45.25 Mbps (8% decrease)
||2.50 Mbps (17% decrease)
||47.41 Mbps (3% decrease)
||1.11 Mbps (63% decrease)
||47.32 Mbps (3% decrease)
||2.27 Mbps (24% decrease)
||46.09 Mbps (6% decrease)
||1.70 Mbps (43% decrease)
||19.36 Mbps (60% decrease)
||0.68 Mbps (80% decrease)
As you can see, the VPN gave me good speeds on most servers. The biggest speed drop of 60% came from the Hong Kong server — it was the only one not fast enough for UHD streaming. As I am located in Europe, the servers in the UK, Germany, and Italy gave me the best results.
All in all, Private Tunnel can be fast, but its speeds are not always reliable. Since my base speed is fast, I still got a connection that was quick enough for simultaneous web browsing, online streaming in HD, and fast file upload. If your normal internet connection is slower though, the bigger speed drops of 40-60% I recorded may leave you unable to stream or browse.
Are Private Tunnel’s Speeds Fast Enough for Gaming?
Private Tunnel might be a good choice for gaming if you are connected in Europe or the US where most of the VPN’s servers are located.
If you are connecting from a more distant location, you can expect a bigger speed drop and significantly higher ping which may impact your gaming experience negatively. Keep in mind that ping up 40 ms is considered the holy grail for gaming. But even if you reach 90-100 ms ping, you might be able to play some games. Anything higher than that will cause increased latency and delays.
If you don’t want to be performing speed tests to ensure your gaming won’t be interrupted, perhaps pick one of these proven gaming-friendly VPNs.
Server Network — Small But Efficient
Private Tunnel has a small server network of 34 servers.
Most servers are located across Europe and the US and Asia. There are no servers in South America, Africa, the Middle East, or Oceania. The exact countries covered are:
- Hong Kong
- The Netherlands
- The United Kingdom
- The United States
Accessing the server menu and changing servers is easy. On the home screen, right below the Connect/Disconnect button, is the “VPN Gateway” option. This shows the server location you are connected to or, if you are disconnected, the last location you used. In line with the text is a small right-side arrow that opens the full server list.
To connect to a server, simply double-click a location. If you are already connected, you can change the server without disconnecting first. Again, just double-click on a location. A prompt will show up to warn you that you are changing the region. Once you click OK, the VPN will reconnect you to the new server.
While the network is small, I could easily find a nearby server as I’m located in Europe. All the European servers I tested were stable, reliable, and connected in less than 5 seconds. But if you are outside of Europe or North America you should choose a different VPN with a larger network and better coverage.
Security — Lacking Basic Features
Private Tunnel’s security measures are surprisingly poor. The service is OpenVPN’s proprietary VPN so I expected to see both standard features and advanced ones. Unfortunately, Private Tunnel doesn’t even properly cover the basics.
The VPN encrypts your traffic using AES 128-bit encryption, which is below the industry-standard AES 256-bit encryption (also known as military-grade). 128-bit is faster, so some VPNs offer it as an alternative, but it’s unusual not to even have the option of 256-bit encryption.
Private Tunnel is OpenVPN’s proprietary VPN so uses the OpenVPN UDP and TCP protocols. UDP enables faster speeds but is less stable, while TCP prioritizes safety and is slower. If you want the app to choose a protocol for you, you can set it to “Adaptive.” Another available option is OVPN Proxy. There’s not much info about how to use OVPN on Private Tunnel’s website, but proxies don’t encrypt your traffic so I’d stick with UDP and TCP.
Unfortunately, the VPN does not have a kill switch, which is a standard feature on most VPN apps. A kill switch shuts down your whole internet connection if your VPN malfunctions. It protects your identity and location from being accidentally leaked, so it was disappointing to find out Private Tunnel doesn’t offer this feature.
I decided to test for other leaks in the service too. In most cases, the VPN protected me against IP, DNS, and WebRTC leaks.
Tests didn’t find any data leaks while connected to the New York server
But, I was concerned when I tested the Tokyo server and found a potential DNS leak. The test site detected my location to be New York instead of Japan. After testing 10 different servers, I noticed this behavior only when connected to the Tokyo server. All other servers I tested were safe.
The server in Japan didn’t properly spoof my location
The lack of a kill switch, substandard encryption, and potential DNS leaks are concerning. If you want to establish a safe and secure connection that keeps you protected from prying eyes, you might want to pick one from this list of secure VPNs.
Privacy — Some Logging and 5 Eyes Location
Private Tunnel does not keep your identity private.
Even though the service claims to have a zero-logs policy, that’s not completely true; it actually collects data each time you connect to the service including your source IP address, the VPN IP address assigned to you, connection start and end times, and the total amount of bytes you use.
I found this information stored in my app under “Log File.” Inside was a log of all my connection time stamps, the server I connected to, the protocol I used, DNS server, tunneling addresses, and more. The app gave me the option to delete the log, but there’s no guarantee I was deleting the data entirely rather than just in the app.
You can easily view your Private Tunnel’s log file in the app
The service claims to retain this data for 14-30 days for the purpose of billing issues, troubleshooting, service offering evaluation, TOS issues, AUP issues, and for helping to prevent criminal activity performed over the service. Which means it’s highly likely that all your data is not only collected but monitored. This is a huge red flag for me.
The VPN also claims not to sell, trade, or transfer personally identifiable information to outside parties — except to “trusted third parties” who assist it in operating the website, conducting its business, or providing services. These third parties apparently agree to keep your information confidential, but again there was no guarantee or clarification.
All of the information stored in the log file is more than enough to identify you and connect you to your online activity while using the VPN. It’s especially concerning as Private Tunnel is located in the USA. This is alarming since the US is a member of the 5 Eyes Alliance and is known for online surveillance of citizens. There is a risk that all your data could be handed to the US government.
If you value your anonymity and privacy as much as I do, perhaps look at this list of VPNs that guarantee your online privacy.
Torrenting — Not Allowed
Private Tunnel does not allow torrenting on any of its servers.
Since there was no information regarding torrenting on the VPN’s website, I reached out to Support via Live Chat and was informed that the service does not support P2P file sharing. The customer support representative explained that it’s not allowed due to piracy concerns.
Does Private Tunnel Work in China? No
Private Tunnel doesn’t work in China.
In the FAQ section of its website, the VPN explains that it doesn’t work in any countries with online censorship including China, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman, Iran, and Turkmenistan. Additionally, the service is unavailable in Nigeria, Ghana, and Cote d’Ivoire.
If you prefer a more reliable VPN that will work anywhere and will also keep you safe, pick from this list of VPNs that are proven to safely bypass the Great Firewall of China.
Simultaneous Device Connections — Up To 3 Devices
The VPN allows up to 3 devices using one account.
There’s also an option to cover 5, 10, 25, 50, 100, or more devices, but you have to pay extra.
But you have to pay for any additional connections over your initial 3
Getting coverage for more devices is a bit pricey. It’s disappointing, considering that many VPNs offer unlimited device protection with one account at a similar price.