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Private Tunnel Review (2022) - Keep This in Mind Before Buying
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.
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.
Private Tunnel has a small server network of 20 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:
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.
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.
Installation & Apps
Device Compatibility — Available on Major Platforms
Private Tunnel offers native apps for Windows, Android, macOS, iOS, and Amazon Fire Sticks. The VPN can also be manually configured on DD-WRT and Open-WRT routers.
There is no support for other platforms or devices such as Smart TVs, gaming consoles, or streaming boxes.
Set-Up & Installation — Mostly Straightforward, With Confusing Signup
Private Tunnel’s native apps are simple to install. The standard installation wizard walks you through the process, which doesn’t take more than a couple of minutes. Once the app is installed, you can sign in and start using the service. The app remembers you, so I didn’t have to sign in every time I opened it.
Signing up in the first place is a little more complicated. The website gave me the option to Sign Up or Get Private Tunnel, which was confusing. Both options go to the same page, which talks about OpenVPN Cloud. Underneath you get a very prominent button that says “Yes, Sign Up For Free” or a link that says “No Thanks, Continue to Private Tunnel.” My first response was to click the “Sign Up For Free” button, which redirected me to the signup page for OpenVPN Cloud. I had to go back to the previous page because I realized the text underneath the button is what you need to click if you want to sign up.
Private Tunnel’s signup page is slightly confusing and misleading, so be careful
Other than this small hiccup, the Windows and iOS apps I tested were really easy to use. Both have the same clean and simple interface that comes in a default (light) and dark mode. On the main screen, there’s a big horizontal Connect/Disconnect toggle button. In the background, there’s a map with a pin showing the location of the server you are connected to. The side arrows allow you to move between 2 screens — the connection location and data usage. Underneath is the server location, which is also the server menu, and your assigned IP and protocol you are using.
Private Tunnel’s Windows app has a simple interface that displays a lot of information about your VPN connection
The menu icon is located in the top left corner. From there, you can access your app’s settings, notifications, log file, or help. It also offers information on your subscription and a logout option. The settings menu itself allows you to change protocols, set connection timeout, and switch between light and dark mode.
The VPN is not available to download anymore, but existing customers can continue to use it.
When I purchased a Private Tunnel subscription off the website, I was limited to using either PayPal or a credit card. When I checked Apple’s App Store, I could also sign up using Apple gift cards. This is very restrictive since many other VPNs support alternative payment methods and cryptocurrencies.
The VPN offered 2 subscription plans: monthly and yearly (both with the same features). On the monthly plan, I could save up to 20% for adding 5 or more devices, while the yearly plan allowed me to save over 50%. With the yearly plan, without adding additional devices, I got Private Tunnel for $3/month per month. The monthly plan was more expensive. Both plans came with a 7-day free trial and a -day money-back guarantee.
The lifetime plan would have offered the best value, had the service not been discontinued — which is why I never trust lifetime plans.
Reliability & Support
Private Tunnel provides 24/7 live chat; answers are prompt but not always helpful.
To check how responsive support is, I reached out via live chat a few times. Someone responded within seconds every time, but the support agent didn’t always have the answer to my question. In those cases, I was directed to email my questions to a support email address, which I did. As promised by the agent, I got a reply within 24 hours.
There’s also a Support page, which is pretty poor. There are a total of 40 articles, some of which are very short. The page also includes the option to submit a ticket and track its status. I’d recommend using this ticket system or emailing the team if you need help.
Compare Private Tunnel With The Top Alternative VPNs
Private Tunnel is not available to new customers anymore, and I’m not sure that’s a bad thing. Existing customers can get decent speeds and unblock some streaming sites, but you risk your online safety and privacy in return.
If you’re a Private Tunnel customer, I’d definitely recommend switching to a VPN that provides stronger safety features, more server locations, and better access to geo-restricted content.