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Private WiFi Review 2022 - Keep This in Mind Before Buying
Your personal information becomes an easy target for identity thieves, hackers, and malicious spammers on public WiFi connections. Private Communications Corporation took it upon themselves to provide the general public with a tool to secure their information. Headquartered in California and founded by Kent Lawson in 2010, Private WiFi was released – a VPN once recognized as an excellent catch for the people by Forbes, New York Times, and Wall Street Journal.
It has a 30-day money-back guarantee and a subscription of $6.67/month. This VPN offers a built-in ad-blocker, data compressor, and sophisticated security levels, but the results of my tests were not what I was expecting; it still lacks DNS leak protection, a kill switch, strong speeds, and unblocking abilities.
This VPN requires improvement in a handful of areas. New VPNs on the market know that customers will be using them for accessing geo-restricted libraries of streaming sites like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Disney+, and more.
Streaming — Barely Unblocks Video-On-Demand Platforms Including Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video
Private WiFi performed poorly when I checked its ability to go around geo-restrictions. I had to push through a lot of errors before unblocking US/UK and CA Netflix. The VPN could not unblock other platforms like Amazon Prime Video, Kodi, BBC iPlayer, and Hulu, which contain potent geo-blocks.
Out of the 10 US servers, only the California server would let you access the Netflix US library. Private WiFi is notorious for not allowing users to unblock geo-restricted Netflix libraries, among other platforms. While I was able to unblock Netflix US, I could only do that after trying multiple times.
Private WiFi VPN can unblock Netflix
Even though the California server lets you access geo-restricted content, it depends on your luck. I wanted to ensure the reliability of this server, so I disconnected from it and connected several times. It took me at least three tries to establish a connection with the California server and re-access the library.
When I tried to access Netflix from other US servers, not only did it bring me back to my local Netflix library, but it began hindering my network’s connectivity. The only way I could re-access my network was after disconnecting from Private WiFi.
Although I was keen enough to find which server will put me in touch with the US library, an average user will get frustrated after trying one or two servers.
While there are 10 servers dedicated to the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom are only covered by two server clusters. I thought that would reduce my chances of accessing their Netflix libraries, but to my surprise, a simple test proved me wrong. I was able to unblock Netflix UK and Netflix CA as well.
I contacted customer support to ask why this was happening. Its team mentioned that even with high levels of encryption, this streaming issue is beyond its control.
Overall, Private WiFi proved to be a tricky VPN in terms of streaming various Netflix libraries. While there was no lag or video buffering, I could only stream these libraries by compromising and choosing the videos’ lowest quality.
Blocked By: Amazon Prime Video and Hulu
I had issues while unblocking Amazon Prime Video’s legendary geo-restrictions. The VPN failed at masking my geo-location and helping me access APV’s US library.
I wanted to check if Sweden, South Korean, and Indian servers will help me use their local libraries. When that did not work out, I opted to focus on opening the US APV library. Because I managed to penetrate through Netflix’s geo-restrictions via Private WiFi’s California server, I settled for it.
Considering how much trouble I had while trying to find servers that can provide me a gateway to Netflix US, UK, and CA libraries, I thought of giving APV a shot as well. My attempts were met with no success once again, and I could only access APV’s European library from my location, which generally does not require a VPN connection.
Although this server helped me with Netflix, it did not do the same with APV’s US library. With the VPN turned on, I could not load APV’s homepage on my browser. I experienced a lot of lagging as well as connectivity errors.
I also tried to unblock Kodi’s niche and on-demand content, but I ran into restrictions. Testing it on BBC iPlayer also brought me to the same conclusion. Regardless of which servers I tried, there was no guarantee that if one server lets me unblock one platform, it will allow me to unblock the rest of them too.
I could not move past the CAPTCHA verification on Hulu. Hulu is similar to many other geo-restricted American TV broadcasting services and does not allow access in my region due to copyright licensing issues.
Keeping this in mind, I wanted to see if Private WiFi will let me watch online streaming content on this site.
I decided to connect to my nearest server and use Hulu to stream videos. I was disappointed when my nearest server did not unblock Hulu, and instead, Private WiFi suggested that I try a different server.
Since the California server seemed to work better than the others, I immediately shifted to it and attempted to access Hulu. Devastatingly, I could not log in to my account and could not verify the CAPTCHA test either.
I couldn’t unblock Hulu with Private WiFi VPN
To give it one last shot, I opted for English servers to access Hulu. I had little to no success with it. While it allowed me to verify my CAPTCHA test, it immediately slowed my internet connection down after, and within seconds I was disconnected.
Speeds — Not Steady and Difficult To Sustain
Private WiFi has varying and inconsistent speeds. To evaluate the speeds, I aimed to check out three different things:
Download speed refers to the speed that lets you know how fast or slow you can receive data from the server when you are streaming, loading webpages, torrenting, etc. Download speed is recorded in megabits per second (Mbps).
Upload speed means how fast or slow your internet connection is sending data to the server you are connected to. This is when you ‘upload’ posts on social media, send emails, video/voice calls to friends, and so on. Similarly, upload speed is also measured in Mbps.
Ping is how long it takes for the data to travel. Ping speed is noted in milliseconds (ms). Lower pings mean your connection is more responsive and stable for streaming, playing video games, and so on.
I put the 30 servers of Private WiFi to test and experienced significant slowdowns, even on servers that were nearly 1,452 km away from my location in Pakistan. On average, it took around 20 seconds to connect to each server. This isn’t a disaster, but there are plenty of VPNs that beat this time.
To begin testing, I first noted my base speed without activating the VPN.
I opened Private WiFi and selected ‘choose closest automatically.’ It connected me to the Indian server based on my location. It also established a 256-bit VPN encryption protocol automatically. After that, I began testing the speed using my Windows 10 laptop.
Indian Server (Pune, India):
Before running the speed test, I connected and disconnected from the VPN several times to establish VPN protection. I could not move past the errors, and as soon as I tried to run the speed test after establishing a connection, the VPN disconnected.
Because India only has a few servers, I thought of changing the location manually since the server could have been overloaded with traffic. However, even connecting to the Israel server did not help my case.
Considering the US has more servers, and the traffic must be divided amongst them, I tried the Seattle server. Trying different servers did not work, and I could not conduct any speed tests using the Ookla extension on my Chrome browser.
To check if this was due to my internet connection, I changed my location and accessed a high-speed internet connection. Still, the VPN did not stop glitching seconds after I established a connection. Previously while streaming, I had run into the same issues, but I could access the VPN slightly more smoothly than while running speed tests.
Not only was I not able to check the speed of my internet connection under various servers, but I was also unable to browse, open Google, and use my WhatsApp web page. The performance of the VPN deteriorated with each attempt, and eventually, I had to give up.
Are Private WiFi’s Speeds Fast Enough for Gaming? No.
Private WiFi is unable to maintain a trouble-free connection and is not suitable for gaming. Like the speed test, I encountered many problems using the VPN to check what it does when you game with its encryption.
I downloaded Lego Legacy: Heroes Unboxed to see if I will encounter any challenges while using the VPN. Again the VPN often disconnected before I could even load the game and play it. Due to this frequent inconsistency of Private WiFi, I could not find out how it performs when you game with it.
My goal was to test the VPN while gaming on the following scales:
Download speed — This is how fast you will receive data while gaming. The faster it is, the more accurate timing is when you are battling with another player.
Upload speed — This is how fast you will send data while gaming. Again, this needs to be higher to boost accuracy while playing with other players.
Ping — Pings are used to note down how responsive your internet connection is. If you have higher ping, you will experience many lags while gaming.
Server Network — Small-scale Server Network With Unreliable Connections
Private WiFi offers only 30 servers located in 10 countries. With competitors offering up to 3,000 (or more) servers in over 90 countries, this server network is considerably tiny and gives users fewer options if they want sustainable global coverage. That being said, I put the servers to test and ran into mishaps trying to establish a connection, even for a few minutes.
So if you want a more reliable VPN, I would recommend one of the competitor VPNs instead. I put Private WiFi servers to the test, and it gave me weak, slow, and unreliable connections.
Out of these 30 servers, there are several located in the United States of America (Seattle, Georgia, Texas, California, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Chicago, Kansas, and Colorado). You can manually connect with them. Internationally, you can connect to servers in Israel, India, Brazil, Spain, Turkey, Ukraine, South Korea, Sweden, Germany, France, Netherlands, Canada, UK, Italy, Norway, and Mexico.
Although Private WiFi claims to be one of the best VPN providers on the market, its limited server network restricts users from reaching a server that can work best for them since most servers are overloaded. I encountered many hassles when trying to find a server that could establish a fast, long-term, and strong connection.
Private WiFi needs further adjustments and improvement, such as adding more servers to its network. Whether they are US-based or a region nearby, the poor quality of its servers is a bad deal for paying customers.
When I tried to establish a connection with its servers, it took at least five tries before I could smoothly browse the server. On top of that, I experienced a lot of timeout and internet connectivity issues across servers.
It is also noteworthy that Private WiFi does not have any obfuscated servers — so it’s not suitable for countries with censorship/that ban VPNs. My region banned many VPNs in recent years, which has made it hard for me to establish a smooth connection with this VPN.
Private WiFi produced unfavorable results when I tried to remain connected to its servers. Proxy servers exist so that they can mask your identity when you are on the web. To do so, they change your current location to pierce through legal restrictions for web access that are placed by some organizations and countries.
Although Private WiFi claims that it can be used as a replacement for proxy servers, it failed to maintain a secure connection without hindrance.
Private WiFi provides bank-level encryption for all devices and payment plans. Since the core value behind this VPN is to offer you protection when you access public networks, it offers customers a high-level encryption plan. However, it needs further additions such as a kill switch, DNS leak protection, etc.
256-bit SSL Encryption
Private WiFi protects your internet activity using 256-bit SSL encryption. This is a standard-level technology used by government, military, and other high-security departments to secure the data traffic that the user is exchanging. SSL stands for ’Secure Sockets Layer’, which is hard to crack by hackers when you use your browser, access your emails, and other sensitive online data.
While this level of encryption is commonly preferred by finance-based agencies such as banks or a credit card company, Private WiFi aims to secure everything you send and receive, even your instant messages.
It creates an encrypted tunnel between the device you are using and the server located in another country. Through this tunnel, when all your data travels, it becomes invisible to anyone who might be monitoring your traffic. By rerouting your data this way, no advertiser, malware, hacker, or government can track your activity.
Since the primary goal of Private WiFi is to give you security at public hotspots where you have the most chances of getting hacked and losing all your data, this level of protection works well with your aim, which is to keep your data sealed.
OpenVPN is one of the most advanced and secure protocols. It can work without hindrance with both local and long-distance servers. OpenVPN is categorized into two versions: UDP, which is best for smooth streaming video calls, and TCP, which can be slow but maintains a stable connection.
When you connect to a server, you will notice that your IP address has changed. This is another type of protection established by the VPN to secure your connection. It masks your current IP address and changes it to one of the servers’ IP addresses. That way, your geographical location will be the server’s location, and your local internet provider will not be able to trace your activity.
Unsecure Connection Protection
Private WiFi also works hand-in-hand with your network to give you an extra layer of protection. Although it is not a replacement for antivirus or firewall protection that is installed on your device, it can detect if your network is secure or not. In that sense, it acts as a firewall, and it can automatically activate itself to encrypt your connection.
Private WiFi doesn’t have many settings
You can look at the taskbar and choose this feature to be activated.
Lack of Kill Switch
Unlike its competitors, there is no kill switch option that you can use to further secure yourself in case your VPN stops working. There are numerous competitors that offer a kill switch that prevents the loss of any vital information while using your internet connection.
A kill switch cuts your internet connection in case you get disconnected from your VPN. Once your device is protected by the VPN again, your internet connection starts working. Considering the number of times I had trouble staying connected to Private WiFi, this is a necessary tool that the company should provide.
Additionally, Private WiFi lacks what other VPNs offer: DNS leak protection, IPV6 protection, and so on. Other VPNs are available at an affordable price and provide multiple layers of encryption and protocols instead of just one.
No threats were located when I scanned the setup file for viruses. Using Windows’ built-in Microsoft Defender, I checked if installing Private WiFi will introduce viruses to my device and the results came out negative.
I ran a scan on Private WiFi’s app and found it has no viruses
Privacy — Clear, Upright, and Updated
No Logs Policy
Private WiFi ensures that it will not keep any information about your online activities or sell it to anyone. It only collects demographic and billing information that is required to sign up and use its services. It also collects your IP address, operating system, and browser type to detect fraudulent activity and improve its marketing skills.
While it only keeps minimum logs on its customers, which does not include what you share on the internet, they do, in its policy, mention disclosing information about customers if the law requires it.
However, if they decide to share your information with third parties, they promise to take your consent before doing that.
No sensitive information such as credit card details is kept unsafe by the company. Instead, they use SSL to encrypt the transmission of such information.
Located Inside 5/9/14 Eyes Alliance.
Private WiFi is a product of Private Communications Corporation owned by Kent Lawson, and the headquarters are located in California, USA, since its inception in 2010. Considering the US is part of the 14-eyes alliance, this is not the optimal location for a VPN. Due to data retention laws by the US government, any logs kept by this VPN company can be compromised easily.
The United States of America is one of the critical members of the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliance — a group of countries (including Canada, France, Singapore, South Korea, and Australia) who consensually share surveillance information for security purposes. This means the US government can enforce the law on Private WiFi and collect user data.
With this ad-blocker, Private WiFi gives you a trouble-free option of exploring the internet. I tried this VPN ad-blocker while watching YouTube and experienced no annoying pauses in the middle of videos. The pages you visit will not track your activity and this will improve the quality of your online experience.
In case you are tired of targeted ads while surfing the internet, you can choose to select an in-built ad-blocker and protect yourself from sitting through advertisements. While some of these ads take you to a secure webpage of the products they highlight, other ads can take you to harmful web addresses. From there onwards, your device can get hacked easily, and you can lose essential data.
On top of that, you can also turn on its data compression mode to reduce how much bandwidth your protected connection uses.
Private WiFi has not received any request by the government to disclose any users’ information yet. If required of them in the future, they promise to notify its clients beforehand, unless the law prohibits them from doing that.
It should be noted, though, that Private WiFi has not requested an independent auditor to check its servers for any logs, and for now, we only have its word for this claim. Based on this information, those who want to use Private WiFi should proceed with caution.
Torrenting — No P2P Protocols
Private WiFi does not support torrenting. Staying protected with this VPN is a tough call, to begin with. Not only does it slow down the speed right after establishing encryption, but it can also be a tiring process to find servers with which you can connect. Here are some VPNs that are best for torrenting.
The inconsistency in speed and connection is not ideal for torrenting. Additionally, I contacted customer support to ask them if the VPN offers P2P protocol and whether torrenting is supported.
Customer service confirmed that Private WiFi doesn’t support P2P
Does Private WiFi Work in China? No
Private WiFi lacks obfuscated servers, which is why it cannot operate in an internet-restricted country like China. Countries like China are constantly putting in the work to block VPNs and access new VPN tracking and blocking technologies.
Although Private WiFi offers high levels of security encryption and protocols, establishing a VPN and accessing restricted content will be a difficult job for those in China.
Private WiFi’s customer service also confirmed my query regarding this.
Simultaneous Device Connections — Readily Available
You can connect 5 devices using a single Private WiFi subscription. This is a standard feature offered by top-ranked VPNs too. Even though this VPN will put you through connectivity issues depending on where you are located, it does give you a fantastic deal for the money you will be paying.
I tested it on my Windows 10 laptop and Android phone, and I connected to the VPN on these devices simultaneously after two tries.
Device Compatibility — Available On All Major Operating Systems
Private WiFi supports Windows, Android, iOS, OS X, and more. I installed this VPN on my Android 5 phone and Windows 10 laptop. I noticed minor changes in the user interface, but the features are pretty much the same.
Currently, Private WiFi is only available on mobile devices which support Android 5 and above. They also have apps available for iPad touch, Apple iPhone, and iPads with iOS 10 and above. Private WiFi has a rating of 3.9/5 on the Apple store and was reviewed by 281 customers. On Google Play, this VPN has a rating of 3.7/5, which comes from 384 customers.
In terms of operating systems, Private WiFi is not available for Linux users. Still, those who use Windows 8.1, Windows 10, iOS 10+, OS X El Capitan, OS X Yosemite, Sierra, and High Sierra can install this VPN on their devices.
As of now, Private WiFi is not readily available for installation on smart TVs, consoles of all types, routers, or browsers.
Installation & Apps
Set-Up & Installation — Quick and Easy Setups
Getting Private WiFi on your laptop device is quite convenient. I set up the VPN on my Windows 10 laptop and my Android phone within a few minutes, and it was up and running. The process is quite simple and is just like adding any other app to your devices.
To get the VPN on my Windows 10 laptop, I visited their website and clicked on ‘Download Private WiFi.’ They offer you a 10-day free trial offer. Once you click on this button, you will enter your email address to use the trial.
After that, I clicked on ‘download’ and installed the .exe file. The process barely took seconds, and I moved towards setting my password and logging in.
To set up Private WiFi on my Android 5 phone, I visited the Google Play Store and searched for the app. It asked me for my email again to test the trial. After entering my email ID and downloading it, all I had to do was log in, and I could access the VPN within minutes.
To get this VPN on any device, you must have a valid and active email address. Otherwise, you will not be able to access the apps.
Private WiFi offers its customers a good range of payment plans. Considering the quality of connection and speed this VPN provides, I recommend picking pay-as-you-go plans or the free 10-day-trial first.
You can choose one of two plans from their Pay-As-You-Go section; plan one gives you 1GB of data on unlimited devices, and plan two offers 10GB of data on an infinite number of devices.
The more you pay for their monthly plans, the more devices you can use. This section offers three types of plans: unlimited data for one device only, unlimited data on up to three devices, and in the most expensive plan, you can use as much data as you want on 5 devices.
Their annual plans are similar to their monthly subscriptions, with the prices going up as you add more devices (you can choose to have one, three, or five devices). For all subscriptions, you can use unlimited data.
If you are undecided, you can sign up for a 10-day free trial to see whether this VPN works for you or not. To subscribe for a free trial, all you need is a valid email address.
You can get a refund for all your unused data within 30 days of your subscription. Even if you have already paid, Private WiFi has an excellent money-back guarantee, and all you need to do is contact their customer support.
You can pay for your Private WiFi subscription via two major payment plans. The company accepts all mainstream credit cards (Visa, Mastercard, Discover, and American Express), and PayPal transfers as well.
Reliability & Support
Private WiFi follows the ticket system to respond to your queries. You can visit its website or click on ’help’ from its apps to find the email address for customer support services.
I contacted customer service for several queries regarding streaming and speed errors and received a satisfactory response after one working day. It looks like its customer support resolves all types of issues — from connectivity and streaming problems to what the VPN offers.
I had a response within 7 hours of emailing Private WiFi, and the response was helpful
If you need assistance, you can email them between 8 AM and 12 AM EST from Monday to Friday. If you cannot wait for a response, you can explore its brief but decently informative FAQ section, which categorizes common queries into technical, privacy, and general (purchase, troubleshooting, and license) issues. You also get instructions on how to use and install its software via a quick start guide.
Even though its customer service is responsive, paying customers should not have to wait for responses, and the company lacks a standard live chat feature.
Compare Private WiFi With The Top Alternative VPNs
I will not recommend Private WiFi’s services. While it offers outstanding security protocols and encryption, it does not provide the best value for the money you pay. Unlike its competitors, you do not get everything a standard VPN offers. It has inconsistent unblocking abilities, unreliable speeds, no kill-switch, no P2P support, and most importantly, this VPN is under the 5-Eyes surveillance.
It is also costly for the features it offers, and further modifications, such as more servers in every location to decrease the traffic load, are needed.
I was, however, impressed by its customer support’s fast responses. So far, its responsive customer service is one of the few selling points it offers. Still, a live chat section could be added for real-time support.
Knowledgeable and friendly customer support
Military-grade encryption and a minimal logging policy
Yes, Private WiFi is safe to use. It offers 256-bit SSL encryption which is used by banks, the government, and other agencies. This level of encryption is uncrackable, and you can trust it to protect sensitive data. Find out more about Private WiFi’s security.
That being said, Private WiFi’s no-logs policy is not as stringent. They store some identifiable user data, such as time spent online and offline, demographics, and online patterns. Still, they maintain their stance that this is only for marketing purposes and to give customers a smooth experience.
Can Private WiFi unblock Netflix?
Private WiFi can unblock Netflix but not without testing your patience. I could not unblock Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Kodi, BBC iPlayer, and other streaming sites with Private WiFi. I could only access the Netflix US library by using the California server, which was also unreliable. Other than that, I unblocked Netflix UK and Netflix CA.