VPNBook is a free Swiss-based VPN that claims to unblock streaming platforms while keeping you anonymous, but its lack of apps is problematic. Complex manual setup using an OpenVPN client app, Outline VPN, or a PPTP connection doesn’t make it a user-friendly choice.
With a lack of security features like a kill switch, and speeds that slow your connection to a crawl, it can’t compete with more robust premium VPNs. It hits the mark on some levels, like preventing leaks, but I can’t recommend VPNBook due to its unreliability and potential privacy issues.
Short on Time? Here Are My Key Findings
- 100% free service. VPNBook is a completely free VPN service funded by advertising and donations. You can install the VPN with no registration needed.
- Unable to unblock streaming platforms. The VPN failed to unblock Netflix, Amazon Prime, and BBC iPlayer. Take a look at my detailed analysis here.
- Atrociously slow speeds. The VPN service disappoints big-time in terms of speed. See the full test results here.
- No native app. The VPN has no native apps, seriously hindering its user-friendliness. It only provides server accounts that can be used with OpenVPN, PPTP, and Outline VPN client apps or configurations.
- Sub-par security. You don’t get a lot of basic security features with VPNBook like a kill switch. It only uses AES-256 encryption when you connect through OpenVPN.
- Not recommended for torrenting. The limited P2P servers and slow speeds make VPNBook a weak choice for torrent downloads.
- 30-day money-back guarantee. VPNBook provides a money-back policy for the dedicated VPN option, so you can try it risk-free.
- Small server network. There are only 11 servers to choose from, limiting your choice of connections and unblocking ability.
- Paid dedicated VPN server option. For a monthly fee, you can obtain a dedicated IP with 500GB bandwidth per month.
VPNBook Features — Updated in July 2021
|Money Back Guarantee||30|
|Does VPN keep logs?||No|
|Number of servers||11|
|Number of devices per license||5|
|Based in country||Switzerland|
|Support||Via Email/Ticketing System|
Although VPNBook claims it can unblock Netflix and more, it was easily detected and blocked during my tests. The US1 server was down despite being shown as “online” on the website. The US2 server didn’t help with streaming either. I was constantly getting an “NSES-404” error message when accessing my US Netflix account with the servers.
Blocked By: Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Disney+, Hotstar, and Voot
The VPN failed to unblock other streaming services, including Amazon Prime and Disney+. The UK server is only a basic proxy server, so I wasn’t too surprised that BBC iPlayer managed to detect the VPN.
Even if you do manage to bypass a streaming platform’s geoblocks, prepare for severe buffering. The speeds are so slow, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to watch in HD.
When I tested the US server, I could barely load Hulu’s homepage and even had problems getting YouTube to work. This is a common caveat of free VPNs, which is why I recommend looking at alternative providers for streaming.
The speeds were so slow that I struggled to even run a speed test when connected. Browsing websites took up to a minute or more to fully load on all the servers I tested.
Most free VPNs take a performance hit in terms of speed, and VPNBook is no different. I carried out my speed tests using Ookla with an OpenVPN setup.
The main measurements of speed are:
- Download speed, measured in Mbps. This determines how quickly you can download data, and indicates the quality of streaming you can expect. Usually, at least 5Mbps is needed for HD streaming and 25 Mbps for Ultra HD or 4K.
- Upload speed, also measured in Mbps, is how fast you can send internet traffic. A minimum of 5Mbps is a desirable upload speed.
- Ping, measured in ms. Ping is the response time for your connection, and it’s important for gaming — the lower the ping, the better. Anything above 100ms may affect performance.
I compared my base speed without a VPN to connection speeds via a nearby VPNBook server. This provides the most accurate measure of how internet performance is affected by the VPN.
It’s normal to expect some slowdown when connected to a VPN, as it works to encrypt your internet traffic — but, with good VPNs, the decrease in speed should be barely noticeable.
Connecting to a VPNBook server in France reduced my speed by over 96%. My upload speed also took a 98% hit, and ping time increased to 8x more than my base rate.
During most of my speed tests, the test site couldn’t even go beyond connecting to the server. These speeds are poor and will prevent you from enjoying most online activities, like streaming in HD, torrenting, or even browsing.
Long Distance Speeds
I struggled to get any usable speed from most long-distance servers, too. The servers I tested in Germany, Poland, the US, and Canada all failed to provide a stable, fast connection. When I was able to connect, on average my speeds dropped by over 90%.
Unfortunately, this poor performance persisted whether using the OpenVPN, Outline VPN, or PPTP connection methods.
For reliable, fast connections, I’d recommend you take a look at some of these super-fast premium VPNs. You won’t have to compromise on speed.
Are VPNBook’s Speeds Fast Enough for Gaming? No
I had trouble browsing web pages, let alone playing games with VPNBook. The speeds on most of its servers aren’t adequate to support lag-free gaming. For decent performance, you need a ping that’s ideally below 100ms, or 50ms for the most competitive gamers. I tried playing Asphalt 9: Legends on the US server and got the following error.
I can’t recommend VPNBook for gaming of any sort. OpenVPN might increase your protection against DDoS attacks and other security risks, but even casual gamers will struggle with the high ping and low speeds (or lack of any connection at all). Have a look at these top gaming VPNs instead.
VPNBook’s server network only has 11 servers in 6 countries. This consists of 8 servers in the US, Canada, France, Poland, and Germany, 2 proxy servers in the US and UK, and an Outline VPN server in Canada. This is more or less what I’d expect from a free VPN, although it would be better if there were more than 3 options for the dedicated VPN service.
I reached out to VPNBook to ask if the servers were physically located, or virtual, but as yet I haven’t had a response. I could calculate RTT time to have a guess (round trip time for data to go to the server and back), but this isn’t always a reliable solution as it can be influenced by network congestion and other factors.
|Europe||UK (proxy only), Poland, Germany, France|
|North America||United States, Canada|
Free server options are split into OpenVPN, OutlineVPN, and PPTP, with a handy display that shows you which servers are online and any relevant updates (like password changes). You’ll also see login details and confirmation of which servers support P2P under each tab.
There aren’t any servers in Asia, Africa, or South America. If you’re located in places like Australia, Brazil, India, Hong Kong, or Saudi Arabia, you won’t find a server near to you — further impacting reliability and speed.
The service hasn’t disclosed its total number of IP addresses, but given the poor speeds, I don’t expect too many. A wide range of servers is helpful for bypassing geoblocks for streaming, so if you need more options, consider these premium VPNs instead.
VPNBook lacks key security features, like a kill switch. However, it did pass my leak tests and carries high-spec encryption with its OpenVPN setup.
Encryption and Protocols
There are various setup options with differing security. The manual setup through PPTP (point-to-point tunneling) is easier to install and use, but it isn’t as safe.
The second configuration option involves using VPN server accounts with Outline VPN or OpenVPN software. Only the OpenVPN configuration uses 256-bit AES encryption which is military-grade level.
The absence of a kill switch is a problem, as even with OpenVPN your real IP address would be exposed if the VPN suddenly disconnected. Find out why kill switches are so important.
I couldn’t find any IP, DNS, WebRTC, or IPv6 leaks when testing the service. This is a very good outcome, but — as I mentioned above — there is still a risk that your data will be exposed should your connection drop.
Important things to look for in a leak test include:
- IP address — if your IP address is leaked it can expose your location, and make you vulnerable to malicious online threats.
- DNS information — like IP leaks, DNS leaks can reveal your location and allow your private internet traffic to be intercepted.
- WebRTC — WebRTC is the peer-to-peer communication between your browser and the web pages you visit; this data can slip outside the safety net, revealing your IP.
- IPv6 — IPv6 data sometimes travels outside the VPN “tunnel”, allowing exposure of sensitive information. Most VPNs disable it entirely.
I used ipleak.net and connected to the French server with the OpenVPN setup. Here are the test results.
While this is a good result, I’d like to see more security features to further safeguard my privacy. VPNBook could really benefit from having a kill switch and additional layers of protection, like malware blocking or IP hopping.
You may want to consider these VPNs with extra security measures at a low cost.
VPNBook claims to be based in privacy-friendly Switzerland, but its policy isn’t very reassuring. Switzerland isn’t subject to the 5, 9, or 14 eyes jurisdiction, and so it’s much less likely that your privacy will be compromised. This is provided you are using the VPN legally, as more recently Switzerland can and will cooperate on legal matters concerning VPN use.
This does seem to suggest that VPNBook could inadvertently leak — or purposefully hand over — your private IP address.
The VPN says it keeps connection logs to reduce, what it calls, “abusive activities.” It strongly advises users against using the service for “doing evil” to avoid an IP ban, although it’s not at all clear what the policy means by this or what it defines as “evil”.
That being said, lots of VPNs (rightfully) include a clause indicating that the service shouldn’t be used for illegal purposes — it’s just unusually worded here. Plus, the policy notes that your records are removed automatically after a week.
The VPN isn’t independently audited, so you also have to take its word that it’s not logging your internet data. However, that’s not unexpected for a small, free VPN.
If you’re after a more well-known VPN with regular audits or find VPNBook’s policy concerning, some of these top no-logs VPNs might be of interest.
VPNBook supports P2P traffic on its servers in Poland and Germany, as well as the paid dedicated VPN option in Canada. However, you’re likely to run into several problems if using this VPN for torrenting:
- Connecting to the servers optimized for torrenting can be a frustrating experience, especially with so few options
- The speed is incredibly slow, making it useless for fast downloads
- Lack of kill switch can make your connection vulnerable should the VPN disconnect
Also bear in mind that torrenting may be illegal in some countries regardless of copyright status, so always check this first.
Considering some of these issues, I wouldn’t recommend VPNBook for torrenting. There are better VPNs out there for reliable P2P connections.
Does VPNBook Work in China? — No
The not-so-reliable security makes VPNBook a poor choice for China. I contacted VPNBook to ask if it would work, but as yet haven’t received a response.
For some tried-and-tested alternatives, check out these VPNs that work in China.
Simultaneous Device Connections — Plenty of Connections
One advantage to VPNBook’s free manual configurations is that, in theory, you should be able to set it up on as many devices as you like. However, this isn’t particularly user-friendly to achieve.
If you want to pay for the dedicated IP option, VPNBook gives you 5 simultaneous device connections. However, there are better VPNs for multiple devices that give you more for your money.
VPNBook doesn’t offer any custom VPN apps for devices. The only option is to manually configure the VPN, which isn’t the easiest process. There are 3 setup options that support the following devices/software:
- PPTP — less secure, and works wherever PPTP is supported, including Windows, Android, Mac, Android, PS3, and Linux
- OpenVPN — a 3rd party app that works with Windows, Mac OS X, iOS, Android, Ubuntu, and even your router to use the service on any device
- Outline VPN — works with major platforms including Windows, Chrome OS, iOS, macOS, Android, and Linux
Though you can use the VPN on a wide range of devices, you have to jump through hoops to get there. It’s a free service, but I was still frustrated that I couldn’t simply install an app for Windows.
If device compatibility is a must, there are better, affordable VPNs out there — take a look at these easy-to-use VPNs with dedicated Windows apps, for example.